Thursday, January 14, 2010

Favorite Games Of 2009

1. I didn't play everything (in particular, I haven't played Dragon Age or Assassin's Creed 2, although I will soon)
2. This is a "favorite" list, not a "best of" list, so please don't e-mail and try to objectively demonstrate that Joseph Underpants And His Travails in Divinity School should be on the list.
3. I'm sure I forgot something. I always do.

First off, let's look at an unranked list of my favorite games from 2009:
Demon's Souls
For my money, the best game ever released exclusively on the PS3. Innovative play mechanics, fantastic level design, and drop-dead gorgeous.

NHL 10
My favorite hockey game. Ever.

Red Faction
Sheer, giddy fun. A sandbox game where the sand was actually fun, which is a rarity.

The Beatles: Rock Band
An absolutely respectful and exuberant tribute to the greatest band of all time.

Travis Baldree just knows how to make games that are compulsively addictive.

King's Bounty: Armored Princess
A standalone sequel/expansion pack for my favorite game of 2008, and I'm including it here because it has 40+ hours of content. Any list of the five greatest developers in the world that doesn't include Katauri Interactive just isn't credible.

Dwarf Fortress
This game will be in my favorites list as long as Tarn and his brother keep working on it. It is an absolutely unique experience.

Solium Infernum
The new game by Vic Davis (Armageddon Empires), and a worthy successor in every respect. It also features some of the most devious gameplay ever.

Plants vs. Zombies
A surprising, goofy bit of fun.

Madden 10
A new focus on realism (did I just write that? Is that even possible?) combined with a willingness to have sliders actually meaningfully affect gameplay enabled this game to become the best football game ever made. For the serious player, this was the first relevant version of Madden in years (maybe ever).

There's your list of candidates, but instead of ranking them one through ten, I'm just going to pick my top three.

Third place: King's Bounty Armored Princess. Between last year's King's Bounty, Space Rangers 2, and this game, I think I've spent 150+ of the best hours of my gaming life. And this game expands on the original in interesting ways: new units, a new version of rage powers using a baby dragon (perfectly fitting their well-established, wacky sense of humor), and a requirement that players think out their troop builds very carefully, as well as what powers and spells they want to develop. It also has an absolutely fantastic English translation, as well as one of my all-time favorite soundtracks (including a song sung by Elena Romanova that is staggering in its beauty).

The main reason this game is third is because it's predecessor was first last year.

Second place: The Beatles: Rock Band. It's just a beautifully done game, the songs are incredibly fun to play, and it's lush, not sparse. It's absolutely glorious fun.

And "What Goes On" is an absolute bitch on Expert.

First place: Red Faction Guerrilla. This game has an inescapable exuberance and a wonderful sense of personality that are impossible to resist. Blowing up things has never been so fun, and the seemingly endless ways to complete missions made for a very flexible experience.

There you go. I'm also going to try to put together a Favorite Games Of The Decade post for next week.

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