Skip to main content

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

Try to forget, for the moment, all the cultural baggage that came attached to Killzone 2’s release. Forget about fake gameplay footage, console wars, flame wars and any other “wars” that don’t relate directly to the conflict between the Helghast and the Vektans. Because taken on its own, Killzone 2 is a badass shooter that’s as relentlessly tough and brutal as it is dusty and bleak. (Never mind that it’s possible to survive the first few levels by just berserking your way through enemy ranks with a knife.)

Above: We thought this was awesome and hilarious, but SOME PEOPLE chose to see it as a negative

The core of Killzone 2’s appeal is that it’s a lot like a sci-fi Call of Duty, complete with elaborate, explosive set-pieces crashing through the environment and masked Helghast troopers standing in for Nazis. Most battles feel like desperate struggles, and every scrap of ground you gain feels hard-won. And then, just when things seem darkest for your side, you get a robot exoskeleton that can blow up tanks and mow down soldiers with impunity. The detail that went into planet Helghan’s blasted city streets and wind-swept industrial areas gives each level a kind of decaying beauty, and the story isn’t bad, either (even though only a couple of characters actually qualify as likable). Even the silly Sixaxis-driven puzzles are kind of fun, once you know what you’re doing.

And if you have a raging boner for Metacritic:

In spite of the ridiculous controversy that swirled around the reviews, most of them came out pretty high. Ours was no exception –we gave it a 9/10.

2) GTA: Chinatown Wars

Chinatown Wars proved that a “Mature” franchise could find a home on what’s accepted as the least powerful, most family-friendly games machine on the market. What it lacked in cutting-edge technology was more than made up by its scale, which was just as lofty and controversial as its headline-making big brothers. Drug dealing, drive-bys, prostitution, assassination, Molotov-tossing while flying over the Statue of Liberty… we could go on. Instead of saying “there’s only so much you can do with the DS,” Rockstar Leeds did more than anyone had bothered to attempt.

We loved the attention to detail Rockstar obviously slaved over, explained in great visual detailhere. We loved the exceptional, custom-made radio stations that punctuated every car chase with an aural exclamation point. We loved all the after-game quests that kept us playing well after Huang Lee restored his honor. Hell, we even loved the touch-screen input that has you arming bombs, hotwiring cars and assembling sniper rifles.

And if you have a raging boner for Metacritic:

As of this writing, Chinatown Wars is the DS’s highest rated game… ever. Not Chrono Trigger, not Phantom Hourglass. We happen to agree, so you’d best read our 10/10review. And would you look at that, Rockstar just announced aPSP version!