Before the year started, RPGamer hailed 2010 as the year of the RPG (link). Their reasoning was very strong. There would be core series titles released for Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Mass Effect, Pokemon, and Fable. There would also be other releases under the Fallout, Final Fantasy, and Shin Megami Tensei brand names. It wasn’t expected at the start of 2009, but a Dragon Age expansion was also released. It was an epic year for RPG video game fans. The following are my list of the best RPGs in 2010.
5) Valkyria Chronicles II
Valkyria Chronicles on the PS3 has become a cult hit. It’s water color styled graphics were gorgeous. It’s unique blend of strategy and real-time combat made it a critical darling. It featured an interesting cast of characters and an emotional story. Unfortunately, a lot of the same magic couldn’t quite be carried into its sequel. The sequel was still a good game, carrying over much of the original gameplay elements with some new features and twists. However, the anime cutscenes, characters with skin deep personalities, and cheesy story elements couldn’t give this sequel the grandeur of the original. Valkyria Chronicles III for the PSP has already been announced, so lets hope some of the original magic can be brought back in the follow up.
4) Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies
The famed Dragon Quest series (released as Dragon Warrior in its early days) was released on the Nintendo DS this year, the first time a core title was released first on a portable system. There were a few changes to the core series formula that made it more suitable for a portable platform and multiplayer playability, but overall nothing was severely changed. The classic Dragon Quest mechanisms were maintained with a fun turn-based battle system, a large expansive world to explore, and an entertaining story. The multiplayer and portability aspects did remove some of the charm of the game, but it was a great RPG to play. Completionists beware, you’ll easily put in 100 hours of gameplay if you want to do everything.
3) Final Fantasy XIII
The newest iteration of the legendary Final Fantasy series had some mixed reviews in the community. Overall, I thought the game was quite solid. The story was a solid piece that kept you engaged, although it wasn’t amongst the greatest in the series. It had a good cast of fun characters, far better than those in Final Fantasy XII. The new battle system was challenging, strategic, and never boring. The graphics were stunning. The major downfall was the linearity of the game, even more linear than Final Fantasy X. While a good game overall, it couldn’t meet the expectations of the millions of Final Fantasy fans.
2) Fallout: New Vegas
Fallout: New Vegas was a worthy follow up to the 2008 hit Fallout 3. It offered up another huge world to explore, an engaging story, and a fun battle system to duke it out with the people of post-apocalyptic Vegas. The game was fun and gave you everything you had in Fallout 3, with some good new additions such as better companions and tougher choices in factions to support. However, the changes weren’t significant, and you couldn’t help but feel it was a little bit of a rehash of Fallout 3. Add in a plethora of embarrassing bugs and glitches in the game, and you have a game that fell just short of expectations and the chance to take over the #1 spot below.
1) Mass Effect 2
I’m not sure what I can say that hasn’t already been said about Mass Effect 2. It is simply brilliant. You’re given a large open universe to explore, a deep story tied to secret organizations, a cast of interesting team members with unique personalities, and an excellent third-person shooting battle system. Virtually all the minor weaknesses of Mass Effect 1 were eliminated: the short story, the lack of character depth, mindless moon-buggy exploration, limited battle features. The story was longer, deeper, had more mystery, and more intrigue. The sidequests and locations got you to learn more about the universe of Mass Effect. The characters all had their own personalities and were fun to talk to and get to know.
Lunar: Silver Star Harmony
This was a remake of the classic Lunar: The Silver Star for the Sega CD. The game was a solid old school RPG with a nice fun turn-based battle system. I liked the battle system with the minor tweaks it has compared to some of the earlier Final Fantasy games. However, like many games from that era, the story didn’t age well and felt a bit hackneyed.
Dragon Age: Origins Awakening
The first expansion to Dragon Age: Origins was a solid game by itself. It added story, locations, and characters to help expand the Dragon Age universe. However, as just an expansion, it couldn’t live up to the grandeur of the original title. There were a relatively limited number of quests, many dialogue options were removed, and you never got to really explore the world in that much depth.
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