As the videogames industry gears up for another heated year of contention, quality and controversy, squinting through the microscope at Sony’s efforts over the past 12 months can only yield one definitive conclusion – 2009 proved the most auspicious year for the PlayStation 3 since our beloved black behemoth first assaulted store shelves three years ago.
Kicking off the year we had Guerrilla Games’ stellar shooter Killzone 2, further supplemented by multi-format juggernauts Street Fighter IV and Resident Evil 5 from the Capcom code house. Meanwhile, the likes of infamous, Red Faction and Battlefield: 1943 ensured our wallets endured a perpetual emptiness over the spring/summer period. Quality offerings continued to trickle steadily throughout the remainder of the year, with the likes of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Modern Warfare 2, Assassin’s Creed II and Demon’s Souls all battling it out for your hard earned cash as we enter the lucrative holiday season.
Still, while we could spend all day extolling the PS3’s relentless software onslaught for the year, PSU has endeavoured to trim the fat, offering up a definitive list of what we believe to be the top ten games released for Sony’s black box over the course of the past 12 months, and present our Game of the Year accolade to the best of the bunch. Join us now as we count down the Top Ten PS3 Games of 2009.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
10 - Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time
The Ratchet & Clank franchise is easily one of Sony’s best. 2009 saw yet another entry in the series grace our screens with Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time, the concluding title in the Future saga. For many years, this critically acclaimed series has supplied gamers with a healthy dose of platforming, crazy weapons, hilarious dialogue, and stellar graphics -- fortunately, A Crack in Time is no exception. We would have given a higher score (and higher ranking on this list) if we saw bigger changes to the R&C formula. That is to say, we didn’t feel there were enough changes to previous entries. Still, it was a blast to play and the new gameplay elements worked very well. Clank gained a new ability duplicate himself, which is primarily used as a puzzle solving tool. However, the coolest update to the game was Ratchet’s new hover boots, providing several levels of fast-paced action (highlights include the obstacle course, which we absolutely loved). The story picks up after the events of Quest for Booty, but if you are completely new to the series, a clever opening sequence with Captain Qwark explains the background story. A Crack in Time was easily one of the best platformers in ’09, and one of the few games that made us literally laugh out loud.
9 - Dragon Age: Origins
Bioware created an epic ‘old school’ style RPG with Dragon Age: Origins. However, the game feels far superior to traditional role-playing games with its enormous world to explore, the deep (but often predictable) storyline, and the combat system that puts the control of your four party members at your fingertips. Dragon Age was one of the best RPGs in 2009, and one of our favorite titles of the year. You start by creating a character, choosing your class and race. Depending on your options you’ll play one of several different opening sequences. Beyond the starting zones, it doesn’t really matter what class or race you chose, but NPCs will make snide comments about your race if you are an elf or dwarf. The storyline follows a relatively typical RPG format: the realm is under attack by an evil force and the world of man is at odds on how to deal with the problem. Along the way human leaders will betray one another and, you will also make decisions that have an impact on the game – but, the impact is largely dialogue based. All of this explanation may sound like we were bored with the traditional-style of this RPG, but in truth, it was a welcome addition in ’09. We always support more RPGs on the PS3, and Dragon Age: Origins was one of the best this year.
8 - InFamous
Coded by the talented chaps at Sucker Punch, infamous chucks players in to the sprawling, open-ended metropolis of Empire City as Cole MacGrath, an ordinary bloke with extraordinary powers. Infamous is a diverse beast, offering heaps of intense combat, gripping narrative, exploration and intriguing ‘Karma’ system, where your actions will directly affect the growth of MacGrath’s extravagant powers. A thrilling ride from start to finish that puts stable mate Prototype to shame.
7 - Assassin's Creed II
Slippery stealth antics from the home of Jade Raymond, Assassin’s Creed II transports gamers to the evocative landscapes and sprawling cities of late 15th century Italy. Hopping in to the shoes of intriguing newcomer Ezio, players embark on a mammoth quest packed full of shocking twists, huge environments to traverse, diverse gameplay mechanics and some of the best production values seen on Sony's black behemoth to date. The sumptuous visuals provide some jaw-dropping spectacles, while the score and voiceacting act as the perfect complement to an already highly immersive gameplay experience. If there's one sequel you need to get your hands from the past 12 months (well, ok, aside from Modern Warfare 2 and Uncharted 2), make sure it's Assassin's Creed II.
6 - Street Fighter IV
Capcom’s latest entry in its venerable beat ‘em up franchise is quite possibly the best yet. Aside from its sumptuous, cel-shaded visual overhaul that lend the game a distinct hand drawn aesthetic, the sequel remains as comprehensive as its predecessors, yet even newcomers can find themselves mastering all techniques in a short amount of time thanks to the superbly implemented training option. With a host of returning faces and a heap of new combatants to sink your teeth in to, not to mention one of the most responsive online multiplayer components in beat ‘em up history, you’d be hard pressed to find a better brawler this year.
5 - Demon's Souls
Released by Atlus in October, Demon’s Souls slashes its way into our top 10 list on the back of its compelling online component and killer single player difficulty. This is easily one of the best RPGs of the year and proved to be one of the most difficult games on the PS3. We were so impressed with Demon’s Souls that we pegged a 9 out of 10 in our review, with a user rating mirroring our score at 8.9. The game is set in the kingdom of Boletaria, and you play a hero tasked with removing the evil fog that surrounds the land. In standard RPG fashion, you’ll choose your class at the launch of the game, and you’ll customize your character (to death, if you want), before entering the world. The story, the visuals, and the sounds are all very solid, but the game truly exceeds in the gameplay department. Your movements and attacks must all be calculated with the utmost of precision, or you'll find yourself swiftly transported back to the beginning of the level. As mentioned, the online portion of the game is particularely intriguing, with players able to leave hints in the form of messages and bloodstains scattered on the ground. Be warned though, as other players can also infiltrate your game and attack you in a bit of a PVP action. Overall, Demon's Souls remains one of the strongest RPG offerings on PS3, and firmly cements itself as one of our highlights of the year 2009.
4 - Killzone 2
Arguably one of the most significant PS3 releases to date, Killzone 2 is a jaw-dropping showcase of technical achievement, featuring meticulously realised visuals, intense, fluid gameplay and meaty multiplayer component. Indeed, while living up to the hype may seem like an insurmountable task for the majority of games, Killzone 2 delivered the goods and more than measured up to our expectations.
3 - Batman: Arkham Asylum
Rocksteady and Eidos released one of the best videogames based on a comic book character with the stealth-action game Batman: Arkham Asylum. Set in the dark world of Gotham’s Arkham Asylum, The Joker wreaks havoc upon the asylum, drawing The Dark Knight into the tomb that houses Gotham’s most dangerous and insane criminals. This was a summer blockbuster that rivaled Hollywood releases and we couldn’t get enough of the action. What really set this title apart from other games this year was the artistic direction that left us creeped out. The villains feel crazy, Batman is strong yet not an unstoppable behemoth, the game's environments are dark and gritty, and the storyline is a compelling beast. As you'd expect, Batman comes equipped with tons of goodies to help fight off The Joker’s army of goons. Highlights include utilizing the trusty grapple gun to swiftly climb onto stone gargoyles, leaving a perfect vantage point to glide down and attack enemies. The combat system is fluid, with the “Freeflow” mechanics allowing you to punch and kick between mobs of foes. Beyond any doubt, Arkham Asylum really feels like the first superhero game to stand on its own two feet. We loved the dark world and the combat, and the stealth components really helped us feel like we were Batman. Needless to say, we were pretty chuffed to see a sequel announced at this year’s VGAs. PSU tips its hat at the developers for giving us such an epic superhero game. We can’t wait for the sequel.
2 - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
A cohesive, adrenaline-fuelled romp packed full of action-packed set pieces and intense, methodical shoot outs, Modern Warfare 2 has it all: gorgeous visuals, compelling narrative, gripping single player and one of the most comprehensive multiplayer experiences this side of Halo. Sure, it doesn’t inject any drastic changes in to the formula, and the campaign mode is woefully short, but these niggles prove inconsequential in the face of one of the most brilliantly crafted shooters you’ll experience for years. A must have.
- - - - - - - - - -
PSU's PlayStation 3 Game of the Year 2009
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
When you clicked on this story, every one of you probably knew that Uncharted 2: Among Thieves would top our list of the best PS3 games of 2009. We have been working on this list for nearly a month, debating the order, making hard cuts (like Borderlands and The Beatles: Rock Band), but all of us agreed, unequivocally, that Uncharted 2 deserved to be the game of the year. It was a no-brainer. You likely noticed that our comments about the other games on the list included a fair amount of criticism (after all, those games were not perfect), but it is hard for us to find anything negative to say about UC2. All of the previews leading up to the release of UC2, especially the teaser at E3, left our mouths’ wet in anticipation. We were all rewarded when the game was finally released, exclusively on the PS3. For gamers faithful to Sony, Uncharted 2 felt like a sigh of relief. Coupled with the introduction of the PS3 Slim and the subsequent price drop, Uncharted 2 seemed like the icing on the cake, almost reassuring Sony fans that the PlayStation is alive and strong. That’s not to say the PS3 didn’t already have great games, but UC2 not only set new standards for Sony’s black box, it also raised the bar for videogames in general.
Nathan Drake returns in Among Thieves, along with some familiar faces from Drake’s Fortune. There are new characters, a stronger story, new skills, and improved combat, though what really sets it apart from its contemporaries are the jaw-dropping production values. The visuals are easily some of the best we've seen on any console, hands down, with gameplay segments looking just as polished as the equally stunning cut-scenes. The environments are full and lush, the character models and animation are highly sophisticated, and the lip- syncing is nearly flawless. Overall, a stunning adventure romp and one of the most polished slices of entertainment we've experienced in years. Make no mistake -- it'll be a while before anything will be able to top Drake's latest adventure.
PSU would also like to take this oppertunity to wish all our readers a very Happy New Year!