Suicide, laughter, and the believed death of a communist leader. These were just some of my ten favorite moments from my favorite games of 2010. (Spoilers)
We'll have favorites from the rest of the team throughout the week.
There are SPOILERS ahead so don't read it if you don't like SPOILERS.
Brian Crecente's Favorite Gaming Moments of 2010
A Game To Talk About With My... Wife? (Angry Birds): My wife isn't just "not a gamer", she's the anti-gamer. She doesn't like talking about games, doesn't like playing games, has zero interest in games. Early in the year she took to mocking the sometimes obscene, often vocal outbursts I would direct at the pigs of Angry Birds. She mocked me so frequently that I gifted her the game on her iPhone and then sat back to watch her not only fall in love with the game, but become just as vocal, though maybe not as obscene, in her Angry Bird outbursts.
Dark Disney? (Disney Epic Mickey): I grew up watching the Wonderful World of Disney as a child on TV. I visited Disneyland, Disney World, and went on Disney Cruises over the course of my 40 years. But despite the love I have for Disney and its parks, I was delighted to see just how dark Warren Spector's take on Disney was when it came to the Wii. A smiling Clock Tower that crushes Small World children under its iron fists? Yes please! (Jump to the 3:20 mark)
An Ending Worthy of Halo's Start (Halo: Reach): There are a lot of wonderful things to be said about Halo: Reach. Bungie took everything good about that franchise and shaped it into a game almost completely free of fault. There are very few moments in the game when I felt it was dragging, there is no Flood, there are no absurd, collapsing driving levels. What there is, though, is an amazing climax, and an ending that is poignant and chilling, emotional if you buy into the story.
Finally, I Beat a Metal Gear Solid Game (Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker): I want to love Metal Gear Solid, honest I do. There is so much care put into the game, it has such an enormous and passionate following. People adore Snake in all of his forms. But I've never really been a fan. So I finally forced my own hand, making sure the review of the Playstation Portable game was assigned to me so that, under our own rules, I would need to finish it. And I did, but boy did it take awhile to do. Over the course of that journey I came to respect the notion that there could be an amazing Metal Gear game, but that this wasn't it. I also basked in the glow of completing a title virtually on my own, that Hideo Kojima himself said was meant to be played with friends.
Danger Close (Medal of Honor): Medal of Honor forever a game stuck in World War II finally got a chance to step from the shadows of history and deliver an experience dealing with modern warfare. There were some missteps, the game was light on content, especially multiplayer content, but the campaign was a powerful, intense experience. The game's intensity seems to come to a insane crescendo "Belly of the Beast".
The mission drops you into the boots of a member of the 1st Ranger Battalion leading an assault on the Taliban in the hills of Afghanistan. Everything about this level is intense, from the moment you take to the ground to the moment the air cavalry deliver a seat-of-your pants rescue. While that last heroic stand in a hillside crawling with Taliban is unforgettable, it's earlier in the mission that the game literally made me stop in my virtual steps. Laying down covering fire against a machine gun nest, a missile arcs into view and slams into the position. The ground shakes, dirt flies into the air and for a second everything is quiet, cloaked in a red-tinged cloud of debris and dirt. I stood and pushed my view to the sky in a slow circle, marveling at the shrouded world around me. (Jump to 9:20)
The Suicide Woods (Dante's inferno): Dante's Inferno as video game does a sublime job of tackling the sort of issues most games run away from. The game delivers a look at a hell built on the morality of Christian ideals. It virtually preaches to gamers about the notion of sin and its consequences. Unfortunately, it was a meaningful game lost in the morass of legions of gamers whining about the mechanics and how much the game played like God of War. That means way too many people missed out on my most shocking moment of the game, the game's treatment of suicide. Not only does it stick to Dante's take on self-inflicted death (Suicides become trees in the Suicide Woods, entities made entirely of pain), but the game cleverly weaves the fiction into the mechanics, forcing hasty gamers to commit in-game suicide with one misstep. It's a powerful moment, the taking of one's own life, even if it's in a game.
A Visit To Cuba (Call of Duty: Black Ops): Yes, yes, you don't really kill Castro. You just think you do for a brief moment in Call of Duty: Black Ops. But by the time you realize he was a fake, the moment has already faded. So for that brief second, when the bullet pierces the head of a man who looks like Castro, he is Castro. And that second is shocking, doubly so to someone with family born in Cuba.
You Gotta Move It, Move It (Dance Central): I can't dance worth a damn, but get enough liquor in me and I won't stop trying. But that's the thing, it's very rare for me to, of my own sober volition, get up and dance. Dance Central changes that the same way Rock Band made getting up on stage and pretending to jam in front of strangers OK. And even better, it makes my son want to get up in front of strangers and dance. Who knows, maybe I'll accidentally learn to really dance as a byproduct.
The Story (Alan Wake): As I sat on my couch watching the credits for Alan Wake slide up the screen of my television I thought "Wow, this is it." For the first time in my life, I have experienced something that plays like a game but has the impact of a movie. The credits roll and I feel a deep sense of longing, the after effects of a being so absorbed in a story, the world of Alan Wake, that I was temporarily, emotionally displaced. That's a rare and special thing.
Laughing So Hard It Hurts (Toy Story 3): As Tristan gets older I find that along with things like throwing the football, playing Nerf wars and going to Cub Scouts with him, I also enjoy playing video games together. My favorite was a game he bought with his own money and had to beg me to try: Toy Story 3. Turns out it's absurdly fun to race with your son through the game's Toy Box town, trying to trip one another up and grabbing each other so you can toss them off course. One play session left me laughing so hard that I was in pain. I have plenty of wonderful memories of time spent with Tristan, I'm just happy one of them happened in a game.
Those were my favorite video game moments of 2010. Throughout the week, we'll be publishing the favorite moments of other writers on the Kotaku team. And at week's end, we'll want you to sound off.