Even if it hasn't necessarily been a groundbreaking, goalpost-moving year for video gaming, the list below is enough to make any joystick fiend quiver and salivate with delight. I'm drooling as I type. The past twelve months have seen some truly phenomenal releases. There've been some happy returns returns, from Ezio to Kratos, and some new faces too such as the grizzled John Marston and the flamboyant Bayonetta. We've seen some outstanding open, expansive worlds and locales, and also been treated to taut and focused action. Again, a tough assortment to choose from, and one that was hotly contested and debated.
NB. Hit the thumbnail for price comps and the title for our full reviews where applicable.
Astoundingly, in the space of a year, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood managed to top its predecessor in virtually every way and also find space for a whole bunch of new stuff too including a cracking multiplayer mode. No, it wasn't the big leap that might accompany a ‘3′ in the title, but for any fan of the series, or sandbox games in general, it was an absolutely essential purchase.
Sexy, self-referential, slick and stylish, Bayonetta was an excellent action title to kick off 2010, dodging accusations of being derivative with one of the most finely tuned, and fun to play, combat engines seen in video gaming. Though you might have had a hard time explaining it to your mother, Bayonetta was certainly one hell of a spellbinding ride.
God of War III reinforced the idea that 'Bigger IS Better' in 2010. Some of the staggeringly epic battles had to be seen to be believed. Sony's Santa Monica studio didn't shake things up too much in the case of bare essentials (why would they?), but for fans of the series this was an utter treat. Bigger, badder and better than ever!
David cage and co. outdid themselves with Heavy Rain, a striking noirish piece of interactive entertainment that was unlike anything else we saw this year. Impossible to fail at, Heavy Rain set the bar for narrative exploration and player choice. Far more than just an extended tech demo, Heavy Rain was one of the bravest mainstream games of the year.
Some games give you a fairly repetitive sandbox to play in, but Rico Rodriguez was having none of that for his second outing. Offering more bang for your buck than any other game of its genre, Just cause 2 was a vast improvement on its predecessor, giving players a gargantuan island for a playground. Blowing stuff up whilst backflipping out of planes and parachuting into a stolen police van never got old.
One of the most finely crafted games of the year, Red Dead Redemption was a glorious paean to the Old West and in John Marston gaming had one of the most interesting protagonists in years. Aided and abetted by a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack, masterful writing and a very well-thought-out multiplayer package to boot, RDR was yet another golden success for Rockstar.
Sam Fisher returned for arguably his best outing since Chaos Theory in 2010. Gone were the insta-fail, super-stealthy machinations of the past, this time ubisoft took a leaf out of Arkham Asylum's book and let you spread terror from the shadows...and it was glorious. Mini sandbox action that allowed for multiple different playthroughs and playing styles. this was the closest we came to a new Hitman game in 2010.
Winner: Red Dead Redemption
The sheer pedigree of Red Dead Redemption was difficult to ignore. It was built on a tried and tested formula, but the expansive (mis)adventures of John Marston add up to so much more than simply GTA Cowboys. Hard-hitting, at times incredibly moving, ambitious, engrossing and, best of all, exceptionally good fun, Rockstar proved that gaming could do Western epics just as well as Tinseltown. A staggering achievement.