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.