Honourable mentions of 2010

My awards for this year were tough to make, oh so tough. I missed out tens of titles and the only reason I did so was because this year was such a quality year. Indie gaming came on the rise, new fundamental design techniques were introduced (to appraisal) and we faced a gaming industry both divided and united. This year saw some of our stepping stones come into play, and next year I think it’s all to play for. Winner takes all in these entertainment industries and now we need to align ourselves to the point of contact when we’re considered a fully fledged artistic medium. Our bedrock is rising steadily with games that show our potential, another year won’t hurt.

So, in each of my awards I had five contenders. I eliminated them one by one until I was left with a general top five, which was heartbreaking to make. There were so many great games and the greatest fight of them all waged in the Game of the Year bracket, with the second contender probably reigning supreme for nearly half of a year. I finally came to my sense and decided I wanted to try something different with game of the year, unfortunately people are stupid and only read my article titles half the time, so I received some hate email afterwards. It’s a shame I’m not allowed to think for myself.

Game of the year: Kane and Lynch 2 by IO Interactive

2. Give Up, Robot 2 by Matt Thorson

3. Super Meat Boy by Team Meat

4. VVVVVV by Terry Cavanagh

5. Metro 2033 by 4A Games

This was by far the closest category to call as the battle for first place was just as bad as third place. Putting Metro 2033 in number five felt comfortable, as I already outlined why it was my game of the year at some point. The battle for fourth place rested with VVVVVV taking the crown, which was sad since the game went on to win no other awards. Third place was rough, since I was sure that Super Meat Boy was just so good enough and so indie enough to deserve to win the ultimate crown. If Kane and Lynch 2 showed us the opposite extreme, perhaps Team Meat’s masterpiece showed us the other side of the spectrum.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be and I placed it to die in third place. The dead heart of the battle was really at second place, as I would either show the extremities of indie gaming or mainstream gaming, to contrast one another and make my point about game of the year. It’s not about quality, it’s about remembrance, and we have to remember Kane and Lynch 2 for showing us how awesome the other four candidates were. For that, I let IO’s dog slide into first place and the incredibly amazing Give Up, Robot 2 go into second place.

Soundtrack of the year: Super Meat Boy by Danny Baranowsky

2. Give Up, Robot 2 by Matt Thorson
3. PPPPPP by Magnus Pålsson (OST)
4. Mass Effect 2 by Jack Wall
5. Limbo by Playdead Studios

Limbo was an obvious choice for taking the ultimate crown, as it didn’t have a soundtrack at all. It had little riffs spread throughout its playthrough in order to create or highlight atmosphere, which truly deserved recognition. I decided instead to let a true hero fall into first, instead. I put Limbo in five and was left with Jack Wall’s amazingly pumping orchestral boomy boom OST of Mass Effect 2 in fourth place. The top three of the list were all massively retro-reincarnations with Magnus’ having some extreme chiptune audible chunks laying throughout the OST to VVVVVV.

Give Up, Robot 2 was once again cheated of a first place but really it was more deserved. The Super Meat Boy soundtrack is a love letter to a dead world of retro gaming, and for that, it deserves its place.

Flawless Victory: Super Meat Boy by Team Meat

2. Give Up, Robot 2 by Matt Thorson
3. Deadly Premonition by Access Games
4. Bioshock 2: Minerva’s Den DLC by 2K Marin
5. Fallout New Vegas by Obsidian Entertainment

If this was any other gaming website, this would be your ‘game of the year’ accolade. Instead, however, I made quality and remembrance separate; as it should be. I ridiculously enjoyed Fallout New Vegas to the point it became one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life. Period. The Minerva’s Den DLC of Bioshock 2 was recommended to me by Anthony Burch (knowing Steve Gaynor was behind it made my day) and I thoroughly enjoyed stepping back into a familiar Rapture. If you’re a Bioshock guy like I am, and felt the second lacked in storytelling, Minerva’s Den is for you.

Deadly Premonition was a surprise candidate after just playing it for twenty minutes. The game showed us all how laughably brilliant the ‘worst’ game could be. It’s now cemented as the ‘Troll 2 of video-games’. One of the few that is so bad it’s good. Give Up, Robot 2 once again lost first place to Super Meat Boy. There would soon be revenge on the cards however.

Most important game: Limbo by Playdead Studios

2. Give Up, Robot 2 by Matt Thorson
3. Kane and Lynch 2 Dog Days by IO Interactive
4. Heavy Rain by Quantic Dreams
5. Fallout New Vegas by Obsidian Entertainment

This too was a toughie, given how important the actual year was. I decided to simply put them randomly in a list, and put the one that I felt was most important at the top. New Vegas bridged gaps of sexuality in video-games, making half of the companion cast homosexual and not making a gigantic thing of it. It made their character but it wasn’t their character. Heavy Rain was massively appraised by all my friends while I laughed at the writing and nearly cried at the barbaric mangling of video-game storytelling. It still gave audiences something new, but I felt it was horrible.

Kane and Lynch 2 already took the top dog crown, Give Up Robot 2 was robbed once more (poor Matt) and so Limbo went on to win the title. So many websites hailed it as the next title to slip into our bedrock of video-games and I agree to some extent with that. I’m not one of those 10/10 Limbo guys, I’m a 8/10 Limbo guy.

Best design: Give Up, Robot 2 by Matt Thorson

2.VVVVVV by Terry Cavanagh
3. Super Meat Boy by Team Meat
4. Mass Effect 2 by Bioware
5. Fallout New Vegas by Obsidian Entertainment

It was strange waking up one day in the Mojave Wasteland to realise New Vegas was a real triumph of video-game storytelling design. As was Mass Effect 2 and many others this year. As I crept towards New Vegas itself for some partaking in gambling, I was fully set on my design list. VVVVVV was going to take the full nut and Give Up, Robot 2 would regretfully go home with nothing. I felt like I would cheat out a whole sub-culture of flash gaming though, and had to let it take the honour. It was truly one of the closest and heart-wrenching decisions of the last year

Nevertheless, all candidates showed exceptional design in the way of traditional level design, platforming mechanics and storytelling design.

Worst game: God of War III by Sony Santa Monica

2.Kane and Lynch 2 Dog Days by IO Interactive
3. Section 8 by TimeGate Studios
4. Deadly Premonition by Access Games
5. Call of Duty Black Ops by Treyarch

Of all the games that left a sour taste in my mouth, some of them were actually welcomed. Deadly Premonition showed me how fun the word ‘bad’ can be, but mostly, all of the games above were deserving of the title. Black Ops absolutely murdered, shot and stabbed and violated video-game storytelling. It left it a shambling corpse, while the gaming press nodded along and thought it was a story spectacular. As the battered, bruised corpse of video-game storytelling raged on (Red Dead Redemption was very close to being on this list) a few other titles showed their faces.

But none other than God of War III had enough guts to destroy a literature tradition of Greek tragedy. It’s almost admirable for a game to murder the Greek pantheon and then murder Greek literature.

Other awards I couldn’t be bothered with

  • Biggest Disappointment – Medal of Honor by Danger Close/DICE
  • Best Storytelling – Mass Effect 2 by Bioware
  • Most Underrated – Give Up, Robot 2 by Matt Thorson
  • Most Overrated – Red Dead Redemption by Rockstar SanDiego
  • The game of the year in the making – Minecraft by Mojang Specifications
  • Most anticipated release of 2011 – The Last Guardian by Team ICO
  • DLC of the year – Bioshock 2: Minerva’s Den by 2K Marin
  • Best voice acting – Mass Effect 2 by Bioware
  • Best ‘foreign’ title – Metro 2033 by 4A Games

All in all, a great year for video-games and 2011 looks to murder us all. I’ll be back later this week with game critique corner, game design corner will be going up on Screenjabber.com and a “This Week In Hardisty” will pool all of my articles on other websites so far. Hope you had wonderful holidays and I wish you all the very best.

 

 

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