The Big Ten of 2010

Mighty big, this. 2010 glimmers with all the potential a new year can bring, but for a reason that extends well beyond the gratification of New Year resolutions: video games. I like them. You might like them too. Which works really pretty well, as we’ll both share good humor over the next ten months as an absolute ton of games start storming the shelves.

Mighty good ones, too. Click that little link down there to see the best and brightest coming your way in 2010.

1. Mass Effect 2 (PC, Xbox 360) Release: 1/26

Fantastic action, fantastic characters, and completely-overhauled visuals make the sequel to Bioware’s sci-fi RPG my personal contender for Game of the Year 2010. That sounds like dorky hyperbole until you consider that Mass Effect 2 released in late January. It is that good, folks. There’s a reason (several of them, in fact) that I’ll be replaying this one as soon as possible.

2. Heavy Rain (PS3) Release: 2/23

A lot of weight thrown behind this one, and with good reason: Heavy Rain stands apart for everything it aims to accomplish, to the point where (mostly positive) reviews admit to chin-scratching about what exactly this experiment in digital storytelling really is. It plays like a game, sure, but gets all cinematic-y and filmy right at the start, landing Heavy Rain in a pleasantly puzzling middle ground between movie and game. Whatever you want to call it, it seems like a pretty decent piece of entertainment, and no doubt one that will generate some pretty interesting discussions during the rest of the year.

3. God of War 3 (PS3) Release: 3/16

There’s a reason the first two game in the series are held in the highest regard. That might have something to do with the face-rocking gameplay mechanics, or maybe the excellent visuals. Speaking frankly, though, I’d be surprised if a game about a mad-as-hell Greek warrior exacting revenge on the titular God of War didn’t turn out sufficiently badass. Still, the upcoming sequel looks to take everything that everyone liked about the first two games and crank it up to ridiculous levels, so count me in for snatching this up on release day.

4. Final Fantasy XIII (Xbox 360, PS3) Release: 3/9

Spend four years on a game and it’ll be good. I wish this were universally true, but FF13’s wonderful reception both here and abroad certainly make a strong case for sitting on a project as long as possible. Ignoring the Xbox 360/PS3 controversies, the core game looks to be an absolute goldmine of an RPG, one that capitalizes on modern hardware’s graphical capabilities as well as – if not better than – any other title in this list. No clue how the storyline will fare, but the game mechanics seem pretty well-received, so who knows? This might be the year that the Japanese RPG recaptures some speck of its former glory.

5. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii) Release: 5/23

Having had my white magic box cruelly stolen, I doubt I’ll be partaking in the lovefest that follows whenever a new Super Mario Game releases. Still, each screenshot gleams like a little square of sunshine on my monitor, so consider yourself lucky if you get to snatch this one up when it takes off later this year. Mario games might not cater to the modern gamer’s run-and-gun tastes anymore, but they’re consistent in being just a whole hell of a lot of fun, a quality that tends to get trampled underfoot on other consoles.

6. BioShock 2 (Xbox 360, PS3) Release: 2/9

One I’ll be passing on, I suspect, since my save files for the prequel remain dusty and unloved on my hard drive. Still, reviews across the board laud the game for interesting and worthwhile mechanics, and there’s a certain appeal to the setting of the game itself, which remains wonderful and strange even three years after the first game’s release. Not interested in either title? Load up a few videos, at least, and take a gander at one of the most inventive settings in video game history.

7. Starcraft II (PC) Release: TBA 2010

Not my thing, I’ll admit, but you can’t even begin to imagine the impact this will have when it releases (by most indications, though delays are possible) later this year. The recent multiplayer beta already has the internet scrambling, and from every indication big bad Blizzard (the group behind #9 on this list too) will be rolling in the dough come release time.

8. World of Warcraft: Catacylsm (PC, Mac) Release: TBA 2010

I’ve avoided WoW in every incarnation so far, knowing just how soul-sucking and addictive this kind of game can be, but I’ll admit some interest in the latest expansion due later this year. Dramatically retooling the mechanics and environment of an established virtual world is a risky move, but one that Blizzard has all the skills – and fan base – to pull off.

9. Halo Reach (Xbox 360) Release: Fall 2010

Again, not really my thing, which will probably read as blasphemy in its purest form. The devotion to the Halo series comes well-documented on the internet, but I’ve developed only a passing interest in each game of the series. Still, anything developer Bungie works on tends to be solid, entertaining, and high-quality, so the massive legions of Halo fans are no doubt ranking this one pretty highly on their to-play list.

10. Persona 3 Portable (PSP) Release: 6/6

I had to. The harsh reality to list-making, dear friends, is the virtual impossibility of including every quality title set to hit throughout the entire year. It’s especially difficult when your tastes lean toward the obscure, but Persona 3 Portable is my singular concession. It’ll be awesome. The original Persona 3 on the Playstation 2 absolutely rocked my world and catapulted itself high up on my list of favorite games, and seeing it now in enhanced, portable form has my excitement levels peaking at dangerous levels. Check it out. You’ll need a Playstation Portable, unfortunately, to partake, but if you do have one, consider this a recommendation to give it a go. It’s like nothing you’ve ever played before, I assure you.

What about you all? Anything you’re looking forward to that wasn’t listed above? Let me know!

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