A fake mom on a TV show once asked her fake son, "If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you do that, too?" [Note: This has never been said by anyone outside of TV or film.] If I was that fake TV son, I'd apparently say yes, as everyone else in the business of covering video games is sharing their picks of the best games of the year and it makes me feel left out. So here you are, my favorite games of 2009. In very particular order.
5) Plants vs. Zombies
Also winning the award for most descriptive game title, this "casual" game from PopCap looks like a straight-up tower defense clone. But with a great sense of humor, a surprising level of depth, and the ability to constantly through new variables in the mix, it became my go-to laptop game. Like many of PopCap's games, it's extremely well polished, and the difficulty is crafted in such a way that you'll never feel overwhelmed. I had all but written off the possibility that I could get my mom to play any video game prominently featuring zombies, but PopCap made that dream happen.
I had seen "Borderlands a few times over the course of its development, and it never really impressed me. It felt like it was just trying to take chunks from other genres, mash them together and hope for the best. I guess I should've had more faith in Gearbox, as the game they finally released finally merged two of my favorite genres, shooters and action/rpgs, into a western-flavored sci-fi epic. Sure, the ending was terrible, but the other 59 hours I spent with this game were basically fantastic.
3) Assassin's Creed 2
While I didn't hate the first "Assassin's Creed," it wasn't great. It played almost like a proof-of-concept, a half-baked game with cool free-run controls and graphics but not a whole lot of gameplay to back it up. The improvements made in "Assassin's Creed 2" brought the franchise onto new heights, with actual story-based missions, enveloping cities to explore and some very cool meta-game elements. Like "Borderlands," the ending of this game was pretty terrible, but the rest of the experience was top notch.
2) Uncharted 2
If someone asked me to show them the most visually impressive video game of all time, "Uncharted 2" would be an easy pick. But, when you consider that it's also remarkably fun to play, has a great story (with the best video game actors and cutscene directors I've ever seen) and even features a fun and addictive multiplayer component, there's very little reason to deny this game's greatness. If you own a PS3 and haven't picked up "Uncharted 2," the console should instantly become property of the state so that it can be given to a more thoughtful, dedicated gamer. For shame.
1) Batman: Arkham Asylum
There are some fantastic games on this list, but none of them managed to bring everything together quite as well as "Batman: Arkham Asylum" did. "Uncharted 2" came real close, but when I think back to playing "Batman," there was a constant feeling of not wanting to change anything. They nailed it. The pitch perfect combat, the obvious dedication to the franchise, the movie-quality storyline. Hell, the world. This is the Arkham Asylum we've really only seen in 2D and now we get to explore the place and freakin' Batman. It was a remarkable feat from an unknown developer and it gives us all hope that franchise-based games have the potential to be Game of the Year material.
Check back on Monday, as the MTV Multiplayer contributors will be giving their picks. And yes, one of them picked "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2." It was my #6, in case you're wondering.