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Broke arse student, freelance games reviewer and rambling obsessive that I am, I currently seek work in mags and web sites throughout the world. If you're in a position to make that happen - and like what you see around here - let me know. I've published work with the likes of IGN and Gaming Steve.


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28/7/2012 22:31

Preview Time! Games to Look Out For in 2011
8/1/2011 5:54

2010's Games of Shame
6/1/2011 22:47

My Fave Games of 2010!
6/1/2011 20:12

StarCraft II Review - Dig Loveth the RTS!?
7/11/2010 12:48

10 Must-Have iPhone Games
2/6/2010 18:09

A Little Hotlink to An Article I Stuck Up On GiantBomb
21/4/2010 15:01

Aliens Vs Predator is Here! Woo! Oh, Hang On...
6/3/2010 20:58

iPhone Games!
6/3/2010 20:40

The Top 30 Games of an Obscenely Packed 2009. Shit Gets Epic
7/1/2010 20:09


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The Top 30 Games of an Obscenely Packed 2009. Shit Gets Epic
Posted by Diggler - 7/1/2010 20:09

So, things have been a bit crazy lately. Notwithstanding private life stuff, this new course o' mine has drained a ton of free time, and with it, priceless web site updates. Even though I promised otherwise just a wee few months back. Such a liar.

To make amends though, I bring you this novel-length dissertation. Which not only serves as the annual TPS "Best of" for the year - as we always like to do 'round these parts - but doubles up as a mega-review catch-up fest, filling in the blanks from the past four odd months. Once again, I'll hotlink to last year's list for prosperity's sake too (right...here), but anyway here they are; Dig's top 30 for 2009. Catch 'em all;

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A little repetitive, and towards the end, needlessly frustrating. But man, what a looker! Lovely stuff
30. Trine (PS3/PC)

Hmmm. Trine's amazing at first. A sandboxy, side-scrolling, downloadable platformer built from the ground up around top-of-the-line physics and fantastic visuals, that just about rival anything you've ever seen in the fantasy video game genre (I exaggerate not). Levels may be flat gameplay-wise, see, but have a lavish visual depth that showcase just about the most gorgeous forests and atmospheric caverns ever conceived in a virtual world. Split into three distinct styles of gameplay - from hack 'n' slashing, to ranged combat, to magical spells and the like - the ability to team up with two buddies and tackle the game co-op gives it an almost LittleBigPlanet-meets-WoW vibe, with each such class performing these various abilities in wonderful, often hilarious tandem.

Sadly, Trine is a bit of a one-trick pony though. Rather than showcase inventive puzzles with expert solutions, the game goes the more freeform route, letting you merely chuck boxes around and spam arrows to solve pretty much every single encounter. It's kinda the same puzzle over and over and over again, right up until a truly god-awful finale that seems so out of place and awfully balanced, you'll leave the sucker almost hating it. A heart-breaking pity, given the opening handful of hours prove truly momentous.

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PJ Shooter is an inventive new puzzler with amazing use of fluid dynamics. Fly around a cave and figure out the easiest way to save your stranded dudes
29. PixelJunk Shooter (PS3)

Q-Games strike back after the shockingly over-rated Eden, with a far more fun, forgiving and oh so charming downloader that's undoubtedly another of the PSN highlights for '09. A misleading title, "Shooter" may be, given it's far more concerned with puzzle solving than the mere blasting of fools, but take that as a compliment, 'cos Shooter is most certainly beyond some dodgy wee Geo Wars knock-off. As a cartoony spaceship exploring underground caverns, it's your (and a friend's job, should you so wish) to rescue stranded humans amidst every element known to man, from lava to water to gas and beyond. I mention these elements, as they make up the bulk of PJS' puzzles, including the sweetest darn fluid physics going. The site of blasting a hole in a cavern, to leak water onto a sea of lava below, only for it to cool over and allow you passage via blowing a tunnel through its hardened, rocky facelift, is shockingly awesome stuff for example, and just the sorta oddly addictive gameplay concepts that'll keep you hooked throughout its all too short five hour gameplay time.

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I must be the one person in the world who prefers this to the hair-pulling XBLA game...
28. Bionic Commando (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)

With developers Grin going under this year, Commando will - for better or worse - go down as perhaps their greatest parting gift. It's not the best game, truth be told, and quite a disappointment given how bad ass those early glimpses were. Frankly though? I think this game got a bit of a hard time in the press this year, as there's still plenty here to enjoy. Swinging around a flooded, post-apocalyptic metropolis is a blast - in that Spider-Man meets Blade-Runner kinda way - and as opposed to what you'll find in the Spidey games, actually requires a modicum of skill to pull off here too.

Sure, the world feels empty, and more like a series of self-contained challenges disrupted by relentless loading screens, but with a core mechanic so fun, I happily stuck by Bionic for the duration. Surveying such epic environments, figuring out the required route, then launching yourself into the air and putting it all into action still brings a smile to the face.

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Saboteur is perhaps the weakest of 2009's massive selection of open world games, but its awesome setting and bizarre use of colour provide plenty of reasons for a playthrough
27. The Saboteur (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)

Pandemic were another studio to suffer from 2009's bleak financial situation, and thus similarly closed their doors last year, but those laid-off can at least rest content in the fact that they similarly went out with one of their better games, if nada else. A third person open-world update to Mafia of sorts, The Saboteur sets itself amidst World War II-era German-occupied Paris, with you playing a (somewhat out-of-place) Irishman who joins up with the resistance.

Gameplay-wise it almost comes off like an Assassin's Creed done cheap, but there's plenty to like about Sab regardless. That gorgeous Parisian setting, the wondrous night time atmosphere, dark, mature subject matter, and just the chance to explore a WWII universe through a completely different genre than the usual full-frontal massacring we expect. They really do nail the feeling of living in a city perpetually surrounded by your enemy...skulking around in the shadows and awaiting that perfect time to pounce.

While disrupting the Germans via a series of - bizarrely enough - sabotage missions, Sab opts for a bizarre black and white color scheme too incidentally, one that at first seems to randomly fluctuate with color, but does actually have a method to the madness that slowly starts to form, and proves somewhat visually unique and oddly beautiful. Still mid-way through this, but I dig it.

26. Infamous (PS3)

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As a dude who sprouts electrical super powers, Infamous is a comic book fan's wet dream
2009 was without doubt the PS3's greatest year yet, and while the 360 lacked any serious killer exclusives throughout much of the past 12 months, Infamous sits alongside a whole host of Sony titles that swooped in for the kill. Infamous is pretty much the Playstation's answer to Crackdown in many ways; a balls-out, hyper-exaggerated superhero outing that jumps right through the screen atcha like a comic-book come to life.

Awesome powers, tons of unlockable skills, and a superb climbing system are all present and correct, but where it arguably one-ups Crackdown are in far superior shooting mechanics, and much more engrossing missions.

Yeah, the in-game cinematics are sorta laughable, and as an open-world game, there were better in a densely packed year. Honestly though? If you own a PS3, you owe it to yourself to buy this thang. Previous comparisons to Prototype seem laughable in hindsight.

25. Red Faction: Guerilla (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)

"Pleasant Surprise of the Year" would have to go to this bad boy; follow-up to a largely forgettable 2001 shooter, it showcased one of the most technically impressive and sheer jaw-dropping gaming worlds of 2009 across pretty much all genres and systems. A sorta GTA-on-Mars, Faction sees you playing the part of a sci-fi rebel, undertaking essentially terrorist missions against the oppressive Earth Defense Force. Though not them of giant mutant ants fame.

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Mercenaries bred with some Total Recall, what Faction lacks in charm it more than makes up for in BOOM
Demolition jobs, shoot-outs, rescue attempts, etc; the mission-types prove typical, but standing 'em out here are the coolest physics ya ever darn saw in a game. Quite literally, everything can be destroyed here, from the most unassuming road block to the tallest skyscraper towering over you. And oh my lordy...it's quite the sight to see.

Thought Mercenaries had this shit down? You speak the words of a fool. Witnessing the sheer calamity of such destruction never loses its gigglyness or wow-factor in Faction, as thousands of nuts, bolts and huge metal girders come crashing down in every direction...often killing you in the process. Whether laying down 10 C4 charges - or merely plowing a friggin' tank through the front door - Guerilla thrives purely on such destruction, that you almost forget about the also-impressive weaponry and rock-solid combat. In fact - speaking of Mercenaries - I'd say Guerilla does the best job yet of capturing that same potent Mercs atmosphere and style...and that includes the sucker's own sequel.

The solitary area in which it all falls apart, are Faction's equivalent to GTA's cop chases. Start causing some ruckus, and the future police'll be down on you like a ton of bricks, and won't leave you alone for soddin' hours either. Shit zaps a ton o' fun outta casual annihilation, and injects a startling jolt of difficulty into the game that it really doesn't need nor want.

24. Free Realms (PC)

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A gorgeous MMO with zero monthly fee, Free Realms is a great game for kids and those with a heart
Its place here may prove mildly baffling to the hardcore gunslingers, but despite its leanings towards being something of a baby game, Free Realms somewhat stole my heart this year. A free-to-download MMO with optional micropayments opening up additional content, it's a bit of a WoW-by-committee if you will...albeit one that somehow pulls it off. That is, create a similarly addictive, super-accessible MMO world, that cuts pretty much every single slab of frustration and downtime out of its ancestors, and opts for pure unadulterated fun. The sheer amount of stuff to do - from hunting, to go-kart racing, to cooking and beyond - is somewhat staggering, and you can hop in and out of each such activity as little or as much as you wish.

The only downside to Free Realms really, is its overly kiddy exterior. It's aimed at kids, and does so admirably, but despite a gorgeous look and feel...will most likely keep adults at bay because of it. I love the world, and find it choc-full of charm, but could never plow the hours into such a syrupy sweet universe as I would a more darker, meaner game.

23. Operation Flashpoint - Dragon Rising (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)

Many call ArmA the real Op Flash successor, but for more accessible tactical FPS shenanigans, Dragon Rising fits the bill
Probably my biggest disappointment of the year all being said, Op Flashpoint is never the less a damn fine game, with the above statement speaking more to how god damn much I worshipped the original, than this game's shortcomings.

Follow-up to the originator of realistic, first person squad-based shooters - one that has since spawned more clones than Jango Fett himself - Codemasters have done a solid enough job of taking that classic Flashpoint feel of old, and refashioning it for the next generation with a pleasing dose of the new. Exploring miles of endless countryside is just as engrossing as ever - not to mention equally as tense - as stray sniper bullets and hidden machine gun nests regularly cut your team down to half in less than a second. The studying of maps, planning of attacks, and picking off of distant figures along the horizon is just as potent as it always was, and that sure brings back plenty of nostalgia to this aging gamer of the noughties.

At least, in co-op. Flashpoint, you see, is also unfinished, frustrating, and even a little boring at times. Your team-mate AI is so laughably bad it actually caused me to stop playing by myself, while long, monotonous missions can often negate the aforementioned tense, tight combat that punctuates those endless sunday strolls. When the strategy, tactics and satisfaction of battle come to the forefront, it's a riot. The rest of the time? Not so much. I'd still take it over ArmA2 though, given the choice (which admittedly, is also rather good).

Resort requires the Motion Plus addon. If no more games make use of the thing, you'll still get your money's worth right here. Begrudgingly
22. Wii Sports Resort (Wii)

The Wii had a damp old year in terms of quantity, but there were at least three fantastic games worth a note. Resort's a frankly wonderful Wii title for instance, that most certainly plays to the system's strengths, and does an admirable job of reminding us just why we all fell for the hype some three odd years back in the first place. Thought all games would be like this, didn't we?

That it took so long to happen would worry, had the hardcore gaming world not long-since stopped caring, but for better or worse, Wii Sports finally has a successor in Resort. A far superior title that shows up its daddy for the hilariously random and skill-less kiddy game it was. Thanks to the new-fangled - yet worryingly under-used beyond this game - Motion-Plus add-on, Wii Sports Resort hints at what motion sensitive videogaming could theoretically become. That is, funny, physical, and pleasingly tactile orgies of insanity. Love it.

21. Left 4 Dead 2 (Xbox 360/PC)

More zombie genocide for four first person co-op buddies. L4D2 sure smells similar, but still proves hella fun for all
I've not played a ton of this to be honest - which for such a high-profile game, speaks much as to how god damn good this year's line-up was - but Left 4 Dead 2 was certainly a pleasant surprise for me. Never mentioned it around these parts, but I found the first to be a big old overhyped Source mod, that while plenty of fun, really didn't have the length nor staying power to demand its ?40 price tag. Sorry. Valve's bolting on of another five campaigns so soon after, gave me few hopes that the sequel would be little more than an expansion pack. And, once again, for forty-bloody-quid.

While that is indeed the case in many ways, there's no denying Left 4 Dead 2 is a downright ace game though, and in many ways, what the first one should have been. One that takes the original's solid premise and does an admirable job of simply...cranking. Everything's at 11 here, from the kick-arse new weapons, to the jacked-up difficulty, to the crazy new infected, to the far more inventive level design. Bonking zombies on the head with a frying pan is a particular highlight - as is dismembering 'em with a chainsaw - with this addition of melee weapons just one such area of improvement that make it pretty damn hard to go back to bog-standard Louis and co.

Hopefully Valve'll do a better job on the DLC front this time round, and thus make L4D2 a little more sustained, and a lot better value.

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Raven return with a brand new Wolf game. Despite a dated exterior and it being zero competition to the first person heavy hitters, it's a fine little update to Return to Castle Wolfenstein
20. Wolfenstein (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)

A wee bit underrated - on PC, at least - Wolfenstein slipped in under the radar and never really amounted to much last year. 'Tis a crying shame if you ask me, given its being a sequel to the great-great-baby-daddy of first person shooters as we know 'em.

Pixilated Hitler and un-textured floors ain't to be found here however, Wolfenstein is a tad more cutting edge than all that. There are some pleasingly original concepts at work in fact, from a cool hub-based open-world, to customizable weapon upgrades, on to bat-shit supernatural powers such as a Warrior Within-style "dark" world that you can flip on and off at will. The ability to travel via this parallel universe as you so please provides a breath-taking real-time transformation, opening up inventive puzzle solving and enhanced combat abilities. Combined with satisfying shoot-outs and amputatable limbs, it's another WWII game with a welcome dose of originality for once. Which - let's be honest - hasn't particularly been the case in recent decades...

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Despite varying connection "quirks", SFIV can be a riot online. But with a group o' pals piling into the living room? There are few so hilarious
19. Street Fighter IV (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)

Part sequel, part remake o' II, Street Fighter's comeback was really a return to form in my eyes (being that it somewhat lost me beyond the SNES days). The classic host of characters are a sight for sore eyes, while the new specials and super bad-ass Ultra Combos add just the right amount of sheen for old vets seeking teh new.

Yeah, I'm not totally sold on the graphics, which bizarrely meld cartoon-caliber environments with often-times ugly-arse character models, but even the sight of Chun-Li's nasty freak arse tree trunk legs can't take away the smile-inducing glee of dragon punching dudes online in a brand new Street Fighter. What a time we live in.

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Think Shatter's no better than those block bouncing games that came bundled with your old mobile? Your douchedom knows no bounds, sir
18. Shatter (PS3)

Proof that games need not huge amounts of depth nor complexity, Shatter feels plucked straight outta the '80s, yet manages to go toe to toe with just about anything else seen in the download space this past year or two. It's Arkanoid meets Geometry Wars, as your slidey paddle bounces a ball around, bashing away blocks for points with contending with hilariously pun-addled boss names. The brilliance comes in the updates though, in that Shatter uses awesome physics, a great suck/blow mechanic, and a gorgeous Lumines-esque aesthetic with ample use o' phat beats.

That it boasts easily the best video game soundtrack of the year doesn't hurt, but even without it, Shatter's a fab slab of simplistic joy, that's only really missing a multiplayer mode. Sequel, please.

17. Metroid Prime Trilogy (Wii)

2009 was the year of Metroid for me. No actual new games came out, but not only did I cane this re-release hard, but also discovered the wonder of the old 2D titles. Big. Fucking. Time
Corruption - aka Metroid Prime 3 - is still one of the true Wii classics, so Nintendo's porting, enhancing and bundling of its Gamecube prequels into one package alongside it made a ton of sense in that "throw a bone to the old skool fans" kinda way. Replaying Prime 1 and 2 with waggle controls is a joyous experience, truth be told, that not only breathes a little extra life into two fantastic games, but proves just how darn ace they hold up to boot.

It says a ton that seven years on, that timeless Prime formula has not only failed to be beaten, but has so few peers. Samus' exploration, item gathering and minimal, yet expert use of combat is somewhat untouched within the first person genre, with a truly distinct feel that I'd love to see tackled in some other franchises (and on other systems, for that matter).

Conspiracy theorists claim minor downgrades in the visuals over the Gamecube originals, and the new Wii controls aren't quite as fundamentally intertwined into the game as they were with the Wii-exclusive Corruption (expect little in the way of pulling levels and welding hatches here). Given the improved shooter control that the Wii-mote affords however - not to mention the gorgeous new 16:9 widescreen mode - Trilogy goes down as the definitive versions of these ace games by a long mile. As someone who loves this series, but never finished 1 and barely touched 2, it's given me the perfect excuse to fill some blanks in my gaming past that I've been welcoming with open arms.

16. Killzone 2 (PS3)

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Screenshots do her no justice, Killzone is gorgeous
Another PS3-exclusive, but one I expected to place higher, Killzone's got some serious issues, for sure. A dark, violent sci-fi FPS that has become synonymous with the system since its initial, dubiously fake trailer, more than anything else it simply suffers from "Army of Two syndrome" I'm sad to report. In that it's an amazing, atmospheric, stunningly crafted title...that simply fails to get the basics right. Solid shooting and tight controls. There's a noticeable lag and heaviness to possessing your dude here, one that permeates its way through every single second of playing the damn thing, and it's such a pity given everything else going on around it is of such immense, high quality.

So why does it feature half-way up a list of the year's absolute finest? Quite simply, the graphics slut within just can't neglect the prettiest game of the year. If not ever. KZ2 is jaw-droppingly stunning, you see. The detail of the environments, the incredible lighting, the animation of your guys, and the most amazing post-production effects yet seen, all create a near-film like look that is arguably more fun to watch than it is actually play. 'Tis also one of two such examples on this page of how the PS3 is...pssst...really starting to tower over the Xbox graphically these days.

I should note, those above control issues? Non-existent in multiplayer. Weird, but true. Which is neat, given how much fun it is, and how similarly gorgeous it remains. Taking Call of Duty's emphasis on leveling up and unlocking shit, but melding it to an arguably more intriguing series of game modes (that pleasingly switch type on the fly), it's a belly full o' fun, and stole some serious hours of life last year.

Too young to remember the classic that was Monkey Island? You missed out, man. Big time. Check further down though, baby TPS reader, as the original game in all its glory just got remade in swanky HD. Hell of a year for Monkey Island fans
15. Tales of Monkey Island (PC/Wii)

Okay, I've only played the first episode. I guess amidst all the end of year hustle, Monkey Island was the first to get dropped. Its four-odd hour length was pure joy to this old time Monkey Island fan however. The return of Guybrush Threepwood and his hilariously barmy pirate adventures clicked instantly, and managed to feel right at home in a non-shoehorned in way. One that - despite a strong start - Sam & Max have arguably struggled with a tad more in their similar, but far more repetitive return to the modern age.

A weird new control scheme means this sequel-slash-off-shoot is not quite in the same point 'n' clicker vein as the originals if you wanna get technical, but while it's seen some updates to the mechanics, the flavor and humor is very much vintage. And that's most certainly a good thing. It's the most I laughed at a game all year in fact, and I keep forgetting there's four subsequent parts still sitting on my hard drive in wait.

14. New Super Mario Brothers Wii (Wii)

4-player Mario seems like something we should have been playing for years. It ain't online here, but sure beats nothing
Every mention of the Wii on this page seems to be a back-handed compliment of sorts in which I casually berate the damn thing, but I'll hold off on this occasion as Mario's latest is quite simply amazing. A proper return to 2D decorum after the (hey, look over there!) not-quite-as-wondrous-as-they-all-say Galaxy, and the fun-but-oddly-lacking DS game, Mario Brothers Wii is the true sequel I've been waiting for since 1991's Super Mario World. A game, you won't remember, I hailed as "the best damn console game ever made" some time ago.

I stand by that without hesitation, and while Mario Wii doesn't quite match up to those lofty accolades of course, it is very much a throw-back to those same, timeless old skool antics. Yoshi! Suits! Flying ships! Frickin' Ghost Houses!!!

As one solitary upgrade over past Mario incarnations, the game also adds full-blown four player co-op to the proceedings. It's the two player mode which strikes the perfect balance between the fun and the hectic for me though, and is how I recommend most experience it first time through.

Needless, yet thankfully minor waggle, plus an insane difficulty mountain somewhat hold things back in the game's latter portions, but on the whole this is Nintendo doing exactly what they do best. It's easily the best Wii game of the year, and will still be selling this time in half a decade, mark my words.

13. Flower (PS3)

Flower's lovely, as was Fl0w. Not sure about Cloud though
Looks like someone threw a stick, 'cos we just hit another PS3 exclusive. This 'uns a downloader too, and quite different to...well, everything else on this page. Flower comes courtesy of Fl0w developers That Game Company, and is a similarly inspired, beautiful art project that defies standard video game convention.

This time mind you, TGC have done away with the minimal, and embraced the extravagant. Flower is an explosion of brightness, color and rainbow-like imagery, one that sees you controlling a petal in the wind, hurling across lavish country meadows and gorgeous summer vistas. Merely touching passing flowers recruits additional petals as you explore, so that by the end of each level you'll have a wondrous trail of hundreds. The visual effect is stunning, and when married to the Steve Reich-esque tunes that - of course - react to your every move, the result in a true sensory experience that's really kinda moving.

Despite its bright, iconic imagery however, it's the far more understated and atmospheric night-time level that truly stands out in my mind. Wow.

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Build up your resources, setup those gun turrets, lay in wait...then watch 'em fry. The tower defense genre is bit of a revelation...and this from he who ain't into strategy games
12. Defense Grid (Xbox 360/PC)

Among other things, 2009 could be described as year of the tower defense game, as regardless of system and tastes, it felt like you couldn't go a week before another fell outta the sky onto your lap (Savage Moon, South Park, Geo Defense, Star Defense, Fieldrunners, Vector TD and more spring to mind). If you're new to the genre, tower defense is a sorta real-time strategy off-shoot that dials the genre back a coupe o' notches for those of us who find the whole thing a bit of a slog. You can expect more confined, static environments here - and no controllable armies per se - instead a series of streamlined build points which which to construct walls and gun emplacements, typically to defend a base of sorts. As waves of attacking enemies get mowed down, you earn cash with which to upgrade your arsenal and unlock better weaponry, and so on and so forth. Then move onto the next.

Defense Grid is my pick of the bunch however - at least, discounting #8 further down - and takes the crown for not necessarily being original or unique, but just downright perfected. It's pretty much the genre at its peak, with fantastic level design, a lovingly steeped learning curve, spectacular weaponry, and a gorgeous sci-fi aesthetic not too dissimilar to Halo Wars, in fact. I'd love to see a handheld port o' this.

11. Borderlands (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)

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Borderlands is a 4-player cell-shaded loot-scrounging FPS. With all the best bits of an MMO too, it's far more original than most
Gears of War mastermind Cliff Bleszinski claims the FPS/RPG hybrid is the future of the shooter, and with Fallout 3, STALKER, and now Borderlands dominating the past few years, I'm not about to disagree. Let us not forget, I've been claiming Deus Ex the greatest game of all-time for many years now too. Borderlands sounds worryingly similar to Fallout on paper in fact, due to a similarly post apocalyptic setting, bleak desert-like wasteland to explore, and even inane chatter about "underground vaults" if you pay attention to the plot.

Fire it up though, and you'll find anything but. Borderlands has far more in common with the MMO genre than Bethesda's recent classic, and is setup almost identically to something more akin to Guild Wars and co., with some real-time shooting thrown in on top. Exploring the gorgeous planet of Pandora (Cameron says hi), you'll find a downright identical setup in fact, with hub towns full of NPCs, mission boards to peruse, loot to nab, and even auction house style vendors at your disposal. In fact, teaming up with three buds in the wonderfully realized co-op mode feels borderline identical to running instances in the average subscription-based game. But thankfully without one. This, I like.

Borderlands has some minor issues, particularly in its vehicular handling, item management and initially limp weapon load-outs. Get the hang of it all, uncover the more interesting locations, and loot the more inventive of its (half a million claimed) weapons and you'll enjoy a weird and wonderful take on the multiplayer dungeon crawler here however. Which as a bonus, boasts some of the more original and unique art design seen in years.

Demon's Souls: tough shit
10. Demon's Souls (PS3)

We needn't ramble on too long about Demon's Souls, given it's one of approximately two new games I actually sat down and wrote about last year, but never the less, Mr. Souls inventive take on the hack 'n' slash genre certainly deserves another highlight as we enter the top 10.

With a little distance, Demon's ain't quite as mind-blowing as I had it pegged for earlier this year (it hovered around the top slot for a while, believe it or not), and is far more niche than its rabid followers would have you believe. For those who dig this sort of thing though, they'll find few so engrossing, nor quite so original. Check out last month's review for the full low-down.

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Single player? No thanks. But RE5 is prob co-op game of '09. A March release I continue to play to this day
9. Resident Evil 5 (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)

It wasn't all doom and gloom for the 360 in 2009 by any means, as although exclusives were indeed somewhat lacking, time is seeing more and more previously Playstation-only titles jump ship and go cross-platform. Resident Evil is one such beast, and while some'll call numero five here a colossal let-down and a bummer of epic proportions, I'll play my contrarian card and proclaim them blasphemers and douchebags in roughly equal doses.

RE5 ain't the game-changer of its last-gen outing by any means - which, of course, explains 90% of the hatred - but it is by far my fave zombie game of the recent downpour. What Resi lacks in originality and - oddly enough - scares, it more than makes up for in top quality multiplayer action, see, with a superb co-operative mode that is arguably the only way to play the darn thing. I recently enjoyed my third completion, and found it just as fun as ever, to be honest.

8. PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe (PSP)

The other tower defense game I hinted at earlier, and a bit of a cop-out given Monsters got a shout last year on the PS3, this recent handheld port deserves triple the kudos however, as quite frankly, it's my fave PSP game yet. True, the tried and tested PJM gameplay remains largely unchanged, with you building them towers, defending against beasties, and dancing around to your heart's content...but somehow the formula just works oh so much better in the palm of your hand. And I can't stress that enough.

Throw in a ton of a new levels, fantastic visuals, and even a freakin' online mode, and it ain't hard to see why Monsters stole worryingly large amounts of my time this year, both in and out of the house. And when you're playing a handheld game on the sofa - with an HDTV gathering dust in the background - you just know something is up.

7. Assassin's Creed II (Xbox 360/PS3)

Gliding in under the radar somewhat, with far less fanfare than its uneven predecessor did, Ass Creed II fared all the more better for it, and turned out surprisingly brilliant really. With Alta?r relegated to a considerably more average PSP game, Creed's recent console outing set sights on a new protagonist for its parkour flavored murdering simulator sequel. That would be Ezio, a Casanova of a teenage troublemaker living in water-infused, Renaissance Italy.

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AC 2 does a far better job at interweaving its sci-fi premise within the game proper. At the risk of dropping hints, expect Desmond to see some action...
Of course, Creed's nonsense sci-fi trappings remain, with you actually resuming the role of Desmond; futuristic bartender and one of 30 characters on this page to feature the voice of Nolan North. But for the most part, Desmond finds himself strapped down in the Animus 2.0 VR machine. Reenacting the life and times of Ezio in an attempt to learn years of assassin skills in mere hours.

It's a neat idea, with a far more coherent plot than the last game (up until a WTF ending), that's thankfully just one of a hundred facets improved dramatically over Ass Creed 1 in nearly every conceivable way. Mission variety is wildly expanded for another, with - get this - only a handful of actual assassination missions peppered throughout its 20 odd hours. Then there's the platforming, which is similarly upgraded to included full-blown self-contained "dungeons" of sorts. Ones that pleasingly remind of 2003's yet-to-be-beat Sands of Time, in fact.

Most impressive of all though, is the surprising inclusion of a city-building side objective that runs concurrently throughout the entire game. It's Fable II meets Sim-City, and is a pleasing addition which provides far more meaning to side quests and cash collecting, in that it all goes on upgrading said city now. Everything from new buildings and vendors, to decorating your house with (authentic) works of art is possible, and I'd love to see something similar used in the upcoming Thief 4 I must say, which seems kinda perfect to me.

Peeps'll tell you that Creed batters its predecessor then, claiming that a mere "tech demo" by comparison. But while true, they neglect to mention one crucial point, and it's my single biggest gripe with the game as a whole; the first Creed enjoyed considerably better ideas in the aforementioned actual assassination missions. The sequel tasks you with far more "stuff", but the actual killing bits? Few and far between. And not all that memorable.

Thankfully everything else you do is fuckin' fab though. Loved it.

6. Halo 3 - ODST (Xbox 360)

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ODST boasts a serene, oddly beautiful minimalism, at least in its interspersed night time stages. Expect a huge change in pace from the standard Halo fare, and some of the prettiest, most surprising music of the year
There are two trains of conflicting thought that run rampant throughout my mind when it comes to ODST. On the one hand it's simply more Halo, and at times, feels a lil' d?j? vu to those of us who caned Halo 3 into the triple digit hours. Scant few new weapons, identical enemies, and still no frickin' Elites don't help.

Yet while gameplay-wise there's nothing hugely innovative here, it does boast a noticeable shift in tone that I for one am a huge mother freakin' fan for. Halo's story always meant jack to me, so to find the series rid of Master Chef at last, and instead taking a Band of Brothers route is a welcome change of style, that most definitely sucked me in from a story telling standpoint for the first time in...forever. As a rookie skydiver trapped behind enemy lines at night time - searching relentlessly for his squad within a futuristic warzone - the concept hooked me in from the get-go, and I was forever anxious to see just where it took me next. The inclusion of the entire god damn cast of Firefly didn't hurt either, even if their faces mildly resemble burns victims here.

As you uncover clues to your squad's whereabouts and the game splinters off into flashback missions, it more closely resembles the Halos of old. A sort of "best of" compilation comprised of brand new takes on Halo's Warthog level, Halo 2's tank level, and my fave of all, a captivating air assault sequence. But while these missions add little new for the experienced Halo addict, they do still remind us of a few things. How damn perfect this series nails combat, how awesome the AI is, and how much effin' fun co-op can be for starters. And that's not counting the brand new Firefight mode, which is most definitely the "Mercenaries" addition to this game's "Resident Evil", and a whole other side-game in its own right.

5. Shadow Complex (Xbox 360)

My fave 360 exclusive of 2009 is - oddly enough - a download-only Live Arcade title however. One courtesy of Gears devs Epic, which while you'd never guess from looking at, actually uses that same engine at its core.

Shadow Complex is a fab looking, non-linear, downloadable explore 'em up, punctuated by fast, tight combat that all Xboxers should own
Not that Shadow Complex looks bad or anything. Quite the contrary, in fact; in the download space you'll be hard pressed to find anything quite so revolutionary. Visually, at least, as gameplay-wise Shadow Complex takes its cues very much from the side-scrolling platformers of yester-decade. And it's herein where its power resides.

It's part Contra, part Flashback, and mostly Metroid, taking the latter's emphasis on non-linearity and exploration then running with it to exciting new next-generation places. So while you charge around with assault rifles, picking off dudes in a quasi twin-stick shooter fashion, you'll also be seeking out upgrades, studying your environment for secrets, and crawling through air vents like Bruce Willis with shoes on. Die Hard's a worthy comparison in fact, as Shadow boasts a similar "trapped in a building with the bad guys" plotline, and plenty of '80s era one man army shenanigans.

The side scrolling adventure-y platformer is a genre, I'll admit, to having never really toyed with up until now. You know what though? Shadow Complex converted me. Since devouring its fantastic campaign and exploring every nook and cranny for way longer than I'd care to admit, I've gone on to seek out every single other Metroid-style old skool explore 'em up I can get my hands on. Symphony of the Night is currently burnt onto my PSP screen through overplay as we speak...

4. Call of Duty - Modern Warfare 2 (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)

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Love me some CoD, but what's with all the first person blood spatter? Smearing the screen with jam evey time you get shot gets old. Quick
One surprising twist in '09 was the passing of the mantle from Halo to Call of Duty as the premier online first person shooter series, with it selling record breaking day one numbers that battered even the GTA games back in their heyday. After playing War for about 30 seconds, it ain't hard to see why either. As shooters go, its just about the pinnacle right now, with an air-tight smoothness to the movement, and rock solid satisfaction to the kill that simply never grows old. Except, perhaps, when slaughtering hundreds of innocent holiday makers at the airport. Humph. Didn't like that level.

Beyond that though, I loved this game with a passion. CoD has always felt a little overly linear and lacking in depth to me, but while MW2 is no less scripted than its forefathers were, it finds so much excitement and captivation in its sequences that you'll have no problem replaying them until the end of time...much like re-watching a top quality action flick. From creepy end-of-the-world shoot-outs in front of the Whitehouse, to hilariously comedic firefights on top of Burger King, it's a wild ride to be sure, making full use of its US location and 24-style alternate reality. Just typing about it makes me wanna fire her up again right now in fact...and I've barely even touched multiplayer. Or Spec Ops. Or Veteran.

3. Uncharted 2 - Among Thieves (PS3)

The first Uncharted? A fine game, but nothing more. When peeps ramble on incessantly about Uncharted 2 though? Trust me, it's the real deal this time. Everything hinted at in the original is fully formed at last, with considerably better platforming antics, noticeable improvements in the sound and visuals, and perhaps most impressive of all? Some of the finest storytelling ever committed to game.

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Outside of Avatar (the movie), Uncharted 2 does the finest job of the year at rendering CG characters with genuine emotion. I could happily sit through a feature length film of these guys
It speaks volumes that in a time when Indiana Jones is embarrassing himself with a new movie that sees the average viewer burying their face in their palm for much of its duration, a far more engaging (and frankly, believable) take on that character simultaneously emerges in video game form. One, I'd argue, considerably more watchable than anything seen in the average summer blockbuster these days. Part of that's down to top quality voice work (yep, Nolan North returns), but it's also in the tech driving those lines. The eye movements. The facial expressions. Just the casual gazes characters give one another. Truly unprecedented. That such antics are interspersed with a fucking fab third person action adventure almost feels like a bonus, but make no mistake, I'd be singing the bastard's praises with or without those cut-scenes.

It's a game that keeps on giving, with endless variety and setpieces, along with simply marvelous platforming work that makes Tomb Raider feel about as sterile as a gynae ward. I love the way these environments react to your touch, squeaking, breaking and collapsing as you clamber around their every ledge and crevice. It's such an awesome addition, that summarizes the amazing attention to detail coursing throughout the veins of this entire game. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Thieves is one of the best looking console titles ever as well, with some truly phenomenal texture work that's sharp enough to poke an eye out.

I guess it all goes a little too combat-heavy towards the end, which is the only real reason you don't see U2 adorning the #2, or even #1 slot below. For whatever reason, Naughty Dog obsess over chucking you into massive arenas against waves upon waves of bullet sponges for the final two hours. Which was never this series' strength, let's be honest.

2. Batman - Arkham Asylum (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)

Take Splinter Cell's stealth and gadget systems, and lock 'em in a room with Dead Space. Mate their baby fetus with Condemned's investigative mini-games, and chuck in a subtle pinch of Bioshock's haunted beauty. The result - along with a four-way gang-bang between many o' Dig's next-gen faves - would be this wondrous concoction. A jaw-dropping masterpiece that seemingly appeared outta nowhere and took the gaming world by storm these past six months.

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What goes around comes around. Batman's brutal refinement of the stealth genre is not only a huge dollop of fun in its own right, but seems to be massively influencing the upcoming Splinter Cell
Batman's the rare jack-of-all-trades that masters each, and leaves none behind. Along with the aforementioned top-tier titles, it just as often chucks in fantastic brawling action too for example - that I shit yee not - is almost as fun to bash your way through as Dig-fave Devil May Cry 4 in its own unique way. Racking up 40-hit combos has never been so glorious.

Those stealth mechanics feel pleasantly streamlined too, thankfully trimming out all the frustration the genre's typical become known for. Batman's not a stealth game that punishes you for getting caught, no sir; it's one that rewards you for not. You ain't a victim, hiding out to avoid death here. You're a predator. One who gets off on murdering fools before they even know what hit 'em.

Setting traps, devouring entire rooms of guards, then swinging off into the rafters above in mere seconds provides such a fantastic sense of brooding empowerment, and genuinely captures that feeling of inhabiting the dark knight like no game has ever done before. Hell, I'd even call it the best superhero game full-stop, let alone Batman one.

It's another such title to exhibit that same non-linear, item gathering exploration-tinged gameplay we discussed earlier as well, and along with the Prime trilogy previously touched upon, goes to show that this genre can indeed work quite marvelously in three dimensions too.

What a game.

1. Dragon Age - Origins (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)

I really, really wish I'd gotten around to a full-blown write-up of this last month, as there's just oh so much to discuss within Dragon Age's 100+ hours that I don't know where to begin. In a year of role playing games of all shapes and sizes, it simply stands out as, well - PC Gamer put it best - the "RPG of the decade". A landmark in the genre arguably never reached before.

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Another epic single player RPG from Bioware. Is it any different than their others? Well, no, actually. But yes!
You may presume this down to revolutionary concepts and cutting edge technology, but...not really. It's almost unapologetically old skool, in fact. A Bioware game from the good old days. One that casts off Mass Effect's more original ideas, such as twitchy combat and real-time conversations, for a shamelessly deep and nuanced computer game. Yeah, I know it went cross-platform later in development, but who are we kidding? This is a PC game folks, through and through. Turn of the millennium-era hardcore role playing for the D&D crowd still living in their parent's basement. And I mean that in the greatest possible way!

I followed this game from the off, since some five odd years back when it was first announced. It looked far different then of course, all bright and cartoony by comparison, before retreating into secrecy and emerging many years later with a brand new facelift. As development progressed, Dragon Age took a far darker route, it seems, all gory and bleak now, even if it lacks some of the naughtier grit found in the (shockingly similar) The Witcher.

Baldur's Gate was clearly at the forefront of Bioware's mind in conceiving Dragon's Age though, and it shows. Strategic, mage-heavy combat. Party-based adventuring. Zoomed-out, isometric camera angels (at least, on PC). And even many of that game's original developers are all present and correct. At the same time, expect whiffs of Neverwinter in the bundled modding tools, not to mention Bioware's own pledge to deliver two full years o' DLC (hell, the first full-on retail expansion is due in just two months). Knights of the Old Republic is an even bigger influence, with full voice acting of every single character, along with deep, branching dialogue trees and in-depth banter between your party members that never grows old. At often times it even feels like you're running around in that same game...albeit with steel in your hands, rather than beams of light.

Despite taking bits and clumps from their entire back catalogue, Bioware learn and improve too. The aforementioned character interactions are the best they've ever been for one, with everything from multiple, intertwining love triangles possible with your party members, to some even throwing down the gauntlet and trying to kill you should your plot decisions not gel with their ideals. You can make the game nigh-on impossible to complete if you consistently piss off the wrong people, and boy do I love that sorta "living what ones decisions" type stuff. You will smile at times. You will cry at others. But most of all you'll laugh your socks off at the game's perfectly pitched dark sense of humor. And you thought this stuff hit its peak with HK-47? Think again.

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Dragon Age does the best job yet at providing a solid ensemble of fantastically realised video game characters. There's just so much to discuss and "do" via mingling with 'em, details would spoil all the best of the many surprises
Artistically, I'm a fan too. Dragon gets a bad rep for the ugly, but ignore the haters and the whining coming from the console crowd, 'cos on a decked-out PC, this is top of the line material, my friend. It's certainly the prettiest fantasy RPG I've ever played, with glorious animation, detailed caverns, and suitably epic views for as far as the eye can see. Wait until you get into the Deep Roads and survey what's beneath you. Or gaze out upon Lake Calenhad at night for the very first time. And yeah, I continually dis the console ports, but even there you'll find silky smooth performance and none of the stuttering that's plagued Bioware's console forays of the past. You will find bugs, though.

In keeping with its return to the olden days, Dragon Age is a tough old bastard, I'll admit. At its stock medium setting, death comes repeatedly, to the point where micromanagement and constant pauses become the name of the game if you plan to succeed. Switch it down to easy, and it becomes far more standard WRPG fare, but as a loot whoring perfectionist in these games - one who ransacks every nook and cranny while pursuing each and all side-quests - I welcomed this ramped up difficulty aimed more at my playing style. Even with the most decked-out of parties, I had trouble with its more trying stretches. Quite simply, you aren't invincible in Dragon Age, and it's another aspect I adore.

The loving ramble could continue, had you not slogged your way through thousands of words prior to this, so I'll wrap things up shortly. I've not even touched upon the incredible characters and their equally as intriguing back stories either. The pleasingly "grey" nature to the game's tougher decisions, and the lack of a clear cut choices for goody two-shoes players. Not to mention the sheer darkness demanded of the evil ones. The twists and turns of the plot. The voice-acting. Alistair's jokes. Shale. The dog. Horny witches. Gay dwarves. And - of course - the ending.

We don't need to talk about that just yet, but needless to say, Dragon Age is the most engrossing and outright greatest game I played in 2009. It certainly looks set to become another on-going franchise for Bioware, and while it may not be my personal favorite of their many great games - an accolade which still belongs to KOTOR - it is, quite possibly, their best. And just like Mass Effect, boasts such an intriguing universe...that I'm tempted to pick up the novels.

Which is crazy! I don't read.

Honorable Mentions

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Riddick returns with a snazzy HD remake, and bundled bonus campaign
The Chronicles of Riddick - Dark Athena (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)

A fantastic remake of an Xbox great, Riddick looks lovely all up-rezzed and motion blurred, and thankfully his adventure hasn't lost its edge either.

Call of Juarez - Bound in Blood (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)

Call of Duty goes western, and with surprisingly sweet results. For a solid, fast-paced, almost identically playing shooter - albeit one with a whole loada bolt action rifles - step right up.

The Secret of Monkey Island - Special Edition (Xbox 360/PC/iPhone)

The original PC classic sees a well-deserved re-release. The new HD art isn't for me (and sadly ain't a patch on Curse), but added voices and a spruced up soundtrack? Sign me up.

Having a hard time with this on iPhone right now. Stick to the PC and Live versions
The Legend of Zelda - Spirit Tracks (DS)

Phantom Hourglass had its moments, but Nintendo's latest fixes 90% of its probs to fantastic effect, in easily the top DS title of the year. Still not sold on the train bits, mind.

LittleBigPlanet (PSP)

The lack of multiplayer's a downer, but Planet translates to portable almost flawlessly beyond it. Well recommended.

F.E.A.R. 2 - Project Origin (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)

Monolith continue to pump out top quality shooters with a very distinct mood and atmosphere that no one else can touch. Freaky.

Dead Space - Extraction (Wii)

'Cos any mature Wii exclusive needs a nod around here, no?

The Ones I Missed

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Crack's demo left me cold I'm afraid. Time-based puzzles involving multiple characters? I'm still recovering from Braid, thank you
Ratchet & Clank - A Crack in Time (PS3)

Love me some Ratchet, but this may have been one Lombax too many. I'll seek him out in the bargain bins later this year.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma II (PS3)

Upgraded PS3 counterpart to the somewhat unfinished 360 slice 'n' dicer with extra campaign bits, new characters, and added co-op sweetness. Want.

Divinity II - Ego Draconis (Xbox 360/PC)

Another epic western RPG? Not what the year needed, though I hear this is also surprisingly slick. Where can one find more time?

Ya know what? LOTRO's great. Really happy this one continues to thrive
God of War Collection (PS3)

Available only via import right now, the PS3 saw some supposedly lovely HD upgrades of the old PS2 classics in 2009. Could be a nice gap-filler while we wait for God of War III this year. When I get around to it.

Lord of the Rings Online - Siege of Mirkwood (PC)

Dig's fave MMO got another expansion at the tail-end of 2009. As LOTRO continues to carve a nice little community out for itself under the shadow of WoW, I'll quietly admit to having barely scratched the surface of the last add-on either. Time to dust off my 54 hunter...

Stuff to Look Out For in 2010

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Sloth love Chunk
Rage (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)

ID's answer to Fallout and Borderlands takes a similar first person, open-world stab at the deserted futuristic wasteland thang, with added MotorStorm style drivey bits thrown in for good measure. Could be their triumphant return if all goes according to plan. I can't wait.

Mass Effect 2 (Xbox 360/PC)

Sci-fi RPG sequel set to improve dramatically on original's minor, but noticeable shortcomings. As a bonus, it'll launch day and date with the PC version this time out. There's a zillion humungous spoilers floating around regarding this game right now, but I'd advise all to wait for its launch later this month if they know what's good for 'em. Shepard's space-faring return to save the world from the Reapers deserves to be enjoyed unspoiled, unsoiled, and with fresh, virgin eyes. Weird that another potential Bioware game of the year is all but three weeks away as I write this, but I sure ain't complaining.

Bayonetta (Xbox 360/PS3)

Edge magazine recently proclaimed it one of the best action games ever, and given its close ties to the Devil May Cry series - along with my still-alive and beating, dick devouring worship for DMC4 - you can imagine how psyched that makes me. Hot 60 FPS button bashing action with added T'n'A, not to mention the ability to turn into a frickin' panther? THERE. It's due this week.

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A sort of point 'n' click adventure game comprised of 90% QTEs, Heavy Rain at least looks darn cool
Heavy Rain (PS3)

Quick-time event: The Game? An interactive film? Pretentious pile o' shite? I await such answers with baited breath. Heavy Rain is the follow-up to Quantic Dream's bizarre, often middling Fahrenheit, and comes equipped with similarly off-the-wall concepts and - well - downright stupid controls. That they drive an admittedly engrossing serial killer storyline, with truly jaw-dropping cinematic flare, is hard to ignore though, so I'm curious to see how this ends up.

Halo - Reach (Xbox 360)

Little's known about Bungie's latest, and by all accounts final Halo game, and on first announcement I didn't particularly care either. One can most definitely OD, even on their most favored IPs. That was, until the recent trailer of course. Ooh, the pretty! Apparently it's an FPS. It looks good. It's a prequel. And it has Warthogs in it. But will it really be different enough to previous outings? Or just another Halo. Again.

Alpha Protocol (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)

Obsidian's twist on the contemporary RPG/shooter hybrid was one of many 2009 delays, but based on iffy past footage, it'll enjoy the extra time and polish. A modern day spy take on their previous RPG outings, I'm hoping for some top quality espionage-ing of the Bond/Bourne/Bauer variety.

Medal of Honor - Modern Warfare (ahem) (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)

EA attempt to strike back amidst a Call of Duty "off year" with something looking awfully familiar. Set in contemporary Afghanistan, it seems pretty cool I guess.

For all its win, ODST was a bit lightweight. Will Reach send the series off in style?
Splinter Cell - Conviction (Xbox 360/PC)

Way too long in development, with a new look and feel that the Dig ain't entirely feeling, next month sees the long-awaited return of Sam Fisher, and in a Microsoft exclusive no less. I'm not anti-change by any means - and accept that we've had four or five fantastic Splinter Cell games in the traditional style already - but I guess this all looks a little too divorced from what's come before for me. "Mark and execute" looks like a lame win button, and the lack of Spies Vs Mercs multiplayer is a similarly humungous let-down for sure. A fully-featured co-op campaign and the return of The Fish cannot be overlooked though. Fine, I'm in.

God of War III (PS3)

With PS3 power backing him up, all eyes are on Kratos to see what kinda epic shit the growling bald one can conjure up this time out. Early word of mouth though, claim this ain't a patch on Bayonetta...

Bioshock 2 (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)

Iffy premise and tacked-on multiplayer can't overshadow the giddiness of returning to Rapture. Yeah, I have about as much interest in playing a Big Daddy as I do engaging in blunt ruler castration, but there's just something magical about this universe that's embedded its way into my heart these past few years. Expect it soon.

Aliens Vs Predator (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)

Gearbox' Aliens-themed first person shooter Colonial Marines saw a canning in 2009 - as did Obsidian's oddly conceived Aliens RPG - but in their place we at least saw announcement of the game we probably all wanted to see in the first place; a long-awaited follow-up to the old Aliens Vs Predator PC games, helmed by original developers Rebellion, at that. If it's just half as good as those games were, we're sure in for a treat, and early footage certainly seems to hint that such heightened expectations may not be entirely in vein either. Ooh, how I loved playing as that Predator.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)

Despite my earlier whinings regarding Galaxy - which by the way, I still loved, just no more than, say, a Jak & Daxter game - I eagerly await any Nintendo exclusive that sets out to make the most outta my Wii. Particularly one with added 3D Yoshis.

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After FFXII I'm coming around, but fear this game's return to the turn-based. Look forward, Square, not back
Final Fantasy XIII (Xbox 360/PS3)

Out now in Japan, come March it'll be our turn. Early murmurings from the east speak of a laborious opening act; but will it improve later? More importantly, will the JRPG anti-fan within me continue to despise the genre with a passion?

Silent Hill - Shattered Memories (Wii)

Had a brief bash of this already. For a title that makes full use of the Wii in its exploring and investigating, look no further, though the more chaotic chase sequences fair less well. Its originality, amazing atmosphere and frankly terrifying scares will no doubt make it one to watch for for Nintendo owners though.

Batman - Arkham Asylum 2 (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)

Time will tell whether a Batman sequel really needed announcing barely three months after release of the first - not to mention whether it'll even hit its somewhat presumptuous 2010 goal - but I'll admit to receiving a slight jolt of adrenaline when I saw this game's unveiling at the VGAs last month. I had high hopes a Batman sequel would take things into Gotham itself is all, in a more free-roaming environment that played up to the first game's exploration aspects, yet given its sub-header, I think we can scratch that idea for the time being. How about a Robin co-op mode instead?

Metroid - The Other M (Wii)

Ninja Gaiden's Team Ninja...? Working...? On...? A...Wii game? And it's a Metroid sequel!? You couldn't make this shit up. Whatever demented back-door dealings led to this match made in hell, I can't bleedin' wait to see results. That trailer looked cack as hell mind you, so this could be the best - or worst - thing ever.

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The Old republic is - in Bioware's own words - KOTOR 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 in one, albeit with an added MMO twist. Emphasizing story and characters above all else, it should prove a breath of fresh air next to WoW
Fable III (Xbox 360)

Ain't feeling the new direction of this at all so far - particularly all that pointless touchy feely motion control garbage Mr. Molyneux rambled on about recently - but after digging the heck outta Fable and its sequel, it would be wrong not to stroke even the mildest of boners at the mere idea of a Fable III. Will it retain the third person open worldy stuff we've come to love of this series, or go the god game/strategy route as hinted upon by its creators? I'd wager a cunning mixture of both. Don't be shocked if Fable II hits PC this year either.

PS3 Motion Controller (PS3)

On the subject of motion control, I'll neglect to mention Microsoft's upcoming Natal peripheral due to it looking really rather awful. Unlike that, Sony's answer to the same question due this spring actually seems like a whole loada fun though. Taking the more successful aspects of the Wii Motion Plus controller, and marrying it to the superior - not to mention high definition - specs of the PS3, Sony's odd looking marital aid of a wand could provide the perfect mixture of motion-powered gaming, married to far more mature content like we've all been craving since the Wii launched in '06. I don't particularly yearn for the death of the analogue stick by any means, but I do dig me some waggle when done right. As a result? Kinda psyched about this.

Star Wars - The Old Republic (PC)

Bioware's attempts at world domination reach critical levels as it enters the MMO market. As if we weren't blessed with enough RPG goodness from the Canadian god doctors lately, 2010 could well see 'em tackle Warcraft head on. Star Wars is arguably the one single franchise with enough push to do so as well. If it fails to ship this year, we always have the Star Trek MMO by the way. Providing such lameness floats your boat...

World of Warcraft - Cataclysm (PC)

Speaking of which. Gargh.

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The Polynomial. Like playing a rave

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Fallout 3

Enjoying a fully modded out re-visit. Wow

The Road

Pretty much due to the above

Breaking Bad

Already shaping up to be the best season yet

Explosions in the Sky

Easing the pain of living in a post-Friday Night Lights world

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The TPS Forum
Official boards for the site

The old Edge forums gone independent. The busiest and most interesting gaming board around, worthy of multiple visits a day

Another exceptional gaming forum, featuring one of the friendliest communities on the net, and up to the minute news

A more US-centric gaming board, with huge piles of traffic and even the odd famous face

Gaming Shows

The 1up Radio Network
1up.com's collection of weekly gaming podcasts, the pick of which would have to be ListenUP, full of juicy rumors and interesting banter week in, week out

Area 5
Formerly The 1up Show, since losing their jobs the old video editing team have continued doing what they do best, in an independent internet-based TV show, covering whatever upcoming games they can get their hands on, and various other bits and pieces

Fully Ramblomatic
A hysterical gaming blogger posting what he calls "zero punctuation" video reviews that have to be seen - and heard - to be believed

A Life Well Wasted
Freelance journalist Robert Ashley's internet radio show, with a far more interesting and professional demeanor than your typical podcast. Interviews, fast-paced editing and catchy tunes abound

On the Spot
The humongous gaming site known as Gamespot broadcasts a video show each week, in which upcoming games are demoed live on air, and viewers are invited to send in questions to find out more

The Hotspot
Gamespot's audio-based companion to On the Spot, in which site editors cover the week's news while simultaneously poking fun at all that is gaming

Gaming Steve
A more mature podcast, hosted by a long-time games industry professional armed with a ton of insider info and loads of interesting opinions. The Dig's been known to post articles and stories on here from time to time

Quick-fire internet-based TV show with console reviews and comedy sketches. Funny as hell

Major Nelson
An interesting "blogcast" hosted by a Microsoft employee, featuring stacks of exclusive behind the scenes news and interviews relating to all things Xbox 360

The Kojima Productions Report
Official podcast from the team of Hideo Kojima, creator of the much-loved Metal Gear franchise. Full of news and interviews relating to all things Metal Gear, it's probably one for die-hard fans only

Pure Pwnage
Mockumentary series on the life of a pro gamer. Episode five is possibly the funniest thing on the internet

Other Sites

What you could call gaming's homepage. Constantly updated news and links on the entire industry, from minute breaking headlines, to funny arse viral vids

Game Trailers
Easy to use multimedia-rich web site offering official trailers, video demos and sneak peaks at all the upcoming releases

Game Videos
Sister site to 1up.com, focusing on game trailers, video interviews and even the odd documentary

The Gamespot front-end, and the gaming equivalent of the Internet Movie Database. Includes detailed reviews and extensive video features on pretty much all systems and games ever made

Giant Bomb
Speaking of Gamespot, the controversial "letting go" of editor Jeff Gerstmann resulted in him starting up this new venture with fellow former writers of the site. Great podcast in particular

Discounting the audio and video shows mentioned earlier, 1up's main site is also worth a visit in its own right. Not only bustling with quality gaming articles and extensive developers' blogs, it also doubles up as a massive friends network, ideal for meeting fellow gamers and joining like-minded communities

Live Marketplace Feed
The most up to date and reliable way to keep track of all the new Xbox Live Marketplace content, from new weapons and map packs, to movie trailers and game demos

Xbox Reloaded
360 backwards compatibility can be a minefield. This blog attempts to shed some light on the issue by playing original Xbox games for you and reporting back the results

The ultimate resource for walkthroughs and cheats

Disposable Media
A wonderful (and free) E-zine, full of reviews and articles on gaming, movies, music and TV. Puts most high street mags to shame

A must-have for all PC gamers, X-Fire is a buddy list and communications tool that keeps constant tabs on what games both you and all your mates are playing, on or offline

A contender to the X-Fire throne that has pretty much overtaken it straight out of the gate. Valve's Steam client contains friends lists, downloadable games, Live-style achievements and plenty more to sink your teeth into

Convert your Xbox Live gamercard into an image, for use on forums and web sites for free. That's mine further down

Ain't it Cool News
The latest news, gossip and spy reports from the world of movies, TV and (occasionally) video games

Writer, director and actor Kevin Smith - he of Clerks fame - records a monthly podcast in which he and fellow pals discuss everything from trying to felate oneself, to the time his dog got covered in ejaculate. Riveting stuff


Matt Robinson, 2011

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