Best of 2010 Awards: Audio-visual Experience

BOOM widget 347209 Audio-visual Experience: Red Dead Redemption

Among the truly respectable number of great-looking and sounding games this year were a handful titles that used their presentational chutzpah to engage players in truly exceptional ways. Red Dead Redemption's open-world take on the industrialization of the American West was enhanced greatly by beautiful postcard-worthy vistas ranging from scorching deserts to snow-capped mountains.

Red Dead Redemption is one of those rare games that compelled us to set down the controller once in a while during quiet moments, just to soak up more of the dynamic atmosphere, or watch a sun set with our trusty steed. Touches like protagonist John Marston's vision shimmering in the heat of the desert, the whistle of a steam-engine in the distance, and the crack of lightning and thunder-grumble overhead as a downpour sets in, all help make Marston's adventure one of the most immersive and presentationally memorable of 2010, if not all-time.

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Runner-up: God of War III - The end of Kratos' saga of Olympian revenge proved to be an audio-visual powerhouse, with the in-your-face attitude of a huge summer blockbuster film. Few games handle blood-soaked hack-and-slash combat better than the God of War series, but chapter 3 manages to bring an sense of scale to the proceedings, unmatched even by its predecessors. With epic battles taking place on the backs of huge Titans, copious amounts of blood and entrails brutally spilled on-screen, and some interesting camera tricks like a first-person beat-down, the PS3-exclusive God of War III is one of the best looking and sounding games to come out in 2010, on any system.

Nominees: Heavy Rain, Alan Wake, Mass Effect 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops

[Audio-visual Experience is part of Shacknews Best of 2010 Awards. For more information, including selection methodology, see this introduction.]