2010. It wasn’t all that good, was it? We had Ke$ha producing music, oil spills everywhere, Spanish people winning the world cup. Yep, it’s clear this year wasn’t one of our better efforts. Well, there is one exception to all this: gaming.
While the rest of the world seems to be spiralling into the murky depths, the gaming industry just keeps getting better and better. What better way to celebrate the sheer number of great games that were released than with a ‘best of’ list?
Let’s get to it then. Here are the top five PS3 games of the last 12 months.
#5 – Heavy Rain
Developer: Quantic Dream
Release Date: 25/2/2010
2010 started off with a bang for the PS3. The likes of Bayonetta, M.A.G, Bioshock 2, White Knight Chronicles and Battlefield 2 all graced Sony’s console, though no game earned quite as much interest as Heavy Rain did, and for good reason.
HR offers a bundle of new experiences from start to finish. It’s a shining beacon to other developers that taking risks sometimes pays off. The whole game requires you to only do three things: walk around, click on objects and engage in quick-time events. It sounds like the worse idea since Mark Walberg was cast as Nathan Drake, but when combined with interesting characters, an engaging plot, immersive atmosphere and a shitload of gripping action scenes, you start to realise that if you added any more gameplay mechanics you’d probably be going overboard.
The story follows four different characters, each of whom is tied up with the antics of a serial killer – the Origami Killer – in one way or another. This multiple perspective approach offers greater diversity for action scenes as well as plot progression. Speaking of the story, depending on what choices you make the plot will be drastically altered. Okay, so you’ve heard that before, but this time it’s very serious business. If you’re not quick enough with certain QTE’s then you could find yourself in a car that’s about to be crushed, a car that’s heading towards oncoming traffic or a car that’s underwater. You might even find yourself dead….AND in a car.
This sole aspect is what makes HR the experience it is – consequences. The lack of a ‘Game Over. Try Again’ screen is truly an inspiring feature and makes each action scene ten times more intense. While it certainly wasn’t all perfect (some aspects of the acting and plot are laughable) HR certainly accomplished what it set out to do: give gamers an experience unlike any other.
Just try to forget about the whole ‘Ethan waking up in the street with origami in his hands’ thing.
#4 – God of War III
Developer: Santa Monica Studios
Release Date: 18/3/2010
The return of the sex mini-game alone earns GOWIII a spot in the top five for 2010. Although it’s not the only feature that returns, it’s without question the most vital to the game’s success. In fact, pretty much everything from the past two GOW titles makes another appearance. The polished and perfected combat returns, as does incredible graphics, giant boss battles, tense quick-time events, and all the blood and guts we’ve grown accustomed to handling violently.
In his fourth outing (don’t forget Chains of Olympus, people) Kratos finds himself not only battling the Greek gods but their parents, the Titans, as well, all in the name of revenge. Puzzle elements are spread throughout the gameplay and, yet again, you will find yourself navigating the depths of Hades. Now there are a few new changes, like Kratos’ new weapons and god-powers, but for the most part the formula is the same as the past two games. All this repetition sounds dull, right? Well if your immediate response was ‘yes’ then you need to do everyone a favour and cut your own face off.
The gameplay doesn’t need to evolve too much when everything around it has been cranked to ridiculous levels. Everything is just epic. EPIC. Bosses have grown to the point that Kratos is often no more than a few pixels in size when compared to the entity he is fighting. The first battle against Poseidon, in particular, possesses a scale unseen before in gaming. Then there’s the levels of violence on display. Gutting centaurs, pulling out every eye in sight, ripping off Helios’ head – Kratos has never been this brutal. The graphics (some of the best seen this generation) are just the icing on the cake and help plunge you further into the world of ancient Greece.
When it comes to the action genre, Kratos is unparalleled, and GOWIII marks his finest appearance to date.
#3 – Demon’s Souls
Developer: From Software
Release Date: 25/6/2010
Yes, okay, so it may have hit Japanese and American shelves last year, but From Software’s gem didn’t make its way to Australasian and European shores until mid-2010. Thank God it got here eventually; it would be a crime against gaming to deprive any mortal of this gloomy masterpiece.
Demon’s Souls sees you attempting to save the world from an evil fog that brings with it all sorts of madness. Predominantly demon-based madness; you know, the sort of madness that chops your head off and then sucks your soul out through your neck stump. The game handles like your standard dark-fantasy inspired hack-and-slash RPG, though the main difference is that enemies can often kill you in one or two quick hits, which lends to a very cautious, very nerve-wracking experience where one false move could ruin more than an hour of hard work.
It truly is for the hardcore market. Not only is there a lot of quick death but there’s no pause button either. Not hardcore enough? Well, how about the fact there’s a ‘tendency’ system that, depending on how you play the game, greatly alters certain aspects of the story or even the levels themselves? Catch is unless you have a walk-through you won’t understand how it works. Still want to go more hardcore? How about if you die consistently, the enemies actually become HARDER?
The overall challenge is one of DS’ best features; the others being its sense of atmosphere and its online component. No game will give you such sense of oppressiveness and dread like DS, and no game can offer such a unique online experience either. Leave hints for other players, watch how people died, aid others to reclaim your physical body, or even invade their game and kill them to achieve the same goal, there’s nothing else like it on the market.
Too many games nowadays can be beaten with one hand. While that might be alright for people who have suffered chain-saw mishaps, for every other two-handed gamer it gets a little dull after a while. Demon’s Souls is a reminder that games are here to challenge us and throw new experiences our way, as much as they’re here to entertain us.
#2 – Gran Turismo 5
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Release Date: 25/11/2010
Fancy a racing game that’ll keep you going for the next year or two? Gran Turismo 5 is what you’re after. It might have taken five years to be developed but – funnily enough – one couldn’t help but feel surprised at how suddenly the game hit store shelves. Most games give you a few months or even a year of warning before they’re released. But I guess Gran Turismo has never done things by the book; opting for a more casual “I’m ready now, and you can buy me in two weeks time” approach.
The game – or simulator, as it is more accurately described – is as deep as the Titanic, with an unprecedented number of cars to purchase and modify and a tonne of races to partake in, ranging from your standard ‘anything goes’ affairs to go-karts to NASCAR and onto rally events. Realistic damage makes its first appearance in the series and the introduction of a levelling system for the singleplayer mode gives you more goals to aim for and also increases the risk/reward of races as you steadily become a more experienced driver.
Then there’s all the other brilliant stuff: the gorgeous graphics, the realistic physics and car behaviour, the incredible multiplayer (online AND off) complete with championships and racing teams, and (my personal favourite) the genius inclusion of a track creator. Now while there are some strange aesthetic choices (the menus and some of the music, for example), the rest of the game is just oozing with polish and attention to detail. Each car is lifelike and, considering that over 200 of them have a highly detailed internal view – as well as the fact the game runs at 60fps with 1080p – it truly is a staggering technological accomplishment.
Gran Turismo has always been one of the Playstation’s leading franchises and, although it’s only a few weeks old, it’s clear that GT5 is already a masterpiece. Let’s just hope GT6 arrives a little more promptly, ay?
#1 – Red Dead Redemption
Developer: Rockstar San Diego
Release Date: 21/5/2010
It was a tight race, but when it comes to overall experiences this year on the PS3 nothing could quite reach the lofty heights that Red Dead Redemption scaled. Rockstar are the lords of the open world and no better has this been displayed than in John Marston’s quest for redemption…..of the red and dead variety.
The singleplayer campaign is lengthy and varied, taking you through the wild west of the States, then to Mexico and back again, all the while exposing you to the famous aspects of the period. We’re talking gunfights in the streets, treasure hunts, lynchings, lassoing jerks and tying them up, viva la revolutions, railway robberies, Texas hold uem’ in bars, Wanted posters, all that jazz. The characters you’ll meet along the way are likeable and unlikeable in equal amounts; each one blending in perfectly with the story.
The gameplay can be explained as ‘Grand Theft Auto minus a century’. Horses instead of cars, older weapons account for more modern peacemakers, boots and spurs replace sneakers, etc, etc, but the core mechanics remain mostly the same. Mini-games are present as are side-quests, law enforcement, cover mechanics, and all those other facets of GTA that we know and love.
The general aesthetics of RDR, though, are a complete departure from past Rockstar games. The game world is vast, sparsely populated, but more immersive than any GTA setting. It’s ‘capturing the moment’ that RDR does so well. Whether you’re chasing a wagon through the desert as the sun sets in the distance or hunting for bear in snow covered woods while taking in the quiet night time sky, the sense of place is astounding. This is all helped out by amazing art direction, graphics and lighting effects.
Then there’s the multiplayer aspect of RDR. Much like GTAIV, you can either roam around completing co-op missions or just shooting your mates in the back, or you can head into the competitive arena and compete in a range of game modes. The gameplay mechanics make a smooth transition into MP and help erase any sense that the online component is ‘tacked on’.
So, all in all, RDR is the best game of 2010 and, without question, one of the finest experiences you’ll come across this generation. It’s a rare thing when gameplay, art, technology, story, sound, and almost everything else receives such fine execution and comes together so faultlessly. Metal Gear Solid 4 did it in 2008. Uncharted 2 did it in 2009. This year Red Dead Redemptions leads the way.
And how about the game’s ending? Freakin’ incredible.
- Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
- Battlefield Bad Company 2
- Bioshock 2
- Call of Duty: Black Ops
- Fallout: New Vegas
- FIFA 11
- Final Fantasy XIII
- Modnation Racers
- NBA 2K11
- Yakuza 3
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading this little piece.