Better late than never…
10. Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 2
It has probably the best looking cel-shaded anime visuals in the industry. On top of that, the fighting engine is approachable and will most likely not alienate players who aren’t keen on the genre. Plus, the interactive cutscenes are, no shit, spellbinding. But I guess the important part is that I enjoyed it, with or without friends, even though I wasn’t into the whole Naruto mythos in the first place. A gateway for new fans? Yes, pretty much.
Another title which cements Shinji Mikami as one of the gifted Japanese game directors in history. It may not be as colossal or a masterpiece like Resident Evil 4, but Vanquish does the job well when it comes to delivering over-the-top action and carefully executed shoot-and-cover game design. True enough, the overall concept of the game is simple and dare I say it’s Gears of War in anime-steroids (sans co-op and multiplayer of course). But shooting enemy robots have never felt this good and rewarding thanks to the difficulty which just feels right. Think of it as the Ninja Gaiden (Itagaki’s) of shooters, which means playing the damn thing will make you a better gamer.
8. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
Spanish developer MercurySteam, along with Kojima Productions and Dave Cox, have crafted an epic Castlevania game that sounded dicey on paper but fortunately it wasn’t. I mean seriously — a new 3D Castlevania mainly developed by a non-Japanese studio that doesn’t have any ties with the original ‘Vania saga? Sure, Kojima and his studio were somehow overseeing the project, but that doesn’t exactly guarantee anything these days. Either way, the game rocked with its polished combat, beautiful (though sometimes sluggish) graphics, amazing boss fights, and a very interesting narrative. It’s a good reboot of the franchise and I’m eagerly anticipating the upcoming DLC where the story continues. Oh and yes — the twist was awesome.
7. Heavy Rain
Hey look — it’s that interactive PS3 exclusive that has created a lot of buzz! Jason aside, I really enjoyed Heavy Rain a lot. In a year full of action, adventure, fantasy, sci-fi and whatnot; it’s nice to experience something unique and fresh. And Heavy Rain just does that for me due to its intriguing storyline, multiple endings package, and the intuitive use of the SixAxis. Acting and dialogue were questionable at times, but it really didn’t matter the moment Madison took off her clothes and was chased by goons. Or the part where Jayden used ARI in the office and fucked it up afterwards. Or when Scott Shelby was beating the shit out of somebody. Or when Ethan had to do something that involved *gasp* blades. David Cage and Quantic Dream, you guys better top this one out.
6. Final Fantasy XIII
OH hey look — it’s that Japanese RPG that created a lot of buzz because it was such a shitty game! Yes, unfortunately it’s semi true; Final Fantasy XIII is a shitty game, but not entirely that shitty. It’s not one of the worst games of all time (not even the worst of the franchise, IMO), but it’s certainly not the one of the best “OMG it’s Final Fantasy bitches!” games of all time either. So why does FFXIII belong in this list then? Simple, I enjoyed it. The amount of time I invested in that game was far from wasteful. Combat, though weird at first, was strategic and entertaining. Plus, the story (an issue which was a debatable topic) entertained the shit out of me since I love crazy stuff like Rahxephon, Eureka Seven and Toward the Terra.
Yes, it’s about 3/4s linear. Yes, the characters may be a rehash of VIIs, VIIIs and Xs. And yes, it has a 20-30 hour tutorial! But, again, you know I enjoyed it. It’s like waiting for your favorite topic to be discussed in a grade school class subject. The wait may be atrocious, but in the end it was worth it despite the intricacies. By the way — I’m not being a fanboy here. Fuck that shit. If I was one of those FF kiddies, this would be on the very top and I’d be saying FFXIII changed my life. Honest.
5. God of War III
Kratos’ last console gigantic outing may not be as “charming” as his previous PS2 efforts. Seriously guys, don’t tell me you didn’t get tired of playing a guy who’s fucking angry all the time for the 3rd time. Nevertheless, it was such a badass game. Why? It played great for one (hardly a surprise), the set pieces paced so well, it had the best sex minigame compared to the PS2s, the boss fights were grandly impressive, and dude — the graphics. “Holy Shit!” came out of my mouth the instant I encountered my first boss fight. I’d be totally surprised if PS3 owners out there still don’t have this in their library. That is, of course, if they aren’t fond of the genre which I totally respect.
4. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
It’s StarCraft. Only this time it’s bigger and better. What really impressed me the most (and I’m sure most of you will agree) was the single player campaign. I seriously thought it was just going to be your typical real time strategy campaign, where the game will slowly introduce you to the new units/toys you’ll be using (and its perks) as you progress further. True, it’s still somewhat along those lines, but Blizzard added some bits to make the experience a lot more interesting than the norm. Let’s not forget the missions and the in-betweens which were cinematic. As a person who rarely plays RTS these days, I never expected that such trait could work on the genre. Playing missions, with difficulties that aren’t cakewalk, just to get a glimpse of what’s happening next in the story has never been that “addicting”. That’s because SCII does it well thanks to the cinematic storyline and presentation. So well…
3. Super Mario Galaxy 2
Super Mario Galaxy is one of the best platformers of all time. All time. The sequel, Super Mario Galaxy 2, is naturally just like Super Mario Galaxy with more platforming goodness, Yoshi, more awesome stuff and a bunch of others. Do the math and whaddya get? One of the best platfomers of ALL TIME. If not THE best 3D platform game you’ll ever find in this planet. No seriously, it is. I dare you to find a better 3D platformer out there. I double dare you! Hell, I’ll even give you a prize or something.
2. Mass Effect 2
It’s like Seven Samurai in space, which immediately labels it as an “epic space opera”. OK, it may not be exactly 100% like Shichinin no Samurai, but some of the core stuff were palpably present. And that’s just the plot even though the last stage of the game was, you have to admit, a little out of place (Contra anyone?). But as far as the overall game goes, Mass Effect 2 was amazing. It nearly has every ingredient that you could possibly want in a triple A title. Whether it’s the ensemble cast of characters, the fantastic art direction and visuals, or even the excellent game design; playing this game is a phenomenal experience.
What’s that? “Excellent game design” you say? You read that right. Believe it or not, but there are some Bioware nitpicky fans out there who were outraged with ME2 the same way most J-RPG fans were upset with FFXIII. It’s primarily because that ME2 felt more of a shooter opposed to the RPG trappings of the first game. Y’know, I didn’t mind the changes since ME2 just played better compared to the first. Yes, I missed some of the looting and armor collecting, but that was just it. Do you really want to explore deserted planets with a buggy that controls like shit? Plus, the RPG elements are still sort of intact (for me at least) anyway, so it’s not a big deal. It’s a better game, period… even though, again, the last stage was so-so and Saren Arterius was the better antagonist.
1. Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep?
It’s like Kingdom Hearts II on-the-go. What more could I possibly want, right? That experience right there is better than beating the shit out of the Collectors and the Zerg combined. And the story was fucking mindblowing. It’s like this, you see (promise, I’m not gonna spoil anything… I think. FINE! Spoilers for those who haven’t played the damn thing, but it’s a MUST READ if you aren’t going to play it anyway): One of the characters you get to play is this guy (Ventus) who looks like Roxas, but is in fact the soul of Sora. Sora is the main protagonist of the main KH games, who for some reason does something horrible later on in Part 1 and has ‘splitted’ another entity who kinda looks like him: Roxas. Roxas is in fact a member of this emo group called Organization XIII, and has befriended a girl (I forgot her name) who is also the soul of Sora (am I right?). But wait! Prior to the events of Sora’s epic journey, Ventus (the Birth by Sleep kid) is in fact the other half (the good-guy-light version) of another character called Vanitas. Vanitas looks exactly like Sora and even has the same voice actor, Haley Joel Osment.
Vanitas also reminds me of Rinzler — the masked, dual-wielding, evil right hand man from TRON Legacy — which obviously doesn’t have anything to do with Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep. However, Disney owns the TRON brand and TRON was featured in Kingdom Hearts II. So… you never know.
…………OK. I’M JUST MESSING AROUND HERE. Numero uno is below. Nothing wrong with Birth by Sleep mind you because it’s still a pretty looking game for the PSP (I had fun with it, tere). It plays well too and the presentation’s top notch. It’s just the story which was fucking ridiculous as you play further…
ANYWAY. My number one video game of 2010 is:
Surprise, surprise? I believe I mentioned this already back in World 3’s final episode, but yes it’s true — Hideki Kamiya’s Bayonetta is easily my favorite game of 2010. I’ll tell you why:
Solid and well crafted combat, balanced gameplay, ridiculous over-the-top presentation, gorgeous character designs, lush environments, epic (and I do mean EPIC) boss sequences, crazy tunes, and a pack of video game references that are just “about right” for an enthusiast like me… wow. Bayonetta was incredible.
Sure, the story is garbage for the most part, but that’s not the point here. It’s all about how the game plays with its flawless, super fast combat and INSANE boss fights. It’s like playing a feel-good title where you can simply relax, chill, and have extreme amounts of fun. Just like an excellent game, you know? Fun. Remember watching FLCL or Gurren Lagann where all you had to do was to sit back and the let the craziness unfold in front of you, while at the same time you can’t stop cheering because the guys behind the experience know what they’re doing? Because, you know, everything clicks for you just like *snaps* that? That’s what I felt when I played Bayonetta. Entertaining, stylish, and just simply enjoyable.
Kamiya-san, I can’t wait for the sequel…