Staff Favorites 2009The Escapist Staff's Five Faves of 2009: LaurenStaff Favorites 2009 - RSS 2.0
My favorites for 2009 fell into two categories: games that distracted me from the real world, and games that I could play in the background, while paying actual attention to whatever I was actually supposed to be doing.
So you don't like Jack Black, you don't like metal, and you're pretty sure the only God of Metal cameo you'll recognize is Ozzy Osbourne. Not an excuse. Get this game. Get this game if nothing but for its graphics. In one of the first scenes, you're dropped straight into a hellish dimension where the roads are made from piles of skulls; gigantic worm-beasts that are all tongue and scales drift through the sky, and although the entire road is crumbling around you, all you want to do is stop the Deuce and take a scenic tour. The entire world is full of homages to metal, I'm sure, but I didn't get any of them. It didn't matter. The game is still frickin' awesome. You may be used to playing the hero, but this isn't one of those games. You play as a roadie, an enabler; you point the way for the real rockers, and make sure their equipment works. In that same sense, you assist Lars and his hot chick duo by gathering headbanging minions, finding the right bass strings, and learning new guitar riffs. Oh, and you get to melt enemy's faces off with your guitar, order your headbangers to destroy obstacles using just their foreheads, and make all kinds of roadkill with your Deuce.
In case you didn't already know, Sims 3 is a simulation game where you have complete and total control over every facet of the lives of tiny people. Glad that's out of the way. Sims 3 gives the player almost complete control over how their Sims look. In earlier games, there were only the binary, black and white options of fat or thin, tall or short; Sims 3 puts in sliders for nearly every facet of character creation, so you can create a near identical clone of yourself. The loading screens that appeared any time your Sim wanted to go downtown, or visit a friend are gone, creating an entirely seamless environment. There are new jobs, new hairstyles, new skills to learn, and the first expansion has already been released - World Adventures. For me, Sims 3 is not one of those games that you play intensely, eyes glued to the screen, fingers constantly on the mouse. It's a background game, one that I let play while I'm doing something else. I like to watch how families evolve and grow throughout generations with little to no interference by me. For others, they like to see how many different ways they can kill their Sim. Whichever way you like to play, Sims 3 is the most robust game of the franchise so far. Come on, in what other game can you create clones of you and Edward Cullen and have them fall wildly in love? Not that I like Twilight...
If there's a time management "Dash" game available, I've played it. Cooking Mania, Fitness Dash, Cake Mania - but you can't forget the first dash game of them all, the one that started the craze, Diner Dash, featuring one Miss.Flo. Since then, we've seen her open up restaurants throughout the world, traveled into the future, helped Quinn with her wedding planner business, and now she's embarked on a new adventure: Hotel Management. Hotel Dash is basically the same as the other games, but instead of seating the guests at a restaurant, you're helping them check in, bringing them their luggage and basically catering to their needs until they decide to pack up and go home. That's pretty much it, and that's pretty much all you need to waste away a couple of hours.
Aion is your standard MMOG. And that's just fine in my book. After playing WoW for five years, frankly, I wasn't looking for anything too different, just different enough to catch my interests. If you're feeling the same way, Aion is the perfect game for you. It's an MMOG that you can just jump right into and play without having to re-learn any basic game mechanics that the developers have tried to change in order to not be "just like WoW". In Aion, the world has been ripped asunder, placing one half in perpetual light and the other in perpetual darkness. Those who live in shadow are Asmodians; while those who dwell in the light are the Elyos. You get to choose your race, and your class, and then just get to leveling. It's a grind to level, as it is in any MMOG, but the scenery is beautiful, the storyline is compelling, and there are cut-scenes involving your character that pull you even further into believing that you're a genuine hero. Oh, and did I mention you eventually grow wings and get to fly?
1.Dragon Age: Origins
If you're looking for the one RPG to buy this year, Dragon Age:Origins is it. It's deeply compelling, with believable voice-acting, and dialogue trees that don't read like "Choose this if you're evil, choose this is if you're good, choose this is you can't make up your darn mind." The graphics are gorgeous on the PC, less so on a console, but if you're just looking for some good ol' fashioned, hack and slash fighting with decent plotlines and a twist, than what you play it on doesn't matter as much. It's a massive game, with many a side-quest to distract you from your main goal, which may depend on the race and class of character you choose to play as in the beginning.
In case you missed any of our Fave Fives, check out the full list.