You’ve been waiting for it, and here it is: our list of the best games of 2010, split by genre and by platform. It’s been the labour of many weeks, and there have been all sorts of discussions, arguments, and one or two outright fights, but by and large we think this list is representative of our opinions on the whole.
If you only buy one game in each genre each year, consider this your buyer’s guide. For everyone else: if you’ve missed any of these games, they deserve to be in your collection. Every game given an award herein showcases exactly what we want and what we expect from games these days, and they’re the ones to beat in 2011.
It’s been an excellent year for games. Read on, and celebrate with us.
Best RPG of 2010 – Mass Effect 2
Runner-Up: Alpha Protocol
Mass Effect 2 does one thing perfectly: it crafts a universe, and puts you slap-bang in the middle of it. As Shepard, you explore this universe, see how things have progressed, and then once again make your mark.
Few games make you feel this powerful. Every step of the way, you’re told that you make the decisions and that you live with the consequences. People might second guess your actions or give their thoughts, but one way or another, they will abide by your choices – and as you’re also told constantly that you’re on a suicide mission, these choices will decide who, if anyone, survives. The closing scenes, when you make the decisions that will finally determine the fate of your crew, are among the most powerful gaming has offered.
If this was all Mass Effect 2 had going for it, it would be a good game but a flawed one. Thankfully, it’s not. The stripped-back RPG elements upset some, but this was balanced out with each skill point being tighter and more meaningful, much like World of Warcraft’s most recent changes. The combat was vastly improved, making Mass Effect 2 as enjoyable as any AAA-quality third-person shooter you’d care to mention. And, as ever, the impact you have on the universe and the characters, the moral compass-breaking decisions you have to make, and the way the crew members you recruit make you care, make Mass Effect 2 an incredibly compelling experience that lasts for far longer than one playthrough.
Best Sport Game of 2010 – NHL11
Runner-up: FIFA 11
The sport category was once again hotly contested this year, and while FIFA 11 would seem the obvious choice, we felt that NHL 11 just took things a stage further making it the finest Ice Hockey title available gpt gamers.
EA really ramped up their efforts with the NHL franchise and it showed in the final product by really improving on the gameplay over the previous iterations of the franchise, and even if you are not a fan of the sport, you could easily become one if you persevered with the rules of ice hockey.
Best Music Game of 2010 – Rock Band 3
Runner-Up: DJ Hero 2
With the addition of pro instruments, Rock Band 3 has provided the single biggest jump in music game quality since Guitar Hero first launched all those years ago. These pro instruments have not only provided a way to transition from the rhythmic button pressing into actually playing an instrument, but they’ve provided a much more solid single-player experience, letting you improve a real-life skill in a fun environment. While they’re pricey, these instruments offer value for money when combined with Rock Band 3 – and if you can’t bring yourself to fork out for them, then Rock Band 3 by itself provides the highest level of quality we’ve seen yet from Harmonix.
A solid tracklisting, excellent notecharts, a number of usability tweaks when playing with multiple people, and vastly improved sorting and filtering systems don’t just make Rock Band 3 the game to beat when it comes to rhythm-action – they make it a game that can pull even the most jaded rhythm-action alumnus back into having fun.
Best Shooter of 2010 – Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Runner-Up: Halo Reach
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is the complete package. It’s got a perfectly solid single-player campaign with some excellent setpieces (and it takes potshots at Modern Warfare 2 along the way) as well as an excellent multiplayer that plays out entirely differently to most.
The real revelation, though, is the way the engine is utilised. DICE’s latest iteration of the Frostbite engine allows you to blow apart buildings. In single-player, this leads to harrowing defence situations in which your cover is literally falling apart around you, and it gives you a few options in an otherwise linear campaign. In multiplayer, it means that no match ever plays out the same way, and that’s a big, big thing when you want to keep players around. For all of this, Bad Company 2 is the shooter we’ll still be popping on throughout 2011.
Click through for the next set of our top games of 2010.
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Best Puzzler of 2010 – Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse
Runner-Up: Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth
Over the past few years Telltale has proven that it’s one of the few studios making point-and-click adventures that’re actually worth paying attention to, and they’ve been increasing their skill with each successive release. Right now, that’s culminated in Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse, the third Freelance Police outing from Telltale.
The Devil’s Playhouse owes as much to the Twilight Zone and Mystery Science Theater as it does to LucasArts, charting a tale of Toys of Power, the beings trying to get their hands on them, and the inevitable consequences. The new psychic powers give you amusingly novel ways of solving puzzles, while each episode toys (no pun intended) with progression and location, helping them feel individual and unique. All of this is wrapped up in a top-notch smattering of irreverant banter, pointed humour, and puzzles that’re challenging without being frustrating. Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse showcases Telltale’s abilities at their current height, and it’s well worth a look.

Best Action/Adventure Game of 2010 – Red Dead Redemption
Runner-Up: Bayonetta
It’s been a long, long time since we’ve seen a good Wild West game in these parts – and just when all hope seemed lost, Rockstar rode into town on Red Dead Redemption to clean up.
Grizzled ex-outlaw John Marston has been tasked with hunting down the surviving members of his old gang and this means doing everything you’ve ever wanted to do in a western. By the time you reach the tearful close, you’ll have captured boutnies, assaulted a heavily-defended fort, engaged in quick-draw duels, taken part in a civil war, driven cattle, broken wild stallions, fought off rustlers, hunted against wild animals, and ridden across a whole lot of gorgeous Wild West terrain. The game’s atmosphere never really lets up, and superb riding and shooting mechanics let you feel like the mysterious badass who rides into town to solve all problems. Alongside all of this we have Marston’s compelling bid to redeem himself for past crimes, and with Rockstar’s attention to detail and some excellent writing and voice acting, it manages some genuinely haunting moments of poignancy. All told, it’s probably the best Wild West game yet made. If that’s not high enough praise, it’s also one of the finest action/adventures we’ve seen all year – and that’s a category with much stiffer competition.
Best Racing Game of 2010 – Gran Turismo 5
Runner-Up: Need for Speed Hot Pursuit
 2010 was a good year for racing games, we saw the release of F1 2010, Need for Speed Hot Pursuit and of course the much delayed Gran Turismo 5. Gran Turismo 5 finally arrived in November and when we talked about the racing category with John, who has been keeping a keen eye on the racing genre this year, GT5 was the one that really stood out for him.
 It may not be everyone’s favourite choice but you have to appreciate what Polyphony Digital have done with the game and John’s review sums up our thoughts on why GT5 was the best racer of 2010, it was designed for those with a real love of cars.
Best Downloadable Game of 2010 – Limbo
Runner-Up: Super Meat Boy
This was possibly the most fought-over category in IncGamers Towers this year, and it came down to two polar opposites: artsy darling Limbo against platform joy Super Meat Boy. Breathtaking atmosphere versus sheer gameplay; quiet subtext versus joyous exuberance; methodical puzzling versus fast-paced platforming. In the end, though, we had to give it to Limbo.
Limbo is… haunting. It’s a darkly compelling platform-puzzler that focuses on physics’ more pointed side, with our nameless boy protagonist regularly impaled on spikes or ripped apart by buzzsaws. It’s never gratuitous – everything is shown in silhouette as black, white, or a shade of grey – but this somehow serves only to make things more brutal. It’s certainly not for the more squeamish of gamers, but anyone who can stomach it will find that this brooding game has an awful lot going for it. Pitch-perfect visual style and phenomenal sound design build a menacing atmosphere, and the excellently thought-out puzzles and myriad possible interpretations of its setting and progression push it over the top. It’s artsy, sure, but we don’t think that’s a bad thing.
Click through for the next set of our top games of 2010.
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Best Fighting Game of 2010 – BlazBlue: Continuum Shift
Runner-Up: Super Street Fighter IV
The fighting game genre has seen a bit of a resurgence in the past couple of years, with Street Fighter making an impressive return and BlazBlue making an incredible debut. While Super Street Fighter IV is a stunning title, if you only have the chance to play one fighting game this year, we’d have to recommend BlazBlue: Continuum Shift.
The most important thing is the way it polishes BlazBlue’s already high-quality mechanics to an even higher standard, balancing things out a little in the process, but we can’t avoid mentioning the importance of the gorgeous graphics, the surprisingly well-written story and excellent amount of single-player content, or the constant concessions to amateurs and beginners. An excellent game for pros, but equally entertaining for those who love to button mash, we reckon BlazBlue: Continuum Shift is the fighting game most worth your money this year.
Best MMO Game of 2010 – World of Warcraft Cataclysm
Runner-Up: Age of Conan: Rise of the Godlsayer
The biggest MMORPG  release of the year arrived on 7 December and Blizzard gave their long-running MMO a complete overhaul by revitalising the older zones with new content and reshaped the game world forever. It was a massive undertaking and one of the most ambitious we have seen for any MMORPG.
A new level cap of 85 was introduced along with a stack of new content and features that will keep World of Warcraft players busy for some time to come. Blizzard has continually tweaked the game since its initial release six years ago and it’s thanks to this that WoW entered popular culture and has become the phenomenon it is today.  A worthy winner in our MMO category we think.

Paul Younger
Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Founder of the world's first gaming cafe and Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.

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