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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 Nemesis

Awesome choice. Love Naughty Dog since every new game they make is better than the previous ones.

Posted by FLStyle

This make me all the more excited that I'll be starting Uncharted 2 within the next week, looking forward to it.

Posted by Blackout62
@SaucySala said:
" PUT UP ANOTHER QUICKLOOK! "
I second this.
Posted by agentboolen
@MadeinFinland: Yea remember last gen all you needed was a PS2 and you just about got it all.  
Posted by Mattzz10

I have not played Batman, but if someone could tell me... Does that game have a moment that sums it all up?  Like just a crazy moment that is so great that it is the first thing that pops in your head when you think of it.  Or is it just a solid all-around amazing game?

Posted by trav3ler

Uhh... 
 
Nah.  Sorry, GB, I'm calling fail on this one.

Posted by Haseo

Good choice Uncharted 2 stands in my mind as the best 2009 had to offer

Posted by Hailinel
@FrankCanada97 said:
" @Warfare said:
" LOL the kid Jeff mentioned 2:56:00 into the Giant Bombcast GOTY Edition  is Lard.  "
Lard must be proud of him/herself. "
Probably.  I doubt Lard has the capacity to feel shame.
Posted by chililili

I don't care about who won but the design of this GOTY awards I thought was a little bit inferior that last year's specially designed pages and layouts, hope for something better next year, instead or a regular article

Posted by jmrwacko

Gamey game is gamey. RAAAAAAAAGE! FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUU
 
I don't own a PS3 and I don't plan to, so I'll never get to experience this game unless a friend of mine gets it. Too bad. Maybe in five years someone will program a good PS3 emulator.

Posted by Warfare
@Hailinel said:

" @FrankCanada97 said:

" @Warfare said:
" LOL the kid Jeff mentioned 2:56:00 into the Giant Bombcast GOTY Edition  is Lard.  "
Lard must be proud of him/herself. "
Probably.  I doubt Lard has the capacity to feel shame. "
 I cried from laughter.
Posted by Spiritof
@Mattzz10 said:
" I have not played Batman, but if someone could tell me... Does that game have a moment that sums it all up?  Like just a crazy moment that is so great that it is the first thing that pops in your head when you think of it.  Or is it just a solid all-around amazing game? "
I'd say there is one pretty large WTF moment in the game, surrounded by a few smaller wtfs along the way. You'll know what I'm talking about the first time it happens, if you play it, just know that there's much more after that first encounter.
 
I wouldn't say that set of moments defines the game from top to bottom, but it certainly makes you bug out a time or two. Arkham is basically a fine tuned super hero version of Metroid and Prince of Persia, soaked in a grimy Bioshock-ish aesthetic.
Posted by stinky
@jmrwacko: playing it now  after i've read all the hype here on giantbomb. 
 
couple of comments so far. i like it, BUT, it's more from the characters they created and less about the fun of the game play. 
game play wise with the climbing, cover and shooting other games have for sure done better. 
 
where Uncharted excels is in its narrative story telling. i like nathan drake, i like his partners and i like the flow of the story. 
the story itself is a little cliche so i'm not in any suspense about it, but its very charming. 
 
A+ in avoiding the uncanny valley better than any other game. 
 
only maybe halfway done so my thoughts may change and i may love it in the end, but so far to reiterate its more about a well put together story and characters than intense game play.  
 
makes dragon age dialog look really stiff. if Bioware could harness what they did with Uncharted it would be AMAZING.
Posted by ki11tank

finished it for the first time today and hoooleeeee sheeit, i can't agree more.

Posted by Kr3lian
@Mattzz10 said:
" I have not played Batman, but if someone could tell me... Does that game have a moment that sums it all up?  Like just a crazy moment that is so great that it is the first thing that pops in your head when you think of it.  Or is it just a solid all-around amazing game? "
The latter.
Posted by Branthog

Uncharted 2 is the most fun I have had in a videogame since . . . Uncharted 1. Great pick in a year of great contenders.

Posted by DannyJ

When I first got it, I remember I sat there going, "What makes this game so good?" And for the life of me I couldnt figure out what it was. But instead of looking for its features I looked at it as a whole. At its core its a fun game to play and can be playable and competitive without any kind of cover gimmicks, perk gimmicks, etc. The closest thing it has is the climbing feature, but in all reality it's so well done that its part of the game. It's just a game that was incredibly well done.

Posted by JackBauerCTU225

Great job Giantbomb. It was a hard year to choose. Both Batman and Uncharted 2 were fantastic. There were so many great games this year it was shocking. You guys did great I ve checked around and I believe gametrailers has done the worst with there game of the year awards. MW2 wone everything. I loved MW2 but when they make a 3 seprate videos PC, PS3, and 360  best game was MW2 and then MW2 wins GOTY award and they say it was so hard for them to choose btw UC2 and MW2 Im a little confuzled.

Posted by VisariLoyalist

what?! what?! who could've predicted this?! :)

Edited by atomic_dumpling
@SpiritOf said:

 soaked in a grimy Bioshock-ish aesthetic. "

Actually, it's more of an Unreal Engine powered Madame Tussauds aesthetic. If Batman put a blowtorch to the thugs they would probably just melt. I have yet to see an UE-based game that has natural looking characters in it. Thus far it's either plastic (Mass Effect) or wax (Bioshock, Batman).
Posted by drewm135

You know what, I can completely agree with this. Not that I didn't love Batman because damn that game was good. But, giving due credit where credit is deserved the most memorable game of 2009 was hands down Uncharted 2. Great year Bombsquad, here's to many more

Edited by TheBeastinBeast
@Mordi said:

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

This...
Made me :D
Posted by TheBeastinBeast
@ez123 said:
" Don't plan on ever playing Uncharted, Batman or MW.
What the HELL is wrong with you?
Posted by ez123
@TheBeastinBeast said:
" @ez123 said:
" Don't plan on ever playing Uncharted, Batman or MW.
What the HELL is wrong with you? "
:(  Nothing.  I don't have a PS3.  I'm big on Batman but the gameplay I've seen/the demo wasn't fun, and Modern Warfare... do not want.  Plus this year is going to be huge throughout so I don't plan on revisiting last year.
Posted by captain_clayman

LOOOOVE this game 
 
i woulda been happy with batman too, but this is great. 
 
i think this is defintely the best game naughty dog has ever produced (although i still love me some crash and jak)

Posted by PipeAndSlippers

You should have given it to toy commander on the dreamcast that was a choice game

Posted by K_PhaNTOM

Damn it, now I have to buy a PS3...

Posted by Slaneesh
@ez123 said:
" @TheBeastinBeast said:
" @ez123 said:
" Don't plan on ever playing Uncharted, Batman or MW.
What the HELL is wrong with you? "
:(  Nothing.  I don't have a PS3.  I'm big on Batman but the gameplay I've seen/the demo wasn't fun, and Modern Warfare... do not want.  Plus this year is going to be huge throughout so I don't plan on revisiting last year. "
The demo doens´t give a good impression of Batman. I felt the same way, however i loved the game. Give it a shot as a Rental atleast
Posted by JoelTGM

Just finished the GOTY podcast last night.  Man that was quite a discussion.  Good for Uncharted 2 and Batman AA. 

Posted by Nasar7

Haters gonna hate but this is absolutely the best game experience of 2009.

Online
Posted by Dragoon14

AWE BATMAN should of won

Posted by KidA

Even though I really liked Uncharted 2, I'm not really pleased with this choice.
 
I mean Uncharted 2 had amazing presentation, but people seem so strangely oblivious to the mediocre shooting and wonky controls that plagued the first game as well. In this one they get it a bit better but honestly its a competent shooter at best. In the podcast you guys would not stop talking about the games presentation and "OMG WTF" moments, but never mentioned the core gameplay which is a testament to the games strengths, but also displays its overlooked weaknesses.

Posted by DannyJ
@KidA said:
" Even though I really liked Uncharted 2, I'm not really pleased with this choice.  I mean Uncharted 2 had amazing presentation, but people seem so strangely oblivious to the mediocre shooting and wonky controls that plagued the first game as well. In this one they get it a bit better but honestly its a competent shooter at best. In the podcast you guys would not stop talking about the games presentation and "OMG WTF" moments, but never mentioned the core gameplay which is a testament to the games strengths, but also displays its overlooked weaknesses. "
There was wonky controls and shooting?
Posted by Shaanyboi

 I would've gone Batman on this one.  Uncharted 2 was really good, like... REALLY good, but it felt too much like just Michael Bay popcorn entertainment.  Nathan Drake really isn't that great of a character.  They pass him off as this flawed, down to earth guy, when really he's just as close to hollywood perfection as you can get.
 
Batman is fresh, it has a BADASS character, the scarecrow sections TOTALLY mess with you, it progresses smartly, it's super atmospheric....
 
Batman was just better.

Posted by MAST

I'm amused at how obvious it is when people disagree just to disagree...
 
"What? Uncharted 2 sucked! Batman should have won!"
"Whatever, Nathan Drake was a stupid character."
"Uncharted 2 was a terribly broken, and flawed game! How did it win!?"
 
Those types of comments are just pure nonsense. Even the people saying "Uncharted 2 was great, but Batman was better. Giantbomb failed on this one" are completely wrong. You know why? Because Game of the Year choices, regardless of the website, are THAT websites OPINION. You can't tell them that they "failed" because they expressed their opinion on their gaming website which is 100% about them expressing their opinion on a daily basis.
 
Basically the same thing happened last year. Giant Bomb picked GTA4, and then all kinds of people came out of the woodwork to say how much GTA4 sucked, and how the Giant Bomb staff were idiots for choosing it. Hopefully the staff here realizes that people like that are just attention whoring, and trying to be different just so they can make little comments like "At least I'm not a mindless drone" in an attempt to feel better then everyone else...
 
Ignore them guys! Uncharted 2 was a fine choice!

Posted by Boiglenoight

Batman was great, but once I finished it I decided a repeat playthrough could wait until I finished some other games. 
 
With Uncharted 2, I restarted on a harder difficulty the moment the credits ended and played for another two hours.   
 
Both are fantastic games, but there's something about Uncharted 2 that defies expectations just a tad more than Batman.

Posted by Apathylad

I probably would have given it to Batman, mostly because it was the year's biggest surprise, while everyone knew Uncharted 2 was going to be a good game before its release. Still, a good choice.

Posted by angryphil
@MAST said:
" I'm amused at how obvious it is when people disagree just to disagree...
 
"What? Uncharted 2 sucked! Batman should have won!"
"Whatever, Nathan Drake was a stupid character."
"Uncharted 2 was a terribly broken, and flawed game! How did it win!?"
 
Those types of comments are just pure nonsense. Even the people saying "Uncharted 2 was great, but Batman was better. Giantbomb failed on this one" are completely wrong. You know why? Because Game of the Year choices, regardless of the website, are THAT websites OPINION. You can't tell them that they "failed" because they expressed their opinion on their gaming website which is 100% about them expressing their opinion on a daily basis.  Basically the same thing happened last year. Giant Bomb picked GTA4, and then all kinds of people came out of the woodwork to say how much GTA4 sucked, and how the Giant Bomb staff were idiots for choosing it. Hopefully the staff here realizes that people like that are just attention whoring, and trying to be different just so they can make little comments like "At least I'm not a mindless drone" in an attempt to feel better then everyone else...  Ignore them guys! Uncharted 2 was a fine choice! "
win.
Posted by Turtlemayor333

I really appreciate Vinny's effort to push for Batman. One thing I've noticed that may have factored into this decision is that Brad and Ryan seem to extremely underrate Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. I would argue some of the shooting mechanics in that game are actually more solid than in Among Thieves.  The cover system does get pretty wonky (good word) at times, and you really notice it on the upper difficulties. Meanwhile I didn't experience any "jankiness" at all throughout Arkham Asylum.
 
Overall, Uncharted 2 is still a big improvement, but it isn't like Naughty Dog turned crap into gold or anything. Both Uncharted 2 and Batman are great, and it mostly comes down to nitpicks. I'll take Gargoyles and you can have the blue guys.

Posted by Palmlykta

I'd say that Jeff's comments about the Gargoyles in Batman pretty much nails it.

Posted by WrenchNinja

Uncharted 2 definitely earned the win, not to say Batman didn't deserve it. Both are definitely in my top 5 games of the year. I'm just super glad Modern Warfare 2 didn't get in. It's hilarious how over at GT, they picked MW2 for every platform specific GOTY and overall GOTY. Giantbomb definitely knows how to do these awards, separating it as exclusives and one specific multiplatform GOTY.

Posted by Budkin

Wow finally made it through the podcast. This category sounded like it was pulling teeth for the guys and I felt the same way. I feel for ya Vinnie! Two amazing ass games in Uncharted 2 and Batman: AA. Definitely a great time to be a gamer!

Posted by samcotts

So after completing Batman AA, I can safely report that there was really no need for any discussion about which game deserved the GOTY title (though I still found it entertaining, so thank you Giant Bomb), Uncharted 2 is miles better.

Posted by Nonethewiser

doesnt this entire process run contrary to the entire philosophy of not verging opinions so as to not settle for the most commonly liked game rather than the BEST game?

Posted by demonbear
@samcotts said:
" So after completing Batman AA, I can safely report that there was really no need for any discussion about which game deserved the GOTY title (though I still found it entertaining, so thank you Giant Bomb), Uncharted 2 is miles better. "
I would say its just more complete. Batman is really good though, just not GotY material.
Posted by storm_dk
@MAST said:
" I'm amused at how obvious it is when people disagree just to disagree...
 
"What? Uncharted 2 sucked! Batman should have won!"
"Whatever, Nathan Drake was a stupid character."
"Uncharted 2 was a terribly broken, and flawed game! How did it win!?"
 
Those types of comments are just pure nonsense. Even the people saying "Uncharted 2 was great, but Batman was better. Giantbomb failed on this one" are completely wrong. You know why? Because Game of the Year choices, regardless of the website, are THAT websites OPINION. You can't tell them that they "failed" because they expressed their opinion on their gaming website which is 100% about them expressing their opinion on a daily basis.  Basically the same thing happened last year. Giant Bomb picked GTA4, and then all kinds of people came out of the woodwork to say how much GTA4 sucked, and how the Giant Bomb staff were idiots for choosing it. Hopefully the staff here realizes that people like that are just attention whoring, and trying to be different just so they can make little comments like "At least I'm not a mindless drone" in an attempt to feel better then everyone else...  Ignore them guys! Uncharted 2 was a fine choice! "
I created a user, just to quote this - well said sir. 
 
@Nonethewiser said:
" doesnt this entire process run contrary to the entire philosophy of not verging opinions so as to not settle for the most commonly liked game rather than the BEST game? "
So if Batman AA had been the popular choice among the gaming press UC2 would have deserved it in your opinion? Great reasoning - all I have to say to that is: 
 
@MAST said:
" I'm amused at how obvious it is when people disagree just to disagree...
 
"What? Uncharted 2 sucked! Batman should have won!"
"Whatever, Nathan Drake was a stupid character."
"Uncharted 2 was a terribly broken, and flawed game! How did it win!?"
 
Those types of comments are just pure nonsense. Even the people saying "Uncharted 2 was great, but Batman was better. Giantbomb failed on this one" are completely wrong. You know why? Because Game of the Year choices, regardless of the website, are THAT websites OPINION. You can't tell them that they "failed" because they expressed their opinion on their gaming website which is 100% about them expressing their opinion on a daily basis.  Basically the same thing happened last year. Giant Bomb picked GTA4, and then all kinds of people came out of the woodwork to say how much GTA4 sucked, and how the Giant Bomb staff were idiots for choosing it. Hopefully the staff here realizes that people like that are just attention whoring, and trying to be different just so they can make little comments like "At least I'm not a mindless drone" in an attempt to feel better then everyone else...  Ignore them guys! Uncharted 2 was a fine choice! "
Edited by atomic_dumpling
@Nonethewiser said:

" doesnt this entire process run contrary to the entire philosophy of not verging opinions so as to not settle for the most commonly liked game rather than the BEST game? "

Please tell me how you quantify "fun". Hint: You can't. The best game is simply the game one likes most, hence your favorite game. All those GOTY awards are ultimately just a waste of everyones time. The only thing you can get out of star ratings and GOTY awards is the assumption that with game X, the chance of having a good time with it seems higher that with other games.
Posted by Michae1G

I agree with Giantbomb's winner and runner up 100%. Great job guys!

Posted by vcipher

Graphics and Storyline is really great. Though player is very much restricted in their interaction with surroundings e.g. climbing wall and rocks etc. In that respect Tomb-Rider is still ahead of it.

Posted by sprocketbot

This is my personal pick for GOTY as well. I really don't have anything negative to say about this game. If you take out all the gameplay elements it would be an incredible action film and I think that says a lot about the story telling power of this game.  
 
Other games should look to this one as a guideline for character animation and action.  Playing through one incredible action sequence after another made me wonder, why do we even have quick time events when UC2 shows that you can have it all?