The Obligatory ‘Game of the Year’ Article

December 31, 2009, Author: The TIMJ Team

First of all I have to say that I’m shocked that this is my game of the year. I didn’t dislike the original, there was so much potential in that engine to make a great game, but it was just so boring. From what I can gather most people were of the same mind, and that is why I never rushed out to get Assassins Creed 2. Instead a good friend of mine said “hey dude, you gotta try it; they got it right this time”. So with that in mind I stuck it on my rentals list as I was still not convinced that my hippy mate was right. Then when it came through the letterbox, I stuck it in the Xbox 360 and BAM! It hit me like a fat woman chasing a cake lorry; it was good.

Well, not so much as good as it was fracking awesome (Battlestar swear-words FTW!). The storyline apparently picks up were number one ended, not that I knew as I got stuck on the first one and gave up long before the ending. The story line in AC2 is so much better. Ezio, your main character (not that boring git from the future…) is far greater than Altair, as he has his own story that is separate from Desmond’s, and his heartfelt story made a big difference. Not only that, this game has humour as well; some of the dialogue that Ezio comes out with is hilarious. I also learnt to swear at my mates without them realising, courtesy of the amount of Italian cuss words in the game. Thanks Ubisoft!

Defining moment: Riding a horse along the top of a castles embattlements towards the end of the game, all while hacking away at the guards who were trying to stop me. It made me feel like King Théoden from Lord of the Rings.

Honourable mentions: FIFA 10, Batman: Arkham Ayslum, and Halo: ODST.

Amidst a slew of Q4 top AAA titles, a surprisingly strong Summer/early Autumn showing and even some hidden gems, one game stands out for me; a game that appeals to directly to my sensibilities, tries some new things despite looking a little dated and just generally one that keeps me glued to my screen for hours on end. Dragon Age Origins is that game.

The spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate, Dragon Age has, quite simply, taken the torch and run with it admirably. Incredible characterization (such as sociopathic golems with a hatred of pigeons), hardline moral choices (which are never clear cut and always leave a lasting impression on you and your party members…) addictive combat, great voice acting, brilliant pacing, solid controls and inventory system all contribute to a game that sinks its hooks into you incredibly quickly and deeply. It’s the origin stories that set it apart from RPGs of the past; six prequels (as it were) to your meeting with Duncan, the Grey Warden who sets everything into motion, which are uniformly dark yet fun to play and offer a level of character customization that, whilst not being immediately obvious, is hitherto unseen. It has its shortcomings of course, and they were inevitable in such an ambitious game from the same stable as Mass Effect (albeit on a smaller budget), yet there is still something unique, gripping and compelling about Dragon Age that will have you desperately hoping for a sequel a few hours in; this is definitely one of those games that you don’t ever want to end.

Defining moment: Without spoiling too much, realising at the end of the Elvish origin story that I could take that option and have my revenge; it’s the moment you realise you actually get to choose the outcomes in this game’s missions…

Honourable mentions: Borderlands, Modern Warfare 2, Resident Evil 5, Assassins Creed 2, Uncharted 2.

Very few games have the ability to surprise me and very few make me want to play them again. This may have not been in your local chart and it may not have been advertised all over the place but Tales is one of the most brilliant JRPGs to come out in recent years. Not only does the game keep you engaged but it also tells the story in an unconventional way and makes the bulk of the dialogue completely optional. The game is pure genius and the only title I can think of that after you have completed it you get access to further quests that are not available till after the main story is finished. You even have the freedom to pick and choose your battles giving you even more freedom, couple that with a full range of character customisation that makes this a brilliant experience.

Defining moment: Escaping the city at the beginning of the game only to realise how massive the game really is. 55 hours later I still had the same feelings about the game.

Honourable mentions: Borderlands, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Forza 3.

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