"You like what you like."
That's a phrase that Vic and I often repeat to one other while shooting the show. We say it on camera. We say it off camera. The only other phrase that even comes close to being repeated as often: "Let's stop here for coffee."
"You like what you like," of course, is shorthand for saying, "I am not going to go out of my way to understand StarCraft II, or Civ 5, or Gran Turismo 5. Yes, they are all well-made games. Yes, smart people made them. Yes, I admire those people. They worked very hard. Good for them. And yes, there are people out there in the world who are dying to play Gran Turismo 5. Also: good for them.
"But that does not mean that I am suddenly going to develop a taste for, say, the Gran Tursimo series, a series that I have despised for many years because of its lifeless, bloodless worlds. I am not going to hoist a game onto my shoulders and carry it around the stadium for a victory lap simply because 1. the rest of the world is doing so, and 2. I am supposed to follow suit.
"Because, in the end, on my death bed, as I am breathing my last breath and no doubt trying to get in one last game of Angry Birds 14 on the iPhone 11.5GSVX, when it's all said and done, all I can do is like what I like."
Here are the 10 games that I liked in 2010.
10. Vanquish (Sega, Platinum Games, 360/PS3)
I know! Trash. The dialogue is horrid. None of it makes a lick of sense. And it celebrates the most filthy habit in the world: SMOKING. DEAR KIDS: DON'T LISTEN TO THIS GAME. DO NOT SMOKE. IT IS NOT SEXY. SMOKING IS THE NUMBER ONE CAUSE OF NONSENSICAL GAMES. Regardless, I loved Vanquish. Shinji Mikami's games speak to me. He is my Sid Meier. Though Fumito Ueda would actually be my Sid Meier, if only he made more games. Sliding like Rickey Henderson between a mech-beast's legs in slow motion while peppering its mech-crotch with futuristic fire power thrilled me enough to make me forgive and forget the rest of the game's horse shit.
9. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (Eidos, Crystal Dynamics, XBLA/PSN)
With her ever-shrinking pair of shorts and ridiculously oversized mamms, this anachronism--she was practically left for dead on the side of Game Industry Highway a few short years ago--continued her campaign for relevancy with this superb game. My first impression, sexist as it is, was that the long distance, overhead perspective would diminish my fun, since I would no longer be able to, you know, see as much. Yet after the opening level, after sniffing out treasure the way my mother sniffs out bargains at Wal-mart, and solving puzzles--some of the best puzzles of the year in any game--and leveling up, man alive, did this game ever get its hooks into me.
8. Spider-man: Shattered Dimensions (Activision, Beenox, 360/PS3)
Fact: I could give a rat's ass about super heroes and super hero games. But if I have to spend 15 hours in someone's virtual tights, that someone without a doubt would be Spider-man. His versatility, in the air and on the ground, along with his Borscht Belt "zingers" make Superman, Batman, et al. all look like brooding bores. The art style, the first-person boss fights, and the constant channel surfing between dimensions--Amazing, Noir, 2099, and the symbiote-infected Ultimate--all effectively distracted me from the fact that I was basically hitting light attack and heavy attack buttons over and over again. Well done, Beenox.
7. GoldenEye 007 (Activision, Eurocom, Wii)
Never having been a Bond man, I loaded up the do-over of the 1997 classic with the lowest of expectations. The original game probably should win some sort of award for Worst-Aging Classic Game of All Time. There's a reason why it's hasn't received a Perfect Dark-style XBLA makeover, and that reason is because it's terrible. Yes, it was great in 1997. But trust me, your memories outstrip the actual experience.
The do-over and I, like Bond and Vesper in Casino Royale, did not get off to a good start. We bickered back and forth through the first few stages. It wasn't until I'd finally ditched the Classic Controller in favor of the nunchuck-Wii remote control scheme that this game and I fell madly, passionately in love. No game in history has ever delivered the stealth/fisticuffs/mow-them-all-down trifecta as well as this game does. Though I kept waiting for GoldenEye 007 to betray me at the end, just as Vesper does to Bond, it never did. As soon as the credits rolled, I immediately started playing it again. It's that good.
6. Bayonetta (Sega, Platinum Games, 360/PS3)
I know! More trash! This time, it's not Shinji Mikami but his cohort Hideki Kamiya who is to blame-admire (blamire?) for this stylish nonsense. Bayonetta managed to make even less sense than Vanquish did--no small feat--yet it was more exciting to play. I had no fucking idea what was going on in this game approximately 70-percent of the time. No joke. See if you can make sense of any of it by watching this. What made this game so remarkable was that it starred a witch with long, magic hair that can occasionally be turned into a hair-dragon. Which describes exactly zero other games in videogame history. And for that, Hideki Kamiya, I salute you. Pro Tip: Keep pressing buttons and jaw-dropping, amazing shit will continue to happen. Which, if you think about it, is really what videogames are all about.
[Five thru one of my like-what-I-like selections are on deck. I'll post them in a day or so. -Jones]