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Giant Bomb's Game of the Year 2009, Day Three

Our guilty pleasures, our best villain, and Dave's Eastern Bloc GOTY revealed!

If you like audiobooks as much as you like lists, check out our companion podcast to today's awards for the best of both worlds! 

Dave Snider's Eastern Bloc Game of the Year Brought To You By Dave Snider


Cryostasis: The Sleep of Reason


If you didn't know by now, our designer Dave believes the best thing to come out of the the former Soviet Union was not potato vodka and perestroika, but odd and original games like Cryostasis: The Sleep of Reason. These Eastern Bloc games not only share a loose geopolitical bond but also come with fiercely original ideas and technology that while not always coherent, are creeping onto Western store shelves at an alarming rate thanks to Russian publishers like 1C.

The best of the bunch this year was Cryostasis, a Ukrainian-developed first-person shooter that allowed you to jump into the past lives of fallen comrades while investigating a derelict ship. That game's frigid mystery and unusual story line seemed a bit off while we played, but then we got to the ending, and well... we're still confused. Cryostasis' ending alone scores five out of five stars on the only criteria you need to win this category... utter bewilderment and originality. 

Runners-Up: Majesty 2, Drakensang: The Dark Eye
 
 
 

Best Villain


Helicopters


No disrespect to either Uncharted 2's Lazarevic or Brutal Legend's Doviculus--easily two of the most effectively menacing villains we've seen in a game this year, and two gentlemen we would never want to make the mistake of disrespecting--but 2009 was simply a banner year for antagonistic helicopters. 
 
Maybe it's just one of those weird serendipitous things, like when you get two asteroid movies coming out back-to-back the same summer, or maybe it speaks to society's latent fear and distrust of unnatural flying contraptions, but there was just a volume of memorable enemy helicopter encounters in games this year. Then again, isn't it just a little too coincidental that some of the biggest, most memorable games of 2009 featured these hovering hate machines, including 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, Modern Warfare 2, Prototype, Shadow Complex, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine? More likely, these are all cautionary tales meant to warn us against the evils of non-fixed-wing aircraft. Either way, we've got our eyes on you, shifty, no-good helicopters!
 


Runners-Up: Zoran Lazarevic - Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Doviculus - Brutal Legend
 

 

Worst Game of the Year


Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust


In a perverse sort of way, this is one of our most technically challenging awards to give out. Games and the people who play them have both become more sophisticated, and the standards for game design processes and quality assurance have come a long way. By this logic, the worst games of today should seem like handcrafted gems compared to the worst games of 10 years ago, but Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust is indisputable proof that we've still got a long way to go. 
 
Not that the cheeky Leisure Suit Larry series has ever been freely associated with the upper crust of anything, but Box Office Bust lacks any of the playfulness or deliberately corny sexual innuendo that gave the Al Lowe-era adventure games their charm. Instead you get some lazy approximation of a cliche-ridden Hollywood send-up, filled with grotesque characters spitting venomous lines at each other. It's hard to tell who the game despises more, its own characters--most of who feature regrettable celebrity voices--or the player, who it punishes with infuriating controls and desolate open-world settings that seem to exist purely for the purpose of padding the experience with lots of needless running. It's such a repugnant concoction, it makes 2004's ill-conceived Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude look like a fun, appealing take on the Leisure Suit Larry franchise by comparison.
 
This is an ugly, tedious, stupid, mean-spirited, and profoundly unfunny game, and it should speak volumes that, unlike the other two nominees here, we couldn't bring ourselves to play enough of Box Office Bust to render a proper review. This quick look was the last time any of us could muster the necessary self-loathing to play this hideous game, and frankly, we probably deserve some kind of award for making it that far.  
 
 
Runners-Up: Tony Hawk: RIDE, Velvet Assassin
 
 
 

Best Add-On


Fallout 3 - Point Lookout


Whether you like it or not, downloadable content is a video-game fact of life these days. But DLC need not always be associated with paying extra for content that should've been on the disc, or worse, paying extra for content that is on the disc. A well-considered add-on can bring new dimension to a game, or it can just give you a good reason to extend your stay in a place or with characters you've become fond of. In 2009, Bethesda showed us the right way to do DLC with its post-release support for Fallout 3, and Point Lookout was the best of the five episodes it released. Part of what made Bethesda's approach to DLC work so well was the timing. If you started playing Fallout 3 when it came out in October of 2008, and you kept up with the DLC, there's a decent chance you were still playing Fallout 3 in August of 2009. That's a seriously impressive lifespan for a single-player game. 
 
Of the bunch, though, what makes Point Lookout so specifically noteworthy is the way it sums up some of Fallout 3's best characteristics. It takes you out of the Capital Wasteland, an area you potentially had your fill of by the time Point Lookout was released, giving you a glimpse of how hillbillies have handled the apocalypse. It's filled with memorable characters, none of which are as good or as bad as they initially seem (or are they!?!) The main quest is rich with the nihilistic humor and anachronistic sci-fi touches that are the hallmarks of Fallout 3's best quests, leading up to a no-right-answer finale that's still oddly satisfying. And, for you treasure hunters out there, Point Lookout is full of unique and occasionally quite useful souvenirs to bring back to your home in the wastes.

 
All this talk about Fallout 3 add-ons has got us antsy for Fallout: New Vegas, which is exactly why Point Lookout is our choice for best add-on.

 

Runners-Up: Grand Theft Auto IV - The Lost and Damned, Borderlands - The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned
 

Guilty Pleasure Of The Year


50 Cent: Blood on the Sand


OK, let's get one thing straight: 50 Cent's second foray into the world of interactive entertainment is not a good game. But it somehow manages to be great in some weird way. It's over-the-top in a way that approaches complete nonsense, and despite its mundane, somewhat-uneven gameplay, it's never so broken that you're forced to put it down and walk away. 50 and the G-Unit run around a torn-up-yet- unnamed Middle Eastern country, blasting anyone and everyone that gets in their way, from soldiers, to soldiers that double-cross you, to helicopters. Tons and tons of helicopters, in fact. All the while, you're just a man trying recover the diamond-encrusted skull that you were promised in lieu of a cash payment for a rap show. On top of all that, if you click in the left stick, the characters just sort of curse at the enemies they're blasting, prompting what might be the greatest line in video game history, Tony Yayo's shout of "I'mma kill your whole fucking generation, motherfucker."

It's not a great game. In fact, if you put it up against the eight billion or so other shooters that were released in 2009, it's competent at best. But it's so overboard that it transcends its dull shooting and becomes something that we'll guiltily return to again and again. 

Runners-Up: X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Godfather II
115 Comments Refresh
Posted by Reverseface

Helicopters are evil it all started way back in MGS1.

Posted by KyrithOerta

I think Fawful should have gotten best villain for his role in Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story. But then again, I have an unnatural fondness for him and his incredulous metaphors.

Posted by Nemesis

Helicopters are a necessary evil.

Posted by Parsnip

Velvet Assassin is a great game, shame on you for putting it on that list.

Posted by Addfwyn
@Video_Game_King said:
" Leisure Suit Larry? Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor came out this year. Other than that, I can't view some of the other awards because I'm currently playing those games. "
Um, Devil Survivor is a great game.  Punishingly hard at times, but a great game nonetheless.  I know Vinny at least is really liking it, so it's not gonna get worst overall game for sure.
Posted by RagingLion
@MrMiyagi said:
" LOL HELICOPTERS "
Posted by KinjiroSSD

Yo 50

Posted by brocool
@WrenchNinja said:
" Wow, no nomination for  Wipeout HD Fury for best add on? "
agreed, why was this left out!
Posted by august

Posted by Milkman

Oh, Cryostasis, you just won't go away...

Posted by Persecution
@Schnatterfleck said:
"@Jimbo said:
" @Hilfemaster said:

" But drakensang is from germany "

The developer is in East Berlin - it totally counts.  Edit:  Bah, beat me to it Dave.  As sad as it is, I looked, and Radon Labs HQ is in fact East of the Wall.... "
God, I hope you're joking! There is no East Berlin anymore ... The king of Germany decided to tear the wall down 10 years ago  :-) "

i thought they tore down the Berlin wall back in 89, which is nearly 21 years ago.. i could be very mistaken though hehe.
Posted by trimon

YESS!!! HELICOPTERS! Trains are pretty evil too.

Posted by Turbo_Toaster

Har har, Network and Rollerball.

Posted by StarFoxA

Seeing the Soviet Union logo from Red Alert 2 got me excited and confused that there would be an award for Red Alert 2.

Posted by iAmJohn

As someone who has spent all day playing 50 Cent with one of his best friends, I can tell you that it completely deserves the Guilty Pleasure award.  I cannot decide if it is the stupidest or the most brilliant game I have ever played.

Posted by Sunjammer

And still no mention of King's Bounty =( If you're going to pour on the Russian lovin, why not give that one a look?

Posted by amandackrueger

I'd like to know why the video review for 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand isn't embedded in this article...mind blowing. Video Review of the Year! Also, the Quick Look for Fallout 3 Point Lookout should be embedded. Ryan/Vinny combo at its finest.
Posted by CptBedlam

Drakensang is actually a really good game. Anyone, try it if you're looking for a medieval rpg with great atmosphere.

Posted by Sabata

There's always a fuckin' helicoptor flying around my house at night, being loud and obnoxious.  DOES THEIR VILLAINY KNOW NO BOUNDS?!

Posted by atomic_dumpling

Ah yes, Germany (Drakensang)is clearly part of the Eastern bloc. At least a third of it it. 20 years ago. But thanks for playing Dave :-D

Posted by Video_Game_King
@Addfwyn said:
" @Video_Game_King said:
" Leisure Suit Larry? Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor came out this year. Other than that, I can't view some of the other awards because I'm currently playing those games. "
Um, Devil Survivor is a great game.  Punishingly hard at times, but a great game nonetheless.  I know Vinny at least is really liking it, so it's not gonna get worst overall game for sure. "
It's not a great game, and I've gone over this before: rape difficulty, gameplay that hates strategy, numerous translation issues, and the fact that it freezes on you.
Posted by SquadBroken

50 Cent is a great game.  The real fiddy actually used to post in the forums all the time but he got banned.  He was dead funny

Posted by Yelix

There needs to be a Best Facial Hair award.
 
Also, the Halo Wars Award for Best Use of Repeated Lines.

Posted by Brackynews

I paid $14 for my copy of Blood on the Sand, which is also the amount I paid to rent MW2 for a week.
Both were absolutely worth the money.

Posted by TyrellOCP

i knew making Characters Who Don't Like Helicopters was a good idea.
 
nice to see some love for the hatred.

Posted by damnboyadvance

I love helicopters, especially when I'm the guy inside one. But when I'm the guy on the ground, I end up hating them.

Posted by Addfwyn
@Video_Game_King said:

It's not a great game, and I've gone over this before: rape difficulty, gameplay that hates strategy, numerous translation issues, and the fact that it freezes on you. "
It may be poorly translated, I can't speak for that because I played it in Japanese.  The Japanese version also never froze once, but I can't speak for the English one on that either.  It IS very hard, but I appreciate that given most modern strategy games are entirely too easy and can be beaten with no strategy whatsoever.  Devil Survivor requires immense strategy, that's why most of the harder battles take a couple tries, because you have to have a definite plan and idea of how the enemy will behave.
Edited by ThePelinal

HEY FIFTY, nice list.

Posted by Spiritof

 

Posted by Video_Game_King
@Addfwyn: 
 
You played the Japanese version? Tell me, was there a message in English out of nowhere, or is that an exclusive feature for America? And while being so easy that strategy isn't required is bad, so is being so hard that strategy isn't effective; I could only beat the final boss by abusing the RNG, mainly because actually trying some strategies (reviving party members and switching off attackers, for example) would have been futile (I tried).
Posted by RVonE
@Video_Game_King said:
" @Addfwyn said:
" @Video_Game_King said:
" Leisure Suit Larry? Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor came out this year. Other than that, I can't view some of the other awards because I'm currently playing those games. "
Um, Devil Survivor is a great game.  Punishingly hard at times, but a great game nonetheless.  I know Vinny at least is really liking it, so it's not gonna get worst overall game for sure. "
It's not a great game, and I've gone over this before: rape difficulty, gameplay that hates strategy, numerous translation issues, and the fact that it freezes on you. "

You make it sound like 'you having gone over it before' actually means something. But I guess you are the video game king.
Posted by FunExplosions

So... who writes these? Does everyone just type on the same keyboard at the same time? I'm gonna say Ryan wrote yesterday's and Sunday's, and Jeff wrote today's.

Posted by Legend

Now I'll have to play Cryostasis.

Posted by DBrim

No love for Big Surf Island (not even a nomination) makes me a bit sad.

Posted by Aaron_G

Fallout 3 had I think a better year in 2009.

Posted by Yummylee

Zoran asa runner up for best villian?? I never liked him too much, he was just your usual angry, psychotic russian to me. Flynn was more hateful than Zoran imo. 
 
But anywhoo...helicopters, an award they've been aiming for down their sights for years now. Congratz!
Edited by MasterChiefLopez

Helicopters!!!  *Hums the Airwolf theme*

Posted by Slab64
@Hilfemaster said:
" But drakensang is from germany "
...Middle-eastern Europe???
Posted by Arjuna

Funny you should ask!  I do like audiobooks!

Posted by ExtraSuperDanks
50 CENT..YES PLEASE.
Posted by StingingVelvet

I liked Velvet Assassin... as a pure stealth game it was excellent, not many games are made like that anymore.  Most media coverage of the game, including yours, seemed to hate it for being what it was supposed to be. 
 
And bravo Dave for championing a true original game like Cryostasis.  I also liked Necrovision, though it was kind of crap and I realize that it was a pure action shooter with much better production values than the Painkiller retreads we keep seeing.  A ton of Euro games are sending me running to import shops lately, the Europeans seem to still love the PC as a gaming platform and most of my favorite PC exclusives this year came from there (Machinarium is just brilliant all around).
Posted by Kajaah117

Helicopters winning for "Best Villain" is why Giant Bomb is the best website ever. 
 
I think the Leisure Suit Larry Quick Look was so damn entertaining that it voids it's eligibility for the "Worst Game" category." To me, the game was the good kind of bad, like Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing. The kind of bad game you can play with a group of friends and laugh hysterically at the sheer awfulness.

Posted by Capum15

Cool on Cryostasis. I was really happy to see Majesty 2 as a runner-up, I love that game. Ever since the quick look I wanted it, and then it went on sale for the Early Holiday Steam sale. Easily one of my favorite games.

Edited by Nettacki
@Video_Game_King: Even if it was supposedly bad, it couldn't have been as utterly terrible as the above Leisure Suit Larry game. At least Devil Survivor got enough aspects right to be considered a game, but the one above couldn't even make a decent joke, let alone decent gameplay mechanics.
Edited by VibratingDonkey

Helicopters are just misunderstood. :(
 
The Godfather II on the other hand is a thoroughly vile creation. To derive any sort of pleasure from that instrument of torture is sick and you should all feel ashamed.

Posted by Video_Game_King
@Nettacki: 
 
Solid game!? That's a horrible joke!
Posted by Nettacki
@Video_Game_King: In any case, it's still better than Box Office Bust overall, whether or not you like it.
Posted by Video_Game_King
@Nettacki: 
 
I wouldn't know, as I haven't played a single LSL game, but everything about DS just strikes me as horrible, like the developers were the laziest super villains in the world.
Edited by strangeling

Hey! 
Velvet Assassin is nominated for worst game of the year, and today only, you can get it for the pc for ZERO DOLLARS
I quote: " Get this incredible "Best of E3" award wining stealth action shooter video game at an unbeatable price - - FREE!"  
($4.99 shipping)

Posted by Shadow

I just beat Point Lookout and I gotta say.....meh.  For the best add-on, I'd say is the Zombie Island of Dr. Ned.