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:
**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.
**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.
**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.
**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.
**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.
**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.
**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.
**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..
**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.
**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!