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The gaming calendar up until this year has typically played out as one long drawn out crescendo starting at January and culminating into the holiday season. It’s during the holiday season where top publishers and big name developers release their blockbusters to the world, in what inevitably turns into one big “great, now my bank account is empty” situation.
That really hasn’t been true for 2010 however as early on this year we got several titles that were pushed out of 2009 due to the behemoths of Modern Warfare 2 and Halo 3: ODST, perhaps you’ve heard of those. And the result has been interesting. While we’ve hit a bit of a slow period at the present moment, most of 2010 has been steady gaming, all the time. And not just for the PlayStation 3 of course. All platforms in fact have played a part in making the first half of 2010 a memorable one.
It certainly is a challenge then to be stuck with the task of having to narrow it down to the top 3 that we’ve seen on the PlayStation 3 thus far. While there are the obvious choices, I suspect there will be some diverse picks, as the first 6 months have just been that good.
MLB 10: The Show – Yes, one of these gets released every year but the fact that Sony’s San Diego based studio is able to create, release, and up the ante further on a yearly basis speaks volumes for the sports genre of video games. More than just a yearly roster update, MLB 10: The Show for the PS3 is highly regarded as the best Baseball video game on the market. Fluent animations, life like player stances and attributes are only the things you would come to expect. But MLB 10: The Show takes it further with its online community options, its diverse and various single player modes, and just an experience that doesn’t have to end. Since its release this past March, it’s the only title on my shelf that I’ve been able to play consistently, and always find new ways to take that experience further.
ModNation Racers – Pegged as the next title in “Play, Create, Share” back during its official E3 announcement, I honestly didn’t expect much from ModNation at first. To me it was really just another kart racing game that I’ve probably already played before, anyway. But I can say that I was generally surprised by its deep customization options and how the community would embrace them to create their own unique tracks and mods. What I was not surprised by however would be the community’s total disregard for copyright law, though that’s half the fun isn’t it?
Red Dead Redemption – While I’m sure many hate to admit it, yes, Red Dead Redemption really is just “Grand Theft Horse.” But only in the sense that the game does take some minor elements from GTA4, such as the euphoria physics engine, its similar control scheme, among other things. But Red Dead is its own game, and a totally new experience that marks one of the year’s best. It’s the environment of the old west that becomes a character itself in Red Dead, and main character John Marston will go down as one of gaming’s most memorable. Expect the unexpected in Read Dead, be it bandits on the side of the rode waiting to ambush you, or a total stranger pleading with you to help his friend who’s about to be strung up. Red Dead Redemption featured a lengthy single player campaign, and some compelling multiplayer that allowed me to push my experience past the 20 hour mark, a feat nowadays mind you.
1. God of War III – God of War III is a game that should be experienced for its sheer spectacle alone. Boss fights get progressively more and more outrageous while the game masters the quick-time-event mechanic it helped create. The game focuses on action and combat which makes the pacing much smoother and less muddled with trivial puzzles. For a game so steeped in seriousness and gravity, nothing was more surprising, or hilarious, than Kevin Sorbo reprising his role as Hercules. As a PS3 exclusive, God of War III is a shining example of what the Playstation hardware is capable of.
2. Red Dead Redemption – Red Dead Redemption seemed like a way for Rockstar Games to make a quick buck. They started the franchise years ago with Red Dead Revolver which released to mixed reviews. Early videos depicted Redemption as a pale GTA clone, but the game managed to prove itself by emphasizing an authentic Western narrative and strong shooting mechanics. Redemption became a smashing financial success as well guaranteeing that the Red Dead franchise will flourish for years to come.
3. Super Street Fighter IV – The entire fighting game genre became revitalized by Street Fighter IV’s innovative pseudo 3-D gameplay and is responsible for a resurgence of fighting game tournaments across the world. Street Fighter IV was already one of the finest games to come out of Capcom, Super added ten new characters, new stages, better music and a bad-ass, overenthusiastic announcer voice. Super even made Street Fighter III relevant again by including Dudley, Makoto and Ibuki (and possibly more in the future). Super Street Fighter IV is an exceptional value at forty dollars and has virtually unlimited replay value, that is, until Street Fighter X Tekken arrives.
Bioshock 2 – While returning to Rapture for the second time does not quite have the same impact as it did the first, Bioshock 2 still out shines most other FPS this year. The intriguing story and new environments made it a very worthy sequel to one of the best games of this generation.
Heavy Rain – I don’t think Heavy Rain is perfect, but I do think that it’s an important game. For me some of the choices they made with the control scheme got in the way of what is, at its heart, a unique and emotional piece of story telling that should be remembered.
2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa – Although it only really represents a small upgrade from FIFA 10. FIFA World Cup South Africa contains almost 200 of the official World Cup teams, and in my opinion offers some of the best local multiplayer action around.
1. Red Dead Redemption – I’ve been a fan of pretty much every open world game Rockstar Games have put out, and Red Dead Redemption was no exception. After some of the complaints about Grand Theft Auto IV, they really had to step up and address some of the issues, and for the most part they did. The story holds up much better over the course of the single player missions; the graphics are exceptional, especially the environments and the animation of the horses; and the shooting is actually pretty solid without having to rely on an auto aim. John Marston is the best game character all year, and his arc was pitch perfect. I hope they can apply some of these lessons to the rest of their game library.
2. God of War III – The God of War games are always at their best when they’re in their most spectacular moments, which means this series benefited from its jump to the current generation more than most do. Some of the sequences in the game are absolutely breathtaking technology-wise, and even the more traditional areas in between are still full of the classic God of War formula of uncomplicated but fulfilling puzzles, light platforming, and brutally murdering hundreds of mythological creatures. The ending left something to be desired, but it was still a fitting conclusion to Kratos’ saga.
3. Darksiders – Never before has a game so worn its influences on its sleeve, and I think Darksiders actually benefited from that. There’s seemingly no game it won’t rip off, but it takes all those borrowed elements, mixes them in a pot, adds in some wonderfully cheesy comic book aesthetics, and spits out a game that feels exceedingly familiar, but is a blast to play nonetheless. I’m glad it did well enough for THQ to agree to a sequel.