Games of 2010 - Industry Picks

Ben Parfitt

ALAN DUNCAN – Marketing Director, SCE UK

Heavy Rain (Sony)

If only because it was the first game I completed in a very long time.


Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (EA)
When console gaming  really got social media and took competition to a new and compelling level. Thank God Panorama didn't play this. 


Gran Turismo 5 (Sony)
The first time you absolutely nail a lap of the Nordschleife has to be the most satisfying moment in gaming.

PETE HINES – Vice President, Bethesda Softworks

God of War III (Sony)

Really solid fun. Love the level design, the button mashing, the puzzle solving, beautiful visuals, and the sheer, visceral carnage.


Castle Crashers (The Behemoth)
I got my two boys addicted to this and they loved sitting down to play this with dad. Final boss battle was pretty brutal, but had a great time playing this with my kids throughout the year.


Red Dead Redemption (Rockstar)
Probably my favourite Rockstar game ever. Great game design, I found it really accessible and fun to play. I need to go back and play more.


DOUG BONE – UK Sales Director, Square Enix

Super Street Fighter 4 (Capcom)

I was lukewarm to it's predecessor, but Super did an incredible job of recreating the heart of the classic SF2. Plus it's great to see a big, bad ass 3D version of T Hawk.

Heavy Rain (Sony)
A brilliantly scripted evolution of what started in 'Fahrenheit' a few years ago, but for every misstep, there was a powerful narrative punch not far behind. One sequence (in a basement...) had me fighting to save someone's life and I've never felt so emotionally invested in protecting an in game character as much as I did here.

Fable 3 (Microsoft)
There's not many games out there that upon completion, can draw me back in for extended play, but Fable 3 did this. Genuinely laugh-out-loud funny and with a playful wicked streak (often at the player's expense!), Albion's charm is undeniable. As an additional upside, at least they didn't kill my bl**dy dog this time...



Honourable mentions: Enslaved (Namco Bandai), Kane & Lynch 2 (Square Enix), Assassins Creed: Brotherhood (Ubisoft), Limbo (Microsoft), Halo Reach (Microsoft), Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (EA), Mafia 2 (2K Games), World of Warcraft: Cataclysm (Blizzard), Aliens vs Predator (Sega)

SIMON BYRON – Director of Games at Premier PR and Co-Presenter of One Life Left

Heavy Rain (Sony)
Maybe it’s because I’m a parent, but Heavy Rain affected me more than any game I can recall. When I wasn’t playing it, I was thinking about it. Sure, there was a lot wrong with it, but its ambition, technical excellence, narrative and atmosphere combined to create, for me, the most impressive game in a generation.

I was pretty rigid with how I chose to play – I didn’t reload a save, just played through with the choices I made. Certain moments in the game genuinely made me uncomfortable, but that was the point. For me, its real skill was in convincing me I had influence over the majority of the game rather than, as I understand, only really being able to affect the story in a few scenes. But to go back and play through again would be to dismiss its point; like discovering how a magician just hides something up his sleeve. Sometimes, it’s best not to know and enjoy the ride, even though Heavy Rain’s journey couldn’t really be described as enjoyable. 
 Brilliant, though.

And here’s how much: when I completed it, I embarrassed myself by emailing Dave Cage to say “thanks”. He never replied, the ungrateful sod. I, however, remain enormously grateful that both he and Sony had faith in such a brave game.

Enslaved (Namco Bandai)

I guess it illustrates how far we are behind other forms of narrative that it took the influence of Alex Garland and the performances of Andy Serkis to show what is really be possible in gaming. Enslaved is a schizophrenic title – at most points, firmly gripping the player’s hand leaving them free to explore without fear of falling; at others, punishing the player with spectacular, but often hideously tricky set-pieces requiring sometimes dozens of replays often coupled with awkward hoverboard sections – but overall, Enslaved really captivated me.


The interplay between Monkey and Trip was central to the journey, with the characters played perfectly, making perfect travel companions. The scenery was mostly stunning, the action often impressively over-the-top, and the story, punctuated as it was with properly intriguing flashbacks, really retained the interest – enough to push me beyond one particular section which saw me replay the same bit in a game for the most number of times ever. It was a personal best I wish I’d not gained this year.
 
The ending, I’ve seen, was loved by some and hated by others. I thought it moving, and watched the end-scene in silence.

As the credits rolled, I was already pretty sad that it’s unlikely we’ll see Monkey and Trip again. If you’ve not bought it yet, you absolutely should.

Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes (Ubisoft)

One of my favourite games of all time is the Neo Geo version of SNK vs Capcom Card Fighters Clash – a trading-card game which remains amazing, despite the fact its memory has been urinated on by a terrible, broken DS version. Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes isn’t similar in the slightest – Card Fighters is a turn-based strategy card game, Clash of Heroes is an evolved version of Puzzle Quest, but playing the latter reminded me of the former; I became obsessed to the point of missing my Tube stop.

It is brilliant – the perfect handheld strategy game, one which is almost impossible to properly master, making each level a challenge. It takes a small while to grasp the core mechanics – initially, the various power-ups are pretty daunting – but once you figure out the key components and units, it’s possible to plan some fantastically comprehensive and devastating attacks. Bouts are usually 10/15 minutes long, but so intense you’re often done in afterwards.

Thankfully, the top-down adventuring bits between missions are light enough for respite. 
 
It’s a wonderful, charming handheld strategy game which flies in the face of many of the titles occupying the glamour end of the charts. It’ll be cheap now, I’ll wager. You have no excuse.

JOHNNY MINKLEY – Editor, Eurogamer TV

Red Dead Redemption (Rockstar)
Who else would you want to attempt gaming’s first great Western than Rockstar? The genre it created has been refined to the point of frequently breathtaking grandeur, with a compelling, memorable heart to the story. The Jose Gonzales-backed border crossing into Mexico is my gaming moment of 2010.



Mass Effect 2 (EA)
On a different day this could easily have been my number one. At the very least it’s one of the games of this generation – its real impact for me is measured by how insubstantial the vast majority of other games I’ve played since feel, including heavyweights like Fable III. And that's coming from someone who found the original Mass Effect boring.



Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Nintendo)
The Super Mario World of 3D platformers. Polished to near-perfection and bursting with enough good ideas to fill 20 games, there’s barely a misstep in the entire experience. Peerless.



Honourable mentions: Halo: Reach (Microsoft), Rock Band 3 (EA), Limbo (Microsoft)

ROB LOWE – Marketing Manager, Nintendo UK

Goldeneye (Activision)

A really fun game that upheld the spirit of the original but also gave the Wii a modern FPS in these days of COD and Medal of Honour. My happiest memory of the last few weeks is slapping James Honeywell repeatedly in the four-player mode.


Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Nintendo)
A wonderful game that only Koizumi and Miyamoto could have made, an incredible achievement and an honour to have worked on the launch.


Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit (EA)
Criterion are a great developer and given the NFS series the reboot it really needed! An awesome game that makes your eyes bleed with excitement......shame they didn't make the Wii version!

TIM CLARK – Editor-in-Chief, Official PlayStation Magazine

Red Dead Redemption (Rockstar)
You can see why Rockstar get annoyed sometimes. Just a few weeks before the release date it was all ‘development hell’ this, ‘never make it’s money back’ that. Frustrating, because those of us who’d played it could see the potential. And of course what emerged was the game of the year by a sun-bleached mile. Marston is Rockstar’s most likeable, humane lead yet, and given that it’s mostly desert, the world is insanely vibrant. Red Dead Redemption is proof that no other entertainment medium does wish fulfillment like videogames can.


Gran Turismo 5 (Sony)
Don’t tell Sony, but I never really got on with ye olden GTs. I couldn’t understand why cars supposedly doing 120mph felt like they were barely breaking the speed limit, or why tiny adjustments of the wheel made you spin even on a straight. But, eternally out of step – I absolutely loved this one. While other people were crying about the shadow fidelity, I was marvelling at the depth, subtlety and bite in the handling. It felt fast, it felt fun. I’m properly obsessed with it, and by God it feels good to be back on message with the mothership.


Vanquish (Sega)
Despite being a bit short, featuring the least dislikeable enemies I’ve butchered in a while, and arguably being too eager to please Western gamers, I defy anyone to find a better example of how to do third-person, gun-based combat. Once you clicked with (hellishly complicated) controls, the sense of exuberance as you slid around on your knees like the naughty kid at a robot wedding was amazing. Shame no bastard bought it.

LEE KIRTON – Marketing and PR Manager, Namco Bandai UK

Enslaved (Namco Bandai)

Obviously one of the highlights in story telling, game design, incredible talent and an incredible use of the Unreal engine. A game that will remain 'historical'... Deserves attention... Watch out for DMC as Ninja Theory are an incredibly talented bunch of people.



Heavy Rain (Sony)
SIMPLY BRILLIANT. Did everything Fahrenheit did for me. Great story telling, brilliantly developed and everything made for a completely unique experience. It's the only game I've wanted to go back to and play again. Quantic Dreams have always been innovative and special.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (EA)
Great visuals, addictive fun that takes you back to when you were a young boy loving police chases (not involved in them). Excellent work from Criterion – great studio.

Honourable mentions: Plants Vs Zombies (PopCap) Trails HD (RedLynx)

ROB SAUNDERS – Head of Communications, Nintendo UK

Epic Mickey (Disney)

A stunning game in look and feel and with a fantastic soundtrack. Yes, people will moan about the camera not working and the pirate stage is unnecessarily long – but that's to glibly dismiss a hugely ambitious title which many people will – thinking it's 'just' a Mickey Mouse title. It's a fantastic example of post modernity in video games and the beautiful 'Disney' touches combined with the dystopic environment make it one of the best games of the year for me.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Nintendo)

Who thought that the first Mario Galaxy could be bettered? A serious contender in everyone's game of the year list, SMG2 was a beautiful burst of fresh air and creativity this year and has once again shown how Mario is just as groundbreaking and relevant today as he was 25 years ago!


GoldenEye / NBA Jam (Activision / EA)
Two games that pretty much defined my teenage years finally brought to this generation's consoles via Wii. Most games you have loved in the past either ultimately fail to recapture those feelings of old and remakes have a habit of never capturing past glories. These two titles this year proved that remakes lavished with love, care and attention could recapture past glories and are just as playable now as they were then. Both will be in constant use in my Wii over Christmas.

TIM INGHAM – Editor, CVG

Split/Second: Velocity (Disney)
A crying shame that both Black Rock’s explosive racer and Bizarre’s Blur seemed to underperform this year; both did more to progress their chosen genre than countless million-sellers. EA’s excellent NFS: Hot Pursuit kept the dream alive for the arcade racer in unit-shifting terms, but it was Split/Second’s intense set pieces, smart learning curve and thumping soundtrack that charmed me most in 2010. Oh, and it gets bonus points for proudly boasting the most superfluous subtitle of the year.


Red Dead Redemption (Rockstar)
Remember those rumours that Rockstar San Diego employees were being overworked to the point of inhumanity? Me neither. The end result stood as an inarguably brilliant justification of the studio’s slavish efforts. Housing a colossal landscape, astounding animation and complex period detail – not to mention an arrestingly macabre undercurrent – Red Dead was often breathtaking, and the moment Rockstar really came of age. The developer’s peerless flair for ambience and character was matched with a crafty-yet-genial community, a mature, unhurried narrative arc – and one of the greatest anti-heroes of all time.


Alan Wake (Microsoft)
Oh, it had its flaws. Alan’s grumpy say-what-you-see dialogue and inability to run ten metres without pointlessly collapsing in a breathless heap were constant frustrations. The facial animation also lacked Heavy Rain’s polish, and too many missions were carbon copies of each other. But for what it introduced – a splendid new episodic pacing model, a remarkably creepy succession of small-town NPCs, jump-in-your-seat camera work, superb voice acting – Alan Wake may yet stand as the most influential blockbuster title of 2010. So atmospheric you could taste the Bright Falls dew, it fully deserves another outing. Let’s hope unspectacular sales don’t put Microsoft in the mood to sharpen its axe.


Honourable mentions: Heavy Rain (Sony), Limbo (Microsoft), FIFA 11 (EA), Mass Effect 2 (EA), F1 2010 (Codemasters), FM 2010 for iPhone (Sega)

GUY COCKER – Editor, GameSpot UK

Mass Effect 2 (EA)
My favourite game of the year, which is surprising to me as I don't even like RPGs. Impossible to discuss without mentioning the love scenes: I collected my 50Gs from Miranda.

DJ Hero 2 (Activision)
Rhythm action titles bombed this year, but the actual games were better than ever. Amazing soundtrack, great online multiplayer and even some creative freedom offered in the mixing – plus I can beat my wife at it, unlike Dance Central. 


Blur (Activision)
Not much between Blur and NFS: Hot Pursuit, but as Blur didn't force me to wait 30 seconds every time I wanted to restart a race, it wins by a nose. Best played online with the 20 hardcore players who are still populating the servers.

Honourable mentions: Cut The Rope (Chillingo) Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood multiplayer (Ubisoft), FIFA 11 (EA)

STEFAN McGARRY – PR Manager, Sega UK

Bayonetta (Sega)

I loved working on this game, and the reception from the press made my job so much easier.  I played that demo level over and over again and never got bored. Our first 10/10 from Edge, too!
 
BioShock 2 (2K Games)
It was great to return to Rapture, albeit in a different guise this time.  Bioshock is everything I want in a game, long enough to keep me interested without overstaying its welcome. I can’t wait for Bioshock Infinity; it’ll be interesting to see what Ken Levine/Irrational do with that.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Nintendo)
Because it’s perfection, again. Such a pleasure to play.

BEN LE ROUGETEL – PR Director, Capcom UK

Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Nintendo)

In Shakespeare’s Antony & Cleopatra a character says of the Egyptian queen:  ‘Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety’ and this phrase can equally be applied to Mario. Once again Miyamoto-san came up trumps and reinvigorated this classic series. 


Limbo (Microsoft)
Initially drawn in by its unique style it wasn’t long before I was hooked by its fiendish puzzles that took me back to the many hours I put in on Oddworld: Abe’s Oddesee on PS1.  While I finished it, I must confess to coming nowhere near gaining all the Achievements; they were a step too far.


Uncharted 2 (Sony)
True it wasn’t released this year, but I only got round to playing it in 2010. With a compelling narrative driven by great cinematics and set pieces; a mix of gameplay styles that kept things fresh, including those wonderful moments where you could take a break from the action and indulge in say, a spot of swimming on a roof top pool; Uncharted 2 was a game that kept me coming back for more.

Honourable mentions: Dead Rising 2: Case Zero (Capcom)

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