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G4 Canada's 2009 Game of the Year Awards

Jan 12, 2010

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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When gamers look back and think of 2009, one word will come to mind: mediocrity. Many of the highly-anticipated titles just didn’t live up to the hype and left many gamers wanting more. Short single player campaigns and reduced features were the norm as cutbacks and a volatile economy were the boss battles everyone had to fight. Still, there were those developers, publishers who weathered the storm and put out some of their best work to date. Below are our choices for the best and worst of 2009.

GAME OF THE YEAR

John Powell: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

When you are talking “bang for the buck”, ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2’ was three games in one offering more replayability than almost any title out there. Fans got more than enough value for their money.

Honourable Mentions: Ninja Blade, Left 4 Dead 2, Resident Evil 5, Prototype. Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Game of the Year 2009Daniel Barron: Red Faction: Guerrilla

Since the dawn of time, gamers have found extreme satisfaction in destroying stuff. In Red Faction: Guerrilla, the entire planet of Mars is one giant destructible environment. And it's not just the fact that you can destroy everything - it's that you can do it with everything from sledgehammers, to remote mines, to thermobaric rockets, to the singularity grenade, which is like a mini-black hole that fits in your backpack. The open world setup works wonderfully, and the multiplayer is as addictive as anything online today. Even the pass-a-controller local multiplayer is awesome. Too much fun not to be at the top of this list.

Honourable Mentions: Assassin's Creed II, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Borderlands

Game of the Year 2009TECHNICAL AWARDS

BEST AUDIO

John Powell: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Once again, the audio chaos enhances the video onslaught. Bombs and everything else bursting in air just the way we like it and who could forget the signature voice acting.

Honourable Mention: Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Daniel Barron: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

This game me be all about over-the-top action, but it also knows when to hold back. The opening sequence as protagonist Nathan Drake climbs up a train that hangs precariously from the side of a mountain uses only the sounds of crunching metal as the train breaks and pieces fly into the abyss below, and Nathan himself as he grunts his way up to safety. Then of course there are the treads of a tank as it rumbles through a Himalayan village, the roars of snow monsters and the rat-ta-tat-tat of AK-47s taking down giant enemies shooting chain guns. And we can't forget the voice acting, which is some of the best in any game ever. There's a reason so many people compared this game to a movie.

Honourable Mentions: Resident Evil 5, Mad World, Killzone 2

BEST GRAPHICS

John Powell: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

The settings and the scenery are images you will never, ever forget. What hardcore gamer will ever erase the image of the White House burning to the ground?

Honourable Mention: Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Game of the Year 2009Daniel Barron: Killzone 2

It may have been short on story, but there's no denying that traversing the war-torn planet of Helghan is a feast for the senses. Every level is chalk-full of detail, and you'll be left in awe at the lightning that streaks down from the skies as you sprint across numerous ravaged environments. The battles are epic, but it's what your eyes are seeing all around you that makes Killzone 2 so memorable months after its release.

Honourable Mentions: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Muramasa: The Demon Blade

BEST MULTIPLAYER

John Powell: 1 Vs 100

An online game show played across entire countries with prizes and a real-time host? How can you get more multiplayer than that, chumps? Although it may be out of fashion not to pick a shooter, 1 Vs 100 brought something new to the multiplayer experience that has never been seen before. Hats off to Microsoft for taking gaming into an exciting direction.

Honourable Mentions: Left 4 Dead 2, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

Daniel Barron: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Who would have thought that this game-that-feels-like-a-movie could actually have a worthwhile multiplayer aspect to it once you've finished taking Nathan Drake to Shangri-La? With a new mode called Plunder (think single flag CTF, with the flag being worth a lot of money) and classics like deathmatch, elimination, and a Gears of War 2 Horde-like mode, this is pure addictive fun through-and-through. With leaderboards, free maps, and a great party system, this is easily multiplayer game of the year.

Honourable Mentions: Red Faction: Guerrilla, Killzone 2

BEST DOWNLOADABLE CONTENT

Daniel Barron: Shadow Complex

Proof positive that $10 downloadable games can easily be better than many $70 disc-based 'epics'. Shadow Complex is a side-scroller of sorts that melds several old-school gameplay mechanics (such as powering up and backtracking that doesn't feel like backtracking) to make for a fantastic adventure. The plot isn't even worth mentioning with all of its cliches, but that's neither here nor there. Shadow Complex harkens back to the days of the SNES and Genesis and for that I say - thank you!

Honourable Mentions: Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned, Peggle

CONSOLE AWARDS

BEST XBOX 360 GAME

John Powell: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

It was everything and more than we expected. The only low point was the single player campaign could have been more focused and a tag bit longer.

Honourable Mentions: Ninja Blade, Left 4 Dead 2, Resident Evil 5, Prototype, Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Game of the Year 2009Daniel Barron: Assassin's Creed II

We keep comparing this game to Grand Theft Auto, only with a much deeper storyline, and even more stuff to do. Whether you're hunting treasures, taking out high-profile assassination targets, racing across buildings, or any number of other objectives, you will lose hours upon hours in this single player only game. A shining achievement for the folks at Ubisoft.

Honourable Mentions: Resident Evil 5, Shadow Complex, Borderlands

BEST WII GAME

Game of the Year 2009John Powell: New Super Mario Bros. Wii

‘Super Mario’ delivered providing the addictive, agonizing and adorable gameplay it is known for. Although it wasn’t groundbreaking, the multiplayer aspect upped the replayability and the fun quotient.

Honourable Mentions: Punch-Out!!, Wii Sports Resort.

Daniel Barron: New Play Control! Pikmin

Sure, the original Pikmin may have been released in 2001, but that doesn't mean this one isn't worth picking up for the first time, or even revisiting if you've already played it on GameCube. The best original IP to be made in the last decade by Shigeru Miyamoto, this is a real time strategy that feels nothing like that. Never tedious, only endlessly addictive and captivating, it's made only better by the point-and-click controls made possible by the Wii Remote.

Honourable Mentions: Muramasa: The Demon Blade, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Mad World

BEST PS3 GAME

Daniel Barron: Red Faction: Guerrilla

There were certainly some high-profile games released on the PlayStation 3 this year, but one game that snuck under the radar that proved to be highly addictive and full of fun was the latest entry in the Red Faction franchise. With all due respect to those other games, RF: G kept us playing and never let up.

Honourable Mentions: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, God of War Collection, Batman: Arkham Asylum, inFAMOUS

BEST PSP GAME

Game of the Year 2009John Powell: Grand Theft Auto: China Town Wars

There has never been a portable Grand Theft Auto version such as this one. Finally, a GTA game on the go Rockstar can be proud of.

BEST DS GAME

John Powell: Grand Theft Auto: China Town Wars

Just like the PSP, there is nothing that came close to besting GTA on the DS.

Honourable Mentions: Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, Fossil Fighters.

Game of the Year 2009Daniel Barron: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

It was quite the underwhelming year for Nintendo's dual-screened handheld, but there were a couple of standouts, both first- or second-party creations, which is no surprise. 'Spirit Tracks' may not have tried anything terribly new, but it surely had the series' trademark personality and wonderful music. It was also one of the funnier Zelda games we've played in a while. If you're a fan of the series, this one is sure to keep you recharging your DS many times over the course of its adventure.

Honourable Mention: Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story

GENRE AWARDS

BEST KIDS GAME

John Powell: Fossil Fighters

Addictive as all heck, Fossil Fighters has taken ever where Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon left off, in fact there are aspects of Fossil Fighters that are better than its predecessors. Excavating your own dinos and then engaging in lively and amusing battles just cannot be beat.

Honourable Mentions: Pokémon Platinum, Marvel Super Hero Squad, Ben 10 Alien Force: Vilgax Attacks, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.

BEST SHOOTER

John Powell: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

Insane, chaotic action…your name is COD: MW2.

Honourable Mentions: Left 4 Dead 2, Halo 3: ODST.

Daniel Barron: Red Faction: Guerrilla

Though there was a lot more to do in this game than shoot, the actually shooting mechanics of RF: G were actually very polished. But any good shooter has to have interesting weapons, and this is where this game shines the most. It never got boring shooting a gun that has bullets that could melt steel in a split second, causing entire structures to collapse in on themselves. Too awesome!

Honourable Mentions: Killzone 2

BEST SPORTS GAME

Game of the Year 2009John Powell: WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2010

Yuke's took 2009 and rebuilt the title from the ground up for 2010. Not many developers can claim they did that this year. For their efforts, they created the best wrestling game ever made.

Honourable Mentions: UFC 2009 Undisputed, Fight Night Round 4.

BEST RHYTHM GAME

John Powell: Guitar Hero: Metallica

If you want a rhythm game that will really put you to the test, Guitar Hero: Metallica is that game. With the game's steep learning curve and intensely challenging tunes, you will be supremely satisfied in your ability when you are done.

Honourable Mentions: Guitar Hero 5, Rock Band Unplugged, DJ Hero.

Game of the Year 2009Daniel Barron: Guitar Hero: Metallica

Music games based around specific bands is almost commonplace nowadays, but Metallica's foray into the genre may still be the best (and yes, we're including that Beatles game). I actually got chills the first time I fired up the game and the band walked into the first venue in slow motion, as the note chart popped up and the unmistakeable chimes from "For Whom the Bell Tolls" kicked in. Tons of hits and fan favourites, all sorts of extras that delve into the band itself, and a difficulty that is ramped up but not unfair makes this one the true music game to end all music games. Rock on!

Honourable Mentions: DJ Hero, The Beatles: Rock Band

BEST ACTION/ADVENTURE

John Powell: Prototype

Besides Ninja Blade, Prototype was one of the most underappreciated games of 2009. An innovative implementation of the game format/engine used for the sandbox Spider-Man games and the like, Prototype had everything you would want out of a video game: an intriguing storyline, demanding battles, unique attacks/defences and lots and lots of random, brutal violence. Oh, yeah, lots of blood too.

Honourable Mentions: Resident Evil 5, Ninja Blade, Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Daniel Barron: Red Faction: Guerrilla

The fact that this is an open-world game gave it the edge over Uncharted 2 and its limited single player campaign. The best way to describe the newest Red Faction game is 'Grand Theft Auto on Mars'. The red planet may not have been as populated as Liberty City, but who cares when you can bash pretty much anything around you to smithereens with a sledgehammer? Video games are about escape, and nothing was more fun in 2009 than escaping to a whole other planet.

Honourable Mentions: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Resident Evil 5

Game of the Year 2009BEST RPG

John Powell: Dragon Age: Origins

Honourable Mentions: Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2

WORST OF THE YEAR

John Powell: Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's Wheelie Breakers

A card battle and a racing game all in one? What a mistake. Not only does the concept not make sense but ‘Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's Wheelie Breakers’ is absolutely unplayable. Yep. Try playing poker while behind the wheel of a stock car leaning into a bank at a super speedway and you will begin to understand the problem with this concept. Yu-Gi-Oh died years ago, folks. Let him rest in peace.

DisHonourable Mentions: Wolfenstein, Avatar, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky, Toy Story Mania.

Daniel Barron: Guitar Hero On Tour: Modern Hits

At this point, there's no doubt that some of the plethora of games in the Guitar Hero franchise are dialing it in. This handheld version of the series on the DS is good enough neither for the hardcore fans of the series, or newbies. The setlist is short, the extras are dull and forgettable at best, and the actually gameplay itself is frustrating and difficult to get accustomed, even after hours of playing. A true disappointment.

 

 

 
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About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.