Archive for January, 2011

Playstation Plus Experiment [Updated]

Posted: January 31, 2011 by Tim Utley in Editorials

Playstation Plus as most of you know is Sony’s premium service available to PS3 users.  Since the service launched last summer I have been reluctant to try it because you can access all the same content with the free PSN account.  I have a few friends that have the premium service and they stand by its benefits.  So instead of going overboard and subscribing for a full year I am doing a 3 month experiment with Playstation Plus.  With it you get discounts on games and DLC and occasionally some free content and games.  Another distinguishing feature of Plus is that you can get full game trials instead of demos.  There is a catch though with Plus.  Anything you get for free or discounted will be rendered useless if your Plus subscription runs out.  So while getting free content can help subsidize your subscription fees, you must keep paying to keep free or discounted content playable (kind of ironic, eh).  So I am willing and curious to see how much money I can save over the next 3 months using Playstation Plus and will update this as I go.  I will track savings and free content below.  Let the savings begin!!!!!

SAVINGS AND FREE CONTENT

  • Spyro the Dragon (PS1 Classic) – free ($5.99)
  • Hero of Sparta (PS Mini) – free ($4.99)
  • Pipe Madness (PS Mini) – free ($2.99)
  • Spyro 2 Ripto’s Rage (PS1 Classic) – free ($5.99)
  • Digger (PSN Game) – free ($9.99)
  • Stacking (PSN Game) – free ($14.99)
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The entire gaming community has heard so much nonsense about a rumored PSP2 for so long.  We have seen computer generated mock ups of what the system might look like and have heard several different versions of what the system might be capable of.  All that bullshit has been put to rest (for the most part).  Also Sony wants us to stop calling it the “PSP2” and start referring to it as the NGP (Next Generation Portable).

The 3DS has some competition now DUDE!!!

The NGP will be sporting a beautiful 5 inch OLED touch screen, dual analogs (thank f*&king god), and no annoying UMD drive.  Sony will be supporting a new flash media card as a means of delivering games and other content.  The system will also support digital downloads and other things of the sort.  What else does this thing have?  Bluetooth, wireless, and  a 3G mobile connection.  2 cameras (back and front mounted) and an additional touch pad on the back rounds out most of the physical features of the NGP.  But the most impressive thing about the NGP is its potential gaming capabilities.

The NGP is going to have some serious horsepower under that screen and Sony has announced this hand held system will rival the PS3 in terms of graphical capabilities.  That is a bold statement to make seeing how Nintendo’s 3DS is only sporting the power of a Gamecube (not bad, but PS3 it’s not).  But with games like Uncharted, Little Big Planet, and Metal Gear Solid 4 announced in the pipeline it will no choice but to walk the walk.

The NGP is a ways off as Sony has said that it won’t be available until the 2011 holiday season.  I am sure over the coming months new details will become available with probably the most important one being the price.  So stayed tuned for more details about the NGP.

Nintendo 3DS US Launch Date and Price Confirmed

Posted: January 19, 2011 by Tim Utley in News and Updates

The Nintendo 3DS, the glasses-free 3D handheld will be hitting US shores on March 27th for $249.99.  The 3DS will be available in Aqua Blue or Cosmo Black at launch (sorry no crimson red as pictured above).  The launch lineup is looking pretty solid with standout titles including Ocarina of Time 3D, Ridge Racer 3D, Super Street Fighter IV 3D, and Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D.

One of the things announced today that I was most excited to hear about was the re-envisioning of the WiiWare for the 3DS.  It will offer classic hits from both the Game Boy and Game Boy Color as well as brand new titles for the service.  Lets just hope that Nintendo can get it right this time because we all know how monumental of a failure the WiiWare is and continues to be on the Wii platform.

The price might seem steep to some but lets not forget that the original PSP launched at the same price and couldn’t perform a fraction of what the 3DS is capable of.  Before you discount the handheld as a potential purchase look into what it can do and as more information becomes available over the next couple of days I will throw it up here.

Synaesthesia (Games visualizing sound)

Posted: January 17, 2011 by Tim Utley in Editorials

What is Synaesthesia?  Not a bad question to ask because it is not usually used in the American lexicon.  Most simply it is the visualization of sound.  When you turn on your visualizer in iTunes, it will try and simulate or “visualize” the music you are listening to.  That is a very small fragment of the synaesthesic dimension, but an identifiable example of what I am trying to establish.  Through the perfect placement of certain tones and notes some artists have been able to create pictures with sound.  It is truly a sight to behold if you get a chance to see it.

Music has been able to accomplish this phenomenon, but videogames have taken a few stabs at it as well.  The most famous example of synaesthesia being used in a game is Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s “Rez”.  The music based rail shooter lets the player create music through the destruction of enemies you encounter in the game.

Creating music has never been more fun

While Rez might be the epitome of synaestheic gaming Mizuguchi is releasing a spiritual successor in the form of Child of Eden which will be available for both the Xbox 360 and Ps3 utilizing both systems respective motion control functions.

The most contemporary example of synaesthesia in gaming might be less synaesthesic and more rhythmic, but I am willing to argue for the first.  The Bit.Trip franchise is what I am alluding to.  This downloadable franchise from publisher Aksys Games and developer Gaijin Games offers up an unique retro style experience coupled with heavy rhythmic elements (let me explain).  My favorite entry into the series “Runner” will be my shining example of how Bit.Trip is rooted in synaesthesic conventions.  The player controls the infallible Commander Video in his quest to run, jump, kick, and slide through 50 levels of awesomeness.  I am getting side tracked, so how does this game visualize sound?  Every movement that you make with Commander Video creates a sound.  Each level is designed to create particular sounds that accompany the game’s soundtrack and as you move through those levels your performance will create a unique sound.  Through visualizing the level design around sound the player creates his/her own remix of the background track.  Not only is the chip-tune soundtrack a blast to listen to, it is fun to alter the sound with CV’s movement.  Your run through each level is a visual representation of the music, pretty cool huh.

Run, jump, slide, kick to your own groove

Gaming has dabbled in many different areas including synaesthesia.  The titles I have looked at in regards to this phenomenon are not only exemplary in design they are just really enjoyable.  The mix between rhythm, sound, and movement will continue to play a large part in game development and hopefully more developers will utilize this function and continue to create more unique experiences for us all to enjoy.

If you are interested in checking out Bit.Trip Runner or Rez I have posted some videos below and if you have any games you think fall into this category don’t be shy and share them.

Bit. Trip Runner

Rez

3DS is one dimensional

Posted: January 11, 2011 by Tim Utley in News and Updates

With the much anticipated release of Nintendo’s new handheld just around the corner tons of new information is hitting the market.  Mostly final hardware specs and speculations about the price and release date.  The latest piece of information I have come into contact however suggests that the 3DS will be region coded.  This isn’t a huge surprise seeing how the DSi and DSiXL both have region codes, but for those who have a DS or DS Lite could still import games from all over the world.

The lockout of other regions on the 3DS is a pretty big disappointment.  I imagine that the handheld will be wildly successful, but if certain software doesn’t perform as well it won’t see a release stateside.  For those of us who prefer to play obscure Japanese titles from time to time will either have to bite the bullet and buy a Japanese 3DS or will just have to go without.

Region coding the system makes sense from a business perspective because it allows Nintendo to secure their individual markets, but from a consumer perspective our scope of experience is seriously diminished.  It is not likely that Nintendo will change their decision on the matter at hand, so lets just hope that some determined individual will jailbreak it and share their spoils with the rest of us.

Game of the Year Honors 2010

Posted: January 4, 2011 by Tim Utley in Editorials


Sorry for the long delay everyone.  This is easily the biggest project for this site and hopefully this coverage will have been worth the wait.  A previous article outlined most of what will be detailed now.  With other video gaming publications already having released their dubious honors we are slightly late to the party, but we hope this coverage is just as informative and comprehensive.  So enjoy and let the madness begin!!!!

First order of business will be to honor the best exclusives for each respective console and hand held system.

Xbox 360 Exclusive

The Xbox 360 had a huge year seeing some great titles come to the system.  The games that were exclusive to the 360 this year really stood apart from their competition and are being honored today for best Xbox 360 Exclusive.  So here are the nominees.

Nominees

  • Halo Reach
  • Splinter Cell Conviction
  • Alan Wake
  • Mass Effect 2

Winner – Halo Reach

Halo Reach was up against a lot of tough competition.  But in the end Halo Reach was a return to what made Halo great in the first place.  Top flight storytelling in the single player campaign, excellent online community and incredible longevity that is absent in most other titles is what made Halo Reach the must own game on 360 this year.  This is the last Bungie made Halo we will see, but Reach has ascended to the pantheon of greatness and will not soon be overthrown.

PS3 Exclusive

This year marked the year of new IPs for Sony’s powerhouse console.  Three of the four games we are honoring today are brand new IPs that really made the PS3 a system to be reckoned with.  These games were creative, stylish, and exclusive to Sony’s console.  Here are the nominees.

Nominees

  • Heavy Rain
  • God of War 3
  • Mod Nation Racers
  • 3D Dot Game Heroes

Winner – Heavy Rain

There isn’t much that isn’t great about Heavy Rain.  Quantic Dream’s second console entry played less like a game and more like an incredible thriller movie.  Everything about this game from the graphics to the excellent script made this game shine above every other exclusive on PS3.  Heavy Rain resides in that gray area between being a video game and a movie, but the level of interaction and the choices that you must make influence how your story will end.  The game boasts a bevy of different endings so each player will experience an ending catered to their decisions.  This level of design and intricacy has made Heavy Rain our PS3 Exclusive game of the year.

Wii Exclusive

In terms of exclusives the Wii enjoyed more than any other console this year.  Polished sequels and fan service to old school gamers made the Wii worth owning this year.  Without further adieu here are the nominees.

Nominees

  • Super Mario Galaxy 2
  • Red Steel 2
  • Metroid: Other M
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns
  • Kirby Epic Yarn
  • Goldeneye
  • No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle

Winner – Super Mario Galaxy 2

Super Mario Galaxy 2 was an obvious choice for us here at the Gamer’s Abstract.  Galaxy 2 offers the same incredible level of detail and platforming fun that the first one did, but managed to make it even better.  This game is an absolute treat to Mario fans and Wii owners alike and is definitely what keeps Nintendo ahead of the curve when it comes to first party excellence.  This game sets the standard for platforming at almost a nose bleed altitude and is why it is our Wii Exclusive game of the year.

Nintendo DS Exclusive

The DS always show strong hardware and software sales every year.  This year wasn’t any different, but there wasn’t anything that really stood out.  Mostly sequels to already established franchises (which isn’t a bad thing), but the DS didn’t have any killer apps that made it a must own hand held this year.

Notable DS Games

  • Pokemon Heart Gold/Soul Silver
  • Dragon Quest IX
  • Super Scribblenauts
  • Megaman Zero Collection
  • Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light
  • Mario vs. Donkey Kong : Mini Land Mayhem
  • Professor Layton and the Unwound Future

Winner – Vacant Title (better luck next year DS)

Most sites feel compelled to award a winner in every category, but here credit is only given where credit is due.  None of the games listed above did anything to perpetuate the greatness of the DS.  Except for Megaman and Final Fantasy they are all sequels to previous titles in their respective franchises (which doesn’t make them bad, but not worthy of an award).  This might rub you the wrong way and if you feel wronged by this then please comment, I always love a good argument.

PSP Exclusive

For those of you who disagree about our decision to not award a DS game of the year (for our aforementioned reasons), will probably hate us after this because we are about to contradict ourselves.  The PSP had a good year despite horrible PSP Go hardware sales.  The PSP had a few titles that really elevated it above its touch screen competition.  You can read them below if you so desire.

Nominees

  • Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
  • God of War: Ghost of Sparta
  • Valkyria Chronicles 2
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep

Winner – Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

So why did we choose Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker as our PSP game of the year?  It’s simple it’s Metal Gear.  When Peace Walker was first announced most people believed that it was just going to be a re-envisioning of Portable Ops.  That wasn’t the case at all, this game surpasses Portable Ops in every conceivable category.  Better graphics, better story, and better gameplay just to name a few.  Metal Gear and God of War were neck and neck for this award and don’t get me wrong, Ghost of Sparta is a fantastic title, but it wasn’t a giant leap from Chains of Olympus.  Peace Walker is an incredible title and if you have a PSP you should probably already own it.  With that being said Peace Walker is our PSP game of the year, because it went above everyone’s expectations and really delivered an unique experience.

Videogame Category Awards

Now that the individual consoles have been taken care of we now move on to our individual category honors.  Some categories will receive more literary love than others, but that is because we discussed them more than others.  Leading of the category round is Best Action Game.

 

Best Action Game

Action Games are games that deliver blistering combat and stylish sequences of death and destruction.  The games listed below are some of the few that stood out this year and are our nominees for Best Action Game.

Nominees

  • Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
  • God of War 3
  • Bayonetta
  • Dante’s Inferno
  • Dead Rising 2
  • Red Dead Redemption

Winner – Bayonetta

Bayonetta was in a genre with a lot of other excellent titles this year.  We choose Bayonetta over everything else because when we broke it down Bayonetta delivered action better than any other title this year.  It was faster and more stylized than anything else we experienced this year.  Also it was a fresh new title and also returned some dignity to Sega as a publisher.  Bayonetta was the epitome of action this year and thus receives the honor of Best Action Game.

Best Adventure Game

The genre of the adventure game treads a fine line from falling into another genre of game.  But we believe that an adventure game is something encompasses a variety of traits, but its strongest one is that of exploration.  A game that has incredible scope with detail and immersion to back it up.  A game that you can get lost in for hours with no direction because you are awe struck by its beauty.  The games that did that best this year are listed below.

Nominees

  • Red Dead Redemption
  • 3D Dot Game Heroes
  • Enslaved
  • Fable 3

Winner – Red Dead Redemption

We picked Red Dead Redemption as our best adventure game because it gave us a world to explore unlike any other this year.  All of the editors here will tell you that they spent countless hours traversing New Austin on horseback soaking up the scenery, hunting wild game, and picking the local foliage.  Red Dead does a lot of other things well too, but the exploration is really what set this game apart from its competition and that’s why it is our Adventure Game of the year.

Best FPS

Every year the gaming community gets a healthy dose of FPS.  Yearly entries and newcomers saturate the market every year and we continue to buy them.  Why?  Because we LOVE them.  A great first person shooter combines great and intuitive controls with killer single player and multiplayer components.  This year was a treat for FPS fans from all over and below are the nominees.

Nominees

  • Battlefield Bad Company 2
  • Halo Reach
  • Bioshock 2
  • Medal of Honor
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops
  • Goldeneye
  • MAG

Winner – Halo Reach

Halo Reach is our FPS of the year as well as our Xbox 360 exclusive game of the year.  Halo has never been with out competition, but this year marks its toughest competition to date.  Bungie’s latest and last entry into the Halo franchise was a complete treat and service to its enormous community of fans and players.  Reach embodied everything that makes the Halo franchise great and expanded upon it with an even more robust multiplayer experience and an unforgettable prologue single player campaign.  Halo Reach is unquestionably one of the greatest FPSs ever made and this year’s FPS game of the year.

Best Third Person Shooter

For those of you who enjoy seeing what your shooting at as well as whom you are shooting with, this category is for you.  The third person shooter genre usually gets overshadowed by its FPS brethren, but this year had some titles that really made the genre a force to be reckoned with.  Here they are.

Nominees

  • Alan Wake
  • Splinter Cell Conviction
  • Red Dead Redemption
  • Vanquish
  • Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Winner – Splinter Cell Conviction

Splinter Cell Conviction is our Third Person Shooter of the Year.  The Splinter Cell franchise up until now has been very heavy on stealth.  Like if you get seen, start the mission over stealth.  Conviction gives you the option whether to continue that brand of stealth or go Jack Bauer on some motherf#$kers.  This entry really upped the level of action and with that added dose of action the controls were given an overhaul.  This game handles like a dream.  With very precise and responsive controls this game handles just as good if not better than a top flight FPS.  Sam Fisher is more bad ass than ever and delivered a premiere Third Person experience and that is why Splinter Cell Conviction is our Third Person Shooter game of the year.

Best Sports Game

Ah, the sports category.  Some people including myself wonder why this is even a category.  Aren’t all sports games the same from year to year.  Just a homogeneous enterprise sucking us dry of our hard earned greenbacks every year.  To a degree what I just said is true, but select franchises operate outside of that stereotype and deliver different and fresh titles every year.  So here our picks for Sports game of the year.

Nominees

  • NHL 11
  • FIFA 11
  • NBA 2k11
  • NBA Jam
  • MLB: The Show 10

Winner – NHL 11


EA’s yearly hockey franchise is gem amongst costume jewelry.  NHL 11 is not only a great sports game, but just an excellent game in general.  With the inclusion of Ultimate Team and even more enjoyable online multiplayer NHL 11 soars above the rest of the genre this year.  I know I will get shit for not giving NBA 2k11 sports game of the year, but I don’t care.  NHL 11 is an exponentially more enjoyable experience than NBA and that’s what sets it apart.  NHL 11 delivers a fun and easily adaptable game for anyone to play and that is why it is our Sports game of the year.

Best Racing Game

Most other genres of video games give us the ability to live out fantasies and racing games are no different.  Driving exotic super cars that are worth more than the neighborhoods we reside in, drifting around corners going 200 mph, and dodging falling buildings are just a few fantasies (besides maybe the last one) that racing games give us the ability to live out from the safety of our couch.  Here are the nominees.

Nominees

  • Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit
  • Split/Second
  • Mod Nation Racers
  • Gran Turismo 5

Winner – Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit

Criterion’s latest work is perhaps some of their best.  The Burnout developers took the reins for the reboot of Hot Pursuit and have created the best Need for Speed we have seen yet.  Hot Pursuit has great controls, graphics, physics, and depth.  The Autolog system that has been implemented into Hot Pursuit is the future of racing.  Real time friend recommendations for races, online leader boards, and a wall to showcase your awesomeness will surely pave the way for future NFS iterations.  Hot Pursuit has an incredible amount of content that spans the offline and online portions of the game.  The game is challenging, but nothing is sweeter than getting gold and destroying a friends time on the speed wall.  Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is the total package and that’s why it is our Racing game of the year.

Best Puzzle Game

The puzzle genre is for gamers who like a game that actively engages their thinking critically and analytically.  Puzzle games come in all kinds of forms and present different challenges to their audiences.  Some invite you into battle, some invite you to escort, and some invite you to make discoveries.  Finding nominees for the Puzzle genre wasn’t an easy task as the genre was kind of on the light side this year.  These are the Puzzle games we thought stayed true to the genre and engaged gamers the most.

Nominees

  • Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini Land Mayhem
  • Puzzle Quest 2
  • Picross 3D

Winner – Puzzle Quest 2

For those of you who are not familiar with Puzzle Quest, it is a Bejeweled based puzzle/rpg game.  Puzzle Quest 2 took everything that made the original Puzzle Quest great and revisited the world with a fresh new take.  With the addition of new camera angles, the battles and exploration in Puzzle Quest 2 became slightly more intimate and really invited the player into another great adventure.  Puzzle Quest 2 offered up another unique experience while staying true to its roots and that is why it is our Puzzle game of the year. 

Best 2D Platformer

2D Platforming is rooted more in video games than probably any other genre.  2D Platforming ranges from the mundane to the extreme and everything in between.  It is such a diverse genre and because of that creativity flourishes and delivers many unique offerings every year.  Precise timing, aim, and jumping ability are just a few traits that a gamer must have in order to conquer a 2D Platformer and this year’s titles reinforce that.

Nominees

  • Donkey Kong Country Returns
  • Kirby Epic Yarn
  • Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril
  • Megaman 10
  • Super Meat Boy

Winner – Donkey Kong Country Returns


Donkey Kong Country Returns is classic 2D Platforming at its finest.  This was a premiere franchise back on SNES and the series has seen many different incarnations over the years with many of them deviating from the original script.  But the name says it all.  DK is back and is ready for an incredible new adventure.  When most series attempt a reboot most gamers including myself are skeptical, but Donkey Kong delivers on every level.  The game is a blast to play and coupled with nostalgia of its SNES dominance made Donkey Kong Country Returns our 2D platformer of the year.

Best 3D Platformer

3D platforming used to be something that we could have only imagined in our wildest dreams.  But over the past 15 years several developers have dabbled in the genre some enjoying great success.  3D Platformers offer experiences that blend every conceivable genre and give the player an opportunity to explore vast and unique worlds.  This year might not have had a lot of worthy titles for this honor, but here they are.

Nominees

  • Super Mario Galaxy 2
  • Metroid: Other M
  • Epic Mickey

Winner – Super Mario Galaxy 2


It’s a me MARIO!!!! (Not really)  For those of you familiar with our little Italian Plumber friend will know that he was in a little game this year called Super Mario Galaxy 2.  Everything you loved about the original Galaxy is back and better than ever.  Also like the original Galaxy, it is the best 3D Platformer available this year.  I could go on and on about Galaxy 2, but all you need to know is the game is incredible, it won our Wii exclusive game of the year (another reference for information if you desire), and it is also our 3D Platormer game of the year.

Best Survival Horror

The lights are off and you are sitting in front of the TV alone.  If something jumps out and scares the shit out of you, you are probably playing a Survival Horror game.  This genre has been evolving steadily since its inception.  Bigger scares, creepier environments, and the excellent use of sound are pushed to the edge in this genre and the games listed below are some examples of that.

Nominees

  • Alan Wake
  • Dead Nation
  • Dead Rising 2

Winner – Alan Wake


Alan Wake is our Survival Horror game of the year because its brand of horror was far more interesting than the competitions’.  Alan Wake’s anecdotal horror sequences could leave a non-horror fan defecating everywhere and still make a seasoned veteran jump a little bit.  The biggest thing that Alan Wake had going for it and usually sells me on any game is the use of environment.  Alan Wake’s environment played such a large role in delivering its thrills.  The game also has episodic content out to expand upon the story which is always a plus.  Alan Wake all in all is a great game, but is an excellent Survival Horror game and is our pick for Survival Horror game of the year.

Best Fighting Game

Fighting games allow you the ability to beat the crap out of your friends with out actually harming them (at least physically).  Fighting games are pure competition and have some of the most memorable franchises in gaming.  Combos, reversals, and super attacks are the name of the game when it comes to the Fighting genre.  The games that fought for the right to be on this list are duking it out below.

Nominees

  • Super Street Fighter IV
  • Tatsunoko vs. Capcom
  • Blaz Blue: Continuum Shift
  • MMA
  • UFC Undisputed 2010

Winner – Super Street Fighter IV


Remember those memorable franchises I was talking about 20 seconds ago.  Super Street Fighter IV is another polished entry into one of the greatest video game franchises of all time.  SSFIV is the “director’s cut” of Street Fighter IV, but the game stands on its own.  More fighters, stages, looks, and refined controls make SSFIV not only our Fighting game of the year, but one of the greatest fighting games ever conceived.

Best Music Game

Sex, drugs, and rock and roll, right?  The music game genre is for people who like music, but suck at playing instruments.  How do I know that, because I am one of them.  The music game genre has expanded significantly this generation to incorporate games that are meant to be played with others.  Whether you are on guitar, bass, drums, mic, turn tables, or just grooving to the music, there is a game listed below that got you into the music.

Nominees

  • Rock Band 3
  • DJ Hero 2
  • Dance Central
  • Just Dance 2
  • Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock

Winner – Rock Band 3


The tried and true Rock Band experience never fails.  Rock Band 3 managed to expand upon the incredible offering that was RB2 and still not lose what made the series fun in the first place.  The inclusion of a wireless keyboard and a midi adapter for real instrument usage made Rock Band 3 not only a better music game, but also an instrument for learning how to play music.  Rock Band 3 has set the bar very high for music games and that is why it is our pick for Music game of the year.

Best RPG

Role Playing Games let us live out the ultimate fantasy.  Being someone else, being somewhere else, experiencing the future or the past, or having extraordinary abilities are just a few things that RPGs allow us to do.  Great RPGs have well crafted stories, fluid game play, and enough content to keep us engaged for unhealthy amounts of time.  This year had some games like that and hear they are.

Nominees

  • Fable 3
  • Final Fantasy XIII
  • Valkyria Chronicles 2
  • Mass Effect 2
  • Pokemon Heart Gold/ Soul Silver

Winner – Mass Effect 2


The Mass Effect series has delivered another incredible title in Mass Effect 2.  Mass Effect 2 encompasses everything that we said makes a great RPG and more.  ME 2 has created depth in a title that will likely only be surpassed by its sequel.  The story, dlc, graphics, gameplay, and interface are all top notch and is something that isn’t to be missed.  Mass Effect 2 is an astounding achievement in RPG design and is our RPG game of the year.

Best Story

The story of any game is the most integral part of the equation.  It is the fiber that connects every outlining aspect of a game and without it a game falls flat.  2010 told some great tales and here are the nominees.

Nominees

  • Heavy Rain
  • Mass Effect 2
  • Red Dead Redemption

Winner – Heavy Rain

This year was a great year for the story.  There were many great tales in 2010, but one stood out more than any and that was the story in Heavy Rain.  The intimate look in the lives of 4 people and how their respective lives would intertwine over the course of the game is probably one of the most compelling and biggest emotional roller coasters I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.  The story of Heavy Rain is very complex, creative, and also has 20+ endings to boot.  If you haven’t played or viewed Heavy Rain you are truly missing out on one of the best video game narratives ever written.  Heavy Rain’s story is damn near perfect by design and is our winner for Best Story in a game this year.

Best Graphics

Graphics can make or break a game, but graphics need to be analyzed contextually.  A game with great graphics can simply take your breath away, whether it is in game or during a cut scene.  We love games with awesome graphics and with current technology the way it is we expect it.  So here are some of the games that really blew us away this year with their graphics.

Nominees

  • Splinter Cell Conviction
  • Mass Effect 2
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2
  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
  • Red Dead Redemption
  • Heavy Rain
  • God of War 3

Winner – Heavy Rain

Heavy Rain is a visual masterpiece.  Every minute detail was carefully articulated on screen for us to enjoy.  From the environments to the character models, every thing just look superb.  If you haven’t had a chance to check out Heavy Rain or don’t own a PS3, just YouTube a video of it, you will not be disappointed.  With that being said Heavy Rain has been awarded the game with the Best Graphics this year.

Best XBLA/PSN game

This generation of gaming has ushered in a new brand of game, Downloadable.  Xbox Live and the Playstation Network offer several new titles each year that keep us entertained and sometimes are even more worthy of our money than a full retail release.  The titles listed below are the cream of the crop of the download world and are our nominees for best XBLA/PSN game.

Nominees

  • Dead Nation
  • Limbo
  • Megaman 10
  • Pac-Man Championship Edition DX
  • Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
  • Death Spank
  • Joe Danger
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
  • Trine
  • Plants vs. Zombies
  • Super Meat Boy

Winner – Pac-Man Championship Edition DX

With so much competition this year in the download arena, picking a winner wasn’t an easy task.  Pac-Man CE DX was up against very worthy competitors, but Pac-Man is perfect.  The game is stunning to look at, play, and pursue leaderboard dominance on.  Pac-Man CE DX is a timeless classic that will just as enjoyable 20 years from now as it is today and that is why it is our XBLA/PSN game of the year.

Best DLC

Remember the days when you bought a game and if it didn’t have enough content on it it was pretty much tough shit.  Those days are long gone and with DLC our games have never been better and can continue as long as a developer decides to support it.  No bother waiting, here are the nominees for best DLC this year.

Nominees

  • Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare
  • Battlefield Bad Company 2: Vietnam
  • Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker

Winner – Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare

Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare is an incredible piece of DLC and embodies what DLC should be.  For a mere $10 you can add between 10-20 more hours of gameplay to your Red Dead file.  This DLC is longer than some retail releases and better than most of them.  This was a big year for Zombies, but Rockstar did it right and with a great sense of humor created an unforgettable performance and that is why Undead Nightmare is our DLC of the year.

Biggest Disappointment of 2010

I wanna first start by saying that this category out of every single one was unknowingly allocated the most time for deliberation amongst the editors here.  You would think that this category would be cut and dry, but no 2010 pissed off a lot of people and served up a lot of games that failed to meet expectations.  This is a highly subjective category, but after serious discussion we feel we found our black sheep of 2010.  Here are the games that were considered.

Nominees

  • Fable 3
  • Gran Turismo 5
  • Fallout: New Vegas
  • Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days
  • Final Fantasy XIII
  • Goldeneye
  • Lost Planet 2

Winner (Nothing to be proud of) – Final Fantasy XIII

Final Fantasy XIII (head in hands).  Why did this game suck so bad?  Why was this game even considered a Final Fantasy game?  Why did this game take so long to make?  So many questions left unanswered perpetuates our anger toward this title.  Final Fantasy more so than any other title on our list has huge expectations accompanied with it and certain traits that characterize the franchise.  No villages and an almost completely linear story really made this game a huge disappointment for FF fans worldwide.  FFXIII really dropped the ball and is our Biggest Disappointment of 2010.

Worst Game of the Year

Everyone loves shitty games (wait that might just be me).  Anyways 2010 had an incredible year for pumping out some real stinkers and here are some of those smelly treats listed below.

Nominees

  • Splatterhouse
  • Tony Hawk: Shred
  • Quantum Theory
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
  • Fighter’s Uncaged
  • Kung Fu Rider
  • Naughty Bear
  • The Fight: Lights Out
  • Power Gig: Rise of the Six String

Winner (Loser to the rest of us) – Tony Hawk Shred

Tony Hawk: Shred, this game sucked so bad that no one even reviewed it.  With excellent sales (3000 in the first week) and developer Robomodo losing half of its staff we are pretty much guaranteed to never see another retarded iteration of Tony Hawk with that seemingly worthless piece of shit skate board peripheral.  Yay, lets rejoice!!!!!  The Tony Hawk series is in the shitter right now and after Ride getting dumped on by the entire gaming community who thought it would be a good idea to make a sequel.  Sequels are usually indicative of  success, Ride was a gargantuan failure.  Listen up Activision, the Tony Hawk series is on life support at this point and the only way to resuscitate it is to rip off Skate.  Tony Hawk: Shred is an awful title and thus is our Worst game of the year.

Best Game you have never heard of

With so many games being released every year you are bound to not hear of all of them, right?  Good, because this year had some diamonds in the rough that may have flew under your radar.  All excellent games, but we will only be acquainting you with one, so here are the nominees.

Nominees

  • Joe Danger
  • Bit Trip Runner
  • Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril
  • Crossfire
  • 3D Dot Game Heroes

Winner – Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril

Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril is a game that I can almost guarantee you have never heard of.  It is okay though, because I’m gonna fill you in quickly on it.  You probably haven’t heard of this game because it wasn’t advertised, sold at Gamestop, or even on a current generation console/hand held.  Battle Kid is an independently created original Nintendo Game.  You didn’t hear me wrong, NES BABY!!!!  This game is an homage to classic games such as Megaman, Metroid, and Castlevania.  The NES homebrew community is quite vast in size and Battle Kid from Sivak Games makes an excellent contribution and is our Best Game that you have never heard of, game of the year.



Overall Game of the Year

The Game of the Year is awarded to a title that understood its audience’s expectations and far surpassed them.  A title that created a level of immersion that you called out of work to stay in.  A game that will remain in your collection far after you have completed it.  A game that you would kill someone in cold blood if they ruined the ending for you.  This year saw titles that fit the aforementioned criteria and here they are.

Nominees

  • Red Dead Redemption
  • Heavy Rain
  • Mass Effect 2
  • Halo Reach
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2

Winner for Game of the Year is……..

Red Dead Redemption

Red Dead Redemption is our game of the year.  You might be confused because Heavy Rain won so many awards, but this award isn’t a numbers game.  Red Dead Redemption was awarded our Game of the Year honor because it exceeded our expectations, captivated us with its world, and a person almost lost their life for almost ruining the ending.

Lets get serious, Red Dead Redemption is the total package because whatever it attempted to accomplish it did.  With Red Dead being so many years removed from its predecessor, not many people expected it to be this excellent of a title.  I will not lie I had my reservations about the title coming back after so many years, but once again I was proven wrong and damn does it feel good.   Red Dead Redemption offered up a frontier world that was blossoming in front of us from start to finish.  You connected with every character on some level and that is what drove the narrative for me.  Every facet of Red Dead Redemption was carefully constructed and the end result is a game that really grabs you by the reins and doesn’t let go until you are finished.  I am proud to say that Red Dead Redemption is our Game of the Year for 2010 and is well deserving of it.

Conclusion

Before I thank anyone else I would like to thank two people in particular and they are fellow editors and friends Ryan and Justin.  Without them this project would have never gotten off the ground and wouldn’t have been as detailed.  Thanks again guys.  And to the readers, thank you guy for continuing to read and I hope that you have enjoyed our coverage and will stay tuned for more very soon.

Game of the Year Honors 2010