The Platinum Chalice Awards 2010

WINNER: Vanquish

For the duration of its roughly six-hour runtime (and especially the entirety of its insane opening act), Vanquish is almost nothing but “oh shit!” moments. Oh shit! You’re charging up a sci-fi replica of Omaha Beach as massive space warships crash all around you! Oh SHIT! Now you’re taking on a giant robot with guns for hands that turns into a walking tank! OH SHIT! NOW YOU’RE ON A LITERAL ROLLERCOASTER SHOOTING AT UPSIDE-DOWN ROBOTS AT IMPOSSIBLE SPEEDS! GRRRAAAAHHHHH!!!


The game does such an excellent job of constantly throwing new, life-threatening stuff your way that it’s impossible to get complacent. Especially not when you’re mowing through a horde of red metal communists while rocket-sliding in slow motion on your knees. Best of all, the way to succeed against all the nonsense being hurled at your face isn’t to cower or to try and strategize your way around it – it’s to charge headlong into danger like a crazy idiot, guns blazing and metal gauntlets flying. Go balls-out, and Vanquish rewards you by doing the same, packing more action into its “short” runtime than most games do over three sequels.


The spectacular fight on the falling clock tower at the start gave us a sneaky suspicion that we were about to be gobsmacked for the next 10 hours, but we never imagined it would be like this. Very few games let you throw a church at a boss. Bayonetta does.


WINNER: Civilization V

What were you expecting, StarCraft II? WoW: Cataclysm? Put those playthings aside, kids – Civilization is the original time murderer. Well, not really – that distinction might go to Solitaire, which became popular in early 19th Century France... but whatever! The Civilization series has been blockading the productivity of otherwise-healthy members of society since 1991, and it just won’t stop. Civilization V is the most engrossing, “oh-shit-the-sun-is-coming-up” single-player experience released this year.

It doesn’t rely on MMO-style gimmicks or repetitive multiplayer matches to keep you away from your loved ones. No, it has its own devious methods, the most notable of which being that it’s so deep it ought to have a lifeguard. Yeah, technically the actions are repetitive, but it never feels repetitive - each new campaign offers new challenges. And once you start a game...

Civ V won’t let you go. You can quit. You can shut down your computer. You can try to sleep. But it’s still there. Units need orders. Science needs researching. You should send a settler to that a beautiful plot of land to the east. You should finish those roads, too. You should turn your computer back on. You should double-click that icon. You should come back… come back… it’s inevitable.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

An average RPG lasts 40 hours, but ask any avid World of Warcraft player how much time they've logged with the MMO and the answer could be months – even years! Consider that Cataclysm is officially the fastest-selling PC game of all time, with 3.3 million copies sold in the first 24 hours, and we feel pretty confident predicting that WoW's expansion will consume more gaming hours per capita than anything else in 2010.



Like a single raindrop that somehow triggers a tsunami, sometimes the smallest games have the largest impacts. Just like Portal in ‘07, Braid in ’08, and Flower last year, Limbo is a quirky, atmospheric, bite-sized game that can be completed in a day … but which you’ll likely never forget. Because like those earlier titles, it completely erases the line between “game” and “experience”, between “art” and “entertainment”, between “playing” and “feeling”.

At first glance, this melancholy puzzle platformer doesn’t look like much. It doesn’t even look finished by today’s standards – 2D, black and white, no cut scenes and not one single line of dialogue, and a two-button control scheme that would even have worked with a NES controller. Yet, these stark, modest pieces form the year’s most memorable game world. Limbo may use simple words, but it speaks in one of the most unique and gorgeous languages gamers have ever heard – even if we don’t always agree about what it’s saying.

Almost all of the games that came out in 2010 cost more than Limbo. Almost all are bigger, flashier, and take longer to complete. Not one will move you more deeply.


WINNER: Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

The cutscenes in Enslaved aren't just watchable. They're, by far, the best reason to seek out and play this overlooked game. We enjoyed swinging, climbing, punching and shooting through waves of robot armies with hero Monkey, but not nearly as much as we loved witnessing his too-tough-to-give-a-shit demeanor slowly and inevitably melt away in the trusting, wide-eyed presence of heroine Trip. And yeah, it was funny when fat little third wheel Pigsy dangled helplessly from that submarine in the underwater mission, but not nearly as hilarious as the following cutscene that showed him crammed inside said submarine with a priceless expression of discomfort frozen upon his sweaty face.

Enslaved doesn't rely entirely on voice acting and direction, either, though both are stellar. The motion-capturing technology used by developer Ninja Theory on actors such as Andy Serkis (aka Gollum) is so precise and so convincing that you can often read every important element of a scene from a single nonverbal cue, like the lift of an eyebrow or the curl of a lip. The uncanny valley has nothing on Enslaved.

Red Dead Redemption

Faces are impressive in Red Dead Redemption, too – especially the believable wear, tear and age that Rockstar used to uglify its early 20th-century cast. What amazes us most about the game's cutscenes, however, is the unexpected tenderness in the writing. GTA's snark and immaturity has been replaced with a sad, soulful tone that cares for each character, no matter how perverse, and longs for a past now gone forever.


WINNER: ModNation Racers

The racing in ModNation Racers is average at best. The real reason we spent countless hours with it is the fantastic track editor. Taking the "Play Create Share" ethos of LittleBigPlanet and applying it to the kart racer was a masterstroke. Auto-populate is fine, but place everything by hand and you soon realize this is one of the best creation tools in any game ever.

Scale trees, deform terrain… even add giant sheep to your hidden shortcuts. We did. And check out the OutRun, Daytona and Mario Kart 64 tracks we made here and, of course, our Dizzy-themed opus.

Gran Turismo 5

Yeah, so GT5 only scored 7/10 in our review, but the online community features are rather special, particularly if you're a car collection fetishist. Sending your mates shiny new cars to satiate their Pokémon-style cravings feels great. Even if they don't send you one back in return. Sniff.


  • 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.

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