The Platinum Chalice Awards 2010

Looking for categories like Best PSP Driving Game? Greatest Achievement in Control Layout, Artistic? Eastern European Developer Most Worth Watching in 2011? Then our end-of-year awards might not be for you.

GamesRadar's Platinum Chalices are different. We're not interested in checking off a massively tedious list of genres, platforms and technical subdivisions… we'd much rather focus on the stuff that makes this hobby, you know, fun. And reward whichever games delivered the most of that stuff.

So if you're looking for the best fan service, most satisfying gore or greatest achievement in old-school kickassery in 2010, you've definitely come to the right celebration. Let's get it started…

WINNER: Final Fantasy XIII

Square-Enix is famous for creating the best CG in videogames, but such stunning cutscenes have always been a double-edged sword. Although they're a treat to watch, they also make the in-engine graphics look ugly by comparison, causing a jarring demarcation between the two.

That is, until Final Fantasy XIII. This is the first game (and the only, to date) where the actual gameplay is very nearly as gorgeous, detailed and fluid as the top-of-the-line cutscenes, to the point where the difference is barely noticeable. The flawlessness of every visual aspect – the environments, character models, textures and animation – is simply unparalleled. From the tiny blemishes on Lightning's skin (you can see pores!) to the way Fang's hair moves in the breeze, and from the lush, far-as-the-eye-can-see expanse of Pulse to the garish, claustrophobic spectacle of Cocoon's futuristic metropolis, every meticulous detail comes together to create one of the most graphically impressive experiences in gaming history.

Red Dead Redemption

Open world games must usually sacrifice detail for size, and beauty for freedom of movement. Not Red Dead Redemption. Every environment John Marston rides through is as pretty as a postcard, to the point that we remember enjoying a slow Mexican sunset or gazing at the Western night sky more clearly – and more fondly – than any of the game's gunfights.


WINNER: God of War III

For the love of Zeus’ thick and mythical beard, not the eyes, Kratos! Not the eyes! Wow, you’ve totally gouged out that poor deity’s peepers. Good for you. Oh what’s this? Another pesky god you could potentially kill in ruinous fashion and then steal their power? Look, Helios’ ability to blind enemies is pretty cool, we can’t deny. But can’t you two just talk thing… HOLY SHIT! You’ve just ripped off his entire head with your bare hands! Ewww, there’s bits of neck flesh everywhere.

While Kratos’ PS2 adventures were always bloody like a black pudding buffet, God of War III really takes the cake… and then murders said cake horribly… possibly involving the really unwholesome use of candles. Thanks to the Zipper Tech Sony Santa Monica perfected, The Ghost of Sparta was able to gut enemies and then see their entrails spill out in front of him in horrendously realistic fashion. And don’t even get us started on Kratos caving Hercules’ face in with nothing but his revenge-obsessed fists. Our therapy sessions are long enough as it is.


A precisely-gauged headshot is a satisfying thing. A precisely-gauged headshot from three-quarters of a mile away, landed by manually steering your (explosive) bullet from barrel to brain, over, under and around vehicle, soldier and scenery alike, until the glorious moment you turn the skull of that pesky sniper into a red and black fountain of goop? Incandescent.


WINNER: Kirby's Epic Yarn

From the moment we first saw Epic Yarn, we knew it was destined for greatness. The E3 2010 reveal melted the hearts of everyone in the room and this award was practically handed over right then and there. Kirby’s always been cute, but as we said in the review, it was a focus-tested kind of cute; of course people will find a pink puffball adorable! But now, recreated in transforming, malleable yarn, Kirby became truly, undeniably D’AWWWWWWWW

There’s more, of course. Prince Fluff, Kirby’s blue buddy, is just as huggable. The world itself is a mix between a story book and a fabric store come to life. Even the music is slathered with an infectious charm we couldn’t help but swoon over. Oh yeah and the game’s pretty good too.

Costume Quest

Costume Quest managed to recreate the magical excitement of the time-honored tradition of begging at your neighbors' doors for candy in this downloadable title. From the charming costumes, to the unique commentary from the kids on the streets, to the creative plot of saving your sibling from candy-stealing monsters before curfew, it was difficult to not be in awe of this delightful RPG.


WINNER: Epic Mickey

Previous recipients of this award include Kingdom Hearts II, but you’re going to have to take our word when we say that Epic Mickey blows it away in terms of sheer service volume. Obviously, Disneyana has decidedly less pull with most of you reading this than something like Final Fantasy, Smash Bros, or Marvel. Yet as far as authentically serenading fans goes, the appeal of these cartoons extends to a much broader audience, and nobody - certainly none of those aforementioned titles - have been doing it as long as Disney, nor do they have the enormous character roster to cherry pick from.

See our 50 Disney references in Epic Mickey? That was by no means comprehensive – it’s merely what we noticed in the first fraction of the game. Not only might you spot things we didn’t, the gameplay might take you places we never even visited. Even more impressively, Epic Mickey isn’t afraid to put the ignored, forgotten and far less popular relics of Disney history – the characters and movies overshadowed by Pirates of the Caribbean and Hannah Montana for the past decade – front and center. You don’t have to appreciate the inclusions of Horace Horse Collar or the Nautillus sub from the shuttered 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride, but you should damn sure respect them.


Bayonetta was more than just a fantastic hack-and-slasher with an impossibly sexy heroine – it was also crammed to its heaving, voluptuous gills with nerdy game references. Most were callbacks to classic Sega games, but there were plenty of nods to Capcom and the games Platinum made when it was still Clover Studios, and we compiled as many as we could find in this article.


WINNER: Deadly Premonition

On paper, Deadly Premonition is one of the crappiest games of this or any other year. Everything about it – its graphics, gameplay, structure, writing and acting – is objectively terrible by current-gen standards. And yet somehow, when you combine all those things, it suddenly becomes one of the best, most endlessly memorable experiences on offer this year.

Hokey as it may sound, a lot of that is down to the obvious love and creative energy DP’s creators lavished on the game. The story of an FBI agent (with a split personality and coffee-based fortune-telling abilities) on the trail of a supernatural serial killer (with glowing eyes and an army of mouthy zombies), Deadly Premonition has heart in a way that few other games do. Yes, pretty much everything you can see or do is kind of crappy – but there’s so much of it, and you can interact with it in so many strange ways, frequently with dialogue that sounds like it was written by Ed Wood after a marathon viewing of every ‘80s film ever made.

Above: Here’s a little sample

It’s a hell of an achievement to be so awful and so amazing at the same time. What kind of monsters would we be if we didn’t recognize it?


While nowhere near as “bad” as Deadly Premonition, Nier was still an ugly, all-around mediocre game, with dull combat and side-quests so boring that even the quest-givers seemed amazed you’d want to take them on. However, hiding under all that cruddiness were an amazing story, interesting characters and gameplay that radically shifted genre whenever it liked. That didn’t quite eclipse the flaws, but it did help us forget them.

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  • anduin1 - January 25, 2011 2:43 a.m.

    I swear it looks like you guys just pulled categories out of your ass just to give a game an award. Most cute? Best fanservice? Good god.
  • GamesRadarCharlieBarratt - December 15, 2011 6:27 p.m.

    You're right. "Best strategy game" and "Best sound design" are totally more fun / interesting.
  • evermore9871 - January 10, 2011 10:05 a.m.

    Yea ummm Deadly Premonition has the worst graphics/cutscenes......
  • randilon - January 3, 2011 6:18 p.m.

    hey best soundtrack coulda been shatter too! at least runner up... anyways Scott pligrim does the job too :D
  • CanadianBeaverHunter - January 1, 2011 1:45 p.m.

    Look forward to this feature each December. Enjoyable read.
  • meh - December 27, 2010 9:49 p.m.

    How did I know everyone was gonna blow Red Dead and Mass Effect? Ugh. Don't get me wrong, I loved Red Dead, and I'm sure ME 2 is awesome, its just something sets me off about it. I dunno.
  • thing1amc - December 27, 2010 6:58 p.m.

    Mass Effect 2 is a game of almighty proportions. It deserved to win for the fact that sacrifices nothing: fantastic combat, beautiful visuals, a perfect cast, an amazing soundtrack, and the best story told in a videogame since bioshock. Red Dead, although fun, masters none of these even close to as well as Bioware's Space epic.
  • bugcatcherjason - December 27, 2010 5:36 a.m.

    I'm just glad to see Bioshock 2 somewhere on this list. YES, THIS GAME DID NOT SUCK. Thank you
  • BadCompanyBrik - December 25, 2010 9:12 a.m.

    ME2 for me. I don't know why, but I couldn't even bring myself to finish RDR. After a while, I just felt like it stopped bringing anything new to the table. I do appreciate a good story, but the story in RDR was not going to get me to slave through hours of gameplay that was rapidly getting increasingly mediocre. The core gameplay is too repitive, and not nearly varied enough. And I'm not too big a fan of single player games in the first place. That's why I was so surprised by ME2. I never played ME1, and the only reason I tried ME2 is because my brother bought it used. In general, once the gameplay in a singleplayer game dries up, that's it for me. It just ends there, because the opponents (the programmed, non adapting computer) is never going to bring anything new to the table. But the gameplay in ME2 is so varied. If you take 6 class setups, then 6 squad members (because to be fair, 4 of them are used for a pretty limited amount of time), that's 6 (classes) by 6 (squad members) by 5 (remaining squad members), or 180 different ways to play the levels. Then there's the infinite variety in the final mission, trying to figure out who'll live, who'll die, damnit Chambers died she's supposed to give an erotic dance ( :p ). And your actions affect the future in overt or subtle ways. Some games claim that your actions affect the future. Fable II, as an example (haven't played III), claims that your actions affect your world. There's just the one switch for the neighbourhood with the fliers, and then it's just your appearance and people being scared of you. That's it. You can just skip away through dialog, say whatever you want, and you don't care. But in ME2, you know that every line of dialog has potential consequences on your relations with other characters, and on what happens in the outside world. Especially since you might be importing characters into ME3. And lastly, the devs have an amazing way of making me chuckle throughout the game. They have a great sense of humour. They have satirical references to debates about religious freedom and 'Nigerian Prince' ads as well as great original little dialogs you hear when you're walking around that never cease to put a smile on my face. "Humans are a blight on the galaxy. You sir! You are a blight!"
  • 2cute2Bcruel - December 22, 2010 4:55 a.m.

    FF XIII's menus are gorgeous.
  • Spartan-N7 - December 21, 2010 4:27 p.m.

    I would have done ME2, but Red Dead Redemption definitely earns the award. Both games were perfect 10s in my book.
  • Tymiegie - December 21, 2010 12:40 a.m.

    Another great Platinum Chalice awards. Cannot wait to read the anti-awards!!!!!
  • GodofPS314 - December 20, 2010 11:29 p.m.

    For the last 3 years, you guys have given the game of the year to a game that got a nine out of ten... so why?
  • Lefty2005 - December 20, 2010 7:41 p.m.

    No!!! Mass Effect 2 is sooooo much better than RDR. John Marston is a great character and many parts of RDR were amazing(fantastic ending! even though spoiled by Talk Radar (Elston)!) but with exception of planet scanning ME2's pacing was fantastic and to me the game was rivetting from beginning to end. Forgive the hyperbole, but ME2 is my #1 game ever. I have never been so consistently amazed by a game of ME2's size and scope. Otherwise, good job with the awards.
  • jackthemenace - December 20, 2010 6:45 p.m.

    Bayonetta or Mass Effect 2 didn't even win ONE PROPER, full award! SCANDAL!!!
  • TheCloakandDagger - December 20, 2010 9:19 a.m.

    Nice to see Civ V and Vanquish win some awards. They were great games.
  • Ravenbom - December 20, 2010 1:16 a.m.

    I think the Most Original Rip-Off is 3D Dot Game Heroes, personally.
  • suicidalpigeon - December 20, 2010 1:03 a.m.
  • elmaropwnz - December 20, 2010 12:10 a.m.

    what happened to black oops? and new vegas was pretty good maybe best spin-off? and best shooter? i guess that is just what makes this list different than the others, except RDR that's everyone's game of the year, other than the trolls
  • Skykid - December 19, 2010 10:48 p.m.

    GOTY: CoD Black Ops Runner up: Halo Reach Accept no substitutes for awesomeness. For me, ME2 was no more than a scifi weepfest with guns. Can't argue the graphics choice. They were superb.