The 2009 Peoww Awards: Part One
With the year over and indeed the noughties done and dusted it’s once again time to look back over the last year in videogames to place the very best games upon a golden plinth of admiration while taking the very worst around back to beat with sticks until they piss blood from ruptured kidneys. 2009 wasn’t really a vintage year lacking the dizzying highs and depressing lows of previous years leaving us will more of a table wine kind of year filled with predictable franchise sequels and outlandish claims of new games and technologies to come.
So with the help of you, our lovely readers we’ve complied the Peoww awards: 2009 edition so in years to come we can look back and remember what we were playing and who we were calling cunts. For easier reading pleasure we’ve split this mammoth read up into two parts so as not to fuck your eyes up with its sheer girth, enjoy…
Mutiformat Game of the Year
With 2009 severely lacking when it comes to format exclusives this was the catagory with the biggest spread of votes, although it was pretty much a given what would win this year…
3rd – Borderlands It came from almost nowhere to quickly become the hottest new franchise of 2009 with it’s amazing mix of FPS shooting and World of Warcraft style MMORPG questing and equipment trading. The only bad thing about it is the dogshit DLC we’ve had to endure since its release.
2nd – Batman: Arkham Asylum Defying the odds to be not only a good Batman game but also a good licensed game Rockstedy took the classic Metroid gameplay template and mixed in healthy dollops of stealthy sneaking, beat ’em up action and logical detective work to make one of the best games of 2009 that’s only second to…
1st – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Yep it’s no big surprise that MW2 won given its fanatical fan base but even the most doubting of thomas’ were quickly won over by the removal of long time gripes like respawing enemies and grenade storms in the single player game and the addition of arguably the best co-op mode since GRAW and the always fantastic adversarial mutiplayer modes that’ll still be getting played months if not years after release.
“Despite the camping, the multiplayer remains to be some of the funnest online gameplay I’ve had for some time. Plus despite being short, the single player campaign felt polished and enjoyable. Special ops missions just helped clinch it as giving good entertainment for money.” – Dijon Ward
Xbox 360 Game of the Year
With heavy hitters like Mass Effect 2 and Alan Wake drifting into 2010 the Xbox didn’t have as strong a presence on the shelf as in previous years but M$ can always be trusted to make the most of it’s own development teams and long term allies like Bungie.
3rd – Halo: ODST Any Halo game (Even one without the Master Chief) was guaranteed to go down well with the fans but ODST’s lack of Spartan flavour divided fans with some loving the non-linear storyline and flood free firefights while other bemoaned the lack of recharging shields and online modes found in Halo 3. Either way it got enough votes to scrape into the top 3 Xbox games this year.
2nd – Shadow Complex It’s surely a sign that the times are changing when a download only game gets the silver over bigger retail games with their huge marketing budgets and tradeability to recoup your shekels when finished. Like Batman: Arkham Asylum it took the classic Metroid template but added its own industrial military flavour with giant mechs and robots that Hideo Kojima would be proud of to make one of the best Xbox games of the year despite its anorexic running time.
1st – Forza Motorsport 3 The worst kept secret of E3 2009 finally arrived and quickly became ‘the’ racing game to have this year showing up other contenders like Gran Turismo and Need for Speed with not only its huge collection of vehicles all of which you can customise with all the garish paint jobs you can imagine but all the off/online race modes you could ever want.
“Riiiiiiiiidge Racer!!! Oh wait Luke made that joke last year, never mindâ€¦” – Danny Bell
Playstation 3 Game of the Year
The PS3 started (finally!) to come into its own this year with the release of the ‘slim’ hardware model and a plethora of triple A titles that helped the previously under preforming console become more than just a cheap blu-ray player with a few good games and no PS2 backwards compatibility.
3rd – inFAMOUS The debate of quality between this and Prototype still rages on more than six months after release with many loving the sandbox style gameplay of inFAMOUS but hating the crack-shot enemies and buggy save system than conspires to ruin your experience. What ever your preference in game inFAMOUS remains one of the best exclusives for the PS3 this year.
2nd – Demon’s Souls Despite still no official UK release this RPG has quickly gathered a loyal fanbase of user who thanks to the region-free PS3 can revel in its hardcore gameplay and online co-op that encourages good teamwork and player interaction. The dower graphics and unforgiving bosses may discourage many but for those of use who can still remember the days before quick-saves and rewind-oh-time features it’s a slice of RPG heaven without a floppy emo haircut in sight.
1st – Uncharted 2: Among Thieves No surprises here as Nathan Drake once again takes the gold for his PS3 adventures filled with luscious locations, frantic shooting and sphincter tightening set pieces that wouldn’t look out of place in a high budget summer blockbuster movie. Adding to the embarrassment of riches is the new mutiplayer modes that include co-op gameplay and adversarial stages that put other games like Gears of War to shame with their paid DLC content while Uncharted has (so far) given two free map packs that are just as good as any in the main game.
“It’s graphically stunning and, like Modern Warfare, it packs the action in but offers much, much more for the single player experience. The solid gunplay and platforming remains intact with a nice matinee story woven into it.” – Michael Kitchin
Wii Game of the Year
Despite Nintendo’s best efforts to get everyone playing “casual” dogshit like Wii Sports Resort or Wii Fat … sorry Fit, some brave third party publishers did release a few proper games which lead to this category having the biggest spread of game votes with only two Nintendo games getting votes, neither of which had nowhere near enough to get anywhere near the top three.
3rd – Dead Space: Extraction Yes it’s an on-rails shooter but unlike other genre entries like Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles this is a on-rails shooter with real passion and imagination not just a lame money making exercise in fanbase abuse. Personaly I think this deserves 3rd place solely for the section were [spoilers!] you have to hack your own arm off using the Wiimote [/spoilers] in such a fashion it would give the average Daily Mail reader an instant coronary.
2nd – House Of The Dead: Overkill Yes it’s ANOTHER on-rails shooter but were Dead Space gets the bronze for imagination HOTD gets the silver for sheer balls to the walls grindhouse style madness with blood, cussing and incest a plenty to keep you entertained while you blast your way to the end. Sure it might to a little too easy to complete but any game that has the self awareness to make the Wiimote into a replica magnum needs your love.
1st – Madworld Words can’t really convey the sense of manic atmosphere of Madworld as you play it. Sure Screenshots can show off the stylish three colour graphics that render everything like a classic 2000AD comic strip and videos can show you the frantic gameplay and you can listen to the hip-hop soundtrack or the announcers black humour quips but to know it is to play it (Wow that sounded deep) and once you know it you’ll understand why it’s the best Wii game of 2009.
“Pure comedy at times with the funniest commentary which made the game a breath of fresh.” – Garth Case
Best Hand-Held Game of 2009
Much like the Wii the hand-held systems where mostly playing host to casual dogshit this year with few developers or publishers willing to take chances with hardware that more and more is seen as a ‘kiddies first console’ money maker rather than a viable games system. The few that did while rewarded with critical acclaim found sales less than expected and with Nintendo poised to unveil the true successor to the DS any day now I doubt things will change in the future.
3rd – Rock Band: Unplugged A surprise entry for EA’s Rock Band franchise in the hand-held category in that it got more votes than even it’s bigger brothers Rock Band: Beatles or Guitar Hero: Greatest Hits which is probably more of a commentary on the quality of those titles than this one.
2nd – Scribblenauts With a concept so simple it’s amazing it took this long to become a fully fledged game as you used your own imagination and vocabulary to summon into existence people and things to help your quest from a lexicon of over twenty thousand words and memes including God, LOLcat and Cthulhu. About the only thing holding it back from greatness is the backward controls that conspire to ruin your enjoyment and pile on the frustration when playing.
1st – Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars GTA goes back to its roots with a 2D top-down adventure that takes the best elements from the game pre-GTA3 and mixes it with Elite style commodity (well drugs) trading and loads of fun mini-games like Lotto scratch cards or hot wiring cars. Sure it lacked some of the polish we’re come to expect from GTA games like famous voice talent and a licensed soundtrack but many were just relieved they keep all the friendship/dating bullshit that’s encumbered the current-gen GTA games.
“A nice return to times of olde.” – Luke Goldspink
Download Only Game of the Year
With publishers pushing digital downloads in an effort to kill the second-hand market the importance on digital distribution providers like Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network and Steam is ever more important. Sure some are trying to use it as a way to rig prices and sell overpriced HDD storage but others are starting to embrace downloads and make some great game that you’d be hard pressed to find on a shelf at GAME.
3rd – Trails HD Infuriating, maddening, hatefully difficult but also accessible, addictive and utter refined, Trials HD is one of the few XBLA titles that can justify its 1200M$P price point. It’s basically Kikstart, Super Scramble Simulator or Excite Bike for the noughties and it caters for all skill levels so even if you’ll never max it out, there’s still plenty to love about it.
2nd – I MAD3 A GAEM WITH ZOMBIES 1N IT!!!1 The poster child of the Xbox Live Indy range and it’s easy to see why. Frantic gameplay meshed with a killer soundtrack (well one long ten minute song really) elevates the normally turgid twin-sticks shooter genre to a thing of beauty and hi-score chasing with your friends and for a measly 80 M$P.
1st – Battlefield 1943 While it may have been a blatant money making exercise by EA to keep the shekels coming in while developing Bad Company 2 many were just happy to be storming up Mount Suribachi or parachuting onto Wake Isle all over again in glorious HD graphics while destroying the scenery thanks to Bad Company’s Frostbite engine. The only downside to the ’43 experience is EA’s complete lack of support for the game with thousands of regular players wanting conversions of more classic Battlefield ’42 maps but being told they essentially spent 1600 M$P on three and a half maps of a ten year old rehashed game.
“Battlefield 1943. It’s BF1942 with them there graphics. You really can’t go wrong, and they didn’t.” – Chris B
The best looking game of 2009, not just in terms of raw graphics but design, style and consistency. With each console now being firmly rooted it’s up to cleaver developers to squeeze every bit of visual splendour they can from the rapidly ageing hardware found in homes today.
3rd – Muramasa: Demon Blade The Wii isn’t exactly know for being at the bleeding edge of graphical excellence but it just goes to show what can be done if you know how to present your graphics (also see Madworld) rather than trying to push for extra polygons or unneeded faff like lens flairs or fuzzy shadows. Once again proving 2D will always have give you more detail than 3D.
2nd – Batman: Arkham Asylum It may be yet another game that uses the 3rd party Unreal engine for its visuals but Arkham really knows how to do it. From the aerie Gothic mansion interiors to dank flooded basements, steamy maintenance areas and lush jungle filled arboretum every location drips atmosphere while the character models are bristling with just enough fine details to always draw your eye but not look over designed like many other do *cough* Gears of War *cough*
1st – Assassin’s Creed 2 It’s always hard to stand out from the crowd and no game this year has done it better than Assassin’s Creed 2. Thanks in no small part to its Florence based location but also how well it all hangs to together with crowded city streets below lofty rooftops surrounded by idyllic countryside vistas that’ll have you sighing like your on holiday in Tuscany. All of which is contrasted by the contemporary framing of the assassin’s HQ with its cramped offices filled with glass and plastic making the historical DNA sequences that much more special.
“A bit of v-sync tearing doesn’t alter the fact that I want AssCreed2 in my gob.” – Richie H.
The days of bleeps and blips representing notes and chords are long gone replaced by flamboyant orchestral scores that may even use the same composers with the likes of Hans Zimmer putting music to Modern Warfare 2 or Harry Gregson-Williams contributing to the Metal Gear Solid series soundtrack. That’s not to say it’s just limited to music with many developers getting big names to voice their videogame characters for dramatic effect or cheap publicity, I mean Tara Patrick? C’mon.
3rd – I MAD3 A GAEM WITH ZOMBIES 1N IT!!!1 Ten minutes, multiple music genres and one hell of a catchy theme tune all help this simple Indy shooter to be one of the unforgeable aural experiences of 2009 Seriously if this was a single it’d be selling more than Rage Against The Machine.
2nd – Left 4 Dead 2 More horrific goings on down on the Bayou with Valves second zombie shooter… I haven’t played this… can you tell… erm yeah.
1st – Batman: Arkham Asylum Yet another prize for Rockstedy in the presentation stakes with it also having the best sound. The music nicely straddles the two camps of Danny Elfman’s 90’s era Batman movies and cartoon series while maintaining all the brooding menace of the current Zimmer/Newton-Howard incarnation. But it’s the voice work were Arkham really raises the bar with a carer best performance from Mark Hamill and stellar turns from Kevin Conroy and Arleen Sorkin all of which makes you care about the characters and story even more.
“You don’t need cartoon captions for when you thwack thugs when you have meatier thuds than Fight Night. The score wisely chose to emulate the Nolan films, while the cast was lifted straight from the peerless animated series.” – Adam MacLeod