'Uncharted 2' tops in turbulent year for video games
By Lou Kesten
The idea that video games are recession-proof turned out to be a myth this year. Stalled fortunes meant less risk-taking by game publishers, who released plenty of sequels and titles based on proven formulas. But the news wasn't all bad for consumers: Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo cut prices on flagship consoles.
Creatively, Sony and its in-house studios had a spectacular year, releasing three of 2009's best titles as PlayStation 3 exclusives. And Xbox 360 owners had plenty of first-rate games.
The top 10 games of the year:
1. "Uncharted 2: Among Thieves" (Sony, for the PlayStation 3): Like an interactive, classic Hollywood action movie, this globe-trotting treasure hunt delivers thrills and romance.
2. "Assassin's Creed II" (Ubisoft, for the Xbox 360, PS3): Renaissance Italy is the breathtaking setting for this intricate tale of conspiracy, murder and revenge.
3. "Dragon Age: Origins" (Electronic Arts, for the Xbox 360, PS3): Developer BioWare takes the elements of Tolkienesque high fantasy and recycles them into a gritty, sophisticated epic.
4. "Batman: Arkham Asylum" (Eidos, for the Xbox 360, PS3): The Caped Crusader gets trapped in Gotham's nuthouse. Cleverly designed challenges make this the best superhero game yet.
5. "inFamous" (Sony, for the PS3): The second-best superhero game this year is the origin story of a guy named Cole who can control electricity. The option to choose between heroism and villainy adds even more playability.
6. "Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time" (Sony, for the PS3): Insomniac Games' critter and robot pals are the most reliable characters in games (sorry, Mario), and their latest romp across the galaxies is clever and colorful.
7. "Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story" (Nintendo, for the DS): Mario co-stars in this wacky role-playing game, in which he and his brother explore the innards of old foe Bowser.
8. "Borderlands" (2K, for the Xbox 360, PS3): Gearbox combines first-person shooter with role-playing elements in this addictive game, set on a hostile planet populated by bandits, rabid dog-beasts and giant insects.
9. "Forza Motorsport 3" (Microsoft, for the Xbox 360): Developer Turn 10 has now made it easy for even the most inexperienced driver to take the wheel.
10. "Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars" (Rockstar, for the DS, PlayStation Portable): Rockstar Games delivers a handheld chapter of its "GTA" crime saga.
Game of the Decade: "Rock Band 2." One game I come back to whenever I just want to have fun.