Picking only 10 games for this year was a difficult task. It is always tough to compile a list that is so subjective, but this year, with the incredible number of titles released, it was especially difficult, and several games that could justifiably be on this list or (at least the honorable mention) got bumped down for one reason or another. Also missing are expansion packs, such as World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, download-only games like Limbo and Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, both of which could have made the list. Also missing are handheld games, because there are just too many differences, and it becomes like apples and oranges.
So below is out list of the best games of 2010. If you are looking to purchase a game this year, you won’t go wrong with one of the titles below. If you think we missed a title, sound off in the comments below, and give us your reasoning.
Battlefield Bad Company 2 Ultimate EditionAmazon (PC, PS3, Xbox 360; Rated M; $39.99)
This is probably the most controversial of all the games on the list, not because it is a bad game, but many will think that there are better games out there. To be fair, the single-player campaign is fun but forgettable, and the first-person shooter style is not exactly unique. But the reason that this game made the list is for one simple fact, the multiplayer, which takes a proven formula and makes it even better.
Where other first-person shooters are all about the agro and adrenaline online, BFBC2 is all about teamwork. There is still a healthy dose of agro (especially in the more traditional deathmatches) and you can try to do everything solo, but the game is made to be played as a team, which is a refreshing change from the other online war games that dominate the charts. As a technical feat, the ability to destroy structures and use vehicles is also impressive. It is also nice to see a game that you can pick up anytime, and while you will have some rough games while you are learning what to do, even a beginner can have success online. So if you are looking for an online shooter that won’t make you scream obscenities every few minutes, then BFBC2 is the game for you. Medal of Honor uses the same engine online, but a flawed single player game will mean there are more people that remain loyal and play BFBC2 long after they trade MoH in.
Call of Duty: Black OpsAmazon (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo DS; Rated M; Price varies by system)
Call of Duty is arguably the best title that will frustrate you like no other. It has its issues, but the annoyances of lag quickly give way to the thrill of a solid killstreak. The leveling should keep you entertained for awhile to come, and the online community will make sure that you can always find a game, and no two games are identical. Love it or hate it, the game is a must-have for shooter fans.
For every person that loves this series, there is another that bitterly hates it—and yet both will probably still be playing it online until the next Call of Duty title drops next year – when they will probably love the new game and yet hate it compared to this game. To be fair, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare set the bar so high, that many first-person shooters will be held to it for years to come. And while Black Ops may not be the same breakthrough game that its predecessor was, it is still a great game, and the most popular online shooter available on consoles.
God of War 3Amazon (PS3; Rated M; $59.99)
The God of War series had many people collecting their change for years to save up for a PS3 just to play this game, and it’s one of the best the PS3 has to offer. If it were released this year, the God of War Collection, which features both of the PS2 God of War games with shiny new HD graphics, might have bumped GoW3 simply because this is the continuation of the story, and you need to have played the first two in order to appreciate the plot.
But assuming you played the originals, the third game meets, and in some ways exceeds, all expectations. Besides offering fluid and well-honed controls, GoW3 is perhaps the best-looking game on the PS3. That is saying an awful lot, but the imaginative settings, the incredible details, and the scope make this an easy pick for one of the best games of 2010.
Halo: ReachAmazon (Xbox 360; Rated M; $59.99)
If this game were a TV show from the 80s, it would be The Incredible Hulk – specifically because of the scene at the end of each episode when Bruce Banner walked down a lonely highway with melancholy music playing until the credits rolled. Halo: Reach is the melancholy goodbye to the series from developer Bungie, which has drawn the Halo story to a close and moved on to other projects.
Although Halo: Reach is a prequel to the original trilogy, it is also the culmination of the work Bungie spent developing the series for over a decade. The gameplay is tight, and the multiplayer will have people coming back for years to come. It’s a must-have for Halo fans, and a solid end to the series from Bungie (although the franchise will continue under Microsoft).
The only bad thing about Mass Effect 2 is that you should play through the original Mass Effect first. It isn’t necessary, and the first game isn’t bad by any means, but Mass Effect 2 will likely go down as one of the best games of this generation of consoles, and far overshadow its predecessor. The other thing that might turn people off from this game is the RPG style and its length. It can easily take upwards of 40 hours to make it through, and that is not including all the side quests and additional expansions that have been released.
Of course, that criticism is true of every game – if you don’t like the style you won’t like the game – but with Mass Effect 2, it is a real shame if people overlook the title because of past experiences with the genre. Although the game is currently only available for the Xbox 360, a PS3 version is due out in January and available for pre-order.
While it would be easy to just claim that this game is on the list because a sports game needed to be represented, NBA2K11 earned its place. Featuring Michael Jordan and his career as a game mode adds something to the title, but even his Airness would have become just a gimmick if the gameplay weren’t up to the task. Thankfully it is, and NBA2K11 is one of the most intuitive and well-rounded sports games ever made.
When you add in the seriously deep features and options, NBA2K11 is not just a good game for sports fans, it has that rare ability to win over people who are not fans of the genre. You don’t need to know the names Kobe Bryant or Lebron James to pick a team and learn enough to have fun. It’s worth a look for all gamers, and a guaranteed hit for sporting fans.
Red Dead RedemptionAmazon (PS3, Xbox 360; Rated M; $59.99)
When the majority of the game-of-the-year awards begin to drop, expect this title to proudly sit on top of the majority of those lists. It already cleaned up at the SpikeTV Video Game Awards last week, and nobody was surprised to see the developers walk away with an armful of statues. Red Dead Redemption just clicks. From the stories, to the several expansion packs that continue to keep the title relevant, RDR is one of, if not the very best, game of the year.
Putting players in the role of John Marston, a former outlaw who is forced to hunt down his murderous ex-partner, RDR defies expectations at every turn. Marston may appear to be the typical spaghetti western hero, but he soon shows a depth of character that few video game characters can match. He is a fighter, a hero, sometimes a villain, and a family man, and the world he occupies is just as deep and well developed. When you add the online play, and expansions like the exceptional “Undead Nightmare,” as well as multiplayer, RDR is a game that belongs in every collection, and will be played for a long time to come.
Sid Meier’s Civilization VAmazon (PC; Rated E; $49.99)
If you have ever dreamed of taking a long dead-civilization like the Aztecs or the ancient Egyptians, then rewriting history and watching them spread out across the globe, Civilization V is the game for you. Civ V is one of those games that even casual gamers can suddenly find themselves lost for hours in. Even though this title is the fifth in the franchise, it is easy to pick the game up and enjoy, but it can take a long, long time to master. That is what makes this game a must have for most people, as it is something that will appeal to everyone.
Unlike real-time strategy games like StarCraft II, Civ V is a turn-based strategy game, which might make it a little more forgiving for players looking to jump online and try their hands against other players. The learning curve will still be steep, but unlike other games, at least you won’t jump online and be swarmed and killed within five minutes (looking at you StarCraft II, looking right at you). This game is deep enough that it might take months to see everything it has to offer.
StarCraft II: Wings of LibertyAmazon (PC; Rated T; $59.99)
People tend to either love StarCraft games, or hate them, there is very little middle ground. People who hate them tend to do so passionately, as do the people that love the games – just look at the South Koreans, who have built an industry around the game that includes nationally recognized leagues, televised tournaments, and even their own match fixing scandals. It is a big deal.
The newest entry in the series was over 10 years in the making, and while some fans initially criticized aspects that they did not like, most of those same fans are still playing online, and will continue to do so for years, literally. If you are new to the series, the cut scenes and storyline are enough to keep you interested, through the lengthy single-player campaign, and if you have the patience to survive the learning curve online, you can find something new with StarCraft II for years to come, making it one of the top PC games for the year.
Super Mario Galaxy 2Amazon (Wii; Rated E; $49.99)
If you own a Wii, buy this game. It really is that simple. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is not only one of the best Wii games made (and might be the best Wii game made), but it is arguably one of the best Nintendo games ever made, which is saying an awful lot about a company that has dominated the gaming market for 25 years.
You might think that Mario has hit his peak, and the best years of the plumber are behind him. Sure, the graphics are not as strong as some of those on the Wii’s competitors, but the game is simply fun, and wildly imaginative. Suitable for gamers of all ages, Super Mario Galaxy 2 game might be the only Wii title on the list, but it might also be the best game of the year.
Assassin’s Creed: BrotherhoodAmazon (PC, PS3, Xbox 360; Rated M; $59.99)
Fallout: New VegasAmazon (PC, PS3, Xbox 360; Rated M; $59.99)
Gran Turismo 5Amazon (PS3; Rated E; $59.99)
Splinter Cell: ConvictionAmazon (PC, Mac, Xbox 360; Rated M; $29.99)
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