Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Games of 2009

Persona 4 - PS2
Despite being 10 years old, the creaking PlayStation 2 can still produce wonderful games. Persona 4 was a much more streamlined experience than its predecessor, but it retained the appeal that's made the series such as success. Unlike regular RPGs, Persona 4 mixes things up to create a unique experience. By day, your character goes to school, attends after school clubs and hangs out with friends. But at night, you explore randomly generated dungeons with the aid of your Personas - magical creatures which help you in battle. Persona 4 looks fantastic, and its fusion of social aspects and dungeon crawling make it one of the most memorable RPGs in recent years.

Flower - PS3
Flower is one of the most remarkable games of 2009. Controlling the wind by moving the Sixaxis, the aim is to open flowers that lie scattered about the game's beautiful locations, collecting petals as you go. Visually stunning with a beautiful relaxed atmosphere, Flower is perfect for late night gaming sessions. Lush, grassy meadows under bright blue skies give way to rocky canyons, sun-drenched amber vistas, midnight blue fields and rain-soaked plains - it's a marvellous experience.

Wii Sports Resort - Wii 
Nintendo bundled Wii Sports with their console to show off the Wii's motion-sensing capabilities. While it was fun, there's it lacked lasting appeal due to the shallow nature of the events. Wii Sports Resort features 12 events compared to the original's five and comes packed with the Wii Motion Plus - a device giving the player a greater degree of control. The events take place on sun-kissed Wuhu Island, and the game is instantly appealing thanks to bright blue skies and the island's cheery atmosphere. Table Tennis, Archery, Swordplay, Air Sports and Frisbee Golf were personal highlights, but everything on offer was a blast to play. It's still selling by the truckload and I'm sure Wii Sports Resort will be wheeled out in homes across the country after Christmas dinner this year.

New Super Mario Bros - Wii 
Super Mario Galaxy remains my favourite Mario title, but there New Super Mario Bros is a cracking game. Back to his 2D roots, Mario's latest outing on Wii is platform perfection. The old school single player action brings memories flooding back of Mario World on the Super Nintendo. Up to four people can take part in the fast-paced multiplayer mode, but the single player is no slouch. Later stages are a real test of nerves, but a handy help feature has been included to guide you through the more difficult sections.

Street Fighter IV - 360/PS3 
The best one-on-one fighter ever got a whole lot better in 2009. The culmination of years of fine tuning by the team at Capcom resulted in this spectacular brawler. While old combos and tricks from the past remain the same, the eye-popping graphics and sprinkling of new features make this the definitive Street Fighter experience. The announcement of Super Street Fighter IV might have taken the spotlight away from this in recent weeks, but this remains the best fighter on the market at the moment.

Batman: Arkham Asylum - 360/PS3/PC 
Games featuring superheroes have been a hit and miss affair in the past, but the Dark Knight's appearance this year proved to be a definite high point. On the trail of the Joker - who has taken over Gotham's famous Arkham Asylum - the Caper Crusader is drawn into a quest to bring the Crown Prince of Crime to justice. Arkham Asylum is an amalgamation of genres - with stealth-based sections, environmental puzzle solving, and bouts of good old-fashioned fisticuffs fused coherently together to produce a slick and well-rounded package. The visuals are excellent, and coupled with the asylum's oppressive atmosphere, create one of this year's most distinctive titles. With a second game announced this week, there's plenty for Batman fans to look forward to.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves - PS3
Great things were expected of Uncharted 2, and developers Naughty Dog didn't disappoint, pulling out all the stops to deliver the finest action adventure to grace a home console this year. Packed with epic set pieces and thrilling gunfights, charismatic protagonist Nathan Drake's latest outing was a visual feast. Thanks to brilliant voice work, impressive in-game cut scenes and Naughty Dog's attention to detail, Uncharted 2 featured all the trimmings of a blockbuster film. The 12-hour single player campaign was a success, but for gamers craving more, a robust multiplayer mode was also added. The online fun is still incredibly popular and makes a great alternative to first-person online experiences. Uncharted 2 quite simply set the benchmark for future action adventures.

Assassin's Creed 2 - 360/PS3
The original Assassin's Creed was a great looking game, but was bogged down by repetitve tasks and awkward gameplay mechanics. The sequel mixes things up to give a better experience, making this journey through Renaissance era Italy a joy to play. Lead character Ezio is thoroughly likeable, which adds some much-needed personality to the series. Free-running across rooftops, scaling towers and exploring the beautifully rendered cities of Venice and Florence is wonderful, and with plenty of optional trinkets to collect and tombs to discover, Assassin's Creed 2 is head and shoulders above the original.

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