Best of 2009
Sweep: Best of 2009
Sweep: Best of 2009
I have been at giantbomb for a while now, and I like to think some of my most basic character traits have rubbed off on the community. Zombie killing is, perhaps, my only real vice. It is certainly something I am willing to pursue with unbound enthusiasm. Left 4 Dead 2 may have arrived earlier than expected, but it's welcome is as warm as the zombie fraternity could wish for, and deservedly so. Each of the new characters has been beautifully realised and fits as fluently into the Zombocalypse as an undead enthusiast could hope. Each of the 5 campaigns introduces the players into scenarios which are fresh and exciting - whilst also providing a chance to experience the Left 4 Dead take on the classics. Whilst the first game was content to be simply functional, Left 4 Dead 2 often passes for splendiferously cinematic, and the end experience is much richer as a result. Throw in some fast-paced new multiplayer modes and Left 4 Dead 2 is a fantastically well rounded title that fully deserves the number 2 slot on this list.
Having never really owned a PC with sufficient firepower, 1943 on Xbox Live Arcade was the first Battlefield game I ever really had the chance to explore. I enjoyed it so much it became one of the few games for which I completed all achievements and then continued to play. It might be because, having popped my Battlefield cherry, I was getting a fix of the entire series in one stunning swoop - but the pure scale of the tropical paradise really knocked me off my feet. The game is vibrant and fantastic, a reality in which it is perfectly feasible for a tank to shoot down a plane with it's main gun - the fragility of life does not promote caution, rather the opposite. The game encourages players to engage in majestic suicidal combat - it doesn't matter if you die, so long as it looks cool. It's a sandbox, in the truest sense - allowing players to take the tools within their world and throw them, from various angles, into the fray. The result is confusing, overwhelming, frustrating, and fucking wonderful spectacle to behold.
Metroid was not a game I ever had the opportunity to play, but the 2D plane on which Shadow Complex progressed was nevertheless appreciated. The game felt perfectly tailored to it's perspective, a refreshingly retro romp through a james-bond-esque secret underground lair. Shadow Complex ignited an enthusiasm for loot which had previously been lost upon me. I needed to find those upgrades, it was important. The balance of each puzzle and it's reward of greater ability was at a perfect equilibrium for the pace of the game. Shadow Complex shares a defining positive of Crackdown; as you collected each item you were within just a few minutes reach of the next, the "just one more" mentality stripping hours from a day that had been put aside for more constructive passtimes. The generic story was far from intrusive, bouncing in and out of focus at suitable intervals throughout what I can comfortably call the most enjoyable treasure hunt of the year.
Yeah that's right, MW2 sits at number 5. Complain to your local MP. Whilst Modern Warfare 2 is a great game it fails to shine as a the revolutionary game which everyone, for some reason, expected it to be. This doesn't mean no meaningful changes have been made, the game is a significant improvement on the first Modern Warfare title. The most significant aspect, the multiplayer, has received changes that are both streamlined and logical, to the games credit. It is therefore a shame that one of the most enjoyable multiplayer shooters of the year has been faintly marred by the public's repeated ability to exploit and rape any flaw within the games design. I suppose popularity comes at a price. The scratches on the games online reputation sink in relation to the spectacle of it's Campaign - a cliche' rollercoaster of fast paced run-and-gun explosions. Reality is postponed and narrative takes a backseat, but I don't really hear anyone complaining, the only time you really get to pause for thought is when you reload. Modern Warfare 2 is perhaps a little too over-the-top to get a higher slot on the top 10 list but it's still an amazing thrillride of a computer game - raising the cinematic bar to unprecedented levels - and as a consequence it should be experienced by everyone as a matter of urgency.
I spent a large chunk of my summer travelling round europe, and when you are on a train travelling through Italy at 5am your nintendo DS is your best friend. Pokemon Platinum stays true to the simple formula of politely raising a squad of killing monsters and then hurling them at the overly-conspicuous Team Rocket substitutes. Possibly the greatest thing about Platinum is it's enthusiasm for sticking to the classic formula. Rivals, elemental advantages, Gym Leaders. Wash and Repeat. Each episode is a wonderful flash of familiarity, and it's heartwarming to know that another generation of gamers is growing up learning the same fundamentals as I did. Platinum relies on it's humble understanding of the RPG genre, and it's refusal to evolve (aha) is perhaps it's greatest strength.
Uncharted 2 is an amazing game. It's also a game I had to experience in a rather awkward situation, at my friend Graham's house. I got about 2/3rds of the way through before drunk people usurped me so they could play Rock Band. Uncharted undoubtedly deserves a higher spot on this list but, being in a situation where I have not really spent as much time with it as I would like, I can't really justify placing it any higher. Assuming that the spectacle featured in the games early stages is continued throughout I have little doubt as to the game's exemplary overall quality. I don't know how much one needs to have played a game before his judgement is valid, but having played a sizable chunk of Uncharted 2 I am openly prepared to admit that this game is worth owning a PS3 to play. The landscapes are stunning, the gameplay feels solid and reassuring, Nathan Drake is a charmingly upbeat character that never quite crosses the "smug-bastard" line. It's a true action adventure title, and it deserves every scrap of praise. Fucking fantastic.
Forza 3 was an unexpected pleasure. Driving games, like sports games, are often lost on me. However I found it surprisingly easy to slip into the streamlined hypnosis of Forza 3. The weight and handling of this driving sim is as realistic as one could hope. Similar to Mr Gerstmann I massively appreciated all the helpful additions to the racetrack that made the game more accessible to players who were more at home with Mario Kart than Gran Turismo. The visual splendour of Forza 3 contributes it's intense finish, and the customizable design vinlys makes the game a continual pleasure to explore and experience. Few driving games have as much depth off the track as on, and Forza 3 allows players to balance as much of each as they are prepared to. Apparently that's quite a lot...
As with 1943 this was my first Rock Band title, so I assume I received the blunt force of the series in one fatal swoop. This game is perfect for a man of my skills - one who loves and appreciates great music but is unable to channel his passion through clumsy fingers that are more comfortable around Joysticks than Guitar Picks. The concept is perhaps unmatched in it's ability to collect friends together physically and push them through an experience that is rewarding on so many different levels. The game tricks you into making you feel awesome. And i'm totally ok with that. Combine this with the Beatles, perhaps my favourite band in existence, and you have a potent mix.
I want to start out by saying that i'm a bit of a Marvel fanboy. Spiderman has always been my number one superhero, and DC... well DC comics always seemed kind of crappy without Stan Lee's magic touch. The fact that I can play and enjoy a Batman game at all is only slightly more impressive than the fact that someone made a Batman game worth playing. And Arkham Asylum is extremely worth playing. The fan-service is lost on me, but the core gameplay is consistently entertaining. Scare the shit out of a room full of bad-guys, then hide in the shadows and watch them freak out as you pick them off one-by-one. It's a simple yet effective method and the environments to which it is applied are varied and rewarding. The fighting system is crucial to the game's success, the brutal crushing weight of each punch makes you feel like an ambassador of pain - the game's greatest success is in recreating the core concept of Batman - the idea of a symbol being more meaningful than a single man, and allowing that symbol to influence the fear of his enemies - demonstrated perfectly by Batman's fragility when exposed to the harsh realities of gunfire. My tour of Arkham Asylum was an unexpected pleasure.
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