PLAY FOR TODAY: VIDEO GAMES / AARON BURGESS

 

 

 

Column #16: Best of 2010 – Red Dead
Redemption, Call Of Duty: Black Ops, and more.

 

By
Aaron Burgess

 

Blurt Picks: The 10 Best Videogames of
2010

As your
humble Blurt videogame columnist, I spent literally hundreds of hours
blistering my fingers in the name of gaming this year, with each new title
offering yet more reasons to ignore my real-world duties in a quest to make the
next level. As 2010 draws to a close, however, only a handful of games are
managing to keep my trigger finger going into the New Year. Ten seems like as
good a number as any, so here, dear readers, are my picks for the year’s 10 best
reasons to own a game console. See you in 2011-and if anyone feels like
clobbering me, my handle at pretty much every online gaming service is first2letters. Happy New Year!

 

Red Dead
Redemption

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

The wild,
wild west meets the great wide open in this brain-bendingly rich Old West saga
whose mythic plot twists, nail-biting moral ambiguity and blood-drenched plains
are equal parts Cormac McCarthy, Coen Brothers and Clint Eastwood. And that’s
just when you play the main story. Take a side road into a game of gunslingers’
poker or stop to see a man about a horse, and there’s no telling how irrevocably
deep into hero John Marston’s tense, twisted world you can go.

Get it from: Amazon

 

 

Call
Of Duty: Black Ops

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, DS, PC

As it seems
destined to do with each new installment, Call
Of Duty
title No. 7 raises the bar for all first-person shooters, military
or otherwise. Cripes, even the commercials for Call Of Duty: Black Ops-set to
the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” in a move that reflected both the game’s Cold
War/Vietnam-era storyline and the overall experience of playing it-were genius.
I spent untold hours in Black Ops
solo campaign, but the most merciful COD multiplayer
experience to date made online play just as rewarding

Get it from: Amazon

 

God Of War III

Platform: PlayStation 3
In a year where a remade Clash Of The
Titans
rocked the big screen, there was really only one Titanic clash worth
experiencing. With breathtaking visual design and cutscenes so powerful they
alone could justify a PlayStation 3 purchase, God Of War III delivered Zeus-sized gameplay to match its graphics.
Sure, the storyline hits harder if you’ve played previous God Of War titles, but even without that foothold, you’ll delight
in playing as the merciless Kratos, making your enemies squirm and their gods bow
before you.

Get it from: Amazon

 

 

NBA2K11

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PSP, PC

A new NBA Jam may have triggered players’ nostalgia
meters, but between the presence of Michael Jordan and the overall dedication
to on-court realism, NBA2K11 proved
there was only one NBA game worth honors this year. The graphics alone were so
dialed in that I thought I was watching a TV broadcast; luckily I had the
riveting gameplay to make me more than just a passive observer. As much as it
does to let you build a dynasty, NBA2K11 is so beautifully realized that you’ll be lucky to make it out of practice
without scraping your jaw off the floor.

Get it from: Amazon

 

 

Halo: Reach

Platform: Xbox 360
The gritty, dread-soaked prequel took players back to the dawn of the Halo legend, but in (ahem) reaching back
to Halo‘s salad days for its
storyline, Halo: Reach never asked
the same of players. Even more than its butt-kicking new features (space
combat, anyone?), this entry-level awareness was the game’s strongest selling
point. As much as it proved the trickiest Halo game to master, Reach was also the
easiest of the series’ games to enter-and from its customizable DNA to its
virtually endless multiplayer possibilities, it remains the hardest Halo game to leave.

Get it from: Amazon

 

 

Super Mario Galaxy 2

Platform: Wii
With its objectives set across multiple wacky 3D planets, this eye-popping
platformer comes off like the logical sequel to 2007’s fun, frivolous adventure
starring everyone’s favorite Italian plumber. (No offense, Luigi.) But it’s the
Zen-like simplicity and childlike sense of wonder that drive Super Mario Galaxy 2 that make the game rule.
Even Nintendo 64-era memories influence the way you experience SMG2; and by the time you finish it,
you’ll have carved a new space in your memory bank for this one.

Get it from: Amazon

 

 

Assassin’s Creed:
Brotherhood

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
More a dazzling detour than a true follow-up to 2009’s Assassin’s Creed 2, Brotherhood lives up to its title through an epic multiplayer addition and the ability to
recruit fellow assassins in your plight against the Templars. Beyond this basic
advancement, however, it’s the wide-open feel of Brotherhood that’ll hook you from the opening scene. Free to
explore an eye-popping rendition of Renaissance Rome, I truly felt like I was
reshaping history as I played it-even if I had some help from Leonardo along
the way.

Get it from: Amazon

 

 

Mass Effect 2

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
We’ve heard the storyline behind Mass
Effect 2
a million times before: alien race, humanity in peril, one hero to
save us all. Where developer BioWare changes the game, however, is in making
morality a story element. In ME2, characters’
motives and motions are as flawed, emotionally driven and potentially epic as would
be ours if thrust into the same scenario. Though combat drives the action, it’s
the little things that count, and this is one game where the choices you make (including
whatever baggage you bring from the first Mass
Effect
) literally shape the benefits you reap.

Get it from: Amazon

 

 

Rock Band 3

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii
Mechanically speaking, keyboards and a few fake cymbals were the only things Rock Band‘s creators brought to the
stage for installment No. 3. These peripherals, however-to say nothing of the
new “pro” modes for guitar and drums-were mere jumping-off points for the Rock Band experience, which with Rock Band 3 proves the best rock &
roll fantasy available on any console. Not only do you get full compatibility
with all your older Rock Band downloads; you got the ability to rock them all with up to six of your closest
friends. Bohemian Rhapsody, indeed.

Get it from: Amazon

 

 

Donkey Kong Country Returns

Platform: Xbox 360
Mario wasn’t the only Nintendo character who took us on a nostalgia trip this
year. Packing a slew of gorgeously designed (and impressively tough) levels in
his barrels, Donkey Kong also closed out the year with a 3D, Wii-exclusive
reboot of his own side-scrolling classic. And did I mention that Diddy Kong is
along for the ride? Probably not, because in one of many how-did-I-ever-live-without-that? updates to the classic franchise,
I was too busy making both characters go bananas at once.

Get it from: Amazon

 

 

 

***

 

Our game guru, Aaron
Burgess, lives digitally but dreams in analog down in Round Rock, Texas. Contact him at first2letters@gmail.com  / AIM: First2Letters

 

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