Hello. While we’ve already done one rather lengthy site retrospective so far this year, I hope you’ll permit this extra little piece of self-indulgence. With the end of the 2010s (or 10s, or whatever you call them) many chose to mark the occasion by selecting their top 10 games of the decade. My own thoughts were: I’m not sure if I’ve actually played 10 games that were released after 2010 (which isn’t quite true, although it’s close enough to be plausible).

However, though the rate of new content around these parts has slowed somewhat over the last 10 years, put together, it all adds up to a reasonably solid block of gaming to look back at. And, given that January is a generally pretty bleak time of the year, in the interests of spreading a little joy and positivity, I thought it might be worth reflecting on some of the best games I played, and wrote about, during that period, and highlighting a few favourites from each section.
 

Action – Tron 2.0

As noted recently, FPS coverage on FFG hasn’t been all that regular in recent times, but I pursued this one in a rare case of actually following up a recommendation from someone else (in this case The J Man, and I took several years to get around to it) regarding A Good Game That I Might Enjoy.

And, guess what, I did. Tron 2.0 remains visually striking (especially with the Killer App mod installed), and makes clever and appropriate use of the fact that Tron is about being sucked into an unfamiliar computer-based world, reconfiguring established FPS and RPG tropes in a subtle and effective manner.

Honourable mentions: Beyond Good & Evil (a favoured underdog of many, it seems) and Sid Meier’s Pirates! (another recommendation, this time from my Dad, who doesn’t play many games, but was nevertheless more ‘with it’ than me on this occasion).

 

Adventure – The Shivah

I rediscovered my love for adventure games through the work of Wadjet Eye Games. Technically I guess The Shivah isn’t their strongest title of those that I’ve played – it doesn’t hit the epic heights of the later instalments of the Blackwell series – but it was the one that made the breakthrough for me.

Well written and constructed, with strong voice performances, The Shivah‘s gentle difficulty curve, short playtime and multiple endings encourage repeat playthroughs.

Plus, in a decade in which gaming increasingly became associated with unpleasantness and stupidity, it was a refreshing reminder of this pastime’s more gentle and thoughtful characteristics.

Honourable mentions: Blackwell (obviously), and (less obviously) Dreamfall: The Longest Journey. We didn’t give the latter a particularly high score, but it’s a game that’s stayed with me nonetheless.

 

Racing – FlatOut 2

What, after all that Need for Speed? Look, you know I love Need for Speed, and that series’ best efforts (and even some of their middling ones) are certainly recalled with some fondness.

However, when it comes to one racing game that I want to recommend, it has to be FlatOut 2. Every time it comes on sale, I want to shout at everyone to buy and play it. Ignore everyone who says the best bits are the silly sub-games: it’s the racing itself that really satisfies.

Honourable mentions: Need for Speed: Most Wanted (the best of the Underground-era titles), the 2010 version of Hot Pursuit (in which Burnout developers Criterion gave the series some much-needed refreshment), and the cheerfully eccentric Test Drive Unlimited series.

 

RPG – The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

We’ve periodically toyed with the idea of each of us venturing far outside of our gaming comfort zones for the purposes of some kind of feature, although nothing really ever came of it, and to be honest most of the time my determined efforts to tackle something unusual have ended in humiliating failure (and no #content).

But the RPG has become a more forgiving beast as it’s entered the modern mainstream, with Stoo’s favourite, The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind arguably being a part of that process. When he declared he wasn’t such a big fan of the follow-up, at least to the extent that a review would one day be forthcoming, I decided to try and step in. And had a bloody good time, it has to be said.

Ok, so long-held and expressed gripes aren’t without foundation, but they don’t override the many enjoyable hours to be found while exploring and questing in Cyrodil. (And that’s a phrase I never thought I’d use).

Honourable mention: Look, I know it’s a bit cheap and shallow, but I did still kind of enjoy Space Siege.

 

Sport – Football Manager 2006

The 2010s were the decade in which I finally lost contact with the fortunes of the latest football games. Despite occasional dabbling, I pretty much stopped playing the newest entries from the Pro Evolution Soccer series (or indeed FIFA, which by common consensus took the top spot for arcade computer footy during this period), and though I enjoyed the opportunity to revisit my favourites from Pro Evo’s 00s glory days here, I’m not sure I can quite bring myself to rhapsodise again about their everlasting merits, in the manner of a myopic Sensible Soccer fan.

It may be the other side of the same coin to turn to another long-running series instead, but what I recall most fondly from the FFG sports section over the last 10 years is the opportunity to revisit Football (previously Championship) Manager. By the hefty standards of hardcore players, my 5 seasons or so of play for my review doesn’t exactly constitute material sufficient for a so-called deep-dive, but I enjoyed the opportunity to get lost in a version of the game again and reflect on what the series, in its various incarnations, does right and how it attracted (and has managed to maintain) such a devoted following. Even if the latest editions might be too complicated for some, the old ones still retain some of their considerable magic.

Honourable mention: New Star Soccer 5 was probably the best of the rest: a charming and original underdog that harked back to 80s 8-bit favourite, Footballer of the Year.

 

Strategy – Midwinter

It’s unfortunate, but sometimes during the process of revisiting an old game that you played first time around, you’re disappointed either by it and how badly it seems to have aged, or by yourself (and how badly you have aged, and how generally crap at games you’ve become), or a combination of both.

And so it is truly a joy indeed to be transported back in time so effectively, in this case to an alternative version of 1990, with all modern cynicism about crap graphics and sound erased by the fact that they still make you feel like you are actually alone and under attack on the snowy plains of Midwinter Isle.

Even better to find yourself successfully executing a plan that extends beyond simply skiing around aimlessly and giving poor Captain John Stark endless bruised and broken limbs.

Honourable mention: The Movies was a fun romp through 90s-era Bullfrog/00s-era Lionhead style territory, even if I do sort of regret the many hours spent creating my own movie, A Force for Bad.

Ok, so perhaps that’s quite enough looking back at what we’ve already done for the time being – let’s look forward to future adventures in retro(ish) gaming in 2020 and beyond! [Are you quite sure you’re alright? – concerned reader]