In the first half of The Best Video Games of 2009, we saw Best Portable, Wii, Playstation 3 and XBox 360 Exclusive titles. Now things are ramping up on the way to the Game of the Year.
Best Music Game
Tie – The Beatles: Rock Band and DJ Hero
The Rock Band / Guitar Hero formula has been done to death at this point. Players play songs in a set list to unlock more music. Repeat as many times as needed until all songs have been unlocked. But it was 2009 that the music game genre took two big steps forward. As loved as Metallica is, their Guitar Hero installment couldn’t hold a candle to the weight of the legacy that the Beatles would bring with them in The Beatles: Rock Band. For the first time, there was a career spanning take on the legendary act with amazing and unique visuals attuned to the songs being played out.
With the addition of harmonies for the first time in any music game, The Beatles: Rock Band stepped up the feel of being in a full band to another level. Along with the unrivaled set list that only the Beatles could produce, the game has a shelf life that can outlast the pop-centric songs of current game releases.
A little over a month later, music gaming took another leap but this time into the unknown. Many people grow up hoping to become famous musicians at one point in their life but nowhere near as many look to become famous DJs. DJ Hero from Activision brought in masters of turntablism with the likes of the original hip-hop DJ Grand Master Flash to DJ Jazzy Jeff to electronica legends Daft Punk in the ultimate mashup collection.
Creating a new peripheral to allow players the free flow movement and form of a DJ turntable and mixer, DJ Hero puts together a staggering 93 song set list with some of the most unexpected musical combinations ever. Of any music game thus far, the level of interaction between the player and their instrument feels the most realistic and turns out to be some of the most fun as well, even if it does quickly tire the player out going through the rapid pace of the songs.
Best Action Platformer
Assassin’s Creed II
Assassin’s Creed had a major fundamental flaw in its design. A player was forced to repeatedly perform the same set of menial tasks in order to find out the location of his target he wished to assassinate. Assassin’s Creed II set out to change that and make a more compelling and exciting experience for players.
Aided by Leonardo Di Vinci, players again helped Desmond look through his genetic past at Ezio to learn the ways of becoming an assassin. With a new mission structure, the game quickly drew players in as Ezio sought to get revenge on the conspirators who took his brothers and father from him and instead found himself a piece of a much larger puzzle than he could have imagined.
With a cliffhanger ending that left a player much more satisfied than the first game, Assassin’s Creed II nailed the storytelling. The controls of the game were also improved along with new weapons and combat abilities to make it the most satisfying action game of the year.
Best Cooperative Game
Left 4 Dead 2
How do you take four players and put them in a fast paced environment where they really do depend on each other for survival? You copy what Valve has done with Left 4 Dead 2. Saying teamwork is key is an understatement. This is not a lone wolf experience like someone may get playing through Halo or Call of Duty. Running off on your own pretty much makes you the main course on the infected dinner menu.
Along with great graphics, entertaining voiceover and the addition of melee weaponry, Left 4 Dead 2 took last year’s successful formula and kicked it up a notch to keep players coming back for more as they followed a new unlucky quartet of characters just trying to make it out alive. With additional modes like Scavenge being added and the upcoming DLC entitled “The Passing” , it doesn’t look like Left 4 Dead 2 is going anywhere soon either. Despite early protests and even an attempted boycott against the game that some people felt should have been an expansion instead of a new retail release, L4D2 has already proven itself both in sales volume and most importantly the staggering amount of people playing this game together over XBox Live.
Rivaling Halo and Call of Duty in number, people have shown that Left 4 Dead 2 has given them a reason to play together… even if it only lasts until the escape vehicle arrives and everyone runs off and leaves their friends behind as zombie chum.
Game of the Year
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Also Awarded – Best Multi-Platform Game, Best Shooter and Best Online Multiplayer Game
Just because something sells a lot doesn’t necessarily make it good. But in this case, how can you argue with the 4,700,000 people who purchased Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 in just its first day? The “secret” formula found by Infinity Ward was to take what they felt were the three most important modes of play in a game, being Single Player Campaign, Cooperative and Multiplayer, and getting them all close to perfect.
Even with the controversial “Airport Level” the game has maintained positive feedback from anyone who has put their hands on it. With a somewhat more unbelievable solo campaign than the first Modern Warfare, COD: MW2 takes players out of the expected scenery of the Middle East and brings the fight to the streets of America, the shanties of Brazil and even a snow covered wasteland.
But as always, the shining gem behind Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is in its Multiplayer. With its leveling and reward system to pay off veteran players with more powerful weapons and abilities, COD: MW2 skyrocketed itself to the top of the XBox Live charts, unseating Halo 3 from the top spot (incidentally, a feat that had only been accomplished by its predecessor, the original Modern Warfare).
The game’s beautifully rendered environments shine alongside the all -star voice acting cast and tight control and gameplay. When looking back at 2009, there is no doubt that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 will be one of the titles most remembered. Not just for the quality of the game it brought to the table, but for the longevity the game is destined to have for players to keep coming back to for years to come.