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Sameer’s Top 5 Games of 2009

The following is part of IVG’s year-end feature, where each of our writers will highlight their top 5 games of 2009. You too have the opportunity to let us know your top 5 games of the year, and in turn contribute towards picking IVG’s overall Game of the Year for 2009. Click here to participate in the Game of the Year polls.

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There are good games every year, so every year is a good year for gaming. But was 2009 a great year for gaming? I think not. It’s not a good sign when you see very few decent new IP. While 2008 was full of great new properties in many genres – Pure, LittleBigPlanet, Mirror’s Edge and Dead Space, just to name a few, it’s been slim pickings in 2009. Secondly, I was left disappointed by many of this year’s high-profile games that I expected big things from. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Gran Turismo PSP, FIFA 10, and Brutal Legend all failed to impress.

I apologise if this is starting to read like an orbituary, so let me now get to the good part. While I think 2009 wasn’t a great year for gaming, there were still plenty of great games to enjoy. In fact, it hurts that I can only talk about five of them in this feature, when I could easily list five others that I enjoyed just as much. There aren’t too many surprises in my top 5, but here they are all the same.

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5. Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time

A Crack in Time is probably the best game in the series. To an R&C fan, that’s a huge statement, especially considering the brilliant PS2 outings. But this one really is fantastic. Just when I thought Insomniac was running out of ideas, they go and do this. The puzzles are pure genius and, unlike many games, they’re actually puzzling, and the inter-planetary side missions are a blast as well. Then of course, there are the quirky characters, outrageous gadgets and some witty writing and dialogue promising lots of good humour from start to finish. I’ve probably played some better games this year, but none more fun than this.

4. Dragon Age: Origins

I don’t usually play RPGs and I don’t usually play the same game twice, and still I currently find myself halfway through my second playthrough of Dragon Age: Origins. I am stunned by the writing and the realism of its characters. I’m even more impressed by how different the experience is second time around. I wasn’t particularly fond of RPGs before I played this game. Now, I’ve sunk around 80 hours into this game alone, and I’m simultaneously playing two other RPGs. I just hope Dragon Age hasn’t spoiled them for me.

3. Batman: Arkham Asylum

One of the reasons I loved Arkham Asylum is that I expected not to. Despite all the buzz to the contrary, I had convinced myself that it would disappoint. But it didn’t. I expected to simply be hopping from one super-villain boss fight to another, when in truth, it was the bits in between that remain etched in my memory – the puzzles, the audio logs, and the claustrophobic corridors, and the cold, dark and brilliantly immersive game world. Arkham Asylum showed the immense potential that comic book properties hold. More importantly, it proved that when treated properly, they appeal to everyone, not just the hardcore fans.

2. Assassin’s Creed 2

I liked Assassin’s Creed because it had the potential to be Assassin’s Creed 2. Had Assassin’s Creed 2 not been as good as it is, it would have probably been the death of this franchise that held so much promise. It instead fulfilled all the promises that the first game didn’t, and it is without doubt the best sequel of the year. It is so remarkably better than the original that I can’t ever imagine going back. Hats off to Ubisoft for taking criticism seriously and righting all the wrongs from the first game, and for, at the same time, setting new benchmarks in the open-world action adventure genre. Any other year, this would be my number 1 game by a mile.

1. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Uncharted 2 will always remain a special game for me. I was fortunate enough to be the first Indian to play and complete the game, and I was also one of the first few people in the world to review it. So when I played it, the IGNs, Gamespots, and Eurogamers still didn’t have their reviews out; in fact, no one did. So while there were expectations going in, since it was a sequel to a great game, I also went in not knowing what to expect. That’s why I probably enjoyed Uncharted 2 a lot more than most people. I won’t get into the details of why I think this is the best game of the year (you can read my review for that), but it’s the only game I have ever played that I would even consider giving a 10/10 review score.

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