It’s that time of year again. The time for us to think back on the games that came out this year and make the difficult decision as to which ones caught our collective attentions the most, which games really deserve to be a “Game of the Year”. We don’t go by sales, popular opinion or take the lazy way out and just let one title run rampant and win the majority of awards. We thought about each category, each game, and made our decision based on that. We attempted to represent all game play styles, both Eastern and Western titles and titles from a wide variety of consoles when deciding on the ultimate Game of the Year. However, before we get to that, let’s check out more specific groupings.
For our next bit of Game of the Year goodness, we’ll focus our attention on the genres, and which games we thought were stand-outs in each specific area, regardless of platform. Keep in mind, all the nominees were awesome, as well, but only one could be chosen in each category!
Best Action/Adventure Game
Nominees: Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Bayonetta, God of War 3, Metroid: Other M, Red Dead Redemption
Winner! Red Dead Redemption
From our review: “Red Dead Redemption, is not only a must buy for this year, but also a must buy for this generation of consoles. Yeah, the game isn’t perfect, but when you see what Rockstar set out to do (and achieved) you will be left nothing short of amazed.”
Best Fighting Game
Nominees: BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, Super Street Fighter IV, Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2, Tatsunoku vs. Capcom
Winner! BlazBlue: Continuum Shift
The sequel to last year’s critically acclaimed fighter, BB:CS delivers as a fighting game. With a diverse cast of characters offering multiple gameplay styles, gorgeous HD visuals, an epic and gripping story mode, and arguably one of the genre’s finest online suites, BB:CS more than distinguishes itself as this years standout fighting title. (I have to add to this, that it was a very close decision between BlazBlue: Continuum Shift and Super Street Fighter IV, with many an e-mail going back and forth between the staff, but BB:CS ended up winning out for various reasons.)
Best Japanese RPG
Nominees: Dragon Quest IX, Final Fantasy XIII, Persona 3 Portable, Phantasy Star Portable 2, Valkyria Chronicles II
Winner! Persona 3 Portable
Persona 3 Portable was such a great remake of an already classic RPG, that others just can’t quite stand up against it. It is more than a simple remake, however, otherwise it wouldn’t really be deserving of this win. No, Atlus took a classic, highly-praised RPG and expanded the experience adding new characters, new events, new dialog, remastered music and a new visual style to the entire game. They went above and beyond with this new vision for Persona 3, so much so that it nudged out Valkyria Chronicles II for the top spot in this genre.
Best Western RPG
Nominees: Fable III, Fallout: New Vegas, Mass Effect 2
Winner! Mass Effect 2
While there wasn’t a whole lot that stood out to us and generated enough praise from our team to be nominated for this list (we don’t like nominating something we don’t feel deserves it), Mass Effect 2 stood out above the pack, with its only real competition being Bethesda’s juggernaut, Fallout: New Vegas.
Best Indie Game
Nominees: Bit.Trip Runner, Amnesia: Dark Descent, Minecraft, Super Meat Boy, VVVVVV
Winner! Super Meat Boy
This was a no-brainer. With over 350 levels, unlockable characters from other cult classic indie games, and a difficulty that could only be described as “FFFFUUUUUUUU”, Super Meat Boy already had a good thing going for it. What separates it from the pack though is the most ingenious, meticulous level design this side of Super Mario Galaxy 2; it’s almost like Team Meat designed the game in such a way that all the levels could be completed without stopping, your thumb holding the D-pad forward at all times and your other thumb pressing the jump button at all the right moments. Doing the work of $60 for only $15, Super Meat Boy is further proof that indie games can stand up to the AAA big boys and easily hold its own.
Nominees: Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Halo: Reach, Medal of Honor, Vanquish
Winner! Call of Duty: Black Ops
From our review: “By using a historical backdrop for the game and building their own story on top of that, they’ve created the best single player campaign that the series has ever seen. Period.”
Nominees: Donkey Kong Country Returns, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Super Meat Boy
Winner! Super Mario Galaxy 2
Nothing can hold a star to everyone’s favorite plumber, especially when he comes out of the gate running with possibly his biggest title to date. Super Mario Galaxy 2 exemplifies everything we like in our platformers, and would definitely be considered a system-seller for Nintendo’s little white (or black or red) console.
Best Strategy/Simulation Game
Nominees: Civilization V, StarCraft II, The Sims (console), We Rule
Winner! StarCraft II
StarCraft II does it again! While Civilization V is a solid competitor, and a strong game in itself, it seems that nothing can beat the addictive frenzy that is Blizzard’s latest box of solid gold. Not only did we waste away countless hours this year playing StarCraft II, we feel it is one of the pinnacles of what a modern strategy title should be and defines perfectly what this genre is all about.
Best Sports Game
Nominees: EA Sports MMA, Gran Turismo 5, MLB 10: The Show, NBA 2K11, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit
Winner! Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit
Nothing can beat the sound of a roaring engine – especially one that is high-tailing it away from a cop at full speed. Criterion’s reboot of the Hot Pursuit franchise is all sorts of excellent. While it may not be a traditional sports title, it stood above the rest in the fact that it is just plain fun, without any of the fuss.
Best Music/Rhythm Game
Nominees: Dance Central, Def Jam Rapstar, DJ Hero 2, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, Rock Band 3
Winner! Rock Band 3
From our review: “When it comes to rhythm games, Rock Band definitely takes the win, and now with the release of Rock Band 3 and Pro Keys and Pro Guitar, well, let’s just say that “win” may be an understatement. Rock Band 3 is packed with new features, instruments and (in my opinion) a new look too.”
Best Massively Multiplayer Game
Nominees: Aion: Assault on Balaurea, Allods Online, Dungeon Fighter, Final Fantasy XIV, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
Winner! World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
Not only did Blizzard remake their original game’s zones from the ground up, they added tons of new content, improved quest mechanics, new professions, achievements, dungeons, five more levels and everything else that comes with an expansion. However, this is so much more than just an expansion to an MMO, it is basically a remaking of the entire game and, for that reason, it stands alone at the top of the 2010 MMO pedestal.
Best Downloadable Game
Nominees: Costume Quest, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, Limbo, Mega Man 10, Shank
From our review: “Jamie Cheng and his company Klei Entertainment were able to pull of what I had hoped that they would. They provided a not-so-serious action packed game that was truly different and also provided a breath of fresh air to an aging 2D beat-em-up sidescroller genre. With a gaming forecast full of gimmicky FPS titles, Shank is definitely worth a look. In my opinion, it’s a candidate for downloadable title of the year.”
Best Mobile Phone Game
Nominees: Angry Birds, Bit.Trip Beat, Fruit Ninja, Infinity Blade, Plants vs. Zombies
Winner! Infinity Blade
From our review: “Everyone is quick to bash the iOS devices as being unable to deliver a rich experience for the core gamer, but with Infinity Blade, developer Chair and publisher Epic have easily shut up all of the naysayers with one-finger swipes. Infinity Blade is the best hardcore game I’ve played on a mobile device since, well – ever.”
That wraps it up for our genre listing. Stay tuned tomorrow for a run down of our nominees for Game of the Year! Next week, keep your eyes peeled for more random categories that we came up with that spread the love around to some other favorites (and not so favorites?).