292 points, 18 votes, 4.5 TOP GAME votes
Matt D: It’s pretty much pitch-perfect Western from the voice work to the vistas. The world has a great amount of verisimilitude and immersion, and a sort of weird self-awareness. At one point while searching for buried treasure, I realized I was in a cactus-free zone and the very moment I said to myself, “Damn, what am I doing here?”, Marsten said, “What am I doing out here?” Creepy, Rockstar. Everything sort of reacts as you’d expect: bandits are bandits, varmints are varmints, coyotes are coyotes. The combat is a step up from GTA IV (which I found a bit anachronistic); there’s endless freedom to explore and the storyline is surprisingly good. This competes for the top spot among Rockstar’s many offerings for sure. Can we have Tokyo next?
Mitch Krpata: This being a Rockstar game, the story of Marston’s quest for revenge — and, yes, redemption — is adorned with endless side missions and mini-games. At their best, they flesh out the world. What would an Old West setting be without some back-room poker? Some of this is busy work, like the series of challenges that send Marston into the wilds to hunt game under increasingly stringent conditions. Yet it’s all worth pursuing just to experience the harsh environs, and to marvel, evenings, at the red sky in the West. Rockstar builds incredible worlds. Red Dead still showcased some of their worse qualities, but it also gave us their most compelling hero and their most beautiful environment.
n/a: Admittedly this is pretty much the only 2010 game I played in 2010, but it’s also almost the perfect game for me. I feel justified in naming it the best game of the year.
jjjusten: Loved it to death until it became terribly terribly samey and boring; find the herb/critter hunting quests for level ups are total bullshit. On the plus side, this is the first game where riding a horse didn’t make me want to break shit in my house. It looks absolutely gorgeous.
Lamp: There are so many aspects of Red Dead Redemption that I found deeply stupid ,but its one of the rare games i felt compelled to finish this year. Others will, I’m sure, write more fluently and more passionately about it but damn did I ever… uh… finish it.
ledge: Who knew a GTA clone set in a desert (wait a minute, that’s literally a sandbox…) would be so fun. Less irritatingly repetitive gameplay than GTA IV, a more engaging story and and less ridiculous cutscenes; plus it was good fun just to chill out in the desert and spend some time shooting rabbits and coyotes and pumas and armadillos and bears and crows and wolves and boar and eagles and… I do agree that the missions end up being repetitive, but it’s not as bad as GTA IV was for that, and also the various challenges do add a bit of spice. Okay, picking herbs gets a bit dull but i had fun trying to find all the different critters to kill, searching out the treasure, etc. Overall, I’m pretty happy with the depth in the gameplay.
bnw: King Kong of 2010. Writing, atmosphere, and voice acting all on a different level then the rest of the field. Biggest complaint would be that it gets a little grindy with repetitive side quests.
Polyphonic: A few of my friends and I brought our 360s together to play this game as one big posse. It was probably the nerdiest thing I’ve ever done, and caused me to seriously question the life decisions that led me down that path. But fuck it, it was fun. There are few moments in my gaming life that I will ever treasure more than when I killed that bear in the snows of Tall Trees with only my knife, or when I drifted up on my RS to see a starry sky as I hunted for armadillo carapaces — only to be mauled to death by a cougar.
The single player storyline was very good, probably the best Rockstar has done to date, and the closest they’ve come to gameplay that is actually fun in and of itself. But the star of this game is the atmosphere. Also, the zombie overrun multiplayer co-op is fucking great.
Jimmy Mod : I just met my first cougar. The meeting did not go well.
JimD: I didn’t actually finish RDR, and I don’t think it’s that good as a game (it shares a lot of GTA’s flaws while lacking a lot of its dumb fun) but as a world it’s fucking amazing. It just feels like a totally believable immersible recreation of a certain time and place, which is kind of a new thing for games to do, and I hope lots more games do it in the future. Bonus points for multiplayer too, which was good for big stop-shooting-me-in-the-horse lulz.
ZS: The “shoot 5 flying birds from a moving train” challenge was like the chillest assignment I have ever received. If only real life challenges were so relaxing. YES, I want to name my horse, YES I would like to name it Michael Lindington, and NO I don’t care who knows it. I’ve been getting up and down off the horse every time, listening to John Marston say “ooooh…this is DIRTY”
Tracer Hand : i have logged approx 5,000,000,000,000 hours with this game. i was just about ready to launch my assault and unlock mexico but my horse died right before the big race – the one i’d spent hours getting to know! so fuck – i spent a good while looking for the kentucky saddler but never found him so finally i just went on an all-night hunting binge, leveling up enough to buy the kentucky saddler outright
something happened while out hunting that sums up this game, and all its nonsensical, fabulous breathlessness
1 – trying to kill a coyote i somehow ended up aiming straight down into my horse and pulled the trigger (!)
2 – my horse was still alive but my honor dropped and suddenly lawmen were on my tail
3 – trying to outrun them, i heard the sound of a train and realized one was headed past right in front of me
4 – i managed to race the train and dart just in front of it, cutting off the lawmen and saving my sorry ass!
total movie moment
Forks’ RDR Country Soundtrack mix:
Buck Owens – I Got A Tiger By the Tail(1965)
Cherryholmes – Black and White (2007)
Cherryholmes – Don’t Believe (2008)
Anonymous Young Girls – Hopali (1930’s?)
The Carter Family – See That My Grave Is Kept Green (1933)
Cinderella G Stump – Temptation (1947)
The Carter Family – Keep On the Firing Line (1941)
Chet Atkins – Tennessee Stud (?)
Bill Monroe and Doc Watson – Chicken Reel (1963)
Alex Hood’s Railroad Boys – L and N Rag (?)
Alfred G Karnes – I Am Bound for the Promised Land (?)
Alfred G Karnes – We Shall All Be Reunited (?)
Basil May – The Lady of Carlisle (?)
The Carver Boys – Sisco Harmonica Blues (?)
Bascom Lamar Lunsford – Lulu Wall (1939)
Buell Kazee – A Short Life of Trouble (1939)
Charlie Bowman and His Brothers – Moonshiner and His Money (1929)
Blue Highway – Where Did the Morning Go? (2007)
Charlie Poole and The North Carolina Ramblers – If the River Was Whiskey (?)
Cal Stewart – Monkey on a String (?)
Ben Curry – I Heard the Voice of a Pork Chop (?)
Ben Curry – It’s A Fight Like That (?)
Daddy Stovepipe and Mississippi Sarah – The Spasm (?)
Bill Carlisle – Feet Don’t Fail Me (?)
Asher Sizemore and Little Jimmie – Little Jimmie’s Goodbye to Jimmie Rodgers (?)
Mayor Jingleberries: played this drunk last night and my horse got killed by some rampaging animal. So I got upset and starting killing anyone I came across to get their horse. I guess your not allowed to murder fools for their horses when you think its convenient. I guess you’re supposed to find a riderless horse out there…?
goole: i think i’m around the 40% mark, in the game’s second act in Mexico, and i haven’t interacted with one indian yet. i don’t think there are any in the game at all. i think this is significant, somehow. i like that the game is in 1911, a “late western” about the closing of the frontier rather than an early one about opening it. maybe this is just to allow them to put more interesting guns in the game, or riff off the meta-westerns like the wild bunch or there will be blood (a town called plainview? really?). plus it doesn’t shy away from politics at all; every other dude wants to talk to you about federal power. anyway, the setting’s early-20th-century-ness is really present and apparent to me and i’m really liking it. speaking of politics, there’s the politics of Rockstar’s media reputation, and i’m getting ongoing chuckles from the (what i take to be) anti “hot coffee” vibe of the whole thing. no matter which path you take, the John Marston character is (so far) faithful to his wife as a given. the prostitutes say stuff like “”I hate to see a man with such a dry pecker… can I help?”and our killer just says “my wife wouldn’t like that” or something. the writing and v/o is head and shoulders above even IV. the mission design is finally good. the secondary challenges are interesting well-thought out, hit that grinding w/o grinding sweet spot. the body physics and gun combat are excellent (the gta games are kind of bad as shooters, really!) I’m not totally without complaints but most of the things that bugged me about the GTAs have been mostly fixed. and the things it does well it does really really well. you can’t underestimate how important it is to have a game be pretty. funny i think it’s closest to bully in terms of uh vibe, maybe cos of the atmosphere and hazy old-timeyness
Cozen: jesus, the sky in this game
Jim D: Huge lolz last night – I wandered up to that little cave where West Dickens lives, and found him stood there rambling away to himself while pissing onto his own bed. Went a bit closer to try and get a better look (yes, I was looking for his winkie), but accidentally bumped into him, which caused him to fall face first into his own pissy matress and lie there shouting about what a bastard I was.
Forksclovetofu: On a river bed, I found an old man doubled over holding his head. A woman was laid out in front of him, bloody and dead. When I stopped and walked up to him, he stood up and shakily held a gun to his own head. I ran up and pushed him. He dropped the gun and began weeping and then finally glaring at me angrily until I rode away. That’s not a video game, that’s a Cormac McCarthy short story.
My main issue with this game is: riding along minding my own business, “help save my baby” from the side of the road, I pull off my horse and before I know what’s up someone is shooting at me, I return fire, kill some old lady and now the game is shaking its head at me with a “what were you thinking” attitude. Then, cougar attack.
I just went south of the border and the amazing and very clearly directorially planned moment with the Jose Gonzalez music was awesome; as deeply affecting as anything I’ve ever seen in a game. Then I got eaten by wolves. This is a lot less like GTA and a lot more like Fallout 3
There’’s a lot less relatably icky gang bullshit and putting caps in people’s asses than GTA but the game is about two steps away from blatant racism; the first guy I met in Mexico might as well have been Al Pacino playing Tony Montana which didn’t even make sense. There is a definite parochial “save us old white guy we cannot survive without you” vibe. Also there’s a real disregard for life that even GTA never fostered; the game invites you to kill kill kill every animal you encounter… weirdly, that puts you somewhat of the game’s time though?
All the above aside, I recommend this wholeheartedly and would definitely say it’s the best thing Rock Star has ever done.
BRB LEVELLIN’ MY DONKEY
MPx4A: I lassoed a guy off a hooker to try and go the taking him alive route, but it just made him fall headfirst into a wall and he died anyway. The drunk guy that sometimes falls out of the bar seems to be immune to punches. I tried to lasso his body to drag him to the cells for the night and he disappeared, leaving only his hat. I kind of hope they don’t patch any of that shit. It’s happened to me twice that I’ve seen a guy standing on his own in the middle of the wilderness, waving his hands and looking scared, and then I’ve got off my horse to talk to him, he’s immediately tried to ride off on it, and I’ve shot him and then lost 50 honor as a result. I too have accidentally shot my horse in the neck, minutes after maxing out its loyalty. I did not skin it. Do you know why? It was out of respect.
bnw: forks shot me in the head. never forget.
Time for some disappointments.
Every voter was given the option to list their most disappointing game of the year on their ballot. For some, this meant their least favorite game; for some, the one that didn’t live up to their expectations; for some, the reasoning was completely personal.
There was a surprising degree of diversity in what people considered “disappointing”… here’s the gamut:
Physical Infirmity – My “biggest disappointment” was that I tore my biceps tendon so haven’t been able to do any motion controlled gaming since the Spring – no Wii, no trying out Move or Kinect. Honestly, I played so few games this year that I didn’t get a bummer. I ended up frustrated by FIFA11 after 50 or so hours, but it wasn’t broken or shit or anything.
Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth – Before its release the new gameplay mechanic (WALKING) sounded neat but this was the weakest entry in the series. Also: sexism and gaystereotypes.
Angry Birds – Despite the effort I put in (and enjoyment I surely got at the time), I have really no interest in going back no matter what additional content they provide.
Red Dead Redemption – Sure, the good parts are good, but in usual Rockstar style the bad parts are the fucking worst. There’s a reason that westerns don’t have 15-minute chase-cam horse-riding sequences. Especially since it looks nice for about 5 minutes and then it’s alllllllll the saaaaaaaaame. The exposition is brutally boring/bad. The ending is robbed of any gravity due to the epilogue bit (hey, u can keep going lol). Ugh. Bugged me so much. I am officially over these dudes’ games, GTA IV and now this.
Super Mario All-Stars – Seriously, Nintendo? You can’t even see fit to include Super Mario World or even, like, the levels based on those scannable Mario 3 cards on the disc? Fuck, you can’t even include more than TWELVE MINUTES OF MUSIC on the soundtrack CD? FUCKING NINTENDO IS FUCKING US AGAIN FUCK. *buys on day one anyway*
Vanquish – wish it had more unlockables, even just silly stuff like big head mode cheats, stupid suits or fuck-off-big guns. because the core /game/ aspect was so strong it wasn’t that big a deal mind
iPhone/iPod touch gaming – I’m finding myself really fascinated with the growing market and possibilities as much as anyone, but time and time again, I’ll play games feverishly recommended by others in the iPhone thread and come off bitterly disappointed, as just about every game is basically a slightly tweaked (but not significally so) version of a game I played on the DS or Kongregate or Newgrounds years ago. I think people are just amazed at the ability to play on your phone? Worst offender – Game Dev Story. Drop7 gets a pass, though, that one was really good.
Rock Band 3 – Maybe a guitar controller with eight million buttons wasn’t the greatest idea of all time? Also the song list is awful. I think the era of the music game is over.
Monster Hunter Tri – The concept was great, but in the end I shelled out $40 or so for a game that I couldn’t get into because of clunky controls. Currently in line to be thrown up on eBay first chance I get… sorry, Monster Hunter Tri.
Zora / Surfing at Work
Limbo – In a sense, I’m disappointed with myself for not seeing what everybody else saw in this game. Others saw a brain-busting platformer swaddled in the clothes of a tragedy; I saw a pretentious, anachronistic platformer with delusions of grandeur.
Mass Effect 2 – The big selling point for this is supposed to be the characters and the great story, apparently. But the further I got into the game, the more I found myself beginning to sympathize with Roger Ebert’s tripe about video games and art (I eventually stopped playing before I get too close to the edge, but fuck you for that, bioware, party foul). I am confident that someday soon a giant game company will release a game with dialogue that is elevated above the 9th best action film of 1996, but Mass Effect 2 isn’t it. (IMO.) And when the wider non-gamer public is told from a variety of sources that Mass Effect 2 is supposed to be some great achievement in videogame storytelling, it does a great disservice to games in general. It comes across like an excellent 6th grade play. Unfortunately, aside from the story, all that’s left is a really easy action game and a whole bunch of planet probing. The graphics and sound are great, I’ll give it that.
Gran Turismo 5 – The designers refused to follow any known UI convention and the game itself were boring. Even the 3D is underwhelming.
Online Play in Dragon Quest 9 – Again, one of my peculiar old man hangups, but as a rule of thumb, I have never gotten much out of multiplayer. unless there are people physically in a room with me, anyway. I was pretty disappointed when I found out that it was a major component of dq9. it’s likely the reason I haven’t gotten around to playing yet, despite having dutifully bought the game already. (or used a voucher on it, anyway.) I love the series but I play dq games like I read a book: usually before bed or during my commute in 30min intervals. it’s a soothing, hermetic activity for me and online gaming is the opposite of that experience.
none, or the usual “that I didn’t play enough 2010 games”
The PS3 – Only got round to buying one this year, and haven’t enjoyed anything I’ve played on it. The exclusives all feel distinctly last-gen, and the machine itself is just…I dunno, too Japanese? When games aren’t, any more. So there’s a mismatch of form and function. Plus the update mechanisim is plain ridiculous. Oh i dunno, it’s just shit.
A Passing Spacecadet
One Chance (Flash) – Am I a sourpuss if my gaming disappointment is something I didn’t even spend any money or more than 40 minutes on? I just wanted this to be so amazing after reading glowing reviews. ILG was the one gaming-aware online community I’m on that didn’t go nuts over the genius of this thing. A profound artistic statement subverting gamers’ expectations, or a Choose Your Own Adventure book with about 3 choices and a handful of inscrutable and identically bleak endings? So much potential, but it just didn’t hang together for me.
1. Increased use of libraries or plug-ins I’ve got to download and games that look like they’ll run on my computer but actually run just as slow as Duke Nukem Forever would (the 2d runs as slow as 3d complaint)
2. Games and game websites (like Jacob Buczynski’s) previously available on the internet 1 or 2 years ago have disappeared without anyone archiving them.
A pair of intense disappointments apiece for the two NOIR MOVIE GAMES:
Alan Wake – Oh good, an unlikeable self-involved college professor simulator! I should have known that this was going to be awful when in the first hour of gameplay I got to experience one of the laziest moments of game design ever: yer walking around on an island, nothing weird has happened yet so you are just poking around and you decide to see what happens if you walk into the shallow water clearly accessible by the side of the dock. Now, this is obviously a spot the designer doesn’t want you getting too far into, because they haven’t bothered with any sort of swimming/wading mechanic because hey why would you if you set your game ON AN ISLAND. So they do the obvious rational thing, and decide that if you walk into the water YOU EXPLODE. It gets worse from there.
This is one of the lamest “spooky” games ever to splat onto the console market, no scares, nothing interesting, ENDLESS wandering through dark forests while the same 6 scary dudes attack you, puzzles designed for children or the mentally infirm. When one of the most derided budgets titles of the year (Deadly Premonition) manages to outshine you in every way YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG. Oh yeah, the story? It’s dumb as hell. The protagonist? He’s a boring self-involved dick! The whole game is built on a ultra-lame flashlight mechanic that is functionally the same as lock on machine gun spray, but for added fun you get to do that for a while and then you get to shoot the baddie with a regular gun. Of course there are also remarkable innovations like the grenade launcher flare gun and the regular grenade flashbang grenade. Oh wait, did I mention the timed running and jumping third person platforming sections? oh yeah, they suck a whole lot too. As an added bonus you get a couple of product placement moments that are so blunt that you can’t help but hear the designers laughing at you in the background while they line their pockets with corporate Kroners or whatever they use where this game is from. If that wasn’t enough, you get a cliffhanger ending
which fills you with the one true moment of yawning horror in the game, the terrible realization that they are undoubtedly going to make a sequel to this unmitigated piece of shit.
Alan Wake – Reviews/reactions were so disappointing I ended up not playing it at all after eagerly anticipating.
Heavy Rain – 10 hour B movie with terrible script, subpar voice acting and occasional button presses. strip away the cgi and you’re left with this http://www.kongregate.com/games/kthorjensen/press-x-to-jason
Heavy Rain. Heavy Rain sucks you in with an intriguing approach to controls and narrative and then mercilessly mocks your interest with some of the worst storytelling since Kevin Smith’s last movie. Turn on Cinemax After Dark, pop any random Saw on the Picture in Picture, and mindlessly fiddle with a DualShock 3 for an analogous experience.
And the winner and undisputed most disappointing game of the year is
Final Fantasy XIII. Terribly boring game. I was all psyched to get back into Final Fantasy (the last ones I had played were 7 + 8). Instead I got this ‘on the rails’ cliche fantasy world whose tutorial took about 30 hours too long to finish. Meh.
Final Fantasy XIII – in one way it was actually above expectations in that the combat was really, really fun and addictive, but basically almost everything else about it totally sucked, so it still has to take it.
break-ups are hard. but break-ups are rarely interesting to those on the outside of them, the slow deterioration of a relationship rarely manages to achieve the kind of external significance that demands a readers or a viewers attention. particularly the sort of amicable, tectonic break-ups that involve a slow and steady drifting away, of an alienation of affection that eventually swallows any passion, the sort of break-up that happens more out of mutual disregard than anything else. so in that spirit my most disappointing game of 2010 was Final Fantasy XIII which, six months after purchase, was discovered still in its original shrinkwrap in a box of old wii games while i was moving out of my old apartment. previously i would’ve at least made the effort – limned my frustrated nostalgia and worked-up arguments over the merits of this or that mechanical system. but this was the year i didn’t even care enough to try. i gave the game to my 17 yo cousin instead.