Kicking off our series of personal reminiscence trips, our PlayStation connoisseur Brendan gives us his overview of 2010.
Game of the Year
Arguably more of an interactive movie than a game, but the bravery shown by Quantic Dream to try something different from the norm can only be applauded. Before playing the game I was really worried that it would be just a long series of Quick-Time Events. Thankfully Heavy Rain was packed with enough choices for the player and brilliant production values to make all these worries fade away within the first hour of play. Rarely are we given so much choice on how a story plays out with such an interesting set of characters, who if we weren't careful could die permanently and possibly change the journey and outcome of this dark crime story. Did it change gaming forever? Well, not really, nobody else seems to be trying to emulate Heavy Rain's success. But but it showed what is possible and that many gamers are more open to something a little different for a change if only developers and publishers are willing to take a chance.
Favourite Game of 2010
I completed the first Bioshock for the first time, just a few days before Bioshock 2 came out, so I could review it for the site I wrote for before Dealspwn. This meant I was in a great position to compare both games without the rose-tinted glasses. The decision to put the player into the boots of a Big Daddy was inspired, mainly because of the way the game had you interact with the Little Sisters. Protecting them while they harvested Adam from corpses was an unnerving affair, made even more complicated by what to do afterwards. Would you harvest them for a large supply of Adam, or free them, hoping there'd be an award later on? I opted to try and save them all and this is where the stand-out moment of the game occurred.
There were two Little Sisters in the same area. One of mine, harvesting a corpse while I was fending off splicers and the other cowering behind a Daddy I accidentally pissed off (thus had to kill) during the shoot-out. Yep, I picked up the wrong one and didn’t realise for an hour. After dropping off my free-loader I made my way back to the area where I’d lost the first one and felt genuine guilt (and massively relieved) when she emerged from the shadows and ran over cheering: “I knew you wouldn’t leave me behind.
Other games just aren't getting close to how much emotion they can provoke, or asking questions from a gamer about how far they'd go to make life easier on themselves. Bioshock Infinite will be asking similar questions, albeit in a completely new sky-high location. Unfortunately I'll have to wait this time, along with everyone else. Roll on 2012.
Favourite Gaming Moment of 2010
Realising PlayStation Move was awesome
It might leave me feeling like I've been hit by a bus the day after, but the PlayStation Move and Sports Champions is the best example of the potential of Sony's evolution of a familiar motion-controller setup. It was the best game at launch and to be honest it's still miles ahead of other Move releases. The archery and table tennis being the best examples. With the table tennis I loved how it managed to match the real thing, especially with you being able to add ferocious topspin to shots and the archery was great fun using two controller to mimic cocking your arrow, aiming and firing.
PlayStation Move is an incredible piece of technology and hopefully 2011 will see more developers try and make some 'proper' games for it, instead of waves of party fodder. Killzone 3 will be the first true test for it, so maybe it's time to pre-order the new gun attachment.
Biggest Disappointment of the Year
It's far from a bad game, but it utterly collapsed under the weight of expectations with a redesign of the combat system that left many gamers frustrated and bored. The levels were extremely linear for the first half of the game and by the time things opened up on Gran Pulse it was already too late.
The story was intriguing, even with the constant flashbacks. The way the game let you read-up on what you'd been through via the journal if you'd not played in a while encouraged you to persevere with it. The game is absolutely gorgeous too with beautifully animated characters and wondrous environments, but the gameplay just couldn't compete with the production values. Everyone I know that has finished the game has said it just wasn't worth the effort. Despite that, one of my gaming New Year's Resolutions is going to be to finish FFXIII or at least scour the internet to see if anyone has compiled all the cut-scenes into a nice long movie. Square-Enix really need to get their shit together, especially after the online mess that is Final Fantasy XIV on the PC too, which should be crash-landing on the PS3 next year.
Most Anticipated Game for 2011
Just as Uncharted 2 rocked my world in 2009, I'm confident that the third game is going to absolutely dominate 2011. Strong words considering 2011 will also see Gears of War 3, Arkham City, Killzone 3 and Brink. Wow, 2011 is going to destroy 2010.
Anyway, Uncharted's developers, Naughty Dog are taking on the desert this time around with recent videos showing how sand and fire are going to feature heavily. Sure deserts don't sound as exciting as jungles, Nepal rooftops or lost kingdoms of Shambhala, but I'm sure the game will be stuffed with gorgeous scenes, exhilarating action and plenty of surprises. Naturally Nolan North returns to voice Nathan Drake who will be spending large parts of the game with Sully after fans begged for him to get a larger role than last time out. Fingers crossed Elena will drop by too. Co-op has been ruled out already for the story mode, but there will be some multiplayer co-op to look forward to which will be worth the wait if Uncharted 2's surprisingly good online modes are anything to go by. One thing's for sure, Uncharted 3 is going to be a hell of a lot better than sitting through the Uncharted movie watching Mark 'f**king' Wahlberg as Nate Drake.