AusGamers Game of the Year Awards 2010 “Game of the Decade”
We took the initiative to allow you to not only vote on your favourite game of 2010, but of the last 10 years as well. This was also an open field, with no predetermined entries, so collating these was a task and a half because there were a lot of random games thrown into the mix, but here we are, with the Top 10 Games of the Decade
, counting from 10 to one.
A lot of these were no-brainers, but we were mighty impressed with the level of to-end consistency, and even more impressed at some of the more obscure titles thrown in, so look out for “Honourable Mentions” at the close of this feature.
At any rate, here are the Top 10 Games of the last 10 years as voted by you, counting down from 10.
10. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
- Bethesda Softworks, 2006
Following on from Morrowind (which garnered quite a few of its own votes), The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion gave next-gen consoles a reason to boast about visuals, and caught them up with PCs of the time. It also expanded the series into more open-world territory and showed that sandbox gaming didn’t just belong to Rockstar.
The game saw a number of expansions released to lengthen its shelf-life and became something of a technical precursor to Fallout 3 for Bethesda Game Studios. Gamers everywhere are rabidly anticipating its follow-up, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which will utilise a whole new engine and hopefully address a number for design woes gamers faced with Oblivion.
9. Red Dead Redemption
- Rockstar San Diego, 2010
While the Grand Theft Auto series remained the crowning jewel in Rockstar’s cap, it would be the dark horse, Red Dead Redemption, from sister development studio, Rockstar San Diego, that decrowned the open-world sandbox videogame king.
Taking obvious cues from countless westerns, Red Dead Redemption not only gave players the most coherent and believable game-world ever created, but an accessible character and plight with which to engage it.
Stunning visuals, great voice-acting, the best use of NaturalMotion’s Euphoria yet and those sunsets, oh those sunsets, set Red Dead Redemption apart from anything else on the market. Brilliant.
8. Mass Effect 2
- BioWare, 2010
It’s this year’s overall Game of the Year, and a precursor to one of the most anticipated games of 2011, Mass Effect 3. BioWare know how to tell a story, and while things got off to a shaky start visually and in the action department with Mass Effect, its sequel took the more action-oriented high-road, slimming down the RPG component to create a perfect action/RPG hybrid that oozed polish.
It still has the best sci-fi soundtrack this side of Blade Runner, those all-important sci-fi lens flares and one deeply rich storyline in an equally rich and deep universe. Mass Effect 2 is BioWare at the top of their game.
7. Battlefield 2
- DICE, 2005
It’s important to note that Battlefield 2 was released at a time when the PC was still the undisputed king of online shooters. With recent titles like Call of Duty, and even Battlefield developer DICE’s most recent Bad Company series, the genre has moved towards decreased map sizes and player counts to create more kinetic and somewhat intimate (well as intimate as a shotgun to the back can be) affairs - most notably due to console gaming technical restrictions.
Battlefield 2 on PC was an online shooter of the epic kind. It refined their capture point and vehicle hopping squad based gameplay to near perfection, and it allowed upwards of 64 players to take part in both small and epic scale battles across huge sprawling maps. It was also a game that introduced cutting edge physics (for its time) that led to many hilarious vehicular “accidents” that in turn led to many games being cut short and players left reading “You have been kicked for excessive team killing”. Damn those helicopter controls!
6. Fallout 3
- Bethesda Game Studios, 2008
Taking their open-world RPG experience from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Bethesda Game Studios put aside their fantasy lore rule-book, and took players to a fully realised post-apocalyptic wasteland, the likes of which no one had seen in the videogame space before.
Fallout 3 took the popular PC isometric RPG series of the same name, and ushered it into the next-generation, radiating a sense of design maturity few games of the time could equal. The world was literally your play-thing, and with definitively dynamic outcomes based on multiple options of player choice, the game became something of a benchmark for freedom and on-the-fly narrative, as directed by the player.
It was bloody, it was gruesome, it was cold and it was harsh, but damn if it wasn’t a hell of a lot of fun, too.
5. Deus Ex
- Ion Storm Austin, 2000
If the popularity of some titles in this list could be partly attributed to short memories, here's one that most definitely is not. Originally released mid 2000, Deus Ex (pronounced day-as-ecks btw) took genre amalgamation to unprecedented levels, and that it is still so impressed on the minds of AusGamers readers is a well-deserved testament to its quality.
Part first-person shooter, part RPG and part adventure game, Deus Ex offered many layers of player-choice all woven into an immersive cyberpunk universe; realised with the visual strengths of the original Unreal Engine.
The sequel Deus Ex: Invisible War failed to live up to its namesake, considered by many to have been "dumbed down" too much for console gamers, at a time when home-consoles were only beginning to dabble into first-person shooter territory.
In 2011, we find ourselves eagerly awaiting Deus Ex: Human Revolution, a prequel to the original which - despite coming from a French-Canadian studio far removed from the original (disbanded) Ion Storm Austin team - appears very promising.
4. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
- Infinity Ward, 2007
Against all judgement at Activision in the initial “pitch” staged for the next Call of Duty entry, Infinity Ward got their “Modern Warfare” concept across the line and arguably changed the first-person shooter market forever.
Say what you will of the Call of Duty brand in its current form, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare introduced a legion of console gamers to proper online multiplayer, and created one of the most popular PC online communities of modern times. Moreover, the game’s engine (built off old Quake tech), still holds solid, even today, while the frenetic nature of play is still second-to-none. Infinity Ward knew how to take you on the roller-coaster ride of a lifetime - here’s hoping they’re still capable of that with the game’s third installment, purportedly releasing later this year.
3. Team Fortess 2
- Valve Software, 2007
A team-based shooter that took the concept of player classes to a whole new level, by instilling definable roles and responsibilities into each player (that being you). On paper that may sound a little daunting, and in a sense possibly even boring, but the execution was anything but. The colourful visuals complemented the gameplay perfectly and made what is at its core a strict team-based shooter, incredibly fun.
Coupled with maps that seemed to have been designed by a “Perfect Map Maker 5200” machine (of sorts) Team Fortress 2 feels timeless. All it takes is one good game, where all the pieces fall into place, a good mix of player classes, just the right balance of concise strategy and tomfoolery, and a tug of war struggle to control each territory, and you are instantly hooked. The best part of course was that this happened more often than not, and really what more could you ask for?
2. Half-Life 2
- Valve Software, 2004
The game that introduced the world to the Source Engine, and with it, state of the art visuals, physics and gameplay that not only moved a genre forward, but also helped protagonist Gordon Freeman evolve his arsenal from a crowbar to a gravity gun. Half Life 2 was hotly anticipated before its release and still to this day remains the absolute benchmark for campaign-driven first-person shooters.
Echoes of its core gameplay can be seen in games being released today, but above all of its technical achievements, developer Valve also managed to create an interactive story that was endlessly engaging and incredibly paced without the need for cut-scenes or even a voiced protagonist. It proved that creating an action-heavy set-piece driven game can be achieved without the need to sacrifice intelligence. Oh, and it also introduced a little thing called “Steam”.
1. World of WarCraft
- Blizzard Entertainment, 2004
It was almost guaranteed Blizzard’s constant online fantasy world would take the Game of the Decade cake, given its persistent updates to ensure replayability to the nines, as well as the handful of expansions that have accompanied it since its release in 2004.
Hardcore WoW players today don’t just have a character, they have a stable of characters, they’re members of several guilds and plan weekend-long raids, and when you consider the game’s subscriber-base is 10 million strong and growing, its any wonder the game comes in at number one.
There’s also no end in sight for the MMO, with the success of the expansions; most recently evidenced by Cataclysm, an add-on that changed the world of Azeroth forever. If the WoW team can continue to evolve their world in this way, we may have to issue Government warnings to people in the same vain as those for cigarettes.
To be fair, it was close between the world’s most popular MMO and most remembered FPS, Half-Lfe 2, for first place, but it turns out people like Blood-Elves and Taurens more than Antlions and Head Crabs.
So that’s the Game of the Year Awards 2010 “Game of the Decade” done. Hopefully this Top 10 will spark much debate and dialogue, which is what it’s supposed to do, but we at AusGamers are very happy with the overall results from the last three days, and thank each and every one of you who jumped into the activity and voted, helping make the whole feature happen.
As for Game of the Decade Honourable Mentions, here are a few: Diablo 2, BioShock, Metroid Prime, Max Payne, Resident Evil 4, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Halo: Combat Evolved, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Doom 3, Batman: Arkham Asylum
and Shadow of the Colossus
, among many, many more.
Stay tuned to AusGamers throughout 2011 and become a voice in our community if you’re not already, and we’ll see you in the Game of the Year space next year, for the GOTY 2011 Awards!