Day one of Giant Bomb's Game of the Year 2009 feature is upon us! Be sure to check out today's supplementary podcast for some insight into our process. And so, without further ado...
2009's 2008 Game of the Year
We laughed, we cried, we cast Bufu on things. Clocking in at 99 hours of actual playtime, Persona 4 was easily the game from last year that we spent the most time with in 2009. Persona 4 literally took over our lives for the better part of a year, and everyone in the office was affected in one way or another. It wasn't just the time spent with it that burned it into our souls, it was also the fact that it's, frankly, an incredible game. The writing and story, while insane at times, always come across as sincere, in a an odd, localized way. So what if people are falling into televisions? You've still got crazy Japanese highschooler drama to deal with, like exams and watermelon parties. While 2009 had a host of big, fancy, current generation releases, we will never forget the time we spent with Charlie, Chie, and of course, Ghoul.
Runners-Up: Fallout 3, Fable II
Most Divisive Game
Of course we all have different opinions within the office, but for the most part we are gracious enough to respect those opinions and move on. Flower, on the other hand, became the game that would tear this family apart. While some found its meandering gameplay and artistic style to be refreshing, even innovative, others argued that leaning on "flowers are pretty" and calling that a novel notion is as lazy as it comes. Floating around colorful fields of flowers is soothing to some, yet wafting through what is arguably a glorified graphic's card demo is inane. Changing the environments halfway through the game can be considered a daring and exciting twist, though some felt having the "ugly" encroach on the "pretty" pales only in comparison to your drunk uncle's hip swaying in terms of memorable twists. While Flower may have entered 2009 promising beauty and tranquility, it has left nothing but pain and sadness in its wake.
Runners-Up: Demon's Souls, Altitude
Best Song In A Non-Rhythm Game
"Everybody Loves Donuts"
Everybody loves donuts. I know I do. Let's eat just one or two. Everybody loves donuts. I know I do. You and I should share a few.
Donuts! Go nuts!
No song was as much a pleasant surprise this year as 'Splosion Man's "Everybody Loves Donuts." From the moment you wrap your 'splosive litte arms around the portly, donut eating scientist to the instant you finally send him to cruller heaven, you'll be singing along with this catchy tune. The song only plays during these few brief moments, and that's part of what makes it so great. There's really no reason for it to be there. It begs the question "Which came first? The donut scientist or the donut song?" Would one be funny without the other? These are the deep questions that 'Splosion Man seeks to answer through its lyrical nonsense. If that's not enough to make it stick in our minds, Vinny's use of it as his ringtone will.
Runners-Up: The end credits to Rogue Warrior, Street Fighter IV intro
Best Late Title Card
The late title card is a curious cinematic device that has, in recent years, crept its way into the world of video games. It's hard even for us to pinpoint what it is about a well-executed late title card that makes us so giddy, but there's a certain undeniable cockiness to waiting 20 minutes before putting your title up on the screen. It's as if to say "that was just a warm-up, now things are really going to get crazy." A good late title card should also give you a sense of what kind of tone you should expect, which is part of why X-Men Origins: Wolverine takes the prize here. This game is borderline absurd in how graphic it gets with its queasy demonstrations of Wolverine's accelerated healing abilities, and his plunge from an exploded helicopter, which, sawed-off bad-ass that he is, he segues almost seamlessly into an opportunity to turn an earthbound enemy into red paste, sums this up just perfectly.
Runners-Up: Assassin's Creed II, InFAMOUS
Best Original Soundtrack
Music and video games have an odd, long-standing relationship that turned a little weird when licensed music started becoming a lot more ubiquitous. Not that there's anything inherently wrong with licensed music when it's used smartly, but it can rarely pack the same punch as something tailor-made. All the nominees in this category feature original music that managed to stick with us well after our time with the games themselves was over, but the propulsive, urgent electronic bangers that comprise the soundtrack to Sidhe's Shatter was the one that we actually kept listening to. Creating music from scratch that matches the rest of your game is tough, and creating game music that's listenable without the context is even tougher. Managing to do both, well, that deserves some kind of award.
Runners-Up: The Saboteur, Halo 3: ODST