Features// SPOnG's Review of the Year 2010: January

Posted 24 Dec 2010 10:31 by
Don’t you wish sometimes that you could look back on what has happened in the past, learn from it and teach a new generation of our race’s mortal path so far? Historians have been using this super-power, known as ‘hindsight,’ for years and people are extremely baffled as to whether they can harness that ability for themselves.

But there is a time, once every 365 days, where the humble writers of SPOnG (well, alright, just Svend then) can suddenly channel that very same power and lead a most revolutionary charge in the hallowed digital pages of this website.

The results of this seemingly unnatural change in human biology is this 12-part feature, recapping the highlights of the video gaming industry in 2010 using the most popular news stories and articles on SPOnG.

Don’t be scared, gentle reader. Take our metaphorical hand and be whisked away on a retrospective journey that will most definitely consist of events you have already seen before.


January

Our journey begins, naturally, in the month of January. It’s usually a quiet time for the video game industry, but the world was still reeling from the juggernaut that was Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare 2.

As a result of that game even being released, many publishers held back their games to launch in a time where it wasn’t going to compete with such intense competition. Hence, a packed Q1 2010.

Sega was the first to deal its hand with Bayonetta, released on the 8th to the delight of cult gaming fans everywhere. SPOnG gave it a rave review in late December 2009 (which technically doesn’t count for inclusion here, but I’m doing so because the game came out in 2010 and because I’m writing this feature so nyeh), calling it a “rip-snorting slice of non-stop naughty action,” and the rest of the world clearly agreed.

Not to be outdone, THQ saw January as a good time to bring out one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, since Christmas was officially over and all that. Darksiders was launched, and it was hyped as a venerable God of War-killer, with a touch of Bayonetta bitch-slapping to boot (it was released on the same day).

While it was undoubtedly good, we didn’t quite see it as the ultimate in adventure games - a “brawler with a bit of thinky stuff… the design is slick, the puzzles are challenging and the combat fun,” but fell down for its occasional frustrating elements.

T’was the season for gaming-related comics as well, with the first issues to both Bioware’s Mass Effect Redemption and EA’s Army of Two (it was preferable to playing the actual game in this instance) scrutinised by our resident comics expert, Mark. Unfortunately, they never really lived up to their initial promise, and were scored 64% and 73% respectively.

When there were no games left to review (like Dark Void, for instance), we took to the road to play all sorts of upcoming games that would threaten the tranquil Winter/Spring period. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 launched a BETA in January, which we promptly licked to divulge all the juicy details.

Danish studio IO Interactive would show off a teaser of Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, and producer Mads Prahm recalled to SPOnG how the controversy surrounding the first game was “devastating for us… it made all the gamers turn against us, or at least against the game itself.”

On a lighter note, Zipper Interactive was rather chipper about online shooter MAG, to which art director Phil Knowles said that the studio “wanted to bring persistent elements and create a persistent battle. If you’re sitting there as a low-rank soldier operative, we wanted to create the scenario that whatever little objective you’re doing has a major impact in the grand scheme of things.”

Rebellion’s David Brickley also spoke highly of its FPS sequel Aliens vs Predator, but today it almost reads like an pre-emptive self-analysis on what would ultimately turn out to be a sub-standard game - “We’re still playing it in the office, tweaking various elements and trying to figure out how to cope with certain situations better… even when the game’s out it’s going to be a learning process for us, but I think at this point we’re happy in feeling we’ve set the balance right.”

While these guys were trying to sell their game to the public, there was the opportunity to actually play some of these upcoming titles for ourselves. Sega’s ill-fated niche RPG, Resonance of Fate, impressed us mightily for not only sticking to traditional JRPG conventions that games such as Final Fantasy XIII would shortly ignore, but being creative with it in introducing gunplay. A shame it didn’t set store shelves on fire when it was released. MotoGP 09/10 and Rockstar’s best-selling Western in the making, Red Dead Redemption, also caught our collective beady eye.

Speaking of niche titles we felt that, with so many games vying for your attention in 2010, it was appropriate to give some love to the awesome-looking upcoming games that were certain to be lost in the face of fierce competition. And thus came SPOnG’s Cult Games of 2010. Phantasy Star Zero, No More Heroes 2, Yakuza 3 and 3D Dot Game Heroes were among the chosen titles that we bigged up - all of which ended up being pretty damn good games. The jury’s still out on Kinect, though.
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