Esoteric


The holiday season is a great time to be a gamer, with big new releases hitting seemingly every week. But for game journalists, it can also be a stressful time, full of rushed reviews, tight deadlines for gift guide features and visits to family members that don’t even have an HDTV (what is this, the Stone Age?).

To relieve some of that stress, some members of the Game Trust took part in a virtual White Elephant gaming gift exchange this year. It was a chance to take the focus off the latest and the greatest and exchange some cheap-but-fun-but-overlooked games from the recent past in a relaxed environment. It was also, hopefully, a way to learn something more about our fellow Game Trusters.

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You’ve patiently listened to Uncle Crispy rant and rave about his least-favorite gaming moments of 2009. You’ve looked on with horror as we recounted the year’s oddest gaming moments. Now it’s finally time to talk about the reason we’re all here: the games themselves. Specifically, the best games to come out in 2009 (Yeah, we know the year’s technically not over yet, but we hope you’ll forgive us for not holding our list off in anticipation of Playmobil Pirates and Guitar Hero: Van Halen).

To keep things simple (and to avoid months-long arguments/barroom brawls over which games truly belonged where), we based our game-of-the-year rankings on a secret ballot. Eighteen members of the Game Trust submitted a ranked list of their top-five personal favorites for the year. First-place picks received five points, second-place picks got four points, all the way down to one point for fifth-place picks. The point values were added together to create the rankings below.

If you really can’t get enough statistics, there’s a detailed breakdown of the voting at the end of this piece. But for now, let’s get right down to it with our top 10 12 picks for the year:

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Videogame news need not speak. When it is gone, the world will speak for it.

In this issue:

  • Electronic Arts fires final employee as “cost-cutting measure”
  • Local game store surprised, saddened over failure of Pop’n Music midnight launch event
  • Nintendo announces “ultra-portable” DSi XS

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The gods of videogame news have abandoned me

In this issue:

  • Chumbawumba: We’re “totally open” to the idea of Chumbawumba: Rock Band
  • Angry fans stage boycott of Madagascar Kartz, demand new content
  • Nintendo reassigns massive development division to DSi clock and calculator development

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Is Nathan Drake’s second outing really the second coming? We combed through the glowing reviews to pick out the negative bits that tend to get glossed over.

Uncharted 2 received so many perfect scores, is there anything it does wrong? Well, yes, there is.”3 “The bread and butter of Among Thieves is by-the-numbers shooting, broken briefly by some linear platforming and the occasional light puzzle.”5 “There’s not really a lick of originality … It would have been nice to have at least something for the game to call its own,”7 and “it’s unfortunate that the gameplay doesn’t scale the heights of the production values.”5 “No, Uncharted 2 is not perfect.”8

Uncharted 2‘s storyline is more or less predictable. … The story sounds like the premise for a cheesy and easily forgotten novel”2 and “contains a number of not-so-surprising twists.”6 “The story isn’t incredibly original,”7 and “felt a bit too familiar at times.”8 It’s pretty much “standard action fare”5 with a “forced ‘warfare’ feel.”9 “The reasons for Nepal being a bombed-out shell provide a few eyebrow-raising ‘really?’ moments.”9 “Not everyone will be fond of the game’s concluding location — or, rather, what Drake discovers there … [and] few will argue that the climactic confrontation is a fitting way for [the game] to bow out.”4 What’s more, “the writing doesn’t have quite the same panache or character chemistry as the original.”9

“The gameplay isn’t perfect — the cover mechanic is too sticky in tight places.”6 The game’s “less than perfect cover system”1 includes “a cover mechanic that [feels] like a slightly clumsy version of that in Gears of War.”9 No, “moving from cover to cover still doesn’t feel as slick as it does in Epic’s Gears of War series, with Nate occasionally refusing to do what you want him to.”1 “Cover transitions can get you stuck in some precarious moments.”3 For instance, “it can be frustrating during some of the more intense battles if you find yourself sitting in the open air when you meant to hide behind a nearby desk.”6 Yes, “the occasionally unreliable cover system provides a larger frustration in the heat of competition.”5

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You are likely to be eaten by a videogame news

  • Warner Bros. Interactive announces Citizen Kane: The Video Game
  • I’m sorry, but these reviewer freebies just don’t merit a perfect score
  • Money-saving tips for gamers

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It’s dangerous to go alone. Take this videogame news.

In this issue:

  • How to help your Xbox 360 fanboy cope with the PlayStation 3’s turnaround
  • Police raid turns up “hundreds” of illegal casual games at office park
  • Sega drops price of Genesis

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What is videogame news? A miserable pile of secrets!

In this edition:

  • Have you heard about this new Beatles: Rock Star game? An editorial by Your Mom
  • Valve founder offers free trips, games to all Left 4 Dead 2 boycotters
  • Report: Scribblenauts players overusing guns

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Videogame news … videogame news never changes.

In this edition:

  • Microsoft, Sony execs trade passive-aggressive barbs after price drops
  • Warner Bros. announces Batman: The TV Show: The Game
  • Exclusive: Halo’s “Spartans” to appear as Diablo III‘s mystery class!

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I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose… videogame news.

In this issue:

  • Konami announces new line of barely interactive “LetsRelax” games
  • UFC president challenges all EA Sports employees to a fight
  • Sony, Microsoft preparing answers to Wii Vitality Sensor

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