Monthly Archives: January 2011

Let’s Get Cynical About: The Brit Awards 2011

Call me lazy, call this shooting fish in a barrel with a rocket launcher, but hey, at least I’m consistent. So, once again, time to take a look at the dispiriting mess that is the nominations list for this year’s Brit Awards.

British Male Solo Artist

Mark Ronson
Paul Weller
Plan B
Robert Plant
Tinie Tempah

Starting as they mean to go on, the Brits present us with a pretty scattershot list for the British Male Solo Artist award. Paul Weller and Robert Plant’s nominations are presumably just pats on the back for still being alive and making music, with the former no doubt getting extra recognition for his Mercury nomination last year. Ronson has already won this once so I reckon it’s a straight fight between Tinie Tempah and Plan B – and I think Tempah will be victorious.

British Female Solo Artist

Cheryl Cole
Ellie Goulding
Laura Marling
Paloma Faith
Rumer

For starters, Laura Marling is probably out of the running on the grounds of having more artistic merit than all the other nominees combined. I’ve seen Rumer’s name around a fair bit recently, but not heard a single thing by her. After listening to a couple of tracks I came to the conclusion that she’s basically a boring version of Feist, targeted squarely at the Radio 2 demographic – probably not a winner here then. Paloma Faith could be a dark horse, and Cheryl is in with a shout thanks to her massive album sales – however, I think the judges may make Ellie Goulding the winner to justify giving her the Critic’s Choice award last year.

British Breakthrough Act

Ellie Goulding
Mumford & Sons
Rumer
Tinie Tempah
The XX

This one is (as always) public voted. The type of people who’d actually vote for The XX probably won’t bother, so barring a massive swell of support for Mumford & Sons, I reckon Tinie Tempah will take this one.

British Group

Biffy Clyro
Gorillaz
Mumford & Sons
Take That
The XX

This one almost looks like a genuine five-way contest – Biffy Clyro, Mumford & Sons and The XX have all had big years, the Take That juggernaut appears unstoppable, and Gorillaz received a lot of critical acclaim in 2010. That said, Gorillaz are probably the one band I wouldn’t bet on – sales trump critical acclaim in general, unfortunately. Take That have been nominated for this award multiple times in recent years, but the judges never seem willing to make the leap and give ‘Best British Group’ to a pop band (a good decision, I’d argue). Given that this award has historically gone to guitar-based rock/indie bands, I think Biffy Clyro are in with a good shout.

British Single

Alexandra Burke ft Pitbull – ‘All Night Long’
Cheryl Cole – ‘Parachute’
Florence & The Machine – ‘You’ve Got The Love’
Matt Cardle – ‘When We Collide’
Olly Murs – ‘Please Don’t Let Me Go’
Plan B – ‘She Said’
Scouting For Girls – ‘This Ain’t A Love Song’
Taio Cruz – ‘Dynamite’
Tinie Tempah – ‘Pass Out’
The Wanted – ‘All Time Low’

The singles nomination list has become a wretched, X-Factor ridden thing, and is always voted for by the public. I’m pretty sure that ‘Pass Out’ *should* be the winner, but in reality the group with the most screaming fangirls to vote for them is probably The Wanted.

Mastercard British Album Of The Year

Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More
Plan B – The Defamation of Strickland Banks
Take That – Progress
Tinie Tempah – Disc-Overy
The XX – XX

More like ‘best selling’ British album of the year, am I right? Seriously, two of these didn’t even come out in 2010, and so logically must have made the list because they sold a whole bunch last year (that and The XX make a good token ‘cool’ nomination). Was 2010 really such a terrible year for British music that the Brits have to resort to “me too!” bandwagoning of last year’s Mercury nominations to pad out the list? (Answer: No, it wasn’t.) As for who’ll win, I’ve no idea. If we go purely on sales then it’s Take That’s year, and The XX could win if the Mercury bandwagon continues all the way to the award ceremony. For some reason though my gut feeling is that Tinie Tempah will take yet another award here, so I’ll go with that.

International Male Solo Artist

Bruce Springsteen
Cee-Lo Green
David Guetta
Eminem
Kanye West

Is it just me or does Bruce Springsteen get nominated every year? Anyway, despite Cee-Lo’s breakout single ‘Fuck You’, I think this is going to Eminem or Kanye West. Probably Eminem, for selling more – that and the fact that Kanye’s more likely to do something hilarious if he *doesn’t* win.

International Female Solo Artist

Alicia Keys
Katy Perry
Kylie Minogue
Rihanna
Robyn

Lady Gaga is conspicuous in her absence (especially after continuing to sell records by the shedload), but I guess they didn’t want to give her this award two years in a row. So instead, they’ll probably just give it to Katy Perry. Again. Although I wasn’t aware that Alicia Keys had one of the 10 biggest-selling records in the UK last year, so she might have a shot at this one.

International Breakthrough Act

Bruno Mars
Glee Cast
Justin Bieber
The National
The Temper Trap

What the hell is this? How can the cast of a TV show be the best international breakthrough act? If Glee’s succession of vomit-inducing covers is the year’s best international breakthrough in music then God help us all. Also, The Temper Trap seem like a pretty random choice, especially since they were kinda breaking through already in 2009. I’d mock the judges for finally cottoning on to The National five albums in, but to be fair 2010 did see them break into the mainstream consciousness in a big way. However, all of the above is made moot by the fact that this is the final public-voted category – may as well just inscribe Justin Bieber’s name on the award now and have done with it.

International Group

Arcade Fire
Black Eyed Peas
Kings of Leon
The Script
Vampire Weekend

Arcade Fire are the best band on this list by a country mile. That said, the Brits judges will probably demonstrate their complete idiocy by giving this award to Kings Of Leon.

International Album

Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Cee-Lo Green – The Lady Killer
Eminem – Recovery
Katy Perry – Teenage Dream
Kings Of Leon – Come Around Sundown

I find it amusing that Cee-Lo’s album gets a nomination to kinda make up for the fact that his single isn’t eligible in the singles catagory (as he’s not British and all). Anyway, Arcade Fire are once again the standout act here, and once again they will probably not win. Eminem or Kings Of Leon, I guess – if forced to pick one of the two I guess I’ll go with Eminem.

Looking over the nominations again, the Brits 2011 *could* have the potential to pleasantly surprise me. However, given the history of the awards in recent years, they probably won’t. Guess we’ll find out next month, eh?

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Let’s Get Serious For A Moment: Why Kenneth Tong is sick and wrong.

Until yesterday, I had spent my life blissfully unaware of a certain Mr Kenneth Tong – unfortunately, this happy state was to be shattered when I noticed a retweet of a comment by Simon Cowell. Now, Mr Cowell and I are not often in agreement, but on this issue we appear to be unified. Cowell called Tong Twitter’s ‘new village idiot’ – I would go further than this and say that Tong is a tool, a moron, and a sickening individual. Why? This (taken verbatim from his Twitter account) is why:

“Proudly endorsing managed anorexia. Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.”

As if that wasn’t horrific enough, his twitter feed for the last week or so is basically full of statements endorsing the above sentiment – “To not be thin is a modern day sin”, goes a recent one, and the entire thing is pretty much a sickening cavalcade of similar bullshit. Despite bragging about how his wretched opinions have got him into Twitter’s worldwide ‘trending’ list, Tong wants us to believe that this isn’t a publicity stunt and that he means what he says. However you look at it, his actions are morally reprehensible – to say this sort of stuff simply to provoke a reaction or increase his own public profile would be bad enough, but the fact that he genuinely believes this shit is beyond the pale.

Newsflash for you you Tong: Anorexia isn’t a lifestyle choice, it’s not something that can be ‘managed’ – it’s an illness, and one that millions of people fight against every day. I have seen it affect people that I care about, both physically and mentally. For cretins like you to promote this as a positive thing, to say that a girl is ‘imperfect’ unless she can attain size zero, to try and inspire women to inflict such misery on themselves… you obviously have no idea about the realities of anorexia. Now I’m not trying to say I’m a fucking expert here, but I have seen enough to know that you are sick and wrong.

Now granted, should we care about the opinion of some no-mark moron whose only claim to fame is being on Big Brother? Maybe not, but Tong isn’t the first person to promote anorexia on the internet, and sadly he won’t be the last. All I can ask is that if you have found inspiration in the words of Tong or other pro-anorexia ‘campaigners’, please seek help. Look up sites that could help you battle eating disorders instead of searching for ‘thinspiration’ pictures, see a doctor, talk to someone – just don’t think you should aspire to something that rips lives apart.

Update: 11th January

Mr Tong has now come clean on Twitter and admitted that his promotion of managed anorexia was a hoax as part of a social experiment, and has apologised for his actions. You can read his full explanation and apology here. It does, however, paint a fairly damning picture of Mr. Tong that he would fragrantly use such a sensitive subject in what essentially amounts to an exercise in self-promotion – hungry for fame but unable to find it, he seems happy to accept infamy as an alternative.

Update: 12th January

Please read this interview that Tong did with Johann Hari shortly before putting the above apology on Twitter. All I can say is wow. Just wow.

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Phoning It In: Let’s Get Cynical’s Top 10 Albums of 2010

So, here it is, the moment you’ve probably not been waiting for (and if you were actually waiting for it you’ve surely forgotten about it by now) – my top 10 records of 2010. Yeah, I know I did a top 20 last year, but illness and procrastination has sapped my will to write by this point, so I kinda just want to get this done really. Apologies if this article seems massively phoned-in – oh who am I kidding, it’s not like you care anyway, right?

First up, honourable mentions (or the records that would have made up my 20-11 – ok there are 11 here but shush), in alphabetical order by artist.

Arcade Fire  – The Suburbs
Dinosaur Pile-Up – Growing Pains
Grammatics – KRUPT (EP)
Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
The Hundred In The Hands – The Hundred In The Hands
Johnny Foreigner – You Thought You Saw A Shooting Star… (EP)
LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
Klaxons – Surfing The Void
Talons – Hollow Realm
Sleigh Bells – Treats
Warpaint – The Fool

Yeah, that is Arcade Fire right there – The Suburbs was originally going in my top 10 but dropped out after I decided it was a tad inconsistent and that I actually liked a couple of other records more. Also, regarding KRUPT, Grammatics have now put it up here for free – so if you haven’t already got it then you have absolutely no excuse not to download it now, you ingrates.

With that said, onward we go to the top 10!

10. Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles (ii)

Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles (ii)

While there are still hints of their more abrasive side on show, Crystal Castles’ second record is largely comprised of amazing, glacial floor-fillers. ‘Celestica’ is simply sublime, ‘Baptism’ sounds utterly colossal, and ‘Year Of Silence’ makes brilliant use of its Sigur Rós sample – this is exactly the direction I hoped they’d go in after their first record. I guess it’s kinda cheating to mention the version of ‘Not In Love’ that they did with Robert Smith, but that’s an anthem and a half too.

9. Zola Jesus – Stridulum II

Zola Jesus - Stridulum II

Zola Jesus is in possession of a distinctive, captivating voice – combine that with expansive, atmospheric instrumentation and relatable sentiment, and you have Stridulum II in a nutshell. Whether it be the emotional longing of ‘Night’, the massive-sounding crescendo of ‘Manifest Destiny’, or the beautifully melancholy ‘Lightsick’, the album never fails to impress. Definitely one of the year’s most promising debut records.

8. Sky Larkin – Kaleide

Sky Larkin - Kaleide

Kaleide sees Sky Larkin sounding tighter than ever – they’ve really upped their game on their second record. From the breezy indie-pop of ‘Still Windows’ to more contemplative numbers like ‘ATM’, this album is full of gems, but its mid-section in particular is fantastic. ‘Anjelica Huston’ is effortlessly cinematic, ‘Spooktacular’ is the rawest the band have ever sounded, and ‘Year Dot’ is a sheer bundle of apocalyptic joy.

7. Blood Red Shoes – Fire Like This

Blood Red Shoes - Fire Like This

Blood Red Shoes - Fire Like This

If there’s one album that deserves to be my list for sheer consistency alone, it’s Fire Like This – there’s not a duff track on here. There’s no shortage of the loud, clattering indie-punk anthems that the duo are best known for, but they also find time to expand their sound a little bit too. ‘When We Wake’ demonstrates their softer side, and album closer ‘Colours Fade’ is definitely the most epic-sounding thing they’ve done so far.

6. Foals – Total Life Forever

Foals - Total Life Forever

Total Life Forever contains one of the year’s very best tracks in my opinion – ‘Spanish Sahara’ is a stunning centrepiece to a dark, melancholy and more considered second outing for the band. There are hints of the ‘old Foals’ in ‘This Orient’, but the majority of the album consists of far more expansive numbers like ‘Blue Blood’, ‘After Glow’ and ‘Alabaster’. Total Life Forever isn’t just a departure for Foals, it’s a significant leap forward.

5. Pulled Apart By Horses – Pulled Apart By Horses

Pulled Apart By Horses - Pulled Apart By Horses

Reviewing Pulled Apart By Horses for Muso’s Guide, I called the album “big, raw, gloriously dumb fun”, and that’s a statement I wholeheartedly stand by. Massive riffs, killer hooks and crazy lyrics combine to create one of the most raw, instantly appealing records of the year – and crucially, the album manages to capture the energy of the band’s chaotic live shows. An insane thrill-ride that you will want to take again and again.

4. The National – High Violet

The National - High Violet

I admit that High Violet was a bit of a slow-burner for me, but it won me over with its fantastic lyrics – Matt Berninger has a knack for writing songs that are very much relatable despite seeming deeply personal. Back that up with stately, atmospheric instrumentation and you’ve got a record that you can really connect with, from the heady rush of ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’ to the overwhelming emotion of ‘Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks’.

3. Los Campesinos! – Romance Is Boring

Los Campesinos! - Romance Is Boring

Romance Is Boring sees Gareth still in fine lyrical form – from orchestrating the downfall of his relationship only to miss out on a place in the top 100 “most heartwrenching breakups of all time” to getting the knives out for an ex-girlfriend’s new lover, he never fails to be relatable or amusing. But what makes Romance Is Boring one of the year’s best records is the feeling that the band have upped their game – and no song quite emphasises that more than the heartwrenchingly brilliant ‘The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future’.

2. Lone Wolf – The Devil And I

Lone Wolf - The Devil And I

I first heard of Lone Wolf (aka Paul Marshall) when I saw his video for ’15 Letters’ on the Green Man Festival website. While the puzzle contained within was far too much for my brain to handle, the song itself quickly wormed its way into my head with its beautiful, finger-picked guitar and effortlessly sung lyrics that told the twisted tale of a murderous lover. Seeing him and his band live at the festival confirmed that he is both a masterful storyteller and a skilled guitarist, and I picked up his album The Devil And I at a subsequent gig in Leeds. Like the single before it, I found myself coming back to the album again and again, mesmerised by the way that Marshall weaves an intricate musical tapestry around each dark tale of love, tragedy and death. ‘Russian Winter’ has never sounded more fitting than during the recent cold weather, and spellbinding album-closer ‘The Devil And I (Part 2)’ features a suitably foreboding soundtrack for a tale of dealing with the Devil himself. From start to finish, this is a record that’s beautiful in its bleakness and, in my eyes, stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the year’s biggest releases.

1. These New Puritans – Hidden

These New Puritans - Hidden

These New Puritans - Hidden

If I was ranking these records based purely on sheer ambition and inventiveness, Hidden would be album of the year hands down – Jack Barnett learned musical notation from scratch in order to write it, which is a fair indication that the band had set their sights high for this one. Of course, if you’re reading this it’s quite clear that I have put it at number one – and that’s not just for its ambitiousness, it’s also because it’s an utterly amazing album that fuses classical instrumentation with electronic elements, hip-hop, children’s choirs, melons being smashed, the sound of knives being sharpened, and god knows what else. You only need to listen to seven-minute statement of intent ‘We Want War’ to appreciate the scope of the record, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. At times oppressive and abrasive, at times utterly beautiful, Hidden doesn’t so much break boundaries as ignore them entirely.

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The Let’s Get Cynical Video Game Awards 2010

My end of year content (term used loosely) has been delayed through a combination of procrastination, lack of inspiration and illness. And now, because it’s probably easier than writing about my albums of the year, you get this first. Sorry?

Anyhow, this is basically me taking most of the games I’ve played this year and handing fairly arbitrary awards to them. Most will be good, but some will be bad. There may well be spoilers for pretty much every game I talk about in this article, so consider this your only warning.

Worst Story/Gameplay Balance: Mafia II

Mafia II felt like it was making pretensions at being a classic Mafia tale to stand alongside the likes of The Godfather and Scarface. Now I’m no film critic and I haven’t actually seen either of those films (yeah yeah, I know), but it strikes me that such comparisons wouldn’t hold much water for long. While the acting is passable even if it tends to stick strictly to stereotypes, the story itself struggles to justify the sheer volume of killing that you end up doing throughout the game. Vito and Joe’s motivations become increasingly flimsy as the game wears on, basically revolving around a combination of money, revenge, and simply doing stuff because someone else told them to. There’s one point where you’ve shot up half of Chinatown searching for answers about the death a close friend/business partner that really hammers home how ridiculous the game can be. I kinda found the ending unsatisfying as well – granted I guess I shouldn’t have expected everything to be all sunshine, lollypops and rainbows, but it left a bad taste in my mouth nonetheless.

Joey: "Hey Vito, why am I such a crass Italian-American stereotype?"

But I haven’t even got started on the gameplay yet, which basically involves driving around a lot, some servicable cover-based shooting, the most rudimentary fist-fighting system ever, and tedious walking around between tedious tasks. Put simply, there isn’t actually very much game here, and what is there isn’t desperately thrilling. I actually had more fun watching my brother play the game, if only because he’d have the tendency to play it like it was Grand Theft Auto and thus liven up the dull driving sections with constant police chases.

That said, Mafia II does occasionally have its moments – usually when you’re driving around and the perfect song comes on for the situation Vito finds himself in. Take the Chinatown scene I mentioned earlier – during my getaway drive, I couldn’t help but laugh to myself when “Chow Mein” by The Gaylords came on the radio (Lyrics: “no more chow mein!”). Equally, there was a real sense of loss when, after having his house burned down by Irish thugs, Vito is forced to steal a car to escape – and what should come on the radio? “Rags To Riches” by Jackie Wilson (Lyrics: “must I forever be a beggar?”). But such moments are, sadly, not enough to save Mafia II from its failings – namely, that its story doesn’t particularly stand out as worth telling, and that its gameplay feels like little more than a clumsy vehicle driving you towards the next cutscene.

I hope you enjoy looking at the backs of cars.

Best Story/Gameplay Balance: Mass Effect 2

The first Mass Effect did a good job of spinning its space-opera yarn, and the story was certainly more than enough to carry the game through some slightly wonky combat and an over-cluttered inventory system. Mass Effect 2 arguably improved both aspects. Story-wise, not only did it take into account your actions from the first game, but there were other features big (loyalty missions that delved deeper into each character’s backstory), and small (paragon and renegade interrupts that allowed you to make snap decisions mid-conversation) that enhanced the storytelling. But the biggest refinement was in the gameplay – the cover-based shooting felt more solid and accurate, special abilities felt more meaningful because you didn’t have so many of them, the inventory became super-streamlined and your teammates were generally more reliable. Some may have felt that the lack of customisation was a step backwards, but I was never all that keen on faffing around for ages in the inventory screens. Shame about the planet-mining mini-game though, eh?

Mordin: "Video games? Would suggest Mass Effect 2 - good gameplay, interesting story, well-balanced. Recommended."

Most Original Multiplayer Mode: Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood

The single player mode of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood was pretty much more of the same as last time round in Assassin’s Creed 2 – not that that’s a bad thing, and there were plenty of nifty new features to keep things interesting. However, AC: Brotherhood’s most interesting new addition to the series was undoubtedly its multiplayer component. Multiplayer modes in games that are historically single-player only can feel tacked on and rushed – but not AC: Brotherhood’s.

Presented as an Abstergo (the single player mode’s main antagonist) training simulation for new Templar recruits, the game’s standard ‘Wanted’ mode sees you attempting to track down and dispatch one particular renaissance killer, whilst simultaneously avoiding death at the hands of others. So far, so team deathmatch, but the key difference is that the world is populated by dopplegangers of all the player characters – so you’ve got to keep an eye out for any suspicious movements from both your pursuer and your prey. You’ll have to wait to unlock certain abilities via a fairly rudimentary leveling system, but ultimately, it’s up to you how you decide to play. You can keep a low profile and use abilities such as morph (change part of a crowd into clones of yourself) or disguise (temporarily change into another character) to throw off your pursuers and surprise your victims. Or you can dick around on the rooftops to get a better vantage point, then pick off your prey with the hidden gun ability or perform a deadly leap from above.

The hunter can quickly become the hunted.

Generally, charging around like an idiot will get you killed more often than not, but by the same token being constantly on the move can make it more difficult for your hunters to track you down – unless, of course, you run straight into the welcoming embrace of whatever sharp object they’re carrying. There are also team-based modes to mix things up, and Ubisoft is regularly rolling out new maps and modes to keep things fresh. Granted, it’s not perfect – sometimes it seems to take forever to find a game and I’ve suffered from occasional glitches like not being given a contract (and thus being unable to kill anyone). Also, as in the single player game, control issues will occasionally rear their ugly heads – mainly when you find yourself hanging onto a wall when you’d rather be running for your life – but generally the gameplay is pretty fluid.

In a world where the twitch-reflex gameplay of Call Of Duty is king, it’s a brave move for Ubisoft to try something different with AC: Brotherhood’s multiplayer. Even better is the fact that they’ve created something that both works very well in its own right and feels like it makes sense in the Assassin’s Creed series. Credit to Ubisoft then – this is definitely some of the most fun I’ve had with a multiplayer game all year.

It's great fun to - quite literally at times - bring your opponents down.

Best Overall Multiplayer: Halo: Reach

Now, there’s obviously a bit of series bias from me here – I’m not a great fan of Call Of Duty’s hectic multiplayer pace, nor am I a fan of ‘realistic’ shooters in general. But what makes Halo: Reach the best multiplayer game this year isn’t just the core offering itself – it’s also the additional features that Bungie have put into the game. Theatre mode and file sharing allow you to share your epic moments of glory or hilarious failures with your friends, while Forge mode lets you play the game in any way you see fit. If, like me, you haven’t got the patience or creativity for it, there are plenty of others out there who have – and their creations are all up on the file share, so you too can try out all sorts of wacky race maps, or play a Halo-ised version of Quidditch with your friends. Even if you were to just stick to what the game designers had provided you with by default, Halo: Reach is still a fantastic multiplayer game – everything else is just gravy. Delicious, delicious gravy.

Back of the neck.

Most Annoying Difficulty Spike: Sonic 4: Episode 1

After years of languishing in the realm of increasingly bad 3D platformers, Sega finally decided to take Sonic The Hedgehog back to his roots with Sonic 4: Episode 1. Although in this case – taking him ‘back to his roots’ means ‘making a new 2D Sonic game that rips the old ones off wholesale’. Nevertheless, it was a reasonably entertaining romp, marred by a massive jump in difficulty when it came to the final level. Not only do you have to fight your way through all the bosses that you’ve already defeated (which in themselves are all rip-offs from previous games), you then have to fight the final boss from Sonic 2 in a three stage battle. The first stage is an easier version of the battle from Sonic 2, the second stage is a a version of that battle that’s a tremendous pain in the arse, and the final stage is the kind of piss-annoying “IF I’M GOING DOWN I’M TAKING YOU WITH ME!” attack that’s straight from the Sonic Adventure school of boss design. I’d managed to accumulate 40 lives in the run-up to this final stage – as I proceeded to lose about half of them, I couldn’t help but say to myself, “Were the final bosses in the old games this unreasonably dickish?” I don’t remember them being so – although that might just be me viewing things with rose-tinted spectacles.

Sonic 4 Final Boss

Screw you, Robotnik.

Hardest Game: Super Meat Boy

I may have complained about the difficulty of that one level in Sonic 4, but when it comes to truly taxing difficulty, Super Meat Boy makes it look like a walk in the park. But crucially, it very rarely seems unfair – even though the controls are fairly simple, you have all the tools at your disposal to successfully navigate the myriad saw blades, spike-filled pits, crushers, rocket launchers and other death traps that stand between you and the end of the level. You just need to have quick reflexes, expert timing, and a lot of patience to succeed. Certainly not for the faint of heart, but if you enjoy a challenge then Super Meat Boy will keep you coming back for more.

OhGodSpikyDeath

Game Of The Year 2010: Super Mario Galaxy 2

I’ve already waxed lyrical about this one, and of the (relatively few) new games I’ve played this year, I’d still say that Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the best. I was replaying it again recently and was reminded just how much fun it was, both in terms of gameplay and as an experience in general – well, apart from the bits that make you shout obscenities at your TV, but as I said in my previous article, that’s your fault more often than it is the game’s. Fun, inspired, crazy, colourful and pretty damn challenging at times, Mario Galaxy 2 is a perfectly formed gaming experience.

Cheer up guys, you're in the game of the year!

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