Each year, our staff plays hundreds of games as we separate the good from the bad and the great from the good. Now, we separate the year's truly exceptional from the rest, and crown our singular Game of the Year. Drumroll please...
Game of the Year/Realtime Strategy Game of the Year
Starcraft II - Wings Of Liberty
Years from now, PC gamers will remember 2010 first and foremost as the year that StarCraft finally returned. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty hasn't just wowed the hardcore PC faithful, it's a beacon that's drawn hordes of gamers back to their PCs, and reminded them what they've always loved about the kind of gaming experience you can only get here.
Its accomplishments are dazzling. With outstanding and innovative campaign mission design, and a meticulous, artful graphical update to its classic factions and multiplayer battles, it's revitalized and restored confidence in the traditional resource gathering, base building realtime strategy game formula. We've heard suspicions voiced over the years that this formula had become outdated or in need of reinvention to be relevant, but StarCraft II has proven that the old-school model didn't abruptly become un-fun five years ago.
What's more, by applying the between-mission story mode (which harkens back to classic PC games like X-Wing and Wing Commander), to realtime strategy, Blizzard has cracked a problem that has plagued the RTS genre since its inception: making the characters who appear tiny on the battlefield feel like larger-than-life heroes, and bringing us in close to immerse us in the universe we usually only get to see from far above.
Finally, the spectacular multiplayer action is so exciting that it doesn't even need to be played to be enjoyed—StarCraft II has successfully introduced gamers to the idea that games can be enjoyable as a spectator sport. In just a few short months, the audience for commentated professional-level matches and tournaments has exploded from a small and dedicated niche to a thriving community of hundreds of thousands of viewers who regularly tune in to view games on YouTube, GOMtv.net or Major League Gaming, and follow their favorite players.
In those ways and more, StarCraft II is a monument to PC gaming. It's a game that can be enjoyed by everyone, from the newest and most inexperienced players to the gamer's equivalent of the world-class athlete—and even those who'd rather just sit back and watch.