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Favourite PS2 games

I'm not going to write much about each game, just gonna make a few points.

5) Summoner 2

A Western made action RPG, that very few people played and as such has unfortunately not received a third game.

Basically you played as a a warrior Queen who can summon creatures (well really you transform them) and lead her and her party to save her land. The story is actually a lot more complicated, hence why I'm not going into it, but it's also really well told and worth playing through.

It's an underappreciated gem.

There was also a gamecube port. It was bad. don't play that.

4) Persona 4

I don't really like JRPGS. I'm going to say that up front. I don't like how linear they are, how few sidequests there are, how generic their stories are. I like the few that stand out, but for every stand out one there is another generic Final Fantasy game.

So the fact that my 4th favourite PS2 game is a JRPG should say enough about how great this game is. But of course, I'll give a brief explanation too.

Persona 4 is an RPG which blends dating-sim like character interactions and party building with tried and true turn-based RPG combat that pays a lot of homage to Pokemon(with some nice additions.)

You gather your Persona and use them to give you extra powers in battles, but also you S Link with people to increase the powers of your fused Persona and the effectiveness of your allies in combat.

Also the story is **** great. Simple as that. I have a couple of issues with it (namely that you can tell who the villain is via a gameplay thing rather than the story) but overall it's awesome.

3) Devil May Cry 3

I swear, this is the last number that will be the same for the game and the position in my list.

Devil May Cry 3 is by far the definitive Devil May Cry game. It does everything better than every other game. Well, except graphics compared to 4 obviously.

It had the best, and deepest, combo system. It had the cool "****" system with leveling up unlocking new moves, it had the best story, it had the best boss fights, it was hard.

It was just the best.

And best of all? it didn't even NEED to be as good as it was. Coming off the heels of the steaming pile of poop that was Devil May Cry 2, fans would have taken just a good game, nevermind a mind blowingly great one.

Unfortunately of course they then made Devil May Cry 4. Which was okay, but not great since it was really short and you had to repeat the whole game twice, and all the boss fights (at least) three times.

But yeah, Devil May Cry 3 was great.

2) Shadow Of The Colossus

I actually didn't play this one until quite a while after it came out, but it's a doozy. Imagine the best boss fights you've ever played before.

Now imagine if they were even bigger and even better.

That's Shadow of the Collossus.

Taking amazing boss fights and then combining the actual bosses themselves with some crazy amazing platforming, the game is just outstandingly fun to play. It also has fantastic music, graphics and a really nice and subtly told story on top of all that.

It's not ALL good though. On PS2 the framerate chugs at around 15-20FPS at all times, which is baaad. They are making a PS3 port that is apparently going to be locked at 60FPS though. WHICH WOULD BLOW MY MIND.

1) Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence

So, I'm a sucker for the Metal Gear franchise. I've played all the games, the original MSX games (both included in Subsistence in fact), all the spin offs, the portable games, the main series, everything.

I've done it all.

And I've loved it all (except MGS4, that game was **** terrible, but that's for another day.)

But the best of the lot, and by extension the best PS2 game in my person opinion? You guessed it, Metal Gear Solid 3's limited rerelease: Subsistence.

Adding a new camera to Snake eater (Snake Eaters was kinda bad because the levels were huuuge), Subsistence improved an already near perfect game. The perfect combination of stealth and action. The perfect blend of different types of environments, a fantastic story, outstanding boss fights that are the best in the series, and actual emotional tie to The Boss, technically the main villain?
Yeah. It's a damn good game. One I've played many a time and will play many more times over the years. Highly recommended.

It's also getting a PS3 (and 360) rerelease later this year. So look for that if you haven't played it.

(There's also a 3DS Port, if you're into that. But since it'll no doubt have worse controls...)

Infamous 2 First Impressions: I've Got a Bad Case of UGC

Infamous 1 is the game that in my eyes justified my purchase of a PS3. It did so many things well and blended them into a really unique game. It was a strange mash up of Sly Cooper-esque platforming, crazy super powers, a comic book style story and brilliantly realised city.

And now, Infamous 2 is out. It came out today (yesterday technically) and of course I picked it up.

For various reasons I've only really sunk about an hour into the game so far but I have to say, it seems like the core mechanics are the same, but the design of everything around them is so much better. The city feels even more realistic, with a more natural colour pallet (the first game suffered from lots of near greyscale areas) and the power system has been expanded. Like I said, I'm only about an hour in so I haven't even unlocked any new powers yet.

But honestly, I didn't make this post to talk about the gameplay. The game plays like the first but with a MUCH better framerate, and other improvements everywhere. But that's not what has impressed me most so far. The thing that has? UGC.

UGC stands for User Generated Content, not really something that is expected from a large open world action-platformer. It shouldn't work, it doesn't sound like it would work...But somehow it just does.

UGC doesn't allow you to say, create a city, but it does let you use any area of New Marais to create your own missions, similar to the ones in the game. The tools seem relatively simple but also very clearly allow for a TON of depth as shown from some of the example levels created by Suckerpunch, and the full levels people have started to upload. These missions are integrated incredibly smartly into the world, simply using mission markers like any of the story missions, but green instead of Yellow or White, which missions appear on your map is dictated by a filter that you can set up in a menu that makes it really easy to surf through different types of levels.

For example, I set the filter to Featured to start with and went to the closest mission, a Suckerpunch example level that involved a giant disco ball murdering people, and Cole needing to throw propane canisters at it at appropriate times to take it down. Despite the appearance of a random giant murderous disco ball, this missions played pretty much like something from the game, or even the first game. But that's still really impressive. If more people keep making high quality levels like it then this UGC feature will be fantastic.

That said, I don't come to Mods (which is essentially what this is) to play missions that feel like they could have been in the game. I come for the **** up insane **** and in my short exploration of UGC, it delivered. The mission I found was simply "New Level" assumably the default name for missions, I spotted this excitingly named level and traveled to it to find out what it was. I mean why not? It was a platforming level that spawned various rails for you to run along to follow giant yellow arrows. These rails ended up leading to a grind cable (something that isn't placeable by the editor) which then lead to giant tankers of gas floating in the air, some of them spinning. The result being a really fun and challenging platformer level that I can just tell is what this feature will be used for. People are going to make insane, nearly broken, super difficult platforming sequences.

And I totally dig that.

I may start posting my favourite missions on this blog, as well as any I make myself!

Oh, and everyone should feel free to add me on PSN, name is Protome.

MGS4 Throwback Review

Here's my MGS4 review. Go here to recommend it if you agree with it.

Now, I'll start this review by stating a fact. Metal Gear Solid 3 is quite probably my favourite PS2 game, and if I were to write a top 10 games of all time list, MGS3 would most likely show up near the top of it.
That, and I've played every Metal Gear game to date, all the canon games and even the bad NES port and non-canon sequel, the PSP spin-off Ac!d series, etc etc. I've done it all, and I've loved pretty much all of them except the NES games (the MSX ones were fantastic though.)
With that out of the way let me just say this. Metal Gear Solid 4 is not a very good game. And is a big backstep for the franchise. It feels very much like a rushed ending to the series so that Kojima can finally move on to other games. And I'll explain why.

Metal Gear Solid 4 follows series protagonist Solid Snake, now Old Snake due to accelerated aging caused by him being a clone. He has been sent on a mission to stop Liquid Snake, somehow surviving his demise from the first game and possessing Ocelot's body via a transplanted arm in the second game. The world is a grim place, where War is the main economy for the world, with countries making and losing their money via weapon sales and PMCs all controlled via nanomachines. Liquid is planning and insurgency, despite the fact that the moment he tries the nanomachines in his soldiers should cause all their guns to stop working. So naturally, everyone is pretty scared of what he has learned. The story overall is pretty good, and is a good conclusion to the Solid Snake saga of the MGS series (I still think we'll see more prequels telling the story of Naked Snake/Big Boss though.) However, the story feels very heavily condensed, put into frequent cutscenes that often break the hour mark and tell things in an unelegant and honestly rather ham-fisted way. While the game does answer all the questions from previous games, it does so in a seemingly random way, where explanations for things from the previous game are slotted in where they don't seem necessary. There's also the fact that characters act very unnaturally in many places, especially Naomi. Overall the story feels like it should have been split between at least two games rather than all crammed into one.
The story is good though despite these issues. The best part of all is Old Snake himself. Old Snake in MGS4 takes on a similar role to Naked Snake in MGS3, he isn't really doing the right thing, he's just obeying orders, and he is beginning to come to terms with big changes in his life. In MGS3 it was The Boss's betrayal, in MGS4 it's his impending death. It's one of the more well conveyed parts of the MGS4 story, and makes Snake a much more likable character than he otherwise would have been.

Luckily, Snakes age doesn't impact his maneuverability much. He's still quick to move and react, his aim is still steady and he's even picked up some nice CQC techniques in his time since MGS2. You find a large selection of weapons, with playing the game as a shooter becoming more of a viable option than it use do be. However you can still play it stealthily if you want to (and I did) for the most part. In general it plays like the last game in the series, MGS3 with a few key additions. Octo-camo dumbs down the Camo system from MGS3 for people who didn't understand it or something, the Drebin Store lets you buy ammo and weapons on the fly at any time you feel like, setting a very different feel from the previous MGS games. In the older MGS games it was not uncommon to run out of tranq ammo and be forced to play differently to compensate (if you were like me and only tranquilized people that is) but that never happens here. ever. Overall though it's still MGS, the mechanics till work great and the AI is improved a fair amount too. This is great for the two chapters of the game where stealth is important. Yes. Two chapters.
You see the game is split into 5 chapters. The first two of which are utterly fantastic, they have a few minor issues (respawning enemies? What?) but overall they are a lot of fun and they feel like they are a great evolution of the MGS mechanics. The other 3? Not so much.

The third chapter consists of a terrible section where you follow a guy through a street and then an on rails segment, which while not necessarily bad, has been done better elsewhere and really only exists to fuel nostalgia for MGS3. The fourth segment takes place in a setting of a previous game, and all the enemies you encounter are machines, which makes it super-easy, since one chaff grenade and they're all out. Or, you can fun your way through them much easier than humans. "But Kieranb2000" you are no doubt saying, "I want to finish MGS4 without any kills to unlock bonus stuff!" Don't worry! Killing machines doesn't count. So just run and gun your way through this dull section, which again, only exists to fuel nostalgia.
Then there is the final chapter, which is okay. It's more similar to the first two chapters, but is also really short and has the worst cutscene to gameplay ratio.

Thats one of the main issues with MGS4 as a whole, and personally is what I think caused all the great reviews for it to occur. MGS4 plays on nostalgia for the franchise all the time, constantly making references to the older games, bringing back characters or locations or gameplay sections. And honestly, I think it's a poor idea. You can't make a game solely based on nostalgia, nostalgia isn't fun. And honestly most of the references to older MGS games just served to remind me how much better those games are than this one. One thing that MGS4 does just well as the previous games however is the boss fights. Bringing in the Beautys and their Beasts, a group of female soldiers who have been enhanced by machinery to have crazy powers, and nanomachines that force them to feel one emotion. They are great characters in their own right, and fantastic boss fights which successfully do what the rest of the game wishes it could do. They play on nostalgia of fans by basing each of these bosses roughly on a boss from the first game (often only in name) but these boss fights are good enough to hold their own and stand up as some of the best boss fights in the series. They don't rely on nostalgia to keep players playing like the rest of the game.

MGS4 also has a big online component, which is pretty fun, and a good evolution of MGS3 and MGS Portable Ops' multiplayer components. That said, it's not really as good as some of the better multiplayer games out there, but it's fun to kill some time in.

So, to sum things up, what do I think of MGS4? Well, I really love the first couple of chapters. But that's 2/5ths of the game. The final chapter was good too, so that's 3/5ths, but the other two chapters were abysmal. If 2/5ths of your game is **** you're doing something wrong, simple as that.
It's worth playing to see the conclusion to the story if you are a fan and are willing to overlook some really bad parts of the game, otherwise, skip it. Maybe watch the ending on youtube or something and go back and replay MGS3. 'cause that game is awesome.

Coming Soon!

Hey guys and gals. Here's a quick outline of what you can expect from my little barely-updated blog in the near future :)

1) Metal Gear Solid 4 "Throwback" review.

2) Portal 2 review.

3) 1...2...3... KICK IT! (Drop That Beat Like An Ugly Baby) Impressions

4) Total War: Shogun 2 review

and maybe a Dragon Age 2 review, or at least some kind of comparison piece explaining the few things it does worse than the first game, but why those are enough to cripple it.

Expect these in the next couple of weeks =] and if they don't happen, nag me!

Top 5 Most Anticipated Games of 2011 (Excluding Jan and Feb)

I realise I don't write enough nonsense in this, so I figure what's more nonsensical than a list of games coming out in the year that started two months ago!?
Lets do this thang.

5) Total War: Shogun 2

Why I'm Hyped For It: Honestly? I wasn't that hyped about this game until last week. While I have been looking forward to it since it was announced (Shogun is still my favourite setting from the Total War series, but the first is aged beyond playability for me) I wasn't super hyped for it until I actually played it. The demo that came out last week showed that the game is gorgeous, runs a LOT better than Empire and Napoleon did, and still retains the deep strategic gameplay that the series is known for. The demo showed off a few improvements from previous games, and an increased focus on the use of Generals in gameplay (something that Napolean kinda tested out).

Honestly, this game is something that all fans of the Total War series should be hyped for.

4) Dragon Age 2

Why I'm Hyped: Dragon Age Origins was a surprise hit for me, I've talked about it before in this blog but it's worth mentioning once more, I went int Dragon Age Origins expecting a good RPG that I wouldn't be particularly invested in, and boy was I wrong. To this day I've spent over a 100 hours in Dragon Age, most of that in a single playthrough (with the expansion) but I did also start a second playthrough. For me to invest that amount of time into a game is extremely rare, so it shows how good the first game was. The sequel however looks like it's improving a lot of things. The animations are no longer stiff and dated, the graphics have a more unique and beautiful ****and the story is no longer just "Derp, Lord of the Rings only not as sucky." So, what's not to be hyped about? Well, there does appear to be some drawbacks, mainly the Isometric camera has been removed.

Also, there's a really awesome demo on Steam, go play it.

3) The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Why I'm Hyped: It's a goddamn Zelda game. They have been consistently fantastic (well, I didn't like the Windwaker sub-series, but other than those) and I'm sure this will be no exception. Also, it has been soooo long since the last one. Darksiders can only tide me over so long!

On a slightly more serious note, Nintendo have embraced a new control scheme in Skyward Sword allowing for more precision in sword controls via Motion+, judging from various rumours and a few snippets of interviews the progression of the game is probably going to be altered, making the transitions between the "overworld" and "dungeon" much more subtle. Which sounds very intriguing to me.

2) Batman: Arkham City

Why I'm Hyped: Batman Arkham Asylum was one of those games that flew under most people's radar until it launched, at which point it garnered a huge following, and with good reason. The game was FANTASTIC. Take one part Metal Gear, one part Metroid and two parts Batman and this is the result a fantastic stealth-action game with fantastic voice acting and great level design. The game wasn't perfect, but it was much better than it had any right to be. Licensed games generally are not good, simple as that. But thanks to the love and care put into it, Batman Arkham Asylum was one of the most memorable games of this generation. And now developer Rocksteady are taking things to the next level. They are expanding the world to a full city this time, rather than just the building of Arkham, the roster of villains seems to be larger, and of course the same freeflowing combat that made the first game's combat sequences so fun.
And to be honest, I just love me some Batman.

Also, Harley is even hotter now :D

And now the glorious number 1 spot. I'm sure you've all guessed it by this point.

1) Mass Effect 3

Why I'm Hyped: It's the third and final part of the Mass Effect trilogy of RPGs. The cumulation of all the decisions that Shepherd has made all coming back to create what will hopefully be a satisfying conclusion.

Honestly, there isn't that much we know about this game, but I can promise you it'll be fantastic.

Game of The Year Awards 2010

Okay, rather than the stupidity of my awards last year, I'm doing this all in one big blog post :D
Let's start with...

Best Racing Game

Winner: Need For Speed Hot Pursuit

NFS11 2010-12-28 00-41-18-63

Criterion, the makers of the fantastic Burnout series, took a stab at reviving the Need For Speed series that has fallen so far from greatness over the years and honestly, I wasn't too hyped about it. Even one of my favourite developers taking on one of my least favourite franchises couldn't get me interested in it. Until i actually PLAYED the game. Hot Pursuit is fast and violent just like the Burnout games. It has a new feature called "Autolog" which is essentially leaderboards for your friends list for every event in the single player, giving everything some replay value. But even then, the multiplayer is where the real meat of the game is. Even if you never venture outside of the Hot Pursuit mode, the online has plenty of content and balances the Cop and Racer sides very well.

Runners up: Blur, Split/Second

Best Strategy Game

Winner: Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty

Okay, this one should be a no brainer. I mean, if you look at my Xfire profile I have over 106 hours put into Starcraft 2 so far, and I still play it almost daily, and that is compared to games I've owned for YEARS. This game that came out only a few months ago has consumed so much of my free time because it is just so perfect! The multiplayer in SC2 is still far from being perfectly balanced, but it is as close as can be expected at this point, there are no glaringly overpowered units or races or maps that favour certain positions or anything crazy like that. That and Blizzard are still updating it regularly, and if the first game is anything to go by, will be for a good 10 years (or at least until 3 comes out, whenever that may be.) As for the single player, a lot of people (myself included) were worried when Blizzard said they were going to only include a campaign for the Terran race in this game, and the other two race's campaigns would be included in the expansions. A few of us also got worried when they announced that there would be some RPG elements in the single player between the main missions, as we all played Dawn of War 2. And while that game wasn't bad, the single player was extremely tedious and repetitive. Starcraft 2 managed to not fall into the trap of just doing the same missions on the same maps over and over however, every single mission has unique assets and goals, ranging from defending against a Zombie onslaught at night and burning down their spawn points by day to fighting an opponent while continuously moving your base and units away from a wall of fire that steadily moves towards you, destroying everything in its path. All this is connected by a plot that, while pretty predictable (they give away their end twist in the very first cutscene...) also creates many likable characters with their own believable motivations.

Runners up: Civilization V, Napolean: Total War

Funniest Game

Winner: Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse


The most lovable crime fighting duo returned this year in possibly their best season yet, Telltale proving once again that they are the best developers of modern adventure games. The Devil's Playhouse leads them on a bunch of crazy adventures cumulating in one of the strangest and unpredictable endings I've ever seen which is every bit as stupid as it is funny. I can't really think of much else to say, just go play it. If you enjoy funny games, you owe it to yourself to play this one.

Best Open World Game

Winner: Just Cause 2

Although I fear my reasoning behind each of these awards is getting shorter and shorter with each one, I believe I can sum up WHY Just Cause 2 is so great in just a small anecdote, seriously, is there any other game that allows you to hijack a helicopter, dive out of that helicopter and grapple onto an Jet, hijack it then climb back out of it and air-surf it into the side of a building, then proceed to parachute down to safety? I certainly can't think of any. The only way Just Cause 2 could have been improved is if it had building destruction like the Mercenaries games. And maybe some better missions. The missions do well at getting you to try insane things, but they feel rather last minute, like the devs created this huge world to mess around in and spent a ton of time crafting every little action you can do in the game, then realised a week before launch "OH CRAP, WE HAVEN'T DONE THE CAMPAIGN YET."

Also, it's beautiful.

Also also, it has ninjas.

Runners up: Red Dead Redemption

Most Disappointing Game

Winner: Deathspank


Okay, lets get this out of the way, I consider Ron Gilbert one of the funniest guys in the games industry, and Hothead Games have made some pretty damn good games recently so combining both of these two should make for an instantly fantastic game, right?
Wrong. Deathspank was a great game in theory, but in actuality it was just...generic. It plays like Diablo only without any of the depth, the humour is AWFUL. I mean really, this is by far the least funny game that I have ever played. Ron Gilbert's wittyness is not present in this game in the slightest.

Will you find it funny though? It depends. do you find the name Deathspank funny? Then yes, you will probably find it funny. All of the humour in the game is AS dumb as the title.

Runners up: Fable 3 (For everything after becoming a King being awful), Crysis 2 (for not coming out ;_;)

Most Surprising game

Winner: Sonic Colours


Lets be honest here, Sonic has never had a truly GREAT 3D game. The first Adventure game was good, the second was good when you played as Sonic (less than a third of the game), I personally have an undying passion for Sonic R but know deep down it's not a good game and then everything since then has ranged from "okay" to "PLEASE KILL THIS FRANCHISE." So, the Sonic Cycle was created, as we all know. The cycle of new sonic game announced, fanboys hype it, it comes out and disappoints everyone, repeat unto infinity. Sonic Colours breaks this cycle. Sonic Colours is quite probably the most fun I've had on my Wii outside of Nintendo's first party games, it is just that good. It is beautiful, fast and takes some ideas from Sonic's old Rival, Mario and takes the game into space, allowing for crazy and varied levels with designs that you have never seen in a Sonic game before. Also, get this, you ONLY play as Sonic. that's right, no Werewolf sonic, no Tails, no treasure hunting levels, none of that crap. It's a straight up platformer (mostly in 2D actually) with precise controls, great graphics, great levels and a great soundtrack (except the intro song which sounds like Owl City put through a garbage disposal).

It's still not on par with Nintendo's recent platformers, but you know what? If Sonic Team can take Sonic Colours and iterate and improve on it, then Mario's old Rival may be a threat once more.

Runners up: vvvvvv, Darksiders

Special Mention


This game is one of my favourite games of the year, but admittedly doesn't stand out enough to win any of my awards. It is a great blend of games like Devil May Cry and Zelda, but has some poor design choices that stop it from being as good as either. However I am writing this tiny little part about it just to tell everyone that reads this one thing.

Darksiders is **** great. I mean like, it's really really great. You should play it. Right now. Any version of it, although the PC version was my personal favourite since it runs at 60FPS (if you have the hardware for it) where as the 360/PS3 versions suffered from screen tearing, which caused the devs to cap the framerate at 30FPS with an update.

But yes, go play it.

Game of The Year

Winner: Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2 is undoubtedly THE best game to come out this year, before it came out I was worried that it being the second in a trilogy would mean the story would be disappointing, but Bioware knew what they were doing, the story in Mass Effect 2 connects to the first in some meaningful ways, but overall follows its own contained storyline like the first did, allowing the universe to be fleshed out and the third game set up while still telling its own very full story that you have influence over.

The gameplay has progressed since the first game, the clunky bad combat has been replaced with uh...well admittedly still slightly clunky, but far better combat! And the conversation system from the original has returned, with the addition of the ability to interrupt some conversations, by saving or murdering people in the middle of a conversation.

In a few short years and only two games, Bioware has managed to make an amazingly vast universe in their Mass Effect series, and that is a triumph in its own right, the fact that the gameplay and graphics of this game are also amazing is just icing on the cake.

Second Place: Starcraft 2

Third Place: Civilization V

You can also view my top 10 games of 2010 at Giantbomb

Top 10 Wii Games Thus Far

It's coming up to the end of the year, and lots of places are starting to do Top 10 lists for the various systems as a way to help others pick games for the holidays. So here is my top 10 favourite Wii games.

Please note they are my personal favourites and have no relation to review scores given by any site :)

I should also point out there are still a few games I haven't played on the Wii yet. For example SMG2 and No More Heroes 2 will be notably absent and other more recent games too...

10: Battalion Wars 2

9: de Blob

8: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

7: Muramasa: The Demon Blade

6: Tatsunoko vs Capcom: Ultimate All Stars

5: Monster Hunter Tri

4: Super Smash Bros Brawl

3: Metroid Other M

2: Super Mario Galaxy

1: Metroid Prime Trilogy

Other Good Games: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers, Little King's Story, No More Heroes, Mad World

2009 Game Of The Year Awards (Part 2)

Sorry this took so long guys! I won't lie, I actually forgot about it XD

Best Fighting Game

Winner - Street Fighter IV (Multiplatform)

What can I say about this one? Street Fighter IV managed to completely revitalise a slowly dying genre last year, in a similar way to how Telltale revived the Adventure game genre. Capcom successfully blended old with new, keeping the old pixel-perfect combo requirements of the original Street Fighter games and blending them with utterly stunning new 3D Graphics. Although it had a fair bit of competition for this particular award from me (mainly from Blazblue, cause I love that game) Street Fighter IV climbs to the top and takes its place as Best Fighting Game of 2009 thanks to sheer polish and challenge.

Runners up - Blazblue: Calamity Trigger (multiplatform)

Best Strategy Game

Winner - Empire: Total War (PC)

I've always been a rather big fan of the Total War series. The way they seamlessly blend the turn-based Civilization-esque city management and the real-time combat that has still, despite so many iterations, never been pulled off quite as well by anyone else has always made them leaps and bounds above the competition to me. Empire: Total War is no exception to this. The map is bigger, the combat deeper, and finally Naval Combat has been introduced to the series (before you could only auto-resolve naval battles.) The draw of the Total War games has always been the "Grand Campaign," a mode where you choose your starting country then build them up to become the leading power of the world. This is no different in Empire, the Grand campaign remains one of the largest selling points of the game, and since the map has been expanded from just Europe to the entire world, Empire's Grand Campaign certainly feels just as satisfying as it's predecessors. However, Empire also has a relatively short, but kinda fun story-based campaign calledRoad to Independence, which tells the story of the British Colonization of America.

The Real-Time combat is still as strategical as ever, relying heavily on unit placement, timing and using the environment to your advantage. For example, place a line of your own infantry in front of your cannon and you'll tear them apart and lose a good 20 or so soldiers in a single shot, not good.

It is a truly great strategy game, it did however suffer from some iffy AI at times and other glitches and bugs that weren't gamebreaking, but were really annoying. Most of which have since been patched though.

Runners up - Majesty 2 (PC), Dawn of War 2 (PC)

Best Sandbox Game

Winner - Red Faction: Guerilla (Multiplatform)

To start off, I would like to point out quickly that I do not own a PS3 (yet!) so Infamous wasn't a competitor in this since I haven't actually played it :)

Red Faction: Guerilla was a surprising game for me, I wasn't a big fan of the first Red Faction and Red Faction 2 is to this day one of the worst games I have ever played. So when Volition said "Hey, we're making another Red Faction game, and this time it's THIRD PERSON!!" I didn't really expect much. It just seemed to me like they were grasping at any idea they could think of to try and spark interest by not actually changing much. Boy was I wrong.

Red Faction: Guerilla shares nothing in common with its predecessors other than a few name drops, destructible environments and the fact that it takes place on Mars. Instead of being a linear First Person Shooter with a couple of destructible walls Guerilla is a large open-world sandbox with missions that generally let you tackle things from multiple angles with destructible walls. Lots of destructible walls. If you see a building in RFG then you CAN KNOCK IT DOWN. And often times, you should as doing so will earn you "Salvage" which allows you to upgrade your weapons or buy entirely new ones. Also it's really fun to blow **** up. The physics engine that deals with the environmental destruction is incredible, and allows you to do insane things like plow a bulldozer through a smoke-stack, knocking it over where it will then tear through another smokestack and destroy it too.

The actual story is a bit "Meh" but the story missions allow you to handle things the way you feel you want to. It is sometimes possible to sneak past enemies to get a better position before fighting them. Or you could blow up a wall to give you a different entrance/escape route than the intended one. You can lure all your enemies into a building then watch as the walls fall around them and they are crushed to death. The game is great, go buy it.

It also has Multiplayer. But I wont lie to you, I haven't really touched that much, it is incredibly unbalanced and insane and I don't think many people play it anymore.

Runners up - Prototype (multiplatform), GTA: The Lost And The Damned

Best Platformer

Winner - New Super Mario Bros Wii

I am a huuuuuge platformer junky, and of course as a result a huge Mario fan (although I liked Sonic more. =[ ) New Super Mario Bros Wii takes Mario back to his 2D roots after the fantastic gravitational insanity of Super Mario Galaxy. Now, lets be honest here, if you have played a Mario game, you know what this is going to be like. You know there'll be "The Ice Levels" and "The Lava Levels" and you know how it's going to control and what most of the power-ups will do, so I'm not going to bother explaining, you know why this game is great. It does also have multiplayer, which allows for up to 4 people to jump through the levels together but's not really that good. I mean, it's FUN, but it's too chaotic to actually allow you to complete the game that way.

The game isn't perfect though.

The soundtrack largely consists of remixes of older Mario songs, which is great! In theory! Mario Galaxy did it well, NSMBW does NOT. Largely the songs are great, but for some reason they have a really annoying little fake voice thing scatting a "Do" occasionally in the songs, which completely ruins them. Every time it happens all the enemies on screen dance for a split second though, which is admittedly pretty humorous.

Also, the graphics aren't very good. This game looks like an upscaled DS game. Why it isn't running on the SMG engine is beyond my understanding.

That said, the core gameplay is more than good enough to make up for these flaws.


Winner - Dragon Age: Origins (PC)

If you had asked me at ANY point before Dragon Age came out what my GOTY for 2009 was going to be, I would have replied "It's pretty close between Borderlands and Mirror's Edge." If you had followed up by asking "What about Dragon Age?" I would have replied "Yeah, it looks cool, I liked Baldur's Gate. But that old-school kind of RPG doesn't really appeal to me anymore." Then Dragon Age: Origins actually came out. And I played it, and I fell in love.

Dragon Age sets itself above the other games of 2009 by offering a deep story littered with equally deep characters with interesting backstories and believable convictions. The combat remains almost identical to Bioware's RPGs of old like Baldur's Gate but it holds up amazingly well, offering satisfying combat with nice loot to find and sell. The conversation trees are also much like older RPGs, which is good in some ways, but I personally think that the evolution of the RPG Conversation trees through games like Mass Effect (and Alpha Protocol, but that came out after DA) makes the old ****feel a little dated. Especially since the main character doesn't even have voice acting.

The game delivers on almost all fronts and since release has been supported well with additional DLC and an expansion pack which all help add to the worth of the game. Personally, I love it, and have spent over 100 hours playing it since I got it on Christmas day, and if you haven't played it, you're missing out.

And if you played it on Consoles, buy the PC version, it is soooo much better.

Runners up - Mirror's Edge (PC), Borderlands (Multiplatform)

Goty Awards 2009 - Part One

Best Running Based Game

Winner -Mirror's Edge (PC)

Mirror's Edge technically came out in 2008, but the PC release didn't come out till 2009, and since it was superior to the console versions I think it's fair to give it this award. Mirror's Edge plays like a first person platformer, where momentum is crucial to escaping opponents, and actual combat takes a back-seat to this aspect. It is a fast-paced and beautiful game that is unlike anything else that is out today.

Runners Up-Assassin's Creed II (Multiplatform)

Best Action RPG

Winner - Borderlands (Multiplatform)

Borderlands is an odd game. Its art ****is unique and fluid, its combat is better than most modern day FPSes, and yet at it's core is a strong RPG mechanic. You'll level up, upgrade skills and get better with weapons allowing you to reload faster, do more damage, or many other things. And it all just works together so well, it doesn't feel like a shooter with RPG elements tacked on as many games do, and it doesn't feel like an RPG with bad shooting tacked on like others (i'm looking at you Fallout 3) I can't help but think that if Diablo was first person, Sci-fi, anda shooter, it would be Borderlands. Not to mention it has fantastic 4 player co-op, where the game really excels (although there are a few issues on PC thanks to the use of Gamespy, so learn to forward your ports!)and its multiplayer Arenas that allow you to go head to head with a friend in deathmatch-****aps.

Borderlands surprised me in many ways,firstly in how largeand detailed the world of Pandora is, and secondly in how important the skill-tree is to the actual gameplay.Best Action RPG of theyear by a long shot.

Runners up - Torchlight (PC)

Best Role Playing Game

Winner - Dragon Age: Origins (Multiplatform)

What is there to say about this game? It is a masterpiece of an RPG that lives up to and in some ways surpasses Bioware's older works, and it is definitely worthy of it's title as successor to Baldur's Gate. The combat is the same dice-roll system that you would expect, and as Bioware set as it's own standard you can pause the action to give each party member their own commands. It came out on both the PC and both consoles, but the PC version is undeniably the best version, it has better graphics, controls, and is a much more tactical experience in general. The only real issue the game has is its story. The story is very Lord of The Rings-ish, which is unfortunate as it could be so much more, hopefully the upcoming expansion pack will be better in terms of story. That said, the dialogue is masterfully written, the world is expertly crafted with it's own believable history, and the characters are all deep and likeable.

Runners Up: The Last Remnant (PC), Divinity 2: Ego Draconis (PC)

Best First Person Shooter

Winner - F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin

Beautiful, Intense, Scary, Fun. Very few games can claim to be all of these things, Fear 2 however most definitely can. It fully embraces the sci-fi aspect that the first game had as more of an undertone, but it still keeps it's Japanese-inspired Horror routes, with Alma being just as creepy as ever, and some truely disturbing ghost sequences. The actual shooting in the game is unmatched this year, the guns feel powerful and realistic and animate fluidly, and enemies react to every single bullet, rather than just the one which finishes them off.

Runners Up: Left 4 Dead 2

Coming next time: Best Fighting Game, Best RTS, Best Sandbox Game, Most Overrated Game, Most Underrated Game, Most Overlooked Game and of course Game Of The Year.

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