2010: That was The Year That Was

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It’s Christmas time and I literally haven’t been out of the house for three days. We’ve had a heavy dose of the white stuff and arctic temperatures blowing in from Siberia, so it’s definitely time for a weary look back at the gaming year that was 2010. These are some of the significant releases and stories of the year, with a few of my personal favourites sprinkled in for good measure.

Mass Effect 2

For me it all started off in space and boy, what a great start to the year. This was the game that kick-started GiN’s discussions about hybrid genres, as RPG met action shooter, in the second instalment of my favourite space opera.

ME2 dished up great characters, a fantastic story, streamlined UI, which was controversial, but eventually won me over. In short, it doesn’t get much better than Mass Effect and this sequel had me looking forward to ME3.

Heavy Rain

Anticipation was high and the hyperbole was higher. Heavy Rain broke new ground in terms of narrative gaming. Some thought it was like watching paint dry, but others saw a glimpse of a brave new world. Whether you loved it or hated it, Heavy Rain made a splash, much like Shenmue did, many years before.

Kinect vs Move

These were the biggest game hardware releases since forever and its was a gloves off fight to the finish. Initially, critics were favouring PlayStation Move’s precision and accessibility. But since release, the buzz seems firmly fixed around Kinect.

Many critics said it was too soon for controller-free gaming, but consumers seem to be saying otherwise. According to figures, the more traditional Wii-style PlayStation Move shipped one million units in the first month, whilst Microsoft’s Kinect sold 2.5 million in the first 25 days with 5 million expected to ship by the end of the year, compared to just 3 million for the Move. I’d say that’s a clear advantage to Microsoft and a big "yay" to controller-free gaming.

Duke Nukem

Now you see him, now you don’t and er…now you do again.

Earlier this year, it was the end of an era, when Duke Nukem Forever (that’s forever in development, or 12 Earth years to be exact) was canned. But never say never for the Duke. He’s back and due for release in 2011, some of us will be pleased to here. Let’s hope it’s 13 lucky for some.

Gran Turismo 5

While we’re talking about Duke Nukem and taking that trip down memory lane, we may as well cover GT5. Yes, it was finally released, after five long years in development. It was met with mixed reviews, with many praising the graphics and handling, but bemoaning AI worthy of GT4. All in all, GT6 needs to shift up a gear to really please fans of the series.

Red Dead Redemption

I thought I’d save the best ’til last. Quite simply, wow. Red Dead really set the benchmark and is definitely my game of 2010. I haven’t enjoyed anything this much since the original Mass Effect. This is a game that’s stayed with me, much like a favourite movie and I’m kind of missing roaming the Wild West.

RDR delivered this year’s most beautiful environments, fantastic acting and an engrossing story that didn’t disappear up its own arse (a danger with many game storylines). Fantastic music and rich gameplay and a great ending, means Red Dead delivered the perfect gaming package. It doesn’t get this good very often.

And the rest…

I can’t really do a 2010 roundup without mentioning Call of Duty: Black Ops. It didn’t deliver anything original, but it pleases the masses and does so without compromising on quality or panache. It’s breaking records left right and centre and unsurprisingly, it’s Christmas number one, so COD does it again.

Despite its flaws, Fable III still has a special place in my 2010 list, if only because it always puts the fun back into gaming. Once again, it delivered on story, characters and a stellar voice acting cast. Let’s hope Fable IV cleans up the graphics and injects the depth hinted at in III.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood deserves a mention for taking the series to new heights, but you can check out my review for the full story on that one. It’s set to run on January 1st as the first review of the New Year.

Last shout out before I hit the mulled cider, goes to Bungie for Halo Reach. Gamers everywhere are thanking Bungie for returning the series to its former glory. Now we can all sweep ODST under the Christmas rug and rejoice.

It’s been a tough year for the games industry. Revenue dropped at the beginning of the year and even the Wii began to suffer from the unthinkable – a drop in sales. Despite this, it’s been a stellar year for gamers, with some really class acts gracing store shelves, including new IP such as Heavy Rain and Enslaved.

So let’s be thankful for the great games and forgiving of the not so great.

Most played: Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood

Most wanted: The next Red Dead

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