This year has been a fine year for gaming. So good in fact, that while perusing this list you might find your personal favourites are missing. Sorry about that. But while you might have enjoyed Mass Effect 2 or got your shooting kicks from Medal Of Honor – and we’re pleased you liked them, so did we – this is our final order, and we’re sticking to it.
Red Dead Redemption
Rockstar may be behind GTA, but this is their crowning achievement. An epic game that sucked us in and held us in its power until long after the credits rolled on the single player story. Incredibly diverse it was easy to get lost in the seemingly limitless side quests. We dedicated an entire afternoon to picking flowers for God’s sake. Flowers!
Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit
This franchise was dead. With each passing year fewer and fewer people cared about the former nailed on Christmas No1. No longer. Stripped back to simple cops versus racers, Hot Pursuit was pure driving fun. But its real innovation was Autolog, which informed and mocked you when friends beat your times, then challenged you to beat them back.
Call Of Duty: Black Ops
A behemoth of a game, so powerful that it doesn’t need our praise. These words are puny insects against the might of its 7 million sales in 24 hours. Call Of Duty is a phenomenon, and deservedly so. It’s the best first person shooter available on consoles and its online components will keep you going until, ooh, Call Of Duty 8 probably.
If it had been a film, the plot of Heavy Rain wouldn’t really have stood up to much scrutiny. But despite its claim to blur the distinction between mediums, it’s not a film, it’s a game. Obviously. But it's a game that forces you to make very real life or death decisions. Nothing made us question our conscience more this year as it asked us, how far would you go to save your son’s life? Then showed us the, often horrifying, results of our actions.
If this isn’t the end for Halo, it might as well be. Over a decade creators Bungie honed the experience to perfection. Reach is the result. Halo will continue, but Bungie has moved on. And although humanity’s war against the Covenant may never be the same again, at least it had this glorious last stand. And, for that, we’ll always remember Reach.
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Given the number of games Mario’s been in, it’s been years since his core platforming games have had a direct sequel. Mario 64 was followed by Super Mario Sunshine, which in turn was followed by Super Mario Galaxy. Still, anyone expecting a retread (which was everybody) was astounded to discover the depth of the innovation. Definitely worth dusting off your Wii for.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Remember the PSP? Well, you might be surprised to hear it’s still going. Not only that, there are some decent games being released for it. Peace Walker was created specifically for the system, and it shows. No dodgy controls or console gameplay condensed into a platform that can’t handle it. And you know what, time might just be the greatest Metal Gear Solid ever made. Yeah, we said it.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
A careful honing of what AC:II did well rather than anything hugely innovative. At least, in the single player. Brotherhood’s major calling card was the debut appearance of multiplayer, which took the smart step of embracing the fact that many of the people online want nothing more than to gleefully ruin your day, so that was the focus of the games. And it worked.
Fallout: New Vegas
Did anyone play and complete the realistic Hardcore mode? Kudos to you. After the first time we became dehydrated in the middle of the Wasteland (roughly five minutes in) we decided we had enough to do with all the bandits and mutated geckos attacking us without worrying where our next drink was coming from.
Enslaved: Odyssey To The West
A game you probably haven’t played, but one we urge you to as soon as possible. Not least because it’s one of though only adult-aimed games that doesn’t take place in a mostly brown or grey gameworld. And it’s hard not to be impressed by a game that hires Andy Serkis to perform the motion capture.