I’ve never gone back and put together a list of my favorite games from 2000-2009. Until now. Here are my retrospective favorite games from 2009.
Great Games I Haven’t Played
Red Faction Guerrilla
10. Halo 3: ODST
I’ve written before about how I’m not the biggest Halo fan, but I did really enjoy Halo 3: ODST. Master Chief and his solemn, superhero-like nature never clicked with me as a character, so it was nice to change the focus to more “regular” soldiers fighting the war. This felt like a more personal story along the lines of Band of Brothers, similar to the way Halo: Reach came out. There are a lot of similarities in those two games, and it’s no surprise that they’re my favorites in the series. The Halo shooting always felt very tight, but I never loved the lack of a true aim down sights. Still, the same fantastic enemy AI remained, and the story was more memorable to me than the usual sci-fi nonsense in most of the other games.
9. Left 4 Dead 2
As seen in my post of the Top 10 Games from 2008, I loved the first Left 4 Dead. The co-op nature was fantastically fun, the game had a great sense of humor, and there was a surprising amount of teamwork necessary — particularly against the boss type enemies. That awesomeness continued with Left 4 Dead 2, which switched things up a bit with new characters, melee weapons, different types of infected, and a cool new feature with procedurally generated parts of the level depending on how well your team was doing. There was nothing incredibly revolutionary about Left 4 Dead 2, but I really enjoyed hopping back in there with friends.
8. Dragon Age: Origins
I have mixed feelings about the Dragon Age series as a whole, but I’ve still had a lot of fun with all three main titles. It might sound crazy, but honestly, Dragon Age: Origins is probably my least favorite of the three overall. Hold your gasps, and let me explain. I loved the characters in the first game — it definitely had the best cast in the series. The RPG elements felt like the first Mass Effect game, where you were being introduced to this deep world, and there was a ton to learn. I didn’t love the combat, though. It was brutally difficult at times, and I’ve never been huge on turn-based strategy games — and that’s mostly what this felt like. As simple as the combat in Dragon Age 2 could be, I still liked the flow of that much more. I think Origins is a great game, though — thus its inclusion on this list.
7. Killzone 2
I really liked the first Killzone game, but its PS2 roots were obvious. Some of the controls were really bizarre, especially for a first-person shooter. Killzone 2 absolutely knocked the first game out of the park, and it quickly became one of my go-to PS3 games. The story of the single player was a bit generic, but it was absolutely gorgeous and the shooting felt great. And the multiplayer was highly underrated. It released in February, but that summer home from college was spent playing hours and hours of Killzone 2 multiplayer. I stayed up all night several times and ended up unlocking the “be in the top 5% of players for a week” trophy simply through how many hours I played. Those were good times.
Borderlands 2 is one of my favorite games of all time, but the first game was no slouch. I personally think the second game improved upon the first in pretty much every way, but I’d definitely hear an argument for why the cast in the first game is better. I loved the characters and sense of humor, and the artistic style surprisingly fit perfectly. The promise of millions and millions of guns was easily fulfilled and then some, and that loot grind was real. Getting a purple or even orange from a boss was incredibly rewarding. I think the shooting was a little too loose in that first game, but the sheer amount of different types of weapons and player abilities more than made up for that. I also loved the RPG-style level up mechanics. Borderlands was such a unique type of game at the time, and I’m thankful that plenty of other games have followed in its footsteps.
5. Assassin’s Creed 2
In the pantheon of Assassin’s Creed games, I’d probably argue that AC2 has been the best. Sure, Black Flag had pirates and sailing, but the main character was uninteresting and the actual assassinating was uninspired. Assassin’s Creed 2 had a great central character and story (not including the “modern day” stuff), and the setting was perfect. Obviously, players and Ubisoft felt the same, since they spawned two direct sequels for Ezio. Back then, climbing buildings, taking out guards, and diving into hay bales felt special. While some of the combat and traversal mechanics still weren’t perfect, they were a vast improvement over the first game.
4. Batman: Arkham Asylum
Batman is one of my favorite comic book characters, and I’m sure that I’m not alone in that feeling. When a game focusing on his hand to hand combat and detective skills was announced, I was blown away by those first few gameplay trailers. And what was even more impressive, the game actually delivered. The combat was something completely new and amazing. It was deep enough for fighting game fans, but simple enough that a button masher like myself still felt powerful. The story and characters were done well, and this visual representation of everything felt fresh and familiar at the same time. I wasn’t as happy with the three sequels, but that first one was something special.
3. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was a great game, and it deserves the praise it still gets for redefining multiplayer first-person shooters. But part of me prefers Modern Warfare 2. The story was a continuation of the first gam and really increased the insanity and explosions. The characters weren’t exactly deep, but I loved the twist ending. And while there was plenty of bullshit in the multiplayer — like the one man army perk and the undermounted “noob tube” grenade launcher — I had a blast playing it with friends and alone. It’s quite possible that I sunk more hours into MW2’s multiplayer than in any other game I’ve ever played. That has to count for something, especially in light of its many flaws.
2. Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time
The best Ratchet and Clank game is also one of my favorites from 2009. A Crack in Time really was the whole package when it came to the Ratchet and Clank series. It had one of the best and most varied weapon arsenals, it had fantastic, multi-layered Clank puzzles, it included some of the best recurring characters like Captain Quark and Dr. Nefarious, it had some of the most beautiful and diverse planets, there were fantastic side missions to complete, it told a surprisingly personal and heartfelt story, and it had the same great sense of humor that the series was known for providing. While I’m glad the series has continued on, the story really felt wrapped up by the end of this game.
1. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Uncharted 2 is one my favorite games of all time, and that feeling was only cemented when I replayed it thanks to the Nathan Drake Collection. It’s definitely the best in the series, with significant visual and mechanical improvements over the first game, and a better overall story with less downtime than the third game. It also more heavily featured Chloe, which certainly didn’t hurt in the visuals department. The biggest issue I had with the game was the same issue I had with all three games, and that was the final area. Naughty Dog always gave us some supernatural twist to the story — Indiana Jones style — and while I’m perfectly fine with that, the special enemy types were never very fun to fight. I downright hated fighting the Shambhalan natives — though it was fun to use their own one hit kill crossbow against them.
And there you have it, my top 10 games from 2009! Be sure to leave your favorite in the comments, and check out my other video game rankings!