7. Forza Motorsport 3 (Microsoft – Xbox 360)
One for the petrolheads. The most realistic and detailed motor-racing sim ever developed. And also loads of fun.
We really tried hard to pick faults with this immense driving game, but try as we might, we just couldn't find any. Unless you just really hate cars or driving, this game is going to appeal to you. A lot.
Gamesradar.com agreed with us, giving the new Forza a perfect 10/10 score - almost unheard of - telling us that, "Forza Motorsport 3 has finally bridged the vast divide between gearhead and average gamer in a way that Gran Turismo seems to have little interest in attempting."
Forza 3 has a ridiculous level of customization so you can choose to play any way you want, in addition to a "bajillion cars and tracks and an unsurpassed online community," which is why it nabs that well deserved perfect 10.
8. Assassin's Creed II (Ubisoft – Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
This delivers on the promise of the original "free-running in the middle ages" game. And then some.
Ubisoft has clearly listened to some of the criticisms of its first, highly ambitious Assassin's Creed and patiently worked to fix some of the niggly issues that stopped that from becoming a truly great game.
It is, as PSM3 noted in its review, "a clever, clever game…it may not have the immediate, explosive impact of Uncharted 2, the beautifully manicured cut-scenes of MGS4, or the insane depth of Fallout 3, but in terms of the way it hooks you in and delivers its epic story of conspiracy, betrayal and love, Assassin's Creed 2 is unmatched - not even by GTA IV."
It is one of our games of 2009 for one reason. The story is engaging and told with skill, without in any way getting in the way of the fluid gameplay. And, as PSM3's Andy Hartup reminds us, "even the voice acting is good - no rubbish accents here - and plot lines are largely free from the usual ham and madness that runs through games."
9. Left 4 Dead 2 (Electronic Arts 2009 – Xbox 360, PC)
What would Christmas be without zombies? It would be like having your yuletide feast without sprouts. Or something.
And while we toyed with the idea of including Capcom's superb Resident Evil 5 in our 2009 Xmas list, Valve's Left 4 Dead 2 just pipped it at the post.
"New friends. More zombies. Better apocalypse" was the developer's tagline for the game, which sums it all up pretty nicely. Even to the extent that Edge pulled another 9/10 out of the bag for it!
"More campaigns, more modes, more guns, tools and types of zombie," raved the reviewer. "The player nearly always has a purpose, a new challenge that adds to the difficulty of surviving the director's sadistic machinations, stumbling straight from one trick into another.
"There are mazes of graves and public gardens that reconfigure themselves on every playthrough, alarms which must be deactivated with distant controls, gauntlets to be run and vital resources to be scavenged which prove the key to your escape."
10. Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time (Sony Computer Entertainment)
Alongside New Super Mario Bros. Wii and LEGO Rock Band, Sony's Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack In Time is perhaps in the top three of our "family Christmas gaming" chart this year.
It is, as Official PlayStation Magazine described it, "an experience that's less like playing a game and more like setting up residence in the best Pixar movie you can imagine."
A day spent playing this game with a bunch of kids over the holidays will be a day well spent. Granted, it doesn't push any boundaries with its solid, polished platforming gameplay, but it is endlessly charming, with fantastically designed characters and puzzles.
11. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (Nintendo – DS)
If you buy one DS title this Christmas please make sure that this is it. It is Miyamoto's latest. Which should say enough to anybody with even the vaguest understanding of quality in videogames.
"No-one can contest against Zelda's consistent display of charm, polish and genius design that few games can even hope to match," said CVG's Mike Jackson. "And Spirit Tracks is another example of Nintendo's creative mastery [with] that same Zelda intrigue with each new unexplored area, be it a village, dungeon or cave in the wall, drawing you towards it like a fat man to a fridge.
"You just have to look around. Explore. Lose yourself in its world. This is still a stunning example of brilliant game design and you won't find much better on any handheld."
12. Wii Fit Plus (Nintendo – Wii)
*Cough* For the missus, innit?
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