It was an excellent year for video games. If you were unemployed in 2010, but owned a PS 3 or Xbox 360, you could have drowned your sorrows in spectacular adventures.
1. "Fable III" (Microsoft) for Xbox 360 (rated "M") -- You portray a prince or princess (your choice) in this mythical, British-esque fantasyland. Using weapons, you help villagers survive brutal attacks by nefarious men. And you and your dog roam about for hidden gold.
Here's the delightful topper: Your quests get more successful if you charm townsfolk along your journey. To charm, you dance, kiss, talk and generally behave kindly (unless you choose to behave cruelly).
The previous "Fable" and "Fable II" had the same kinds of elements. But "Fable III" is perfected, and it brightened my mood during 2010's recession and wrathful election.
2. "God of War III" (Sony) for PS 3 (rated "M") -- This awe-inspiring journey wraps up Kratos' quest to find and slay Zeus. It's sumptuous -- the visuals, music, story arcs, dialogue, acting, camera angles and (most of all) the game play.
3. "Just Cause 2" (Square Enix) for Xbox 360 and PS 3 (rated "M") -- This "Grand Theft Auto" copycat is better than the past five years of "Grand Theft Autos." You portray a supersoldier taking out villages of bad guys, on an enormous island of mountains and jungles. Best of all, you move about with a supernatural parachute and grappling hook that let you fly through the air like Spider-Man. I love, love, love this game.
4. "Mass Effect 2" (Electronic Arts) for Xbox 360 (rated "M") -- This massive role-playing action-adventure is topping many critics' best-of-2010 lists, because it's fun, addicting and gigantically cinematic.
You portray a male or female spaceship commander (your choice of gender). You dock at planets. You converse with your crew, uber villains and allies. And you execute baddies. It comes out mid-January for PS 3.
5. "Dante's Inferno" (EA) for PS 3 and Xbox 360 (rated "M") -- Here is the best "God of War" copycat ever, based on the "Dante" poem.
6. "Alan Wake" (Microsoft) for Xbox 360 (rated "T") -- "Alan Wake" feels like a playable Stephen King novel, circa "Secret Window," as it's a psychological-horror title with twists, flashbacks and great dialogue.
7. "Fallout: New Vegas" (Bethesda) for PS 3 and Xbox 360 (rated "M") -- Despite launch bugs, this is one sprawling, creative post-apocalypse.
8. "Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit" (EA) for PS 3, Xbox 360 and Wii (rated E 10+") -- The best combat-racing game of the year.
9. "Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days" (Eidos) for PS 3 and Xbox 360 (rated "M") -- It's way too short at six hours. But it has a realistic scale of humans-to-settings, a memorable grim story that feels like "Cops" Americana but grimier.
10. "Limbo" (PlayDead) for Xbox Live (rated "T") -- An intriguing and artful, side-scrolling horror-adventure, where you try to rescue two kids from Purgatory.
Contact Doug Elfman at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.