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When you get a bunch of people together and tell them to agree on what the best games of the year were, no one is going to leave the room completely happy. Personal favorites fall by the wayside when a consensus has to be reached, and while we stand by all of our selections for the various awards we came up with, we all have stuff we’d like to see get recognized that would otherwise fall through the cracks. So here we are: the members of the PS3 team and the games that may not have been the best all year, but are close to our hearts. These are our favorite games that didn’t manage to win any of the awards.
Adam Guy – Sports Champion
While spending a little too much time with the family over Christmas, and with no PS3 available, one activity that seemed to go down well with most was Wii Sports Resort. It had been a while since I’d last played it, and after a few frustrating hours of play with various family members I was left with fairly sour impressions. A lot of the time, even with the Motion Plus add-on, you can tell that the system is not tracking your movement with any real accuracy and instead seems to be making approximations of your gestures. I could almost guarantee a strike every time on the bowling just by flicking my wrist up and to the left. There is no doubt that Sports Champion is trying to copy the format of Wii Sports Resort, but the fact is that because of the added accuracy that comes with the Move controller it ends up being much more fun to play. The easiest sport to compare between the two is Table tennis. With the Move controller you can see that the paddle is exactly mirroring the movements you are making. If you angle your paddle up and hit the ball from below it will go high, and if you hit it low and hard with some spin you can see the ball changing direction as it moves. Wii Sports Table tennis works, but it just doesn’t pick up on the subtle movements in the same way the Move controller can.
Sports Champion is split into six main games; Table tennis, Archery, Bocce, Disc golf, Gladiator Duel, and Beach volleyball. And while they may not all be equally as good as each other they are all worth playing, and offer some really fun and accessible multiplayer gaming. Bocce, where two people take turns throwing wooden balls as close as they can to a target is surprisingly addictive, and both Gladiator duel and Archery let one player use two Move controllers in creative ways that can be quite satisfying when you get it right. Sports Champion may not be the most original game of the year, but it does offer some excellent multiplayer gaming that can make for some good family entertainment.
Matt Jacobs – Darksiders
I’ve lionized this game on this site before, and I stand by my support. There’s not much here you haven’t seen before, and probably haven’t seen done a little better. But just like people love Girl Talk for the way he takes familiar elements and smashes them together to create something new, there’s very few games that can match the excitement of putting together everything you loved when you were 14 – The Legend of Zelda, bloody violence, and crazy comic books. The game featured some of the best Zelda-esque dungeons and puzzles since Okami, a combat system that was an entertaining conglomeration of a lot of different games, and a very enjoyably pulpy adventure story featuring a war between heaven and hell and a whole lot of dead people. I wouldn’t call it a great contender for best game of the year. But I sure did like playing it.
Eric Woods – Vanquish
Vanquish is not a game that fits neatly with the rest of 2010’s PS3 lineup. While much of our year was spent knee-deep in austere melodrama, Vanquish was unconcerned with such trivialities as plot or atmosphere. What Platinumgames created instead was, like its spiritual predecessor Bayonetta, a true gamer’s game. By placing the emphasis on silky-smooth gameplay that necessitates lightning-fast reflexes, Vanquish was able to embrace its inherent silliness and rise to the top of the glut of action games released this year. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the graphics were gorgeous and the soundtrack pulsing and catchy. Combined, these elements created an intoxicating blend the likes of which are rarely seen in modern video games. Vanquish was as close as we came to third-person-shooting nirvana in 2010. If you have yet to pick this underrated gem up, do so now. It has already been discounted at numerous retailers, and it is well worth the purchase.