The Platinum Chalice Awards 2009

Right about now the rest of the internet is tripping over itself to crank out the “definitive” end-of-year list. Well, they can stop. We already did it. Over the next few pages our unquestioned expertise will identify the coolest, most important games of 2009 with zero room for error. Yeah, it’s that big of a deal. That’s why they’re basking in the dazzling radiance of a Platinum Chalice.

Oh, we have a game of the year. But the rest of the awards are GR-style accolades so you don’t have to sift through “best puzzle game” or the always important “best PSP graphics technology.”

Videogames… prepare to be acknowledged.

If you’ve played much of Prototype, then you already know that its true appeal doesn’t come from prefab points of interest like story or missions. That stuff’s all fine and good, but the real lure here is the absolute freedom offered by Alex Mercer’s powers, which enable you to tear ass (and asses) across Manhattan with impunity, leap off skyscrapers and land unharmed, throw cars around, eat civilians and just generally be the biggest asshole imaginable.

Above: Alex Mercer doing what Alex Mercer does best 

Part of what makes that particular brand of bastardry so much fun is that it’s absolutely soaking in gore. Entire buildings are made of gore, and every new superpower brings with it exciting new ways to dismember hapless city-dwellers in a gruesome display. Infected monstrosities, soldiers and civilians can all be sliced to ribbons or devoured messily by Alex’s slimy tendrils, and watching them come apart in new ways adds immeasurably to the thrill of victory (or just rampant sociopathy). There are few pleasures quite as guilty as whipping Alex’s razor-sharp tendril-arm through a crowd in Times Square, for example, and watching the upper halves of dozens of citizens fly skyward at once.

Kind of sick? Sure. A blast anyway? Absolutely.

Splattering zombie goo is all the rage these days, and no game does it better than L4D2. Your vast arsenal is capable of rending flesh, shattering rib cages and separating limbs in such shockingly grotesque detail we made a whole video about it.

Modern Warfare 2 may not be the most carefully paced game (PCP and Meth come to mind as descriptors), but it does unload a bandoleer’s worth of balls-out crazy moments into your face. Oh shit, your driver just took one in the skull, grab the wheel! Oh shit, you just watched a guy’s eyes roll into his head after rappelling onto his back and slitting his throat. Oh shit, you’re an astronaut and…FFFFFFFUUUUU…


It’s relentlessly surprising, and keeps you playing in the same way that supermarket fiction keeps you turning pages - by never letting you get comfortable. Much like Will Smith’s life, everything in MW2 gets flip-turned upside down constantly, and unless you’re a cold, unfeeling robot or a nun, it’ll coax more than a few expletives from your filthy mouth.

What was your first oh shit moment in Uncharted 2? Was it climbing the dangling train? Running from the speeding truck in the narrow Nepalese alley? Sprinting across a crumbling bridge? We know there were regular old shootouts, but they all got trampled under the stampede of holy-crap-did-that-just-happens.

No hand-holding. No easy wins. No compromises. From beginning to end, Demon’s Souls was the hardest game of the year. Think you’re good at videogames? This action/RPG will put you in your place. Every time you think you’re making progress, Demon’s Souls will crush any sense of self worth you once had with frequent deaths and brutal boss fights. It’s enough to send the most Zen-like gamer into controller-smashing fits of rage.

Above: Just when you’re starting to get the hang of things, a three-story demon smashes you with his giant battle axe 

But Demon’s Souls unforgiving difficulty is a double-edged sword that gives just as much as it takes, making every victory feel like a truly glorious triumph. Soon, you’ll be dodging, parrying and blocking attacks with uncanny precision. Your timing will become impeccable as attack patterns and monster locations are ingrained in your memory. Before you know it, overcoming seemingly impossible boss fights and scenarios becomes a reality, making Demon’s Souls not only the most difficult, but also one of the most rewarding games of all time.

Gorgeous sprites and detailed backgrounds make Prinny: Can I Really be the Hero? a treat to watch. But it’s the masochistic difficulty level, which demands pixel-perfect precision that makes this ultra hardcore platformer a pleasure to play.

Much as the idea of waging war against an oppressive regime as a freedom fighter/terrorist/demolitions expert on Mars is instantly appealing to us, Red Faction: Guerrilla would have been just another bland, shooty, open-world Grand Theft Auto clone without one key feature: the ability to reduce any building or structure on the map to a cascading heap of rubble. If it’s man-made, odds are you can rip it to shreds in an awe-inspiring cacophony of shattering glass.

Above: You may not want to stand on top of them while you do this, though 

Bringing down buildings in games was nothing new when Guerrilla came out, but Guerrilla is the first game to really make it feel organic. As you ram trucks through walls, blast bridge-support pillars or just tear apart buildings hundreds of times your size with a sledgehammer, the component building materials come flying apart in a way that’s convincingly real, if not exactly “realistic.”

Also, the creativity with which you can tackle demolitions – and the futuristic implements of destruction you’ll get to play with – make Guerrilla incredibly fun, and there’s no feeling quite like driving a massive truck into a camp full of heavily armed enemy soldiers and bringing the whole thing crashing down by doing high-speed donuts through the walls. It elevates what would otherwise be a fairly bland experience into something explosively inventive.

Paris is a beautiful setting, and World War II is always a compelling time period, but they’re not enough to justify The Saboteur’s half-baked gameplay. The visually spectacular style in which that city and era are brought to life, however – with stark, drizzly greyscale representing Nazi oppression and splashes of dazzling color representing freedom – made us forgive every flaw instantly.

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  • deathrebellion - January 27, 2010 8:11 p.m.

    @ Ricohet3438 thats the UK/US english difference u dope
  • deathrebellion - January 27, 2010 8:10 p.m.

    cudn't agree with u guys more
  • Ricochet3438 - January 6, 2010 12:54 a.m.

    it drives me crazy when you ppl at GR spell wotds that should have z's with s's. realized for instance. read the thing for borderlands. it should be realized but instead they put realised. its not the first time theyve done it either. just because a word has an s sound dsnt mean tht it is spelled with an s. maybe tht hypothesis about videogames ruining your brain is correct. if so, GR is certainly proving it.
  • Anduin1 - January 6, 2010 12:18 a.m.

    uncharted 2 wasnt revolutionary? What game came before it that did what it did and garnered that kind of acclaim? Sure AA was good but game of the year good? HELL NO. Nobody even disputing if its good or not. All I know is gamesradar has forever lost the shred of credibility it had. They couldve put any other game in that place but when in a review you state that "x is better than Y" and then give y the prize, you lost.
  • racsonia - January 5, 2010 9:48 a.m.

    Idk y but at one stage i was thinking of not getting Uncharted 2 and shrugging it off, but now after it came runner up it sounds great, maybye the ads just didint do a good enough job for me?
  • sofaku - January 5, 2010 1:02 a.m.

    i cant say im not surprised. Arkham asylum is a great game but i dont know about game of the year. i think the onlything i really like about arkham asylum is the satisfaction of slowely taking out every enemy in a room and watching their heart rate rise. my pick for game of the year would either be MW2 or assassins creed2.
  • t3rry747 - January 4, 2010 4:20 a.m.

    sry 4 the twin post but 4 all you people saying uncharted is better than AA thats exactly what there say just that uncharted wasnt revoultionary it stuff every one has seen batman is the first good comic book game EVER!!!! read the article damn it
  • t3rry747 - January 4, 2010 4:09 a.m.

    wow im really suprised AC2 didnt win anything it was fantastic.
  • dante1924 - January 3, 2010 2:20 p.m.

    Sorry for another post, but EVERYBODY I know seems to think that all of these games are complete shit. Except for MW2, L4D2, and maybe Assassin's creed 2. For everything else, they all stare at me blank eyed, then talk about how stupid I am. I think I should print this list and show those fanboys who's right!
  • dante1924 - January 3, 2010 2:04 p.m.

    I tried spreading the word about Muramasa, just like you said, but everyone that I told about it said it looked stupid. That should be a crime! Also, it's not really related, but at nintendo world, I saw that you could play Muramasa! So I started it up, and it said that I needed the nunchuck to play. But there was none! So why the hell was it even on display? It's good and all, but if you can't play it, than why... Oh gamesradar, how you like to shoehorn okami into anything!
  • kevs223 - January 3, 2010 1:41 a.m.

    Damn...I can't believe Arkham Asylum won coz i really hate dis game(^^no offense for the players of this game) coz i think Assassin's creed is way better...
  • shinyscizor93 - January 1, 2010 2:20 a.m.

    Just got Batman Arkham Asylum, and I have to agree 100%. The most amazing game I've ever played. Great graphics, storyline, combat system, and unique boss battles (like Scarecrow levels) plus the accuracy from Batman's story make it one truly amazing game. Even the demo is so great it will make you want to go buy the game immediately.
  • oreomonkey - December 31, 2009 4:16 a.m.

    personally, Batman Arkham Asylum is garbage and boring no way is it game of the year
  • Anduin1 - December 29, 2009 4:15 a.m.

    and yea the whole review by you guys stating its better than AA is dumbfounding, looking real foolish
  • Anduin1 - December 29, 2009 4:13 a.m.

    Wow... uncharted beaten by arkham asylum? I mean Batman is prob my top 3 comic book heroes ever but Uncharted 2 was just epicness in gaming unseen as of that point. I can take that slight but "oh shit" moments in MW2? Are you kidding? The game played like a fantasy shooter with its ridiculousness whereas Uncharted 2 had real moments that could actually happen. Chopper on the rooftops, tank invading a village, moving through a train...vs snowmobiles and uzis, and what? I once read something real poignant about MW2. MW1 if it was a movie would've been directed by Francis Ford Copola whereas MW2 was a Michael Bay movie. At least you guys gave Demon's Souls some love, game doesn't get enough press imo.
  • Howetzer - December 28, 2009 10:01 p.m.

    phoenicks, excellent point! From the reveiw of Uncharted 2 in the section that GR puts in called is it better than... Batman: "Yes, just. And before you Batman fans get your knickers in a twist, let us explain. AA's combat system is fantastic and the world they've created around the Dark Knight is well realised, but it is relentlessly dark and bleak. The variety of environments and the aformentioned story-telling in Uncharted 2 snatches the victory." So can GR explain their way out of this one? Hrmm. I thinks not. Please though GR answer phoenicks question won't you? oh yeah and @LieutenantCipher, all I got from your comment is that I had excellent points, so thank you very much for that =). Peace.
  • phoenicks - December 27, 2009 4:09 p.m.

    Not for nothing, but the review for Uncharted 2 clearly states that it is a better game than Arkham Asylum. How, then, can Batman be the Game of the Year?
  • LieutenantCipher - December 26, 2009 11:34 p.m.

    I should have known that not even the Platinum Chalice Awards would be safe from fanboy rage, Howetzer and Crazyqazqaz, you two should be ashamed, both your comments are riddled with fanboy rage and you have 1 or 2 good points. As for you Gamesradar, I sense some serious Sony ass-kissing going on here, Uncharted 2 seems plastered all over this article in an uncharming way and Arkham Asylum wasn't nearly as great as you say it was.
  • secretsearcher - December 25, 2009 5:35 p.m.

    Really? Was Batman really THAT good? I haven't played it, and honestly, I don't intend to. I guess I just can't get past the "superhero games automatically suck" mindset. Oh well. Thumbs up for the Okami Award. Which reminds me. If you haven't yet, please buy Okami and play it. Please. Your life is not complete until you play this game.