All the big guns have come and gone. The best games are all now on shelves and we’ve just decided on our game of the year. Now we’re taking a look at our 10 favourite gaming moments of 2010. Be aware that these are just my subjective choices – feel free to let us know some of your favourites in the comments below.
Riding Into Mexico in Red Dead Redemption
Music affects things. I could be walking towards the train station, iPhone blaring. All it takes is the right song to pop in and I start swaggering down the street like a modern day John Shaft. Suddenly I get my swagger. My mood instantly changes. That’s the power of music.
And the movie industry has been manipulating its audience for decades. Try watching Beaches minus the Wind Beneath My Wings. Somehow it becomes a comedy. Try imagining The Lion King without Akuna Matata? Music is important - it affects things.
But in the movies you expect it - the surprise factor, to an extent, is gone.
Riding into Mexico for the first time in Red Dead Redemption is an incredible moment in and of itself. Arguably the Mexico section is the weakest part of the game, but when you first enter the sparse, desolate environment it's a revelatory experience. Vistas gape in front of you, and peel into the distance. The sun could be rising, it could be setting depending on the time of day, but regardless of context the scale is staggering. And it immediately becomes apparent as you slowly ride towards the vanishing point.
When José González's 'Far Away' slowly starts to play, at first you become startled. 'What the hell is a song doing in a video game,' you wonder - especially in open play. But eventually it starts to makes sense. It feels seamless - perfect. You remain in control and no matter what you do it somehow seems to fit. Your rhythm adjusts to the song and you start to play along.
Games often shoot for the cinematic, but Red Dead Redemption actually manages to eclipse the cinematic, it obliterates it. In a Western the viewer is forced to watch the protagonist ride into the sunset, as you remain static, but Red Dead Redemption takes you beyond the sunset into the unknown. You are the one riding into the sunset. You are the focal point. In a game that somehow eschews magic moments, and attempts to replace them with unscripted moments of spontaneity, riding into Mexico is the one moment where everything seems to coalesce into something calculated - and it's awesome.