This year had a number of terrific downloadable games (this list is a testament to that), however no game -- retail or digital -- connected with me like Flower. Jenova Chen's flOw was an interesting experiment, but Flower is an actual game. In fact, Flower is one of the few experiences I can think of that show the true potential of games as a unique storytelling medium. No other non-interactive art form will ever be able to replicate what thatgamecompany has managed to create.
I'm in the minority of Joystiq editors when it comes to Killzone 2. Certainly, there are many valid criticisms against the game -- particularly the generic story and muted color palette. However, Killzone 2 does one thing very, very well: it recreates the feel of weapons unlike any other major FPS out there. An absurd amount of detail and attention has been placed on these weapons, each with a distinctive weight and kick. Other games don't come close to recreating the viscera of looking down the sights quite like this one.
Yuke's completely surprised me with its UFC game. After years of stale wrestling games, I didn't expect to see something so fresh and innovative out of that studio. UFC Undisputed 2009 may have a huge learning curve, but it does a great job of recreating the feel of an MMA match. It's hard to look forward to UFC 2010, if only because they got so much right in their first outing.
This is quite possibly my most played game of the year. As a PixelJunkie on the PS3, I was pleasantly surprised to see how much new content was added for the PSP port. Not only are there new levels, towers and monsters, but the original levels have been remixed as well. Even if you rainbow cleared everything on the PS3, you'll find so much to do in Deluxe. Easily worth the $20 asking price.
This little-known tower-offense game is one of my all-time PSN favorites. To be honest, it's a very ugly game. However, it more than makes up for the visuals with its gameplay. If you've wanted to see what one Zerg rush looks like against another, you'll need to check this game out.
I didn't expect to use the PSP's new digital comic service so much, but the sleek presentation and affordable prices of the comics (many are free!) have me coming back for more. It's been a great way of discovering new comics I would've otherwise missed.
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - I loved the original Modern Warfare, so much so that I made it PS3 Fanboy's Game of the Year over the original Uncharted (much to the chagrin of that site's readers). However, Modern Warfare 2 isn't simply a "disappointment" -- it's a damn travesty. Not only is the campaign's story mode nonsensical, it does little to do justice to the brave soldiers in our military. What happened to moving in proper formation? What happened to prepping the right intel before entering hostage situations? Why am I dual-wielding Uzis and a silenced shotgun? FOX should give thanks to Infinity Ward -- they've somehow made a typical season of "24" seem logical in comparison.
- Resident Evil 5 - The tank controls of RE5 give me no problem, as many that have challenged me in the Versus add-on can attest to. However, RE5 is a clear step backwards from RE4 in so many ways. The enemy variety of RE5 is simply lackluster. Whereas RE4 continued to introduce new monsters, RE5 simply threw more and more non-zombies at the player. What happened to the awesome weapon customization of RE4? Looking down the thermal scope of the sniper rifle to target a Regenerator's weak points is one of my favorite moments of that game. The addition of co-op is great, but RE5's core game design is a far cry from the Gamecube classic.
- Fight Night Round 4 - Why EA decided to move away from all the design philosophies that made FNR3 so great is beyond me. FNR4 moves away from the sim-like approach of FNR3 and instead opts for arcade-style gameplay. The end result are fights where players repeatedly throw haymakers with no concern for the momentum of boxing.
- Fat Princess - While the art is terrific, I never found myself particularly compelled by this multiplayer-only PSN game. The classes are interesting, but perhaps the over-the-top perspective simply didn't win me over -- I'm going to stick with Team Fortress 2.
- Dissidia: Final Fantasy - I still don't know how to play this game. Square Enix, there's an easy model for you to copy for a game like this.
- Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier - It's amazing that Sony would treat one of their premiere PS2 franchises so poorly with this uninspired, sloppily-constructed sequel. With Naughty Dog focused on Uncharted, it seems unlikely fans will get the proper sequel they deserve.
- Rock Band Unplugged - I play this every day, thanks to the demo that came with my PSP Go. The note patterns on Expert are truly spectacular, and the Frequency-style gameplay is perfect for on-the-go play. But seriously, Harmonix -- you release some terrible songs as DLC and then you pull the plug (get it?) on the platform. I've already purchased at least $20 worth of DLC, and I'm sad to see Harmonix give up so quickly.