2009 Year in Review: Game of the Year

It’s that time of year. The time where everyone gets together and starts to put together their year in review articles and podcasts. If you caught podcast 41, you heard what we at Everyday Gamers feel were some fo the biggest news stories of the year. We have at least one more year in review podcast coming, but when it comes to these kind of lists, there is one that is expected from every video game website: Game of the year.

So, we here at Everyday Gamers decided we would come together and give you and idea of what each of us feel are the five best games we each played this year.

Eric Bouchard:

5. Tie: Scribblenauts/Henry Hatsworth and the Puzzling Adventure (DS) – Yes, I know starting out with a tie seems like a bit of a cop out, but I cannot help it. In what seemed overall like a down year for the DS, Scribblenauts and Henry Hatsworth were 2 absolutely can’t miss games. Scibblenauts adds a whole new twist to puzzle solving with no set way to beat each level, while Hatsworth combines platforming with puzzle gameplay in a way that is just astounding. The games stand out as the best on the handheld, and I dare anyone to play either one and not enjoy them.

4. Torchlight (PC) – In a world of big releases, it is rare to see an indie game catch on the way Torchlight has. Made by many of the creators of Diablo, Torchlight manages to be both a deep dungeon crawler and yet an accessible game for those not used to that type. You can pop in and play for just a bit or get lost for hours, something most games cannot balance. Excellent gameplay, an inventive inventory system with the ability to have you pet sell you items and 3 truly unique classes to play set Torchlight apart from other Diablo clones, and that’s not counting the mods people are already making available for the game. Heck, it deserves to be on the list if for nothing else than it has gotten me back into PC gaming.

3. Left 4 Dead 2 (Xbox 360, PC) – When Left 4 Dead 2 was announced at E3, there were many people, including some 0n this site, who thought it was too soon after Left 4 Dead. Many were afraid the game would just be Left 4 Dead 1.5, but it did not take long for that to be proven wrong. The sequel has surpassed its predecessor in every way, from tighter controls to longer, more involved campaigns. Add to that plenty of new weapons including melee based, new special infected, the uncommon common and more multiplayer modes, and Left 4 Dead 2 ends up feeling like much much more of a complete game than the original. This version is worth the $60.oo price point.

2. Dragon Age Origins (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) – This game was in the running for Game of the Year when I was first started playing. Bioware set out yo make Dragon Age Origins to be the spiritual successor to Balder’s Gate, and the company has achieved that. A deep storyline, excellent character interaction and a rich combat system make this an RPG to make hardcore RPG fans proud. In the end, however, that is part of why it did not make number 1 on my list, as the one the made it there was much more accessible and has the best Co-op I think I have ever played.

1. Game of the Year: Borderlands (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) – There is something magical about this game. Gearbox has managed to do the best job so far of combining an FPS with an RPG, and the cell-shaded look to Borderlands just helps add to the joy you get while playing it. Though the single player campaign is strong, you are really doing this game and yourself a disservice if you do not play it Co-op, and as such the 360 version may be the best because of Live. Random weapons, 4 unique character classes that can be leveled up in many different ways, enemies who level up based on the number of people playing and a wry humor that just permeates the game make Borderlands the clear choice for GOTY.

Honorable Mentions: Uncharted 2 (PS3), Street Fighter IV (PC, PS3, Xbox 360), Batman Arkham Asylum (PC, PS3, Xbox 360), Assassin’s Creed II (PS3, Xbox 360)

Patrick Adams

5. InFamous (PS3)I was a little skeptical about the game until the demo released, once I got my hands on it I instantly knew it would be a day-one purchase. I’m not one to pay attention to the story in a game but InFamous made it hard not to with it’s sweet comic book art-style. The platforming elements in InFamous were very refined and overall the game is one of the best on the PS3.

4. Shadow Complex (XBLA)Shadow Complex was so good that I almost added it to my top 10 favorite games of all time list. Yes it pays homage to Metroid but for someone like me who has never played Metroid it was still an amazing game. The game was very polished and overall just plain fun. Once I completed the game I only wanted to play more. I hope we’ll see a sequel sometime in the near future.

3. Uncharted 2 (PS3)Everyone knew U2 looked beautiful and the hype for it was pretty high. Naughty Dog delivered and the game lived up to the expectations. Like the first one, U2 is like an adventure movie that you play and that’s awesome. With a thin line between the cutscenes and the actual gameplay U2 is right next to Killzone 2 as the best looking game to grace the PS3.

2. Red Faction: Guerrilla (Xbox 360)I think the main reason RFG is #2 on my list is because it really caught me by surprise. I had heard nothing about the game until I played the demo and that demo was enough to make me go out and buy RFG on day-one. RFG is about destroying everything and destroying everything is as fun as a game can get.

1. Game of the Year:  Borderlands (Xbox 360)I went out on a limb and bought this game purely because of reading good things about it on Twitter and here it is my #1 one pick, my game of the year. The funny thing about my experience with Borderlands was that I played the entire game by myself. It was exactly what I needed, a blend of the action in an FPS and the addiction of collecting loot and leveling up in an RPG. Borderlands also has an art-style that hits the spot for me. With the announcement of plans to make it a franchise I am excited to see more of Borderlands in the future.

Honorable Mentions: Killzone 2 (PS3), GTA: Chinatown Wars (DS), Left 4 Dead 2 (Xbox 360), and N.O.V.A. (iPhone).

Yuoma

5. Assassin’s Creed II (Xbox 360) I loved the first game, and I’m actually one off the few people who had very little complaints about the game’s repetition issues, and I’m the only one i know of who actually liked the ending as it was presented. Playing AC2 though I can see how the game’s missions are more streamlined, helping the story being told to be expressed more smoothly. Also, when Ezio’s uncle first introduced himself made me spit out my juice and, as the kids say, LOL for a few minutes before I regained my composure.

4. Shadow Complex (XBLA) The best looking XBLA game I have yet seen, with a decent plot and very entertaining gameplay mechanics. Shadow Complex is Metroidvania done right, and worthy of being placed on the same pedestal as Symphony of the Night (though maybe on a lower shelf).

3. Street Fighter 4 (Xbox 360) in a year in which fighting games made a triumphant return, SF4 comes out to show everyone how it’s done. Still a 2d fighter, SF4’s 3D stylized graphics still take my fanboy breath away. All of your favorite fighters (and Zangief) and here, joined by 5 brand new characters to learn and master. The only thing better is the promise of Super Street Fighter 4 at some point next year.

2. BlazBlue (Xbox 360) The one thing that pushes BlazBlue ahead of SF4 in my heart is the freshness of it: I did not even bother to open the instruction manual for street fighter, yet knew every move by heart. BlazBlue on the other hand is a brand new franchise with the feel of a classic. None of it’s characters share anything in common: Each with it’s own speed, set of moves, counters and ways of dealing with attacks. Fast paced fights, actual strategy needed to win some bouts, beautiful hand drawn graphics and an interesting story put this game above most.

1. Game of the Year: Borderlands (Xbox 360) My pick for game of the year, Borderlands is a game that is different for everyone who plays it. With four different characters to choose from, 3 different leveling paths for each character, randomly generated weapons and enemies the game remains new and entertaining even hundreds of hours in. I have played in teams with players who all used the same character, but with different specialties and powers. It’s a beautiful thing. Your mileage may vary, as with everything else of course, but if you have a couple of friends online, this game can reach the heights of fun achieved by L4D (especially after playing the Zombie Island DLC).

Laren Hawkins

5: Henry Hatsworth (Nintendo DS/DSI)One of the best games on the DS this year. I have to make a confession though, I overlooked this game for along time. It just didn’t appeal to me. Some how, Eric convinced me to pick it up and boy, am I glad I did. Although I didn’t get to finish the game, I was very impressed with it. It had a unique blend of puzzle/action/adventure, anyone who has a DS should definitely pick it up.

4: EVE Online (PC/MMO)What is most likely a very underrated game, is number 4 on my list for the year. I love Sci-fi, I love Sci-fi in space, I love vehicles in games. EVE Online is a MMO which just happens to combine all three of these loves. While the game can be a bit overwhelming at first, once you get into, it is a tremendous amount of fun especially when you play with your friends. The graphics were amazing, even on my netbook, and that is always something I cam appreciate. The downfall of the game, you to pay monthly (luckily, they had a 14-day free trial).

3: Pokemon: Platinum (DS/DSi)Ok I admit it, I have an addiction… to POKEMON! Anytime I get my hands on a new game, I zone out and play non-stop. In fact, this was the first POKEMON game I ever really played and it got me hooked and I greatly look forward to the release of Heart Gold and Soul Silver next year!

2: Halo Wars (Xbox 360)Undoubtedly  the BEST game I played on the 360 all year. I really didn’t expect much and in all honesty, I don’t typically like RTS’ but, I got hooked on this one. I must say, I did very well with the HAWK unit Another reason was due to the fact that that it wasn’t another Halo shooter that had a generic feel to it. It was new and original and actually had a pretty good story.   I hope to pick up this game again someday.

1: Game of The Year: Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story (DS) I was very skeptical about a Mario and Luigi RPG, I just couldn’t see it being a good game. Well, I was wrong, very wrong. From the rich and vibrant colors and graphics to the amazing gameplay and a great story, this was hands down the best game I played on the DSi this year! One tip though, NEVER eat a “magic” mushroom or might end up in Bowser’s stomach.

Honorable Mentions: Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier, Little Big Planet(PSP), Rockband Unplugged, Castlevania:SotN. Some of these would have made my list but, I have only recently started them but, you can expect reviews of this games and my thoughts on the underrated PSP Go system next year. GAME OVER MAN, GAME OVER!

Chris Maeurer:

5:  Zeno Clash (PC)This was an amazing Indie game, gorgeous visuals, decent story, but amazing twist on first-person action/fighting melee combat.  Really enjoyed my playthrough, and I’m sure I will dig it up for a revisit this year.  If you haven’t checked it out, you are definitely missing out on one of the best Indie titles to hit this year!

4: Batman : Arkham Asylum (PC)What can I say about Batman : AA that hasn’t already been said? The controls are amazing, the visuals stunning, and the gameplay revolutionary.  Batman is an all-around win for the year, drawing in fans of almost every genre.  The story and replay value are superb, and I can’t wait to continue the thrill ride in the newly announced sequel, Arkham is a must play for every PC and console gamer!

3: Force Unleashed : Sith Edition (PC)I understand Force Unleashed had it’s faults, and was not as highly acclaimed as some would like, when it released on consoles.  I don’t know what my attraction is, the story is broken and does not fit in with the cannon of the universe – I would go so far as to say it breaks the universe that George Lucas has created!  Yet, I cannot deny that I am enthralled with this game.  The gameplay mechanics are fantastic, even iff they suffer from repitition.  The new content of DLC levels and playable costumes helps also, Force Unleashed gets a win in my book.

2: Torchlight (PC)Torchlight has unseated Bejeweled and Peggle as the most addictive game ever.  Fire it up, create a character, choose a pet, and cry when your morning alarm rings and you are still rivited to your seat exploring Torchlight’s depths.  Torchlight’s charm comes from it’s extreme simplicity and extreme attention to detail and makes it THE dungeon crawler to own, even if you haven’t given the genre a spin since the old Diablo II days.  Maybe Torchlight’s charm will wear off by the time Diablo III releases, but Runic games has created a fantastic lite-RPG that draws deeper breaths with every creation the mod community drops into it.  It’s also a steal at the price of $19.99 and might even see store release by the time you read this.  Wonderfully charming and addictive game.

1: Game Of The Year : F.E.A.R. 2 : Project Origin (PC)I know this comes as a surprise to most, and it was a tough decision between Torchlight and F.E.A.R. 2 for my top pick, but I had to give F.E.A.R.2 the nod.  This was the game that I could not pull myself away from this year, and the game I had the most fun playing.  Despite the lousy ending, it was an amazing roller coaster ride of scares and amazing levels that had me checking over my shoulder when playing in the dark.  I love the F.E.A.R. universe, the characters and the amazing environments from this new iteration, and I am willing to see what F.E.A.R. 3 holds in store before I go completely crazy over the bad ending in this game.  The multiplayer wasn’t bad, and the gameplay was just amazing, hats off to F.E.A.R. 2 !


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