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The Top 10 video games in 2010 as I saw them

It’s that time of the year that I like to take a look back at the past year and set my hopes for the next. So as part of a small mini-series I intend to do this holiday season I plan to take you through the best video games this year and the best video games to look out for in the upcoming 2011.

Year 2010 offered us lots of gaming titles, but most of them were sequels of popular and best-selling games. That way the publishers didn’t take any risks with new franchises and bet on safe ones instead. This is not a bad thing, but aren’t we tired of seeing 2,3,4…13 in the game titles? Of course there were some exceptions like Alan Wake, Heavy Rain, Vanquish and Red Dead Redemption, but generally most of the games I played throughout 2010 were sequels.

Anyway, it was a good gaming year and I definitely can’t complain of what I got to play with in 2010.

It’s always hard to tell which game is best so I won’t put any ratings to the titles I’ve chosen to pinpoint. The ten games below surely made quite an impression and deserved equal places in my heart. I know everyone has a personal favorite (mine is Mass Effect 2), but let’s admit – when a game is good enough, nothing else matters. And the good games of 2010 are:

Mass Effect 2
PC, X360, PS3 (coming soon)

Commander Shepard has won the hearts of millions gamers around the globe and his latest adventures across the Milky Way are one of the best things that happened to us this year. The first game was a revolution in the Sci-Fi RPG genre. The sequel has bet more on the action than on the RPG side, but this move only won even more fans for the epic saga.

Mass Effect 2 offers more gameplay hours, more action, lots of new characters and a new thrilling story. The plot was focused on the Collectors instead on the Reapers, but hey, it takes time to reach our galaxy (hint: Mass Effect 3 is coming in fall 2011).

The exceptional story, deep atmosphere, interesting gameplay and dialogue system made Mass Effect so good. Mass Effect games are always best-sellers. In days, where the computer game piracy is all over the place, Bioware still managed to sell millions of both PC and console versions of the game (as opposed to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which sold only 800 000 PC copies). Bioware seems to be one of the few who really knows how to battle the piracy – with perfect games.

Halo Reach
X360

It’s a Halo. This is enough to sell ten millions. But Bungie has never rested on their past laurels.

Reach is the last game of the Halo series and it’s definitely the best one. It’s the most beautiful, adrenaline-rushing, emotional and aggressive one. Everyone knows Reach will fall, because the game is a prequel. But Bungie made us believe we can still change history, giving the humanity a hope to survive.

The unique gameplay cocktail features FPS action, perfect multiplayer game modes, cosmic battles, the doomed Reach, all the sacrifices, and total destruction – this is Halo Reach – a masterpiece that will remain forever in our hearts.

I still wonder what it could have been if Bungie’s initial plan was fulfilled for the first Halo – a Mac exclusive real-time strategy…

Alan Wake
X360

Alan Wake’s situation is really sad. It took Remedy five years to complete the game and in the end Microsoft’s decided to launch it only for the Xbox 360. Despite it’s a great product, Alan Wake did not sell well and remained highly underrated. I really hope for a sequel, but even without one, Alan Wake is still the perfect psychological action thriller.

Alan Wake offers an excellent oppressive atmosphere (somehow reminding me of the Twin Peaks series), very beautiful graphics, unique story sodden with mysteries, one of the best game soundtracks plus some innovative gameplay. The game is full of lots of geeky stuff too (the Night Spring shows, the radio shows or even the Bright Falls local stories).

The one thing that made Alan Wake so good is the fact it’s exactly the excellent psychological thriller it promised to be right from the very start.

Red Dead Redemption
X360, PS3

When Rockstar decides to make a new game, everyone knows it will be a blockbuster. After the well-received GTA series, Rockstar took a completely different turn for their next title, going back to the Wild West times.

The adventures of John Marston are an example, which many other companies should learn of. Read Dead Redemption is a huge open-world game offering so much action, quests and challenges that will get you busy for weeks. The game pushes the Xbox 360 hardware to the limit and is one of the best looking titles in 2010.

Red Dead Redemption is the GTA IV of the westerns and I highly recommend it to everyone.

Star Craft II: Wings of Liberty
PC

I’m sure this particular game doesn’t need further explanations. It’s the sequel to a game that had entertained at least two generations of gamers, a sequel that we’ve been waiting for more than twelve years. But even so much time has passed, StarCraft still remains that RTS jewel that no one can beat.

Blizzard once again showed the world how you make a perfect strategy and what the meaning of the word “balance” is. And StarCraft has finally managed to enter the new millennium… gloriously! You can bet though, I’ll always get back to the original title for some old-school strategic shootouts whenever we feel nostalgic.

Fable III
X360, PC (coming soon)

The Last Fable has left both the critics and the gamers with mixed feelings and impressions. It surely managed to win some new fans, but lost some on the way too. Fable III may not be the best title this year, but it deserves a place among the Top 10.

Fable III has simple and more action-oriented gameplay in contrast of its predecessors. There are no menus, no inventory, no skill tree, not even a free NPC interaction. All was sacrificed in order to focus the new Fable on the action, the story and the huge world instead on the hardcore character development.

In the end lots of people liked the Lionhead decision, because they were tired of the countless hours spent in the Fable/Fable II menus, costume/beard experiments, tattoo nightmares, etc.

Fable III gives the gamers a huge and mesmerizing fantasy world filled with thrilling adventures, old mysteries, hordes of enemies, beautiful magical women and lots of challenges. Albion is a world of freedom where you can go and do whatever you want. What’s there not to like in this place?

Splinter Cell: Conviction
PC, X360

Conviction is the first Splinter Cell game that breaks out its own mold and puts you right into some adrenaline-filled action scenes. It’s closer to Uncharted 2: Among Thieves rather than its predecessor.

Splinter Cell: Conviction still keeps the stealth gameplay, but it’s easier to play and the whole gameplay bets more on the action. It’s not necessary to stay invisible, now your only task is to make it alive at any cost. You serve no one but yourself.

I really liked the new Splinter Cell. It’s the refresh the series needed for a long time and I’m sure Ubisoft are more than happy with its sales.

World of WarCraft: Cataclysm
PC

It’s the World of WarCraft’s latest expansion pack. A game played by more than ten million players and made by one of the best game studios – Blizzard Entertainment. Yes, its place is here.

Vanquish
X360, PS3

Vanquish is one of the fastest and the most adrenaline-filled games I’ve played in the last few years. I hardly remember what the plot was, but I can still remember the feeling of almost crushing the controller in my hands. Similar to Platinum’s previous game – Bayonetta – Vanquish is all about the gameplay, combos and non-stop battles with huge (and I mean HUGE) robots and other less-threatening soldiers. Yes, we didn’t control a sexy chick doing some really crazy stuff this time, but the game is still awesome.

God of War III
PS3

There is no doubt the last adventure of Kratos was among the best titles this year. The epic quest of the baldy hero against the entire Olympus and the mighty Zeus pushed the PS3 hardware to the limit. God of War III received some quite positive reviews and it was highly appreciated by the series fans. It’s a must-buy title for all PlayStation 3 owners.

So those are the titles that impressed me more this year. I know many of you prefer one genre over the other and you probably wouldn’t even consider some of the games I wrote here. But nevertheless, I think those ten titles easily grabbed the first ten spots no matter your playing preferences.

Stay tuned for my next article on the Top 10 games to watch for in the upcoming 2011.

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