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Top 10 Video Games of 2010

Disclaimer: I am but one man. Unemployed, yes, but the time benefit received from that is thus hindered by the financial capability to recreate. Sean and Mark feature the opposite problem, and this list is therefore sure to omit quality games for no other reason than the fact that we were never close enough to lick them... Because this list is all about how the discs (or SD cards) taste, with blueberry being the best flavor. Nah. It’s just a normal ol’ list, as scribed by DoktorPeace unless otherwise noted after the title

10. Alan Wake – I’m still not certain how much I enjoyed actually playing this (due to repetitive combat and long-stretches of samey, dark forest), but the weirdness of its story earns this spot. Rare is a blockbuster game that attempts anything outside of good versus evil, yet Alan Wake offers up an unreliable protagonist in a confusing tale of Twin Peaks, Stephen King-inspired meta-psychology. And that – whatever that is – makes for a positively memorable game.

9. Mega Man 10 – I really like this game and really am afraid that all of our robots are going to be infected with robo-enza; however, this is also both a residual award for Mega Man 9 and a shared award with a number of cooperative downloadable titles I’ve been unable to fully appreciate on my own (e.g., Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light). Because the Blogulator staff is yet to build and move into its own frat house, everything on this list is featured for its single-player experience, and core Mega Man titles remain a beacon of sadistic brilliance in that category.

8. Civilization 5 – Due to the stress of crumbling empires and the inevitable timesink any serious effort at world domination requires, I’ve not put nearly as much time into this game as I thought I would. Still, I am confident in this predictory placement, certain that many a sunrise will greet me and my sweet* in the years to come.
*“My sweet” refers here to the game, of course, but feel free to replace that with any honey you think I’d look good waking up next to.

7. Final Fantasy XIII – I placed this in the seventh position just to irk Final Fantasy VII fanboys (though I’m not sure how), and also cuz I think it belongs here. The adventure consists mostly of fighting as you wander along a straight line, but I’m totally gonna allow that because: 1) Once it gets into gear, I’m pretty sure this is my favorite FF battle system; and 2). The characters and environments – because and in spite of their incredible Japaneseness – are stunning. Giggle wink!

6. Super Mario Galaxy 2 – My favorite thing about Mario 64 was running around the castle, so the removal of a hub world in favor of a flat map worried me at first. And ya know what… It still worries me. I don’t think Galaxy 2 captured the overworld charm of Mario 3 or Super Mario World, nor do I remember any of the levels excelling in personality beyond what had already been established in the first Galaxy. And how come the frame stories (unnecessary as they are) keep getting more fluffy as the games keep getting more complex? Whatever. It’s still that perfect Mario jumping in a perfectly-paced challenge of perfectly simple, video game entertainment. Just get the star and smile, ya aging grump.

5. Heavy Rain - (Qualler) I love overly pretentious, dour crime movies. And, I love Choose Your Own Adventure books. And, I love to "feel." So, when Quantic Dream put Heavy Rain out in February 2010, I was enamored. Sure, the controls were overly clunky at times, and the extremely linear gameplay didn't allow for any free-styling that gamers are accustomed to these days. But something about the thrill of being a character in a pretentious, dour crime movie (actually, four characters) made Heavy Rain arguably the most unique gaming experience of the year. When I controlled Ethan, the dad whose son was tragically killed and whose other son was tragically kidnapped (seriously, dude, you have bad parenting skills), I felt the panic that he doubtless felt. I felt the withdrawal Norman Jayden felt when he stopped taking his weird blue drugs. I was plucky reporter Madison Page, hot on the case of cracking the Origami Killer case. And I was Scott Shelby, the seemingly unrelated private detective whose motivations were not entirely clear. While the only ending that actually makes any kind of logical sense is the one where you guide the characters to the end without dying, the experience was what it was all about.

Also, this game involved the best video game depiction of unhooking a bra ever.

4. NBA 2K11 - (Qualler) As NBA Jam's eternal popularity has proven, it is damn near impossible to make a basketball video game that accurately depicts the nuances of (arguably) the greatest game in sport. Two-on-two matchups featuring outta-control dunks and three pointers that start the net on fire were features of the only NBA game this side of Double Dribble that was any fun to play at all. So when DoktorPeace e-mailed me about NBA 2K11 noting that he enjoyed playing it "and I don't even like NBA basketball", I had to get my hands on it. Since Santa put it in my stocking a week ago, I haven't been able to take my hands off of it. The nuances of the pump fake, alley-oop, screen-setting, tight defense, and even the ever-growing tension of a crowd exploding in a road game have blown me away. Better yet are the numerous extra features, including the ability to add your own arena music, download user-created draft classes featuring players who will be in the draft in the next couple of years, and the ability to do unbelievable things like take the Minnesota Timberwolves back to the playoffs. Note to David Kahn: You've got to get three more players who are better than Kevin Love before the Timberwolves can get back to the playoffs. Drafting Perry Jones and acquiring OJ Mayo at the trade deadline would be a good start. My Association franchise of the Timberwolves in the 2013-14 season seem to agree.

3. Red Dead Redemption - (Sean) "Hey, it's Grand Theft Auto but with horses instead of cars." Yes, it is. And so much more. Rockstar's 2010 release gave gamers everywhere the chance to saddle up and be an Old West bad-ass. Or a law-abiding gunman. Whichever you prefer. Either path you choose, you're in for an epic story of redemption (duh), revenge, and father/son stuff. You can race horses, rob folks, hunt coyotes, and camp under the stars. The side quests alone made this game worth playing: track a cannibal serial killer; save a prostitute (temporarily); reunite a hick weirdo with the horse he *loves*; and even be followed by an ominous stranger that "knows you." At the end of the day, ask any player which part they loved the best and they'll tell you: Lassoing town-folk and hitting the hog-tie button. Over and over. – Sean

2. Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey – Now this is a full demonstration of my control as video game editor, seeing as how nobody within 3 degrees of Mark or Sean has heard of this game past my birch beer drunk utterances. It just so happens, however, that this might go down as one of the most important games in my personal history. Disregarding a GBA cart I barely touched (guesses?), Strange Journey was my sole gaming companion for three months in the Luxembourgish countryside. I started my extra-dimensional demon battling the weekend before I left and finished it in the Detroit airport on my trip home. The difficulty level hit me with burps and hiccups, and the sci-fi setting ultimately pales against the more engrossing high school stories of the SMT Persona series; yet the pure, refined, and, most importantly, streamlined (I’m looking at you and your slow battles, Dragon Quest IX) take on ye olde rock/paper/scissors role-playing provides a perfect nightcap to a day of potato planting in Central Europe. I’m not sure how you’ll ever believe me on that, but I can at least try to write something apt-sounding enough to trick you into agreement. A strange journey, indeed.

1. Mass Effect 2 – In a list dominated by sequels – as any video game list in an increasingly expensive and risky business is likely to be – this title may be the only one actually deserving of its number. Qualler wrote of the joy of the Choose Your Own Adventure formula, and Mass Effect has succeeded in connecting me more closely with my story over two games than any before.
The character I created back in 2007, along with many of the key decisions I made in the original game, carried over and underlined the entirety of this year’s entirely different entry. The internet is chock full of debate over whether key gameplay changes were for the better or worse (I agree and disagree with both, ambiguously), yet the consistent, well-written and well-constructed world prevails as the power behind Mass Effect. Never do your decisions mean as much as they do in this series, and I must face the finale of this trilogy with a number of fallen comrades – comrades who may have survived to return in the games of others. If only I cared this much about who survives the annual Blogulator retreat.

  1. Blogger P. Arty | 9:45 AM |  

    MEGA. MAN. 9!?!?!?!?

    Sometimes I hate you, Doktor.

  2. Blogger qualler | 10:38 AM |  

    Blogulator Frat House! Opening soon!

  3. OpenID fasthands26 | 7:00 PM |  

    "At the end of the day, ask any player which part they loved the best and they'll tell you: Lassoing town-folk and hitting the hog-tie button. Over and over."

    I couldn't agree more. My most memorable experience of this game was doing exactly that to the piano player. The best part was how I ran him all around the country side on my horse, then I dropped him off back in front of his piano, cut him loose, and he just got right back on the piano and played like nothing ever happened to him. What a guy!

    Also, I'd recommend giving Starcraft 2 a try, especially if you've never played a real-time strategy game before. I have had countless hours of entertainment from it.

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