I've been meaning to do this since 2009 official ended but just never got around to it. I probably should have done it while I was still on Christmas break because from the time school resumed until now it`s basically been consistent hard work. What little down time I had for gaming was spent gaming, not talking about games on gamespot. Well I wrote my finals this past week and now I have a few days off between semesters. Might as well blog again now before school starts up and I dont have the time or energy. And what else to blog about than the games of 2009?
Although I never really got out of it, 2009 really got me back into playing video games. The sole reason for this was that at the beginning of summer I got a job at Best Buy as a cashier. I assumed it was only going to be a summer thing, but I hve now been working at Best Buy for over 6 months, and I work in customer service instead of running a till all day. I really do enjoy my job, and angry customers are often very entertaining. After my second or third paycheck I decided I had earned the opportunity to do some splurging and bought a PS3 slim they day Best Buy got them in, which was actually almost a week before the scheduled release date. Working around games all day really made me want to play games, and for once I had the money to buy games. Better yet, as one of the perks of the job I can quite often score some sick deals on games. I buy considerably more games than I used to, but still in end spend about the same amount of money because of the deals I get. So basically I have access to cheap games, I have the money to buy games, and I work around games all day. It isn't hard to see why I got back into gaming:P
An interesting thing about my general gaming this year is that most of the games I played this year are older. Most of my best buy deals are because the games are "clearance" (and I use quotes because although complete crap goes clearance, so do a lot of excellent game. Case and point: Fallout 3 was clearance) so I was more inclined to by older games I had heard good things about. As well, only buying a PS3 this year I had a lot of catching up to do with some of the definitive PS3 titles. As much as I would like to wrap up 2009 be discussing all the games I played (future blog?) I will instead cease my rambles now and discuss my favourite games that were released in 2009.
New Super Mario Bros Wii
First things first, multiplayer mario is fun just not in the way one would expect. Mario is a solitary experience for the most part. Previous to NSMBWii the multiplayer aspect of mario had been in comparing yourself to your friends. Whether it was passing the control to your friend so he could play the same level you did in attempt to beat your score, or trying to best your friends speed run all the multiplayer was trying to beat your opponent, while still playing the game as a single player experience. This is what gamers were used to, and this is what gamers were expecting with NSMBWii. This is why I think the majority of the gaming public reacted harshly to NSMBWii's multiplayer. I personally enjoyed it. Get three or four friends running through the levels and its n absolute blast. It's frantic, exciting and it takes a great mix of skill and luck. It's accessible to all (the day I bought the game me and my parents played a couple levels:P) and doesn't try and throw to much at the player. Many say it is too casual. Sure the multiplayer is casual and I wont try to deny this. But is that so wrong? I played mario with my parents. You heard me, MARIO WITH MY PARENTS! If one insists on their "hardcore" mario they can still find that by playing the game solo in some of the later levels. That stuff gets hard! NSMBWii is one of my favourite 2009 games simply because it is a blast in a group, and offers a satisfying challenge played solo.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
I will start out by saying I did not anticipate enjoying this game as much as I did. This game falls into the long list of games I only bought because I was curious about it and was able to get it for cheap. There was a week last summer where I had my friends xbox and played the campaign for COD4. It was awesome, and really showed me how far FPS campaigns had come. I really wanted to play the campaign for MW2 and that is all I really planned to play. The campaign did not disappoint. Although I would have liked to see a more immersive story, rather than over the top set piece after over the top set piece, dang were those set pieces awesome! And the ending? I actually laughed out loud when it looks like the game is going to do the COD4 ending again, but then doesn't. Just an awesome tidbit for those who played COD4. And then where the game goes with its ending? DANG! They tease you with COD4's intense ending set piece only to completely out do it with an even more intense ending. (OK I know that last bit was very vague, but I do not want to have spoilers. If you played COD4 and MW2 you know exactly what I am talking about). The biggest surprise with this game was that I actually got into the multiplayer. I am generally a single player gamer and bought MW2 with no intention of playing online, and only playing spec ops when I have a friend over. I made the mistake of trying the online, and was hooked. Although as school get more busy I gradually played less and less until I more or less stopped playing altogether, I was very involved with the multiplayer for a while, and I am sure I will jump back into at some point.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Interestingly enough I played Among Thieves before playing Drakes Fortune. This game was so good that once I had completed it soon after I bought Drakes Fortune. I was hooked on the characters, the themes, the humour, and most importantly the great gameplay. This game really define ths term "polish" when referring to video games. Everything looks so clean, and I'm not just referring to the graphics, which are fantastic. (I am going to say the best graphics I have EVER seen, and no I have never seen Crysis) By clean, I simply mean everything fits. No messy details anywhere in the game. Not only do the guns, the story, the characters, the settings, etc etc work, but they work together in a way that is truly stunning. The characters are absolutely fantastic. On the surface they are your typical action-movie cliches. But as the game progresses they reveal themselves to be much more unique. The familiarity of the cliches they are based on combined with the originality of their personalities combines to create characters that are deeply engrossing, yet at the same time safe and familiar. Oddly enough on of my favourite characters is Tenzin (pictured on the right). While not speaking any english whatsoever and without subtitles, he is someone able to convey a deep, selfless caring for Nathan Drake. It really has to be experienced, but the way Tenzins character is shown simply through his mannerisms is something I have enjoyed seeing in certain movies, but never in a video game. It is simply fantastic.
Easiest the biggest surprise of the year for me. I really took a chance on the game as well. Reviews made the game look fun, I was intrigued at the idea of a true FPS RPG (I say true because lets be honest, Fallout 3 is an RPG FPS, and yes there is a difference) but also skeptical. I generally do not enjoy FPS games, and I was well aware that this game was a shooter first, RPG second. Regardless, after several of my friends at work recommended the game rather highly I decided to buy the game, even though I wasn't able to save much with my best buy discount. Well I can now say the gamble paid off. Borderlands stole easily 40+ hours of my life and I loved every minute of it. I loved the art **** the shooting controls are near perfect in my mind, and by far the best feature of the game are the guns. There are guns galore to be found, and it keeps the combat feeling fresh the entire game. You are constantly finding new unique guns, or upgrading to more powerful weaponry and it really feels satisfying. It not only makes the combat exciting, but you really feel like you are being rewarded for the combat. Add in the RPG elements of traditional XP, levelloing up, and a skill tree and you feel all the more rewarded for your struggles. If I were to sum up Borderlands in one word it would be "satisfying". At one point in the game I released I was in fact level grinding my character. It was weird because I didn't make the decision like "oh well those guys up ahead are tough, need to level up". I simply enjoyed the combat so much and was motivated to earn the rewards of playing the game. Co-op online is awesome, but surprisingly I found the game to be quite fun playing solo, something almost every review seems to disagree with. This is the game I am closest to earning a platinum trophy (I am only missing two trophies) and I even bought the Zombie Island DLC. This game took hold of me in an awesome way and I am very happy I gave this game a chance even though I was not sure it was right for me.
And those are my contenders for GOTY 2009. Let me remind you that most of the games I played this year were not 2009 releases. Most likely in my next blog I will discuss what I played throughout the year, and then I can finally wrap up 2009 and be done with it! Anyways, that is why this list is fairly short. As well, there are quite a few 2009 games I have heard great things about, but never got around to playing. I'm talking about games like Assassin's Creed 2, Killzone 2, Demons Souls, Arkham Asylum, and Dragon Age. Of those games I am probably most interested in Dragon Age, but even then it is not really a must have on my list. As of right now I have more games than I have time so I am willing to wait it out until I can buy it for cheap. So if there is a game you put on your GOTY list and I didnt remember that no, I did not forget about them it just doesn't make sense to put a game I never played up for GOTY. And it's my list, I can do whatever I want! Honestly, video games are one of the most subjective forms of entertainment that is popular today. It really bothers me when people, usually internet forum goers, forget this.
But on to the winner!
[spoiler] Uncharted 2. Borderlands a close second, but really not that close:P For starters the most obvious reason to give it to Uncharted 2 is the graphics. When talking about MGS4, my previous best graphics ever game my friend told me that MGS4 had the bets graphics because they managed to make attractive women in the game that actually looked attractive. Going along with that I have to say Chloe and Elena > Naomi and the BB corps. But in all seriously aside from making very attractive females, the environments look awesome, the characters animate superbly and the game is full of colour which is very nice to see. And the set pieces:o That smiley is well deserved because that was my face throughout much of the game. The train sequence is simply spectacular (and it is talked about enough that I am sure most of you know what I am talking about) but it is not the only amazing piece. There is a helicopter chase culminating in a one on battle between a grenade launcher armed Nathan and an attack chopper. Or the awe inspiring truck chase which involves jumping from truck to truck before they explode or crash, all the while chasing a lead truck and shooting bad guys. After typing that out I realize how rediculous that sounds, but trust me it doesnt simply work, it fells completely natural. I could go on, but really the game must be experienced to appreciate. Adam Sessler from G4TV in his review of the game calls it "the best single player experience [he's] ever had". And I completely agree [/spoiler]
And that's that. Let me know your thoughts of 2009 and what some of your fav games were.