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)

  • Rooster  

    Thats total bull, they forgot a bunch of games, like modnation racers has a 83 metascore but it wasnt on top 5 ps3 exclusives, with one being a 81

  • Adam Johnson  

    I'm glad to hear that for the most part, console allegiances are dying down. Not as much fanboyism as I've seen in the comments in the past. I personally feel as though Mario was overrated. I think it gets a bump in score when it is compared to the shovelware that is usually dumped on the Wii. It's an amazing game that I own and love, but I just feel that if all gameplay elements were the same and it was a platformer on 360 or PS3 with a different title character the reviews would be lower. Limbo was also overrated. A 2 hour game that cost me 15 bucks to download with zero replay value? Microsoft Marketplace also has Portal on sale for 15 bucks...are those two games really in the same converation? I love the graphical decisions as much as anyone else, but there were no groundbreaking game mechanics to set it that far apart from the rest of the pack. I'll take Super Meat Boy over Limbo any day of the week. And nmementh...spare me. You're going to say that Monster Hunter Tri and Red Steel 2 gives Nintendo a better lineup when compared to the other consoles that delivered Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect 2, God of War III, Heavy Rain, Halo Reach, Assassin's Creed II, Fallout New Vegas, CoD Black Ops and Deadly Premonition? Really? Even if I added the new Kirby & Donkey Kong Country to your list, you're still missing out on a wealth of tremendous games from wonderful developers if you limit yourself to the Wii alone. But always startling to me is why game reviews are always so much higher than other forms of media. 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. Stop inflating your scores just to make the aggragate metascore higher to avoid the risk of offending a publisher that releases a bad game.

  • lucas  

    yeah this seems kinda late to the party, and is telling us stuff we have known for a few months now, next time try and get it out more at the tail end of the year rather than a month into the next one

  • mnementh  

    there is major bias against wii among reviewers, so the metacritic averages don't mean too much. the Wii has the the best exclusives of course, and combined with all offerings of the virtual console, and its accessibility, low power usage, and fun, it still ranks top... super mario galaxy 2 is the culimination of the Wii's greatest assets, but there is plenty else to buy here with TvC, Monster Hunter Tri, Red Steel 2, No More Heroes 2... I think Wii clearly won this year. The graphics are actually pretty darn good when using the component cables and settings right... looks pretty awesome on LCD's and plays like a charm!

  • conditionals  

    Any owner with all the 3 systems knows the PS3 is where the future lies" - I have no alliances to any system, but own all the major consoles. Honestly, I've stopped buying PS3 games except for exclusives like Uncharted. Anything that's cross-platform I'll buy on 360 - I've been burned too many times by worse graphics/major glitches on the PS3 versions (see Bayonetta for example), as well as the downloadable 360 exclusives (eg: Dead Rising 2). I'm not being a fanboy, I'm just stating the facts.

  • GameRag  

    The important thing is, though, anybody who says they don't want to play Uncharted, Halo, God of War, Gears of War, or any other top notch title just because the game is on the enemy system is a joke.

  • GameRag  

    I would like my PS3 a lot more if it wasn't constantly bust updating and installing. It took me 3 hours before I could play Gran Turismo. I like my 360 best. Lots of reasons, but #1 is the contoller.

  • Sean R  

    It didn't have a "good" metacritic score, but make no mistake people: Deadly Premonition was the best game of 2010.

    @Simon: I have all three systems, and my PS3 is my least played video game system by far. Sorry bud. That isn't to say I don't love my PS3 (fantastic multimedia hub), I just find the Wii60 much more fun to play games on.

  • The Dude  

    Lol, only metacritic is still doing best of 2010 when it's almost February.

  • Guy Anonymous  

    If you want graphics you have the xbox and the ps3, and you say that wii graphics are that bad?Sure ,Metroid and SSBB have bad graphics even when compared to PS3?I guess not, what lacks on Wii is good publishers, not the videogame itself

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