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The best 2010 games you never played (but totally should)

Editorial Staff

Games of 2010 that slipped beneath the radar; go play them

Each year there are a slew of high profile games developed by the biggest names in the gaming industry that gamers absolutely go nuts for. We mark our calendars, salivate over screen shots and eat up every second of gameplay footage released during the months before its release, and when that glorious day finally arrives, we rush off at midnight so we can play it for a few hours before reluctantly trudging off to school or work.

And then there are the awesome games that don’t get half the love they deserve. They’re excellent titles, crafted with exceptional love and care by their makers, but ultimately, they slip through the cracks largely unnoticed. Here are ten titles from 2010 that suit that description, games of such stellar quality that they demanded to be played, but due to one unfortunate reason or another, simply weren’t.

EA Sports MMA (EA Tiburon)
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Without the UFC brand or mainstream fighters like Brock Lesnar or Rampage Jackson, it’s debatable whether “EA Sports MMA” ever really stood a chance. It had plenty of advertising through Strikeforce events and periodic television spots, and even though it was warmly received by critics, it suffered from lackluster sales that seemed to clearly indicate that it was largely the recognisability of the UFC licensing that helped THQ’s line of MMA fighting games reach commercial success.

This is unfortunate because “EA Sports MMA” was genuinely a terrific video game. It focused on the smaller promotions and explored facets of MMA that THQ’s “UFC Undisputed 2010” didn’t. The controls worked well, the fighting was fun, and its slew of online and single player features made it one of the most complete representations of the sport. Fortunately, even though it didn’t sell as well as expected, EA Sports is still developing a sequel that (hopefully) will be received a little better by both gamers and true fans of MMA. 

The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces (Namco Project Aces)
Platform: Nintendo Wii

If you enjoy the “Ace Combat” franchise, there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t have checked out this awesome (though inconspicuous) flight simulator for the Nintendo Wii. It has all the aerial dogfights and jaw dropping airborne acrobatics of an “Ace Combat” game, and its story, which revolves around a twisted, alternate universe where combat pilots duel to death for entertainment, does a terrific job of keeping gamers engrossed in the action. Project Aces might have rose to prominence with their line of critically acclaimed “Ace Combat” titles, but “Skycrawlers: Innocent Aces” is absolutely no slouch either and is well worth considering for any gamer who dreams of one day taking to the skies.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat (GSC Game World)
Platform: PC

All eyes might have been on THQ’s “Metro 2033” this year, but it had absolutely nothing on the latest installment in GSC Game World’s long running “S.T.A.L.K.E.R” franchise. Once again set in the apocalyptic wastelands of Russia, you play as government agent tasked with discovering a helicopter that crashed deep in the untamed wilderness where raiders roam, mutated beasts lurk and anarchy rules. You’ll need to take on jobs to outfit yourself with gear and weapons, and even once you gather the supplies needed to complete your mission, the odds are still stacked against you. If the radiation doesn’t kill you, pillaging marauders and blood thirsty monsters will. It’s a fight for survival in this open world first-person shooter, and unlike “Metro 2033”, it genuinely makes you feel very alone and very afraid of the unknown.

Lunar: Silver Star Harmony (Game Arts)
Platform: PlayStation Portable

Yet another remake of the original “Lunar” (which saw its debut on the Sega CD and then its more popular remake on the PlayStation), “Lunar: Silver Star Harmony” is one of those games that veteran gamers knew they probably should have bought but ultimately didn’t. It’s understandable in a way –after all, many already beat “Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete” years ago, and “Lunar: Silver Star Harmony” is more or less the same, only with minor revisions to the story and some gameplay modifications. However, there’s an entire generation of gamers who haven’t had the chance to play one of the best RPG’s ever made, and prior to “Lunar: Silver Star Harmony’s” release, you would have to pay exorbitant rates on Ebay for the PlayStation version.

Now you don’t have to. Seriously, if you own a PSP and love RPG’s, there’s absolutely no reason why you should have skipped out on this one. “Lunar: Silver Star Harmony” is awesome. The story is charming, the characters are memorable, the music is gorgeous, the writing is hilarious, and the gameplay is old-school, turn-based role-playing.

Resonance of Fate (tri-Ace)
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

If you allowed “Resonance of Fate” to slip through the cracks, don’t feel too bad about yourself. First, the JRPG genre has seen better days and it’s not unusual at all for casual gamers to give them a pass, especially if they don’t have “Final Fantasy”, “Dragon Quest” or “Persona” as a part of their title. Second, “Resonance of Fate” is difficult enough to deter all but the most hardcore of RPG fans, a fact that I only began to fully appreciate after I died for the tenth time and was prepared to hurl my controller at the wall.

Even though “Resonance of Fate’s” storyline never quite lives up to the uniqueness of its setting, its incredibly original (albeit challenging and insanely complex) combat system is thoroughly enjoyable and very rewarding provided you invest the time in mastering its intricacies. On top of that, when was the last time a RPG allowed you to flip through the air and shoot handguns? Sega’s dystopian RPG is a bit rough around the edges, but it also provides something new in a genre that’s become progressively staler over the years.

Lead and Gold: Gangs of the Wild West (Fatshark)
Platform: PC

There’s a good chance you never even heard of this western-themed “Team Fortress 2” clone and that’s because it was only release via download for the PC. While this means that it never received the benefit of being able to sit on store shelves, it also meant that gamers got a really awesome game for a very reasonable price.

A class-based, third-person shooter that takes more than a few pages from the “Team Fortress 2” book on how to craft a competent multiplayer gaming experience, “Lead and Gold” is an absolute blast to play online. Each of the classes have their own strengths and weaknesses, and you and your team mates will have work as cohesive unit if you want to dominate the opposing faction. It’s not the most original game ever made, but if you love “Team Fortress 2” but want a change of scenery, “Lead and Gold: Gangs of the Wild West” is a terrific alternative.

The Whispered World (Daedalic Entertainment)
Platform: PC

During the 1980’s and 1990’s, there were no shortage of classic, adventure games like “King’s Quest”, “Monkey Island” and “Grim Fandango”. However, since then, the genre has largely faded into obscurity with only games like “Sam and Max Hit the Road”, “Machinarium” or “Broken Sword” reminding gamers of its existence. The German developed The Whispered World is proves that old school, point-and-click adventure games are not only still relevant, but thriving.

A gorgeous game featuring beautifully hand painted backgrounds, The Whispered World tells the story of a sad clown, Sadwick, who finds himself embarking on a dangerous adventure in a world doomed for destruction. The Whispered World is everything an adventure game should be. The story is gripping, the art direction stunning and the puzzles and riddles that Sadwick must solve are as varied as they are deviously challenging.

Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon (Namco, tri-Crescendo)
Platform: Nintendo Wii

If you’re the kind of gamer who appreciates art, “Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon’s” presentation will enthrall you. The Anime-inspired graphics look terrific, and the soundtrack is pleasing to the ears and soothing to the soul. On top of that, the game’s tragic story, which revolves around a young boy searching for survivors in a post-apocalyptic world, is as emotionally powerful as it is endearing.

The gameplay, unfortunately, pales in comparison to “Fragile Dreams’” stellar combination of beautiful visuals, extraordinary music and engaging narrative. It’s kind of stale and repetitive, and it clearly wasn’t too high on the developers’ list of priorities. That said, even Fragile Dreams’ weakest aspects are still worth soldiering through to experience everything else that it has to offer.

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (Ninja Theory)
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Despite boasting a story written by Alex Garland (the writer behind films like “The Beach” and “28 Days Later”) and the acting talents of Hollywood veteran Andy Serkis, Ninja Theory’s latest action-adventure title barely made a blimp on anyone’s radar when it was released earlier this year. It was a phenomenal game that seamlessly mixed the platforming of “Uncharted” with the action-packed brawls of “God of War”, but presumably because it was released almost simultaneously with a slew of other top-tier video games, gamers failed to notice “Enslaved”, resulting in terrible sales.

While poor sales is never anything to wish upon a gaming developer or publisher, there is one upside to this unfortunate turn of events — “Enslaved” will undoubtedly be in bargain bins sometime in the near future. Unlike all the other crap that see massive discounts early on, “Enslaved” is actually a quality game that any gamer should definitely consider picking it up. If you can catch it on sale, that’s just a bonus.

Guilty Party (Wideload Games)
Platform: Nintendo Wii

At first glance, “Guilty Party” doesn’t look like anything exceptional. In fact, with its Disney licensing and penchant for mini-games, it appeared to be little more than a shameless “Mario Party” clone catering to the youngest and most casual demographic of gamer. This assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. While “Guilty Party” certainly does borrow certain elements from “Mario Party” (like its board game nature and selection of mini-games), it does so without compromising its original premise of being first and foremost a brain-teasing mystery game.

A crime has been perpetrated and it’s up to you to solve it. Work alone or with your friends (or against your friends in competitive multiplayer) to uncover evidence, interrogate witnesses, and participate in a slew of challenging activities that will help you crack the case. Yes, it’s definitely a game aimed towards younger and casual gamers, and yes you probably won’t appreciate it if you’re the type of gamer who plays “Halo” and nothing else. However, if you’re looking for an incredibly fun game to share with friends and family over the holidays, “Guilty Party” is certainly an excellent selection.

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