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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 Staff

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

Posted by Bladefire

Have to agree, finally played this a week ago and it blew me away.

Posted by marc

Yeah!! Can't argue with this choice at all.

Posted by cstrang

This needs a quick edit to clean up the article.  But I can't wait to play this game.

Posted by jakob187

I was really expecting Batman to get it.  Definitely can't argue with Uncharted 2, though.  I've heard nothing but the most amazing of praise for the title.  2009 makes me wish I had a PS3.

Posted by Butchio

you might want to take the following out 
 

Best PlayStation 3-Only Game

Posted by Zero_

Title needs to change from "Best PlayStation 3-Only Game" to Game of the Year.

Posted by zombie2011

I would have picked Dragon Age or Batman over this but Uncharted is still a great game and on of the best this year.

Posted by gingertastic_10

This totally makes me want to play it over again, all the videos of it I mean. My stupid friend is borrowing it though.

Posted by damnboyadvance

It says Best Playstation 3-Only Game.

Posted by piderman

Though I don't own a PS3 I kinda expected this already.

Posted by Binman88

Well deserved, I think.

Edited by Venatio

Awesome! This was exactly what I was hoping for, I couldnt agree more! 
 
Batman was a great game but I think that Uncharted 2 was alot more satisfying 
 
EDIT: I almost forgot to mention that I really thought that Batman would win this

Posted by Crono

Excellent selection.  Like I have mentioned before - Uncharted 2 was the first game since this whole "next generation" of gaming that has been able to really suck me into the experience.  The opening scene of the game literally made my jaw drop the first time I played it - I was in in complete and utter awe.  It really is an amazing title and I can see why it is topping so many lists from so many outlets.

Posted by natetodamax

k

Posted by Byblos

Good choice for me. 
 
The helicopter attack sequence in Nepal was probably my only hairs-on-neck raising moment in videogames last year, it was incredibly well orchestrated. 
 
Oh and 3 hr 43 min Bombcast... *faints*

Posted by Afroman269

As expected and well deserved. Now with this out of the way I shall sink the rest couple of hours into the fight that led to this decision in the podcast.

Posted by GeekDown

I totally get why this is the winner, but I still don't want to play it.

Posted by AZ123

No! Batman!

Posted by FesteringNeon

Perfect game that truely deserves the top honors!
Posted by BenderUnit22

Great choice. It's my personal game of the year with amazing production values, fantastic voice acting, incredible graphics and outstanding multiplayer both co-op and competitive. 
 
Kudos to Rocksteady and Infinity Ward for some amazingly entertaining games, but Naughty Dog went above and beyond with Uncharted 2.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

Uncharted 2? Predictable. Too bad I don't own a PS3.

Edited by Johnny_Reckless

Awesome, I totally agree with this.  As soon as I finished playing through it, I knew I had played not only the 2009 game of the year, but one of the best games in a long time.  Naughty Dog has created a game that not only is amazing, but truly moves the video game medium forward in a world in which games are struggling to make a legitmate impact on society outside of causing an uproar about violence.  Congrats to everyone involved in the creation of Uncharted 2, you've created a truly memorable gaming experience.  Nice choice Giant Bomb!
Posted by Marz

It's no surprise this won, it's just a badass game.

Posted by Blaster

agreed

Posted by TheGamerGeek

Of course it was.

Posted by ImperiousRix

Damn you, Nolan North!

Posted by MKLOL

I was almost sure it would be Batman but no cigar

Posted by Davin

Saw this coming at least a week ago. Don't agree, I'd pick Batman or Dragon Age over this.

Posted by SyphonFilter0

Great choice,i agree!

Posted by misterpope

Agreed.
Posted by Cube
@ArbitraryWater said:
" Uncharted 2? Predictable. Too bad I don't own a PS3. "
And deserved. Good job, boys.
Posted by Cazamalos

love the game so much that even love when it get GOTY awarded...and i loved Batman and DAO too, so either way i will end pleased

Posted by Legend

LOL! I guess I was wrong.

Posted by V_Ben

solid argument guys! my personal choice too, good show!

Posted by Pkshields

The game absolutely deserves GOTY

Online
Posted by Addfwyn

Was expecting them to give it to Batman, but very happy they went with Uncharted 2.  Really is an absolutely amazing game, not just the best game of 2009.  One of the best games I've ever played, period. 
 
Couldn't have gone to a more deserving game, excellent choice GB staff.

Posted by Globox82
@jakob187 said:
" I was really expecting Batman to get it.  Definitely can't argue with Uncharted 2, though.  I've heard nothing but the most amazing of praise for the title.  2009 makes me wish I had a PS3. "
Same here, i was expecting Batman to get it. I have played most of big games this year, both Batman and Uncharted 2 are amazing, but i have to give it to Uncharted 2, just slightly
Posted by Gruff182

I was blown away by quite a few games this year. Batman, Dragon Age, Ratchet and inFamous to be specific.
 
Uncharted 2 is the clear winner though. Stellar job, Naughty Dog.

Posted by Aaox

I thought Batman would win, but I wanted Uncharted to win. SEE HOW MY FAITH HATH REWARDED ME!

Posted by marlow83

Saw that coming

Posted by Vrock

Uncharted 2 was somewhat like watching Avatar movie, but on STEROIDS. I being a "visual whore" was utterly impressed and smitten with how sharp this game looks. And also there's "It should've been a movie" style of narration that kept me in the game. GOTY. Absolutely.

Posted by SaucySala

PUT UP ANOTHER QUICKLOOK!

Posted by lamegame621

Damn I wish I had a PS3...and a place to put it...

Posted by solidlife

I should borrow a PS3

Posted by MJHAYLETT

Great Job with your GOTY's this year Giant Bomb. Other sites, cough Gametrailers cough, were a joke. Uncharted 2 and Batman AA were the two best games this year, from a list of lots and lots of good games, but I agree Uncharted 2 just sneaks it. Its pacing, looks, wit, gameplay and just general excellence all over deserves the win. Batman AA was a freaking great game though. I didn't care for MW2 but that is because I don't like FPS's or Online Multiplayer that much. I played the Single Player Campaign - all 5 hours of it, and that was enough for me.
 
Once again, Very Nice GOTY's this year Giant Bomb. You Win Video Game Website of the Year from me.

Posted by Hraudung

I couldn't agree more, just an amazing game in every way, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Dragon Age: Origins and Assassin's Creed  2 are also awesome games.
But  Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is close to perfect.
 
( 3 hr 43 min Bombcast.  That's EPIC ! )


Posted by forgeforsaken

I have to say I'm disappointed.   Giant Bomb seemed like the only site that might give it to Batman and instead we get the standard  choice of Uncharted 2.    
Posted by John

Really? Batman AA is better than Assassin's Creed 2? I must find out... be right back.

Posted by 1trained_n00b

Congrats to all the runner-ups.  So many games had the potential to take home the award, and there really was no "clear winner" (for me anyways). 2009 was a great year in gaming, and here's hoping that 2010 will be just as good.  
 
Indigo Prophecy: Endurance Run