We’ve decided our bloggers deserve a short break over Christmas. This is our last (but extra long) post for a few days. We will be back with more posts after the silly season – stay tuned!
The year 2010 has seen a heap of games be shelved, bought, played and conquered. We’ve had some truly epic games introduced to our lives and plenty of disappointments. In time for Christmas, our staff took a look at the games we’ve most enjoyed this year and those we’d rather forget.
Happy Gaming and best wishes for Christmas!
Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty rates as: A 2010 TOP with a rating of 93/100.
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty has one hell of a legacy and name to live up to. 12 years of hype, a legion of devoted fans and an incredibly passionate competitive scene that makes a living off the game in South Korea would definitely put Blizzard under pressure. Especially when it comes to living up to the original game’s masterful gameplay mechanics and genre-defining strategy.
But this is Blizzard we’re talking about – the same company that spawned 11 million subscribers for World of WarCraft, stole everyone’s lives with the deceptively addictive Diablo and pretty much made Real Time Strategy gaming what it is today. And with this reputation in mind, it’d be damn surprising if StarCraft II didn’t live up to its name and legacy.
So it isn’t surprising when I say that StarCraft II does indeed match the hype levels that fans have escalated it to, in many more ways than one.
The single player portion of the game is meticulously designed and smothered in polish, with a non-linear level of progression (albeit with a linear design with its core story) allowing you to progress through the game in whatever way you want. The game will often throw you into unique and surprisingly different situations as well. It’s not just about amassing an army and micromanaging them to victory, but collecting certain items and utilising vastly different tactics unique to the single player experience.
The story is also told with care and precision. While it won’t win awards in the narrative brilliance department, it brings to life a sci-fi adventure that only very few games can conjure. It pays massive and almost touching levels of homage to the fans of old while still retaining a level of accessibility that doesn’t alienate the newcomers to the series. The brilliant campaign will last you a good 15 hours at the very least, with multiple levels of difficulty and secrets that are bound to bring out the completionist in many.
Then there is the Multiplayer aspect which is the heart of StarCraft and is what makes the game last a lifetime. Multiplayer is competitive, highly skill based and once again brings back the three distinct races – the high-tech and powerful Protoss, the vicious Zerg swarm and the traditional and ballistic Terrans.
Each race is hugely different from one another, much like in the original game, though all share the same goal – to annihilate their opponents through a macromanaged-based game (economy based, focused strategies) or through pure aggression and micromanagement (all-in strategies and excellent unit control). It’s a dynamic and constantly changing game with every match.
I could type out an entire thesis when it comes to the mechanics of Multiplayer gaming in StarCraft II. I’ve been playing the original for 12 years and have been in testing phases for the sequel for many, many months. But all that needs to be realistically said is that it’s highly competitive, incredibly deep and very steep in its difficulty, but with enough patience and perseverance one will naturally improve and become a strategic mastermind of their own.
Played by Vedran Markovic
Super Meat Boy rates as: A 2010 TOP with a rating of 90/100.
Super Meat Boy is the kind of game casual gamers do not want to touch, lest they be plunged into a spiraling pit of madness and fury due to its utterly insane difficulty. Indeed, Super Meat Boy is one of those games; punishing and relentless but oh so good.
While the game was released a few months ago on the Xbox 360, it was just recently released on the PC with extra unlockables and features and still retaining its incredible level of difficulty. The objective of the game is as simple as Super Mario Bros – run through a level dodging obstacles and reaching the goal which is your girlfriend Bandage Girl who is held captive by your arch-nemesis, Dr Fetus.
Levels are actually pretty short, with most of them able to be beaten within seconds. But believe me when I say you’ll be stuck on some for hours because the difficulty to get through some of them is borderline unfair.
But this is the odd appeal of Super Meat Boy. You have six main worlds to play through, all spanning about 20 levels with a boss at the end. All of them increase exponentially in difficulty as you progress further. Yet regardless of the 50 million deaths on two levels and the utter rage the game empowers you with, you’ll still keep playing. The game is fast paced and fluid in motion. Rarely is there a moment where you stop moving and wall jumping, and this is the games strongest appeal.
Being able to jump through multiple spinning blades of death and wall jumping over fiery chasms after so many tries to finally reach Bandage Girl is a victory beyond description when you realise you just defied all odds and beat a ridiculously hard level. This is ultimately why Super Meat Boy is so thumb-crushingly addictive.
It is almost guaranteed that you will spend hours playing Super Meat Boy if you’re any sort of perfectionist. Not only are there six worlds to beat, there are also 100 bandages scattered and hidden across levels that you can hunt down, which unlock other characters to use that have completely different abilities to that of Meat Boy. All of the characters pay homage to many other games out there, which is a nice touch for us more hardcore gamers.
Priced at a measly $15 on Steam, Super Meat Boy is an absolute steal for what it offers. You’ve got secret worlds, ‘dark’ versions of the normal worlds (which are ridiculous in difficulty for the masochists), ‘glitch’ worlds and an incredibly vulgar sense of humor that’s bound to get a lot of laughs out of everyone. If you’re in the mood for an old school kind of game which punishes you for mistakes yet is unmistakably balanced in its design, then Super Meat Boy has everything you want. Just make sure you have a stress ball handy.
Played by Vedran Markovic
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 rates as: A 2010 TOP with a rating of 88/100.
It’s that time of year when we look back over what we’ve accomplished in the last twelve months to see what worked and what didn’t work. For me that’s a long list of games, gadgets and Threadless T-shirts. Easily my favourite game of 2010 would have to be Battlefield: Bad Company 2.
The game opens with a flashback to 1944 as a squad hunts a mysterious weapon being developed by the Japanese that produces an ominous sound somewhere between the mating call of an elephant and the monster from Cloverfield. Returning to present day, the members of Bad Company are tasked with tracking down that same weapon as the Russians are close to finding it and apparently that would be a bad thing. I guess these are the evil kind of Russians.
Your squad consists of the usual military character clichés – the grizzled Leader due to retire, the angry Redneck, the four-eyed computer nerd and you – John Everyman. The dialogue between the characters isn’t innovative, but it’s amusing enough and doesn’t take itself seriously which adds to the overall action movie feel of the game.
The missions are the standard Battlefield affairs but there’s enough variety that it’s enjoyable. Urban infantry battles, chopper gunner sequences, roaring armoured vehicle assaults and frantic quad-bike escapes keep things changing so you’re never getting bored of playing shoot-the-guy-behind-the-broken-wall.
One of the later missions involves searching bases by driving around a massive map of mountainous desert terrain and defending against enemy choppers which is really challenging, but much more enjoyable than the linear claustrophobic gameplay of the Call of Duty series.
The technical aspects of the game are outstanding. Near photo-realistic graphics will get the best out of your PC/Xbox/PS3 displaying the huge mountain vistas of Europe, lush jungles of South America and billowing plumes of dust as you race across the desert.
The sound engine is remarkably dynamic, smoothly changing gunfire sounds as you move between enclosed areas and wide open battles. The distant pops of machine gun fire and explosions are incredibly realistic. Well, as realistic as I can remember from the last time I watched Black Hawk Down. Surprisingly the game also scales very well, so you don’t have to have the latest and greatest PC to run it.
The multiplayer component is full of features as all Battlefield games are. Class based load-outs and objective focused maps force everyone to work as a team instead of camping in a corner trying to get a better kills:deaths ratio (*cough* Call of Duty *cough*). This leads to some epic battles over flags and defensive positions that really come down to the wire. Progressive ranks give the multiplayer mode some longevity as you unlock newer and better toys to play with. I’ve easily spent more time playing multiplayer than I did single player.
With regular updates including new maps, game modes and now a Vietnam era expansion pack featuring 49 music tracks from the 60s and 70s, Bad Company 2 is the gift that keeps on giving in 2010. I thoroughly recommend checking it out.
Played by Matthew Long