Good Game: 11 Best Video Game Atmospheres of 2010

Good Game is a weekly column with news and reviews of video games and casual gaming.

The background against which a video game plays out always has an effect on the gameplay experience. But in
some games, the setting is so
unique and integral to the game, it’s inextricably intertwined
with the story. For games like these, the environment is part or
even most of the appeal.

Several games that fall into this category have been released this year (or will be shortly). Here are my picks of the best, in ascending order of how
compelling, important, and effectively integrated the environment is with the rest of the game.

11. Alan Wake (Xbox) — Fictional town of Bright Falls, in the Pacific Northwest

The gameplay in this mystery
gets a little repetitive, but the developers definitely created a spooky
atmosphere, from the small-town diner to the foggy woods
you run through at night armed with a flashlight.

10. Halo: Reach (Xbox) — The human colony of Reach, 2552

You’re probably going to be too
busy shooting aliens to explore much of the planet in this game, but
the vistas, foliage and settlements are worth a second look. 

9. Mass Effect 2 (Xbox/PC) — Outer space, 2183

In this massively popular
sci-fi game, the final frontier is populated by unknown
planets, new alien races, and cutting-edge spaceships, as well as stunning starscapes. 

8. Mafia II (Xbox) The Fictional American city of “Empire Bay,” 1940s

Everything from the cars and clothing to the music and dialogue work together
in this game to authentically recreate the golden era of Mob rule in