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By Matthew Scott Hunter
Top five games of 2010
‘Red Dead Redemption’ (M)
Western game takes No. 1 spot
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Developer Rockstar Games frequently finds its titles atop lists like this, but usually those titles include words like “auto,” “theft” and “grand.” While bearing many similarities to Rockstar’s flagship franchise (like an immense, open world and a wicked sense of humor), “Red Dead Redemption” is much more than a “Grand Theft Wagon Train.” It is the quintessential Western experience. Whether you want to practice your quick-draw in a gunfight, search the open range for buried treasure or simply cheat at a card game in a saloon, “Redemption” has found a way to include your Old West myth of choice. Even if you’re not a fan of the genre, you have to appreciate the game’s craftsmanship. Lassoed cowboys writhe realistically when dragged behind your horse, boomtowns feel like they’re inhabited by real people who have lives that continue long after you ride out of town and the great expanse of the desert has a genuine, rugged beauty about it, particularly around sun-up or sun-down. And thanks to the online component, it’ll be a long time before anyone has to hang up their six-guns and ride off into the sunset. “Red Dead Redemption” is number one, with a bullet.
‘Super Mario Galaxy 2’ (E)
At the ripe old age of 25, Nintendo’s mascot is putting out his best work. History will likely give the first “Super Mario Galaxy” all the credit, and it’ll deservedly find its way onto “Greatest Games of All Time” lists for years to come, but in almost every way, the sequel is a superior experience. The variable gravity of Mario’s galaxies presents endless possibilities for inventive platforming, and “SMG 2” boldly goes forth to explore those possibilities with ingenious puzzles and clever power-ups. Hopefully, Nintendo will decide to make Mario’s galactic adventures a trilogy.
‘Mass Effect 2’ (M)
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
“Mass Effect 2” is arole-playing game that comes very close to ruining almost all other role-playing games. It spoils you with a stunning cinematic presentation, diverse and memorable characters and an interface that’s so easy to use, it sometimes makes you wonder if this is an RPG at all. Add to that a terrific story that actually takes into account decisions you made in the first game (if you have a “Mass Effect” save file), and you’ve got a personalized sci-fi epic of your very own.
‘God of War III’ (M)
Sony Computer Entertainment
The end of Kratos’ war against the gods is every bit the epic bloodbath we hoped it would be.AfterForrest Gumping his way throughvirtually every story in “Bulfinch’s Mythology” and disemboweling pretty much every beast the Greeks could dream up, it finally comes down to the ultimate confrontation with the gods of Olympus. Thanks to the amazing graphical power of the PlayStation 3, that fight doesn’t disappoint. And if games like “Dante’s Inferno” are any indication, “God of War” rip-offs will be following for years.
‘Alan Wake’ (M)
Microsoft Game Studios
As intriguing, mysterious, confounding and anti-climactic as an episode of “Lost,” “Alan Wake” keeps gamers on the edges of their seats and reminds us of the virtues of a common flashlight when facing the forces of darkness. With every page he finds of the novel he doesn’t remember writing, Alan Wake’s investigation into the disappearance of his wife grows more addictive. If there’s such a thing as a page-turner of a video game, this is it. CV