Well now that our Game of the Year season has passed, let's take a look at some of the unsung heroes of 2010. We've drawn up a list of some of the most underrated and overlooked games of the last twelve months. We were going to include indie games in this list too...but quite frankly there'd be too many quiet gems to mention all in one go! Keep in touch with Jon's Wednesday XBLIG roundups and Dave's PC freeware collections every Monday though.
10. Metroid: Other M
In amongst a sea of same-old Ninty titles, Metroid: Other M was a brave combination that refused to simply knock off a straight homage to a popular franchise. Encompassing elements of the original 2D side-scroller, the FPS action of the Retro Studios Prime trilogy and making the most of the Wii's control system that coupled a standalone Wiimote with gunslinging action, Team Ninja's effort was seriously worthy of note. It was far from perfect, and the name it bears gave it some attention at least (which is why it didn't place higher), but it tried something a little bit different. And, four years into the Wii's lifespan, that's quite damn impressive indeed.
9. Any Other JRPG
We didn't really get on with Final Fantasy XIII here in the Dealspwn office, and I suppose it could have been something of a contender for this list, but we rather felt most had got that one spot on: it made a lot of noise, it looked very shiny, it took 20-30 hours to get going. But if you wanted a proper JRPG fix you were completely spoiled for choice, the difference being that most of them didn't get as much attention. Between Dragon Quest IX, Valkyria Chronicles II, Resonance of Fate and, of course, my personal favourite Infinite Space, there were whole days to be lost to these games. They all had flaws, often pertaining to over-complexity , but they were all of them incredibly rich affairs if you liked that sort of thing.
8. Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands
The open-world shenanigans of 2008's series reboot received mixed blessings and it turned out that you really couldn't please everybody when Ubisoft turned up in 2010 with a game that firmly echoed the seminal Sands of Time's split-second acrobatic platforming and enormous puzzle chambers and received exactly the same thing. It was short, true, and offered little by way of replayability. But, at it's best, The Forgotten Sands proved that the Prince's fienst moments weren't that forgotten after all.
You've got to feel a little sorry for Bizarre Creations. True, one of their games this year (the mediocre Blood Stone) was worthy of a bargain bin plummet, but Blur was a different story. Eclipsed by bigger names, it didn't sell well. But combining blistering arcade racing with powerups and weapons was something of a simple masterstroke. No it didn't sell too well, facing stiff competition from the likes of Split/Second (the two are quite interchangeable within this list), but that didn't stop it from being really good fun.
6. Just Cause 2
We're a website that deals in deals. We like bargains. We love getting the maximum bang for our grumblingly exchanged buck. And with that in mind it's hard not to see past Just Cause 2 for some kind of award. Rico's second outing came and went without too much of a fanfare, but the sheer scale of Panau was a delight for sandbox fans. Its capital city - approximating maybe a generous 5% of the map - was nearly as big as some entire game worlds.
5. Sin and Punishment: Successor To The Skies
If Just Cause 2 is a prime example of expansive and open-ended gameplay done superbly, then Treasure's astounding effort is the exact opposite: a meticulous, perfectly conducted experience where everything is in its right place. In every sense of the word, Successor To The Skies was spectacular game design at its very best. But it wasn't actually made in-house by Nintendo and didn't feature half-baked party mechanics so naturally no one bought it on the Wii.
4. 3D Dot Game Heroes
This wasn't the first game to borrow lots of elements from the Zelda series, and it certainly won't be the last, but few pull it off with quite as much retro charm and joyful glee as this little PS3 gem did. Its graphical style was original, the in-jokes and knowing little side glances plentiful and it was impossible to play without visibly beaming with nostalgic bliss. If anything, it was heartening to see a game emerge from 2010 that seemed crafted out of pure love. A fans delight.
Schizophrenic, bat-sh*t crazy at times, clueless as to what it wanted to be at any given time, Nier certainly wasn't lacking in character. Speaking of which, partnering a century old doting father with a particularly irate gymnastic hermaphrodite resulted in one of the most bizarre protagonist teams of the decade let alone year. Nier was a receptacle of so many intriguing ideas an concepts, with a story and atmosphere that was never done quite enough justice. It's a shame that so many parts of it seemed underdeveloped or unfinished because though it could feel quite offputting at times, it was capable of some spellbinding interaction.
No, I very much doubt whether Singularity had a single original idea on its disc, but it really didn't matter. essentially something of a Best Of album of everyone's favourite FPS gimmicks - gravity guns, fly-by-wire missiles- remote control grenades, plamid-style superpowers - it was probably the most fun shooter of the year....and no one really played it. Overlooked by Activision before and after release, it was rather overlooked by the public too. Which is a shame, because it was awesome! Shallow, yes; but awesome all the same.
1. Deadly Premonition
Jon has already made the case for Deadly premonition being game of the year and, because he's been hoarding it for weeks, it's probably best that he takes this one. Sit back and be awed by the power of Dead Prem's case for being the Unsung Hero of 2010:
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.
Was there an overlooked game in 2010 or diamond in the rough that you feel needs some attention? Let us know in the box below!!