Tuesday, January 5, 2010

2009 End of Year Awards

Hey, everyone else does this, so why not me? But I'm going to add a strange twist to my 2009 awards...mine will be based on the games I played in 2009 rather than on games that were released in 2009. That means that my game of the year could have been released in 2007. The only caveat is that all honorees are games I started this past year...no giving Orange Box game of the year just because I played a little Team Fortress 2 at some point in 2009.

Anyway, on with the awards!

Best Gameplay - Fable 2
The original Fable was a nice step forward for gameplay in the RPG genre, but Fable 2 beats it in every way. Combat is engaging and varied, interacting with the populace is a blast, and there's even a kind of SimCity/Monopoly style sub-game in which you can buy up property and create a real estate empire.
Runner up - Dead Space

Worst Gameplay - Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust
Forget the fact that the combat system is repetitive, the mini-games are boring, and the camera seems to be suffering from a severe hangover. All that pales in the face of the numerous bugs and glitches that litter this title and make it virtually unplayable.
Runner up - Jumper: Griffin's Story

Best Graphics - Dead Space
Gorgeous visuals in this one, with some really frightening looking enemy models. The dark, claustrophobic hallways of the ship add to the ambiance that makes this game so entertaining.
Runner up - Pure

Worst Graphics - Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust
Are we seeing a trend here? To say that these are Playstation One level graphics is an insult to a proud console.
Runner up - Guitar Hero: Aerosmith

Best Story - Lost Odyssey
It wasn't a great year for this category, but Lost Odyssey is the clear winner. Kaim's tragic story of loss and heartbreak as he lives the lonely life of an immortal is poignant and well-told.
Runner up - Dead Space (I guess)

Worst Story - Fable 2
Possibly the most contentious award of the year. Resident Evil 5 was a strong contender, further boosted by its bizarre forays into unintentional racism. Prince of Persia should get a mention as well for the massive kick in the balls that it delivers to the player at the end. And don't think for a second that Larry couldn't make a case for his shitty game here as well. But the worst of the worst has got to be Fable 2, which features a plot that misfires at every turn. I've never encountered a game in my life that was more Hellbent on antagonizing the player. Nothing in the plot makes a bit of sense, and the "characters" act without a shred of regard for their backgrounds or personalities. The plot is so egregiously terrible that it drove Shamus Young to write a four-part epic post disassembling the awfulness bit by bit.
Runners up - RE5, PoP, Leisure Suit Larry, and probably some others

Best Multiplayer Experience - Borderlands
Borderlands is a fun single player title, but throw in some buddies and this thing jumps to a whole new level. The drop in/drop out system works perfectly, lag is rare, and the different characters work well as a team.
Runner up - Battlefield 1943

Worst Multiplayer Experience - Soul Caliber 4
There's nothing I enjoy more than being pummeled like a rag doll by people who obsess over every detail of a fighting game.
Runner up - none (I don't play much online)

Best Industry Trend - Live Deal of the Week
I (and many others) have long thought that online content is too pricey. Surprisingly, Microsoft listened. Every week they put one piece of downloadable content on sale for a greatly reduced price, which can be a heck of a bargain. Sometimes it's a discounted game like Marvel vs. Capcom 2 or The Maw. Other times it's add-on content for retail games. And sometimes it's just gamerpics or desktop themes. But regardless, it's always a fun surprise.

Worst Industry Trend - In Game Transactions
So I'm playing Dragon Age and there's a guy in my camp with a quest. But what's this? He wants me to pay money to do it...not in-game money but REAL ACTUAL money. No cash, no quest. So wait...you designed the content, put it on the disc, and then locked it away until I give you more money even though I already paid for the game? Isn't that like extortion? And why is it that when I play Need For Speed: Underground it asks if I want to use Microsoft Points (which cost money) to upgrade my vehicles? What on earth is going on here???

Best Live Arcade Game - 1 v. 100
The video game/game show hybrid that's taken Live by storm...this is a fun diversion, it's surprisingly addictive, and best of all, it's free!
Runners up - Battlefield 1943, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Penny Arcade: Episode One

Worst Live Arcade Game - 3 on 3 NHL Arcade
I actually didn't play many BAD Arcade games this year, but NHL Arcade is as shallow as a mud puddle. You'll play this thing once or twice and never touch it again.
Runner up - None

Best Achievement Set - Fable 2
Excellent variety is what sets this game apart. Given how terrible the story is, it's nice to have something else to work toward.
Runners up - Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, Borderlands

Worst Achievement Set - Blazing Angels
Depending on your skill with flight sims, you'll find them to be either difficult or impossible. Either way, you'll definitely find them tedious. Any game that you could play for 20 hours and walk away with no Achievements is doing something really wrong.
Runners up - CSI: Hard Evidence, College Hoops 2K7


Worst Game - Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust
As if there were any doubt. Resident Evil 5 was probably the year's most disappointing game for me, and Jumper was a mess (though mercifully short). Still, nothing had me muttering profanities at my television like Larry. I can only hope that the people responsible for this "game" are ashamed at the shoddy effort that they marketed to unsuspecting consumers. I consider every dollar they made from this title (and it couldn't have been many) to be stolen.
Runners up: Resident Evil 5, Jumper Griffin's Story

Best Game - Borderlands
Every aspect of this game is solid, and the amazing multiplayer pushes it over the top. I've had more fun playing Borderlands in 2009 than any other game.
Runners up - Dead Space, Lost Odyssey

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