The Top 7... best games of 2009 (so far)

Much like the Oscars tend to ignore movies released between January and September, end-of-year game awards usually forget the top-notch software released in the first six months. It’s true that the holiday shopping season is stacked with surefire hits, but let’s not forget the games that kept boredom at bay when 2009 was still the New Year.

Contributing editors: Brett Elston, Tyler Nagata, Mikel Reparaz

7) Plants vs Zombies

We are experiencing a zombie renaissance. They’re in our movies, our books, our games – and now they’re in your yard. That’s a good thing, because keeping shuffling hordes of undead at bay with an arsenal of pod-spitting plants makes Plants vs Zombies the most addictive and hardcore casual game we’ve played since… well, ever.

Above: The zombie apocalypse never looked so adorable

Each level in the single-player mode adds something new to keep things interesting. You’re always unlocking new types of plants, zombie enemies, minigames and game modes. The solo campaign lasts for a good 20 hours, and when you’re done with that you can tackle the Survival Mode, Puzzle Mode and spent some quality time tending your Zen Garden. You want to talk about value? There’s at least 30 hours of non-stop fun to be had for this tiny ten dollar download.

And if you have a raging boner for Metacritic:

Describing Plants vs Zombies as an accessible casual tower defense-type game is accurate. But it doesn’t do the game justice. Plants vs Zombies is dripping with personality and will charm the pants off the most serious strategy fans. Trust us, this will grow on you. And if you don’t believe us, you can read PC Gamer’s praise in their9/10 review.

6) Red Faction: Guerrilla

While it’s true that Guerrilla has only been around for two weeks, we’re confident its “destroy literally everything” gameplay will ultimately make it one of 09’s most memorable sandbox experiences. Driving a truck through six concrete walls, causing the whole damn building to collapse into a heap of twisted wreckage is an experience you won’t soon forget (we had about six “oh shit!” moments in the first hour of play).

Red Faction is another open world game, albeit one built on the idea of using weapons to break, dismantle and obliterate any structure created by the hand of man; if it has walls, it can fall. Sounds like hyperbole, but you’ll believe it when you shatter the base of a tower and watch it tumble over into the next four buildings, sending debris, smoke and wreckage flying in all directions. It’s the destruction we were promised so many times before, finally realized.

And if you have a raging boner for Metacritic:

Prototype and inFamous are fine games, but spend one hour shattering every building in sight with chest-caving explosions and you’ll understand why critics are standing behind Red Faction instead. It’s far from perfect (dumb AI, so-so story, uneven difficulty) but at least it differentiates itself from the aforementioned open-world games that haveno shortageof startlingsimilarities.