Jake Gaskill and Sterling McGarvey's Recommended Games From 2009


Posted December 17, 2009 - By Andrew Pfister

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It turned out to be quite the interesting year, didn't it? Even though a batch of games got pushed back to next year, 2009 still had a pretty impressive roster of titles. The obvious ones we've already covered, but we wanted to break down our favorites from the year on a more personal level. All this week we'll be featuring G4tv.com and X-Play staffers' picks from 2009 -- whether they were the best games we've played, the most interesting, or the most under-the-radar, these are the ones that stuck with us the most.

Click here for our official Best of 2009 awards.

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Jake Gaskill -- Atmosphere Snob

For me, the most important element of a game is its setting. This ties directly into narrative of course, but most of the time, if the game world isnt instantly intriguing, then why would I want to play it? This should help explain why Psychonauts, Half-Life 2, BioShock and Grand Theft Auto IV are some of my favorite games of all time.

1. Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box

What makes the Professor Layton series so damn enjoyable is the wonderful sense of whimsy and mystery that saturates the design, gameplay, puzzles, settings and characters, and Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box carries on this tradition wonderfully. If you’re a fan of murder investigations set in mysterious and creepy towns (and, really, who isn’t?), then you should definitely carve out some time for this fantastic DS title.

2. Dead Space: Extraction

Dead Space: Extraction

I had nonexistent expectations of this on-rails Wii shooter going in, so maybe that explains why I enjoyed it so freaking much. Or maybe it had to do with the fact that it’s just a really well-designed and conceived game that expertly blurs the lines between movie and game to create one of the most unique gaming experiences on the Wii. Also, I’ve said it before, but you need to play Extraction just to see what you’re able to do to yourself towards the end of the game. It is easily one of the gnarliest self-inflicting gaming moments ever, and includes one of the best uses of the Wiimote to date. So good.

3. 'Splosion Man

Splosion Man

There’s no doubt that Chair’s Shadow Complex is one the year’s top titles (downloadable or retail), but the other brilliant Xbox Live Arcade title to be released during Microsoft’s Summer of Arcade was Twisted Pixel’s Splosion Man. If you haven’t played it, chances are you’ve heard of it, and there’s a reason: it is an absolute blast. The platforming is wacky, gravity-defying and original, the music is fantastic and you toss yourself around the massive levels by blowing yourself up. What more do you need to know?

4. Grand Theft Auto: Episodes From Liberty City

The Lost and Damned

The two expansion packs for Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto IV included in GTA: Episodes From Liberty City are two of the finest examples of what downloadable content can and should be. Not only do they tie in brilliantly with Niko Bellic’s rags-to-riches tale, but The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony each have unique tones, structures and narrative arcs that help round out the GTA IV saga beautifully. Oh, and they are a bloody, crime-fueled good time.

5. MLB 09: The Show

MLB 09: The Show

Electronic Arts’ MVP Baseball 2005 was my favorite baseball game of all time, until I played Sony’s MLB 09: The Show, because it is hands down the best baseball game ever made as far as I’m concerned. Not only is it insanely deep in every possible way, the Road to the Show mode is as grueling, challenging, heartbreaking, and satisfying an experience you’re likely to find in a game (sports or otherwise). And that’s before you even get to the on-field action. If you’re a baseball fan, you need to play this game.


Sterling McGarvey

Spent most of 2009 as a curmudgeon who avoided multiplayer games. Until that Gnome Chompski Achievement.

1. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

I’ve never doubted Naughty Dog’s ability to deliver on The Nathan Drake Experience, not from the first game (when haters were derisively calling it “Dude Raider”), and not with a more mature sequel. It’s smart in its dialogue, its presentation, and even its gameplay. I’m pretty convinced that the Uncharted series is pretty much designed for me. Well, not just me, but it definitely appeals to every reason I play video games. They had me at the train.

2. Assassin’s Creed II

Assassin's Creed II

Assassin’s Creed II metaphorically injects the first game with poison, then slinks off as AC violently convulses and dies a horrible death. If there was a sequel that could render its predecessor more irrelevant in recent memory, I can’t think of it. Assassin’s Creed II delivers on the promise of the first game then delivers on some promises of its own. Ben fatto, Ubi Montreal, e tanti auguri.

3. Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony

The Ballad of Gay Tony

The Ballad of Gay Tony offers up a better designed Liberty City than GTA4 or The Lost & Damned, from big-ass weapons and epic explosions to small improvements -- try hailing a cab as Niko or Johnny, then try doing it as Luis -- and mid-mission checkpoints. Ideally, the future of the series should be taut storytelling from multiple episodic perspectives. It’s taut, funny, and doesn’t wear out its welcome.

4. Left 4 Dead 2

Left 4 Dead 2

If you’re ever arrested for any reason, think back to who came to your aid at the end of “Dark Carnival” as the chopper was showing up, you were downed, and The Director spawned two Tanks. Call that person to bail you out. He or she is a real friend.

5. Street Fighter IV

Street Fighter IV

SFIV managed to accomplish a difficult feat that so few modern updates could: it feels both familiar and completely fresh. Your buddy can still perform the Blanka basics, yet you can still completely dismantle him with Rufus. It feels like 1993 all over again, except you have bills and your fashion sense is (hopefully) better.

The selections continue all this week...keep your eye on TheFeed for more picks from 2009!

Jake Gaskill and Sterling McGarvey's Recommended Games From 2009


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