Keen’s Favorite Games of 2009

I was teased by Graev a lot this year with lines like “Keen, you’ve only played like 5 games this year!”.  I didn’t think it was really true until I sat down to write this post… I’ve played, and by played I mean more than just poked at it, only a few games.  Out of those games, I can think of only a couple that I would consider truly a “favorite” of the year.  A post going up in a few days will address my gaming regrets this year and I can tell you now it will have more “I wish I played this” than “I wish I hadn’t played this”.  I have some New Years resolutions that will hopefully remedy this year’s problem.  More on those later.

Let’s get to the games!  My favorite games of 2009:

What a fun little game!  Torchlight is one of those games that you can play for an hour one week, not touch it for a month, and then come back to and play an hour and have just as much fun.  While it’s not quite Diablo, it’s a bundle of dungeon-crawling hack’n slash crammed into a $20 price tag.  ($4.99 or something crazy like that today on Steam btw.)  I enjoy the graphics and the atmosphere of each dungeon.   I like the feel of each class but wish there were more to choose from.  I keep waiting for them to announce an expansion or a part two because I want the game to expand out beyond just the one town.

Of course this one is on my list.  The highly controversial Modern Warfare 2 is probably my overall favorite game of 2009.  I absolutely loved the single player experience.  That’s what I think of it:  an experience rather than a game.  The game felt like I was being carried through an experience and the story, although rather convoluted at times, was unfolding around me.   I can’t wait for the next game in the series.

The Multiplayer is where most people take issue.  No dedicated servers is inexcusable.  The IWnet matching system works but it is inferior in every way to a dedicated server model.  Cheating is at times rampant.  The maps are a mixed bag of decent and terrible.  Yet, amidst these horrendous problems, I really enjoy playing.  I love the weapons and there’s just something tremendously fun about how it plays.  It’s so dang polished.   MW2 is definitely on another level.  It’s a step above all the other “modern” shooters we currently have out there.  Hopefully we’ll either see a crack for dedicated servers or IW will get some sense knocked into them.

I enjoy how my friends and I have been able to play together.  This year hasn’t been a good one for community building games and I was worried that we would fall away from each other with nothing to play.  MW2 came to the rescue and actually introduced me to a few new people that I can now consider my friends.

Continue reading ‘more’ for the rest of my favorite games of 2009.

There isn’t much to say about New Super Mario Bros. Wii other than it’s a new take on the not so new style.  I really enjoyed Super Mario Brothers on the SNES and this took me back to those days but mixed in a lot of great things from the NES games as well.  The new suits and all the levels are a lot of fun.  The best part about the game for me though was the coop play.  It has been totally unrepresented in Mario games of the past!  Playing this older style with Graev and working together, while competing at the same time for items and trying to knock the other off ledges, was a blast.  I really need to play more.

This wasn’t on my list and I never thought that it would be, but last night was yet another night of amazing fun in L4D2.  We played a vs. game where 3 of us (and a random pub) worked together alternating as zombies and survivors to complete the Carnival campaign.  I was on the edge of my seat the whole time!  One round I was picked on by the zombies non stop in the beginning and I used my medkit and got knocked down three times meaning the next would kill me.  My team practically dragged me to the finish line.   “Look out there’s one above you!”  — “Here comes a charger move back!” — “He’s got me! AHH he’s got me!”  — it was craziness the whole time.

My opinion hasn’t changed about why I initially boycotted it.  Yet, I can’t deny that I’m having fun.  Regardless of whether or not it feels like a more polished and finished version of the first that I had to buy all over again, I’m having $37 worth of fun.  As long as I can convince friends to keep playing with me I can see this being something we do a few nights a week at least for quite a while.

Honorable Mentions

I can not fairly say that this is a 2009 game.  I also can’t say much about the game as a whole because it’s in beta and I’ve only played up to level 20.  However, it’s the first MMO of 2009 that put a smile on my face when I played.   Allods doesn’t do anything revolutionary yet from what I’ve seen.  The PvP looks unique and  quite innovative which will hopefully be refreshing in a field of lackluster and poor performing MMO’s, but I can’t speak to it just yet.  It’s just a polished and completed game with a lot of heart and soul.  The League’s story is really interesting.  The game has a surprising amount of depth for such a familiar and usually shallow model of questing to level.  The biggest shock is that we’re seeing this quality in a free to play game.  Ending the year playing Allods has been a pleasure and I look forward to it hopefully being a game that I can enjoy for more than a few months.

There will be more on the MMO’s of 2009 in the coming days.

Another game that I can’t really say is a 2009 release, but I played it almost all summer long.  Heroes of Newerth is still in beta and slated for a 2010 release.  It’s essentially DotA remade by S2 Games, the creators of Savage. Gameplay is a mix of lane pushing and defending strategy to gain gold and improve your Hero in order to push and destroy the enemy base.  The community is absolutely agonizing and I’ve never raged like I have in a HoN game, but it’s fun and one of my favorite games that I played in 2009.  S2 did a lot of updating in the past few months and added many new heroes to round out the list.  They’ve also updated several items and redone many of the classics.  It feels like S2 is putting a little bit more of themselves into the game now instead of just being a clone.

  • Regarding your comments on the rage in HoN, I definitely feel you. If you haven’t tried it yet I’d suggest League of Legends. For those unaware (I’m sure the blogger is familiar) – it’s also based on the DotA format, but it’s free to play. You can unlock champions by playing for free, or buy them individuals or in bundles, paying something like ~$40 for nearly all of them. It’s also out of beta so no invite needed.

    LoL has a reputation of being a bit less “hardcore” than HoN, but I personally find its community and gameplay to be more inviting, and as a whole it’s just less intimidating. The graphics are also extremely nice, feeling very much like a Blizzard game. HoNs graphics are technically impressive, but I personally found battles hard to sort out due to their high detail and color use. The audio and detail work in LoL is also very good (no complaints about HoN there either).

    While not as hardcore, LoL does still have quite a bit of depth to it (including persistent mmo type features like Runes and Masteries, aka talents) – along with a decent set of champions (~42 right now, new one every couple weeks). And while it lacks a good deal of the gameplay modes and options of HoN (it only has two maps and one gameplay style), they’re apparently coming soon (hopefully).

    My buddies and I have tried a few times now to play HoN (we actually pre-ordered for the beta keys), but unless you’re a DotA veteran (which we aren’t) – it’s very challenging to get into. There’s no quick match yet (LoL has a pretty good one), and the server list is crazy – with TONS of options and lingo that’s very off-putting (for us at least). I’m sure they’ll clean that up eventually, but for now it’s very difficult to approach.

  • As far as Heroes of Newerth goes, I have been playing League of Legends and enjoy it a fair bit more.

  • Ditto have to agree on the two above posts lol is a must to try if you like dota games.

    and yes it more fun than HoN

  • Played Super Mario Bros last night for the first time…… Best game ever, even better when you have 3 or 4 people and even thought it sucks when somone kills you buy jumpin on your head cause you to fall in a hole or be hit by a koopa shell, Its still Hilarious, Original and all aroud fun.

    MW2 needs Local search for us Aussies (Shakes fist at joining American games* :P) But is a very cool game (im Xbox Shooter)

    I did get into Beta for allods but as much as i hate to admit it and saying this term makes me want to shoot myself, it just feels like wow to me. the quests were to raw, kill this, find this activate this. i couldnt handle it.

    i want to get LFD2 but…….. Stupid retard people said it was to violent so they made a copy for Aus and New Zealend which is much more censoered (Bodies DISSAEAR before the hit the ground D:) .. might try get a British version or something

    i like your list keen *thumbs up

  • @Tay: Unfortunately I have not played Dragon Age Origins. I know… how could I NOT have played DAO?! It’s among my main regrets of 2009 that you can read about in a post going up in two days. I feel for you Aussies and your censoring. Big bummer. 🙁

    @Danath, leif, Tangent: Is there a NDA for LoL? I’ve played the beta but don’t want to spill the beans prematurely.

  • To be perfectly honest I was completely underwhelmed by Modern Warfare 2. It doesn’t really offer anything better than any other FPS has over the last few years… atleast not to the degree that warrants the acclaims it’s getting.

    I think MW2 is one of those viral games that got half it’s popularity from just being… well popular as moronic as it sounds.

    It’s a solid FPS, I can’t deny that. However it doesn’t go heads above anything else I’ve played.

  • @Keen, No NDA for LoL its fully released now. A lot has changed since closed beta, they improved on a lot of balance and most importantly either they or adobe improved the net code.

    Its still not perfect in the balance but they are at the very least working on it. I just wish they did NOT listen to the community as much as they do. If you listen to the tiny little babies cry more then the hard data then you end up making it worse.

    But by far the best part of LoL is the fact that the majority of dota players went to HoN. The community only has a few QQers and trash talkers. Though if you are low level and have yet to dial in your ELO then you will see more people trash talk then at the top of the pack. The community is hands down the best out of the three due to it so far, knock on wood being more mature.

  • True story – LoL is out now, no NDA – you can discuss.

    I’m looking forward to maps and modes, but otherwise I’m loving the game. They’re doing a great job updating it constantly (they raised a ton of VC cash recently, and seem to have high ambitions).

    I have no idea how many people are playing, but it’s a lot – it’s insanely easy to get a match. If you queue for quick match, at just about any level in any group size, you’ll get a match in a minute or less.

    Also, the community is by far one of the best I’ve participated in.

    Feel free to friend me in the game, I’d be happy to play with you. Name on there is Tangent.

  • I was in the beta for a good while but I only played maybe…. 12 matches or so at the very most. It felt a little cutesy and lacked that feeling of being ‘tight’ and ‘responsive’ like HoN. While I did play they definitely improved the UI. Is it just me or does the game have more of a flash game vibe to it? Not a bad game, but of the two I prefer HoN. The community of HoN though is terrible.

  • LoL has changed a lot since beta, especially since the early beta. I’m not sure what you mean regarding the “flash” nature of it – the game itself definitely does not feel like that.

    The Launcher/Matchmaker/Store on the other hand is actually written in AIR, which literally IS Flash. I’m not a huge fan of the launcher, although it has it’s benefits (I do think HoNs take on that is nicer).

    That said, the game itself in no way has that feeling. It’s extremely responsive. Honestly I can only really compare it to a good Blizzard RTS (the lead on LoL was also on WC3:FT and WoW). I’ve also yet to experience any lag of any kind. It runs at a rock solid 60 fps (I limit with v-sync) and never slows down under any circumstance. And beyond the technical – it just feels good now.

    At first I wasn’t a fan of the persistent features (Masteries/Runes), but as I raised my level I learned to enjoy the extra strategy it allowed, and leveling is exciting like any RPG. Choosing 2 summoner spells also adds another level of depth (everyone playing chooses 2 skills from a pool of about 10).

    Personally I feel like it’s depth is just right. Mousing over anything in HoN reveals about 3x more information than I want. LoL on the other hand boils it down.

    I highly recommend you try it again. I haven’t played a game this much since the early days of WoW. Literally nothing has kept my groups attention like LoL.

  • Beta is over pretty much, theres no NDA or anything as far as I can tell. I have a few gripes with the matchmaking system in LoL, such as theres no way to play AGAINST friends, something that surprised me, but as far as gameplay goes, I quite enjoy it.

  • @ Keen That means soooo much for an american to say that, i am very proud of you, i could imagine that most people would say something along the lines of “SUCKED IN, Ur GAY” … which would not make any sense but you know what i mean lol. IM hopeing they release the normal version later.

    Plus im trying Allods online again cause i guess i just am : P

  • @ Danath – You can play practice games against your friends – we do it all the time, up to 5v5 (we generally do 2v2 or 3v3). You just can’t queue up against your friends (what would be the point) – you just invite them to the match.

    The only difference between a practice game and a real game is less XP/IP for winning (there’s a 30% penalty I believe). This isn’t out of the ordinary – most games are this way.

  • Gotta say Batman: Arkham Asylum is the best and most surprising PC game of the year in my book. It’s a must-play, no excuses.

  • Torchlight is awesome. There are a lot of modded classes out there – the Barbarian, Assassin and Airbender are all pretty nice.

    Also, there won’t be another town in Torchlight – it’s all in one. However, they are working on a Torchlight MMO which will have an entire world. Because of that, they made a choice not to expand beyond a single town in the single player.

    An Allods is the first F2P that I’ve been really excited about, not counting DDO, since it was paid, and crossed over. My wife played the first night and declared “I’m going to be playing this a lot” which means it’s now on my list. Which is okay because I love it.