The Best Videogames of 2010

  • Publish Date: January 26, 2011
  • Comments: ↓ 34 user comments

PC games

Metascore Breakdown
Good / So-So / Bad:
2010 Releases
Avg. Metascore 71.3
vs. 2009 Avg. 70.1

When we last reported on 2010's lineup of PC games at the midway point of last year, it was looking like an uneventful year for computer gaming, with few noteworthy titles. That certainly changed in the second half of 2010, when several major releases exclusive to computer gaming arrived in stores and wowed critics (or, in the case of Cataclysm, WoWed critics). The most notable of those, aside from that World of Warcraft expansion, was Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty 93, a long-in-the-works sequel to the 1998 game StarCraft that proved to be worth the wait. Another major sequel, Sid Meier's Civilization V 90, also scored stellar reviews from critics, though it earned a decidedly less enthusiastic response from longtime fans of the series.

Among all 2010 game releases major enough to get reviewed in at least four publications and thus earn a Metascore, it was the PC games that collectively had the highest average Metascore out of titles released for any gaming platform. Approximately 42% of all such PC games earned positive reviews last year, close to the previous year's figure of 43%, and just 4% of PC releases earned mostly negative reviews.

We'll repeat a disclaimer we posted last year: If you notice a few unusually low user scores in the second table below, blame unwieldy DRM: fans weren't happy with Ubisoft's decision to require a constant connection to their servers for several of their 2010 releases, and punished the games accordingly.

Best PC Exclusives, 2010
1 2 3 4 5
Image Image Image Image Image
Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Sid Meier's Civilization V Amnesia: The Dark Descent Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II - Chaos Rising
Critics: 93 Critics: 90 Critics: 90 Critics: 85 Critics: 85
Best-Reviewed PC Games, 2010
  Game Publisher Metascore Users
1 Mass Effect 2 PC Game of the YearElectronic Arts948.9
2Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty Blizzard938.2
3World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Blizzard905.9
4Sid Meier's Civilization V2K Games907.0
5BioShock 22K Games887.9
6Battlefield: Bad Company 2EA Games878.6
7Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck's RevengeLucasArts879.1
8Battlefield: Bad Company 2 VietnamEA Games878.1
9Borderlands: The Secret Armory of General Knoxx2K Games868.2
10Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow BrokerElectronic Arts869.1
11Need for Speed: Hot PursuitElectronic Arts865.9
12Assassin's Creed IIUbisoft863.2
13Football Manager 2011Sega858.8
14Amnesia: The Dark DescentFrictional Games859.2
15Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II - Chaos RisingTHQ859.1
16Fallout: New VegasBethesda Softworks858.0
17Just Cause 2Square Enix846.6
18FIFA Soccer 11Electronic Arts848.2
19F1 2010Codemasters846.7
20ShatterSidhe Interactive847.8
21Recettear: An Item Shop's TaleCarpe Fulgur838.4
22Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse Episode 2:
The Tomb of Sammun-Mak
Telltale Games837.9
24Age of Conan: Rise of the GodslayerEidos Interactive837.5
25Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: ConvictionUbisoft833.4
26Dragon Age: Origins - AwakeningElectronic Arts827.2
27Lara Croft and the Guardian of LightSquare Enix827.9
28Bejeweled 3PopCap827.9
29Divinity II: The Dragon Knight SagaFocus Home Interactive828.6
30Metro 2033THQ818.1
... and the worst:
132Blade KittenAtari527.0
133Ship Simulator ExtremesParadox Interactive51n/a
134Final Fantasy XIV OnlineSquare Enix493.8
135Twin Sector Got Game Ent.497.8
136Prison Break: The ConspiracyDeep Silver475.5

Note that games are ranked prior to rounding. Only games with 7 or more reviews are included.

PC Games with Highest User Scores*, 2010
  Game Users
1 Amnesia: The Dark Descent 9.2
2 Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck's Revenge 9.1
  Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II - Chaos Rising 9.1
4 Heroes of Newerth 9.0
5 Mass Effect 2 8.9
  S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat 8.9

* Minimum 25 user votes.

Nintendo DS

Metascore Breakdown
Good / So-So / Bad:
2010 Releases
Avg. Metascore 69.4
vs. 2009 Avg. 66.3

Out of the DS and PSP, which portable gaming platform had the edge in 2010? Our vote probably goes to Nintendo's DS, which certainly gets the edge for quantity of releases, at least, though many of those titles were middling at best, and many more still were so inconsequential as to receive only a tiny handful of reviews, if they were reviewed at all.

That said, 2010 saw the platform's games improving in several metrics vs. 2009 (including average Metascore and percentage of releases with good reviews), and things did pick up for the DS in the second half of the year, when several quality new releases came out to match or exceed the first half's twin Pokemon titles. The platform's best-reviewed game of the year was also its highest-scoring exclusive title: Shantae: Risky's Revenge 92, WayForward's sequel to the 2002 Game Boy title Shantae. Alas, that platformer was the only great release for the DS in 2010, though perhaps things will pick up in 2011 with the arrival of 3D gaming on the new 3DS, arriving in a few months.

Best DS Exclusives, 2010
1 2 3 4 5
Image Image Image Image Image
Shantae: Risky's Revenge Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies Pokemon SoulSilver Version Pokemon HeartGold Version Professor Layton and the Unwound Future
Critics: 92 Critics: 87 Critics: 87 Critics: 87 Critics: 86
Best-Reviewed DS Games, 2010
  Game Publisher Metascore Users
1 Shantae: Risky's Revenge DS Game of the YearWayForward928.2
2Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry SkiesSquare Enix879.1
3Pokemon SoulSilver VersionNintendo879.3
4Pokemon HeartGold VersionNintendo878.8
5Professor Layton and the Unwound FutureNintendo869.1
6Dark Void ZeroCapcom849.5
7Picross 3DNintendo838.3
8WarioWare D.I.Y.Nintendo828.9
9Starship DefenseNintendo829.5
10KORG DS-10 PLUSXseed Games819.3
11Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine DoorsAksys Games818.5
12Shin Megami Tensei: Strange JourneyAtlus Co.819.8
13Super Scribblenauts Warner Bros. Interactive 817.8
14Lufia: Curse of the SinistralsNatsume799.0
15Golden Sun: Dark DawnNintendo798.5
16Sonic ColorsSega797.4
17Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land MayhemNintendo797.8
18AlphaBounceMotion Twin78n/a
19Sonic & Sega All-Stars RacingSega787.8
20Rock Band 3MTV Games78n/a
... and the worst:
65Despicable Me: Minion MayhemD354n/a
66Ragnarok DSXseed Games535.0
68Hospital HavocHands-On Mobile51n/a
69Spectral Force GenesisIgnition Entertainment46n/a
DS Games with Highest User Scores*, 2010
  Game Users
1 Pokemon SoulSilver Version 9.3
2 Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies 9.1
  Infinite Space 9.1

* Minimum 25 user votes.

PlayStation Portable

Metascore Breakdown
Good / So-So / Bad:
2010 Releases
Avg. Metascore 70.4
vs. 2009 Avg. 67.8

Yes, PlayStation Portable games, on average, had a higher Metascore than those of that other portable system, the DS. The problem is that, once again, there weren't very many new PSP games to choose from.

The PSP had far fewer releases than any other platform, and since only about one-third of them received good reviews, PSP gamers had just 24 good games (with green Metascores of 75 or higher) to choose from last year -- slightly more than half the number available on the DS. And just one of those good games merited "great" status: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable 91, a remake of the old PlayStation 2 RPG. The best "new" game of 2010 for the PSP was Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker 89, the acclaimed but poor-selling fifth PSP installment in the Metal Gear series.

Best PSP Exclusives, 2010
1 2 3 4 5
Image Image Image Image Image
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker God of War: Ghost of Sparta Valkyria Chronicles II A Space Shooter for Two Bucks! Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep
Critics: 89 Critics: 86 Critics: 83 Critics: 83 Critics: 82
Best-Reviewed PSP Games, 2010
  Game Publisher Metascore Users
1 Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable PSP Game of the YearAtlus Co.918.6
2Metal Gear Solid: Peace WalkerKonami899.2
3God of War: Ghost of SpartaSCEA866.7
4Valkyria Chronicles IISega839.2
5A Space Shooter for Two Bucks!Frima Studio83n/a
6Kingdom Hearts: Birth by SleepSquare Enix828.8
7BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger PortableAksys Games828.5
8Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger vs Darkdeath EvilmanNIS America816.9
9Ys: The Oath in FelghanaXseed Games818.0
10Cladun: This is an RPGNIS America806.1
11Hot Shots Tennis: Get a GripSCEA808.3
12Lunar: Silver Star HarmonyXseed Games807.6
13MLB 10: The ShowSCEA797.5
14Ys SevenXseed Games798.1
15Age of ZombiesHalfbrick Studios797.4
... and the worst:
51Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon PredatorUbisoft54n/a
52Army of Two: The 40th DayElectronic Arts496.1
53Iron Man 2Sega49n/a
54Dead or Alive ParadiseTecmo384.6
PSP Games with Highest User Scores*, 2010
  Game Users
1 Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker 9.2
2 Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep 8.8
3 Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable 8.6
  Dante's Inferno 8.6

* Minimum 25 user votes.

What do you think?

What are your favorite games of 2010? Let us know in the discussion section below, or see how your fellow Metacritic users voted in our Best of 2010 Users Poll.

We're sorry, but comments are closed for this article.

Comments (34)

  • Sir John Thomas  

    @Simon : Don't be a m0r0nic loser your whole life. Controllers: Unless the cave you live in doesn't have electricity you know that controllers are made that are exactly like the 360's, but with PS3 buttons. NPD : Do they track purchases of online only content? To me METACRITIC is about information and little else. Sure if a game gets a 41 I'm sure it sucks, but I've read good reviews here and the site comes up with a 65. Mkes no sense to me.

  • Sean R  

    @Armin - It is irrelevant whether or not they differ slightly from each other, they still aren't exclusive to their respective platforms. Whether or not I agree with it, that is obviously Metacritic's viewpoint on the subject.
    Also, Persona 3 PSP was definitely not vastly different than the original (or FES for that matter). Adding bonus content and a new playable character (with a slightly altered storyline) are small potatoes for a game 70+ hours long.

  • rtp7  

    they should only count HD remakes if it has a different score then the original

  • Armin  

    @Sean R:
    The PSP versions of both MLB 10: The Show and Mod Nation Racers were quite different than the console counterparts. Also, Persona 3 Portable was vastly different from the PS2 version. The Sly Collection can be dismissed as I dont believe an HD makeover should qualify, but the other games listed should be considered exclusives.

  • Sean R  

    @Eggonyoface - They didn't mess up at all. MLB 10: The Show and ModNation Racers are also available on the PSP, and thus are not exclusive to either system. Excluding The Sly Collection is pretty simple: it's a repackaging of old PS2 games. Notice how Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable was the PSP game of the year, but not not listed as an exclusive title?

  • Eggonyoface  

    You guys messed up BIG on the top five PS3 exclusives. You forgot MLB10 The Show which has a 91 average meta'. That should be #2 but you forgot it completely. You also left off ModNation Racers with its 83 average and The Sly Collection with its 85 average, scoring higher than Hustle Kings and GT5 respectively. Correct list should be:
    MLB10 The Show...91
    Heavy Rain...87
    Joe Danger...86
    The Sly Collection...85

  • Metacritic’s 2  

    [...] score aggregator Metacritic has released its roundup feature for 2010, revealing the highest-scoring games of the [...]

  • Peter Robinson  

    @Adam Johnson: "I’m tired of reading reviews that go on and on about how mediocre or even bad a game is and then they drop a 7 – 7.5 on it. Word to game reviewers: mediocrity on a 10 point scale is a 5."
    That's so spot on. I've read far too many reviews with this problem. One would think professional video game critics would be quick to argue in favor of games as a legitimate artistic medium, but these same critics do nothing to further this notion when they dole out shining scores to undeserving titles.

  • Sean R  

    @mnementh: The Wii had some tremendous games this year (SMG2, Kirby, Donkey Kong, Sin & Punishment, No More Heroes 2, bit.trip runner, Cave Story, etc.), but I completely disagree that it "still ranks top." I will, however, argue that the Wii had the best exclusives this year, bar none (Halo and God of War don't do much for me). 2010 was all about multiplatform gold: besides the obvious triple A titles (Mass Effect 2, Red Dead, Black Ops, etc.), 2010 had some fantastic gems this year such as Just Cause 2, Darksiders, Bayonetta, and Vanquish. It's nice to see someone sticking up for the Wii since it gets an unfairly bad rap, but come on, sit down, man.

  • glotero  

    Yes, Thats the REAL game of the year! "Its still Marios galaxy". Like metacritic has said talk aall you want xbox 360 and ps3 fanboys... non of your games could beat Nintendos masterpiece. Not to blame, as SMG2 is up there in the best in history with ocarina of time, sorry for Mass Effect 2 as that one is still a great game but Mario also came in 2010 and there theres no competition whatsever! Also, out of 5 years, 3 have won Nintendo...So really, shup up! We can have less great games, but those few are all worth of buying and surpasses most of your "good" games.¡Nintendo has always, still it is, and will continue to be the best! Go say what you want! Good buy.

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