Staff Picks: The Must-Plays Of 2010
It has been suggested that we produce a few features every now and then that highlight our favorite games for the month. Well, it's a good idea and as we're behind to start with, we'll give you our top selections for the year-to-date. In the future, we'll try to do such features at the end of each month, so you know all about the gems you missed. ;)
So anyway, we're five months in so here are 5 titles that we figure every avid gamer needs to play (and we're not necessarily including 1 title from each month).
As a quick clarification, we mean the Xbox 360 version. Yes, we know the name of our site but let's face it; the severe frame rate issues and lagging visuals in the PS3 version of this Sega port made the choice clear for action aficionados. It's why we had to give the PS3 version a relatively low score, but I promise you, the 360 version is a 9+ product. It's one of the most sublime action mechanics you will ever see; it allows the player to be endlessly inventive and yes, the challenge is sky-high. And please don't forget, Sega's not taking themselves seriously. The over-the-top sexy cheesiness is intentional; it's designed to be tongue-in-cheek, obviously. And it's just so damn good.
4. Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Some will argue that DICE's anticipated follow-up actually provided players with a better online multiplayer experience than Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and a great many more will say the single-player campaign is most certainly superior. But regardless of what you believe, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is one of the most intense, enjoyable experiences you will have in 2010. Some claim to be sick of shooters - and to some extent, we certainly agree - but there's so much top-quality greatness going on here...it's just tough to ignore. For those who don't want to wait until the new CoD or Medal of Honor later this year, you really can't go wrong with BC2.
3. Final Fantasy XIII
This is more my pick than Arnold's as he didn't like it as much, but in my eyes, while it remained a disappointment on the sky-high FF scale, it was still a great achievement. I don't play games for 75 hours unless I'm enjoying myself, you know? Final Fantasy XIII presents us with one of the most impressive visual presentations ever; the cinematography and CGI is basically unparalleled, the story is decent, the characters are quite good (and they get a lot better as time goes on), and while I'll always maintain that Square-Enix could've done a better job on the combat mechanic, I will also always stand by my review. If you can manage to accept the fact that it's not quite up to the lofty standards this franchise holds, we can almost guarantee you will appreciate this production.
2. Heavy Rain
In all honesty, this is my favorite game of the year so far. What it did for this industry is difficult to describe; I did what I could to explain it in my review, but I doubt I did the game justice. Those who have played it know of what I speak, and even as I sit here typing, I have the sudden urge to go through it again (for the fifth time). In terms of storytelling and completely enveloping the player in a beautifully arranged plot with compelling characters, I have difficulty thinking of any other video game that tops it. MGS4 comes close but as Quantic Dream's primary goal was to deliver something entirely original in the interest of art and advancement, Heavy Rain is something very, very special.
1. God of War III
The reason this gets the nod over Heavy Rain is simply because we believe - fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it - that God of War III is more accessible and more appealing to the majority of the PS3-owning population. It's just a big-time crowd-pleaser; it almost doesn't matter what type of game you typically enjoy, because you'll be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't love this game. It features the largest amount of bad-assness and the largest number of kick-ass moments we've ever seen, and it's so meticulously designed and developed, it's nigh-on flawless. GoWIII was everything we had hoped it would be and it's definitely a front-runner for Game of the Year.
And that's what you need to play, if you haven't already. We will also give honorable mentions to Super Street Fighter IV; the score would normally place it above in the top 5, but it's really just an expansion and upgrade on last year's great SFIV. I would also like to add that Nier is one of my favorite games of the year simply because I have a special preference for such experiences, and 3D Dot Game Heroes is a definite must if you're a fan of the old-school Zelda games.
Next time you see this feature, it should only be for the month of May and if you hadn't already guessed, it probably won't boast 5 or more titles and it most certainly will feature Red Dead Redemption.
5/21/2010 Ben Dutka