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Jeremy Jastrzab
29 Dec, 2009

PALGN Game of the Year Awards 2009 - Part 1

PALGN Feature | The staff share their finest of 2009 with you.
The PALGN staff are amongst the most discerning bunch of gamers around. That’s right, gamers. You see, we would rather spend our time actually playing games and telling you about them rather than locking ourselves in a room and slogging out some contrived set of lists and ego-measuring contests. So, each of the staff is providing you with their three favourite games of the year. And since there are so many of us, and that all of us like to talk (or type), you’ll see the rest of our selections tomorrow.


Matt Bassos – PALGN Writer

Shadow Complex

Amazing. This is not only what 2D shooters can be like, it's what they should be like. It really nails a clear setting, allowing for awesome immersion for the player. Shadow Complex just looks so good too, and is a true 'next gen' 2D game in all senses. It's a contemporary Metorid with many of the same ideas that made the series a winner. In it's own right though, it brings its own uniqueness in so many ways that just work, and for its nifty little price tag makes it truly hard to pass up.

Borderlands

If someone told me they were going to mix Diablo with a first-person shooter I would of said "I'd play that." So that's exactly what I did when Borderlands was released and it far exceeded my optimistic expectations. Plenty of loot, brilliant art direction and solid shooting makes it a one of the best gaming experiences of 2009. The icing on the cake is it just gets better with mates and a few beers.

Left 4 Dead 2 (Uncut)

Simply better than the original in nearly every way. There is nothing more satisfyingly then mowing down zombies; it's just that therapeutic. Of course it requires additional effort to actually play the game in its full glory, which is the greatest disappointment caused by Aussie censorship this year. Still, for those who do get to see L4D2 the way it was intended, will get much more than an upgrade in gore. Beautifully created environments expand the game's campaigns, making them so much more interesting and lively. The new features and additions also create a more expanded title, helping quell criticism of being a sequel cash in. Again, it's such a shame it was so heavily butchered in Australia and should not be played in any way, shape or form in its censored condition.

Downloadable games are getting bigger.

Downloadable games are getting bigger.
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Anthony Capone – PALGN Writer

Shadow Complex

I could be like everyone else and add my own two cents about how great Uncharted 2 or Assassin’s Creed II was, but there are several other favourites from 2009 worth noting. Having missed Metroid and Castlevania, I liken the gem that is Shadow Complex to a mix of Super Mario Bros. and Metal Gear on steroids. This gorgeous side-scrolling part-shooter part-platformer will hook you from the start, and can be picked up for chicken feed on XBLA.

Resident Evil 5

I missed Resident Evil 4, so comparisons between it and Resident Evil 5 never entered my mind. Instead, I took Capcom’s game for what it was – a visually stunning third-person action title with amazing set pieces and an out-of-this-world story. I never tired of the crazy boss fights or mowing down zombies (or whatever you call them) with the gorgeous Sheva by my side. And going back to RE4 now is just like playing RE5, except in standard definition.

Modern Warfare 2

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 continued everything that was great from the original. Replaying a scene from the The Rock and escaping an enemy base on a snowmobile rate as my favourite moments in this cinematic, immersive and hugely entertaining game. While there weren’t really any ‘wow’ moments and story was slightly lacking, Infinity Ward outdid themselves with the new Spec Ops mode. Try and see if you can get all 69 stars.

Resident Evil 5 was still pretty damn good.

Resident Evil 5 was still pretty damn good.
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Kimberley Ellis – PALGN Writer

Dragon Age: Origins

With most of 2009's most compelling titles residing in the realm of action/adventure and FPS titles, it was refreshing for an RPG to come in under the radar and take our collective breath away. While developer BioWare's pedigree speaks for itself, this role-playing title seemed to slip by many gamers as the hype for the company's other upcoming game Mass Effect 2 seemingly grew by the day. What Dragon Age: Origins brought to the table was a breathtaking game world fused with the fundamentally sound gameplay mechanic which harks back to the days of the beloved Baldur's Gate, provided RPG gamers with a thoroughly immersive fantasy ride. Fifty hours in and I'm still as hooked as I was when I first dug into the title.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Personally, I was quite skeptical when the original Uncharted hit the gaming world. Upon first glance it appears to be another take on the fearless adventurer character, looking nothing more than a Tomb Raider clone starring a handsome, roguish male lead. But upon diving into the game , you soon discover that it is more than that and when Uncharted 2 I was quite reluctant to play the title as I believed that it wouldn't be able to be a better title than its predecessor, but thankfully the hardworking crew at Naughty Dog proved me wrong as Uncharted 2 not only provided me with both an intriguing storyline and solid gameplay, it offered gamers some of the most suspenseful and nail biting moments of the year. If you are looking for only one PS3 game to own this year this should be your first choice.

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Comic book properties are finally starting to get the respect they deserve from Hollywood, but sadly the video game industry hasn't always followed suit. Thankfully, this is not the case with Batman: Arkham Asylum as developer Rocksteady has done a brilliant job of immersing gamers into the dark, creepy world of Gotham's finest. From the excellent hand-to-hand combat on offer to the slick use of Batman's arsenal of gadgetry, this title made the Dark Knight that little bit more badass.

So licensed games CAN be good.

So licensed games CAN be good.
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Brendan Fitzgerald – Managing Editor

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Even with all the hype, Batman: Arkham Asylum absolutely blew me away. The incredible atmosphere and engaging story instantly grabbed me, and I was barely able to drop the controller until I had conquered it all - a true rarity in this day and age. The fighting mechanics were wonderful, the stealth bits were captivating, and the set pieces were outstanding. Game of the year, without question.

Street Fighter IV

Like most, I was highly sceptical when I saw the first shots of Street Fighter IV - the cheesy 3D models didn't exactly impress me. However, when I actually got my grubby mits on a copy of the game, I was wonderfully surprised. Capcom had somehow managed to capture most of the best bits of Street Fighter games past, while adding a host of new features - none more significant than the horrendously addictive online mode, which cost me countless hours and large amounts of hair. I loved every minute of it.

Forza Motorsport 3

Forza Motorsport 3 came out of nowhere at E3 and instantly caught my attention - something that Gran Turismo has failed to do since about 2001. It took Forza 2 - already a sublime racing experience - and made it even better, adding a streamlined career mode, improved visuals, a host of new cars and new events to make it the ultimate console racing sim. It's not everybody's cup of tea, but it's damn good at what it does.

And so can come backs.

And so can come backs.
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Adam Ghiggino – Deputy Communications

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Kind of a no brainer, but it really is just that good. Everything I love - story, visuals, smooth gameplay and some good old ultra-violence - was present in spades in Nathan Drake's latest. Every character was memorable, the number of unforgettably awesome events in the game is almost uncountable and the multiplayer was a sweet sweet thing. Add to that the sheer badass-ness of Drake. I'm calling it now - this guy has to go to Atlantis next to see the mer-people. And throw them off cliffs.

DJ Hero

While The Beatles: Rock Band came very close to being my favourite music game this year, I have to tip the hat to DJ Hero. I'm addicted. The new turntable controller really has a different feel to it than I'm used to in music games, and cross-fading back and forth between tracks at high speed is a thing of beauty. I haven't been this stuck to a music game since Amplitude, and I hope the inevitable sequel rocks even more.

Tales of Monkey Island

Telltale really hit it out of the park with their latest episodic adventure, making their best game and a worthy chapter in the Monkey Island series. The puzzles were challenging, the scripts were funny, the pacing was wonderful and by the end you felt as if you'd played a proper Monkey Island sequel, rather than a series of unrelated episodes. Cohesive, hilarious and unmissable for adventure game fans.

Tales of Monkey Island is no dog.

Tales of Monkey Island is no dog.
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Jeremy Jastrzab – Executive Editor

Cursed Mountain

While I attach numbers to reviews based on particular criterion, I don’t believe that just because a game isn’t a ‘10’ that it can’t be awesome. Sure, you can very easily pick out the flaws in Cursed Mountain. But when a game is this unique and creates an unparalleled sense of tension, atmosphere and foreboding mystery, that doesn’t completely wrap up until the end credits roll, the flaws are redundant. Finally, follow on effort of the Wii’s is showing that it can definitely be good for something; niche titles that provide you with an experience unlike any other.

Resident Evil 5

For some reason, it was cool to hate Resident Evil 5. As a long time RE fan, it gave me just about everything I wanted, including something that has been missing for a long time – closure. Sure, it wasn’t particularly scary (though if you kept up with the mail, it wasn’t going to be) and it rode the coat tails of its superior predecessor. However, it was the first game that I’ve played through more than twice since… Resident Evil 4 and through each of those play throughs it kept me nailed to the edge of my seat, as no other game can create the tension and thrill of trying to save your balls from all manner of varied monstrosities like this one.

Tales of Vesperia

Technically, this is a 2008 game but it just goes to show that often it’s better late than never. The Tales games have had a chequered history of releases in PAL-land, but when they did get here, they provided an experience that was just as good as any Final Fantasy or other more prominent RPG. Sure, there are a lot of common elements across the series and a few conventions could use updating. However, Vesperia has a lengthy, deep and engrossing adventure that is aided by one of the best and fastest action-based battle systems, that not only is a lot of fun but a great hook that very easily becomes a ‘just one more battle’ attitude till the early hours of the morning. And for once, your protagonist is not an androgynous and emotionally challenged cry baby.

Be afraid. Cursed Mountain will find you if you don't play it.

Be afraid. Cursed Mountain will find you if you don't play it.
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Jahanzeb Khan – PALGN Writer

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 is to Japanese RPGs what Dragon Age: Origins is to Western RPGs. It is a game that offers players with plenty of freedom and choice, featuring a somewhat non linear game/plot progression. Persona 4 is a fantastic RPG that offers a good 80 hours worth of gameplay, combining hardcore dungeon crawling with well done dating simulator elements. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 will forever hold a special place in my heart because my review for it marked my PALGN debut, I couldn’t have asked for a better game to review first.

Street Fighter IV

Street Fighter IV has to be my most played game of 2009. I have been playing it regularly with my rivals since its console release and even now it is still as addictive and engaging. Street Fighter IV is a fantastic reboot for the tried and tested 2D fighting genre, the core gameplay mechanics are nothing ground breaking but the excellent execution of those mechanics along with some impressive visuals and presentation makes Street Fighter IV the best fighting game of 2009.

Brutal Legend

So it really did not live up to its hype or expectations, it may have been bogged down by a few design decisions and lazy structure but at the end of the day Brutal Legend is as fun and charming as a good heavy metal song. I found this game to be just pure entertainment as it combines two of my favourite things, heavy metal music and action adventure games. The game has fantastic humor and writing, fun and mindless gameplay and finally a rock solid soundtrack to get the adrenaline pumping. All that and the fact the game was released here the day I turned 21, made it seem as if Brutal Legend was made for me.

Raise your axe to Jack and Brutal Legend.

Raise your axe to Jack and Brutal Legend.
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There seem to be a few clear favourites starting to emerge. Tune in tomorrow for a wrap-up from the rest of the PALGN staff.

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13 Comments
4 years ago
WTF, Shadow Complex was incredibly corny and honestly pretty boring, I honestly never got why it was so popular. Uncharted 2 on the other hand; AMAZING!.
4 years ago
Corny? If your focus was on the dialogue and story, then I think you missed the point of this game. As an explorative, action/adventure game, it excelled, and its 2.5D presentation was intuitive and satisfyingly rich.

Also, comparing a downloadable, 2D game to Uncharted is completely unfair, and makes you sound like you've lost a bit of perspective. That's like saying "the Ford Focus sucks! The Pagani Zonda on the other hand: Amazing!" They aren't comparable products, and aren't meant to be. Also, one is 1/10th of the price of the other...
4 years ago
I found the zonda unresponsive and boring, you sir are a buffon for liking something i do not, and sir, i demand justice
4 years ago
My fragile psyche can't take any more mocking, sir!
4 years ago
Demon Souls better make the list....
4 years ago
well denny will fly the flag for that one i would assume.....don't know how many of the rest of staff played it.
4 years ago
Kimberley Ellis, I heart you, coz thats my top 3, too! (tho I did also like inFamous just as much as Arkham Asylum). icon_smile.gif
4 years ago
Jahanzeb Khan - I have you to thank for my semi-recent(2 months ago!) purchase of Persona 4. 80+ hours in and I'm still loving it every bit.
4 years ago
There is no love for Demon's Souls.
Although my fav game was Tales of Vesperia. So Jeremy gets my vote for fav critic here, even though im not fond of his other 2 choices
4 years ago
I have yet to play Demon's Souls (have it here waiting - next on my list) but as it hasn't been released locally I doubt it will make the list.
4 years ago
Dreamcazman wrote
I have yet to play Demon's Souls (have it here waiting - next on my list) but as it hasn't been released locally I doubt it will make the list.
Well it was reviewed here so it should be eligable.

It's nothing short of a tragedy that Demon's Souls hasn't had a PAL release because it's not only the best game of the year across all platforms - it's the best game released on the PS3 so far - Uncharted 2 be damned!

BTW - I loved Uncarted 2 also - but Demon's Souls just takes gaming to a new (old?) level imho.
4 years ago
I'm mostly agreed with Brendan so far, Forza 3 and Batman would certainly be at least in my top 5. Interested to see the other picks.
4 years ago
Uncharted 2 = GOTY
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