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The Platinum Chalice Awards 2010

WINNER: BioShock 2

"We thought BioShock 2 was a mistake." That's the very first line of our review, and we weren't kidding around. The original game was so revered in the GamesRadar offices that the announcement of a sequel – less than a year later, and without the direct involvement of lead designer Ken Levine – worried all of us, bothered some of us and straight up angered at least one of us.

But, as we admit a little later in the review, we were wrong. BioShock 2 is just as good as its predecessor overall and, in some significant ways, better. The guns are more satisfying, the plasmid combination is more creative, the characters are more sympathetic, the enemies are more sinister… Andrew Ryan never threw anything as terrifying as a Big Sister your way. And while the origin of the hero may not prove as mind-blowing a mystery, it does prove more motivating.

Don't take the title of this award as a backhanded compliment, then. Instead, consider us pleasantly – and gratefully – surprised.


Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light

Most agreed that Lara Croft's formula could use some tweaking, but a twin-stick shooter? Quite the bizarre shift, and yet it worked surprisingly well, providing spectacular shootouts and platforming, as well as a clever co-op based puzzle system. Trust us on the latter – Guardian of Light was 2010's best method for convincing your non-gamer boyfriend or girlfriend to pick up a controller and play along.

 

WINNER: Red Steel 2

Just yesterday we sang the praises of Red Steel 2, but for the sake of really getting our point across, we’ll say it again – this is the best FPS on Wii, period. In a rare surprise, the Wii MotionPlus sword controls really make you feel like a badass samurai, able to slash, slice, crush and sneak-stab any number of enemies in just a few seconds. Your abilities start off rather meager, then escalate as the story progresses. By then end, you’re practically engaging in first-person, Devil May Cry-style fisticuffs with roomfuls of baddies.

On top of the controls are the visuals, which, in another welcome surprise, look mighty fine even in 480p. Ubi dropped the drab style of the first game (along with everything else) and replaced it with a Borderlands-esque sci-fi Western feel, including a strong soundtrack that would be right at home in new episodes of Firefly. We know you probably won’t, but… you really should check this out with an open mind and see what happens.


Just Cause 2

Better physics, more stuff to hijack, faster action and lots of opportunities to creatively ruin things make the difference in this amazing sequel. There are beautiful vistas for your eyes at every turn in the game from daunting snow-topped mountains right down to the sun-kissed beaches. Throw in a new tether system to snag pursuing vehicles to each other and you’ve got yourself one hell of a stunning world to play in.

 

WINNER: StarCraft II

StarCraft II didn't even attempt to offer players a new or unique RTS experience.  That's because it didn't have to… after 12 years, the original was still the unsurpassed and definitive benchmark of the real-time strategy genre, regardless of whether you were drawn to the campaign or to the competition.

Which is why we love this sequel. Blizzard didn't bother reinventing the wheel – the company wisely chose to repaint, polish and perfect the wheel instead, adding better graphics, better units, balanced races, the slick new Battle.net and more actions-per-minute than a South Korean pro clicker to what is basically the same gameplay formula. In other words, you can micro-manage your economy and army just like you've done for the past decade, but now you don't have to feel like an obsolete old geezer for doing so.


Rock Band 3

The truth? We’re sick of rhythm action games. So why care about Rock Band 3? Because it doesn’t just preserve the genre’s original magic. It enables us to make our own magic, teaching us the real guitar, drum, and keyboard parts. Simulation? Not anymore. This is reality. And it rocks.

 

WINNER: Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

Even those of you who don’t care about multiplayer will want to take notice of this one. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood’s multiplayer is based around a simple concept, but one that hasn’t ever really been explored in videogames (except for maybe in the 2007 PC title The Ship): every player, working alone, has to track down another player randomly selected as his or her target. At the same time, everyone’s being hunted by at least one other person. But what makes it especially interesting is that multiplayer matches unfold in crowded environments, filled with NPCs that look exactly like you and all of your opponents.

Success comes from being able to find your targets without your pursuers finding you, which means you’ll have to do your best to blend in. That means no running, no attacking and definitely no running around on rooftops – unless, of course, you think you can get away with it. That tension, combined with the thrill of getting the drop on other players who think they’re staying hidden, makes Brotherhood’s multiplayer this year’s most unique online experience – as well as its most uniquely satisfying.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit

Online racing has always been a mess of quitters, dicks and noobs, so Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit deserves the multiplayer equivalent of a Nobel Peace Prize for making sense of it all. Beating friend-specific records via the Autolog is ridiculously addictive, yet the multiple victories made possible by the titular Cops vs. Crooks mode is the reason you’ll find more of us racing online over any FPS this season.

 

WINNER: Darksiders

Darksiders' biggest influence isn't clear right away. At first, one might think it's a God of War clone, what with the combo-based combat, and the angry protagonist up against celestial forces. Later on, though, the main inspiration becomes glaringly obvious, and yet it's utterly unexpected for such a grim apocalypse tale: Darksiders borrows its entire quest structure, special items and puzzle-boss approach from Zelda! There's the hook shot, the boomerang, a horse you can call to your side, dungeons with chests that provide maps and even "heart containers" – you almost expect the notes "duh-duh-duh-DUH" to play when you find a new item.

And yet the game is still so much fun, so compelling with its imaginative world and visceral combat that no one cared it was a blatant rip-off. Creative Director Joe Madureira's comic book chops shined through in every chunky character design, every slightly cartoony crumbled building or demonic spire jutting into the sky and we can’t wait to see where the series will go next.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

If ever the word "pastiche" could apply to a game, Lords of Shadow is it. Smash together God of War, Shadow of the Colossus, perhaps some Tomb Raider/Uncharted and bits from a hundred other games and you get… Castlevania? It’s a baffling soup of influences, but damn if it doesn’t come together beautifully… in no small part due to a magic system that actually is original. The voice of Patrick Stewart certainly doesn't hurt either.

 

WINNER: Dance Central

Motion controls. Over the years these two words have brought on more teeth-gnashing than praise from gamers. Gamers don't want to waggle a remote to simulate bowling or wave a controller to slash through an enemy.
So when Microsoft announced that it too was jumping into the motion control fray the collective eye roll of gamers worldwide almost shifted the earth's axis. Exclaiming "You are the controller!" Kinect took a look at Sony and Nintendo, stuck its tongue out and then proceeded to hype up the same damn trivial sports/pets/minigames titles.

Then came Dance Central. Harmonix created a game that utilized motion control to its full extent in a game where it made the most sense. Dancing, regardless of how well you can do it, requires that you get up and move. The technology behind Kinect was tailor made for a game where mimicking choreographed moves can be accurately tracked to see how well you're tearing up the dance floor of your living room. And, while it can be argued that the motion control technology behind the Kinect is the best out of the three, Dance Central is the game that made flailing around in front of your TV fun.

115 comments

  • 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.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_h5rhJ4Too&feature=recentlik
  • 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.

Showing 1-20 of 115 comments

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