The Best Gaming Moments of 2010

For those who follow Morality Points on Twitter (@Moralitypts), you probably know that we’re not super keen for best games of any year. Frankly speaking, there’s not one game that I would call the best, as different parts of different games appeal to me for different reasons. So here are my top 5 gaming moments of 2010 (Note: this list is made up of games that I played this year, not every game released):

5. Intro Sequence to Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood Intro

Maybe it’s because I replayed Assassin’s Creed II right before starting Brotherhood, but for the first time in videogames, I didn’t mind being stripped of all my abilities and armor. And yes, Mass Effect 2, I’m looking at you. If Mass Effect 3 pulls this “cloned” Shepherd bullshit, I will take the disc out and use it as a coaster. But this opening was cool: racing through a burning villa, fending off the Borgia troops until everyone could escape, and then seeing the “ghosts” as Desmond enters the sanctuary in the modern time. Truthfully, there’s a part of me that likes this sequence because it’s the first time I don’t want to throttle Desmond.

4. Flying a helicopter in Battlefield: Bad Company 2

Here’s the thing about Battlefield games (and PC vets will know this more than anyone): everyone seems to have a hard-on for things that fly. The worst pilots are always the ones waiting for a helicopter (or bomber/fighter in Battlefield 1942/1943. Battle of Britain, anyone?) to spawn. However, there’s a reason for this. It’s awesome to rock the opposition from the air. I’ll never forget the time my amigo Taylor aka TheIrishFox strafed the opposition in Valparaíso. We were gee-dee heroes. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 stands out as one of my favorite shooters of 2010, just for the simple fact that it was the first time console players wanted to work together.

Battlefield Bad Company 2 helicopter

3. The first time you are Player of the Game in NBA 2K11

NBA 2K11 Player of the Game

Honestly, this moment is a tie with the excellent introduction cinematic to NBA 2K11. However, seeing your own personally created character pull off amazing shots, amplified by some stylish camera work and game footage, really makes the 2K11 experience shine above all other sports games for me. I’m not even that much of a sports videogame kind of guy, but NBA 2K11 won me over. Now, will I return for NBA 2K12? That depends if they can top this year’s package. Incremental roster updates will no longer suffice in my book.

2. “Long Night of Solace” in Halo: Reach

Yes, I am a sucker for the Halo series. As I look back on the Bungie tenure of the Halo saga, I have to say that this is the level of Halo I always wanted. From the first time I played “The Silent Cartographer” in Halo: Combat Evolved, I always dreamed of “Long Night of Solace.” I just didn’t know it. That moment of peace in between storming the beach and entering the Covenant super carrier—it just gets me. It’s a chance to reflect not only on what lies ahead, but the whole Halo experience. Of course, the other standout moment of Halo: Reach is the mission Lone Wolf, but as a long time Halo fan, I feel that “Long Night of Solace” is the fan service I had always craved. Thanks Bungie.

Halo Reach Space

Check after the break for the number one moment in gaming for 2010.

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Red Dead Redemption: El Gato en la Salvadera

As the resident Debbie Downer at Morality Points, I feel obliged to tell you that I am not completely in love with Red Dead Redemption. I wouldn’t say I hate it, but there are issues that totally put me off of the game at times. Let’s start from the top.

You are the man with no name, despite the fact that you do actually have a name and it is John Marston. Johnny boy is a bounty hunter and, as you find out pretty early on, a former outlaw. It is also hinted early on that you are working for the government unwillingly because they are holding your family. I say “hinted” loosely because even a comatose retarded blind kid could pick up on the subtle (sarcasm) hints. I don’t understand why they didn’t just come out and say it. It would have saved me the trouble of not being surprised when they revealed it near the end of the game. The story struck me as being really flat the entire time. I knew everything at the beginning and then nothing happened with it until the end. You hunt a couple of outlaws for the majority of the game, with hardly any story developments and then there is kind of a story at the end.

Speaking of hunting the outlaws, the simple enough sounding task was way too complicated. You are required to do a ton of errands for someone who just points you to another person who wants you to do a ton of errands just to tell you that the outlaw is still in Mexico. Although I enjoyed most of the errands, I felt like everyone was just wasting my time (and so does John, as he feels the need to constantly say it out loud).

That being said, the majority of the missions were well designed. You get to take part in some truly western activities like protecting a train on horseback or slaughtering Native Americans. High five! Unfortunately, the missions at the beginning of the game are pretty annoying. You learn to shoot and herd cattle. The latter pissed me off because the damn cows wouldn’t stay with the herd. I was glad to be done with it…until they made you do it some more at the end of the game. Screw farming, I want to kill people. I’ll buy Red Dead Rancher for the Wii when my tastes change. The other main issue I had with missions is how they make you show up to many of them at a certain time. What a pain in the ass. My time is precious.

Look at this D-bag. He's just waiting to escape.

I had a good anti-hero morality going for most of the game. I helped people, but I always made sure to include plenty of bloodshed. The random encounters with people in need kept popping up, but never felt unnatural. Sometimes I’d choose to ignore them if I was in a bad mood, but I’d usually help so I could kill more people and loot their corpses. They never have a lot of cash on them, but there is something about robbing a dead man that just brings tears of joy to my eyeballs. If you commit a crime, witnesses will report it and you will have a bounty on your head. You can pay it off or stand still until they arrest you. If you become honored enough, witnesses will not report your crimes until you commit a murder. It’s a pretty ironic perk, since it encouraged me to steal and kidnap more often.

Gameplay works fine. It is easy to change weapons (although I wish time froze when you pulled up the weapon menu like in Mass Effect) and there is a nice adjustable target assist to help you out. Sometimes I would have trouble aiming at what I was trying to shoot because the reticule would automatically jump to a different enemy or bird, in some cases. Overall it worked though. The controls feel natural, but there is one thing about the horse controls that I didn’t like. You have to keep spamming the A button to ride quickly. The problem is that if you are trying to go somewhere far away, which you always are, it would be nice if you could just hold a button down instead of having to constantly tap it.

And then there is Red Eye. If you click the analog stick, time slows down and you can mark and shoot like in Splinter Cell: Conviction. Red Eye works great if they are close, but if they are farther away, your guns aren’t as accurate so you miss a lot. Plus, even with time slowed down, Keanu Reeves can dodge your bullets.

Just Hanging Out.

As a western world, RDR’s Texico is pretty damn spot on. The visuals are vivid and beautiful aside from all the texture popping I saw every time I turned around. The towns feel real enough and the NPCs definitely keep up the illusion. Corrupt sherriffs hunt outlaws for revenge and whores litter the local saloons. I was a little mad that I couldn’t buy a whore. John Marston needed to get laid. He was really ugly. As a narcissist, I didn’t like playing such an ugly man. I am obviously extremely good-looking in real life. Moving on…this world is a sandbox, emphasis on the sand. I wish there were more towns and holdouts because most of this world is just desert.

GLITCHES!! Once a method of cheating other players in multiplayer, now glitches are a means for creating vast amounts of frustration. Lord knows I hate them. I am masterful at finding them and they always find me. The worst one was when I had to eliminate an enormous army of snipers and foot soldiers, but a sole sniper survived by glitching into a wall. He could shoot me, but I could not shoot him. I had to reload my last saved game and massacre everyone all over again. The same glitch appears in free roam multiplayer all the time. Other glitches include crashes, lockouts, freezes, collision issues, model loading, and hit detection.

Red Dead Redemption’s multiplayer is a big step up from GTA IV’s. There aren’t as many spawning issues and you can have plenty of fun just free roaming with a buddy. The level up system is average, at best, BUT you get to start out with a really cool donkey. That mule is such a stubborn ass. He runs away from you when you try to get on him. It was a little too frustrating for me. All around, the multiplayer is fun. You will not be disappointed with it. My problem is, however, that I know it will be boring in a month. I cannot see it being interesting after you’ve done everything you can do. It will end up as one of those games I pull out every few months to play a couple of times and then put back into hibernation on the shelf.

Despite what some people seem to think, RDR is not a near perfect game, sent from the heavens to herd lost souls and keep everyone on the path. It has a lot of faults and lacks luster in certain categories that other games shine in. I think it does a lot of things mediocre and a couple of things well. My favorite part was when I discovered that the NPCs enjoy killing prostitutes as much as I do.

The Good: Expansive world with a good western feel. Easy on the eyes. Natural feeling random events and missions. Well-done third person shooter mechanics.

The Bad: Not enough relevant story. Lots of glitches. Too much travel time. Corny dialogue. Too much mediocrity. I couldn’t buy a hooker.

The Verdict: Everyone should rent. Some should buy. Play first.

Written by Not Judas

Read Cool-C’s review here

Neutrally Chaotic does the two-step here (part 1) and here (part 2)

Red Dead Redemption Part 2: The Game with No Name

Red Dead Redemption Part 2: The Game With No Name

For those of you who read my multiplayer review of Red Dead Redemption, you might be expecting me to think that Red Dead Redemption’s single player is awesome. Unfortunately this isn’t correct. It’s not good; it’s simply the greatest single player experience I’ve had in recent memory, and as I try to think about other single player games, I’m  unable to think of any game ever that I’ve enjoyed more than Red Dead Redemption.

That’s a lot of hefty praise, but Red Dead Redemption earns every bit of it. There are features I wish were included in the game, some things I wish I could do but can’t, and some occasional glitches, but all in all Red Dead Redemption is the meanest, baddest, toughest rider this side of the Atari 2600.

The opening cinematic sets the tone of the entire game: the pacing of the story is slow, but for this is perfect for the content. For those complaining about Red Dead Redemption dragging, I’d like to point out this isn’t Liberty City. People don’t drive cars or have access to mobile phones. Red Dead Redemption is a period piece, a love letter to the lost West. The main character John Marston hints at a criminal past right from the get go, and it’s not too long until the player learns what’s driving him on his quest to hunt down his former bandit-in-arms.

For those thinking that Mass Effect 2 had memorable characters, I hope you’ve checked out Red Dead Redemption, because it’s characters are just as interesting and range from humorous to skin-tingling creepy. I’m not going to spoil anything, but my personal favorite is the snake oil salesman West Dickens, who uses John to prove the effectiveness of his “miracle” elixir. Sometimes I felt that Mr. Marston lost his patience a little too quickly with some of the early characters, but that might be because I played a lot of missions for a particular character back to back. I didn’t feel like riding out to a particular area to play a mission again.

West Dickens from Red Dead Redemption

Not that there isn’t a fast-travel feature in Red Dead Redemption—there is—but I never use it. In fact, I’m proud to say I never fast-traveled once during single player. Rockstar has done a great job with its virtual West, and to fast travel seems to ignore the hard work and polish evident throughout the game. Gone are the claustrophobic alleyways and fast-moving highways of Liberty City, and in their place are open expanses of plains and gorgeous ravines. I’ll never forget the first time I rode my horse up a trail winding along the side of a mountain. At the top, the sun lit up the screen, and the view opened up to a painting: a seemingly endless expanse of open land covered in orange-gold light. It was honestly moving, and more impressively, it was not scripted.

Environment in Red Dead Redemption

In fact, nothing seems scripted in Red Dead Redemption. Wandering around the countryside, I frequently stumbled into people who either needed my help or tried to rob me. Unlike Cool-C, I tried to play the game as a hero, and Boy Scout Marston stopped at every scream for help, but this would usually land me in trouble. Occasionally a group of bandits would use a woman to lure me into a roadside ambush, or a stranger who needed a lift would try and steal my horse. In the game, you only have seconds to decide who is a friend and who’s trying to kill you.

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Red Dead Redemption: How The West Got Pwned

First of all Red Dead Redemption is awesome, a must play for any gamer.  This game is way more than “GTA in the west” as some have called it.  Rockstar has taken the Western to another level and created one of the deepest, most fun, and most gorgeous games around.

You play as John Marston, an outlaw looking to change his ways now that he has a family, but thankfully for us, old habits die hard and John has to take of a little business before his family is truly safe.  That’s just the setup.  There is a story and it is awesome, but the beauty of this game is that you can create your own tale.  Choose your side, good or bad.  Are you gonna wear a white hat or black hat?

Essentially the game starts with a few missions to get you acquainted with the world of New Austin, riding the horses, and gun control.  Once that has happened you’re free… and that is also when I lost my mind.  The instant I got my first rifle I went on a crime spree.  So apparently I’m getting a first hand look at the wanted and honor systems in the game.  There is a mission a little farther down the line that will take you through getting a bounty on your head and then paying it off, but I took the hard way.  I quickly took down 14 lawmen and ended up with a $520 bounty on my head.  That is a lot in the West! Upon completing your first missions you are rewarded with 5 bucks, maybe less, so to have a bounty that high was a big problem but that’s the path I chose.

Essentially, it works like this: break the law and a bounty goes on your head.  You can run from the law and eventually lose your wanted status but the bounty stays.  What that means is that every time you break the law again it adds to your bounty.  Also, bounty hunters, posses and lawmen will be looking for you until the bounty is paid or you spend time in jail.  This made some of the earlier missions extremely annoying because I knew if I hadn’t kidnapped that girl and left her for dead on the train tracks I would be able to ride across the plains in peace.  Yeah, I left her there.  So what?  Like I said before it was a crazy time in my life in the West.  Needless to say, some of the others playing the right and honorable way have far less stories but are dealing with way less bullshit.

Also, making money as a true outlaw jerk is really tough.  I hopped on a moving train with the intent to rob it but came to find out I had to individually rob each person on that train. I even had to shoot some in the leg to keep them from jumping off the train before I could get to them.  It took about 20 min and all I made was $80, not fully worth the hassle considering that raised the bounty on my head by about $300 and destroyed my honor points.  But, as pointed out to me when telling this tale, I’m sure it wasn’t easy to rob a train back then either.  Touche.

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Red Dead Redemption Part 1: How the West Kicked Your Ass

Red Dead Redemption

I am a big fan of the Western, and it has always been a big mystery to me as to why no one had made a good Wild West video game. Red Dead Revolver and Gun were fun, but it wasn’t a masterpiece or anything I wanted to stick with for a long time—definitely not something I would recommend to the average gamer. Rockstar must have listened to my dreams (it probably helped that I told them I was from the Make a Wish foundation and wanted a western game before I died). Red Dead Redemption is awesome and enormous, packed with enough content that even a saloon prostitute would shudder at the enormous size of content. This game is so big, in fact, that I have to divide up my review into two parts.

So let’s talk multiplayer.

Rockstar has been hit or miss for multiplayer experiences in my book. Their games always have intriguing multiplayer ideas but bad executions. For instance, Grand Theft Auto 4’s lobby system was interesting, but since everyone always gunned each other down, no one moved past the starting re-spawn area. The only way to explore the entire metropolis was to join a free roam match, which made the lobby system feel a little pointless in my mind.

Red Dead Redemption alleviates this problem by making Free Roam the lobby system. The entire map is your lobby, but the area is far more than just a lobby. Scattered throughout the world are gang hideouts and hunting grounds. Gang hideouts are areas where players take on gang members in shootouts. Some of these are straightforward—kill everyone and then kill their reinforcements—while some offer more of an objective. One gang hideout, and a personal favorite, involves moving a mine cart out of a mine to a secure location. Players push the cart down a track while trading fire with gang members. It’s a fun experience, and even more fun with a few friends.

Drive by

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