Announcing the 2010 Game of the Year Awards from the First Hour! We published over 60 full reviews this year, tripling our output from last year. Of course, our writing staff has grown quite a bit also. I personally beat 30 games, undoubtedly making 2010 my most productive video gaming year ever. We also played over 55 first hours, keeping up a steady pace of one a week. We have not been lacking for great games or content this year.
This isn't your normal Game of the Year awards, we cover everything from older game of the year to worst first hour, so keep scrolling all the way to the bottom! If anything, our game of the year picks are the least interesting decisions. The writers here also don't vote on the categories, instead, everyone is welcome to submit their picks as their own definitive decision.
Without question, Final Fantasy XI deviated strongly from MMO traditions and norms. In doing so, it managed to greatly polarize the community. By moving at a slow, calculated pace throughout (even for an MMO) and requiring players to rely on others to accomplish the most simple goals, many players were forever turned off, including Greg and myself. Past level 15, players required a party to do any sort of leveling. Many damage-dealing classes were simply not wanted and sat in the main city for hours until they could find a group, while tanks, healer and support classes were welcomed into parties within seconds. The economy was absolutely broken, with incredible inflation stemming from gil selling and the gap between rich and poor players. Farming for money (outside of instanced colliseum-style fights) consisted of sitting at rare spawn locations for hours along with the other farmers and bots, just hoping that you manage to attack the monster before anyone else and then praying that it would drop what you wanted. Simply put, the game had a lot of glaring problems that pushed people away.
Years after its original Japanese and subsequent North American release, FFXI began changing significantly, modifying nearly everything and adding features to appear more tempting to the average gamer, especially once under the shadow of MMORPG behemoth World of Warcraft. FFXI has always enjoyed a degree of success, as a profitable long-running MMO with a stable user base. However, it has not gained significant market share either. By hearing customer feedback for the past few years as well as observing current MMO trends, Square-Enix is surely hoping that they'll be able to grab more of that growing market with Final Fantasy XIV. But how much have things really changed? Have they fixed the basic and more complicated issues that people had with XI? I was genuinely curious and tried out the beta for just this reason. Here's what I've found...