Greatest Game of 2009: The Competition
While it’s hard to disagree with the panel and Kevin’s choice of Uncharted 2 for game of 2009, that doesn’t mean there weren’t other great games that year. These games are the main reason we never played Uncharted 2′s multiplayer. Not the least of which is the greatest multiplayer game available on the market today, Left 4 Dead 2.
Left 4 Dead 2
No other game on the market forces you to work together and cooperate the way Left 4 Dead does. If you run ahead of your teammates, you will die. If you decide to hoard all the health packs, your teammates will die, and without them there to help, you will, too. If you are not communicating with your team and you get separated or fall behind, you will also die. Due to this dynamic, anytime you are not able to see all of your friends, you will panic. I will not soon forget the first time I played the Hard Rain campaign. I got lost in the cornfields as I attempted to run back and fuel up a boat. As the name of the campaign suggests, it was raining. Hard. I didn’t know where I was going and neither did anyone else. There has never been another game I’ve played that has inspired that level of fear in me, and that’s a good thing indeed. Left 4 Dead 2 improves on the formula of the first game by adding new special zombies that change up the way you play. In the first game, you could always hole up in a corner if things got too bad; however, the addition of The Spitter makes that impossible. Playing Left 4 Dead 2 online with up to seven other friends is the best multiplayer experience available to date. The additional mode, Scavenge, mixes up the gameplay and is a welcome addition. If you own an Xbox and can get three friends together, this is the game to get. They’re still releasing DLC for the game almost three years after its release. Later this month, in fact, a new campaign is due out, and I am excited.
Metroid Prime Trilogy
Metroid Prime 3 is a great game in its own right; however, this pack of three is pretty amazing. Metroid Prime is one of the best GameCube games of all time, and while I don’t particularly like Metroid Prime 2, the reviews are all positive. The games have been upgraded with proper aspect ratio and to allow use of the new Wii controls. This, to me, is a huge improvement, as the game handled poorly with the GameCube controller. I’m not a huge fan of motion controls overall, but for a first-person shooter, the controls are incredibly responsive and arguably better than a standard dual-stick setup. Back to the original Metroid Prime game, however. Super Metroid is one of my favorite games of all time, so I was concerned about how Samus would make her transition to 3D. I didn’t need to worry; she does so seamlessly. The backtracking that is a staple of Metroid games is still available, the enemies are varied and awesome, and the environments are breathtaking. Entering Phendrana Drifts for the first time is one of the coolest moments in video game history. The music sets the tone brilliantly as well and deserves a separate mention, as it is incredible throughout the trilogy. Metroid Prime 3, the one Wii-specific title here, is a great game as well. I only wish that Nintendo’s machine had some better power behind it, because as great as the art direction was in the game, I really think a full 1080p HD presentation could have allowed it to stand out among the best-looking games of the generation.
Diablo with guns. This is a pretty accurate description of Borderlands. Set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, Borderlands allows you and up to three friends to shoot and kill baddies in an incredibly wide variety of ways. Basically a loot grab game, the joy in Borderlands is getting the latest and greatest weaponry. You can kill your enemies in many gruesome ways, which can be a lot of fun, too. The game quality falls off toward the end as it starts to suffer from very bad lag and slowdown. Also, although the game is pretty long (40-50 hours), it feels like it ends too early (and the final battle is really, really bad). My friends and I were able to finish the game around level 35. The DLC for the game has been pretty good, though, which helps extend it. I should mention that you’ll want to find friends to help you explore the game, as it loses most of the fun when you play solo. This is most likely because you don’t have anyone to whom to gloat over your new weapons.
Forza Motorsport 3
When Forza Motorsport 3 was released, it was the best racing game ever made. It’s not the most influential (Gran Turismo), and maybe not the most fun to play with friends (Mario Kart), but it’s the best. It’s the best because it does everything right. The game looks amazing and the level of customization is incredible, but even if you’re not a super car nerd, you can still have a lot of fun with the game. The amount of customization in the difficulty in the game is really what sets it apart. Forza has taken the Best Racing Game title from Gran Turismo, and that is due in large part to the presentation. The game features what Turismo does–highly customizable cars, a great soundtrack, real courses (and I should mention that the number of cars in the game is staggering)–but it does so without feeling stale and while remaining accessible. Forza is so good at offering so much to so many different racing fans that it earns my vote as the best racing game ever made.