The music list is down, now on to video games! One fair warning (and this applies to the music list as well): I'm not a professional critic, and didn't get to play everything this year, so a couple that might have made my list (Assassin's Creed 2, Dragon Age: Origins) didn't get played before the year was out. I'll play 'em next year and hopefully will post mini-reviews afterwards. Also, I don't have a gaming PC, so anything PC-exclusive would not have been played.
10. MadWorld (Wii). The bloodiest game of 2009, hands down. It's so over-the-top that it's like a playable Itchy and Scratchy cartoon. Great tongue-in-cheek moments throughout, and the Wii motion controls (usually annoying in most games) fit in perfectly here. Also, the running commentary by Greg Proops and John DiMaggio is one-of-a-kind, and laugh-out-loud funny. (In the interest of full disclosure: I work for Sega, but that doesn't change the fact that it's a fun and funny game.)
9. God of War Collection (PS3). It might be cheating to include this, since the two games included were released in previous years. However, since they were originally on the PS2, THIS is truly how they should be played: Full HD and at 60 frames-per-second. I wish the cutscenes were rendered in the same way (they look PS2 quality), but don't let that scare you away. These are two of the greatest games of the last console generation. Even if you've already played them on the PS2, they're worth owning and playing through again on the PS3.
8. Scribblenauts (DS). A puzzle game where you are only limited by your imagination. Sounds like a cliche, until you actually play it. You write down a noun, and as long as it's not trademarked or a drug of some kind, it appears in the game to help you. Want to conjure up a time machine to go back to ride a dinosaur, then bring him to the present and make him kill robot zombies? You can. The only real negative about the game is that you're forced to use touch controls, and it isn't as precise as you'll want it to be. However, this is worth buying simply for how innovative it is, and some of the harder levels will give you a strong feeling of satisfaction once you beat them. Not that I'd know, cuz I'm still stuck in the first half of the game. Guess I'm not imaginative enough!
7. Forza Motorsport 3 (X360). Forza 2 was already a very good game, and brought great ideas to the online racing genre (Auction House, custom liveries). Forza 3 improved up on it in many ways. Sharper graphics. More cars, more tracks. A stunning playable in-car view. The ability to rollover. And probably the best of all: They kept it hardcore for the gearheads, but they also put in play options that the casual racing fan can enjoy. I've been a fan of the Gran Turismo series since the first installment on the PS1, but they're gonna have to hit a home run with GT5 if they want to be the best racing game of this generation.
6. Little Big Planet (PSP). As you may remember, the PS3 version made my top ten list last year. I can't quite rank the PSP version as high, because the level creator is a little harder to use, and there is no multiplayer. However, the new levels for this version are a lot of fun, and the imagination and skill of the LBP community never ceases to amaze me. If you get this, go to a WiFi hotspot, take it online, and download the highest rated levels. Some of them are better than anything in the actual game. Oh, and one thing this version does better than the PS3? Downloaded levels can be saved to your memory stick, so if someone makes a fun level that breaks the Terms of Service (for copyright infringement or adult themes), if you download it before the mods delete it, it's yours.
5. Trials HD (Xbox Live Arcade). Excitebike meets N+. Just those words got me excited for this one. Then I played the demo, and immediately handed over my $15. It can be frustrating (the extreme levels are downright masochistic), but the challenge is what keeps me coming back. Like N+, the physics are very consistent, so if you die, it's because of something YOU did, not because of a mistake the developer made. The leaderboards are great, not only because it compares you to your friends (and gives you something to strive for), but it also allows you to watch replays of the best performances worldwide on each track. This feature comes in very handy on the harder levels, as some people solve sections in ways you may not have previously thought of. It's been very popular too, and has been at or near the top of the most played Xbox Live Arcade games list every week since release. The demo is free, so download it and give it a try.
4. Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3, X360). If you'd have told me last year that a Batman game would make my Top 10 list for 2009, and that it would be this high on the list, I'd have told you to put the crack pipe down. A good Batman game? Yeah right! But someone finally did it. Batman finally feels like a badass like he was always supposed to. Part open-world exploration, part Splinter Cell, the variation in the different parts of the island and in the boss battles keeps everything feeling fresh. The story is very strong too. Mark Hamill voices the Joker, and he's phenomenal. He pulls off funny and sinister in ways that the video game world has never seen. And this is all coming from someone who doesn't give half a crap about the comic books! It's a great game, and I'm looking forward to playing the sequel.
3. Borderlands (PS3, X360, PC). Hey, you got your RPG in my FPS! Hey, you got your FPS in my RPG! Fans of games like Diablo and fans of games like Call of Duty can finally agree on something: Gearbox has succeeded in making these two great tastes taste great together. A good game to play by yourself, but a great game to play cooperatively with up to three friends. I would've liked more voice acting in the missions (instead of text, which you'll probably end up skipping most of anyway), but that's a very minor complaint. 'Bazillions' of weapons are in the game, and there's nothing quite like the candy-colored explosion of loot when you kill a tough bad guy. Also, Claptrap is far and away my favorite game character of the year. "Check me out, I'm dancin', I'M DANCIN'!"
2. Uncharted 2 (PS3). Did you hate the last Indiana Jones movie? Of course you did. But playing this game more than makes up for it. Naughty Dog took everything good in the first Uncharted game and improved upon it, plus added strong co-op and multiplayer modes. The graphics and character animation is supurb. The story might be the best in any video game of this generation. The voice acting might be the best in any video game ever. If you haven't played it yet, I don't want to overhype it, but I'm not sure if it's even possible to do. It's THAT good.
1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (X360, PS3, PC). Oh c'mon, don't act too surprised. My love for the Infinity Ward installments in this series has been well documented on this site, but even my highest expectations were surpassed with this game. The single-player campaign is short, and the story has ADD, but most don't play this game just for the single player. Online is where it's at. The multiplayer added many new weapons and perks, but the balance of it all is still perfect (especially now that they recently patched the range on the Model 1887 shotgun). The graphics are almost photo-realistic. They added a two player co-op mode called Spec Ops, and one could play it for days and not even touch the other two game modes. Infinity Ward has sold millions of copies of this game, and they deserve to. They improved upon a masterpiece. This is the greatest online console shooter ever made.