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Best of 2009

So this is my Best of 2009 list. It is tough narrowing it down to 10 but I think these picks fit the bill effectively. As a word of warning, I have yet to play a few games that would most likely pop up on this list as well. They are the following: Borderlands, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories and Demon's Souls. Borderlands is that one game I have to play, I know. Nonetheless, here are my picks and comments along with each of them.

List items

  • Well, the prestigious title of Game of the Year goes to none other than Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. No game had ever immersed me in such a cinematic world as this one and everything, and I truly mean every single aspect, was top-notch. The graphics were the best I have ever seen (truly any title with the "best graphics" of that year means best "ever," at least technically), and the lush jungles and snowcapped mountains proved that a gray, ugly background is not mandatory for a top-tier action game. The story was basically an Indiana Jones tale with a protagonist of equal charisma and courage. The cast, including the talented and omnipresent Nolan North and Claudia Black, created very likable characters that emoted well due to the superb motion capture animation. The action also made a lot of improvements over its predecessor and was incredibly intuitive. There was a difficulty spike near the final acts but I, for one, appreciated the challenge. No other game kept me enthralled so much that I had to beat the game in the shortest time possible (in this case 3 days) and then go back for seconds. For all the reasons above and its near-and-dear proximity to my heart, Uncharted 2 is my Game of the Year.

  • Say what you will about the story, but I had a blast with Modern Warfare 2's campaign mode. An apeshit crazy storyline perfectly complemented the apeshit crazy action, and it benefited all the while because of it. Plenty of plot twists and gripping sequences kept you hooked and it was short enough that its insanity didn't permeate your cranium. I despised the "No Russian" scene however and still won't forgive Infinity Ward for that nonsensical event but the game is dynamite nonetheless. The new Spec-Ops mode was a surprise in its variety and difficulty and will keep me busy for awhile as I pathetically attempt to reach 69 stars. The multiplayer mode finally hooked me this time around, which it did not for the 4th. I was terrible in the beginning but, with its addictive progression system and unlocks, I have managed to get good enough to be in the Top 5 nearly every round. My kill-to-death streak is terrible but the competitive multiplayer is top-notch in all fairness. Modern Warfare 2 is quickly approaching my most-played game of the year (see below) and will surely pass it soon.

  • Most of my thoughts for this game are summed up in my review, but this was my feel good game of the year. The Beatles are naturally my favorite band of all time, and combined with the best music game series out there, it makes for a stellar combination. The art style is very clean and actually makes the gameplay feel a lot more friendly, maybe considering this is also one of the easier Rock Band games out there. The downloadable content is pleasing as well: Abbey Road, Sgt. Pepper and Rubber Soul have all arrived already and there are still possibilities of others down the road.

  • Who would have thought a superhero game would be in almost everyone's Top 10's for the year but Batman: Arkham Asylum is a superb game in every regard. The chilling atmosphere, fantastic voice acting and dynamic combat system all are the main contributing factors to why this is the game that everyone could not stop talking about. The ending did disappoint, but everything else was so stellar that its overall impact was in no way lessened.

  • The first Assassin's Creed had more than its fair share of flaws but I enjoyed it for the innovative experience that it was. Thankfully, Assassin's Creed II does not make any excuses. It is an immensely polished, refined version of the first with many other improvements. The controls have some small but noticeable touch-ups and, while they still can frustrate in particular situations, free-running for the most part is surreal. The story for this now-franchise actually has depth this time around unlike the last one with its cheap ending. A bevy of side missions and assortments of weapons and armor make this game much deeper than its predecessor. Let's not forget the stunning graphics as well; they aren't as revolutionary as the first but the superb art design on historical settings really adds to the game's impact.

  • Ratchet & Clank really is that franchise that allows kids to be at the forefront of gaming's technological advances and also witness an experience that is appropriate and a lot of fun for them. Thankfully, it translates into a brilliant game for any age group as its Pixar-like graphics, cartoony story, mind-bending puzzles, and innovative action all combine to make an entertaining package. I found myself laughing out loud at some of the jokes that are reminiscent of a good Spongebob episode. Add to that a hilarious arsenal of bizarre weapons and puzzles that manipulate time, which only get harder as the game progresses, and you've got a fantastic title for anyone to enjoy.

  • Yes, this game was in fact released in 2008. However, I did not play Fallout 3 until this year and it was, far and away, my most-played game this year. I sunk 90 hours into this baby and never looked back. That reasoning alone would be a pathetic reason for me to include this here but, rest assured, logic enters the equation. Fallout 3 had a total of five, yes FIVE, pieces of DLC throughout the year and they were all great diversions that turned this expansive post-apocalyptic RPG into the best Western RPG I have ever played. A bold declaration but this lives up to it in spades. The downloadable content was varied, whether it be an Alaskan virtual simulation, a Pennsylvania raider romp, a continuation of the main story (and an increased level cap!!!), a voodoo trek through Southern mutant territory or an extraterrestrial excursion. All the content worked, with Mothership Zeta possibly being the weakest add-on though I still enjoyed it. Point Lookout had one of the best atmospheres for any game I played this year, standing up to the likes of Batman: Arkham Asylum. The piles of sweet loot that I pillaged only added to the obsession I had, and possibly still have, with this game. Fallout 3 really was my drug for 2009.

  • Next to Fallout 3, this was the other game that dominated my summer. I have always had a soft spot for Battlefield's huge, if somewhat clunky, worlds and this affirmed that love. I would be lying if I said I didn't stay up until 3-4 AM some summer nights playing this instead of partying or, you know, sleeping. Due to its random nature, the game had some of the most memorable moments of the year for me, such as taking out the entire enemy team with my rifle alone, jumping into a jeep, flattening an adversary then piloting a plane where I would go kamikaze into a lighthouse before jumping out at the last second. All of this, and I didn't need a kill streak to get any satisfaction. Despite all of this, Battlefield 1943 feels surprisingly balanced and each class has their advantages. The lack of a persistent upgrade system was disappointing but that didn't stop me from spending a lot of time with this one....until Modern Warfare 2 came out of course.

  • This is the real surprise of the year. I never played a Diablo game before in my life and had no interest in the upcoming third installment in the acclaimed Blizzard franchise. That all changed when I spent $10 on Torchlight during the Steam sales and booted up a game people were praising but I really had no interest in. It hooks you from the get-go: barely even distracting you with its barebones story, Torchlight throws you into a cavernous mine to slay beasts and collect loot. Sure, it is a rip-off of Diablo (from what I have heard....) but it is an addictive and polished one at that. The art style is very attractive and the pounding score makes achievement-whoring the fishing minigame a pleasure. I am still not even done with this game yet but I really can't wait to play more.

  • I have always appreciated racing simulators but never got into them because of their high patience requirements and, well, realism. Burnout seemed to scratch my asphalt itch more than Gran Turismo. Nonetheless, I picked up Forza Motorsport 3 to see what the immense praise was all about. I was immediately fascinated by the white, sterile menus and the tutorial that made any player feel right at home. A steady stream of achievements didn't hurt either, and I was hooked. There is a lot to love in this game and the endless customization of difficulty and assists guarantee that no one will be left in the dark. The huge roster of beautiful, intricately detailed cars also is astonishing as is the 2nd disc that requires hard drive space to install because they could not fit all the cars and tracks on one disc. Turn 10 aimed for the stars and hit pretty close.

  • Okay, I am cheating. For one, this is the 11th item on this supposedly "Top 10" list and, secondly, I have not gotten too far into this game yet. However, I am loving it so far and I know this is the type of game that I will cherish. Mass Effect was not a huge favorite of mine but, on the other hand, KOTOR was, which this seems to more closely resemble. Or Baldur's Gate to be exact. The extremely deep single player campaign will most likely take me hours to finish and I am enjoying all of the characters already. The so-bad-it-is-good narration also puts me right in the medieval mood. This is definitely going to be a favorite of mine and I may edit this list later on for its placement to be accurate to my final impressions.