With another gaming year in the books we take a look back at 2009 and honor our picks for the best video games of the year.
Uncharted 2 (PS3)
Arguably also the best-looking game of 2009, Uncharted 2 delivered one of the most thrilling and entertaining gaming experiences to date. Incredible action, engaging cut scenes, and top-notch motion capture and acting puts Uncharted 2 in a class by itself.
The best Batman video game ever, Arkham Asylum was a Dark Knight fan's dream come true. Aside from the tons of references to the Gotham City universe, Arkham Asylum delivered an excellent campaign, solid controls, and a performance from Mark Hamill (as the Joker) for the ages.
While it didn't hit our radar until soon before its release, Borderlands really impressed us with its successful mashing of a first-person shooter and an RPG game. Even better, the online multiplayer allowed for even more looting goodness with friends.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game makes our best-of-2009 list because it successfully adapted a movie franchise into a video game--and it was actually fun to play. Not only did the game continue the "Ghostbusters" story, the title featured all four original cast members as well other actors from the series. With moments of legitimate comedy and enough throwbacks to the original films, Ghostbusters: The Video Game is a formula all movie-inspired titles should follow.
It had been quite some time since a Mario and Luigi RPG had come to a Nintendo portable, and Bowser's Inside Story certainly did not disappoint. The impressive hybrid of RPG elements combined with platforming action made for one of best games available on the DS in 2009.
While we liked the PC version best, Dragon Age: Origins was a masterful experience no matter which platform you played it on. In his write-up of the game, our own Dan Ackerman said, "It's still a huge tip of the hat to classic swords-and-sorcery gaming, but it's made with
the care of a Peter Jackson 'Lord of the Rings' movie."
Not without its fair share of controversy, Modern Warfare 2 was the biggest game of 2009. Not only did it deliver an intense, shockingly realistic single-player campaign, but it improved on an already sublime online multiplayer experience.
Our pick for best portable GTA game of all time, Chinatown Wars first appeared earlier in the year on the Nintendo DS and then got a full face-lift for its October PSP release. We loved the new camera angle (and wish it was present on all portable GTA games) and were blown away by the attention to detail on this massive handheld game.
While Forza has been a staple racing simulator franchise, the third iteration in the series was the most approachable title of them all. We really enjoyed the fact that a gamer of any skill level could enjoy Forza Motorsport 3 and experience the fast-paced thrilling action of circuit racing. Fantastic gameplay aside, Forza 3 offered some of the most gorgeous visuals on the 360 to date with photorealistic environments and car models accurate to the finest detail.
Infamous shocked us (no pun intended) with its ability to make us actually think we were a superhero in a ravaged city. We really enjoyed the option to become a hero or a villain, and loved watching the city and its inhabitants react to either path. With an engaging story and satisfying power-unlocking system, we can only hope a sequel lies in the near future.
Recently the winner of best team sports game at the VGA 2009 awards, NHL 10 once again sets the bar high for hockey video games. With its true-to-life flow and animations to realistic crowd reactions, NHL 10 is easily not just the best hockey game of the year, but the best sports title of 2009.
Just when that late 2009 Nintendo Wii game drought hit, New Super Mario Bros. Wii came to the rescue. Offering simultaneous four-player action (though we recommend going at it alone), unique power-ups, and new worlds to explore, the game satisfied die-hard fans of the series and welcomed new players to its addictive and challenging gameplay.
Punch-Out!! (Wii) Punch-Out!! dazzled us with its faithful reimagination of the NES original with its updated characters and new art style.
A Boy and His Blob (Wii) While it might not have seen the commercial success it deserved, A Boy and His Blob returned to a Nintendo console 20 years after the original hit the NES. Beautiful hand-drawn environments and clever level design helped keep this jellybean-eating title true to its predecessor.
Shadow Complex (XBLA) Shadow Complex successfully combined elements from classic side-scrolling games like Castlevania and Metroid and reinvented the genre with an almost-3D presentation.
Peggle (XBLA, PSN) Incredibly simple yet highly addictive, Peggle proved that a game doesn't need to have 13-button combinations to be successful.
Trails HD (XBLA) With its highly imaginative level design and addictive time trial mode, Trails HD packed a lot inside a small package. We just wish the level editor allowed us to share custom tracks with everyone and not just Xbox Live friends.
Trine (PSN) Another game that slipped under the radar for most, Trine impressed us with its unique gameplay, offering the user to switch between a triad of characters. This mechanic being the crux of the game, players must quickly switch between them in order to advance.