ZippyGamer staff picks the best games of 2009.
Lewis – Brutal Legend
2009 was a pretty weird year for games, mostly because we are now playing the remnants of what-should-have-been now, thanks to the monolithic bore that is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. I hated CoD MW2 before it even came out, and yes, I have since played it and given it a try and I still despise it. 2009 was a much lesser year because of that game, as great titles like Mass Effect 2, Bioshock 2, Final Fantasy 13 and Bayonetta all got pushed back to avoid competition.
But one game, thankfully, didn’t. And that game comes from the mind of the marvellous Tim Schafer. Brutal Legend is an action game like no other, because it is also a RTS. It’s based around a world of metal where humans are enslaved by demons (voiced by Tim Curry). It is truly an awe-inspiring and epic effort from Double Fine to do something original and clever with rock mythos, and boy does it perform. From landscapes filled with shattered rock monuments of electric guitars and devil horns to creatures who have half-metallic body’s and shoot flames from their mouths, every nook and cranny is crammed with inspired visuals and genius touches. But the rock doesn’t stop with just the world, an epic tale about a roadie transported to the land of metal unfolds as you play, with a killer voice cast including amazing performances from Jack Black, Tim Curry, Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy Killminster, Rob Halford and even Lita Ford. Coupled with a mythical back-story and an amazing soundtrack to boot, Brutal Legend was an adventure in 2009 that I think every rock fan should take, even if some clumsy RTS elements and a surprisingly short campaign threaten to spoil the ride.
Brutal Legend, you truly are a legend.
Jonathan – Borderlands
Ever since playing classic games like Contra or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the arcades, co-op games have been my favorite type. I love teaming up with other humans to take on digital foes. I’m happy that more and more developers are making co-op games, and one of the best in 2009 was Borderlands.
Borderlands wasn’t perfect. I felt the story was sometimes lacking and the way split-screen is handled was a bit odd. Parts of the game felt uninspired. But overall, it’s a great experience, especially when teaming up with friends for great co-op action. If you like shooters and games like Diablo, then combine them both and play some Borderlands.
Joe – New Super Mario Bros. Wii
2009 was the year of co-op games. Capcom gave us Resident Evil 5, which was just amazing. Resident Evil 5 is a lot like RE4 when it comes to gameplay. But it added something new, co-op play. If you want to get the most out of Resident Evil 5, you’ll want a partner. The worst part of the game is having the computer as your partner; it’s just not that bright. But if you are playing with a friend who knows what they’re doing, it’s one hell of an experience. I loved the way they reinvented the series with Resident Evil 4. And the fifth chapter is just as great, if not better.
But there is one game that was released in 2009 that really holds a special place in my heart. New Super Mario Bros. Wii is the much antisipated sequel to the class Mario games that we’ve all been waiting for. The DS title was subpar at best, but it was just a small taste of what was to come. New Super Mario Bros. Wii has it all, genius level design, cool new items, Yoshi and even the return of the Koopalings! It’s a 2D Mario fan’s dream. One of the most notable things about New Super Mario Bros. Wii is the co-op mode, which allows up to four players to play at one time! It’s an awesome Mario adventure and a fun multiplayer game. New Super Mario Bros. Wii is like playing all of the classic Mario games rolled into one amazing platformer. And that is why it’s my pick for the best game of 2009.
Honorable Mentions: Resident Evil 5, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, Contra: ReBirth, Street Fighter IV
Liam – Tales of Monkey Island
However a few games did peak my interest, and the main one being Tales of Monkey Island. I’m a big Monkey Island and point-and-click fan, so I was overjoyed when I heard about Tales of Monkey Island.
The game just brought back so many happy times of playing as Guybrush, and reminded me why the point-and- click genre needs to be saved. The humour was still there, so was the puzzles, and the piracy still remained.
Honorable Mentions: Madworld (Wii), Left 4 Dead 2 (Xbox 360, PC), Prototype (PS3,Xbox 360, PC)
Rich – Gran Turismo (PSP)
While it didn’t meet rave reviews, Gran Turismo (which was delayed several times over the past four years) certainly was a favorite for me. The game didn’t give us flashy special effects like motion-blur at higher speeds, or cars that moved so fast they could easily tear a hole in the space-time continuum. It also didn’t offer any type of upgrading for cars like the Midnight Club games, or the Need for Speed street-racing games. However, what it did deliver was a genuine, smooth, and intricate racing experience.
The graphics are sharp, detailed, and run at a steady 60 FPS while the game itself offers up a large roster of vehicles, and a slew of courses including real-life tracks such as Mazda Raceway – Leguna SECA to original GT courses like Apricot Raceway plus dirt and snow tracks. As for the roster of vehicles, the selection is mind-boggling. Plenty of real life manufacturer’s cars are included plus some very slick concept cars.
The game is also streamlined for the portable system, allowing full access to every track from the start. No unlockables only attainable through tedious license tests; just pure, honest racing. Of course, you still have to earn money (known in the game as “credits”) to buy whatever vehicles you want, and as a little bonus incentive to make you think strategically, only four manufacturer dealerships are available a day, and those manufacturers will only offer their cars for two [game] days at a time. This, of course, means for…say Days 229 and 230, Chevy, Ford, Mercedes, and Nissan will be available, and for Days 231 and 232, Mazda, BMW, Jaguar, and Citroën will be available. In addition to that, not every car will be available every time. This adds a sense of urgency to the game, as you will need to decide whether you should by that Jaguar XJ220 LM car now, or nab the GT by Citroën now.
So, beautiful graphics, solid gameplay, and an extremely large list of vehicles await anyone who wants to give this game a shot. And that is why Gran Turismo for PSP is my 2009 game of the year.
Kelsey – And Yet It Moves
Last year is an odd year for me. I feel it was very disappointing, from the gaming front. However, I also feel this year could also be the showcase of a very interesting shift in how games are produced for the computer – I fully expect PC gaming to move in a direction that supports independent developers and digital distribution over the traditional business model. Thus, the game that stood out the most to me was And Yet It Moves, and indie puzzle-platformer released this past year for the computer over Steam, Greenhouse games, and various other digital distribution services. The object of the game is to traverse various levels, getting from point A to point B. You can run and jump, just not very fast or very high. To aid your movement and puzzle solving abilities is the ability to rotate the game world 90 degrees at a time. The game is fun, cheap, has an interesting art style, a lot of achievements for the achievement whore, and is even coming to the Wii soon. The game’s length is a bit lacking and, I must confess, a level editor would be nice. However, at the same time, the length also helps to ensure the idea never feels gimmicky.
I feel I also must point out another game, unlike the rest this one is a freeware/flash game. It’s developed with a retro art-style in mind, and is an experiment in storytelling. The experiment is rather simple: to tell a story entirely through what transpires on-screen (more or less). The game’s title, Don’t Look Back (link: http://distractionware.com/blog/?p=672), is the only piece of text to express what the game is about. It’s a short and easy game; it’s a good idea that is also well-executed.