Team Fortress 2 has been the undisputed champion of team-based, competitive multiplayer chooters. With characteristic classes, high-octane gameplay, and continued support from the developers, it's no wonder that TF2 has gone on to become one of the biggest games on the PC. However, they certainly don't have a monopoly on this sort of creativity, and upstart Uber Entertainment has managed to deliver an incredible freshman game that is on par with, if not better than, TF2. Monday Night Combat is a polished masterpiece, and despite a few nagging issues, it remains the best multiplayer shooters we have played in almost four years.
Destruction physics are gradually becoming more common. Games like Bad Company 2 and Red Faction Guerrilla have incorporated the destruction of the environment as main mechanics, and it makes them both ridiculous and awesome. After all, nothing is quite as hilarious as dropping a building on a friend by blowing out all the supports. The newest game to incorporate these destruction physics is Breach, and it claims to have far better physics than any other similar game on the market. In the end, however, Breach falls short, both in its physics and in its gameplay. It never quite lives up to the developer's promises, and ends up being more of a budget version of the aforementioned games. It's a shame, as there is a lot of unfulfilled potential here that is hidden under a sea of poor graphics, stiff mechanics, and half-implemented features.
Gallery: Breach Screenshots
The grand prize finalists in the IGF are not, surprisingly enough, the cream of the crop. Rather, the games which end up in the Seamus McNally finalists are a hodgepodge of fantastic games, each of which is great in its own way. Where one person sees a cluster of retro-influenced pixels, another person sees deliberate designed minimalism to focus the game's intent. In other words, the grand prize is intended for games which can't really fit in only one or two categories category. Rather, these are the games which capture that elusive thing only known as "fun."
Audio is perhaps the most underappreciated section of a game. After all, many gamers turn off their sound effects to talk to their friends, or turn off the music to turn on their own. The games in the IGF's Audio Excellence category, however, fit solidly into the camp of games that you should never ever do that for. These are stellar games that manage to take audio and turn it into an essential part of the experience. In short, you have to listen, not just play, these games.
While technical aspects and game design are all well and good, there does need to be a bit of enjoyment to be had with the eyes. That's why there's the visual excellence category, and this year happens to be the most varied we've ever seen in the IGF. Pixel art, paintings, demoscene color-splosions, and claymation are all represented this year in the category, making it a tough call. After all, everyone expects pixel art to win, but the truth is that indie games are less about the pixels and more about the expressive. And each of these five games is expressive like none other in this competition.
The Technical Excellence portion of the IGF is one that many people will never understand. Rather than being focused on measurable bits that are divest of the creation progress (for the most part), developers are having their games picked apart and forced into terrifying positions in order to determine which one is the most impressive from a coding standpoint. The judges have ruled and the jury is now in, so we must simply wait and see which of the following five games will be the best technical accomplishment.
Design is one of the most important aspect of any game. After all, you can make your game's visuals be a collection of squares as long as the gameplay is fun and accessible. Thus we kick off our breakdown of the IGF finalist list with what we think is the most important category: design. The games listed here are entertaining, compelling, and often extremely simple. The one thing they all have in common, though, is the fact that the developer focused their efforts into making games which stuck to and innovated the concepts they wanted to approach. Not a single element is out of place in any of these games.
2010 was a stellar year for indie gaming. We didn't think that 2009 could be beat, but this year really brought out all the stops. From classical platformers like Super Meat Boy to disturbing adventure games like Amnesia: The Dark Descent, there was an aboslute flood of excellent indie games this year. From paid to free, players who wanted to try something a little different had a huge selection of titles to choose from in 2010. Here's our favorite picks from 2010 to roll in the new year! Click on the image to check out our gallery feature.
Gallery: Best Indie Games of 2010
Sometimes, the best game is the one that is so incredibly simple that you wish you had thought of it yourself. Rocky Memphis is such a game. It has plenty in common with gravity-defying platform VVVVVV, but not because it follows the same mechanics. Rather, Rocky Memphis follows strict platforming rules almost to the letter. What makes it great is the plethora of areas to explore, the excellently-done retro sprites, and the perfectly tuned difficulty that keeps you playing for just one more room. It's not exactly the most replayable game, but it doesn't have to be, and it knows it.
Contrary to popular belief, Super Meat Boy is not a hard game. Rather, it is a challenging one. A game where missteps are punished with a light slap on the wrist. A game where, if you blow it, it's alright, since the last checkpoint was only a few seconds ago anyway. It's definitely a game with a lot of difficulty, but it misses that key definition of "hard" that makes people so frustrated. In the process, it becomes one of the best independent games we've ever played. In fact, it's better than most mainstream games. Slick level design, a relatively smooth difficulty curve, excellent 2D graphics, and plenty of secrets and bonuses make Super Meat Boy a must buy. You can spend hours, or even just minutes, on this game and feel like you have gotten somewhere.