- It is that time of year again. It's time to look at the games that I played in 2010 (even if they did not come out in 2010) and decide which were the Top Five of the year. Keep in mind that this list is completely subjective. I'm even listing them in alphabetical order to avoid any problems. Let's see which ones had the biggest impact on me.
- Borderlands - I don't think there has been another game that I have tried harder to play more than Borderlands. I initially bought the game in a Steam sale. When my video card crashed out and I had to swap in an underpowered substitute, I gave it up for a while. But then the GOTY edition came out on Xbox 360 and I bought it again. And then replaced it when the first didn't come with the DLC codes. The reason I tried so hard is because Borderlands is just fun. That's all it wants to be. The story is not compelling, the gameplay isn't deep. But it's fun as hell and actually got me playing a shooter this year.
- Dragon Quest IX - As a long time fan of the Dragon Quest series ever since the NES era, I was looking forward to this game for quite some time. I was not disappointed. There is a vast world to explore, crafting and gathering, multiple jobs to level up, and a full endgame in place. But the main story is told almost episodically, so the critical path is not overwhelming. Although I was concerned that the move to the DS would hurt the game, making it portable was a godsend. Dragon Quest has never been about pushing polygons, so they did not lose anything by shrinking it. In fact, I probably played it more because I could play it anywhere.
- Limbo - When the Xbox Summer of Arcade launched, I didn't have any idea what this game was. But one Giant Bomb Quick Look later convinced me that I had to buy this game. And although it only took me a few hours, it was one of my favorite games of the year. I'm not very good at puzzles, so I did have to hit the FAQ a couple times. Even so, I had a blast figuring out how to navigate Limbo's dark world. But it wasn't the gameplay that won me over. Instead it was the mood and tension that bored into me like one of those disgusting brain worms. Even now I can recall the feels the game gave me, from hopeless despair to moments of triumph. That is why it made this list.
- Mass Effect 2 - I loved Mass Effect. It was far and away my favorite game Bioware has made (just ahead of Jade Empire). ME2 was the perfect follow up. From the first tense moments through to the harrowing climax, I was hooked by this game and its story. It was great to step into Commander Shepard's shoes again and guide her (oh yes, Shepard is much better as a woman) to victory against the Collectors. If I have anything negative to say about the game, it's that now I can't wait for Mass Effect 3.
- Red Dead Redemption - I like the idea of Rockstar's games a lot more than I can play them. Usually I run into some wall that I just can't overcome, so I give up in frustration. Which is sad because the stories their game are unusually excellent. Red Dead Redemption has the excellent storyline that I was looking for along with great gameplay and an amazing world to explore. RDR's deconstructionist western hit all of the right notes with an amazing lead character, confident story beats, and a mood that effected me long after I finished the game. And finished and finished because you aren't done playing until the final credits roll, no matter how the story goes. I'm embarassed to say that I put the game down at the wrong point and had to go back later when I realized my mistake. And I'm glad I did go back because RDR has one of the most satisfying endings ever.
- Although they didn't make the top five, I want to give Sid Meier's Civilization V and Costume Quest some honorable mentions. It's like some people asked themselves "What would Anjin like to play?" and made them just for me. Thanks, everyone.
© 2010 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.