It's been one hell of a year- and a fantastic time to be a games journalist. We've had scandals, hype and a ludicrous amount of controversy to sink our teeth into... but it's time to move past all that. We're here because we love games- so without further ado, I'd like to present my personal highs and lows of 2010.
Game Of The Year: Deadly Premonition
Wait, what? WhaaaAAAAaaat?!
I can hear the incredulous shrieks from here. Sure, I've given games a higher score, but Deadly Premonition breaks every game design rule in the book and still manages to deliver a completely unique and worthwhile experience. The storyline is one of- if not THE- best ever told in a videogame to date, with perfect quirky characters and hilarious dialogue jarring with the overtly mature themes and horrifying exposition. Not to mention that Agent York is one of the most interesting and relatable protagonists in gaming history. There's nothing even remotely like it out there. It isn't so bad that it's good- rather, it's just damn good at what it does.
Put simply, Deadly Premonition is 2010's Killing In The Name Of; an alternative masterpiece that deserves to be lauded above the trendy coiffured hipsters that tend to dominate the scene at Christmas time.
Just go rent it already. So says Mr. Lester.
Favourite Game Of 2010: Halo Reach
With so many great Indie titles to consider as my favourite game of the year, I've been under a lot of pressure to come up with an experience that's genuinely monopolised most of my time and affection. I decided to spend some time in my comfort zone: tense games of Team SWAT on Halo Reach where muscle memory and reflexes could let my mind wander onto the subject at hand. And that's when it hit me. By becoming my go-to game, my home away from home on Xbox Live, Reach has become my favourite game of 2010.
I'm as surprised as you are. Sure, the campaign's storyline and the focus on infantry ground-pounding was extremely disappointing. God knows that I've played better. I've spent hours plugging away at innovative Indie gems and triple-A monoliths alike, and there have been loads of spectacular PS3 exclusives or multiplat offerings to gorge on. But I'll always swing by Sword Base or Pinnacle for a quick blast and a daily challenge or two at the end of the day.
Halo Reach is a uniquely inclusive and comprehensive experience, with gametypes that suit literally any taste or changing mood. Solo players can enjoy the campaign or compete in firefight for points- or cooperate with mates in an arcade-style battle for supremacy. Feeling a little more competitive? There are countless multiplayer modes on offer. Reach delivers any shooting experience that you could ask for... and regardless of what you happen to be craving, you can be guaranteed a good time when you pop it in the drive.
Most Disappointing Game Of 2010: Sniper Ghost Warrior
Mass Effect 2 avoided this dubious demerit by the skin of its teeth. I found Bioware's reluctance to advance the main storyline in favour of collecting a motley crew of one-dimensional characters to be extremely galling... but there's no denying that I still enjoyed it. However, my choice for this award illustrates the fact that there's nothing more disappointing than a game that almost delivers.
We've been craving a decent sniping experience for some time- and Sniper: Ghost Warrior actually managed to provide solid sharpshooting mechanics and brutal, authetic thrills that could have made it a strong contender for Game Of The Year. However, City Interactive decided to merrily piss all of its potential down the drain by adding insta-fail stealth sections, awful standard FPS segments (that rank amongst the worst ever made) and a horrible obtrusive storyline.
The cherry on the cake is that you'll spend half the game tracking down a target... and just before you get to take the shot, you'll leap into the body of the SPOTTER. That's right, folks- you just get to watch impotently as the AI kills the man you've spent hours trying to reach. Sniper: Ghost Warrior snatched crushing mediocrity from the jaws of greatness, and is a thoroughly disappointing little outing.
Favourite Gaming Moment Of 2010
There's been a lot to choose from. 2010 has provided any number of unforgettable gaming moments... but most of them actually took place in real life. Getting to watch the Bioshock Infinite trailer in the lavish 2K lounge at Gamescom? Interviewing my hero Tim Wilitts (and desperately trying not to hump his leg)? Singing drunken karaoke at the outstanding We Sing: Robbie Williams launch party and being pictured in MCV? Accidentally body-checking Peter Molyneux outside the MS paddock? Any one of these moments would have made my year.
But as a dormant SEGA fanboy, my biggest thrill came from being able to interview Yuji Naka during his brief stay in London. Despite creating Sonic The Hedgehog, Phantasy Star Online, NiGHTs and any number of fantastic titles, Naka-San is a uniquely humble and friendly man; willing to chat and wax lyrical about his life as well as his grand works. Discovering that Samba de Amigo was his second favourite creation made me laugh out loud, and it was illuminating (as well as great fun) to chat with him over a coffee before I switched on the mike. Even through an interpreter, it was an absolute blast that I won't soon forget.
Most Anticipated Game For 2011: Deus Ex HR
Like most well-adjusted gamers, I love the original Deus Ex more than I love most people. Its... just great. For so many reasons.
I must admit to being a little sceptical when I first heard that Deus Ex: Human Revolution was in the works, but after seeing it in action behind the scenes at Gamescom, I'm willing to put my reputation on the line and categorically state that it's going to be excellent. Huge, nonlinear levels provide multiple ways of accomplishing each objective- to the point where you can complete the entire game without killing a single person. And, yeah, you can punch a guy through a wall. Sick.
Also, let's face it, those CGI trailers have been badass. I couldn't be more excited for this one, and with any luck they'll spend the extra time on polishing it to perfection. Roll on 2011!