We had originally planned to do separate awards for PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, but then the results were not strong enough to support breaking them apart. The top RPGs of the year were all available for more than one system and our top PC RPG was the same as our top console game, so here you go. With system exclusives becoming rarer, it doesn't matter if you call this category Best Console or Best PC/Xbox 360/PS3 RPG, the winner is still the same.
Mass Effect was a fantastic, yet flawed game. While it was the first game that showed that BioWare could write great stories without the help of established properties, it was flawed on many levels. Still, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that Mass Effect 2 is a masterpiece. To start, BioWare completely revamped the shooting mechanics, making the action feel much more fluid. To accomplish this, they removed the cumbersome inventory system that plagued the first game along with simplifying the skill trees for characters. Though these changes make Mass Effect 2 seem less like an RPG and more like a third-person shooter, this couldn't be further from the truth. Mass Effect 2 is an RPG in the truest sense, in that it creates a real living and breathing world that you can interact with and effect. Decisions you make can have dire consequences, characters can, and will, die, and the story can even end in such shambles that you won't be able to carry on your save to the next game! Even choices you made in the first game (provided you import your save) can alter the universe around you in ways you wouldn't expect. By the end you will have experienced a story that feels like it's all your own. Mass Effect 2, is quite simply BioWare's finest achievement.
This year's example of a game being more than the sum of its parts is Nier. The visuals range from dull to atrociously hideous. The combat is a fairly bland action RPG system. The main plot goes nowhere and hardly tries to explain itself. It's the daring originality, though, that makes Nier a blast to play. Implementing out-of-nowhere mechanics like bullet hells and an interactive novel, Nier's constant and well-executed gameplay surprises elevate this to a must-play game. The shockingly vulgar script paired with one of the best localizations of the year will make you alternate between laughter, tears, and speechless awe as the game pulls you through its story. The background score is inarguably one of the best in any video game ever made. While Nier does have its flaws, what it does well it does remarkably well, and due to that we proudly call it a top, and certainly the most memorable, console game of 2010.
Many gamers will know that tri-Ace games haven't exactly had the best reputation in recent years. Critical flops such Star Ocean: Last Hope and Infinite Undiscovery have tarnished the good reputation it once had. So RPGamers had little idea what to expect from its first collaboration with Sega, Resonance of Fate. What we got was a brilliant game that completely removed the issues which plagued many of its recent games. Instead of focusing on an over-wordy narrative with typical JRPG-clichéd characters, tri-Ace created a game that focuses primarily on what it does best: battle systems. Everything in the game revolves around the battle system. Dungeons take place within it, many side-quests revolve around it, and the game keeps talking down to a minimum. That's not to say the story isn't interesting, of course, but like many SRPGs manage to do, the game is all about its strategic combat. That they managed to fit in a fantastic story will just be an added bonus to the many challenges the game has in store for you.
by Glenn Wilson, Michael Cunningham, Michael Apps