Monday, December 28, 2009

2009: A Year of Division

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. I liked this game a lot. Did you?

Having just recorded the most recent Big Red Potion in which we discussed our favorite games of 2009, it became apparent that a lot of games on our lists were very divisive. We all made our top 5 lists prior to the show and with few exceptions, we all had different picks. We all had Uncharted 2 on our list, and three of us had Batman. Next to that the only repeat offenders were Street fighter IV (Eddie and Sinan), and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories which Joe and I both listed. What's telling is that so many of our picks were incredibly divisive, with many of our choices having cropped up on the previous week's show on most overrated game of 09.

Joe had Shadow Complex in his top 5, which was my pick for most overrated game of 09.

Eddie's favorite game of the year was Assassin's Creed 2, Sinan's pick for most overrated.

I had Brutal Legend in the tail end of my top 5, which apparently numerous people chimed in as having been the year's most overrated game.

Eddie had Borderlands on his list, a game I've heard all kinds of reactions to. Some love its addictive nature, and other found it very repetitious and bland. I have yet to play it, so I wouldn't know.

Even Silent Hill, one of four games to make more than one of our lists received a lowly 76 on metacritic.

Street Fighter IV was more universally acclaimed, but I'll be honest, I have no interest in fighters.

And did I mention how no one had Modern Warfare 2, one of the most highly regarded games of the year, on their list?

See a pattern here? I mean lets look at my top games list. I didn't do a top 10 per se as I don't like the idea of arbitrarily picking a number of games. Instead I categorized them by category. The best of the best, the almost best of the best, and the honorable mentions.

The best of the best (according to Jeffrey Matulef):
-The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
-Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
-Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.

The almost best of the best:
-Brutal Legend
-Batman: Arkham Asylum
-Demon's Souls

Honorable mentions:
-New Super Mario Bros Wii
-Assassin's Creed 2

Zelda got good, but not great review scores due to many considering the series old hat. Silent Hill got even worse and Joe and I are the only major zealots of it I've come upon. Brutal Legend caught a lot of flak for its RTS elements. And Demon's Souls was such a harsh, niche title that quite frankly I'm amazed it's been as successful as it has. Mario and Punch-out!! were amazing and I was hoping someone else would have them in their top 5, but alas. After discussing 17 games at length, there wasn't even room for such great titles!

I guess what I wanted to say is that this has been a truly wonderful year for games. It's not that their quality has improved so much since the last year, but that there's so much more variety on display than what I'm used to. Remember when every GOTY award flocked to RE4, Modern Warfare, and GTAIV, and if you didn't like these games it was as if there was something fundamentally wrong with you? Sure, we had a GOTY, but it just squeaked by with 2/5 people happening to call it their personal fave. Otherwise we wouldn't have had one. I just think its great that the industry seems to be branching out more and more. No hive mind here. That's for damn sure.

Note: There's still quite a few supposedly great games from 09 that I have yet to check out. Notably: LostWinds 2, Little King Story, Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor, Dragon Age, Borderlands, Trials HD (played the demo and would love to play some more), 'Splosion Man, and maybe someday I'll check out that Modern Warfare 2 game everyone seems to be raving about. So just because something didn't make my list doesn't mean it wasn't utterly fantastic.