Best of 2009

2009 was a year that was oddly front loaded, but more than that, it was a year where every game I really enjoyed as much as I did, was completely unexpected to me. At the beginning of the year, if you had told me my top ten list would look like this, I would have laughed at you, and then preformed some kind of strange dance to further confirm your status as a crazy man from the future. Yet, here I am, and I can think of no other way to form my list than I already have.

List items

  • Games that cross genres rarely work well, or only include small attributes from other genres to augment an existing one. Borderlands merges the realms of role playing games and shooters pretty much perfectly. It doesn't feel like a role playing game where you shoot, nor does it feel like a shooter with tedious stats tacked onto it. Instead Borderlands becomes a completely unique look at Diablo style loot games, with a world that's quite different and entertaining. There's not a lot of classes on offer, but each are distinct, and add a cool dynamic to co-op play, which is also outstanding in the game. In a world plagued by sequels and uninspired settings, Borderlands comes in swinging with a great sense of style, and mechanics that make it far more different than anything else out there.

  • Much like Uncharted, the first Assassin's Creed was a game I enjoyed, but unlike Uncharted, it was far more flawed. Bad even, I would say. Assassin's Creed II not only seeks to right the wrongs of the first game, it drastically changes the scope, and builds an absolutely fantastic adventure, that feels more like a modern take on the Zelda formula, than anything like the first game. The locations you climb around in are beautiful, and though the story gets crazy as hell at the end, Ezio is still a far more likable character, and his story has a lot more personal motivation to it than Altair's did. And while the first game felt so sparse that it was as though nothing worth meaning was there for you to entertain yourself with, the sequel is so jam packed with content and depth, that it's almost overwhelming at times.

  • The first Uncharted was a game I loved, but was pretty flawed. So I kind of didn't know what to expect with the sequel. The addition of multiplayer at first also had me deeply worried that the focus of the game was getting thrown out of whack. The end result though, was a game that had an absolutely brilliant campaign, some paltry but satisfying co-op modes, and a multiplayer that's actually worth sticking around for. The campaign itself is perfect in its length, pacing, story, almost every aspect. After running through the game a few times, I very quickly realized that if someone were to ask me what game I thought defined 2009, it is Uncharted 2, without question.

  • What the hell, a Batman game that doesn't suck? Who the hell is Rocksteady, and how did they pull this off? Arkham Asylum is a weird mixture of stealth action, brawler, and metroidvania, but what's enjoyable, is it doesn't feel sloppy. Even with many different styles of play converging, they all feel polished, and the game leap frogs between them so often that it always feels like you're doing something fresh and cool. It also has a distinct reverence and understanding for its source material as well, making the asylum feel like it has all this history behind it, and it's a great place to explore.

  • It's completely odd to me that I like Resident Evil 5 at all. I didn't like 4, so why was I so enthralled with this game? To be honest, I still don't have the answer. I played a lot of co-op with fiends though, so maybe that's the answer? I was even compelled to beat the game on the highest difficulty setting, something I usually don't bother with these days unless it's a Halo game. But when I think about it, the game was a mess. Zombies with guns, complete global saturation, an African setting that quickly looks nothing like Africa, and the "Battepillar." There isn't anything I could actually say is GOOD about this game, much less great... and yet I played the living shit out of it.

  • To clarify, over the years, I was HUGE fan of the Tony Hawk games. But the thing is, those games started to suck, like... bad. I couldn't reconcile how bad the series had become after awhile. But then the Skate series came out of nowhere, like a breathe of fresh air, and quickly replaced my love of the Tony Hawk series in every way. Where once I was groveling at Neversoft's feet, now I'm over on EA Black Box's side. There's a wonderful sense that Black Box "gets it" with the Skate series. They don't play up the skating world as being hammy and awful like the Tony Hawk games did, and do something completely different without needing to sell you useless hardware.

  • Bungie made another Halo campaign. Good enough for me! Seriously though, the pacing of the campaign was really great, the hub world stuff added a really interesting element, and Firefight was a fantastic addition to the multiplayer. Also, having all of Halo 3's multiplayer on one disc with no need for buying shitty map packs is great.

  • I had no idea what inFamous was, and didn't really care, until I got a chance to play the demo. It instantly jumped onto my "OH GOD NEED THIS NOW" list after that. While the morality stuff in the game was used mostly to alter what kind of powers you had, and the game wasn't really polished, it was still brilliant. It was an open world game that understood that "open" doesn't have to be "gigantic and sparse." Instead, you had tightly packed dense sections of city to roam around in, and controlling Cole was a joy that very few super hero games manage to nail. It was also one of the few open world games where side missions weren't absolutely insufferable.

  • Well, the campaign was a little lacking, but I still liked it. I don't think that matters though, as I'll be playing the multiplayer for this game for a long goddamn time. Oh, and there's spec ops mode too.

  • Battlefield 1943 is a great example of what can be done in the downloadable game space and fits perfectly on the Playstation Network and Xbox Live Arcade. It's fully featured, has a good selection of maps, and it's cheap. It's been a great "distraction" game I feel. Whenever I want a very fully featured experience, but I'm too lazy to stand up and put a different disc in? BAM, jump right into 1943 and start shooting dudes. The Frostbyte engine also continues to impress as well, as the environment exploding around you greatly affects where you can take cover. I think at this point with other multiplayer offerings around for the holidays, it could use a price cut, but it's still a very easy game to recommend for shooter fans.