It’s been a great year for video game fans. Despite having several top-tier titles pushed back to next year, 2009 managed to deliver some incredible games on every gaming system. So if you’re still struggling to find a gift for that gamer in your life, pretty much any of the titles below would be a sure-fire hit. Just make sure they haven’t gotten it for themselves already!
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 – This was the most hyped game of the year and the marketing certainly paid off. MW2 shattered sales records around the world on the way to one of the biggest releases in entertainment history. Gorgeous graphics, rock solid controls, an epic storyline and one of the biggest online communities around all combined to make this first-person-shooter one of the best games of the year. One word of caution, the real value of this game lies in the online multi-player modes, so if you’re not a fan of online gaming, you’ll be disappointed in the short single-player campaign and limited special ops mode.
Left 4 Dead 2 – This title represents the other major FPS of the season. This sequel to the original zombie shooter was cranked out in less than a year, which is unheard of speed for the game’s publisher Valve, who are known for their patience and perfectionism in their work. Despite the rapid development pace, LFD2 shines as a unique experience in the gaming world. Players are forced to work together to survive the undead threat, as well as opposing players controlling special Infected.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves – After coming close in the past with titles like Resistance, Metal Gear 4 and Little Big Planet, the Playstation 3 finally gets a true “system-seller” game. If you own a PS3, there is no excuse not to have this in your collection. And if you don’t own one, but are looking for an excuse to pick the PS3 up, this game is it. The stunning graphics and summer-blockbuster-movie-feel make this one a strong-contender for game of the year honors.
Batman: Arkham Asylum – Simply put, this is the best Batman video game ever, if not the best game for ANY comic book character. I’ve often wondered how games could fail so completely when it comes to Batman. This game fixed all that. With a story by Paul Dini that’s roughly based on the graphic novel of the same name, B:AA captures the feel, atmosphere and literal insanity of the Dark Knight’s world. Bringing back voice actors from the awesome Batman: The Animated Series certainly didn’t hurt either.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii – Nintendo rarely makes a misstep when it comes to their signature franchise and, apart from the lame title, NSMBW continues that streak. They followed the standard ‘more players=more fun’ rule here. The ability to have four players all running the levels at once is a blast. It can get hectic at times, but it’s a good hectic. My biggest problem is the inevitable fights over who gets to be Mario or Luigi and who gets stuck with the two Toad characters.
Torchlight – This dungeon-crawling bargain ($19.95!) for PC gamers by Runic will help make up for the fact that Blizzard has delayed the release of Diablo 3 until who knows when. Torchlight follows the tried and true formula of combining dungeon delving, monster bashing, potion guzzling and loot scavenging. It’s so close to Diablo, it would almost be insulting were it not for the fact that many of Torchlight‘s development staff came up with that formula when they created the first two Diablo titles. No matter how many other games I’ve picked up lately, I keep finding myself going back to Torchlight for “just another level or two, I promise.”