Matt Keil serves his penance as Senior Producer - Editorial for X-Play, then does additional duty as a fighting game addict. He also has that gene that gives you obscure video game knowledge at a moment's notice, and we're working on cataloging his brain.
Not my pick for best fighter of the year, but this game has something seemingly forgotten in the fighting genre: a robust tutorial. Continuum Shift’s tutorial mode takes you from “this is what a button is” to “insane 60+ hit combo string” in a beautifully paced series of lessons and tests. In addition, each character has his or her own set of challenges to help you learn how to play them effectively. The tutorial in this game is so thorough it can actually make you better at other 2D fighters in the process. With so many new players entering the fighting genre after the Street Fighter IV explosion, this level of effort to make them feel at home deserves special recognition.
Read on for the rest of Matt Top Five!
Yeah, Sega cut the hell out of it, but it’s still a new entry in one of the most singular franchises of the last ten years. Kazuma Kiryu is one of the few bonafide badasses in gaming, and a fascinating personification of the “noble yakuza” character that is so closely identified with the Japanese mob’s traditional origins. The fact that this game puts this character in the role of kicking ass to save an oceanside orphanage is a pretty good indication of how off-the-wall the game can get. It pulls back from the second game’s tiger-punching and diapered thugs, but still achieves a beautiful blend of the realistic and the bizarre.
Normally I’m not one to play the “it gets really good about eight hours in” card, but … Nier gets really good about eight hours in. I’m not sure what it was I found so compelling about this game, but the story kept me guessing and the dungeons were oddly inventive most of the time. It also gets my nod for best soundtrack of the year. It was horrendously overlooked by just about everyone, so you can pick it up for about $15 new at this point. If you like action RPGs and can stomach some repetitive sidequests in the name of incredible music and a surprisingly effective story (particularly when seen from a different perspective in the New Game+ playthrough), I highly recommend you do so.
This is a slightly old PC title that was translated by members of the Something Awful forums and managed to get a release on Steam. It meshes running a store with action RPG dungeon crawling and for some reason is one of the most compelling little games I played all year. I’m not much for anime RPGs these days but something about haggling over the price of a health potion with a wandering adventurer and watching the gold pieces fly into my pocket is immensely satisfying. At this point, some of you are wondering why the hell anyone would play this, and some of you already have Steam open. You know who you are.
Hey, they can’t all be indie darlings. I popped this in again just to refresh my memory of it while we were working on the Best of 2010 show and was instantly sucked back into its world. Wandering the halls of the Normandy again just felt right. In fact, I was so pleased to be back in the shoes of Shepard that I went back to Mass Effect 1 and played through it again in its entirety to get my female Shepard up to 60 so I could import her into Mass Effect 2 and play a Renegade this time around. There is no gaming world I love more this generation than this one.
Check back as the entire staff reveals their Top Five Games of 2010. What were yours?