Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Year in Review: Honorable mentions

All this week, we'll be recapping the year that was. Today: 2010 honorable mentions.

Rough as this year was, there were still plenty of games that I played and enjoyed, even if they didn't end up making my list of the best games of the year. In chronological order of when I played them:

Battlefield: Bad Company 2: I don't think I ever wrote about this game. I am generally tired of military-themed shooters, but I dug the big maps and the vehicles, and I want to apologize to the dozens of teammates I inadvertently murdered whenever I was driving.

Alan Wake: A terrific-looking shooter with a decent gameplay gimmick and a nice sense of pacing. If only this bestselling author hadn't been such a terrible writer.

Super Mario Galaxy 2: Even if I find myself reaching the "it's not you, it's me" stage with a lot of these Nintendo games, the quality is undeniable. You still can't screw with Super Mario.

Hydro Thunder Hurricane: A super-fun throwback arcade racer for Xbox Live Arcade. I really, really liked this game. It almost made my top 10 for the year.

Metroid: Other M: Uneven, especially where the storytelling was concerned, but Other M was a fun and fast-paced update to the Metroid universe. I just wish it hadn't gotten better after it ended!

NBA Jam: I almost forgot it existed, but I had fun with this game while it lasted. God, is that the most mild praise you can imagine, or what?

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem!: My first review for Joystiq was also my biggest surprise of the year. This game's reach doesn't exceed its grasp; it accomplishes everything it sets out to do.

Donkey Kong Country Returns: Rock-solid 2d platforming marred only by -- what else? -- shoehorned waggle control. Apparently there's a classic controller mode available, which probably would have helped to know when I was playing it.

Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom: Another surprise. I predict that, a year from now, one of two things will happen: either you'll be able to get this game for five bucks from every bargain bin in the country, or you'll have to get it for a hundred on eBay. Both outcomes seem equally likely.

Mass Effect 2: All right, you bastards. You win. I like Mass Effect 2. Sure, I still find the moment-to-moment play excruciating, just trying to accomplish the simplest tasks, and the plot isn't that good. I've pretty much lost track of the whole thing at this point. The non-stop recitation of alien races and planets is stupefying. And, come on: The Illusive Man? Seriously? WTF kind of lazy storytelling is that? He smokes so mysteriously! And where the hell is he? Is there a bathroom on his solar observation deck?

But, on the other hand, my renegade FemShep is awesome. I like her dark humor and her clear-eyed take on things. She doesn't do the things I would do in her position, but neither do I feel like the game is forcing my hand. I'm trying to get inside this character's head. There are times when it seems like this is exactly what a roleplaying game is supposed to be.

Now let's never speak of this again.

Some Games I Wish I Had Played: Split/Second, Blur, Metro 2033, Joe Danger, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Pac Man CE DX

Can't win 'em all.

Tomorrow: the worst games of 2010.


avixe said...

As a guy who loves racing games, believe me: Split/Second is the best in years.

Mitch Krpata said...

I downloaded the demo after you mentioned it and it did seem like fun, but at that point nothing was tearing me away from Hot Pursuit.

Frederik said...

If you like to have a good deal of plain honest fun, I can highly recommend you Joe Danger. :)

Ben Abraham said...

Y'know... I just wanted to chime in here in support of BFBC2. It's kinda tragic that so few people have written about it this year as it's well worth talking about.

If there's anywhere that's still almost completely under-talked about in games criticism it's multiplayer gaming. Sure the ludo-heavies like Sirlin, Simon Ferrari and Charles Pratt go on about them but unless you're into extreme top-tier play there's no-one else looking at what it's like to play these games...

Why am I writing this here, I have a perfectly good blog to say this on!