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The 12 Awesomest Games of 2010

2010 should be an awesome year. At least for those of us outside the Bird Flu Plague Zone. And for those of us not fighting in the wars against Iran, North Korea, Syria, China, Iraq and Afghanistan. For us, it'll all be about the games ...

These are the glorious games glowing down at us from the peak of the 360/Wii/PS3 generation, when developers will be making the hardware sing and when every PC will have 8 gigabytes of RAM to play with. Games like ...

Mass Driver
360/PS3

"This load of heroin has to be in Philadelphia in 10 minutes. And, Philadelphia is 150 miles away."

"Don't worry. I know just the guy."

Mass Driver is Grand Theft Auto at 1,000 miles an hour. Your character has the magical ability to enhance the acceleration of any boat, airplane, car, truck, tractor, tank or little red wagon to insane, mach-plus speeds, thundering across a game world hundreds of miles wide. Get going too fast and the vehicles can burn up in the atmosphere. The only way to slow down is by smashing through buildings, trees, mountains, other cars, livestock and crowded amusement parks ...


Screenshot by bakudai


... with each errand ending with charred damage proportional to the brutal laws of mass and velocity.




Add in a slow-motion feature to see the looks on your roadkill's faces milliseconds before impact, and you've got a crank-addled adrenaline-junkie game for the discerning lunatic. This could be the game that finally makes Jack Thompson take up arms.


Star Wars: Jedi Saga
Wii

First of all, this is real Wii swordfighting. Not that half-hearted "flick to activate sword swing No. 1" Red Steel crap. Real lightsaber fighting, the glowing blade mapped to your Wiimote.

And, it's every lightsaber battle from all six movies. You lightsaber your way right the damn hell through waves of storm troopers, then the boss battle is some famous duel from the movies. Darth Maul, Count Dooku, that one retarded four-armed robot thing with the completely unprotected heart, all of them, leading up to a climactic duel with Darth Vader.

In the bonus levels, you get to switch sides and cut down the good guys.


Screenshot by Phanderus


Then, if you beat the whole game, unlocking every secret, you get to lightsaber George Lucas. Just screams and burning flannel, man, I'm telling you.


DC vs. Marvel Superhero Brawl
360/PS3

Us survivors of the Cold War know one thing: If superpower ever meets superpower, everybody in the vicinity is getting fucked up. Therefore, any game that features superheroes fighting that doesn't also feature them knocking down entire buildings with each errant blow, is nothing but filthy digital lie. See THIS VIDEO for evidence:


Further research can be found in the climax of Matrix: Revolutions.

That's why Superhero Brawl gives you 10 city blocks to annihilate. If you want to damage Iron Man, you got to fling his ass through a building ...



... and if you really want to damage him, throw him through the foundation and make the freaking building collapse on top of him. Throw him into a tanker truck hauling rocket fuel, throw him into the core of a nuclear reactor and trigger a meltdown.

Do it right, and the last minute of each fight will look like a nuclear aftermath, smoke and rubble stretching to the horizon.

This is the scale of game Sony implied the PS3 could pull off during their ridiculous hype campaign. Let's see if they can live up to it.


World War Omega
PC

This is the Combined Arms Simulator PC gamers have been dreaming about from the first time a shot was fired in anger over a modem. A sprawling world war, a Battlefield 2 but with one gargantuan, persistent map that everybody plays on.

There'll be AI units to do grunt jobs like holding positions and supply lines. There'll be RPG elements like statistics, character growth, and chain of command "guilds."

And, Normandy-sized invasions with 5,000 players.


Screenshot by Mortal Wombat


Oh, hell yeah.

Give the Chinese control of one army and the United States control of the other, and we'll fight all of our wars this way. Nobody gets hurt except the millions of neglected girlfriends.


Total Kung Fu
Wii

This is for all of us who secretly think those Dance Dance Revolution style rhythm games look like fun but fear they'll threaten our sexuality.

Total Kung Fu has the same frantic, spastic stepping and flailing as DDR ...



... only instead of dance moves, your movements are translated to vicious, bone-crunching kicks and punches.



We're talking lightning-fast blurred fists, '70s kung fu movie-style fighting where punching and blocking is done with the same desperate, heart-pounding frenzy it takes to keep up with the beat in the harder levels of DDR. You wouldn't even need a floor pad, just an extra Wiimote and nunchuck to strap to your ankles.

Also: Online Multiplayer. Yes, it's tough to do for a rapid-fire twitch fighting game. But this is 2010, Nintendo. Figure it out.


Hard Cell
360/PS3

Ah, who can forget the first time we directed the guy on the screen to walk across a narrow catwalk suspended over lava, only to have the guy turn to the screen and say, "Eat my fuckmeat, muchacho! In case you didn't know, lava is hot."

Hard Cell is a third-person game where you control an avatar that isn't particularly happy about being controlled. You can see the character and you can give him commands, but he doesn't necessarily agree with your goal.

Doing a good job of not getting your character hurt or killed will make him happier, filling your "Rapport Meter." Filling the meter makes him faster, more responsive, and overall more willing to work with you rather than against you. But lead him into dead ends, forget to take time to find food, fail to look out for his safety ...


Screenshot by eddie_lummox


... and things get ugly.

You're working with a deep (that is, well-written) and complex character, operating from the most advanced A.I. ever to appear in a game. You'll build trust, you'll become friends.

Which you'll think is great, until the end of the game when you find out you have to sacrifice his life to win. This is an hours-long affair during which he will lie bleeding on the floor, screaming "WHY, DAVID? WHY?!?!?" over and over again at the screen. Did I mention that the guy knows your name?


Whipping Boy
Wii

Here's the secret of the Wii. In the markets where Wii Sports isn't included as a pack-in game, and you have to buy it separately, it still outsells Zelda: Twilight Princess. Why?

It's the boxing. Punching something with your actual fist wrapped around the Wiimote is enormously satisfying. It taps into something primal, releases those violence endorphins that fuel all mankind. Hell, even in tennis, the satisfying THOCK! from the Wiimote speaker when the racket smacks the ball, plus the rumble jolting your hand with the impact ... you can just feel the frustrations of the day lifting through the soothing salve of simple violence.

So you take Wii Sports Boxing, add in the most detailed character creation system the hardware can handle (after all, wrestling games have been perfecting this for years). Let me create the exact replica of my old boss, or my neighbor who kicked my dog, whoever. Their voices, too, we'll have a huge range of sound clips and accents to pick from so they sound almost like the real life counterpart. And then, we beat the shit out of them.

The Wi-Fi connection will let gamers somehow download and trade whipping boys, borrowing from people who have made perfect Tom Cruise or George Bush dummies. They can even download user-created custom weapons to beat them with ...


Screenshot by oball


And that's it, that's the whole game. What else does it need? You come home, in a bad mood. You turn on your Wii, you pound your tormentor until you feel better. It'll be the first game to ever sell 50 million copies.


Deconstructionist
Wii

Take Whipping Boy even further. Here you work for a demolition company. You got that job because you happen to be a gigantic robot.

Take the Wiimote and nunchuck and guide your crushing robotic hands to tear out walls and roofs and support beams with the satisfying sound of snapping timber and crumbling stone.


Screenshot by Carson Vandertruck


It's not just mindless smashing. You've got to take out this building without damaging the ones next to it, you've got to make it fall a certain direction or collapse in its own footprint, etc. Until you get to a level where there's an emergency and you've got to clear two blocks in two minutes, then it is just a mindless, frantic rampage of destruction.

Seriously, you're going to see workplace violence drop through the floor once these bastards hit the shelves. I feel less murderous just talking about it.


Killchain
360/PS3

A puzzle game for people who hate puzzle games and love brutal death. In Killchain you are an assassin who has no weapons, and no fighting skill. What you can do, is freeze time.

So, with each level you'll find yourself in a bustling city, then, time will slow until all of the people are frozen like statues. You can then position any person or object, arranged so that once time resumes you'll create a chain reaction of chaos that will ultimately kill the target.

Cut the brake lines on this car over here, make this lady spill her groceries, set this dog so that it runs across the sidewalk, event triggering event in a ridiculously roundabout Rube Goldberg chain of accidents.


Screenshot by eddie_lummox


By level 12, you're trying to kill a target who's two miles away, on the sixth floor of a locked office building. By level 30 you'll be studying the TV watching habits of your target, realizing he watches baseball every afternoon, then sneaking onto an airfield, reprogramming a plane's flight path so that it crashes into the stadium where his favorite team is playing, the sight of which will give him a fatal heart attack.

Winning will take thought, patience, creativity and the ability to think outside the box. Who says you can't stimulate those things and have grotesque decapitations in the same game?

H vs. Z
360/PS3

It starts out as a standard zombie-killing game, you and your strike force beating back the hordes of the undead as they slowly take over the civilized world. You take out the undead, you level up in strength and experience, you get better weapons. But in H vs. Z, if you get bitten, or get bitten enough times, you become a zombie.

And, you stay a zombie. You're now preying on your squad mates, eating their flesh to upgrade your own strength. As a zombie you can "smell" their internal organs so you can pick out the choicest meat needed to upgrade your zombie skills.




The whole time your former mates are begging and screaming your name, saying "FRANK! It's me! Don't you recognize me! FRAAAAANK UGGGGHHhhh ..."

Your game is stored on a locked file on the hard drive. Reset the game, you're still a zombie. You can't change it. Not until you finish the game. Hey, that's life.

World of Starcraft
PC

This is the gaming version of the flying car. Everybody wants it, nobody wants to give it to us. It was even the subject of a famous April Fool's hoax on Gamespot.com.



Starcraft stands today as the most compelling fictional world ever created in gaming. The three-way
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