When first asked to be a part of Platform Nation’s 2010 Buyers Guide, and to pick my top five recommendations of the year, I thought it was going to be hard. Hard because I would only be able to think of three or four games I’d truly want to recommend. And then I snapped out of the dream land I must have been in and realized that this year may very well have been one of the best years in gaming history. So, I was right, in a different way. It was hard. In fact it was nearly impossible. To pick only five games from a sea of top notch highly regarded AAA titles, mixed with literally hundreds of unique, original mobile/downloadable/independent games, as well as some of the best hidden gems in years… I began to panic. No matter which platform you are on, you definitely had some thrills throughout the entire year from start to finish and still more to come as the year isn’t even over yet.
This year brought us two Christmas’. Usually we get the typical onslaught rush of AAA games in the fall leading up through the holidays, but this year we also had a similar action packed first quarter in what is usually a dead zone. In fact, you could argue that it stretched into the second quarter and hasn’t ever quite let up. From January onward for a few months we saw some huge releases. Starting things off with a bang with Bayonetta, Mass Effect 2, BioShock 2, God of War III and Heavy Rain to a flurry of racers with ModNation Racers, Blur, and Split/Second, to Red Dead Redemption, and finally Super Mario Galaxy 2. Nintendo continued to push out its big names including major releases from Kirby, Metroid, and the soon to be released Donkey Kong Country Returns. And let’s not forget Bungie and the juggernaut that was Halo: Reach. As we go into the final months of the year we have some of the finest sports titles yet from EA, Assassins Creed Brotherhood, Call of Duty: Black Ops, and many more. This is also excluding the fact that both Microsoft and Sony released/are releasing major hardware this year with Move and Kinect.
Amidst this gaming chaos however, hid many games that flew under the radar, or were rather buried under the radar. It was a year to pull for the little guy; a year of the underdog, and I feel compelled to shine a light on these lesser known titles. When you factor all of these things into the equation, you soon realize that a top 5 list is next to impossible. It’s hard to find a place for games like Bad Company 2, DJ Hero 2, Castlevania: LoS, Enslaved, Fallout: New Vegas, Dead Rising 2, Vanquish, and so many others when you put days of your life into Angry Birds, or Plants vs Zombies. Or how about Shank, Limbo, or the return to greatness for Sonic?
This was a very strange and hectic year as there were times where I really would ignore my consoles for weeks at a time because I was too busy gaming on my iPhone. I never thought that day would come. But it’s here, and it picked one heck of a year to hit me.
All of this news is hard enough to swallow, but it’s even crazier to remember that right before this year started we were coming off from a spectacular 2009 fall season with games like Arkham Asylum, ODST, Forza III, Uncharted 2, Dragon Age, Modern Warfare 2, New Super Mario Bros, Ratchet & Clank, and Assassins Creed II. I feel like this avalanche started before I can remember and has been pouring down on me ever since. It’s almost depressing because I know for a fact there are games out there that I just won’t ever get to play just from the sheer volume of great games for every single platform that exists. It’s exciting to be part of an industry where your main complaint is that there’s too many quality products coming your way, but at the same time, I’d wish they could almost control it so I’d have a chance to play them all.
I’m getting side-tracked here from a point that doesn’t even really exist. This entire article started out as a 3-4 sentences that would be my intro to my top five list and snowballed into thoughts on just how crazy this year has been, and how out of control our industry is right now with over-saturation of quality to the point where people will have to start sacrificing and missing out on awesome experiences with some games just to experience others. Me and my friends are still playing catch up on 2009 games, it just never ends.
What I ended up doing with my list, was trying to think of titles I felt didn’t get enough attention but truly deserved it, or games that are just plain awesome or impacted their genre better than the rest. Overall I think I have a solid list of titles that every gamer should definitely check out. But until its posted, maybe reflect on the games you played in 2010, and challenge yourself to fairly place 5 games that stood out for you for whatever reasons. It’s a lot harder than you’d think. At the same time, ask yourself the question: Is our industry getting too good? Is this a bad thing, or a good thing?