2010 Reconsidered

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.


I did mention Minecraft in the article. Probably the only indie game I called out, but also the most significant.

I'm not sure I look at Minecraft, though, and see the future.

This year was weird. Without thinking too hard, it feels like this was kind of a down year for games. But if you look at the releases month by month, you will realize that this year had a steady stream of releases with no real droughts even during the summer months. I kinda like it better this way.

Elysium wrote:

I'm not sure I look at Minecraft, though, and see the future.

With the MC alpha-beta price rise coming up, I'm wondering if it's something I want to buy and still can't convince myself. I've no doubt that it's important in some ways, but I feel some games have a tendency to overstate their importance or get carried along on a train of hype. I see MC in the same way it see Garry's mod, a great tool for creative communities, but fits into it's own category rather than something that will upset existing games.

Elysium wrote:
If you talk about the games of 2010 and you don't mention any indie games at all you might have missed the big thing that's going to define the big thing of this year when it's looked back on in later years.

That's an interesting statement, but painfully non-specific. Like what, for example?

When I looked back I only thought of the big releases too until I read this:


Which embarrassed me quite a bit because I hadn't just forgotten it got released this year but that it exists at all.

It's tricky to name indie titles as examples of great releases though as they're very specific in their player appeal. What some love others hate.
Like the above linked example from RPS.

Plus each individual indie game has a much smaller audience so there aren't as many people who have played any individual title. For instance, how many have played Amnesia?

So here's what I think: the number one overall game will be everyone's number two game and everyone's number one game will vary greatly for person to person.

And these top games of the year things work weirdly on a hardcore gamer's mind. Very few are brave enough to actually stand up for the game they actually love and prefer to play it safely by going for the game that's good.
(I think it's because those games don't have many points that can be criticized in the tradition product review form. Trying to be "objective".)

I'll preface what I'm saying by stating there are some cool indie games that I like. I feel indie games are often over exposed for what a lot of them are. There are some that are worth the attention, but just like big name titles, there's a lot that aren't. It seems to me that along with how it's cool to hate the big companies, it's cool to love the small ones for reasons other than the quality of their releases.

It's great that you've made your small game with a little twist on an established genre, it's great that it's cheap, but don't hate me if I play it until I've had my fill and move on, and don't herald it from the rooftops like it's the coming of the gaming messiah.

I thought it was a great year - so great that it will take me half of 2011 to get through my 2010 backlog! Not to mention the time I will have to put into GOTY versions of games I really enjoyed that have all the dlc for me to tinker with:)

2010 was awesome. I'd be more long winded, but I have to type one-handed.

Mass Effect 2 and Read Dead Redemption (my GotY) + Undead Nightmare made it worthwhile by themselves.

I also enjoyed smaller/shorter games like Enslaved, Crackdown 2, Monday Night Combat, Super Meat Boy, Dead Rising: Case Zero, Costume Quest, Puzzle Quest 2 and Risk II.

2010 had more than enough to keep me happy.

I am happy as punch to have finished Bioshock II, Bad Company 2 and Mass Effect 2. All very satisfying games.

Rock Band 3 will be the one game of 2010 that will stay in my collection for years to come.

Way back in the Bold Predictions thread for this year, I said:

* Finally, on a more serious note, by the end of 2010, more gamers will be looking forward to 2011 rather than fondly on this past year.

With Deus Ex: Human Revolution and L.A. Noire dropping early next year and The Elder Scrolls V, Uncharted 3, Batman: Arkham City, and Mass Effect 3 coming out later on, I think I may be right.

Rat Boy wrote:

Way back in the Bold Predictions thread for this year...

No fair bringing that up without linking it.

To me, 2010 was like every other year. There were good games and bad games. As usual, I didn't play as many as I wanted to. As usual, I had a ton of fun with a few games, and not so much fun with other games. As usual, I'm looking forward to 2011.

lostlobster wrote:

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 rocked my world this year. I've never been into online FPS like I have with this one. Over 250 hours put into it. Can't wait for Vietnam.

I agree. Bad Company 2 was to me the best Battefield installment since the original BF:1942. I've been playing 4-5 hours of Vietnam now too, and I'm a very happy camper so far (would have liked to see some Vietnam exclusive achievements though (non-Steam)).

Mass Effect 2, Assassin's Creed 2, Dragon Age and Batman Arkham Asylum were four of my other favorites this year. And even though I agree that Civ 5 still has a few bugs and totally broken combat AI, it's still by far one of the the games I've put the most playtime into this year (after BF:BC2) with 60+ hours or so.

Still haven't gotten to Mario Galaxy 2 or Starcraft 2, but I think(/hope) they'll probably make the top ten for me.

minecraft, civ, and halo got me through this year, as well as battlefield bad company and modern warfare II