A bit late due to having to play a backlog of games that came out in the holiday period – here it finally is! The best games of 2010. My personal picks, anyway.
2010 was a year of “refined” sequels that did very little to change their respective series’ formulae, God of War rip-offs, and a few stand-out indie titles. While it wasn’t a fantastic year for games, luckily there were still a number of enjoyable releases, and a handful of really good ones.
I must add a disclaimer here before certain readers cry foul: I do not own a Nintendo Wii. This means as absolutely desperate as I am to play Epic Mickey, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, and especially Super Mario Galaxy 2, and as sure as I am that some of those games would be in my top 10 of the year…I can’t play them, and thus they won’t be included in this list. Games from all other consoles however, are fair game.
10. Alan Wake (Xbox 360)
Alan Wake was one of my most anticipated game releases, ever since a few screenshots and a short teaser were released, quite a few years ago now. Touted as having been inspired by the works of Stephen King, there was little to get in my way of being desperate for this game. There was a long period of time after this initial reveal where the developer went silent about the project though, and some significant changes were made. Chief amongst these was the changing of the game’s original open-world gameplay into a strictly episodic, mostly linear affair complete with “Previously on Alan Wake…” and a song to finish off each episode.
I really wish Alan Wake had been open-world. Exploring the very much Twin Peaks-like town of Bright Falls (set in Washington) and its surrounding area would have been absolutely wonderful.
That said, even with its restrictive nature and an absolutely horrific case of the uncanny valley (in fact, I can’t even picture any character’s face actually moving), Alan Wake delivers a strong, atmospheric gaming experience which is well worth playing. The story is very much Twin Peaks (which I only started watching recently; it’s absolutely brilliant) and Stephen King put into a blender, with an extra sprinkling of fantasy, and it all takes place in a beautifully rendered environment. Daytime sequences in and around the forest look absolutely stunning. Little touches like radio and TV shows you can listen to / watch while on your way somewhere work well to immerse yourself in the setting.
The gameplay adds some interesting new features to the third-person shooter genre, having to use light (in the form of flashlights, flares, flash grenades, etc.) to reduce the darkness surrounding your enemies before you can blast them away. It makes it more fun, and fighting “the Taken” can get pretty tense, considering they only come out at night.
There was something about Alan Wake that just didn’t click like I hoped it would, and I can’t quite put my finger on it, but had the game not been as disjointed as it is through the mimicry of a TV show format, had it been a bit more “free,” it could have been absolutely fantastic. Still, dealing with what Alan Wake is, rather than what it could or should have been, a really fun time was to be had with the game. This time around there was a lot more to the running and gunning, and a much better story to tell.
Or maybe I just have a thing for rural Washington.