Today through Christmas Eve, we'll be recapping the year that was. Today: 2009 honorable mentions.
We may never see another year like 2007 again, when we were treated to one astonishing game after another. But 2009 was no slouch. Like last year, quality was generally high, with just a few stinkers, and even those often suffered more from understandable fatal flaws than from all-encompassing ineptitude. No doubt about it, I played a lot of good games this year.
In chronological order:
Skate 2: Still extremely challenging, Skate 2 improved upon its predecessor mostly by giving you the ability to walk up steps, which was very necessary.
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin: A mish-mash of styles that didn't all work together, this game had enough high points to be worth playing.
Killzone 2: Graphically impressive and with a fun, team-based multiplayer mode, it wasn't one of the best FPSes ever made, even if you do have a functioning brain. But it was a good one.
MadWorld: Sort of a better idea than it was a game, MadWorld was striking and unusual, and comically violent.
Guitar Hero: Metallica: I'll be honest with you. This, not The Beatles, was my favorite music game of the year.
The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena: This would be here if it were only the high-definition remake of Escape from Butcher Bay. The Dark Athena chapter is not quite as good, but actually better than I thought people gave it credit for.
Punch-Out!!: Absolutely worthy of the name. Extremely fun. Also controller-throwingly difficult. (But what isn't, really?)
Ghostbusters: The Video Game: Funny, breezy, colorful -- the definition of good but not great. It's also my nephew Sam's favorite game to play with me, besides X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Which reminds me...
X-Men Origins: Wolverine: I never wrote about this game, but I played it a little and found it to be a fun, good-looking beat-'em-up with some neat cinematic events. It's also unbelievably gory. Did I mention Sam is four years old?
Tales of Monkey Island: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal: Telltale is doing a fine job with the LucasArts relaunches. Not so fine that I sought out the subsequent episodes, but hey, I'm a busy man.
'Splosion Man: Another challenging throwback to the sidescrolling era, this played like Sonic the Hedgehog mixed with the "Barrel Blast" level of Donkey Kong Country.
Fat Princess: A surprisingly relaxing take on competitive capture-the-flag gaming.
The Beatles: Rock Band: Well, it is the Beatles, after all.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2: A really slick package.
Assassin's Creed II: It takes a good eight hours to get to the point where this game is fun. Once there, it can be, at times, brilliant, but it still gets in its own way too much.
Tomorrow: The worst games of 2009.