Uncharted 2 tops turbulent year in gaming

(SUPPLIED)

The idea that video games were recession-proof turned out to be a myth in 2009, leading to declining sales, shuttered studios and thousands of newly unemployed developers.

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 to keep them busy.

1. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3): Like an interactive version of a classic Hollywood action movie, this globe-trotting treasure hunt delivers thrills, romance and more hairbreadth escapes than the entire Indiana Jones series.

2. Assassin's Creed II (Xbox 360, PS3): Renaissance Italy is the breathtaking setting for this intricate tale of conspiracy, murder and revenge. The tantalising glimpses of a larger, centuries-spanning power struggle create high hopes for the next chapter.

3. Dragon Age: Origins (Xbox 360, PS3): Developer BioWare takes the elements of Tolkienesque high fantasy and recycles them into a gritty, sophisticated epic with plenty of surprising twists.

4. Batman: Arkham Asylum (Xbox 360, PS3): The Caped Crusader gets trapped in Gotham's nuthouse, where he has to endure the taunts and traps of The Joker. Cleverly designed challenges make this the best superhero game yet.

5. inFamous (PS3): The second best superhero game this year is the origin story of a guy named Cole who can control electricity.

6. Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time (PS3): Insomniac Games' critter and robot pals are the most reliable characters in games (sorry, Mario), and their latest romp across the galaxies is as clever and colourful as ever.

7. Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story (Nintendo DS): Mario did co-star in this lighthearted role-playing game, in which he and his brother explore the innards of their old foe, Bowser.

8. Borderlands (Xbox 360, PS3): Gearbox combines the first-person shooter with role-playing elements in this addictive game. It's set on a hostile planet populated by bandits, rabid dog-beasts and giant insects.

9. Forza Motorsport 3 (Xbox 360): Fans of hardcore racing simulations already love the Forza series, but developer Turn 10 has now made it easy for even the most inexperienced driver to take the wheel of a high-performance vehicle.

10. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (DS, PSP): Rockstar Games delivers a handheld chapter of its GTA crime saga that's nearly as immersive as its console-based cousins.

Game of the Decade: Rock Band 2: Harmonix Music Systems provided an entirely new type of gaming experience with Guitar Hero, giving us the chance to live out our rock-star dreams. Rock Band 2 is Harmonix's fullest realisation yet of that ideal.


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