FGotY 2009 [Didn’t come out in 2009]

Not only can we not play all the games that come out in a year, there are still games that came out last year (or later) that we still want to play. And play them we did. Here are the games we had the most fun with this year that did not come out this year.

Brock – This is a tie for me between Persona 4 on the PS2 and Fallout 3 on the 360. Both games consumed enormous chunks of 2009 and were incredibly fun to play. Persona 4 is probably the most memorable game that I played this year and it will be very hard to top it going into 2010.

Jason O – I don’t like ties because they feel like a cop-out, but I actually have two games. One is S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky for the PC. By the time the game hit my radar I didn’t have a machine that could run it. After inheriting a fairly powerful PC and finding it on Steam for all of $5 I decided to give it a try. This is a “survival” game that gets it right. Maybe not a “fun” game, but it is an engaging one that I keep coming back to despite how quickly I die. My other game not only wasn’t released in 2009, it hasn’t been released at all. Of all the games announced this year that was delayed, Alpha Protocol was at the top of my watchlist. While I’d much rather delay a game then release a subpar product, games that are delayed rarely come out as a decent product. I’m still holding out hope for this one though as it explores a theme that is oddly absent in the videogame industry. Open-world espionage gaming? Sign me up!

James – I will definitely go with Team Fortress 2 on the PC. When this game came out I wasn’t interested in it at all to tell you the truth. My brother raved on how much fun it was and how much I would like it. After playing it I could see what he meant. Whenever I had the chance to play a game the the one that was on the top of the list was always this one. The way Valve (the TF2 team) is keeping this game fresh with always coming out with new content and updates for FREE makes me even more eager to purchase the games they come out with.

Nat – I purchased n+ twice–for the DS and PSP. The funny thing is that I acquired the DS version in January and just received the PSP version this week. It’s really the only non-2009 game I played this year.

WillAudiosurf wins my FGotY 2009 [Didn’t come out in 2009] award, hands down. After playing the Zune HD’s Audiosurf Tilt, I was intrigued to see what the original game was like. I didn’t think it was possible to like this game anymore than the portable version. There is a nice community built around the title. I love comparing my scores to my friends as well as other players in the area. It is a simple and engaging game, and I will continue to pour my time into it.

Tony – This one is a no brainer for me. I started Mass Effect back in 2007 when it came out and only made it about two hours in when other games caught my attention. I didn’t make it back to guide Shepard’s quest to save the universe until late 2009. Now that I’ve finished the game (in preparation for ME2) I can see why everyone was loving this game. Yes, it has some issues and it definitely isn’t perfect but it has really amped me up for Mass Effect 2 to come out. And I definitely won’t wait two years to finish it off.

[2 Minute Review] Persona 4

High school sim or epic quest?

Persona 4 summon

You’ll have to put aside about 100 hours to find out!

DO: You are a transfer student from the big city, sent to a small town in rural Japan. While you deal with the struggles and pitfalls of being the new kid at the local high school, you also find yourself involved in the quest to solve a series of murders in town.

TYPE: JRPG

PLATFORM: PS2

PRICE: $39

MEAT: The Persona games are a subset of the Shin Megami Tensei series, as detailed here. Set in the sleepy town of Inaba (a drastic change of pace from the usual hustle and bustle of most SMT games), you play a transfer student who needs to navigate the social While slow to start, Persona 4 hits the ground running by about the 3 hour mark and never lets up for the next hundred hours. Unlike most JRPGs that are set in some mythical fantasy land or sci-fi setting, the modern-day setting is one of the many breaths of fresh air that help to keep the game fresh. Unlike Persona 3’s evokers (which basically emulated your party shooting themselves in the head on a regular basis), Persona 4 backs away from the more controversial imagery and uses the television and tarot cards as the main method of breaking away from the reality of every day life.

During your travels, you will gain a cast of characters who initially come across as anime stereotypes but as you spend time with them, you’ll see that there are many facets to their personalities that make you care about what happens to them. In fact, the social aspect of the game is the strongest portion of the game, in my opinion. I would be perfectly happy playing a game that entirely revolved around the various social portions of the game.

There is a robust turn-based combat engine in the game for those times you need to dive into the TV and help clear out the dreamworlds of the various characters you encounter in the game. The variety of ‘dungeons’ found in the TV world is a welcome improvement over the rather repetitive tower of Tartarus from Persona 3, as each kidnapped victim of the serial killer has a particular fantasy that you must explore and rescue them from before it’s too late. From steamy bathhouses to high-tech secret labs to a retro-style game, you’ll always have a unique environment to explore.

Add to all of this already rich gameplay the Persona collection and fusion aspect, which is like a deeper, darker version of Pokémon, and you have something that will keep you fiddling around for that perfect monster ally to the wee hours of the night.

persona4 lab
PERKS: A wonderful cast of characters; 100+ hours of questing; gorgeous graphics (given that it’s a PS2 title!); a compelling storyline; fantastic voice acting; one of the best localizations I’ve ever experienced (it keeps a lot of the Japanese charm and culture but makes it very accessible for a North American audience).

SCREAMS: For more gameplay during the first 2-3 hours of the game. One of the unfortunately quirks of the last few Persona games is that the initial 3 hours is almost like a glorified cutscene. That said, those first 3 hours are there for a reason and really help establish the world you will be mucking about in for the next 100 hours; for a ‘next-gen’ installment that renders the pop-art visuals in HD; less repetitive dungeon-crawling and even more of an emphasis on the social aspects of the game; the ability to revive the main character if he is killed in battle instead of having that be an instant trip to the Game Over screen.

VERDICT: Buy! Especially if you are a fan of Japanese culture or JRPGs and want to play something fresh that isn’t the typical swords & sorcery, save the world rut that the genre tends to get stuck in.

Amazon’s Deal of the Day (2/23) Makes Brock Happy

Persona 4 for $26.

Oh, wait. He already has a copy. Don’t watch too much TV.

Confused?