Gaming Nexus - Our favorite games of 2010

Gaming Nexus - Our favorite games of 2010

Written by Charles Husemann on 1/17/2011 for
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With 2010 firmly in the rear view mirror we’ve asked the staff at Gaming Nexus to pick the games they liked the best from last year. You’ll see a lot of the big titles that you would expect to see in this list (a lot of our writers liked Mass Effect 2 and Red Dead Redemption) but you’ll see some other games and items that might have slipped under the radar. Without further adieu here’s our list..

Tina Amini
Mass Effect 2 - Mass Effect 2 offers not only a truly in-depth and creative storyline, but it also presents it in beautiful cinematics and well thought out dialogues complemented by excellent voice acting. A good story is only as good as its presentation, and BioWare ensured that no detail was amiss to risk the fluidity of their story. On top of the awesome experience of a story is the fun of an interesting set of classes, thereby keeping the shelf life greater.

Heavy Rain - Although not everyone’s cup of gaming tea, Quantic Dream certainly has a flare for the cinematic. Heavy Rain is immersive, and will occupy both your time and mind whilst playing. Having been a fan of Indigo Prophecy for its enthralling storyline and unique gameplay reliant on QTE, Heavy Rain is a no-brainer.

Alan Wake - Another storyline centric game, Alan Wake underwent five years of production and the polishing time is evident. Alan Wake also boasts another unique kind of gameplay. Although the third-person perspective is familiar, the weaponry is not. I loved the concept of light as weaponry, because advancing in weaponry became a very unique experience. Whereas a rocket launcher might be the ultimate weapon in a different third-person shooter, Alan Wake progresses with flares and lanterns. The game is also very intricate, with each episode tied together fairly seamlessly.

Red Dead Redemption - Some games are fun in theory, but end up a bore after some time. As a sandbox game, Red Dead Redemption keeps the interest going with several unique new areas to discover, each with an equally significant portion of the storyline in which it is revealed.

Playing as the charming John Marston, players will meet new characters that keep the pace of the game going without you even noticing.

Limbo - Limbo is beautiful in the basics. A black and white facade and a subtle complement of a soundtrack accompany a challenging puzzle experience full of mystery. The storyline is not necessarily complete, but rather left up to interpretation which is fitting for the game. Given that the game is a puzzle game, “boss” levels are even more so challenging as well as unique, a quality which seems to be lacking these days.

Ben Berry
EA NHL 11 - An annual release continuing to make the best games of the year list each year is a testament to the effort the development team has brought forth each release cycle. This year with the addition of the Ontario Hockey League, all of the logos and uniforms, the enhancements in on-ice play, and an entirely new CCG-based online league, the hard part wasn't putting it on this years list, but seeing what they'll do next year that could eclipse what they've accomplished in this years game.

Mass Effect 2 - Sequels are so rarely as good as the original, let alone better. Mass Effect 2 is one of the rare exceptions as it took everything good about the first game, and made it better. Well, everything except the romance, as that got downplayed a bit to make room in the plot for a bigger team, a bigger ship, better usage of resources and inventory, and a guarantee that the choices you make in ME2 will drastically affect what happens to you in ME3.

Jeremy Duff
Bayonetta - Sega and Platinum Games’ Bayonetta was the game to kick off the action game surge of 2010. The year was filled with action games galore including God of War 3, Darksiders, and Dante;s Inferno... but none of them impressed me as much as Bayonetta. While God of War 3 may have won out in the Best Action Game category when the dust settled, Bayonetta came from no where and was a game that I had little expectations for... what I got was a fast paced, over the top masterpiece. The title is especially cheap now days and can often be found in the range of $15-$20 new... do yourself a favor and check it out.

Metro 2033 - Talk about a game that came out of nowhere, 4A’s Metro 2033 still stands as the year’s best sci-fi shooter in my book. The Xbox 360 / PC exclusive delivered an atmosphere like no other and told told a story just as original and gripping. I reviewed the game back in the Spring and absolutely fell in love with Dmitry Glukhovsky’s post-apocalyptic Russian world. If you want to pick this one up for cheap, keep an eye on Steam as it is likely to be included in the Christmas sales at the end of the month; they have included it in a couple of sales throughout the year for insanely low prices.

Transformers: War for Cybertron - I am beginning the see a theme here: games that surprised the heck out of me. On the surface, I thought War for Cybertron was just going to be another horricble cash-in on the classic franchise... what was actually there was simply the best Transformers game to date, and one of my top games of the year. The game features a fast-paced campaign which is playable from either an Autobot or Decepticon point of view as well as deep and addicting multiplayer options in both cooperative and competitive flavors. If you act now, Gamefly is selling the game for both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 for a mere $12.99, but who knows how long that will last...

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - Who says that the beat’em up genre is dead? Ubisoft sure didn’t think so with their downloadable title based on the film and comic series of the same name. The title may have thrown a lot of people off with its chiptune soundtrack and 8-bit graphics, but the game itself was a ton of fun and provided a fast paced, and expansive action experience. I only wish more companies would release games in the beat’em up genre and bring back the good old days of the arcades. I still play this game religiously to this day...

Angry Birds - Don’t laugh... I too have caught the Angry Birds virus. Rovio’s insanely addictive puzzler is now available for both the iOs and Android platforms. Especially when it comes to the Android version, you won’t find a better game for the price. While most free games, or dollar values on the iOs, would be happy with giving you just a brief experience, Rovio has continued to support the Angry Birds with additional content to this day, bringing the total amount of available levels / puzzles into the hundreds. There is simply no reason NOT to own this game...

Charles Husemann
Singularity - I know a lot of people didn’t play the game (or even hear about it - nice work Activision marketing and PR) but this was one of the most interesting FPS games of 2010. Not only did the game have a well written plot and solid action but it had three very cool (and very different) endings.

Battlefield:Bad Company 2 - I’ve poured well over 50 hours into this game and that’s just the mutliplayer portion of the game. Sure, the single player campaign in the game isn’t as good as the original game but the multiplayer side of the house is damn near shooter perfection.

BioShock 2 - I know I’m in the minority of people who liked this sequel more than the original but like I said in my review the game peaked at the end rather than at the start of the game. Sure it didn’t have the cool twist in the middle like the original but the game felt like it had a bit more heart.

Limbo - What’s notable about Limbo isn’t how the game played (as we’ve seen some of the puzzles before) but rather how the game made you feel as you played it. The game’s never ending sense of dread and doom was created via a minimalist art style and near perfect audio palette. Sure the ending didn’t resolve anything but Limbo was one of the more unique games of the year.

Angry Birds - I’m not overly proud that there’s a casual game on my list of best games but Angry Birds became was the game I played while waiting in line, going down the elevator, and while … doing other things. The game was easy to get into and tough to master and I was especially fond of the Advent Style Angry Birds Seasons which had me playing the game before going to work every day.
Dan Keener
Angry Birds - I know this is on everyone's list, but as a late comer to the Angry Birds party, I found that it is a must have regardless of your platform (iOS, Android, etc). At only $0.99, or free in some cases, this game will cost you next to nothing, yet give you hours upon hours of physics puzzler fun.

Kinectimals - Kinectimals is a game that goes much deeper than it appears on the surface. While you do play and interact with your pet cat, the game offers up a bunch of challenging minigames including driving an RC Car, kicking soccer balls at targets, exploring new areas and even locating buried treasure. It take many elements from popular social game sites and brings them all together under the control of the hottest gaming feature for 2010, the Kinect camera.

Red Dead Redemption -  There is a reason this game won the Spike VGA Game of the Year award, and it is because it is awesome. Rockstar took everything they learned from GTA IV, improved what they could, and overlayed one of the most beautiful game play areas we saw in 2010 with an amazing musical score and addictive gameplay. I am a huge sandbox style gamer anyways, so to get a western themed game with this open world play and the ability to follow my own ethical path, money in the bank in my opinion.

Optoma GT720 - Back in June I was able to spend time with Optoma's Game Time 720p gaming projector. Coming in at the low price of $799, this has been one of the best projectors I have tested to date when you factor in features, quality and price. Anyone looking to add a projo to their gaming rig, look no further than this gem. Once you game on a big screen for awhile, it is very tough to go back to a traditional flat screen TV.

Cyril Lachel
Rock Band 3 - While the mainstream game press was spending their time talking about the death of music games, Harmonix was busy creating one of the best games of all time. At first glance it looks like more of the same, but Rock Band 3 delivers some substantial changes to the formula. For one thing, it adds a keyboard, an exciting new control that opens up a wealth of potential. Best of all, gamers looking to take the next step can literally learn how to play these songs in real life. Thanks to the pro guitar, drums and keyboard, the game will teach you how to play each part like a real musician. Rock Band 3 taught me how to play The White Stripes on guitar, what did I learn from Call of Duty?

Even if you don't make the commitment to learn how to play a real instrument, Rock Band 3 offers all the improvements you could want from a sequel. The 2,200+ song library is seamlessly integrated into the game, giving players all kinds of ways to play their favorite tracks. The end result is so good that I'm content with this being the final numbered Rock Band sequel. As long as the downloadable content keeps flowing I'll be content with Rock Band 3 for many years to come.

Red Dead Redemption - I'm not your typical fan of western fiction. I didn't grow up loving cowboys and Indians, and I don't own a single movie starring John Wayne. Yet Red Dead Redemption spoke to me. I loved its deliberate pacing and fully developed characters. I loved that it didn't take itself too seriously, yet wasn't afraid to get sentimental. I loved just wandering through this gigantic world, devoid of the urban landscape we usually see in this style of adventure game. I bought into this character's journey, which is why the final act is so heart-wrenching. And just when I thought I was done being impressed by Red Dead, Rockstar Games comes up with a zombie-filled expansion pack that adds a whole new layer to the fun. Even if I didn't put it at number one, there's no question that Red Dead Redemption belongs in everybody's collection.

Super Meat Boy - Super Meat Boy is a frustrating game. It's the type of product that will make you want to throw your control on the floor and stomp on it. It's challenging to the point of being unfair. Yet that's exactly what I love about this crazy Xbox Live Arcade game. Super Meat Boy manages to capture everything I love about classic games, from the pixel-perfect jumping to the nonsensical level designs. Even though this game is clearly inspired by the titles of my past (including homages to Street Fighter, Castlevania, Bubble Bobble, Mega Man and much, much more), it still has a unique style all its own. Throw in a dozen bonus characters from other must-own games (including Tim from Braid) and you have one of the best games of the year.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker - Trumpeted as a proper sequel to Guns of the Patriots, Peace Walker seems to have gone largely unnoticed by most video game critics. That's a shame, because this small disc represents the very best in portable gaming in 2010. Not only does it tell a story on par with its console counterparts, but Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker manages to add compelling new gameplay mechanics to the long-running franchise. Being able to take on these levels with friends adds more strategy to the already deep sneaking missions. Best of all, the bite-size levels keep the pace moving. It may not have HD graphics and 50 GB worth of visual flair, but there's an argument to be made that Peace Walker is a step up from Metal Gear Solid 4.

Need for Speed:Hot Pursuit - I don't think it's an overstatement to say that Criterion's Hot Pursuit reboot is the best Need for Speed game since 2002's Hot Pursuit 2. As confusion as that sounds, all you need to know is Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is the best racing game of 2010. With its beautiful graphics and exciting races, Criterion proves that they are the masters of arcade racing games. Longtime Burnout fans will be happy that there's just enough Takedown here to keep things interesting. I was also impressed by the Autolog implementation, along with the incredibly addictive online multiplayer events. Need for Speed is officially back!
Matt Mirkovich
Persona 3 Portable  - Quite possibly the best console RPG is now definitively the best handheld RPG, and I feel like calling sacrilege upon myself since I'm such a Chrono Trigger fan. Scaling Persona 3 down to the PSP was obviously not going to be an easy task but Atlus handled it admirably. The phenomenal story, gameplay, and music don't suffer in the transition in the slightest. I've spent many an hour on this game and probably won't be satisfied until I manage to complete every social link.

Mass Effect 2 - I wasn't the biggest Mass Effect fan when it came out, and I'm really happy that I can say that Bioware totally turned it around for me with Mass Effect 2. Every complaint I had about performance was addressed, and everything that I enjoyed about the first game was just better. Coupled with some amazing DLC (Lair of the Shadow Broker has one of those moments that left me in awe of what the medium is capable of), Mass Effect 2 is easily within my top 5 of the year.

Red Dead Redemption  - This one is my "Biggest Surprise" of 2010. I seriously had no expectations with this game and was astonished at how much I enjoyed the story of John Marsden. The online multiplayer component was nothing short of astonishing as well, I can't believe I was reduced to tears the first time I hurled a stick of dynamite at a friend and watched him fly from his horse.

Super Street Fighter 4  - As much as I rage at this game when I lose online matches due to lag (use more skill I tell myself) I cannot deny that I love Super Street Fighter 4. It gave me a new character to main (Juri), and had a number of fixes to the already existing cast. I find myself partaking in a match every morning, and will continue to do so, even long after they nerf my favorite characters to hell and back.

Bayonetta - Even though she looks suspiciously like Sarah Palin and has a neck that'd make a giraffe concerned about 'length issues' I still can't help but love Platinum Games' new mascot. Bayonetta played a lot like Devil May Cry, and that's all well and good, it was the over-the-top antics and attacks that really sold me though and had me going 'Dante who?'

Sean Nack
Alan Wake - Hitting a lot of the same 3rd person horror notes that last year's Alone In The Dark did, Alan Wake presented a well-crafted, ominous environment somewhat undermined by repetitive action and a cloudy ending ameliorated by subsequent DLC. Still, in an action heavy year, Alan Wake provided some much-needed narration.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 - I sank more hours into this game than any other this year. A thinking man's shooter, if you choose to play it that way, BFBC2 provides an objective-based gameplay that expands the minds of people who just refresh MW2 deathmatch lobbies over...and over...and over...

Red Dead Redemption - Obviously. This is a game that stands as an example of what the medium can accomplish, technically and artistically.

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood - A late edition to my 2010 library, ACB blew my mind. The multiplayer, when you get a good lobby, brings back the joy of childhood games of tag every time i plug it in. It's not perfect, but coupled with a compelling single-player, ACB is a keeper.
Tyler Sager
Civilization V -- This venerable series once again proves why it is the king of time-eaters. Making a move to a more board-gamish feel, the latest entry in the franchise is certain to eat away the hours with turn-based happiness.

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood -- this one surprised me. I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting with this title, but I find myself engrossed in upgrading Rome while carving my path through the Borgia family. Much more than a simple "more of the same" entry to the series.

Mass Effect 2 -- I'm a latecomer to the series, but soon after blazing my way through the first, I picked up this gem and was even more enthralled this time around.

Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty - Blizzard scores another win with this update to their sci-fi RTS. Completely updated, yet feeling totally like the original in many ways, Wings of Liberty strikes that perfect balance between nostalgia and novelty.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 - OK, so I'm really not a big fan of the platforming titles, but when one this good comes along, even I am happily drawn in.

Chad Smith
Super Mario Galaxy 2 - Playing through the game felt like the developers had a "no holds barred" approach to the level design. If they could imagine it, it should be part of the game. Everything I liked about the original was refined and the levels are more creative than ever. The Galaxy series makes me proud to own a Wii.

Metro 2033 - The on-rails shooter (pun intended) was a late addition to my list. I purchased it on a $13 whim and ended up feeling like I stole from the developers. It was that enjoyable! It's a game that knows exactly what it wants to do and excels in delivering it. The game is not perfect but it creates a sense of claustrophobia and atmosphere that's rare in today's games. Pick it up if you dare!

Donkey Kong Country Returns - What? Two Wii games in my Best of 2010? I'm shocked, too. Donkey Kong Country Returns is such a fun platformer on its own right; the fact that it hearkens back to the great 16-bit era is just an added bonus. There are a ton of hidden items and the difficulty is just right - tough and rewarding. It takes everything I loved about the originals, throws in some insane level design, and comes out as one of my favorite games of the year.

3D Dot Game Heroes - It's not a perfect trip down memory lane, but it reminds me of many an hour spent playing old Zelda games. The art style is unique and the presentation is spot-on. Sword upgrades and hidden caves are only part of the charm; the game even has a "Bestiary" collect-them-all system as well as mini-games (like Tower Defense!). All of this charm in a $40 package was well worth the price of admission.

Mass Effect 2 - I had just finished the first game for the second time in December 2009. Playing Mass Effect 2 was like rekindling an old flame, only that flame got much hotter and melted my face. It's rare that I get emotionally invested in the lives of characters in a game, let alone almost all of my crew. I loved the action as much as the interaction between characters. Bioware struck gold with this game and it stands in my top five games of all time.

John Yan
Angry Birds - Who knew such a little game that's free on Android would take up so much of my time. It's not just a goal to pass each level but to get 3 stars. Yes, you have to be lucky a lot of times, but this game, while quick to fire up, took over a ton of my free time. It's no wonder it's one of the most popular mobile games out there today.

Red Dead Redemption - I've always wanted a really good western to play with the first Red Dead and Gun being a little disappointing to me, so it was great to finally have something to latch on to with Red Dead Redemption. John Marston is such a great character and like Niko Bellic, the voice acting is just superb. There's just so much to do in the world and the atmosphere created by Rockstar is just perfect. It's a game that pleasantly surprised me at how good it was and Rockstar has another great IP on their hands with this one.

God of War 3 - The only word to describe this game is epic. I've played all the God of War series on the consoles and I think it was a great send off for Kratos. There were any frustrating parts like in God of War 1 with the Hades level and the end fight wasn't annoying like it was in God of War 2. This game came out very early in the year, but when I think about all I've played in 2010, God of War 3 always cames to mind with the other two I've listed.

About Author

Hi, my name is Charles Husemann and I've been gaming for longer than I care to admit. For me it's always been about competing and a burning off stress. It started off simply enough with Choplifter and Lode Runner on the Apple //e, then it was the curse of Tank and Yars Revenge on the 2600. The addiction subsided somewhat until I went to college where dramatic decreases in my GPA could be traced to the release of X:Com and Doom. I was a Microsoft Xbox MVP from 2009 to 2014
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