Wednesday, November 24

Back on my High Horse

So there are no surpises: please be advised that my last regular post for this year will be on Wednesday, 1 December. I'll try to report back to you throughout the month, but my upcoming nuptials and honeymoon will take precedence over writing duties. Next week's posts will include the final two instalments of the High Horse Audit for 2010. On Monday I'll reveal what I found to be the most disappointing game of 2010, the best downloadable game of the year, and the most surprisingly-good game (one of the few cases where I can actually tolerate surprises). Wednesday's post will catalogue the 5 best games I have played this year.

To prepare you for next week, I must first qualify that:
  • 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 releases on the afformentioned systems
  • Downloadable games include releases on the Xbox Live Arcade and titles available exclusively on the Playstation Network (ie. not available in brick-and-mortar stores)
  • While I have purchased Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Fable III, Rock Band 3 and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2; I haven't been able to play them for a sufficient amount of time to form a worthwhile opinion on these titles. It is also unlikely that I will find the time to play these games long enough for them to factor into next week's calculations.
2010 has been a solid year as far as releases are concerned. Solid, but am I wrong in thinking that there was little to rival the strongest releases of the past 4 years? Specifically, in 2006 we had Gears of War, Dead Rising and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. In 2007 there was Bioshock, Assassin's Creed, Halo 3, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and The Orange Box. 2008 saw the release of Grand Theft Auto IV, Metal Gear Solid 4 and Burnout Paradise. 2009, what a year! Batman: Arkham Asylum, Uncharted 2, Assassin's Creed 2 and Street Fighter IV. Now Red Dead Redemption is a fantastic game, but I haven't felt compelled to touch it since I completed my first playthrough. Super Street Fight IV may feature many "improvements," over its predecessor, but I would still rather play the first edition. Just Cause 2 was ridiculously enjoyable, but it only improved slightly (read: just add grappling hooks) on the strong formula devised for Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction on the Playstation 2.

Maybe I'm looking to the past with a pair of rose-coloured glasses, to a time when I had more time to engage with games, and experience their every feature (and earn more of their precious achievements). Perhaps more likely though, is that the industry is looking more often for the safe bets; the sequels. But then all you need to do is compare the list above with the list of games I have played this year (at the end of this post) and you'll find that to be a false assertion. A sequel doesn't necessarily have to tread within the same territory, and in the case of the games above, most of those sequels featured drastic improvements over their predecessors. Maybe, and perhaps most horrifying of all, critically engaging with videogames has taken some of the fun out of playing them. Maybe I'm being dramatic. Maybe.

Please peruse the list below, and share your picks for the game of the year in the comments section. Are there any games I should have played, but missed out on?

Playstation 3
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops
  • Super Street Fighter IV
  • Final Fantasy XIII
  • NBA 2K11
  • Vanquish
  • Medal of Honor
  • Blur
  • Kane & Lynch 2
  • Modnation Racers
  • Mafia II
  • Battlefield: Bad Company 2
  • Bioshock 2
  • Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands
  • Dark Void
  • Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing
  • Lost Planet 2
  • God of War III
  • Red Dead Redemption
  • Just Cause 2
  • Darksiders
  • Bayonetta
  • Shank
  • Megaman 10
  • After Burner Climax
  • Sam and Max: Season 6, Episode 1 - The Penal Zone
  • Scott Pilgrim Vs The World: The Videogame
  • Final Fight: Double Impact
  • Bioshock 2: Minerva's Den

Xbox 360
  • Halo: Reach
  • Split/Second
  • Crackdown 2
  • Fallout: New Vegas
  • Dead Rising 2
  • Mass Effect 2
  • Alan Wake
  • Risk: Factions
  • Super Meat Boy
  • Snoopy Flying Ace
Playstation Portable
  • Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
  • Half-Minute Hero
  • Several horrible minis
  • StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

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