2010 seems like one of those years where you got out of it exactly what you put into it.
If you stood here, and told me that this was one of the best years for gaming in recent memory, I’d probably not come up with a particularly good argument to dissuade you. On the other hand if you furiously posited that the final trip round the sun for the first decade of the new millennium was a categorical let down from a gaming perspective, I’d be equally challenged to wage war against your perspective.
What have we learned from this? I am terrible at arguing with people. Also, that it was a complicated year that is not easily defined.
I realize on Monday, I sounded fairly down on 2010. It was, perhaps, a knee-jerk reaction to a gut-check feeling. I’m not exactly moving off that position, but I think that my initial negative perception may have been built on unreasonable expectations. Considering how consistently we saw new and relevant releases hitting the shelves week after week, I walk away feeling like we should have seen a commensurate increase in the overall number of really great games, but that didn’t really happen.
That said, there was no shortage of entertainment to embrace this year, it’s just that it was usually dispatched in bite sized chunks rather than with any kind of grand fanfare. All things considered, for someone like me who usually just enjoys a game for a week or so anyway, this was at times a kind of perfect year.
As a habitual non-finisher of games, I completed a surprising number of titles this year, including Singularity, Mass Effect 2, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, God of War III, Force Unleashed II, Heavy Rain and what will likely go down as my personal game of the year, Starcraft II.
I should also not lose sight of the countless hours I put into the games that really avoid being defined by a finite end. 20+ hours into Just Cause 2, 30+ hours into Starcraft II multiplayer, 40+ hours into Rock Band 3, 50+ hours into Civilization V and who knows who many hours into Cataclysm already. And, though Red Dead Redemption, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Halo: Reach, Minecraft, Final Fantasy XII, BioShock II and other titles only marginally registered on my radar, there’s no denying that there was a vital fanbase that embraced these games.
Yes, this was also the year of Elemental, Crackdown 2, Alan Wake, Mafia 2 and Fable III; games that failed to deliver, but there were also an equal number of games that seemed to slink under the radar and be a prize of discovery, like Darksiders, Transformers, Super Scribblenauts and Metro 2033.
No, I think I may have been too quick to judge 2010 as a disappointing year. It was a year instead that simply wasn’t obvious. If you sat around waiting for commercials to tell you what to play, it’s probably easy to have been disappointed, but if you explored the full landscape of the industry then you had the opportunity to be pleasantly surprised again and again. Like I said, for 2010 you got out of it exactly what you put into it.