Best of 2009
The Top Ten games of 2009, in very particular order.
The Top Ten games of 2009, in very particular order.
Not the most original game I've played this year, but quite simply the best. Naughty Dog has always been known for taking an existing concept and tuning it to perfection, and this is more true than ever here. This is a game built around fantastic set pieces, insane firefights, and a simple but very well told story. This is probably the most perfect action game I've played, and it deserves to be Game of the Year, in my mind. You must play this game!
Everyone I've talked to seems to dislike this game - I really don't get it. Resident Evil 4 is one of my all-time favorites, and although this game didn't quite trump that masterpiece, it's still an incredibly fun (not to mention incredibly gratifying) experience. I felt challenged constantly, and playing through the game co-op was the most fun I had in a multiplayer game this year. To hell with the people who can't learn the control scheme; this is a game every action fan should play, and it deserves a high billing on this list.
Wow. I wasn't expecting this game to even break my Top 10 list when I heard of it. Then I actually sat down and played it. What a game. Like Uncharted 2, this isn't a game that's particularly unique from a design perspective. But it takes the action RPG and refines it into something that anyone can enjoy. It has tons of tweaks that will hook veterans (not having to pick up gold by clicking on it, having a pet to sell your items so you can keep fighting, a shared stash that lets you share items between characters, and hundreds more), but these excellent design choices make action RPGs more accessible than ever to beginners. No matter who you are, Torchlight is worth a look, and I respect it as much as I enjoy playing it for that. And the best part? It runs on virtually any PC, including netbooks. Get to it!
Gearbox concocted a dangerous addiction in Borderlands, the shooter with Diablo-style looting. Although it's not without its minor annoyances, I played the hell out of this game, and with more DLC coming down the pipe, I plan to return very soon. Whether you play it co-op or single player, the game just has a ton to offer, with quests, items, and locations that border on overwhelming at times. I didn't think the two genres could be integrated this well, but I was wrong. Congratulations on an experiment well-received, Gearbox. Can't wait for the sequel.
I haven't finished this game, and I won't any time soon, but that's one of the best things about it. In an age of increasingly short games, Dragon Age provides incredible value for your money. And this sixty-plus hour beast doesn't skimp on quality; the high-fantasy plot is great, with Bioware's trademark dialog moving things along at the perfect pace. The combat's awesome too, proving the company can forge a complex game system without the help of The Wizards of the Coast. If you enjoy Western role-playing in the least, it goes without saying; Dragon Age belongs in your collection.
I wasn't the biggest fan of the first Left 4 Dead for one reason; I always got lost. Left 4 Dead 2 impressed me right away with the constant dialog hints as to where you should be heading next, and what you should be doing there. But obviously there's more than just that little feature. The characters here are great, and actually develop as you go through the game's new film premises, funnier and more well-constructed than last year's model. This is what a sequel should be; a slightly more ambitious variation on a similar theme. And just like the original, this is a true co-op experience. Separate from the group at your peril.
Who says that largely text-based puzzle games have no place in a Game of the Year list? Of course they do. Diabolical Box is a really different sort of sequel, once you get down to it. The story has a tight integration with the puzzles themselves, and this makes everything about the game more meaningful. You feel more compelled to work at the game's brainteasers to see what happens next. You care about the game's expanded cast of characters. And, most importantly, you have a lot more fun playing the game. Tricky and bittersweet, any patient gamer needs to play this game.
I don't play many military shooters these days, but...yeah, this is an awesome one. Infinity Ward know how to make a shooter feel; it's as simple as that. It's definitely a lot zanier than CoD 4, and I don't agree with some of its new perks and tweaks (no fall damage and infinite sprint can piss off), but those are nitpicks at best. If you're looking for a straight shooter with a huge degree of customization, you can do no better than Modern Warfare 2.
There's a zombie on your lawn! I gave Plants vs Zombies a 5/5 star review and haven't looked back since. It's just an awesome game, filled with PopCap's traditional carrots-on-a-stick to keep you hooked. The game's Adventure mode is packed with different defensive and offensive plants for your tower defense style shenanigans, and when you're all done with that, loads of tough challenges and a few meta games await you. This is casual gaming at its finest. Nobody (not even your Mom) has an excuse to skip this one.
A game I never thought would get an English translation did, and it's awesome. A simple rhythm game made out of taps, holds, and flicks of the touch screen, Rhythm Heaven's insane Japanese style makes it one of my favorites this year. Being a back-up dancer for an all-frog band? Inhaling dumplings to an increasingly demanding beat? Learning and following choreography as a monkey at a Japan idol's concert? Yes please, and more. Unless you despise strong Japanese influence in your games, this worth your time (and getting a DS for).
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