Hey, I'm back from the dead to create this entry and then I'll be immediately returning to my grave. 2009 was a strange year for videogames. It started off kind of slow, with a few gems here and there, and ended strong with hits after hits. There were almost no notable RPGs this year though. All we really got was Star Ocean 4, Bowser's Inside Story, Persona PSP, and a bunch of other handheld RPGs. Before I get to my list, I would like to add that I did not play Modern Warfare 2, and I'm almost certain that it would be on my list if I had. It'll probably be on Casey's list if he makes one this year. However, I did play all other AAA titles and then some, so here are my top five selections for 2009.
5. Resident Evil 5 (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)
Resident Evil 5 has one of the best co-op experiences in a videogame. Not as good as Gears of War 2, but it holds its own nonetheless. The elephant in the room seems to be that you aren't able to run-and-gun, and that it's not quite survival horror and not quite a shooter. However, these faults turn into qualities when playing co-op and there is one main reason why. Teamwork. Eliminating the option to run-and-gun gives the player a heightened sense of urgency; creating panic and claustrophobia. This allows for a more satisfying experience when working as a team. You'll find yourself overwhelmed and forced into actually creating strategies with your team mate to get out of a sticky situation. I've never worked so well with another person in a videogame. When all is said and done, you'll be proud of how you worked with your partner and feel like you both actually accomplished something, instead of going in guns-blazing like most other games.
Resdient Evil 5 merits many playthroughs with its new game+ as you can carry over your customized weapons and further power them up. There are also a variety of collectables you can obtain for all you perfectionists out there. The game looks very nice, the music is great, and it really pumps you up with its high levels of intensity. Being what it is, the gameplay is actually pretty good and not at all as frustrating as you probably think it will be. The downfalls for this title are the storyline and voice acting. Also, the when playing single player, the AI of Sheva is pretty bad. However, RE5 is a great experience that I recommend you play with a friend.
4. Dissidia: Final Fantasy (PSP)
Who likes fanservice? I know I do. Dissidia is pretty much the ultimate fanservice game in existence. This is not why it's good though, but i'll get to that later. Dissidia contains twenty-two fighters ranging from the heroes and villains from Final Fantasies I-XII, but you start with only the first ten heroes. Throughout this entire title, there are references, tidbits, trivia, etc, to almost every moment in the series. You might only get to play as the main characters, but I assure you that you'll see all other familiar faces in some shape or form. This game truly is a Final Fantasy fan's wet dream.
Dissidia puts a pretty complex RPG spin on a simple fighting game engine. You move around an area like in Power Stone or Destrega, and you perform simple moves on your enemies like in Super Smash Bros. However, there are multiple different ways to kill an opponent. You have two health bars, BRV and HP, and you can utilize whichever way you think is best to take down your opponent. Factor in summons, EX Gauges, and Traps then everything gets more complicated. You also have tons of stuff to customize and unlock: Armour, accessories, characters; and all these "points" are being thrown at you: EXP, AP, DP, PP. Yes, there is a lot of content to learn, and the learning curve is fairly steep. It can take hours ingest all of the turtorials and this game has to offer, but once you get the hang of it, it's awesome. Dissidia is a very fun game and you can easily play for hours among hours and realize that your entire day has come and gone. It's much more than just a fighting game, so even if that's not your cup of tea I think you'll still have some fun with it. It's very refreshing, and definitely a welcome addition to the series.
3. New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii)
You played Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World right? Well, add in the charm from New Super Mario Bros. for the DS and you get this lovechild. New Super Mario Bros. Wii is basically just a new version of an old formula. It's a side-scrolling Mario game with crazy level design, and a few new power-ups. So obviously this is fun, but why is it so good? Especially top-three good? You can play it with four players. Mario is a blast by itself, but once you get three of your friends on board its a whole new type of crazy. NSMBW is more of a party game than any of the Mario Parties, and I'm not exaggerating here. It's a ton of fun.
There is also a competitive multiplayer option which is fun for a while, but you'll find that the main game is where the heart is. With a load of unique levels, tricky bosses, and a Lost-Levels-esque bonus world, you'll find not only excitement, but challenge as well. But wait a second, isn't Little Big Planet like already a 4-player platformer? Yeah, but this is a 4-player Super Mario game. So if you like high dosages of fun, then play this game. Mind you, it's very easy to overdose.
2. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3)
Just like with last year's list, I find it hard to decide which of my top two games I want to have the number one spot, as they're both so good. With much debate, Uncharted 2 finds itself at number two. Uncharted 2 takes what we know and love from the first Uncharted and then makes it a million times better. The only real selling point for the first game was that it was a genuine cinematic experience, since the exploration was linear and the gameplay was mediocre at best. Uncharted 2 develops upon the movie experience as well as taking the gameplay and exploration to a whole new level.
Let's start with the movie aspect. Uncharted 2 is a literally a non-stop thrill ride from beginning to end. The gameplay transititions seamlessly into cinematics, and it gives "intense" a whole new meaning. The voice acting is top-notch, the best I've seen in any videogame to date, coupled with the fact that the script is extremely well done. Not to mention that this game looks amazing; its on par, if not moreso, than Metal Gear Solid 4. The gameplay is much more refined. Better shooting controls, aiming, cover, etc. It's pretty much the same idea as the first Uncharted except a lot more polished. The exploration is still kind of linear since its, you know, like a movie, but the areas are a lot more detailed and expansive, and the content gets your blood pumping.
On its own, it's already a solid experience and you can tell how much blood, sweat, and tears went into this game, but there's more... Uncharted 2 comes with an online multiplayer mode, which comes with traditional competitive options and co-op missions. People were doubtful of the multiplayer when it was first announced, but once it became live they realized that it was an experience on par with Gears or Call of Duty. All in all, Uncharted 2 is an amazing as hell game that everyone should play. If you were ever wondering about whether or not to buy a PS3, now is the time.
Game of the Year - Assassin's Creed II (PS3, Xbox 360)
Just like with Uncharted 2, this is a game that develops upon a previous idea, but makes it so much better. Sequels really are a device to get things right. All the complaints about the first Assassin's Creed derived from repetitive missions, awkward combat, and confusing story sequences. Well, Ubisoft Montreal was aware of these problems and corrected them. Unlike Uncharted 2, however, Assassin's Creed II is an open world experience, which is the main reason why it got the number one spot. As much as playing through an action-packed movie is fun, playing through an action-packed game is a tad more fun. The world is gigantic and detailed. There are a ton of sidequests to take on and objects to collect. The world is your oyster. You can purchase weapons, skills, armour, and even upgrade an entire city. Everything that you collect actually counts for something in AC2, which is refreshing.
The true underlying storyline of Assassin's Creed is a Davinci Code meets National Treasure conspiracy adventure. You go through actual events in history and find all these conspiracy theories in real artifacts. There is a spooky sidequest that's dedicated to just this. AC2 takes place in 15th century Italy. You go to such famous places as Rome and Venice, as well as kickin' it with Leo DaVinci and the Pope. The voice acting is excellent and everyone actually speaks italian which is awesome. The story is actually quite surprising and compelling. The Demond stuff is really compelling this time. There's a wide variety of missions to take on this time around and some one-time events that are fun-as-hell to play. There is always something to do. Also, the combat is refined, and it makes killing dudes a lot better.
Assassin's Creed II is a masterpiece. My words here do not do this game any justice, go and play it for yourself. It's amazing.
So yeah, I'm quite happy with how this year turned out. It's certainly not the best year for games, but it was pretty good. The fall/winter sweeps really made 2009 what it is though, and I still have to get on Modern Warfare 2. Looking forward to 2010, I can only imagine the awesome-storm that's coming. Final Fantasy XIII, XIV, God of War 3, Alan Wake, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Halo Reach, Metroid, maybe a new Wii Zelda and Gears 3 as well, plus much more. 2010 should be a wonderful year for videogames.
Flower is beautiful and relaxing. The perfect game for winding down. Anyone who appreciates art and symbolism will enjoy this game. It's under ten dollars and it's quite good.
Street Fighter IV (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)
Latest installment in the Street Fighter franchise. A true sequel to SFIII. There are some new characters, explosive combos, online multiplayer, etc. It's Street Fighter. It's fun.