A wise man once said “it’s easy to complain“. Who am I to argue against such profound logic? With the duty of producing the first ever RKD game awards solely in my hands, I duly hope negativity isn’t the foremost response. The penultimate part of our 2010 retrospective series sees me indulging my weakness for “witty” headings and the use of red text. The Triple J Hottest 100 ain’t got nothing on this list.
Best Game I Didn’t Play Because It Was Developed By BioWare
Mass Effect 2
Look, I personally have nothing against BioWare games, but… oh wait, yeah I do. The rest of the RKD team’s adoration for this series more than makes up for my grudge; too bad they’re not here to stop me.
Best Game To Separate The Ludologists From The Narrativists
Tied between Super Meat Boy and VVVVVV
Despite their notorious difficulty levels, the most common obstacle in recommending either of these games to my friends is establishing the “reason” to be playing them. In both cases, answers to the question “What is the game about?” were met with guffaws and snickers (sadly not the chocolate kind). Evidently, some people prefer to play games for story rather than the “pointless challenge” of a platformer, no matter how badly the former is written.
Best Game I Didn’t Play Because It Was Another Assassin’s Creed
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Pretty much what I said about BioWare games, except redirected at the Assassin’s Creed series. Weird! In all seriousness, it’s a shame such historically unique (dare I say “grand”) world design is weighed down by an increasingly convoluted meta-narrative – a story that is becoming a challenge to care about even among fans of the franchise.
Best Game That Wishes It Was Created By Eric Chahi Twenty Years Ago
Once upon a time, game designers weren’t obligated to playtest their games. This was an era where the unfair level of difficulty a game possessed was a proud feature, and not a clue as to the deadline the designers barely fulfilled. The notion sounds out of this world, right? Limbo harks back to this model of “Surprise! You’re dead!” game design. However, in light of the superfast Super Meat Boy and the checkpoint bonanza of VVVVVV, Limbo‘s difficulty feels arbitrary and antiquated. At least the graphics are purdy!
Best Game That Was More Of The Same
Super Mario Galaxy 2
In the Dictionary of Videogame Writing Clichés, Super Mario Galaxy 2 would be a perfect example for the entry “More of the same”. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! It’s just that the grandiose feeling of “wow!” that the first Super Mario Galaxy instilled with such ease is a titch deflated the second time around. You might say it doesn’t feel as “epic” or “visceral” as its older brother, if you owned a copy of that Dictionary.
Honourable mention: Halo Reach
Best Game You Don’t Actually Need To Play
If our retrospective on the game hasn’t convinced you of Minecraft’s voyeuristic merits, we probably should have embedded more YouTube clips.
Best Game That Allows Me To Make My Own Best Games
WarioWare: Do It Yourself
Any game that gives me the tools to make my own timely interactive political statements (and share them with the world, friend codes be damned) is a winner.
Best New User Interface That Didn’t Change How The Game Played Compared To Previous Instalments
Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth
The videogame is a funny medium. Change a camera view here, add a bit of visual fidelity there, and all of a sudden you’ve apparently reinvented a long-running series of adventure games. Except playing any Ace Attorney game (thus far) feels the same, whether you have direct control over your legal avatar or not; whether your cross-examinations are set in a courtroom, or in the aisles of a dainty jumbo jet.
Potentially Best New Game Hamstrung By Its Terrible User Interface
Sleep is Death
True story: After reading the glowing previews from quite a few reputable sources, I was earnestly prepared for the hilarious misadventures I was sure to have with Jason Rohrer’s latest thought-provoking non-game. Unfortunately, I soon learned that having Mr. Rohrer in the same room as the player guiding the experience is a requirement to make any sense of Sleep Is Death‘s cumbersome UI. Unless you enjoy watching two people slowly build penis-shaped objects out of trees in intervals of 30 seconds… look, it was the best Tristan and I could muster with the game’s incomprehensible (and downright ugly) pseudo-DOS menu.
The Barry Burton Award for Excellence In Making Me Wish A Game Had A Voice Acting Budget
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
It’s hard enough listening to some of the narration “Daniel” dishes on your ears. [And in the game! -Ed] It’s also difficult to take the gripping atmosphere seriously when the protagonist sounds like he’s having a quiet orgasm every time the lights go out.
Dishonourable mention: Heavy Rain. Speaking of which…
Best Game To Be Unintentionally Laughed At
I could blame the pulpy writing, or the painful voice acting. But we all know what it comes down to: Pressing X to Jason.
Honourable mentions: Cue up your browser’s video players for this lot…
- Fallout: New Vegas
- Kinect Joy Ride
- Konami’s E3 Lineup
- Metroid: Other M
- Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I
- Sonic Free Riders
Best Game You Really Don’t Need To Hear Anything More About
Red Dead Redemption
Urban legend suggests that if you stand in front of a mirror and say “Red Dead Redemption is all right, I suppose” three times, Daniel Golding appears and gives you an hour-long lecture on the proper use of the phrase “spaghetti western”. Creepy.
Best Game I Played Through In 2010 But Is Irrelevant Because This Industry Rarely Stops To Appreciate Its Past Achievements
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines (2004)
While it took six years for me to finally get around to playing Troika’s last project EVER, it will still be an eternity before another game matches its believable cast of characters. That I’m confidently saying this about a story that centres on vampires and werewolves makes the rest of the industry’s efforts that much more embarrassing. A shame about the last third of the game, though.
Honourable mentions: Bully (2006), Every Day the Same Dream (2009), Fallout 2 (1998), God Hand (2007), Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence (2006), OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast (2006), Spider-Man 2 (2004), Wario Land 4 (2001).
Bonus: 2011 GOTY Award Predictions
Since there’s no money in writing half-arsed statements about games released last year, let’s make things interesting by putting my cynicality where my wallet is for the 365 (or so) days ahead. So it is written and so it shall be! Probably.
Game Most Likely to Fuel an Overused Meme for Another 3.5 Years
Game Most Likely To Enrage the Rock, Paper, Shotgun and/or Through The Looking Glass Community
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Honourable mention: Duke Nukem Forever
Game Most Likely To Win A 2011 GOTY Award Due To Its Required Time Investment
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Game Most Likely To Be Nominated For A 2011 GOTY Award Due To Its Marketing Budget
Call of Duty: Whatever This Year’s Model Is Subtitled
Honourable mention: Duke Nukem Forever
Game Most Likely To Win A 2011 GOTY Award Due To It Being A Zelda Game
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Honourable mention: Duke Nukem Forever
Game Most Likely To Win A Token 2011 GOTY Award Due To It Being Independently Developed
Honourable mentions: Hazard: The Journey of Life, NIDHOGG, SpyParty
Cue the credits music! Tomorrow we bring things back to a more professional and reserved level of writing (no, really!) with the final entry in our 2010 retrospective. RKD’s resident professional analyst and erstwhile futurist Evan Stubbs spearheads a bold forecast of what the years ahead have in store for our ever-growing (or is it?) hobby. You won’t want to miss this one.
- RKD on… 2010: Part 3 – There’s something about Minecraft
- RKD on… 2010: Part 2 – ‘Iteration’ vs. ‘innovation’
- RKD on… 2010: Part 1 – The “meh” year that was?