Yeah, we know, shut up, we’re late. But at least we actually waited to the end of the year to do our Game of the Year article! So shut up! But indeed. INCREDIBLE year of games. We’ve had two very strong years of video games now, and 2009 is looking great. But what, oh what, is game of the year? I pissed off lots of Halo and Nintendo fanboys last year by picking The Orange Box over Mario Galaxy and Halo 3. But will I do the same?! No, because there was no new Halo. Vague genres only. I don’t want any crap about that. But here we go.
Fighting Game of the Year: Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix (PS3, 360)
Let’s get the best genre out of the way first. Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix was THE fighting game of the last several years. Much love to King of Fighters XI, Virtua Fighter 5 and Guilty Gear XX Accent Core, but HD Remix is just incredible. Not only does it have the incredible UDON-made sprites, which are easily the best 2d graphics in any game lacking in a third dimension, ever, and not only does it have new music to make the aesthetic alterations complete, AND NOT ONLY DOES IT HAVE AN INCREDIBLY WELL-DONE REBALANCING, but it has incredible online play. Top tier stuff. Easily the best downloadable game to hit the PSN and Xbox Live Arcade. And it has no close competition for Fighting Game of the Year. Oh. And Smash Bros. Brawl? Not even worthy to clean Ryu’s socks. That’s why Ryu goes barefoot. There’s no game worthy to tend to his footwear.
Fatal Fury: Battle Archives Vol. 2 (PS2)
Soul Calibur 4 (360, PS3)
Shooter of the Year: Resistance 2 (PS3)
So yeah, what puts Resistance 2 above Far Cry 2, Bad Company, Gears of War 2 and whatever Call of Duty came out this year? Probably the best multiplayer options in any game around, is what. A shout-out to Gears of War 2 for Horde Mode…but the excellent SIXTY PLAYER VERSUS MATCHES and the EIGHT PLAYER CO-OP really set it apart. It isn’t without its faults, but credit must be given, and this credit comes in the form of the Shooter of the Year Award.
Gears of War 2 (360)
Action Game of the Year: Metal Gear Solid 4 (PS3)
Metal Gear Solid 4 needs to end up somewhere on this list, and this is where it ends up. MGS4 easily has the best graphics of any game on the market right now, and the cutscenes, voice acting and cinematography are first-rate. The new gameplay is very nice, melding together the whole “tactical espionage action” thing with actual gun-slinging. And man, it is great. It also has a lot more in the way of scripted action in each level, with the ability to make buddy-buddy with local militias and fight Liquid’s armies side-by-side. Basically, it takes everything good from past MGS titles and adds to it. Which can’t be said for many other games.
Grand Theft Auto 4 (PC, 360, PS3)
God of War: Chains of Olympus (PSP)
Role-Playing Game of the Year: Fallout 3 (PC, 360, PS3)
Fallout 3 is quite the game. Naturally, you’ve already heard all about it in the MyGamer podcast, but Fallout 3 is a pretty good pick for RPG of the Year. Many are quick to say that this is NOT “just” Oblivion with guns. I’m here to say “yes, it is Oblivion with guns” and “no, it doesn’t need to be anything else.” It is one great game! Like Oblivion, it has the HUGE open-world environment that you are free to explore and enjoy, and a massive number of people and quests to spend dozens of hours on. It has some issues with glitches, but it’s still epic, and more than deserving of the incredible honor of having me name it RPG of the Year.
Fable II (360)
The World Ends With You (DS)
Sports Game of the Year: NHL 09 (360, PS3)
I picked NHL 08 for the 360 Sports Game of the Year, and while this series has moved forward in terms of presentation, gameplay and, well, everything else, Madden continues to do the same old crap…but with more advertisements. To repeat what I said last year, hockey continues to be the most consistent sport in terms of getting quality video games on an annual basis. NHL 09 isn’t a huge jump over NHL 08, but it continues to move forward in AI, control and being an incredibly fun game on the whole. It didn’t really have much competition, but it’s still an incredible game.
MLB 2k8 (360, PS3, PS2)
Racing/Driving Game of the Year: Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
For real?! Mario Kart Wii over (insert semi-realistic racing game here)?! Yes, and it’s deserving of the spot. Mario Kart Wii brought the series back to its roots. It wasn’t as completely nuts as Mario Kart Double Dash!! and it added some excellent new courses. Meanwhile, the cast has ballooned to epic proportions, adding not only almost every Mario character you’ve seen…but you can play as any one of your Miis, and hop on one of the numerous carts or bikes available in the game and race against all the plucky characters in the game. While the formula is not far past the DS installment, it is still far more fun than any of the other racing games that came out this year.
Wipeout HD (PS3)
Puzzle Game of the Year: Tetris Party (Wii)
My Puzzle Game of the Year for 2007 was Super Puzzle Fighter and this year gets a similar pick in Tetris Party. The movement towards multiplayer-based puzzle games is a real one, and it is something that could become standard in the coming year. But Tetris Party? Well, it provides a welcome breath of fresh air into a long-established franchise. It’s insanely fun. Great party game value. And…yeah…it’s cheap. While stand-out puzzle games are scarce, Tetris Party impresses by both innovating within its series, and within its genre.
Overall Game of the Year: Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix
No, I’m not just picking this because I love fighting games. This game, long name and all, is the game of the year. I can already imagine the complaints about this pick. “But Steven! This isn’t even its own game! For it is just an ‘HD Remix’ of some old Street Fighter game!” Nonsense, I say! The differences between the original Super Turbo game and this one are huge in number. Not only are there all those pretty little graphics, but the actual “Remix” thing? Well, it’s because the game is completely retooled, both in gameplay, with the rebalanced characters, and presentation, with the completely new graphical style. HD Remix is its own game. “But…but…Fallout 3!” Fallout 3 is a great game. In fact, going into this article, I was thinking that I would give Fallout 3 the “Game of the Year” title. But sitting down and thinking about it, Fallout 3 has some problems. It’s glitchy. You can’t deny that. I’ve had quests become disjointed or cut short because of glitches. These issues will be remedied (update: actually, they just have been), but the thought that these problems will be fixed sooner or later does not mean that the game wasn’t hampered by glitches and rendered, potentially, unbeatable. “But Metal Gear Solid 4!” Yes, Metal Gear Solid 4 was epic, well-designed and aesthetically glorious. But so was Street Fighter 2. And, long-term, Street Fighter has more potential playing time, and distinguished itself too well to not get the title.
And there you have it! Complaints? Keep them to yourself. Or complain about it on the forums. Preferably that second one. But indeed, even if you don’t like my picks, you can agree that this was an impressive year of games. Check out our Podcast for our top picks for next year’s best games.