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Giant Bomb's Game of the Year, 2009

This is it! Our overall pick for the best game that the last year had to offer.

From the deliberate shock and awe of Modern Warfare 2 to Rocksteady's uniquely stylish distillation of the Batman mythos, 2009 was a year that brought us a lot of intense video-game experiences. But none featured more visceral excitement, stunning visuals, and uncontainable momentum than our pick for Game of the Year.
 

Game of the Year, 2009


Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

 

Part of the appeal for Uncharted 2 is that there's no gimmick, no hook--the appeal is that this is a very excellently crafted game experience. It's fun to play and a pleasure to look at. But that's awfully reductive, so let's get into what it is, specifically, about Uncharted 2 that makes it our game of the year.


First off, there's your main character, Nathan Drake. Despite his incredible, preternatural physical abilities, Nathan Drake is no superhero. He is, for all intents and purposes, a dude in a t-shirt. A dude in a t-shirt who just so happens to be racing around the globe in search of an artifact of supernatural significance, juggling an exceptionally evil Eastern European heavy and some duplicitous companions with their own agendas, while dodging a near-constant hail of gunfire, falling buildings, and helicopters. Considering the incredible situation he's gotten himself into, it's impressive that he's able to come off as Average Joe as he does, but it's a key part of the character's appeal, and the game's overall success. That the first time you see Nathan he's sitting on a wrecked train with a bullet in his gut reinforces that this guy is incredibly fallible, which brings a sense of danger to everything he does, despite his actual resilience and the infinite opportunities the game affords you to try and try again. Nolan North, who provides Nathan's voice, deserves much credit for establishing the tone for a character that doesn't quite know what he's doing, but is going to do it anyway, hoping for the best.

 
Uncharted 2 is also an absolutely gorgeous-looking game, the best we've seen in 2009, which puts it very high in the running for best-looking game of all time. The colorful, exotic environments are rich with detail, and the game's pacing is so relentless that you never linger in one place long enough to even begin trying to pick at it. A combination of performance capture and crazy technology that we have little hope of understanding produce character animation that impresses simply by looking natural in a way that few games would even know how to approach, let alone have the technical skill to actually pull it off. Uncharted 2 aims for a look that's just on Hollywood side of real with its world and its characters, which it pulls off while deftly avoiding the uncanny valley. It says a lot that the game is able to pull of subtle stuff like convincing facial animation and realistic-looking hair just as capably as it is a breakneck chase sequence or a fight with a helicopter.
 
It's one hell of a production, but Uncharted 2 isn't just about shiny things, it's got a real tactile feel to all of the running, jumping, climbing, and shooting that you'll engage in. And this is all to speak nothing of the game's highly credible co-op and competitive multiplayer modes, which leverage both the strength of the shooting and traversal mechanics which are the backbone of Uncharted 2's single-player experience. Too often do we see single-player games paired up with an afterthought of a multiplayer game, or vice versa, but Uncharted 2 nails it with both, and without ever compromising the tone of the game.
 
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is the total package, a crowd-pleasing thrill ride that's incredibly difficult to put down and remarkably easy to recommend without ever feeling like it's pandering to the lowest-common denominator. It's funny, it's exciting, it's beautiful, it's nerve-wracking, and it's our 2009 game of the year.


 
Runner-Up: Batman: Arkham Asylum

313 Comments
Posted by Exypher

My game of the year is tied between Uncharted 2 and Demon's Souls. Uncharted 2 for one of the most epic single player campaigns I've ever experienced (alongside the surprisingly deep multiplayer) and Demon's Souls, my god Demon's Souls, for the unforgiving and perfectly crafted gameplay. Right up there with The Witcher for me as best RPG of the generation.
 
And overall amazing year for Sony it has been.

Posted by InFamous91

AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Kajaah117

I was wrong! Great choice guys. Naughty Dog really raised the bar this year.

Posted by Yummylee

I was honestly expecting Batman AA to nag this years GOTY, but Uncharted 2 i agree sooo much more with 8)
Posted by Mordi

We can most all agree that Batman, Uncharted and MW2 are the definitive games of the year this year.

Posted by StingingVelvet

My personal GotY was Dragon Age, but I don't currently have a PS3 and can't say how this game compares.  Every gaming media outlet is loving this game to death it seems but then I don't really trust the gaming media on such things as other games they have loved and called obvious games of the year have been average to me at best (Resident Evil 4 and Halo 2 spring to mind, I hated both). 
 
Still, the attention on Uncharted 2 makes me want to play it.
Edited by dbz1995

Why are people saying it's predictable? Do you want Giantbomb to go unpredictable and get it wrong? It's predictable because, apparently, it's the RIGHT choice.
 Anyway, seems to be a great game. I have it downstairs at the moment, and I WILL play it, though my brother is going to play it first.
 
Also, welcome to Giantbomb, Staff!

Posted by Capum15

Hmm, sucks that I'll never get to play the game. Sounds fun.

Posted by Druminator

Good one!

Posted by baconbits33

Saw it coming... It was totally predictable, I don't agree personally (don't get me wrong it was an amazing game) but the underdog: Batman: Arkham Asylum really deserved it in my opinion. I thought B:AA would suck but it amazed me, awesome awesome game.

Posted by lollisloth

Right on the money, IMO

Posted by addictedtopinescent

 I thought the guys would chose Batman, but this is a great choiice too 
 
@Byblos said:

Oh and 3 hr 43 min Bombcast... *faints* "
Where was this said, and when is it going up, I have too know dude ! :P
Posted by JackSukeru

I still need to play this, other things sorta got in the way.

Posted by Pibo47

No. Wrong. inFAMOUS is way better IMO. Alotta games are actually. anywho

Posted by Exypher
@Mordi said:
" We can most all agree that Batman, Uncharted and MW2 are the definitive games of the year this year. "
Batman: Arkham Asylum and Uncharted 2? Yes. Rehashed Warfare 2? No, not really. With an unacceptably short SP and ridiculously broken / glitched out MP, MW2 doesn't deserve the mention.
 
Arkham Asylum, while it does indeed stand high among the biggest surprises of the year, annoyed me from the moment I realized I had gone through the entire game on detective mode 'cause it seemed pretty much impossible to explore or get through any other way.  The last boss fight was also a sad, sad joke.
Posted by addictedtopinescent
@dcpc10: Where !  on The bombcast page ? cause I'm only looking at Itunes
Posted by nden15

This is just my opinion, but there are many better games compared to this...what you may call a "game"
Posted by Scooper

DAMN DAMN DAMN DAMN!! I knew I didn't want to see who won before listening to the bombcast and I knew I didn't want to click the link but I DID!!!!!!!!
 
You fool, Scooper! You damned fool!

Posted by ZeroCast

Spot on choice, can't think of any other game that had such atmospheric, coherent and amazingly well paced single player campaign this year, Uncharted 2 totally deserves with every meaning of that word.

Posted by MildMolasses

Great game, so not a surprise. I was really rooting for Batman though. 
 
Posted by skunk

Congrats to Naughty Dog for another fantastic game! Aside from the gameplay/graphics/feel that everyone's already discussed, the level of detail in this game is out of this world. There's soo many points i could bring up but a couple random ones were: awesome debris/destruction, the accumulated wet/snow patches on your clothes, the spot on convincing "whoa!" that Nathan yelps when you run and immediately stop before a cliff. It's all just awesome. Last but not least, Naughty Dog really knows how to do killer "behind the scenes". I haven't seen all of the ones for Uncharted 2 but I couldn't get enough of the ones in 1. Really satisfying to watch once you beat the game.
 
Well deserved for GOTY!

Edited by Kevitivity

Yup, Uncharted was the only correct choice.  There were a few great games this year, including Batman, but Uncharted was so far beyond everything out there.  I have never played a game that looks this good before and it shows that we have a lot a great things to come on the PS3...
 
Great Job Naughty Dog!

Posted by simian

I was expecting Batman to take it actually.
Uncharted 2 was great but it was over way to quickly (I wasn't playing on the normal diff) and since finishing it, I haven't thought or longed to play it again. Doesn't really feel like GOTY to me but oh well.

Posted by Jensonb

I am shocked.
 
/sarcasm
 
Everyone knew it was going to be.

Posted by vidiot

Hey look, a game of the year award I totally agree with.
 
I've typed ad-nauseum about why this is game of the year. Like a lot of people, my anticipation of this game regarding it's quality was quite skeptical. I thought the pre-reviews were all inflated, until I picked up a copy and simply played the first level. The whole production is simply leaps and bounds over so many single player campaigns, it also helps that the actual game is equally solid. "The total package" indeed.

Edited by Razorbak86
@simian said:

" I was expecting Batman to take it actually. Uncharted 2 was great but it was over way to quickly (I wasn't playing on the normal diff) and since finishing it, I haven't thought or longed to play it again. Doesn't really feel like GOTY to me but oh well. "

Well, that's what you get for playing it on "Very Easy". Kick it up a few notches to "Crushing", and get back to us. Oh, and you'll actually get a few of those "finished game on XXX difficulty" trophies, too. On "Very Easy", not so much.  ;-)
Posted by zombie2011

Nooo worst choice ever....

Posted by simian
@Razorbak86 said:
" @simian said:

" I was expecting Batman to take it actually. Uncharted 2 was great but it was over way to quickly (I wasn't playing on the normal diff) and since finishing it, I haven't thought or longed to play it again. Doesn't really feel like GOTY to me but oh well. "

Well, that's what you get for playing it on "Very Easy". Kick it up a few notches to "Crushing", and get back to us. Oh, and you'll actually get a few trophies, too. On "Very Easy", not so much.  ;-) "
Finished it on Hard but wasn't that enamored with the story to go back and replay on a harder level especially since I think the combat is the weakest part of the game.
Posted by Zereta

It wasn't Batman, huh? Disappointing. 
 
Though the fact that it wasn't Modern Warfare 2... means I misread the GB crew slightly. Not too bad.

Posted by RHCPfan24

Excellent choice my friends!!! This is my choice as well and your runner-up could have easily won it but this one just had something above it. Perhaps it was the jaw-dropping visuals or cinematic story. Whatever it was, it totally deserves this award.

Posted by Claude

I lament everyday not having a PS3. Let me ask the Magic 8-Ball if I will get a PS3 this year.
 

 Great, just great. New Year same old shit.
Posted by Dynamitekyle

Good choice, definitely not a surprise though.

Posted by Zero_
@forgeforsaken:
GameRadar gave it to Batman AA I do believe
Posted by Coolarman

I don't even own a PS3 and I can safely say that this is the game of the year 
 
I played at my friends house one day and i finished that day and went okay that was pretty awesome

Posted by Zatoichi_Sanjuro

I haven't played Uncharted 2 yet so I can't really say if it deserves the award one way or the other.
 
Gametrailers giving it to MW2 is a crock of shit though. No subjectivity enters into it. They're fucking pandering shills. It's no wonder Marcus left for greener pastures.

Posted by supermike6

Meh. I would've given it to Assassin's Creed 2 personally.

Posted by StarwindX9

I am rather shocked. I assumed the entire staff had a heavy 360 bias. I would have guessed MW2 or Batman would win. Glad to see Sony have a great year and glad to see Naughty Dog get some recognition.

Posted by Tally_Pants

take that 360 fanboys! you never stood a chance
Posted by ShaunassNZ

What about GOTDecade? I vote Sexy Beach 3.

Posted by megalowho

My GOtY as well - epic game that's polished to hell and a ton of fun to play. Going to run through some multiplayer modes and listen to the Bombcast right now!

Posted by StrikerTheLizard

I'm an xBro, but I rooted for the game, not the console and I'm glad a fine game like Uncharted 2 won the GOTY.

Posted by Coolarman
@StarwindX9 said:
" I am rather shocked. I assumed the entire staff had a heavy 360 bias. I would have guessed MW2 or Batman would win. Glad to see Sony have a great year and glad to see Naughty Dog get some recognition. "
i don't think they have 360 bias its just that before there were very little PS3 exclusives and no 3rd party developer made PS3 exclusives 
 
Now Sony realizes that they need to toughen up and release more stuff.  
 
So yeah they don't have any bias towards the 360 its  just that there was more stuff coming to 360 and the staff wanted there to be more stuff for the PS3 but there wasn't anything coming out until now we have UC2, Rachet and Clank, Killzone 2, and a lot of new stuff coming out in 2010 
Posted by Xeiphyer

Saw this coming from a mile away =P After getting the initial reactions and not to mention where it ranks on peoples lists, It was pretty obvious.
 
I have to say though, there was suprisingly fierce competition this year! Batman was really a sleeper hit, and I don't think anyone thought Uncharted 2 would be as good as it was, and everyone was suprised that Modern Warfare 2 was able to live up to its expectations and improve upon the last game. 
 
Can't wait to see what this new year has in store for us!

Posted by Anund

I can't believe I actually lost my copy of the game during my recent move... It's... grr. I may have to buy a second copy.

Posted by Venatio

My second comment on this but they should totally do a second Quick Look for Game of The year in addition to the other one

Posted by ez123

Don't plan on ever playing Uncharted, Batman or MW.  I do get a 4 hour podcast so that's cool.

Posted by Keeng

There were dozens of fantastic games this year but nothing was even close to Uncharted 2. Giant Bomb called this one right. Also, I agree with them for every choice made during this year's GOTY selection, my absolute favorite being Shadow Complex for Best 360-only game. This is the only site that got the seperation between console exclusive and multiplatform correct. That makes them the...SOTY...?

Edited by Addfwyn
@StarwindX9 said:

" I am rather shocked. I assumed the entire staff had a heavy 360 bias. I would have guessed MW2 or Batman would win. Glad to see Sony have a great year and glad to see Naughty Dog get some recognition. "

I think they have some personal bias towards 360 when it comes to multiplatform titles (achievements, gamerscore, XBox Live) but not really when it comes to platform specific titles.  I think they prefer the 360 as a console, but they're gonna judge the games on their own merit, which is really what matters.  Just that if they have the option to play it on either, they probably will play it on the 360, which is not an uncommon sentiment. 
 
EDIT: Also, speaking of bias, can't help but notice that all the people complaining about this seem to have green names :P 
Posted by StaticFalconar

Batman would have gotten it if Nolan North voiced batman.