Seventh - Civilization VPublisher: 2K Games
Bit-Gamer Score: 9 out of 10 - Excellence Award
A world without Civilization would be a world not worth imagining, we reckon. It's one of the most respected, well known and finest series of games ever made - and this latest installment fully lives up to that legacy.
For those of you not in the know, the Civilization games charge you with leading a nation to lasting glory throughout its entire history. Starting in the prehistoric age and progressing through to the far future, players are tasked with fending off invaders and choosing how they want to be remembered. Are you a cultured and popular leader, able to rally competitors beneath you into forming the United Nations, or a power-hungry warlord more given to conquest? Personally, we usually opt for the scientific route and try to win by colonising the stars.
Civilization V adds plenty of new features on top of a familiar foundation, the most controversial of which are the removal of unit-stacking and the switch to a hexagonal grid. Series stalwarts were anxious about these fundamental changes in the run-up to its release, but their concerns seem to have been unfounded - Civilization V is almost perfectly balanced.
Other new features in Civilization V include changes to how players use their accrued culture, as well as the introduction of city-states. Essentially AI-run mini-nations, city-states never compete with the larger civilizations, but can provide certain bonuses if you manage to win their allegiance. One of the few problems we spotted with Civilization V in our original review was that, although city-states were nearly useless in the early stages of the game, they grew to become game-changers in the later stages.
'Vying for their allegiance often feels like a bothersome distraction,
' we complained, before realising that this was one of the only flaws we could find with the entire game. No wonder it got an Excellence Award.
Sixth - Red Dead RedemptionPublisher: Rockstar Games
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Bit-Gamer Score: 9 out of 10 - Recommended Award
One of the early favourites to win, Red Dead Redemption eventually fell to sixth place in our Top 10 Games of 2010. Admittedly, though, there were only two votes
between this game and the holder of fifth place.
A follow-up in name only to the easily-forgotten Red Dead Revolver, Redemption is one of the few recent games to use the otherwise hideously underused Wild West setting. It also happens to be the first game in ages to capture that setting perfectly, with a huge, empty prairie making up most of the in-game landscape. The emptiness of it all would be a problem for most games, as there's often nothing happening but the wind whistling through the mountains, but Red Dead Redemption's world practically oozes atmosphere and charisma, even when you're just killing time.
At the same time, when you do tire of roaming the mesas, Redemption is still packed with content. The story is centered on retired outlaw John Marston, who is forced by the government to hunt down and kill his old gang in return for a quiet life. John's journey takes him all over the West in search of his targets, with mini-games and plentiful side quests rounding out the adventure.
There's a basic multiplayer mode, which fattens up the game for those who hurry through the campaign, but it's the co-operative mode that we remember most fondly. Red Dead Redemption allows up to eight players to team up into posses and go out looking for trouble. It's amazing how quickly a sense of kinship can form on a server full of complete strangers, really.
DLC and expansions have recently been released for the game, balancing out the original game's bugs, as well as strangely bringing zombies to the Wild West for no real reason.