Published on January 7th, 2011 | by Cameron Woolsey
Staff Picks of the Year 2010
For our GOTY Podcast, click here
Cameron (Cam) Woolsey, Senior Editor/Second-in-Command
Though the year seemed to fizzle out right at the end, there’s no question that 2010 was a great year for gaming. For me those highlights include the re-immersing myself in the impressive sci-fi world of Mass Effect 2, gunslinging and riding off into the sunset in Red Dead Redemption, fighting off the shadows in Limbo and the long-awaited Alan Wake, and the thrill of finally playing the first great Sonic game in nearly a decade. I saw the fall of Reach, defeated gods in God of War III, angels in Bayonetta, and danced a laggy jig with the Kinect. I could go on but I think you get the idea.
Yes it has been an amazing year for gaming and yet it seems like 2011 could be even better. With Mass Effect 3, Arkham City, Uncharted 3, and The Last Guardian in sights and Dead Space 2 just around the corner we can’t help but to be thrilled to be gamers for another year. And you can bet that your friends at GAMINGtruth will be right there with you, bringing in all the great news and reviews as they come. So stick around, 2011 is going to be one hell of a ride!
Truth Pick of the Year
I actually had two games in mind when considering my pick for the year. First was Red Dead Redemption. There aren’t too many Western games around these days, mostly because developers have had a hard time getting the formula just right. Well, if you ever get the urge to saddle up and pack a six-shooter then look no further than Red Dead Redemption, the only Western game you will ever need and if my actual pick was never made, you can bet that I would have gladly tipped my hat to Rockstar this year.
However, I have to go with Mass Effect 2 as my Truth Pick for 2010. Why? That’s easy! The first Mass Effect put players in the big space boots of Commander Shepard and the game was instantly heralded as one of the finest sci-fi RPGs ever made. Remarkably enough, Mass Effect 2 actually improves everything from the first game when it was once believed that no improvement needed to be made. Mass Effect 2 brought superb voice acting, an engaging story, and a believable and instantly-immersible sci-fi world with beautiful graphics and sound. From the first second to the last line I was hooked into Mass Effect 2 and I loved every second of it. If Mass Effect 3 is anything like 2, we can rest assured that it will be just as incredible and just as epic.
Since I have stated here I have often mentioned that I am a big fan of both SEGA (look at the picture) and Sonic the Hedgehog. Sadly, Sonic games of late have been, let’s say, terrible at best. So imagine my surprise when I first began Sonic Colors for the Wii. Not only was Sonic Team able to create the first modern feeling Sonic game, they made the best Sonic game since Sonic and Knuckles. Great graphics, gameplay, and music, Sonic Colors broke the long streak of bad games and made me happy to be a Sonic fan once again.
Now, I didn’t mention any disappointments in the Truthcast but that’s mainly because my mind was on games that may have been disappointing to me and I really couldn’t think of any. Now I know that quite a few people would either mention FFXIII or Medal of Honor (I know some staffers here have), the truth is: I didn’t care about these games. Cold fact but it’s true. I have never been into Final Fantasy beyond the impeccable VII and Medal of Honor never sparked my interest after playing it some months before its release. After the recording though I can recall a disappointment which is not about a game per se but a situation. Not long ago there was a huge fiasco over Activision and Infinity Ward. The two founders left and Activision attacked with a lawsuit.
Now I realize that contracts have been broken and both sides damaged, but as a gamer I hate to see such a popular and successful company like Infinity Ward stumble. But there is a light at the end of this tunnel. Respawn is the new studio that was created in the aftermath and with some of the talent of the original Infinity Ward team behind it, it won’t be long until we will see something really great from the famous Call of Duty team once again.
Anticipated Game of 2011
Above I mentioned a few of the big releases to be expected in 2011. However I left out one which I am anticipating above all others: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The third game of the series, Morrowind, was my first introduction to the series and from the first few steps into the wilderness I was hooked by the vast universe of The Elder Scrolls. Not much is known right now about Skyrim other than it will take place in Skyrim, the home of the Nords, and feature dragons. Of course, this is all the info I need to already throw down a pre-order for a limited edition. There are a lot of games coming out for 2011 but if I got stranded on a desert island with a TV and an Xbox 360, leave me with Skyrim and an icy-cold lifetime supply of Anchor Porter. Oh, and some bikini girls as well.
Greg (LaWiiG) Bargas, Senior Editor
As I browse over my game library, I look at it and think, “What did I play that was most memorable?” Was it the voice of Tim Kitzrow and the Boomshakalaka’s? Maybe the suited up, plasma cannon firings of a familiar face? Or, will I have to delve into my Xbox LIVE account to scan through some of the favorites to shape my thought process here. Although it might seem like an odd choice for my personal “game” of the year, the digital one makes the most sense.
Truth Pick of the Year
Although this title came later in the year, it was well worth the wait. Since the first reveal of multiple high class Nintendo titles at E3, the majority of the crowd was looking forward to a little return of a well known primate thanks to R……Retro Studios. That lucky apes name of course is Donkey Kong.
Explosive levels, great design, and of course built up frustration only to be relieved for the approximate 30 seconds it took to load the next level, gave this game some serious quality time. Players jumped right into playing the good psychiatrist to help out Donkey Kong recover his banana “hoard.” This spanned over some familiar territory and challenges. The game was extensive and had some great challenges to be fulfilled when it boiled down to the completion of the game as a whole.
Indie Pick of the Year
There are two games that qualify for the digital download section. Microsoft’s Xbox LIVE showcased some awesome talent for the 2010 year. Xbox LIVE kept the trend of highlighting indie developers who had games that would go on to do some serious damage. Whether it was damage to your wallets, or it was to the poor not able to protect themselves controllers, there was a day of reckoning for both parties. One of the most infamous was Super Meat Boy as my Indie Pick of the Year.
There was definitely something under the hood this year with Microsoft. Games like Hydro Thunder gave players some nice reminders that great games do not necessarily have to include more than jet powered boats and a first place flag. The Xbox LIVE arcade release of Hydro Thunder: Hurricane was followed up with the Tempest DLC Pack that only offered a second trade of buck for some bang. Why does it sound so dirty reversed?
There was a lot of good coming from the release of some awesome games on the XBLA. Players only knew, but could not really judge until they laid those ever so loving thumbs on a controller to really get the full effect. Games like Comic Jumper and Super Meat Boy saved us from the plague of water and soggy underwear.
How could something so pretty hurt so bad?
This disappointment that I am referring to is Hydrophobia. The game was, excuse my pun, soaked with glitches and frustrating moments. Although the promised episodic adventure will continue, I do not know how many out there will be willing to shell out the next MS Point amount to continue on this brutally water logged adventure.
I felt like an unsuccessful magician.
Anticipated Game of 2011
The anticipation for a game gets clouded by the sheer volume of games releasing in 2011. Although many players have their hearts set on Mass Effect 2, or what Epic Games will be bringing to the table, or even what the caped crusader might have in store hiding in the dark. Whatever it may be, I know that from first hand experience, I am looking towards the introduction of the Nintendo 3DS. With a ton of games and the potential to damage your eye sight, its already got my attention. Who knows, maybe it will keep me from purchasing more games for my Virtual Boy.
There have been a lot of games to come out this past year on the PC that have been, for lack of a better phrase, kick-ass. We saw Starcraft 2 hit shelves after only a million years of waiting; We saw a brand new spin on the Medal Of Honor franchise, which was good, but only so-so. Call Of Duty: Black Ops was the year’s hit, but for some reason doesn’t like to work on compooterz, so I never got to play it. We saw Fallout: New Vegas, which was alright in my opinion, but for some reason I couldn’t get into it. The conclusion to one of my all-time-favorite franchises ever, Splinter Cell: Conviction, made me fist pump like a dude-bro on the Jerry Springer show. Bro.
Picks: Massively Multiplayer
On the massively multiplayer side of the spectrum, EVE Online saw 2 great free expansions launch this year, one in the way of Tyrannis, which finally allowed players to interact with the hundreds of planets that they’ve been staring at for years, giving them access to the manufacturing of trade goods and ushering in the first step toward CCP Game’s next venture, “Dust-514”. We also saw the newest expansion, Incursion, where an old enemy of the free peoples of New Eden has been resurrected and ready to tighten his iron fist on the throats of capsuleers the galaxy over. With that expansion, we are introduced to new ships, reimbursed skillpoints, broad-spectrum intelligent AI battles, and we’re given a taste of the new Carbon character animation and creation engine, which will be the core of the next expansion coming out next year called Incarna, which will finally allow players to leave their ships.
That’s gonna be a loooooong pee…
Secondly, the biggest MMO in the world saw it’s 3rd expansion in the series release early last month. Yes, I am speaking of World Of Warcraft: Cataclysm. And yes, I have been meaning to write something to this effect for a while now, but, as we all know, WoW is crack on steroids with a little bit of acid thrown into the mix. Cataclysm certainly doesn’t disappoint, with a raised level cap, a new profession, and 2 new races and starting zones to play and explore in. New dungeons, raids, and areas to level and get your ass kicked in add to the experience, as do the new PVP battlegrounds and rated battlegrounds. Toss in a great storyline and you have a brand new Warcraft experience unlike any other expansion in the past. Stay tuned, on a later date I will write a full report on the expansion.
Too bad you can’t patch over bad players. It’s times like these I’m glad I have an ignore button.
Truth Pick of the Year
My pick of the year in terms of steamy PC gaming goodness overall would have to be Starcraft 2. With over-the-top visuals, an engaging storyline, and near-RPG style single player upgrades as well as some of the best multiplayer this planet has to offer, I’d say SC2 deserves it hands down.
Did I forget to mention that there’s a new Final Fantasy MMO? I did? Well, did you know it even came out? You didn’t??
Well, don’t go out all in a rush to buy it. It sucks on ice.
Biggest Surprise of 2010
Realizing that I didn’t totally suck at Starcraft 2 multiplayer. Or, rather, that there are people who are at least worse then me.
Most Anticipated Games of 2011
To be perfectly honest, I cannot wait to see how EVE Online’s Incarna expansion will fare. I love flying around space, looking at all the cool nebulae and being absolutely in awe of the manner of detail in which CCP Games does their work. And, the in-game technology and architecture is astonishing – To be able to roam the stations we’ve been having our ships sitting in for the past 7 years and interact with people, play mini-games, engage in face-to-face side quests, and maybe even engage in some cloak-and-dagger sneaky sneaky would be the cat’s ass. I even remember reading somewhere that we might be able to roam inside our own ships, which would be killer, considering an in-game frigate class ship is roughly the size of a real-life aircraft carrier in scale. I want to see what my ship’s crew quarters looks like. If any.
I also cannot wait to see what Blizzard is going to throw us in terms of future Cataclysm content. They really brought a lot of great content to Wrath Of The Lich King in terms of the ancient temple of Ulduar and the final, climactic assault on Icecrown Citadel. I’m looking forward to the future of Azeroth.
Last but not least, Dust-514. I mentioned this game earlier in my post, and in our GOTY Truthcast, but I cannot stress enough how excited for this game I am. CCP Games is trying to blend a console-based MMOFPS with the universe and cross-platform influence of EVE Online. Everything that happens in orbit around a planet affects what happens on the ground in this game, and the prospects of having epic battles over important strategic and economic locations in the EVE universe has me gritting my teeth with anticipation.
In summary, 2010 has been a wonderful year for us PC gamers, and I cannot wait to see what 2011 has in store.
Maybe if Alienware and I stay on good terms, I can see a bit of what this next year will bring. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even get one of those “Ecksbawks Tree-Sigstee” things I’ve heard so much about. Maybe buy one of them new-fangled “Key-necks”. I’ve always wanted to watch Sports Center.
2010 was an outstanding year for Video Games! We had some truly excellent titles release (Many of them earlier in the year) and we saw some impressive motion technologies make their way to store shelves. Like the other Editors on GAMINGtruth.com I look at my shelves of games and begin to ponder “What game impacted me the way other entertainment mediums couldn’t?”
Truth Pick of the Year
Mass Effect 2
I love a good Sci-Fi epic with a solid story and an enhancement to the story progression. Mass Effect 2 went well above and beyond what I was expecting from the game. I loved the first one and the second one took two steps forward. I loved being able to take the Shepard I had created in the first, transition into the second. How many games now a days allow you to follow your character from one game to the next? This is what all Sci-Fi games should mirror and was as close as I have every gotten to giving a game a perfect rating.
Remedy has been reading Alan Wake for a long time. 5 Years in the making many questioned whether this game would even be a decent release. Releasing along side Red Dead Redemption may not have been a solid decision but for what the game was going for Alan Wake was an excellent game. It had a very unique and interesting story line that kept you guessing what was going to happen next, and time and time again pulled you out of the light and back into the darkness. Alan Wake does what a lot of horror games struggle with, adn that keeping you on the edge of your seat to find out what will happen next. Alan Wake did that and finished off strong (left me wanting to play more). I don’t know if there will be a sequel any time in the future based on sales, but I can only hope there will be.
Medal of Honor was the “Call of Duty” killer from EA that had us all excited. Remember the infamous Linkin Park/ gameplay video that tied into their first single? I for one got extremely excited to see this game hit the shelves. Dice was on the multiplayer, and coming off one of my favorite multiplayer games of 2010 this was a win/win situation. Bad gameplay mechanics, short and scripted campaign left this gamer feeling remorse for what could have been. Although the multiplayer was not a total loss, it did lack a lot of what made Bad Company 2 great. No destruction 2.0 and compact, robust maps. This game probably catapulted Call of Duty further instead of backwards.
Most Anticipated Game of 2011
I know, being that 2010 was the year of Mass Effect 2 many would have thought Mass Effect 3 would be a no brainer. As much as i loved Mass Effect 2, I’m still a HUGE Gears of War fanatic. This being the final Gears (So They Say) I am looking forward to completing the story of Delta Squad and seeing what will happen to Marcus and Dom.
Truth Pick of the Year
While I ultimately voted for Mass Effect 2 on the podcast (with it’s perfectly told story, instantly lovable ensemble of new and old characters and all-around awesome everything), I know the rest of the staff is going to do BioWare’s epic justice by writing oodles on it and want to highlight another title: Monster Hunter Tri for the Wii.
I played the first title on PlayStation 2 with two of my best buds and loved it. While two of us lived together, the other was quite a few states away. So, naturally, my first online game happened to be a great experience as it brought us back together.
I now live in Alaska, with two good gaming buds in Wisconsin and another in Japan. Being able to kill monsters with buds and then wear what you killed on top of your head for armor never gets old—though every time I see a sea lion at the harbor I fantasize about cutting it up and wearing it’s head for maximum ice element resistance as well as getting my hands on a Kodiak bear to use its claws to craft the perfect sword. It’s a customization lover’s dream come true when it comes to the different types of equipment available in the online action RPG—all reflective of the mighty beasts your team takes down.
It’s my favorite online game, has no monthly fee and it’s something I can still do with my friends.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 has finally made me a believer in Konami’s version of footy again. I haven’t enjoyed an iteration of the series since its rein during the PlayStation 2 days. Back then I spent countless hours in college crafting the best team possible and steamrolling the competition online with horrible teams like China. Good times.
The newest title finally gives gamers that silky smooth no-goal-is-the-same feel of yore that has been missing. Konami still doesn’t have as many licensed teams (team’s with proper player names, team names and kits) as EA’s FIFA series, but I’ll spend the time fixing that in the game’s editor…and I did just that for three hours. It’s that good.
Final Fantasy XIII wasn’t really a disappointment, but I have mixed feelings about it. I’ve never hated a Final Fantasy title. Sure I like some more than others, but I end up liking them no matter what. And while I like the story and cast in the newest game, I still wasn’t sure if I liked it or not. The gameplay is fun and interesting, but it held my hand way too much. It was way too linear for my tastes, but it also helped to push the story along. Even this long after release I’m not quite sure about my exact feelings on the game.
Most Anticipated Game of 2011
I have my perfect character and save file primed and ready with the DLC and expansion played through in anticipation of the second Dragon Age game. Sure, it won’t affect the game as much as transporting your Shepard does in Mass Effect 2, but it’s still something I need to have. On top of that almost 90-hour save file is a completed game for each origin story so I could see many of the numerous differences and unique situations to be had. After 400 hours and a visit to the wiki page I gave up on seeing absolutely everything BioWare’s epic Dragon Age: Origins has to offer. If you haven’t figured it out by now, Dragon Age 2 is my most anticipated game next year. I may be obsessed.
In short, 2010 has been a great year for gamers of all shapes and sizes, makes and models. Here’s a tip of the proverbial champagne glass to 2011 – May it not suck.
Cam: cam [ at ] GAMINGtruth [ dot ] com
LaWiiG: gregb [ at ] GAMINGtruth [ dot ] com
Shaddz: shaddz [ at ] GAMINGtruth [ dot ] com
Kyle: kodxfactor [ at ] GAMINGtruth [ dot ] com
Louis: lgarcia [ at ] GAMINGtruth [ dot ] com