2010 has been an amazing year for videogames. From indie hits to AAA blockbusters, there's been a lot to love about this year. But there are only so many hours in a day, so many days in a week, and so many weeks in a... well, you get the idea. As in every year, we found some games dominated our days and nights and still had us coming back for more. To celebrate those games, we're offering up our Five Favorites of 2010. Be sure to check back over the coming week for our editor's picks for the best in games, and also stay tuned for our Five Favorite Not Games.
Steve Butts' Five Favorite Games of 2010
Dragon Age: Origins, Awakening
Some people thought Dragon Age: Origins was too long. I was not one of them. In fact, despite the tedious march through Orzammar, I found myself wanting even more time in Ferelden. When the Awakening expansion came out, I was first in line to jump back in to see what happened to the Warden after the Blight was defeated. I was a little sad that the expansion didn't really follow your narrative choices from the first game. I mean, even if you died at the end of the original game, your character just picks right up and carries on. And that hot girl from Orlais who was totally into me? She was nowhere to be found.
Even so, Awakening offered loads of amazing goodness for the roleplaying nerd in me. The story was fantastic, even if it didn't feel like it had much to do with the decisions I had made in the first game. Trying to figure out what was going on with the nobles, making tough decisions about whether to protect the towns or the farms, and meeting new characters who were every bit as intriguing as those in the original game, all made Awakening one of the most captivating experiences of the year for me. On top of that, the combat was still spectacular and highly strategic, particularly towards the end of the game and the invasion of Vigil's Keep.
Some gamers hated Dragon Age because it was too big and too nerdy, but that's precisely why I loved it.
Napoleon Total War
I've been a big fan of the Total War series since back in the sprite-based days of Shogun. Even back then, I'd always sort of assumed the design was inevitably going to find itself jumping to the 17th and 18th centuries to simulate the Napoleonic War and American Civil War. And while I'm still waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for my chance to square off against Grant and Lee, Creative Assembly finally gave me the opportunity to play as the Little Corporal himself, Napoleon Bonaparte. Fighting from Vienna to Cairo to Moscow is a real blast, and even if the campaign is more tightly scripted than other games in the series, I still found myself captivated by the whole experience.
Of course, what really sells this game, even to gamers who don't care about strategy games, are the amazing tactical battles. Watching as your brightly colored infantry and cavalry march and wheel about the battlefield, firing off muskets and charging enemy lines, really puts you in the midst of the battle. The whole visual spectacle is irresistible, and when you combine that with a grand strategic layer where you get to make big policy decisions, it's even more compelling. It's true that the historical nature of the game hampers replayability somewhat, but it's still one of the best strategy games of the entire year in my opinion.
Seriosuly, after Shogun 2, let's make this Civil War thing happen.