|Gamers around the world salivated over Modern Warfare 2.
If we had to sum up gaming in 2009 in one word, that word would be ‘sequels’. Looking back at my reviews we notice that there were only three games that were not the latest instalment in a more-or-less long-running franchise. This is not necessarily a bad thing. These follow-ups tend to improve on their precursors as the developers take on board criticism from consumers and are able to use improved technology. Plus, it’s a lot cheaper to make a sequel than start a new game from scratch.
As far as formats are concerned, if any one in particular has lost out it’s the PC. There have been precious few PC-only titles in the past twelve months, and those being generally limited to complex strategy titles. Empire: Total War was almost certainly the best PC-only game of 2009, although Sims 3 was probably the best-selling. Otherwise, as Sony and Microsoft attempt to tit-for-tat each other, both PS3 and Xbox have exclusive karaoke (Singstar/Lips), standout action (Killzone/Gears of War), and downloadable titles. One of the latter, the 360’s Shadow Complex, was particularly impressive.
Genre-wise music fans are in seventh heaven with the insane amount of song-related games on the shelves. Since titles like Rock Band and Guitar Hero are essentially entirely cross-compatible instruments-wise, it’s worth buying one set of instruments and a copy of a game disc from each series, and then availing yourself of the online stores. It’s also worth mentioning this was perhaps the year that gaming came into it’s own as an entertainment media. Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 broke all kinds of sales records on release and has been the most successful online console game ever, with a high of over a million playing in one day.
Thinking of the near future, 2010 promises to be interesting. We can expect to certainly see one, and possibly two new peripherals which promise to offer us more gaming alternatives. Microsoft recently unveiled their new Natal system, a kind of 3D sensor which can recognise your face and voice, and interpret your movements enabling you to control a character onscreen – good fun for sports titles one would imagine. There have been mutterings from Sony about a similar product coming for the PS3, but it remains to be seen if it will be an updated EyeToy or something more sophisticated.
Games-wise, 2010 is likely to be dominated by the releases of two of the most eagerly-awaited titles ever. Starcraft II and Diablo III, assuming they ever do see the light of day, will either knock our socks off or be the biggest disappointments since Star Wars Episode I.
Finally, our award for game of the year goes to one of those two original games mentioned earlier. The winning title is gritty, authentic and atmospheric, has great graphics and voice acting, and a brilliant combat system. Batman: Arkham Asylum is the best comic book-related game ever, a superb title, and deserves a place on every gamer’s shelf.