The greatest videogame moments of 2010

Deep down, all videogames are about one thing: offering cool experiences that you won’t get anywhere else, whether it’s clearing a board in Peggle or watching Aerith die for the nine billionth time. They’re what keep us coming back, over and over again, and they’re the memories that are instantly dredged to the surface of our minds every time we hear a game’s title.

2010 has, unsurprisingly, been a great year for unforgettable moments like these, whether they’ve been unexpectedly awesome set-pieces, particularly impressive cutscenes or just a cool thing we found lying around. As the year draws to a close, let’s take a look back at some of the most memorable ones.

Oh, and because the following pages include endings, and mid-game revelations, consider yourself warned:

Crossing into Mexico

Experienced in: Red Dead Redemption

It’s inevitable that we’d put Red Dead Redemption on this list somewhere. It’s a game filled with stunning moments, some of them taken quietly in stride by players, and others becoming message-board fodder for months after the game’s release. This is one of the latter, and it left such an indelible mark in our collective psyche that we wrote three separate articles about it.

Don’t get us wrong, the ending and subsequent surprise were just as powerful, if not more so. But your first ride into Mexico is striking in its simplicity, and it’s a strong reminder of just how much more profound the right musical selection can make something seem.

Part of what makes this moment so memorable is how unexpectedly it arrives. When John Marston finally crosses the border into Mexico, it’s after hours of play, so most players might reasonably assume that the game world doesn’t have many surprises to throw their way. The second John mounts the horse that’s waiting for him, though, Jose Gonzalez’s haunting acoustic song kicks in, making the new landscape – and John’s own distance from the loved ones he’s trying to save – take on a sudden new significance. The scrub brush and dusty trails seem almost alien, and simply charging through to the next objective without taking in the scenery seems wrong, somehow.

Sadly, a lot of us remember this for a different reason: whether it was because of wildlife attack or just wanting our old horses back, we dismounted – at which point the song fades out, the magic disappears, the illusion shatters. If you did that, it was hard not to feel just a little cheated – although it ensured that, when something similar happened near the end of the game, you stayed on your goddamn horse.

Beating down Poseidon

Experienced in: God of War III

Poor Poseidon. In the first God of War, he gave Kratos the power to electrocute his enemies and to breathe underwater, and what did he get in return? A savage beatdown from his bald, perpetually furious nephew two games later.

Above: You just know this isn’t going to end well 

Of course, Kratos has delivered plenty of beatings before, many of them much nastier than this. What makes this one special? Only the fact that it takes place almost entirely through Poseidon’s eyes.

Above: Literally THROUGH his eyes at the end, there

It’s one thing to see Kratos dish out his endless third-person brutality against little onscreen monsters, but shifting the perspective to his victim made the violence more personal and less abstract – and, for the first time, gave players an inkling of exactly how terrifying it would be to have him mad at you. It’s not a quick beating, either, which gives the developers plenty of time to make sure that, even though you’re controlling the whole thing, you’ll wince at least once – and if you don’t, you’ll at least cringe a little when Kratos delivers the final blow.

Above: Press both thumbsticks? OK, but what will that… 

Above: Oh JESUS 

The Five Zombies intro

Experienced in: Call of Duty: Black Ops

Yeah, OK, the story of special operative Alex Mason was pretty compelling, and filled with an assortment of awesome moments. We could have picked the raid on Castro’s villa, the daring prison escape, the dual-wielding Kowloon mission or even the tough-as-nails Tet Offensive. Or even the bit where we crossbow-sniped Russian soldiers in the snow. They’re all great, and all rendered with all the explosive spectacle and variety we’ve come to expect from the Call of Duty series.

Above: Yeah, this was pretty cool, I guess 

However, none of those moments quite stack up to the sheer entertainment value we got after finishing the game and seeing JFK, Richard Nixon, Fidel Castro and Robert McNamara gear up and prepare to defend the Pentagon against an unstoppable zombie attack.

The sheer implausibility of the setup, along with the cartoonish impersonations, amounted to a surprisingly funny exclamation point at the end of a mostly “serious” military shooter – and was instantly more memorable than everything that had come before. Floating red numbers and a hallucinatory indoor rocket launch are all well and good, but they simply don’t compare with the sheer ridiculousness of three bitter political rivals setting aside their differences to splatter zombie brains all over a government office. 


Best of 2010


  • Taku128 - January 8, 2011 10:57 p.m.

    So THIS is why I suddenly had 16000 more views one day!
  • Amatarasu - January 6, 2011 3:30 a.m.

    My best moment would have to go to Assasain's Creed Brotherhood When you go to the Assassin ceremony. The music plays, Ezio recites the mantra. It fades to black. "Nothing is true. Everything is permitted." Then leap of faith
  • Cloud1Fair3 - January 2, 2011 5:46 p.m.

    I know Uncharted 2 is last year's news, but the opening dangle from a train is still fresh since I just played it a few days ago, but when you start the game fighting for your life dangling off the edge of a cliff on a train it doesn't get better gaming moment of the decade IMO. But for this year, I'm gonna agree with Wolfie about beating Zues to a pulp and realizing it stops when you're satisfied, after playing through a series for 5 years wanting that ultimate revenge as a character you've come to fully understand as an agent of ultimate vengance, I was fully impressed with the decision of Sony Santa Monica to let you decide when you were ready to let it go. Also, no Assassins Creed Brotherhood when the Borgia attacks your headquarters at the beggining? That was a more clever way of losing your OP powers than falling in Styx in GOW3!
  • batmanboy11 - January 2, 2011 5:29 p.m.

    Agree very much with Scott Pilgrim's alternate endings. I was kinda pissed when I beat the game as Scott and got THAT ending, so I ended up beating it as Ramona to get the proper ending...
  • batmanboy11 - January 2, 2011 5:25 p.m.

    I disagree with Kat dying part in Reach entry.
  • dss10 - January 2, 2011 3:07 p.m.

    my video game moment of 2010 was in new vegas, right after you got out of good springs, looking into the horizon at the luck 38, you are hit with an awesome feeling of adventure, well, atleaste it felt like that for me.
  • RedAppolyon - January 1, 2011 10:28 p.m.

    Kratos looks constipated in the title picture
  • humpiedumpie - January 1, 2011 9:08 p.m.

    I still remember when i first entered the throwback galaxy, that is my favorite moment, together with the Mass Effect 2 ending
  • LordPwnge18 - January 1, 2011 8:10 p.m.

    LOL, Kratos derp face on the main picture of the feature.
  • secretsearcher - January 1, 2011 7:57 p.m.

    totally agree about the Throwback Galaxy I was like "woh is this really yes yes yes YES :D"
  • philipshaw - January 1, 2011 6:18 p.m.

    Awesome article, it has been a good year
  • CitizenWolfie - December 31, 2010 12:48 p.m.

    Sorry for the double post but I've just remembered another one - At the end of God of War 3 when Kratos is punching Zeus repeatedly in the face, you have to press O rapidly to make Kratos do the punching. I was hammering away at the buttons for ages thinking "When will it stop?!?!?!" and then realised that Kratos only stops hitting him when you do. Kind of a fourth wall breaking moment for me.
  • CitizenWolfie - December 31, 2010 11:37 a.m.

    I don't even remeber getting on the horse in Mexico, just instantly whistling for the war horse instead. Regardless, I got attacked by a cougar anyway. That song on Undead Nightmare though was awesome. Totally agree with Fallout: NV - it was the thing that really hooked me into the game (as I wasn't loving it as much as Fallout 3 til then).
  • okvertigo - December 31, 2010 7:11 a.m.

    Really? Kat was the only the character that you cared about and it was the only part that amazed you? I'd have to give to Carter, i know he was probably the most boring one. I mean there no emotion to it no second thoughts just a few words between him and Emile and kabloosh! right into the sacarab awesome.
  • CandiedJester - December 31, 2010 5:07 a.m.

    The entirety of Fallout: New Vegas was my favorite video game "moment" of 2010. I had sooo much fun discovering everything, laughing at all the funny things, falling in love with all the deep and well developed characters, getting familiar with New Vegas, feeling at home, etc. I guess my favorite part of that game was actually something really minor, but finishing the little quest for Mick and Ralph that awarded you with the "Pimp-boy 3 billion" was just so unexpected, it made me laugh quite a bit, with the intro music and the ridiculousness of it all. Especially since in my game, maybe as a result of some glitch, the pimp boy showed crooked, as if that was how a real "pimp" would look at his pip-boy, like the silly ways they do everything else. And my pip boy is now forever pimped, and crooked. Haha. Yes, that has to be my favorite moment of 2010.
  • ItsBetterThanStickingYourCockInABlender - December 30, 2010 11:55 p.m.

    cool article mikel. maybe someone should do lamest video game moments aswel ;) spoiler alert: [verb] party on wii is #1
  • BrunettePride - December 30, 2010 11:14 p.m.

    Yes Man. The most terrifyingly happy character in any game this year. End of. I love him.
  • QLev - December 30, 2010 10:40 p.m.

    *Spoilers in both paragraphs* I just beat RDR today, and John's death had already been spoiled multiple times, but it still felt like a punch the gut. That's impressive when a spoiled ending can still have the desired emotional effect. I only thought RDR was an upper-average game for most of the game, but the last third or so (around when you start fighting for the revolutionaries) jumped it up to really great for me. But honestly out of all of the moments this year, Reach's ending was the strongest for me. When "Objective: Survive" came up, and I slowly realized what was happening, I just wanted to turn off the game so I wouldn't have to do it (I didn't of course). But I realize most people didn't connect with Reach's campaign as much as I did so I can see how that may not have effected everyone.
  • JADENkOTOR - December 30, 2010 9:06 p.m.

    The RDR thing is almost as overrated as the game itself. It was kinda nice I guess but its not one of the most memorable moments of the year.
  • Grif - December 30, 2010 8:26 p.m.

    That Ewok thing made my day. Wonderful article.

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