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Utkarsh’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.

icon_feature12009 was another great year for gaming. From epic sprawling RPGs and enjoyable sandbox romps to superhero games and adrenaline-fuelled shooters, I really enjoyed a lot of the titles I played this year and it was very difficult for me to choose five out of them. Before I begin, I must admit that I’m not a big fan of competitive multiplayer so pardon the lack of the Modern Warfares and Killzones. I also want to mention some of the great games that I loved but ultimately failed to make the top 5: Risen, Torchlight, inFamous, Dirt 2, Anno 1404, Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood, Brutal Legend, The Path and Halo 3: ODST.

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5. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Uncharted 2 is like a video game version of a Hollywood summer blockbuster. It has all the great elements that make an all-round entertainer – action, adventure, suspense, drama, comedy and romance. With likeable characters and a fast-paced story that takes you across breathtaking locales from the jungles of Borneo to war-torn streets of Nepal and finally to the snowy Himalayas, there is never a dull moment in this 12 hour thrill-ride. It’s one of those games that’s difficult to put down once you start playing it. I literally played for hours at a time just to see what happened next. And just when I thought of stopping, Uncharted 2 threw a spectacular set-piece my way. And I don’t think I need to describe how good the game looks.

4. Assassin’s Creed 2

Assassin’s Creed 2 is one of those rare sequels that improves upon its predecessor by leaps and bounds. Everyone knows the hype surrounding the first game and how it turned out to be good game, but nothing more thanks to the repetitive nature of the gameplay. The first thing you’ll realise about Assassin’s Creed 2 is that there is almost no repetition. The side missions and activities are entirely optional and even they don’t feel repetitive, but are in fact a lot of fun. There’s literally a lot to do in the game and at times it can prove to be a nightmare for an obsessive completionist like me (in a good way of course). The story is also much better this time around and Ezio is a far more likeable protagonist compared to the sombre Altair from the previous game.

3. Batman: Arkham Asylum

I think it would be safe to say that Batman: Arkham Asylum is the best superhero game ever made. It’s great to see the legendary Dark Knight finally getting a fitting video game adaptation thanks to developer Rocksteady Studios. For a bat fan, it was pure bliss exploring the premises of Arkham Asylum encountering familiar foes while pursuing the Joker and uncovering his fiendish plan. The Riddler sub-plot added another layer to the exploration and made full use of the caped crusader’s detective skills and his arsenal of gadgets. The gameplay itself never felt monotonous thanks to the combination of stealth, puzzle solving and brutal hand-to-hand combat. With its excellent production values, varied gameplay, great voice acting and solid visuals, Batman: Arkham Asylum is undoubtedly one of my favourite games of the year.

2. Dragon Age: Origins

When it comes to RPGs, it doesn’t get any better than Bioware. I knew that the game was going to be a winner long before I finally played it. Even the cheap gory promos featuring Marilyn Manson songs did not make me lose faith. You can call it a spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate 2, but in my mind it goes beyond that. Featuring six different origin stories and an epic overarching plot, it’s every RPG fan’s dream come true. The combat is tactical and at times difficult, but ultimately rewarding. It’s a proper RPG made for fans of the genre unlike others which try to appeal to all audiences. That’s probably what I appreciated the most about the game apart from the excellent writing and memorable characters. With Dragon Age: Origins, Bioware have successfully created a new and improved Baldur’s Gate for the new generation.

1. Borderlands

It may seem like a surprising choice for my top game of the year, but Borderlands is one title I had been faithfully following since it was announced. I love first person shooters; I love action RPGs even more. So when Gearbox Software managed to successfully fuse the two genres and create a surprisingly fun game, there’s no reason why it wouldn’t become my absolute favourite game of the year. The stylised cel-shaded comic-book like art direction and funny characters like the ubiquitous lovable Claptrap are simply icing on the sweet loot that the game throws your way. The awesome 4-player co-op that plays like Left 4 Dead-meets-Diablo II is highly addictive and still keeps me coming back to the game long after I’ve finished it… twice. Borderlands is one of those rare games that turned out to be even better than I expected. It’s my Game of the Year.

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