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Best Video Game Awards 2009

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Game of the Year - The Winner

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Best Video Game Awards 2009, Features

poll header

Whichever way you look at it, it's been an absolutely barnstorming year for videogaming. From rocking out with John, Paul, George and Ringo to leaping across Venetian rooftops like a Renaissance Sébastien Foucan, whether you were smacking around The Incredible Hulk's Brazilian brother with a hadouken or scoring from the halfway line for Barcelona, there was a fantastic game this year for everyone. Nintendo showed the world that even when working in two dimensions they were still better at modern platforming than anyone else, Trials HD gave us a glimmer of the fiendishly difficult yet unhealthily addictive gaming of years gone by, and BioWare casually dropped an almighty leviathan of an epic into our laps.But, fantastic as they all were, none of them quite reached the dizzying heights of the top three.

Battling it out once more, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Uncharted 2 were both exceptional games. The Dark Knight's latest interactive outing was a triumph of atmospheric detail, bringing a vision of Batman's world to life in every twitch, flicker and nuance, much like Christopher Nolan's films did for Bruce Wayne's legacy on the silver screen. A masterpiece of originality, it certainly deserves it's place in the top three. Meanwhile, Nathan Drake's latest and greatest laid down the gauntlet to every developer out there as a glittering example of what was possible if you really pushed the PS3. Naughty Dog perfected and polished every aspect of the original and the result was an absolute masterclass in cinematic game development. Stunning to look at, even more impressive to play, gaming had rarely been this exciting.

Before the final flourish, we'd like to say a big thank you once again to everyone who voted, and a general one to the games industry for being so very on form this year. Here we go...

Ladies and Gentlemen, your Game of the Year 2009:

Call-of-Duty-Modern-Warfare-2

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Price comparisons: PC | PS3 | Xbox 360

No other game this year kicked up quite as much of a fuss as Activision's mega-hyped FPS, or so extremely divided opinion amongst the masses. It seemed that, much like Marmite, you either loved or hated Modern Warfare 2; but, for better or for worse, Kotick and Co.'s antics worked. It was name on everybody's lips, in every paper and on every website. It's marketing was cynical and heavy-handed, but the audience responded by buying it in droves, and the critics went absolutely mad for it.

There's no denying the game's power as well as its popularity. The most frequent criticism of it was that the main campaign it was far too short, and it was a fair one. But what was there was a finely honed piece of blockbuster entertainment, all killer no filler, fast-and-furious action. Like the best rollercoasters in the world, it was an exhilarating ride that got the heart pumping and the adrenaline flowing like no other game this year, and also made several people a bit sick.

But the singleplayer was only ever really one third of the game, throw in the fantastic Special Ops mode, and a multiplayer that felt crafted rather than simply tacked on and pushed the phenomenal Borderlands for the highest accolade in that area this year, and Modern Warfare 2 reveals itself as a game with incredible longevity.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Game of the Year

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Best Video Game Awards 2009, Features

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Game of the Year

What a year for gaming! This is it. This is what we've all been waiting for. The grand finale of our week-long voting round-up to determine the very best games of 2009 has yielded its results and now it's time for one last poll to uncover an overall winner. Aspiring wannabes came, were weighed, and were found wanting, and below is the list of champions that you have crowned with your participation. There was laughter, there were tears, but after a thorough examination from an independent panel of nocturnal, claw-handed boffins we can bring you the final results. The voting will run until 9.00 am Wednesday 20th January, and the results will be kept under lock and key and guarded by a giant golem throughout the voting period until they are revealed in their entirety later that day.

If you look below, you'll find that along with the winners from each category we've popped in three more of the most highly rated games of the week to round out the list to ten. If you're yet to try out any of the top ten games of 2009 you can click on the thumbnail or name of each game for a price comparison. Ladies and gentlemen, here are your nominees for Game Of The Year 2009:

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Best Video Game Awards 2009: Game of the Year

Batman: Arkham Asylum

**Runner-Up: Best Action/Adventure Game** With its dark and brooding atmosphere, bone-crunching melee combat, and shadowy spectre-like stealthiness, Arkham Asylum gave fans of the Dark Knight a chance to revel in an incredibly realised grimy corner of Bruce Wayne's world. It wasn't just the delight of having Mark Hamill voicing The Joker, every bit of this game struck the right chord.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Game of the Year

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

**Winner: Best Shooter** Modern Warfare 2 was certainly the biggest game of the year, with its Hollywood-esque hype and media controversy, but was it the best? From the favelas of Rio to the snowy wastes of Siberia, Inifinty Ward took us on another fun, fast and at times hilariously farfetched ride.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Game of the Year

Dragon Age: Origins

**Winner: Best RPG/Strategy Game** Dragon Age: Origins was hardly original, and the console ports were more hack'n'slash than tactical RPG, but no other game this year was quite as epic. With its memorable and richly drawn characters, not to mention some classic BioWare magic, Dragon Age proved to be one of the few games of the year where you could say you'd only played through 20 hours of the game.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Game of the Year

FIFA 10

**Winner: Best Driving/Sports Game** FIFA 08 was good, FIFA 09 was better, and again EA Sports has somehow managed to improve the formula with some subtle presentation tweaks, an overhaul of Manager Mode and a revamped growth system for this year's instalment. Additionally, you could now put your own face into the game and take your Pro through every single game mode.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Game of the Year

Forza Motorsport 3

**Runner-Up: Best Driving/Sports Game** It already had Iron Man fans hooked by using the Audi R8 as its poster child, but Forza 3 was about so much more than its fantastic looks. Accessible to newcomers and veterans alike, Forza 3 improved on its predecessor in nearly every way and thrilled Xbox 360 owners as their Sony counterparts bemoaned the lack of a Gran Turismo rival.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Game of the Year

New Super Mario Bros.

**Winner: Best Platform/Puzzle Game** Despite being viewed as a step back by some, the Mario Bros's newest outing was still a brilliantly entertaining and wonderfully nostalgic platforming romp. True, it might not have trodden particularly new ground, but it was Nintendo doing exactly what they do best, and the results were impressive indeed. Plus, the four-player carnage was absolutely hilarious.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Game of the Year

Rock Band: The Beatles

**Winner: Best Music/Rhythm Game** The Fab Four finally hit the console market. With entire peripheral sets designed around The Beatles' instruments, this was as much a journey through the band's history as a music game. The impressive setlist and the nostalgic presentation made for a fine piece of musical memorabilia as well as a band-oriented music game.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Game of the Year

Street Fighter IV

**Winner: Best Fighting Game** Stuffed with new gameplay modes such as the focus attacks and ultra combos, Street Fighter came back with a bang for a fourth instalment in the series. Gone were the sprites of the past, and in came strikingly beautiful calligraphic artwork, all rendered with full 3D modelling. The result? The best-looking Street Fighter to date, with a ramped-up variation on the classic gameplay to match..

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Game of the Year

Trials HD

**Runner-Up: Best Platform/Puzzle Game** The HD full game rebirth of the fiendishly difficult Trials browser games proved to be just as devilish as the rest of the series. More realistic than the gravity bending biking antics of Elastomania, this was all about balance, patience, timing, and good old-fashioned hard-as-nails platforming. The hardcore crowd lapped it up, and electronics merchants made a fortune as TVs and monitors felt a frustrated sting as objects were thrown by frustrated gamers. You'd fail and fail and fail again, but you'd keep crawling back for one more attempt.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Game of the Year

Uncharted 2

**Winner: Best Action/Adventure Game** Nathan Drake returned this year to grudgingly go back to doing what he does best: beating Indy and Lara at their own game. With more twists than a spaghetti junction, a cracking multiplayer mode, some of the best graphics ever seen on the PS3, and all the pacing and set-piece action of several major motion pictures, Naughty Dog outdid themselves.

All that remains is to be said is congratulations to the winners, and a big thank you to you guys for taking part. Voting fingers at the ready one more time - may the best game win!

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Fighting

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Best Video Game Awards 2009, Features

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Fighting

Anyone who thought that the fighting genre was on its way out this year would have been left with egg on their faces. There were the entertaining sports scrappers of THQ's latest in the Smackdown vs. RAW and the new UFC reboot; Square rounded up the best heroes and villians of their flagship series for the fist-fest Dissidia: Final Fantasy; and the Wii stepped up to the plate with a cracking revamp of Punch-Out!! But perhaps most exciting, were the three returns of a trio of fighting legends. The sublime Marvel vs. Capcom 2 got itself an HD rebirth, Tekken 6 exploded onto the market with a new 'Rage' system, and finally Street Fighter IV made waves with its striking new art and focus attacks.

If you're yet to sample any of the contenders below, be sure to click on the thumbnail or game title to look at a price comparison for all available platforms:

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Best Video Game Awards 2009: Fighting

Dissidia: Final Fantasy

Dissidia finally answered everybody's prayers: At last you could play as Sephiroth...and also beat the hell out of the annoying whelp Tidus. A fighting game with a difference, the battles were fast and furious, the presentation exceptional, and there was even a traditional arcade mode for Western gamers.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Fighting

Fight Night: Round 4

The 48 licensed boxers, improved physics-based realism, and a solid wealth of multiplayer options made for a content packed instalment of EA's ringside classic, but it was the strategically-minded gameplay that proved a winner, with bone-crunching realism and EA's trademark gloss making sure it got noticed.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Fighting

King of Fighters XII

King of Fighters XII came to the table this year sporting a whole host of new gameplay mechanics. The new critical counter system allowed for some chained attacks with the right counter timing, and the Guard Attack and Deadlock moves made for some incredibly tense contests.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Fighting

Marvel vs Capcom 2

Although relatively unchanged, Marvel vs Capcom 2 burst onto consoles with new additional online multiplayer, a spectator feature, widescreen support and three different graphical modes. With an expansive roster of 56 of the finest the two companies had to offer, it was another perfect opportunity to worked out who'd beat who in a straight fight between Ryu and iron Man.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Fighting

Punch-Out!!

The Wii version of Punch-Out!! was a stormer. With Shigeru Miyamoto on board as the producer, we hoped it'd be good, but the fact that Next Level managed to make a boxing game that was hilarious to watch, even more fun to play, and took full advantage of the Wii's Balance Board if you had one, was simply brilliant. 15 years of pent-up nostalgia had rarely tasted so good.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Fighting

Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny

Targeting newcomers to the series, Broken Destiny saw the Soul Calibur debut of ultra-violent god-killer Kratos, an expansive Weapons Master-style tutorial mode named The Gauntlet, and a new original character named Dampierre. Although lacking a proper story mode, Broken Destiny still managed to put some serious ass-kicking potential in your PSP-clad hands.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Fighting

Street Fighter IV

Stuffed with new gameplay modes such as the focus attacks and ultra combos, Street Fighter came back with a bang for a fourth instalment in the series. Gone were the sprites of the past, and in came strikingly beautiful calligraphic artwork, all rendered with full 3D modelling. The result? The best-looking Street Fighter to date, with a ramped-up variation on the classic gameplay to match..

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Fighting

Tekken 6

Not to be outdone by Capcom, Namco had a few surprises up their sleeve for the return of Tekken. The new scenario Campaign mode was matched with bigger and more interactive fighting stages for the traditional battles, and there were new tweaks to the fighting system too with the new Rage function allowing for some truly nail-biting last stands. Add in the largest roster of playable fighters yet, and it was definitely game-on.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Fighting

UFC 2009: Undisputed

Described as a realistic mixed-martial arts simulator by its developers, one thing was for certain, UFC returned to the gaming scene after a 5 year hiatus. With nearly 100 fighters to choose from, six major primary fighting styles to battle with, and one of the deepest combat systems around, Undisputed proved to be an impressive and worthy return for the series.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Fighting

WWE Smackdown vs RAW 2010

It just gets better each year. More wrestlers, more options, more customisation. everything returned but bigger and better than before. Now you could even create your own storylines featuring the WWE's weekly shows, setting up fights, power-plays and twists in the tale to your liking. Oh yeah, and they finally fixed it so that Royal Rumble didn't suck.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Music/Rhythm

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Best Video Game Awards 2009, Features

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Music/Rhythm

The world went crazy for plastic guitars and fake drums in 2008, so 2009 was always going to be filled to the brim with market swamping content. Amongst others, we saw games for teeny boppers (Band Hero), games for suits on the commute (Rock Band Unplugged), games for metal kings (Guitar Hero: Metallica) and karaoke divas (Lips: Number One Hits). The brilliant Rhythm Paradise and Bit.Trip bravely went as far as to challenge the status quo by bringing us a fresh take on the whole Music/Rhythm genre. Finally, Apple Corp decided that it was about time Beatlemania swept the gaming world too and relaxed their iron grip on the Fab Four's legacy so a new generation could experience The Beatles in a whole new way.

If you're yet to sample any of the contenders below, be sure to click on the thumbnail or game title to look at a price comparison for all available platforms:

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Best Video Game Awards 2009: Music/Rhythm

Band Hero

With a setlist skewed slightly more towards a younger demographic, Band Hero built upon the Guitar Hero 5 engine to provide an experience perfectly suited for your little sister. But Band Hero also introduced the Drum Skin for the DS Lite, which allowed for some finger tapping percussion on the train. Needless to say, it was awesome.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Music/Rhythm

Bit.Trip

We couldn't really just name one game here, so we figured we'd bundle in the whole series. Following the continuing 80s, rhythm-based shenanigans of Commander Video, Bit.Trip was a glorious assortment of retro-themed rhythmic fun. From the Pong-style action of Beat to the Freudian-themed black hole of Void, the Bit.Trip series both thrilled and confused the hell out of us.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Music/Rhythm

DJ Hero

Attempting to build upon the success of Guitar Hero, Activision's DJ simulator was ambitious and expensive. But it was also a boatload of fun. DJ Shadow, DJ AM and Grandmaster Flash provided the beats, and the inventive new peripheral did the rest.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Music/Rhythm

Guitar Hero 5

Guitar Hero 5 finally provided a whole host of new features that fans had clamouring for. You could jump straight in to the action thanks to the new Party Mode, there were more famous appearances than ever (including, controversially, Kurt Cobain), and you could have three vocalists or four drum sets if you had the gear. Finally, and it was about time, GH5 allowed for future library importing.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Music/Rhythm

Guitar Hero: Metallica

A paean to all things metal, this celebratory collection of Metallica's finest proved to be much more than just a simple track pack. Introducing concepts to the series such as the Expert+ difficulty and the Drum Over mode, it was clear to see that GH:M was crafted with sheer love for the source material.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Music/Rhythm

LEGO Rock Band

While Activison appealed to fans of High School Musical, Harmonix teamed up with LEGO to try and widen their audience to the younger crowd. Now younger rockers could enjoy easier difficulty levels, no way to fail a song, and Traveller's Tales' excellent LEGO presentation. Even a semi-nude LEGO Iggy Pop made an appearance.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Music/Rhythm

Lips: Number One Hits

Lip: Number One Hits did exactly what it said on the tin, offering a selection of No. 1 singles from major global charts. With added avatar unlockables, a new note streak system and building on the motion sensitive microphone karaoke action of it's predecessor, Number One Hits aimed to provide a singing experience that would hit pole position, so to speak.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Music/Rhythm

Rhythm Paradise

Marrying the addictive qualities of the best of the mini-game market, with cutesy presentation, and rhythm mechanics destined for the DS, Rhythm Paradise was one of the most original and fresh takes on this genre we'd seen in a while.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Music/Rhythm

Rock Band: The Beatles

The Fab Four finally hit the console market. With entire peripheral sets designed around The Beatles' instruments, this was as much a journey through the band's history as a music game. The impressive setlist and the nostalgic presentation made for a fine piece of musical memorabilia as well as a band-oriented music game.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Music/Rhythm

Rock Band Unplugged

Unplugged was the first Rock Band release for the PSP, and you could play all of the instruments, giving you maximum control over your band. With 41 master tracks, and building on Harmonix's previous releases such as Frequency and Amplitude, Unplugged was a cracking musical debut for the series on the PSP.

What was the Best Music/Rhythm Game of 2009?(poll)

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Action/Adventure

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Best Video Game Awards 2009, Features

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Action/Adventure

It almost says more about how hotly contested this list was by acknowledging the games that almost made it. Prototype was just bested by the excellent inFamous on this occasion and Dead Space: Extraction narrowly lost out to the controversy-baiting MadWorld. Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 was in the running too, yet just fell short at the last hurdle. And so onto the list itself. Amongst others, there were several very exciting high profile returns, from Nathan Drake to Tim Schafer, Grand Theft Auto proved its sticking power with an exceptional development in the portable market and DLC so meaty that it warranted a boxed release, and Batman: Arkham Asylum crept out of the shadows to prove to the world that not only was it in fact possible to create a superhero game that didn't suck, but that such a game could be really freaking good too.

If you're yet to sample any of the contenders below, be sure to click on the thumbnail or game title to look at a price comparison for all available platforms:

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Best Video Game Awards 2009: Action/Adventure

Assassin's Creed 2

Ubisoft set out to right all of the little wrongs in the first game and ended up succeeding incredible. Ezio's adventures were prettier and much more varied. The plot was even more nuts than before, but with an assortment of brand new weapons, collectables aplenty, an appearance from Leonardo da Vinci, and an opportunity to play Pimp My Villa, this was even more than we'd hoped for.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Action/Adventure

Batman: Arkham Asylum

With its dark and brooding atmosphere, bone-crunching melee combat, and shadowy spectre-like stealthiness, Arkham Asylum gave fans of the Dark Knight a chance to revel in an incredibly realised grimy corner of Bruce Wayne's world. It wasn't just the delight of having Mark Hamill voicing The Joker, every bit of this game struck the right chord.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Action/Adventure

Brütal Legend

The gaming world welcomed Tim Schafer back with open arms as he unveiled his paean to all things metal. This fantastic fusion of sandbox action, RTS-style battles, and Jack Black was certainly one of the most creative games of the year. Schafer's stamp was all over this labour of love from the soundtrack to the characters, with Lemmy and Ozzy hopping on board to lend a hand to proceedings.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Action/Adventure

GTA: Chinatown Wars

Rockstar ignored warnings that their criminal flagship couldn't really cut it on the portable handhelds by creating a new engine with an isometric camera and cramming all of the best bits about the GTA series into a very small space. From the very first game to the very latest, this was a game in which the GTA legacy all came together. It helped that it was an absolute stormer to play too.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Action/Adventure

GTA: Episodes From Liberty City

Downloadable content has been a thorny subject of late, with accusations of developers and publishers withholding already created content to make a bigger buck, but there was no such outcry with the two GTA IV expansions. In fact, they were so comprehensive, they got a standalone boxed release. The characters and stroylines were brilliant, the gameplay top-notch as expected, but these succeeded ultimately because they weren't cheap cop outs, but wonderfully crafted additional episodes for fans who wanted to see even more of Liberty City.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Action/Adventure

inFamous

An Amon Tobin soundtrack was just the icing on this fantastically action-packed cake. Cole McGrath's superpowers made Emperor Palpatine look like an amateur, and the game's well implemented karma system, the vast playground that was Empire City, and the well developed story helped make this one of the must-have games for the PS3.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Action/Adventure

MadWorld

Nintendo's little white box tried to expand its horizons early on in 2009 with this ridiculously violent number courtesy of SEGA. Everything from its gorgeous stylised artwork to its comically over-the-top brutality was designed to shake things up a little bit and remind the Western market that the Wii wasn't just for your or your grandma, offending a number of puritanical institutions in the process. But boy was it fun! And also really good for stress relief.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Action/Adventure

Resident Evil 5

Despite opening an enormous can of worms by blundering into the race issue like a blind elephant, Resident Evil 5 turned out to be a fast-paced, frenetic, edge-of-your-seat zombie-fest. Stunning graphics, and with a chillingly atmospheric soundtrack, only the new control system let down what was otherwise a hugely impressive game.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Action/Adventure

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

A late contender, but an essential one, Spirit tracks was classic Zelda: Pretty. Darn. Awesome. Stuffed with quests, collectibles, train mounted cannons, and a dollop of nostalgia, Spirit Tracks also let you use the DS's microphone as a pan pipe, garnering many an odd look on the bus.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Action/Adventure

Uncharted 2

Nathan Drake returned this year to grudgingly go back to doing what he does best: beating Indy and Lara at their own game. With more twists than a spaghetti junction, a cracking multiplayer mode, some of the best graphics ever seen on the PS3, and all the pacing and set-piece action of several major motion pictures, Naughty Dog outdid themselves.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Platform/Puzzle

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Best Video Game Awards 2009

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Platform/Puzzle

As casual games reached a zenith this year, so too did the puzzle genre seem in better health than ever, with fiendishly tricky mind-melters blended into nearly every other type of game this year. Professor Layton returned to make train journeys easier, PopCap joined up with Square-Enix to breathe new life into the Bejewled formula, and Scribblenauts allowed gamers to rewrite the entire book on puzzle gaming, literally. It was a splendid year for platformers too, with Ratchet and Clank finishing their Future trilogy and a number of developers harking back to the heady old-school days of classic Nintendo platformers, with Shadow Complex channelling the spirit of Samus Aran, and the Big N themselves flattening the Mario Bros. back into 2D.

Check out all of the nominees below, and be sure to click on the thumbnails for more info and a price comparison if you've missed out on any of these gems :

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Best Video Game Awards 2009: Platform/Puzzle

A Boy and His Blob

The Wii has always been about accessibility, and this heartwarming little update from the NES original captured both hearts and minds with its glorious art design and compelling platform-puzzler gameplay. Plus it's the only game on this list with a 'hug' button, which is awesome.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Platform/Puzzle

Gyromancer

PopCap had a good year, teaming up with Square Enix for this gleaming jewel puzzler that built upon the Bejeweled Twist engine and added a bunch of RPG elements into the mix too. Not too original perhaps, but with enough uniqueness and slick presentation to provide some sparkling entertainment.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Platform/Puzzle

Little Big Planet PSP

True, it lacked multiplayer, but the PSP version of Little Big Planet was a staggering achievement, bringing everything we loved about the original and finally putting Sackboy in your pocket. Now you could enjoy physics-based platforming to the dulcet tones of Stephen Fry on the loo.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Platform/Puzzle

Machinarium

Exceptional artwork was just the beginning for the award-winning Machinarium. It's point-and-click puzzle-adventuring at its best, and it proved that a game didn't have to have an enormous budget to be beautiful and inventive. With many of the corporate big-hitters playing it safe, indie devs Amanita struck critical gold with this strikingly inventive new IP.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Platform/Puzzle

New Super Mario Bros.

Despite being viewed as a step back by some, the Mario Bros's newest outing was still a brilliantly entertaining and wonderfully nostalgic platforming romp. True, it might not have trodden particularly new ground, but it was Nintendo doing exactly what they do best, and the results were impressive indeed. Plus, the four-player carnage was absolutely hilarious.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Platform/Puzzle

Professor Layton and Pandora's Box

Professor Layton and his brand of fiendishly addictive puzzling returned again this year in a game that expanded on its predecessor in every way with more puzzles, multiple locales some slick animation and some cracking voice acting. And where else could you collect a bunch of toys to give a morbidly obese cartoon hamster a workout?

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Platform/Puzzle

Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time

Ratchet and Clank's Future trilogy came to its conclusion this year, and it did so in style. With some of the best puzzling of the year coming courtesy of the timed Crank levels, and some innovative new elements such as the hoverboots and Bullet Time-activating Chronosceptor, A Crack in Time was a wonderful platformer for the PS3 that did pretty much everything right.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Platform/Puzzle

Scribblenauts

Emergent gameplay took a big step forward with Scribblenauts giving gamers nearly endless possibilities to manipulate and progress through the side-scrolling action as they saw fit. Scribblenauts pushed the DS to the edge, finally incorporating the touchscreen to perhaps the most mind-bending effect ever. Players could create pretty much any in-game object they desired making for bundles of what the ESRB called 'comic mischief'.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Platform/Puzzle

Shadow Complex

Chari Entertainment and Epic Games came together in beautiful harmony this year to create this barnstorming 2.5D side scrolling platform-shooter. Nicking some of the best bits from the old-school Metroid games of the past, Shadow Complex combined shimmering presentation with some nifty game mechanics, gunplay, platforming acrobatics, and the ability to break the sound barrier on foot and sprint across lakes. Oh, and adhesive foam. Lots of foam.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Platform/Puzzle

Trials HD

The HD full game rebirth of the fiendishly difficult Trials browser games proved to be just as devilish as the rest of the series. More realistic than the gravity bending biking antics of Elastomania, this was all about balance, patience, timing, and good old-fashioned hard-as-nails platforming. The hardcore crowd lapped it up, and electronics merchants made a fortune as TVs and monitors felt a frustrated sting as objects were thrown by frustrated gamers. You'd fail and fail and fail again, but you'd keep crawling back for one more attempt.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Driving/Sport

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Best Video Game Awards 2009, Features

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Driving/Sport

With developers finally pushing the limits of both of the high-definition consoles, there was a veritable plethora of drop-dead gorgeous looking driving and sports sims. Thankfully a good bunch of them had the gameplay to match, as big hitting franchises like FIFA, Forza and Colin McRae returned with arguable series' bests, proving that - unlike Beverly Hills 90210 - it's possible to be both pretty and engaging at the same time. The Wii also made its mark again with the advent of the Wii MotionPlus, boasting increased motion control along with its impressive partnered showcase Wii Sports Resort, and a hugely responsive Wii version of Tiger Woods 10 that really made the most of MotionPlus. Finally, although Gran Turismo 5 failed to make an appearance on a next-gen console yet again, the PSP was graced with its slick realism and smooth gameplay.

Take a look at the shortlist of contenders below, and if there are any that take your fancy be sure to click on the thumbnails for a price comparison:

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Best Video Game Awards 2009: Driving/Sport

Colin McRae: DiRT 2

From the Malaysian rainforests to the stadia of LA, DiRT 2 took rally gaming to a new level. Accessible to all comers, it struck a fine balance between the immediacy of the arcade, and a driving experience that married realistic physics with exhilarating speed.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Driving/Sport

F1 2009

Pretty good on the PSP, but a huge achievement on Nintendo's little white box, the Wii version of F1 2009 proved to be one of the most fun racers of the year, with a handling model that proved frighteningly fast and immersive. True the rosters were a little out of date, but the drive itself was great fun and made for some heady races.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Driving/Sport

FIFA 10

FIFA 08 was good, FIFA 09 was better, and again EA Sports has somehow managed to improve the formula with some subtle presentation tweaks, an overhaul of Manager Mode and a revamped growth system for this year's instalment. Additionally, you could now put your own face into the game and take your Pro through every single game mode.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Driving/Sport

Football Manager 2010

Football Manager has certainly been the discerning choice for wannabe Alex Fergusons over the years, although it has at times been criticised for poor presentation. This year changed that with a spruced-up interface, a full 3D match engine and smoother running. Eidos never had a chance.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Driving/Sport

Forza Motorsport 3

It already had Iron Man fans hooked by using the Audi R8 as its poster child, but Forza 3 was about so much more than its fantastic looks. Accessible to newcomers and veterans alike, Forza 3 improved on its predecessor in nearly every way and thrilled Xbox 360 owners as their Sony counterparts bemoaned the lack of a Gran Turismo rival.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Driving/Sport

Gran Turismo PSP

The Sony handheld, however, did get its own new Gran Turismo game, and it was good. Really good. Although lacking a Career Mode, GT PSP managed the admirable feat of distilling the GT experience onto a UMD, tuning the title superbly for on-the-go gaming. The cars were all there, it looked fantastic and it handled just like its bigger brothers.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Driving/Sport

MotorStorm: Arctic Edge

Another cracking game for PSP, Arctic Edge brought all of the MotorStorm magic across for the prtable market, recreating the snow wastes of the extreme north with aplomb. From the open courses to the fully featured vehicles themselves, this proved that downscaled ports didn't have to suck.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Driving/Sport

PES 2010: Pro Evolution Soccer

Bouncing back from a relatively poor 2009, Konami seemed to take their kick up the backside well, with a much improved game this year to show that PES was back on form. The 360 degree movement was just the start, with a graphical overhaul, a new A.I. system, greater strategic control and more licenses helping to make this year's rivalry with EA a much closer affair.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Driving/Sport

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10

Another polished performance from EA, pre-Woods' PR nightmare. Building on previous games in the series, again this was a case of exceptional presentation backed up with tweaked and perfected gameplay mechanics. Most notable, though, was the Wii's version, using the new MotionPlus to frankly excellent effect.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Driving/Sport

Wii Sports Resort

Speaking of MotionPlus, the game that introduced the Wii's new level of motion control was a fab fun fest of sporting frivolity. Particularly engaging were the swordplay, the archery and the wakeboarding, with a couple of old favourites returning for an upgrade too. Best of all, though, was the table tennis, which really showed off the new hardware, although if I see another advert with Ant and Dec I may have to break something.

Cast your votes below!

Best Video Game Awards 2009: RPG/Strategy

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Best Video Game Awards 2009, Features

Best Video Game Awards 2009: RPG/Strategy

With some of the heavyweights a little quiet this year busy working on large projects for 2010, indie developers took full advantage and thus a few have sneaked their way into the top ten here. From the insanely addictive Plants vs. Zombies to the Facebook-aided wildfire of FarmVille, tower defence and strategy became the genre that really opened up casual gaming at home and (to the annoyance of managers everywhere) at work too. Europe didn't see a huge amount of RPGs this year (still waiting on Demon Souls) but those that did make it looked to be pretty special, with Ninty's plumber proving that he can jump over genre barriers as well as Goombas and Bioware showing that even while making Mass Effect 2 they still had time to finish off a 60+ hour-long game.

Check out the full list below, vote for your top game of 2009 and remember you can view a price comparison on any of the candidates by clicking on their thumbnails:

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Best Video Game Awards 2009: RPG/Strategy

Dragon Age: Origins

Dragon Age: Origins was hardly original, and the console ports were more hack'n'slash than tactical RPG, but no other game this year was quite as epic. With its memorable and richly drawn characters, not to mention some classic BioWare magic, Dragon Age proved to be one of the few games of the year where you could say you'd only played through 20 hours of the game.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: RPG/Strategy

Empire: Total War

The insanely good Total War series keeps on trucking its way through history and, okay, Empire wasn't quite as good as Medieval II (what is?!), but it was still an exceptionally entertaining and cerebral game. The striking visuals, impressive real-time combat, and most accomplished naval battle recreations to date all served to make a highly enjoyable game.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: RPG/Strategy

FarmVille

Over 72 million users can't all be wrong. FarmVille proved to be the nemesis of office supervisors and teachers everywhere, tapping into widespread desire for casual gaming on the fly and making the most of Facebook's vast global network. It proved controversial over its advertising options, but the world fell in love with virtual farming. You could tend to a garden and draw up a spreadsheet at the same time. Lectures would never be the same again.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: RPG/Strategy

Fat Princess

Two team capture the flag needn't be as boring as it sounds. Swap out the flag for hungry royalty, add in class-based team gameplay for a strategic element, make the flag fat and hey presto you've got yourself a hugely original game. Chastised by some angry feminists for being mean to fat people, those of us who didn't really care about hurting some pixels' feelings had a blast with Fat Princess. The quirky style, original premise and fantastic teamwork-oriented gameplay provided one of the most fun little games of the year.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: RPG/Strategy

Halo Wars

Never mind one Spartan, how about controlling a while host of them? Halo Wars gave us that chance. True it ripped off every RTS from Command and Conquer to Starcraft but it also pulled off the near-impossible by providing a console RTS experience that actually worked! For that minor miracle, and for making Bungie more money than God, it makes this list.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: RPG/Strategy

Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story

Arguably Mario's best RPG outing to date, Bowser's Inside Story absorbed the best from both Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi series and you got the opportunity to control the King Koopa at times too. Making the most of the DS's touchscreen and microphone, this little gem proved that you don't need HD graphics to make a great game, just a little bit of imagination, a strong plot and the ability to do the simple things right

Best Video Game Awards 2009: RPG/Strategy

Plants vs. Zombies

God bless PopCap. What do you use to stop a host of lurching zombies from ransacking your house and eating your brains? Plants, that's what! By far the funniest tower defence game yet, and with an enormous wealth of extra content and numerous modes to keep us entertained, PopCap produced a casual gaming champion with boundless personality.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: RPG/Strategy

The Sims 3

The quest to reproduce life's every little intricacy on a virtual scale goes on and with The Sims 3 you no longer had to live in remote isolation. The third instalment was all about community, you now had neighbours to steal your football and tell you to get off their lawn. Bigger and better, from watching your sim shower to pointing their way down the aisle, there was no better way to play god this year.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: RPG/Strategy

Torchlight

Eventually besting Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 to make this list, Torchlight was a wonderfully appeasing snack for fans eagerly awaiting Diablo 3. Despite having a story thinner than budget loo roll, Torchlight's heavily addictive combat-RPG gameplay, partly thanks to Diablo's co-designers Max and Erich Schaefer, proved to be a winning formula. The action-packed loot-hunting dungeon crawl was back, baby!

Best Video Game Awards 2009: RPG/Strategy

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II

The game that finally let PC gamers start Achievement whoring, Dawn of War II was a revelation. Slightly different from its predecessor, it married RTS and RPG elements together, creating a hybrid that worked brilliantly. Fewer maps, yes; but the deep tactical combat and the shift from base building to a much faster-paced style of gameplay made it stand out from the crowd.

Cast your votes below!

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Shooters

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Best Video Game Awards 2009

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Shooters

2009 was a damn fine year for virtual gun-nuts everywhere, with various established series yielding some of their finest instalments to date, and a couple of new IPs proving that it's still possible to hold your own in amongst the big boys. From the blockbuster hype and predicted record breaking sales of Modern Warfare to the controversially speedy emergence of Left 4 Dead 2, everywhere you turned there seemed to be yet another fantastic standout shooter. It says something about the quality of this year's output that all of the games on this list offered a different experience to their contemporaries, no more so than Borderlands, showing a genre dominated by franchises that the recession didn't have to spell the end for creative new IPs.

Let's take a look at the contenders, and if there are some you've yet to check out for yourselves click on any of the thumbnails to take you to a price comparison for that particular game:

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Best Video Game Awards 2009: Shooters

ArmA II: Armed Assault 2

The tactician's choice, ArmA II was all about the gritty realism, the realistic weapons and the strategic element. In a year where many genre games were bring other things to the table, Arma II's RTS extras helped it stand out from the crowd.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Shooters

Borderlands

What happens when you grab 17 million different weapons, chuck in some spectacular co-op gunplay, spice it all up with some RPG features and then cel-shade the lot? Borderlands, that's what!

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Shooters

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Modern Warfare 2 was certainly the biggest game of the year, with its Hollywood-esque hype and media controversy, but was it the best? From the favelas of Rio to the snowy wastes of Siberia, Inifinty Ward took us on another fun, fast and at times hilariously farfetched ride.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Shooters

Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood

With some cracking visuals and sound, Bound in Blood brought the Wild West into our living rooms with a game that positively dripped with character. Again, an underused setting showed that the FPS didn't have to be all about modern warfare.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Shooters

Halo 3: ODST

Bungie's little treat turned out to be not so little after all. With arguably the best single-player campaign of the series since Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 3's excellent multiplayer bundled in alongside it, ODST proved to be a sweet, if rather short, tweaked take on the Halo franchise.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Shooters

House of the Dead: Overkill

The Wii has provided the opportunity to not only revisit the classic light-gun games of old, but also revamp the model to suit the 21st century. Overkill's perfect grindhouse presentation, from the grainy visuals to the reams of F-bombs, provided the backdrop, but the game's accessibility and old-school glee made it indispensable this year.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Shooters

Killzone II

One of the PS3's definite killer apps, what Killzone II lacked in originality it made up for in flawless presentation, gameplay and heart-pounding set pieces. A title that not only finally showed what the PS3 was capable of, but had the gameplay to match.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Shooters

Left 4 Dead 2

Not even boycott threats and scissor-happy Aussie censors could stop Valve's retuning. Less a true sequel and more of a reshaping, Left 4 Dead 2 simply fixed the broken stuff from the first game and polished the rest. The result was a game that improved on its older sibling in almost every single way.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Shooters

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising

Eschewing the linear 'realism' of other war games, Dragon Rising simply decided to dump you right in the middle of a battle zone and let you work your own way out. From its relentlessly unforgiving game mechanics, to its almost open-world style of play, Dragon Rising provided a fresh alternative to some of the shinier big hitters this year.

Best Video Game Awards 2009: Shooters

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Clancy took to the skies this year with a thrilling arcade-style airborne bullet fest. Finally Ace Combat had a contender for the title of Best Top Gun Wannabe. By turning the Assistance OFF, the camera zoomed out for a dynamic dogfighting experience, and you could safely pull off the most thrilling of gravity-defying stunts from the comfort of your sofa.

** Winner to be announced next week **

Best Video Game Awards 2009: A Preview

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Best Video Game Awards 2009, Features

poll header

As we bid farewell to 2009 it seems fitting to round up the last year's games and judge them aggressively. We could have drawn up a top ten ourselves but that probably would have resulted in multiple injuries amongst the editorial team in the inevitable Battle Royale, so we figured we'd open up the debate to all of you guys, and let the greater gaming public decide.

That's right people, it's time to exercise that democratic right and vote for your top games of the past twelve months. Starting Monday and continuing all throughout next week we'll be holding genre polls at 9am each day for you guys to battle and bitch over which games have floated your boats the most in 2009. Each poll will last 24 hours, before moving on to the next one, so be sure to check back each day to put forth your opinion. Then, join us the following week when we'll be pitting the victors against one another and holding the grand vote to decide your Game of the Year!

The voting will run as follows:

So get your freedom fingers ready, people. Starting Monday it's time to make your case for your top games of 2009!