16
Dec
09

City 16's Top 10 Games of 2009: #10

Ah, the hallowed tradition of the end of year Top 10. These lists are meant to be a considered reflection of the very best the year had to offer. What they’re not meant to be is a hasty collection assembled by me frantically checking the copyright date on the back of game boxes to remember what actually came out this past 12 months… Try and pretend I didn’t do that.

Over the next 10 days I’ll be counting down the results of my ‘considered reflections’. Calender fans will have noticed this will put the number 1 reveal on the 25th December. It’s almost like I planned this! (I didn’t.) A quick note: Two games that would have otherwise made it don’t get included because I’d simply not played them enough. These are, predictably, Dragon Age: Origins and Assassin’s Creed 2. Technically I’ve probably played enough AC2 to warrant including it, but its predecessor turned into a shit pile for its last couple of levels so I’m not going to risk it.

So, was 2009 the greatest gaming year yet? In short, no. Publisher’s crippling fear of Modern Warfare 2 seems to have pushed many of the big releases to March of next year. The big exception to this rule was Sony, who seem unable to release a game without previewing it for 5 years before hand and, as such, were unable to release most of their big titles anyway. What 2009 did bring was a great variety of smaller downloadable titles that, thanks to the big dogs running for the hills, managed to get some attention. The shortlist was surprisingly large and surprisingly difficult to cut down with some of the year’s big AAA releases losing out to low-budget indie titles.

Except ignore all of that because at number 10 is:

inFamous


With spots 1 through 9 decided I finally had to face up and decide whether I liked Infamous or Prototype the most (um, yeah… Spoiler: Prototype doesn’t make it. I’m rubbish at this suspense thing.) My flatmate offered up that Prototype looked more fun, but that doesn’t help unless I decide to do a ‘Top 10 Games That Look Fun’ and I’m not that desperate for content. Yet. Certainly Prototype offered more scope for joyful and aimless dicking about but was pretty flawed elsewhere. All things considered, and looked at as a cohesive whole, Infamous was simply the better game.

As a game Infamous has hints of the original Mafia, in that its open world setting doesn’t actually have a whole lot to do outside of the main missions; rather the space and freedom lend credence to the story being told. Of course Infamous’ goals are much less lofty than that of Mafia. Despite the main character’s melodramatic moodiness the truth is that Infamous is a silly game and it’s silly by design. The true aim of the game is to create the feeling of being a comic book superhero, something it captures perfectly. It helps that the main character, Cole, is an original creation not burdened to the rules and stipulations of comic book publishers protecting the image of their heroes. The people who criticised Infamous for only allowing the player to grow in power by being cartoonishly heroic or villainous seemed to entirely miss that that was the whole point.

The other criticism lobbied against the game was far more valid, namely that the electrical powers of Cole were essentially a superpowered re-skin of typical shooter controls. It’s true that many of the powers were substitutes of the gun, the grenade, the shield, the melee et al. That said, this gave the combat a familiarity in the initial stages while it also set up gradual unlocks of more fantastical powers to give the game a proper sense of progression and growing power. Also, as I’ve written about before, the act of moving your character through the world was satisfying as all hell.

Coming tomorrow: Number 9 of this numerically predictable countdown.

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