To continue our reviews of a particular year in gaming, let’s head straight over to 2009. This year was infamous for games like . . . Infamous and many others that redefined the generation and made 2008 look unrefined in comparison. Here is the list of 2009’s most notable games and their scores. Remember these are bite size reviews and we can’t handle all of the year’s titles. As for F.E.A.R. 2, I’m handling a standalone review of that.
Anywho, 2009 here we come!
Batman: Arkham Asylum: 9/10
Whereas most adventure games were beginning to evolve, such as Gears of War, Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed, Batman took the traditional concept of what games like Castlevania SOTN and Resident Evil did and revitalized it. Set within the infamous Arkham Asylum, Batman must face many opposing forces such as Bane, Killer Croc and the Joker himself. Filled with awesome set pieces, neat puzzles, a fascinating open world and dynamic tactical elements, this game was a winner. There are, however, some minor problems with the subpar boss fights and the repetitive nature of certain elements.
Call of Duty: MW2: 6/10
This was hyped AF. I mean, the hype was mental! I wasn’t too bothered until I saw the launch trailer, and then I was hooked. Once I bought the game, I admired that the set pieces were bigger and better, and much of the level design had improved. But the game was shallow and just overstayed its welcome with a poor third act. It had some great moments, but that’s all it had, moments. The story was weak—outside the epic set pieces, there was nothing new and combat was a little thinner compared to MW1. Still a decent game, but it fell short at the time with its broken multiplayer.
Another epic four-player co-op shooter where players had to explore the wastelands, killing, looting and picking up some sweet-ass guns! No two guns were the same, as millions of combinations meant guns were unique and harboured different characteristics from each other. Colourful, funny and witty, Borderlands left a great impression on us. It’s a shame it had a lame ending and some poor design choices that weren’t rectified until the sequel.
Left 4 Dead 2: 9/10
Less than a year after the first game, wow! Left 4 Dead 2 included epic four-player co-op zombie galore! Set in the Deep South, this sequel added more dynamics, set pieces and interesting situations to the original. It’s great fun for everyone and even more so when played with other people.
Resident Evil 5: 7/10
Resident Evil 5 is not a perfect game. Some of its issues include a lame story, an over-drawn third act, poor controls and a rehashing of RE4 enemies. Yet it was still better than RE6. The co-op was a love/hate factor for many—on the one hand, it wasn’t needed and mostly eliminated the horror aspect, yet it was highly enjoyable to play with another friend and battle the foes of Umbrella together.
Dragon Age: Origins: 9/10
Here we have another fine RPG from the team that brought us Mass Effect and Jade Empire. It may look like crap, but make no mistake, the game was highly engaging and immersive. Just think of Mass Effect meets Game of Thrones, with a little more complexity thrown in for good measure.
Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood: 8/10
Call of Juarez was better than the first game and certainly a hell of a lot better than the third. It was an improvement for the story, action, shooting mechanics and more. Bound in Blood knew what it wanted to be and the co-op aspect was surprisingly fun. It wasn’t perfect; the controls were fairly clunky and the multiplayer was average. Either way the Western shooter provided some highly energetic gameplay.
Yeah, this was one of the least exciting installments of the series. It had some interesting world-shifting dynamics, but we’d seen this in previous games such as Soul Reaver. Generic shooting, a flat story and stale, overly long dialogue sections held this game back.
Uncharted 2: 8/10
The grand action adventure that inspired the reboot of Tomb Raider, was in no shortage of marvellous set pieces, tighter combat compared to the original and improvements in level and puzzle designs. The poor ending, lame boss battles and overly long segments, including the world’s most stupidly long train, do knock off a point or two.
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 2: 8/10
This RTS sequel had better tactical elements, fast paced action and impressive visuals than the first. It was a fantastic game for the ages. Unfortunately, it’s held back by a repetitive campaign and a lack of multiplayer maps. Luckily it has since been updated to make it an even more solid RTS epic.
Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena: 7/10
Riddick is back with another dark, twisted sci-fi tale that includes murder, greed and slicing those fools who didn’t know who they were f**king with. Vin Diesel plays Riddick, the main character who is captured and brought on to the Dark Athena, a mercenary warship that captures other ships and harvests anyone its crew can get their hands on. Riddick is about stealth, set pieces and violence galore. It’s very well written, yet the gameplay is clunky, with awkward stealth sections, controls and sub-par action that amount to a very lame climax. Yet the addition of the Escape from Butcher Bay remaster helps give it another point or so.
Brutal Legend: 9/10
Jack Black and Tim Schafer bring us one of the most creative and stunning looking fantasy games in gaming. With a heavy metal twist to the aesthetics, this was pretty much Dark Siders meets thrash metal. With dynamic multiplayer, epic campaign and voice talents, including Tim Curry and a host of metal legends, you couldn’t help but love this charming title. But due to many repetitive mission objectives and Ozzy Osbourne just being plain annoying, hearing him constantly on the upgrade screen made the game a little painful to bear.
Prototype starts off with promise: the concept of New York being plagued by a mutagen that turns people into monsters is gripping, and could have been a winner concept. People seemed to like it a lot because you can perform flying kicks. But many didn’t bother to see the dull campaign that never ended, boring story and highly repetitive sequences. It had potential and started off pretty darn well, yet it just didn’t go far enough in developing a stronger game, and by the end, it was forgettable.
Killzone 2: 8/10
Looked great (not as great as the 2005 trailer) and had the gameplay to match, along with a brilliantly structured multiplayer, but Killzone 2 was clunky and poorly written.
Silent Hill: Home Coming: 6/10
The horror series changed hands from Eastern to Western developers. What Team Silent did was create an immersive world of pure horror and mystery. Yet Double Helix, at their best efforts to do the same, just made something dull and generic. With poorly executed combat and the scare factor turned down, Homecoming was looking to be a disaster. Yet it had some elements to boast about: the transformation stages looked great, the other world designs were excellent, the boss battles were decent, and the story wasn’t all that bad. It had something there but tried too hard to impress us.
Assassin’s Creed II: 9/10
This sequel was a massive improvement over the original—it had better combat, more things and side objectives to engage in, an awesome amount of secrets and collectables to find, and a story that was half decent and kept you invested until the end. Assassin’s Creed II was awesome with some minor problems, yet it held itself high even after 7 years. Best of all, you can swim in this game! Joy.
Bionic Commando: 4/10
This was a let-down for those who waited the 20 years for a sequel. It had promise with some great voice acting, awesome boss battles and reasonably decent action. The downside was that it had poor platforming, and tired and repetitive missions, which consisted of having to close down checkpoints over and over again. It also didn’t help that the story was really weird. Originally I didn’t mind this, but playing it again has proven that time has not been so kind. Just play Rearmed.
Demon’s Souls: 8/10
This is the game that started it all—a classic and the best of the Dark Souls series, known for its extreme difficulty and energetic gameplay. While the series never truly moved on, the game presented gameplay sequences and difficulty that were quite original and influenced many future games. Demon’s Souls balanced punishing yet rewarding gameplay. The game did, however, sound and play out like a wet, brown paper bag being torn apart, but it was still good.
Halo 3: ODST: 7/10
Another grand FPS from the series that refined it. ODST was something that changed the standard formula for Halo games. The shooter moved to an open world, with side objectives/events and made the action feel more like urban combat with a gritty edge. This wasn’t taken so kindly by many, yet it held a certain gravitas for the most part. It fell short because of poorly written elements and an extremely weak finale that just felt lazy in execution.
This little indie fantasy adventure was charming, colourful and, above all, extremely fun. With impressive particle effects, engrossing fantasy action, and fluent and intelligent three-player co-op, it’s a hoot.
Infamous was much like Prototype, yet with better writing, more complexities to the gameplay and a better overall narrative structure and design. It looked kind of cruddy and may not have had the best aesthetics, yet this open-world action game with mutants and carnage had substance and a gripping sense of immersion.
Having been in development hell for around five years, this quirkily little title was meant to deliver a Stronghold experience with western tones and badass action to top it off. Wet had all the right elements, and for the first hour or so, it had the potential to be a really good action game. Yet it was littered with needless QTEs, terrible enemy A.I., boss battles that were just more QTEs and the same structure for every level. So you shoot up some NPCs, platform, enter berserk mode and usually end the level with a car chase. Sure these moments were fun for the first couple of times, but repeating them in every level gets terribly redundant.
Battlefield 1943: 8/10
Yeah it was glitchy and clunky, but this epic multiplayer game was so much fun. Battlefield 1943 was set in immense battlefields with all manner of weapons and vehicles meant for grand battles and insane confrontations. It was good old multiplayer fun, before all FPS war games went Modern Warfare.
Just . . . no. Please god. No.
The Saboteur: 7/10
Assassin’s Creed in WW2. This was a great idea with some insanely awesome action and destruction. Think of it as Just Cause with more complexities. Sadly the writing was subpar and the voice acting was just plain awful. And that’s without even mentioning the odd pre-order content that allowed players to see boobs . . . yeah, it made no sense.
Shadow Complex: 9/10
Great game! There. I did a review on Shadow Complex already, but I just had to add it to the list—I love this game. If you like Castlevania SOTN style games, you’ll love this 2D action side-scroller with exploration elements and impressive tactical action.
So there we have it. 2009 was a better year for gaming compared to 2008. Even games that didn’t impress still had some momentum, and after looking back, we noticed that many games were pure and dynamic. We also couldn’t help but notice that Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty persisted over the years, becoming monsters that consumed our time and money.
Anyway, I want a Brutal Legends 2 . . .