31 December 2009
I figured this being the last day of 2009, I'd compile a list of my top 10 favorite games I've been playing this year. Of course, this is all opinion, and admittedly, I don't play EVERY game release (but close!). I'm also not going to limit this list to just sports games. The reason for that is because that a top 10 of ONLY sports games is rather limiting, since there ae so few sports releases. So making the top 10 is rather easy since there are only about 10 releases. (Heck, by default, MLB 2K9 would be on there towards the 10 spot, which isn't exactly a ringing endorsement of the game!) So, this is gonna be a list of my top 10 games in general. Now, I know there's some I haven't bought, such as the new "Uncharted 2" for PS3, or Assassin's Creed 2- since in both cases I've resolved to beat the first game before playing the second. So by all means don't go assuming this list is "comprehensive"...at all.
Also, feel free to debate the list in the forums, and let me know what titles I'm wrong on, and which ones I should have included.
Here it is....starting at #10
10. Wolfenstein (XBOX 360/PS3/PC
Yeah, I know. Another "Me too" World War II FPS, right? Wrong. Many people dismissed Wolfenstein as another Nazi shoote-em-up retread. In doing so, they missed out on a very fine action game that seemingly merged the demonic world of Doom with some Nazi experimentation set in the 1940s. The story, while the usual id Software supernatural meets boxes of bullets, wasn't half bad either. The game is a really fun romp and a showcase of next-gen graphics. Yes, and you get to also shoot a lots of Nazis. And demons...and other weird things from other dimensions.
9. Brutal Legend (XBOX 360/PS3)
Okay, how do I describe Brutal Legend to someone who hasn't played it? Take a hardcore metal roadie (played/voiced by Jack Black), drop him into a world that looks like a Meat Loaf album cover, add in a war between the metal gods (one of whom is Ozzy Osbourne) throw in an all-star soundtrack of hairbands from the 80s and 90s, mix in open world driving, craziness, and a great sense of humor, and a lot of fun, and you have Brutal Legend. It is one fine game that mixes third person action and a casual mix of real time strategy. And the soundtrack is the best I've heard in a video game.
8. INFAMOUS (PS3)
Due to the fact that Infamous is a Sony developed game and is therefore a PS3 exclusive, half of the gaming world hasn't had the awesome experience of playing this completely novel super-hero/super-villain game. (Yes, it is BOTH). This is a pure action game focusing on a kid who is a bicycle courier who's mysterious package to be delivered explodes and changes/devastates the world. He survives being at ground zero and has been given super powers from the explosion... most of which focus on manipulating electricity and matter. This is an open world super-hero game...or, an open world super villain game. Yes, you can be either. The choices you make help set your path to evil or good, and your powers change as you progress down either path, as does your character's look. Being able to weild finger-launched lightning is also mega-fun, (think Emperor Palpatine..). Great game if you have a PS3.
7. New Super Mario Bros. (Wii)
Now when I say "kickin' it old skool", this is what I mean. Nintendo has had a rather paltry year in terms of good game releases on the Wii, but New Super Mario Bros. was a pure gaming gem. Yes, it is a classic 2D side-scroller, but a highly refined and deep one. It harkens back to Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3, yet is incredibly long, fun, and super challenging. Did I say super-challenging? Yes I did. This is a HARD game for a hardcore audience. The game is so hard at points that I'm sure some of the younger Mario faithful might be put off by the stiff challenges..which start to hit around WORLD TWO! But, for us "seasoned" vets. (read: those of us used to the high level of difficulty of old NES games), we should be able to adjust...after dying. Alot. Great game, and its even better when you try to tackle it co-op. (Up to four players.)
6. Borderlands (XBOX 360/PS3/PC)
What do you get when you cross a Mad-Max style post-apocalyptic world, with GTA style open world gameplay, first person shooting, driving, and Diablo II style lootfesting? Well, you get Borderlands. Borderlands was one of the most unexpected gems of the year, and many people dismissed it as being probably too similar to id Software's upcoming "RAGE" game. However, this game made a name for itself right out of the gate with some of the ConsoleSports.net faithful, many of whom can be found playing it on any given day on XBOX Live. In a rather dismal year for 2K games, Borderlands was a quality hit for them. I've never seen a game combine so many genres so well. This one isn't to be missed.
5. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (XBOX 360/PS3/PC)
Lets face it, the whole COD series, be it the "modern warfare" games or the ones centering around WWII, is expected to be good. Infinity Ward has set the bar exceedingly high with each COD game release. And, as usual, they did it again. This game is a graphical and storytelling marvel. Mix in a storyline right out of a Tom Clancy novel and throw in some of the best FPS action around and you have COD MW2. I must say that the Siberian level with the ice-climbing and snowmobile escape rank right up there with among my favorite moments in my 30+ years of gaming. Well done Infinity Ward, another must buy.
4. NHL 10 (XBOX 360/PS3)
Since 2007, no sports video game franchise has "righted their sinking ship" better than EA Canada has done with the NHL series. In short, the series used to be an arcade, score-a-thon joke. However, once EA' Vancouver team got ahold of the product and added some Canadian-style hockey authenticity, the series has won back fans and utterly crushed the competition. NHL 10 continues this trend with more depth, and some much needed board-play mechanics. I only hope that goalies get some much needed "humanity" in NHL 11 though, because they are still somewhat superhuman ... except for your own.
3. World of Warcraft, Wrath of the Lich King (PC/MAC)
Yeah, yeah.. I know. Wrath of the Lich king came out in November of 2008. However, much free content has been pushed out to the game in 2009 (such as Ulduar, Trial of the Crusader, and IceCrown Citadel). The best MMORPG just keeps getting better. It is a real credit to Blizzard that they can keep a game on top for five years with all they have done to improve it, refine it, and make it better. It will be interesting to see how BioWare counters with their new Star Wars MMO, or how the new Star Trek MMO will fare against the reigning king of MMOs.
2. Madden 2010 (XBOX 360/PS3)
2009 was the year that saw the Madden series make some significant strides in the right direction, and us gamers sure are thankful. Previous next-gen releases seem like "baby steps" compared to the jump from Madden 09 to Madden 2010. We finally are starting to get the presentation and cumulative depth in the series that we've been hankering for. Also, though rather bare-bones, Madden online franchise is alot of fun this year, even though way more depth will be demanded of that play mode in 2011. Kudos to EA for also pushing out semi-regular roster updates with greater fequency than previous years. Madden 2010 is a lot of fun, and I can't wait to see where Ian Cummings and co. take the game this coming year. (Still plenty to fix, however.)
And my number one game of the year for 2009....
#1 Batman: Arkham Asylum (XBOX 360/PS3/PC)
Arkham Asylum is one of those rare "Holy hell this is awesome" games that makes you remember where you were when you first played it, not unlike BioShock. More than that, we are used to licensed property games involving superheroes usually being absolutely suckworthy. Well, Arkaham Asylum changed the rules, and set such a high bar in terms of a game that takes the comic hero and builds in such incredible depth and atomosphere. The game does so many things right. First of all, the story is top notch, as well as the acting and voice acting. (Mark Hamill deserves an award for best acting/voice acting in the history of all gaming with his portrayal of the Joker...play the game and you'll understand). The action is incredible. This game has extremely awesome combat controls for Batman. Other games falter in this regard when they try to mix combat with stealth (like...the first Assassin's Creed game). Arkham has a great "sneaking" dynamic, great combat, great story, great setting, great controls, great acting, and an epic story. Then you throw in the depth that developer RockSteady delivers on a bat-shaped platter, and you have what I think is probably the greatest game I've played on next gen consoles. Quite simply, this is the must-have game of the past five years. It is that good.
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