Game Of The Year: Red Dead Redemption
Years ago I sat down in front of my Xbox and slotted Red Dead Revolver into the disc tray and spent many an hour romping around the various Old West environments that the game offered, so it was a great day when I discovered a sequel was in the works, however it was also extremely frustrating as I knew it'd be a while until I finally got my hands on it, but boy was it worth the wait!
Red Dead Revolver blew me away with its gritty unconventional characters, masterfully woven plot, and a massive landscape to roam around in where things could unexpectedly jump out at any moment to test your skills as a gunslinger.
The sheer number of things that you can do in the game is definitely one of the major strings to its bow and means that you can hop in for whatever you're in the mood for, whether that's a few hands of poker, or a quick horseback ride into the desert to rope yourself a couple of outlaws to name but a few of the activities on offer.
You'll now have to excuse me for turning a bit soppy at this point because whilst the game portrays the Old West in a light similar to Deadwood, which is pretty much how I imagine it would have been rather than the tamer, politer imaginings of old John Wayne movies, it also captures the romance of that period in America's history allowing you to ride off into the sunset and putting you in the shoes of a character who simply wants to settle down with his family and earn an honest living.
Ok back to guns and explosions and the like, grrr! The multiplayer is infuriatingly addictive, especially if you form a posy with a couple of friends, pile into a fort, man the guns and cannons, and then see how long you can hold up for before getting yourself into a Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid moment.
Also, seeing as I'm quite a big fan of horror movies and the zombie genre, one small criticism that's always in the back of my mind when playing games is 'Yeah this is good, but there aren't enough reanimated corpses roaming around for my liking!' Luckily, The Undead Nightmare expansion pack ticked that particular box and didn't disappoint in any way in my opinion.
All in all, it's the sum of its parts that makes Red Dead Redemption the best game I played in 2010 and once again I find myself crossing my fingers and toes in hope of sequel.
Personal Favourite Game of 2010: Dead Rising 2
This is a particularly difficult decision for me and as I'm writing this I've got all the games I bought and more importantly kept hold of over the course of 2010 sitting on my desk. So, do I go with the deliciously gory co-op experience of joyously decapitating zombies with friends that Dead Rising 2 offered; the cut throat worlds of Assassin's Creed Brotherhood and Call Of Duty: Black Ops; the continuation of a truly marvellous story in Mass Effect 2; the chance to dive back into the terrifying yet also wondrous city of Rapture in Bioshock 2; the fantastic multiplayer mayhem featured in Halo: Reach and UFC Undisputed 2010; or the chance to settle any lonely adventurer's curiosity of another wasteland in Fallout: New Vegas? Hmmmmm.
Well you've all seen the title and picture for this section! The winner is of course, Dead Rising 2, simply because it's the game that's led to some of the funniest things I've seen in a video game this year; jumping around with a friend throwing traffic cones on zombies so that we could turn around to see a sea of confused undead corpses blindly bumping into one another left me in stitches of laughter. The Gladiator / Running Man style format of the multiplayer was something a little bit different that was good fun if you became bored of the main game. Finally, whilst it certainly wasn't one of the best games to grace our screens last year, I could jump into it for a quick bit of zombie killing if I was in a rush, or I could settle in to try and discover what caused the outbreak this time around if I had enough time to discover the illusive truth.
Biggest Disappointment of 2010: Star Wars The Force Unleashed 2
I don't really want to spend much time talking about this useless addition to the Star Wars games franchise because the trailers, TV spots, and even the demo had me jumping for joy at the prospect of wielding the force as Darth Vader's apprentice once more. Sadly, the game itself fell way way WAY too short of the mark, and for me it's not only one of the most disappointing games of 2010, it's also one of the most disappointing games I've ever played, and the fact that I had to pay £40.00 for this abomination left me filled with enough rage and hatred to give even The Dark Lord of the Sith a run for his money.
Favourite Gaming Moment of 2010
This is an easy one! Imagine if you will, it's Christmas day, there's a present shaped like an Xbox accessory sitting under the immaculately decorated tree, you rip it open to discover that you've been given Kinect for Christmas! For me that initial joy was just the beginning of one of the funniest experiences I had during 2010. There's nothing quite like watching your family immerse themselves quite so deeply in the new gaming technology that Microsoft've given us, especially when you've got a living room with low ceilings which led to mild concussions being inflicted whilst playing Kinect Adventures. However, the comedy piece de resistance came on Boxing Day when my Brother and I finally managed to get my Mum to give Dance Central a whirl! As you can imagine her performance led to everybody else in the room falling off their chairs in stitches of laughter, whilst Lady Gaga's Poker Face blasted out of the TV's speakers.
Lets not forget that Kinect, whilst also serving as a though roughly enjoyable comedy tool not only for the above reasons but also for the photos and video footage that it captures of you playing, is also a remarkably clever bit of kit that allows you to throw your controller away and shed the pounds instead of piling them on during extended video games sessions. Having now tried it out, I'd also go so far as saying, I think that it marks a dark time for the Wii and could even lead to the beginning of the little white box's eventual demise, but that's just me.
Most Anticipated Game Of 2011: Test Drive Unlimited 2
For me this is another pretty close call between a couple of worthy sequels including Test Drive Unlimited 2, Batman Arkham City, Crysis 2, and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
In the end though I have to go for Test Drive Unlimited 2 though because whilst Skyrim is the sequel to one of my favourite games EVER, Crysis 2 is the follow up to one of the most visually beautiful games I've ever seen on the PC, and Arkham City looks quite frankly like ass kickingly good fun, I know that at any point I can drift into TDU2 fire up the engine to a Pagani Zonda R, Ferrari 458 Italia, or Aston Martin DBS, and let go of all my worldly worries as I cruise along listening to the car purr, or call up a couple of friends for a quick drag race.