Saturday, December 12, 2009

2009: All the other games worth playing (on PS3).


Just because a game doesn't make it into my personal top five doesn't mean it's not worth playing - and while we're on the subject, I've heard nothing but positive things about Modern Warfare 2 and Borderlands, so you may want to look into those.

Anyway, if you think you've played every game worth playing in 2009 on your PS3, compare your list against this list - you may have missed one. Let's examine the other games of 2009, and I'll be here to tell you whether a title is worth a rental or a purchase - and what price is reasonable for the quality on hand.

I should note - these are in no particular order. But what the heck, let's start with that PSN game first.

GAME: Flower
VERDICT: buy it

Flower is a minimalist, intensely beautiful, meditative experience. It also becomes thrilling, frightening and wholesomely empowering towards the end - well worth a ten dollar investment.

GAME: Batman: Arkham Asylum
VERDICT: rent or buy it

Arkham is an undeniably high-quality game - the graphics, pacing, and presentation are all top-notch, and the gameplay is above-par. Consider it's also a Batman game which happens to be good, and you've got a bit of a mutant freak. It is definitely worth experiencing, but whether or not it's worth a purchase - and at what price - I'll leave to you. I'm happy with the $50 I paid.

GAME: Mini Ninjas
VERDICT: rent it

Mini Ninjas is an exceedingly beautiful game with excellent art direction and expressive animation, but it falls a little flat on the gameplay front. Occasionally ambitions of greatness seem to rear their heads in the form of new, more challenging enemies, but in the end Mini Ninjas is a game directed squarely at children that doesn't do its target audience the service of offering any real challenge. A fun, whimsical world that's perhaps worth a rental.

GAME: Assassin's Creed II
VERDICT: buy it

With a solid twenty-hour campain, a beautiful world to explore and excellent presentation, Assassin's Creed II is a worthy investment of your gaming dollar. It is, more than anything, the game we wanted Assassin's Creed to be. Not a perfect game, but certainly a great one.

GAME: Killzone 2
VERDICT: buy it on the cheap

Killzone 2 has some major failings, not the least of which are its horrendous final confrontation and the writing/characterization of one Master Sargent Rico. On the other hand, it's a technical masterpiece with excellent immersion, a real sense of weight and a massive online component. There's a lot to love with Killzone 2, but I'm not sure it's a sixty-dollar degree of affection. If you can find a cheap copy, though, I heartily endorse a purchase.

GAME: Resident Evil 5
VERDICT: buy it on the cheap

Resident Evil 5 is both too much and not enough like Resident Evil 4. It retains all the constraints of its last-gen progenitor while it discards the haunting atmosphere and tongue-in-cheek camp of the Gamecube classic. On the other hand, it's another Resident Evil game, it's in high-def, and you can play through it with a buddy. Find it for half price or wait for the director's cut due out in early 2010.

GAME: Prototype
VERDICT: rent or buy it cheap

Due to some unfortunate mission design and presentation issues, Prototype lives in the shadow of its last-gen spiritual prequel, Incredible Hulk: Ultimate destruction by the same developer. But the amount of fun you have with the game is ultimately dependent on how much fun you try to have with it, as it offers a degree of insane, gory, creative, visually-spectacular gameplay that nothing else on the current gen even attempts. Prototype is definitely worth experiencing, but I suggest a rental before you decide if it's your cup of tea or not.

GAME: Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time
VERDICT: R&C fan = buy it
R&C virgin = try Tools of Destruction


If - like me - you've been playing Ratchet & Clank since its inception on the PS2, you'll find no great surprises here. A Crack In Time is yet another excellent platformer-shooter from Insomniac, replete with all the trimmings you've come to expect. It looks gorgeous, sound great, has wonderful animation, voice work and art direction, and the rock-solid gameplay that's been honed over the better part of a decade. It may not do much new, but when it does everything so well I can't say I really want it to change - definitely worth a purchase.

If you haven't been playing Ratchet & Clank titles since 2002, though, I suggest you begin with Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, which can be found for a very reasonable price these days.

GAME: Dragon Age: Origins
VERDICT: buy it, RPG fans

I've no hesitation calling Origins the best story-driven RPG of the year. It showcases a richly-designed world full of well-realized characters, supported by the excellent voice work of its lead actors and a solid supporting cast. The combat interface on the PS3 and 360 isn't ideal, so you may want to pick up the PC version - but if that's not an option, it's still a journey worth taking (over and over again) on your console of choice.

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