After years spent finding its footing, the PlayStation 3 came through with some of the best platform exclusives we played in 2009, and it just so happened that those exclusives were produced almost exclusively by Sony itself. We whittled our list down to the final three, but there could be only one PlayStation 3 game of the year...
Best PlayStation 3-Only Game
Nathan Drake has a knack for getting himself into and then out of some real crazy rock/hard-place situations, usually while exceeding the maximum number of tight scrapes and incidental explosions that the law will allow, roughly every 30 to 45 minutes. This is, at its essence, what makes Uncharted 2: Among Thieves a fun game. It's not a complicated or even terribly inventive formula, but what what makes Uncharted 2 an exceptional game lies almost entirely in Naughty Dog's relentless execution, which delivers nothing less than one of the PlayStation 3's most viscerally thrilling, visually stunning, and just out-and-out fun experiences.
You've got a likable and incredibly relatable hero in Nathan Drake, and on the other side there's Zoran Lazarevic, one of the baddest bad guys we've seen in a video game in a good long while. The pure-adventure story isn't itself the most compelling thing about Uncharted 2, but it allows for wonderful amount of globe-trotting to exotic and fantastical locales. Uncharted 2's unimpeachable good looks extend beyond the detailed environments, awesome explosions, and naturalistic character animations, and go right down to the very hair on Nathan's head. Everything is just so dense with detail, it's hard not to be impressed on some level. Even the camera in Uncharted 2 is worth mentioning for the elegance with which it presents all that chaos. The camera.
The underlying shoot-and-climb gameplay in Uncharted 2 isn't phenomenally different from its predecessor, but it finds significantly better focus here, and loses any faint traces of being a Tomb Raider also-ran that might've been lingering in the process. The gunplay feel substantive without being too technically demanding, and the traversal makes every jump feel like you just barely made it. That seat-of-your-pants balance between control and chaos is a hell of a thing to achieve, and it's a characteristic that runs bone-deep in Uncharted 2.
It looks great, it plays great, it's a whole hell of a lot of fun, and it's our 2009 PlayStation 3-only game of the year.
Runners-Up: InFamous, Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time