Best of 2009
PXAbstraction: Best of 2009
PXAbstraction: Best of 2009
Just an overall amazing package with not one part of it that wasn't super polished. The fighting, the platforming, the story, the characters, the acting, all top notch and I always had a hard time putting this game down. It still amazes me that this came from a rookie team.
Cinematic is a word that's used far too often in the gaming press but it's the most applicable for this. A non-stop roller coaster with some of the best visuals ever, great platforming, characters and what can only be described as an Indiana Jones story for the new age (no, the latest film doesn't count.)
I really liked the first Assassin's Creed and was just blown away by how much the sequel raised the bar. While still a little repetitive in the side quest department, there are still many more types than in the first game and the story missions are much more varied with much less long-winded dialogue. The detail of the world (going so far as to give historical briefs of the different buildings) is astounding and was clearly done with a passion for the source material. And oh yes, fast travel! Even if you weren't into the first game, you owe it to yourself to check this out.
I've beaten the entire Ratchet & Clank series and the latest installment doesn't disappoint. Aside from the amazing visuals, it includes the series' typical great platforming, a challenging but not frustrating puzzle mechanic involving Clank, a semi-open world area with lots of side tasks to do and the hilariously creative mixture of weapons that made the R&C games famous. Just an overall mirror-shine polished Insomniac experience.
I think it's fair to say that no one saw this game coming. After trying the early multiplayer beta in 2008, I had completely written this off but after release, I was shocked like everyone else. Rarely have I had more fun than when I drove to a mission that involved blowing up a bunch of buildings that I could tackle any way I wanted and watching a legion of citizens cheering me on and picking up arms to join in the fight. It is a shame the multiplayer community didn't stick around for long as it was also one of the most fun online experiences I've had all year. I can't wait for a sequel.
I had my doubts about Borderlands as I've never really been that big a fan of Gearbox's past work but that changed when my friend and I co-opped the entire first playthrough in four sittings which when you consider it took us over 25 hours is pretty damn impressive. Essentially Diablo With Guns, Borderlands borrows a number of conventions from other games but combines them together into a package that's crazy fun and addictive, along with a unique art style that really makes the world feel like no other. It doesn't matter that there's almost no story, fiction or that a lot of what you're doing in the game doesn't ultimately make much sense, it's a fun co-op run and gun loot fest.
Essentially Diablo with...no it's basically just Diablo, even done by a lot of the same people. But that's great because Torchlight has everything that made Diablo a digital narcotic in spades, combined with a WoW-like cartoony art style that will run on even ancient systems. At $20 when it came out (you can easily find it for less now), there is simply no better bang-for-buck single player experience to be had this year, even if there's no co-op play. You can make a loot game fun for as a long as you want and Torchlight provides a great framework for that.
Despite not being very good at them, I love racing games and more importantly, I love rally racing which is a genre that's been sadly underrepresented in gaming the last several years. I liked the first DiRT a lot, even though it seemed a bit like a proof of concept. This year, Codemasters took that concept and ran with it, making not only an astonishingly good looking rally game but indeed, one of the best racing games period. I've put many hours into Forza Motorsport 3 but DiRT 2 takes the cake for creating a very detailed representation of my favourite kind of racing and like Forza, giving you the means to make it as arcadey or sim-like as you want. If you like rally racing at all, you need to try this.
I'm a huge shmup fan going back to the 80s and when something from the genre dares to show its face on a modern console, I'm all over it pretty much regardless. However, Raiden Fighters Aces isn't just some arcade ROMs with a front end, it's a very slick package of 3 fantastic arcade shmups that has had all the benefits of modern online systems added to it including downloadable replays, online leaderboards and unlike make PS2 shmups, high score tables for each mode and each difficulty variant of each. At $20, this is an amazing value and a great representation of a dying genre on the Xbox 360.
The reviews for this game have largely been awful but you know what? Those people are WRONG! Fairytale Fights is undoubtedly flawed in many ways and it isn't all that gripping to play by yourself but you get a couple of friends on the same TV and it's a blast. It's basically a gory twin-stick brawler that takes place in a nightmarish version of many classic fairy tales. There is some uneven pacing, the bosses are cheap and frustrating and the level designs can sometimes leave a bit to be desired but using a mailbox to carve up evil gingerbread men and then skate around in their guts after they die with a couple of friends can't be beat. Forget the reviews, try this out and decide for yourself.
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