Title: My top ten favorite games of 2009.
Posted: December 14, 2009 (02:00 PM)
The only game that came out this year that I really want to play and haven't gotten around to yet is Demon's Souls, which I probably won't be playing anytime soon, unless my roommate gets it over the holidays and brings it with him next semester. Having said that, here are my picks for the ten best games that came out in 2009. At best, this will serve as a preview for my eventual write-ups on those games I haven't reviewed yet.
10. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
To be fair, I haven't quite finished this one yet, but I've been burning a lot of free time playing it over the past week and it's another solid entry in a series grounded in solidity. For the most part, it's an improvement over Phantom Hourglass (which in retrospect I'd score lower than the 9/10 I originally gave it). This new game's overuse of the microphone, however, is both annoying and embarrassing. Hey Nintendo? The touch screen stuff has been working out well. Microphone, not so much. Give it a rest already. On an unrelated note, the Tower of Spirits is fantastic.
If I wrote a book on how not to do moral choices, this game would be my most frequent citation. That's really more of a pet peeve than anything, though, and aside from that, I really have no beef with this game. It contains not a single new idea (sandbox exploration with parkour platforming and cover-based shooter combat, spiced with RPG elements), but it's so consistently entertaining and well-rounded that I can't imagine any serious gamer not liking it. Think of it as a Crackdown clone that's much, much better than Crackdown, i.e. it's got a story, characters, structure, variety, and an ending. Anyone who says this is a system seller is kidding themselves, but it's a great little perk if you happen to own a PS3.
Some have quite astutely called this game the FPS equivalent to Diablo. That's essentially what it is: a mostly plot-less grind fest that's far better enjoyed with friends than alone. The only difference is that it's a shooter set in a wasteland that bears more than a passing resemblance to the one in Fallout 3. It's more colorful, though, so that's nice. Addictive and brimming with character.
7. Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story
I loved the original but for some reason was never interested enough to pick up the sequel. It couldn't possibly compare to the new one, which takes all of the things I loved about Mario RPGs (namely the fully interactive turn-based combat and wonderful sense of humor) and applies... well... you'll see.
6. Batman: Arkham Asylum
Yeah, the boss battles are lame. It's a shame the last one in particular was such a letdown, but I'll hardly let that spoil the 95% of Arkham that totally kicked ass. Hand-to-hand combat provides sufficient buffer between the fantastic stealth segments, which have you stalking your prey from several stories up, swooping down for the strike and vanishing again in the blink of an eye. The first Batman game to truly make me feel like Batman.
5. Dragon Age: Origins
It's a BioWare game. It's got dialog trees and great writing and long load times and complicated menus and all that. You've been here before. The only thing separating this from any of their other games is that it's set in a generic Tolkien-esque fantasy world... so it's basically Baldur's Gate 3D. Other developers couldn't afford to be so predictable, but BioWare are responsible for some of my favorite games and Dragon Age is another deep, lengthy, expansive entry into their RPG collection. Keep up the (consistent) work.
4. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
This game is basically a long string of water cooler moments -- you'll want to make sure a friend of yours is playing it at the same time so you can talk about it with them. The train level is amazing, but many of the less publicized moments are just as stellar and visually spectacular. It's just a little disappointing that the game loses so much steam in its last couple hours. It's as if the developers ran out of cool ideas but wanted to keep the game rolling for as long as they could. Though I guess as far as complaints are concerned, "this one part wasn't as awesome as the rest" isn't very damning.
3. Modern Warfare 2
Uncharted 2 could learn a thing or two from this game about stopping while you're ahead. Modern Warfare 2 is also a string of visually spectacular water cooler moments, but trimmed of all possible fat and delivered as one fantastic six-hour package. The story tries way too hard, but as an excuse to run snowmobiles over cliffs and fend off invading Russians in suburban Virginia, I'll buy it. Multiplayer stuff is excellent, too.
Probably the purest fun I've had all year, it caters to many of our most basic gamer urges without ever being parody-worthy (it is, indeed, its own parody). The Wii controls are applied gracefully enough that I can't imagine the game functioning any better with traditional controls, and the stylized graphics make it hard to imagine the game looking any better on more capable consoles. It's loud, manly and awesome, and self-conscious enough that you never once feel ashamed for loving it.
1. Assassin's Creed II
I've talked about this one enough, but just to briefly reiterate, it keeps everything I loved about Assassin's Creed and fixes everything I hated about it. Which is what a sequel is supposed to do, solve the problems without undermining the series. You could probably nitpick this game to death, but the level to which Ubisoft responded to criticisms for the first game is a dedication more developers should exercise. They've earned this one.
Posted: December 14, 2009 (02:14 PM)
I never did get around to finishing Batman AA. I got to the final boss, played and failed it a few times, just went "fuck it, I'm not having fun anymore" and quit. =/
Posted: December 14, 2009 (06:32 PM)
I want to do this but there are a few key games that I still haven't played (Torchlight, Batman AA, Monkey Island, etc). Maybe you'll see my list in February or March.
Posted: December 15, 2009 (01:57 PM)
Suskie's list is pretty spot on, though a couple pieces like Dragon Age and Borderlands, definitely will be liked by a pretty specific audience. As opposed to something like Assassin's Creed II, which has pretty wide appeal.
Posted: December 15, 2009 (06:00 PM)
Everyone I've spoken to says Dragon Age is amazing. I'm just reluctant to play it because I'm not much of a Bioware fan. Assassin's Creed 2 is another one that is everyone except for GUTS claims is way better than the first.