Yes, that’s right. They even let the Dealspwn newbie have a say on the gaming highs and lows of the past year. So grab a drink, sit back and take a look at my ramblings through the year that was 2010; a year filled with zombies, cowboys, very angry spartans, never-ending waves of Zerg, more zombies, meat-shaped cubes, Illusive Men, racing simulators, motion-control shenanigans, even more zombies, roof-leaping assassins, golden guns, ninjas, terrible MMO’s and mutants called Lily.
Oh, and zombies.
Game Of The Year
Red Dead Redemption, Fallout: New Vegas and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood nearly won out here, but in the end I felt the nod should go to Blizzard’s return to the real time strategy genre with StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. Overall the gameplay from the original had been left unchanged with only a few tweaks here and there, and yet it still played like one of the best and well balanced games in years. It was a smooth gameplay experience from start to finish, providing you could survive the Zerg rushes every other minute.
The storyline was incredibly well done, providing you could stomach the tongue-in-cheek macho nature of it all, detailing the continuing struggle of Jim Raynor as he fights against the Terran Dominion and hunts for his lost love Sarah Kerrigan, now the Queen of Blades for the Zerg. When the epic single-player was done, the monstrous online mode was waiting along with online leagues and serious competitive business for those brave enough to throw their hat into the virtual ring. With further developer and community support for varying game modes announced this year there is more than enough content to keep purchasers happy in the first of three releases for Starcraft II. Sure, £35 is pricey for a PC release these days (and it would sadly mean you were funding the evil that is Bobby Kotick) but those that took the plunge will tell you it is worth every penny, and for that reason is my pick for GOTY.
Favourite Game of 2010
Out of all of the releases this year, I think only one game had me coming back even after I had completed the single player and dabbled with the multiplayer, and that was Red Dead Redemption. By the time RDR had come around I’d just finished watching the entirety of Deadwood and had just watched There Will Be Blood, so I was in a “death of the Old West” mood and Rockstar’s latest helped keep the obsession going. The journey of John Marston as he takes down his former partners in crime was a slow but enjoyable affair, although it did have its faults both in gameplay and moral choices.
What made it my favourite game of the last year were the moments when John was traveling into Mexico and back to the family, moments when the soundtrack of the game highlighted the visual beauty on the screen and sucked me into world of New Austen completely. Jamie Lidell and Jose Gonzalez’s compositions were perfect fits for those moments and ensured I would remember RDR for the foreseeable future.
And then there were the multiplayer antics. While I utterly sucked at the competitive modes, the co-op missions gave me some of my best online moments this year. One particular stand-out memory involved a friend of mine mistakenly throwing some dynamite and killing everyone on the raft… except for yours truly. I spent five minutes under heavy fire from all directions, all the while my friends and I were in fits of laughter from the stupidity of how we got in this mess before finally getting to a point where everyone could respawn and complete the mission. Add to this the tomfoolery of driving a stage coach whilst drunk and many good times were had. I’ve yet to play any of the Undead Nightmare content but I’m fairly sure when I do it’ll be just as enjoyable as the content I’ve already experienced with Red Dead Redemption.
Favourite Gaming Moment of 2010
While it’s a fairly obvious one to pick, nothing caught my excitement more than Gearbox’s announcement that Duke Nukem Forever would finally see the light of day in 2011. 2009 had seen the drama unfold at 3D Realms, who had finally laid off its staff for the game and were locked in a lawsuit with publishers Take Two over the rights to the franchise. It was easy to assume we would never get to kick ass and chew bubblegum again. However after a not-so-subtle hint by Jon St. John, the voice of Duke, about the project at a convention the rumours started to circulate around the internet and while there were a large portion of gamers who snubbed any mention of it, there were some people who, if only a little, held out hope for DNF to finally arrive.
Then in September of 2010 at the Penny Arcade Expo, word emerged of an exhibit that was announcing the impossible; after 13 years of waiting, industry jokes, and even more waiting the King of the FPS genre was coming back. The gaming world not only cheered at the fact we’d get to see Duke back in the FPS fray, but was in a state of shock when we saw it in action, complete with interactive peeing and glorious one-liners. Dealspwn’s Matt even gave Randy Pitchford a hug; it was that special a moment for everyone.
Biggest Disappointment of 2010
As funny as it would be to put Gran Turismo 5 here and watch the chaos ensue, I thought I’d take this one seriously and pick what was probably the shortest lived MMO in gaming history, APB: All Points Bulletin.
It had all the promise in the world; an endless battle of cop verses robbers in a huge city with varying districts, and unparalleled customisation options for your avatar, your cars and your music. Sadly, after months of testing the reality was that apart from the customisation everything else was very much below par. Servers were smaller than advertised, overpowered rewards meant that the league leaders stayed on top and newbies were in for an uphill struggle, allegations of aimbots flooded the community, and most importantly the content just wasn’t there. Add on top of this an experimental yet badly thought-out subscription plan and within just one month after release the developers Realtime Worlds (the makers of Crackdown) went into administration and the game servers were turned off.
In the last few months news has been released of GamersFirst getting the rights to the game with plans to rerelease it in a Free2Play model so we’ll be seeing it back in some form next year, but it doesn’t change the fact that APB was clearly the biggest disappointment of the year.
Most Anticipated Game For 2011
Between Felix’s article earlier this month and suggestions from our awesome audience it’s clear there are plenty of promising titles incoming next year to get excited about. However after looking over all the comments one title has managed to go unmentioned, and understandably so considering how long it’s been in development, but hell I going to stand by it anyway; my vote goes to L.A Noire.
As long as it manages to stay on schedule this is the game I have the highest hopes for next year. I’ve always been a sucker for a good detective story and Film Noir in general, and if the trailer & Behind The Scenes videos are anything to go by it’s going to be a masterclass in story, presentation and new levels of interactive entertainment that was explored in Heavy Rain this year. The ability to do detective work and interview suspects whilst reading their mannerisms to look for a lie really interests me, as the last time a game even came close to such an experience was Blade Runner back in 1997. Add to this the all-star cast that is lined up as well, and I can see myself spending copious amounts of hours on Team Bondi’s next effort in a 2011 that will be filled with great gaming moments.