Top Games of 2010: Matt Bailey's Choices

By Matt Bailey

Top Games of 2010

In each of these "Top Games of 2010" features one contributor to the site will detail their three favourite titles from the year, and explain why they made those choices. They will also provide an "indie choice", highlighting one of the best games from the independent scene. Next is Editor Matt Bailey.

Plenty of shooting, but it's still an RPG at heart

Plenty of shooting, but it's still an RPG at heart

Mass Effect 2 (360/PC)

It's been such a busy year of gaming you could be forgiven for forgetting that EA and BioWare's Mass Effect 2 actually came out in 2010. That is, if it wasn't one of my favourite games of the year. Before it was even released it had an impact on my game-playing habits, resulting in the first time I had ever 'fully' completed an RPG with the original Mass Effect. Like the sequel it was a science-fiction-themed action-orientated role-playing game, with an exciting and interesting story, full voice acting, and the ability to shape the story any way you please. But it had its flaws, particularly with the combat, and the overly complicated inventory system in the Xbox 360 original version (which was fixed in the PC release).

Mass Effect 2 was a sequel that really understood where things had gone right and wrong before. BioWare listened to the fans, and produced a game that was literally epic in scale. The game encompassed a vast galaxy, with a large range of worlds and characters - again, all fully voiced with multiple dialogue options - and a storyline that sets up a thrilling conclusion in Mass Effect 3 later this year. It was the "Empire Strikes Back" to the original's "A New Hope"... let's hope the next game doesn't feature an equivalent of the Ewoks dancing! The graphics looked sublime, and the action took a noticeably step up, allowing third-person shooter fans a look in on a previously alien genre. However, I know it's one of the best games of 2010 for me personally for two reasons. The first is I put in around 40 hours in order to fully complete Mass Effect 2 within about 2 weeks of release - something I've never done before. And secondly, I'm actually playing it again, ready to make different choices and experience a different ending, and also enjoying some of the new missions which have been released across the year. It unfortunately got missed for reviewing on the site, but I can certainly say it would easily gain a 10/10 either at the time of release or even right now.

Unfortunately we've already used the joke for this on Andy's article.

Unfortunately we've already used the joke for this on Andy's article.

Heavy Rain (PS3)

Heavy Rain can be quite a depressing game, and yet this PlayStation 3-exclusive manages to rank among my best of 2010. Like a good TV drama it has an engaging plot, interesting characters with overlapping storylines, and it keeps you hooked as the mystery unravels and a twist is revealed. I won't spoil the story, but I can assure you that the ending is worth sticking around for.

The exact nature of the ending, however, will depend on your actions because the main reason Heavy Rain was so memorable for me is the way it pushed forward the "interactive drama" genre, delivering an experience that often didn't feel like a game at all. For a start there's no "Game Over" screen in Heavy Rain at all, but the choices you make, and the actions you take, do have consequences as the game takes you down a different story path based on a whole variety of key moments. There are a large number of outcomes to experience, making the game replayable - which is what I'm also doing right now alongside Mass Effect 2. It didn't quite manage to get away from being a game completely, however, with moments where you use an analogue stick to move a character around, and there's still plenty of button presses, even with the more recent addition of PlayStation Move controls. These allow you to experience the game away from the confines of a regular controller, but it would be interesting to see what could be done with this genre with the hands-free actions of Kinect. Let's hope there's more like Heavy Rain on both the PS3 and Xbox 360 in the near future.
Review - 9/10

The weather effects are only a small part of what make F1 2010 so good

The weather effects are only a small part of what make F1 2010 so good

F1 2010 (360/PS3/PC)

As I said in my review, I'm an F1 fan. So when Codemasters came along on their first attempt at the licence and delivered a game that was not only realistic and authentic, but actually a lot of fun, it was clear that F1 2010 would be one of my gaming highlights of the year. With the full roster of 19 tracks, and the 24 drivers who started the season, it was able to capture the feel of one of the most exciting seasons in the sport's long history. Unlike the recent shift seen in their Race Driver and Colin McRae series, F1 2010 didn't go down the route of being an arcade game, and with the right settings it's the best simulation we've seen out in the public's hands. But it also managed make itself very accessible, with the ability to crank the settings the other way and let even those people who are new to racing games - those people with an interest in the sport and a compatible console or PC - to jump right in and have fun. The ability to use Flashbacks and undo that silly mistake on the final corner can also be most welcome for us sim veterans too.

F1 2010 didn't get everything right, as noted in my review, particularly when it came to the stuff outside the racing. It would still have been nice to have safety cars or podiums, but none of the issues are enough to detract from the excellent on-track action, which has to be the most important part of any game in this genre. It's clear that the game wasn't just made for those who occasionally watch F1 on TV, or those are drawn in by the glitz and glamour of the sport, but a game that actually pleased genuine motor sport fans, with important details in place, right down to the number and length of practice sessions. F1 2010 is hopefully the start of a great new series from Codemasters, with F1 2011 already well underway, and if this is the worst F1 game that they make, then I'll be happy indeed, because F1 2010 is one of my favourite games of last year.
Review (PS3) - 9/10

Close contenders

There are quite a few games that also deserve a mention:

  • Just Cause 2 (360/PS3/PC)
    I don't think I've enjoyed an open world as much as I've enjoyed Just Cause 2. Gran Theft Auto IV has an interesting world and a great story, but Just Cause 2 has a rubbish story and stupidly big world where you can hijack planes, jump out of them, then jump in another, and then fly it into a petrol station, while parachuting on to a passing motorbike.
    Review (360) - 9/10
  • Split/Second: Velocity (360/PS3/PC)
    With Pure Black Rock Studios showed they could do something different with racing games, and they achieved that again with Split/Second: Velocity, which had the brilliant idea of letting you blow up bits of the map and change the course of the game as you raced around it. But the AI was a bit too inconsistent, and the lack of variation in the maps meant the whole experience burned out a little too quickly, despite how much fun it was at its peak. DLC also arrived too late to save it.
    Review (360) - 7/10
  • Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
    I must admit to having not played this a lot yet as I was busy catching up with the excellent Assassin's Creed 2 although Rich assures me this is even better,. I have, however, had a lot of fun with the new multiplayer mode, and highly recommend picking up Brotherhood.
    Review coming soon.
  • Spliter Cell: Conviction (360/PC)
    The most fun I've ever had in a stealth game, I just wish it could have lasted a bit longer. The multiplayer could be fun, but it was the wonderfully cinematic campaign that makes Conviction so enjoyable.
    Review (360) - 8/10
  • Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (360/PS3) and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (360/PS3)
    Both are highly enjoyable third-person action games with an interesting story and pretty visuals. They can also both be picked up fairly cheaply now, having undersold in the great gaming blizzard of 2010.
    Enslaved Review (360) - 8/10, Castlevania Review (PS3) coming soon
  • Fallout: New Vegas
    It may not have moved on considerably from Fallout 3, but New Vegas is still a wonderful title, providing humour amongst all the destruction and despair of the crumbling post-apocalyptic world around you. New Vegas itself also looks rather pretty, and the companion system made the later sections of the game a lot more fun.
    Review (PC) - 9/10
  • Civilization V
    I've barely touching the surface of this at the moment, but what I've found so far terrifies me; I could find myself losing weeks to this game if I'm not careful.
  • Tumble
    I've already written too much here, but the game that sold PlayStation Move to me deserves a mention. This fun puzzle game made great use of the ability to manipulate objects in 3D, showcasing what Move could do that the Wii or Kinect couldn't.



Indie Choice: Limbo (360)

If you've already read Andy or Richard's choices, or have listened to our podcasts, then you might be surprised to see that I haven't picked Minecraft here. I do love that game, and it is certainly one of the best things I played in 2010, but it is still an unfinished experience. The game continues to evolve, and a more comprehensive game is emerging, so while it looks like it could be one of my best games of 2010 - indie or otherwise - the best experience from the independent scene this year for me was Limbo.

Playdead Studios' Xbox Live Arcade exclusive wowed with its wonderful black-and-white visuals, but its method of storytelling is what made the experience so memorable. It encouraged you to explore, tempting you to continue your path to the right hand side of the screen, discovering new gameplay mechanics and dying quite a lot. Thanks to the atmospheric music, playing it in the dark gave the game a creepy aesthetic, although its release in the Summer meant a wait until that could be achieved. Its puzzles were fun to unravel, and although the ending was abrupt and came sooner than I had hoped, Limbo is certainly one of the most memorable gaming moments not only of 2010, but of all time.
Review - 9/10

Copyright Information

Website design and content (c) 1999-2012

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License, except where otherwise noted.

Smileys taken from Crack's Smilies.