Friday, July 16

The High Horse Audit (Part 1): Top 5 Games of 2010 (so far)

With another financial year having drawn to a close, I think it's an apt time to take stock of the better gaming experiences on offer from this year. I will qualify my choices for this section of the High Horse Audit using the following criteria:
  • The game must have been released in Australia from 1 January, 2010
  • I have to have played the game extensively (preferably to the point of completion)
  • Both downloadable and full retail acquisitions are eligible
With those criteria outlined, you also need to be aware of the following limitations:
  • I do not own a Wii, DS or powerful gaming PC
  • While I do spend an exorbitant amount of money on games, I cannot buy everything released on the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PSP and PC
  • While I do spend a lot of time playing videogames, I have not been able to play though all the releases on the afformentioned systems
I am well aware that this exercise is not wholly original, however this will allow me to expand on some titles that I may have played through prior to establishing the blog. This will also impart some indications of what I believe the "Game of the Year," nominees will be for a videogame blog that can only consume and criticise within the confines of a finite budget. With the legalities out of the way, please enjoy my thoughts on what are (in my opinion) the finest offerings of the year that has so far been 2010.

5. Bayonetta (PS3/360 Played on PS3) - Put simply, this is Devil May Cry done better with lots of female nudity and unbelievably frantic action. Look further than that puerile statement and you will find one of the more visually stunning, and just plain wacky 3rd person action games on the market. In what other games can you torture angels, kill creatures with your hair and turn into a butterfly? The boss battles are of unmatched scale, the last of which tasked with conquering a massive, shapely lady that was larger than a planet! Bayonetta the character, is a walking, talking superlative; whom through her emasculation of the male members of the cast brought many a laugh. The narrative is campy to the point of being melodramatic, and while at times you may ask yourself: "What just happened?"; inevitably the ridiculousness of what is occurring on screen will only cause you to laugh harder. The jazzy theme that accompanies the majority of the action is undeniably, and at times, painfully hilarious. Everything about this game screams crazy, and that's why I love it.

4. Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing (PS3/PC/360 Played on PS3) - For those unable to play with Nintendo's iconic plumber, this game is the closest you can get to the market-leading mascot racer. This was a real surprise packet for me, especially after the initial impressions left by the demo. The tracks are well-designed and the AI opponents are competitive, not cheap like their Ninty competitors. The weapons are balanced, if not a little uninspired. Perhaps most importantly, you can drive in a car shaped like a bunch of bananas! There are enough classic SEGA characters, environments and theme tunes to warm the heart of even the most cynical gamer, with special weapons that are bound to draw a wry smile. The local multiplayer is also a great joy, and I only wish there were more people close by to share it with.

3. Bioshock 2 (PS3/PC/360 Played on PS3) - My return to Rapture was much better than I could have anticipated. The submerged, art-deco dystopia was not as shocking this time around, nor was the narrative. Sofia Lamb is no Andrew Ryan. Where Bioshock 2 succeeded however, was in making the action feel different to its predecessor. As a Big Daddy, I felt as though I was a force to be reckoned with. Duel-wielding plasmid powers and firearms allowed for some truly chaotic firefights. Not to say Bioshock 2 is without challenge, the new additions to the Splicer genus were much more fearsome and deadly than those featured in the original. The Big Sisters also managed to inspire fear with the assistance of the truly exceptional score. While your character is not especially complex, your Little Sister does provide some genuine inspiration to progress. I am not a father, but I felt as though there was a real sense of urgency whenever Eleanor (the Little Sister to which you are linked) appeared. The greatest moment of the sequel is when you are forced to walk in the shoes of a Little Sister (if only for a little while), such a visual and philosophical feast!

2. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (PSP) - I am yet to finish this game, but it has made a strong impression. So strong, that initially I had this as my pick of the litter. Peace Walker is a big deal for many reasons. One, because it has all the visual flair and narrative melodrama typical of a Metal Gear Solid game. The boss battles are for the lack of a better word: epic, and require a depth of patience and strategy not usually seen in portable action games. There are so many ways to play this game. You can repeat missions and minor boss battles to acquire troops and vehicles for your mercenary army. You can spend hours managing your troops and resources. You can develop upgrades for the arsenal you employ in standard gameplay to the point where I am now packing M16s with suppressors, RK47s with smoke grenade launchers, extremely interesting girly magazines (lol), great curries (lolololololol) and Carl Gustav recoilless rifles. Perhaps greatest of all is the soundtrack. I now have the home base theme playing in my head whenever I look at myself in the mirror, you know, because I'm so pensive and legendary.

1. Red Dead Redemption (PS3/PC/360 Played on PS3) - Obvious choice? Yes. But, if there was one game you could buy this year, this would have to be it. Will there be more compelling offerings this year? It's possible. Will there be better looking games? With Crysis 2 launching this year, that is a (red) dead certainty (plus there are loads of visual glitches to be seen in this blockbuster). However, where Red Dead Redemption will conquer all of the competition is the sheer breadth of activities available in which players can engage. If the story missions are starting to exhaust you, you can ride to a cantina and play a round of Texas Hold 'Em. If you become weary from human company, ride into the great expanse and start hunting wild game. Even if you have no interest in interacting with artificial intelligence, you can go online and posse up with friends or total strangers and tame the Wild West. Perhaps most importantly, at the heart of this robust package is a gripping tale of revenge and ultimately (and obviously), redemption.

What are your favourite games of the year to this point? Do you agree with any of my choices?


  1. Thanks for the frighteningly comprehensive reply Carls. Bayonetta straddled (literally) the line between empowerment and sexploitation. Especially when female angels were involved. It never ceases to amaze me what gets past the Office of Film and Literature Classification.

    I've noticed that you are not a fan of the first person perspective. Know that Bioshock and its sequel are some of the best experiences on offer. The first, being the first person equivalent of a survival horror game with a brilliant story. The second was just a blast, with some delightfully brutal weapons and abilities.

    You couldn't just let my comment about S&SASR go could you? It's balanced when I play the computer, however when we play together, you always get radically powerful weapons whenever you're in any position other than first. Sad face :(

    I'm also loving the period pieces the gaming industry is producing. AC2 and RDR = winners!

  2. Well although I have only played what, 2? on the list, the obvious number 1 game for the entire year is Mass Effect 2, no question.

    God of War 3 should have been in there and Im gonna give a quiet shout out to Dante's Inferno. It had some amazing set pieces which were quite awe inspiring.

    In short Red Dead was good but it was no ME2.

  3. Where would you put God of War 3? I'm suprised about your protest given our discussion yesterday. God of War 3 was good, but there was very little reason to go back.

  4. I'm going to say Lost Planet 2 has been the most thrilling for me thus far in 2010. Blur is sneaking into second place. It's all a bit subjective and mood-dependent for the most part, though.

  5. Picked up Blur and Blazblue on the weekend. Absolutely loved the multiplayer demo for Blur, madness.

  6. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that while there have been many good releases this year, not many have been OMG amazing. RDR is, even if I get a little bored of it sometimes, but then I go and hunt deer, and it makes it all better.

    My point is, the number of classical games has been declining at a pretty steady rate> I put this down to nearly every single storyline/genre/playstyle being overdone to the extreme. The only thing that makes a game stand out anymore is how well it does a genre. And lets be honest, it is kinda hard to outdo some of the better games of the past.

  7. I have disagree with you Sambo. 2009 was one hell of a year:

    Batman: Arkham Asylum, Uncharted 2, Street Fighter IV, Assassin's Creed II, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Trials HD, Battlefield 1943

    In 2010 already we have had:

    Bioshock 2, Bayonetta, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Red Dead Redemption, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, God of War 3, Just Cause 2.

    2008 was a huge year also, with MGS4 and GTA4.

    Plus all the decent games on PC, DS, Wii that I haven't been able to play.

    There are plenty of classic games being released. If anything, because it costs so much more to make games for this generation, the quality of most titles should only increase.

  8. That is true, I forgot about UC2, my god that games was awesome!

    And I wouldn't put MW2 in the classic catergory, I would still be playing COD4 if I could get a good connection all the time. But I digress, we are also forgetting possibly the greatest football game of all time, FIFA 10. Yes, a devout PES fan has finally admitted defeat for the once great franchise.

  9. I suspect my GOTY will come in the form of a certain Adam "Kane" Marcus and James Seth Lynch when they allow me to spend fourty-eight hours with them in Shanghai. So hyped for that one, it's unbelievable.

    Everything points to a rollercoaster ride of dark and twisted adventures. Ben Smith went to an exclusive preview event at the Mana Bar for it, and said it was one of the most moody and intoxicating titles he's seen in a while - with a lighting engine that sits next to and beyond Alan Wake. And Io don't write bad stories, so it's all sewn up after they took all the criticisms of Dead Men onboard.

  10. As a PS Plus member the demo should have been auto-downloaded for you to play today, assuming of course that you have that feature enabled. I hope the sequel is at least playable. After 20 minutes of Dead Men I thought: "No thanks, I am done with you." Love the Hitman series though. Hitman: Blood Money was one of the better (near) launch titles for the 360.

  11. Io Interactive are up there as one of my favourite developers. Especially with the Hitman games and K&L, they've quietly tried to provide mature and interesting experiences with amazing setpieces. Nothing is particularly cheesy about anything they do.

    Played the demo last night for K&L2. Goddamn, talk about fixing all the gripes! Demo is too short, though...I want more! Only one month away.