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Letters from the Front

2009 was a hard year in the real world but it was a great one in the world of videogames. Solid sequels, a very scary and menacing superhero, a new franchise that would pave the way for Looter Shooters in the 2010s and remakes made 2009 a really great year.

America was still in the midst of the economic depression which caused some studios and publishers to drop certain titles or delay them indefinitely , but for the most part of that year a lot of games blew our minds. Batman: Arkham Asylum and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 being some of those games that would blow my mind.

2009 in retrospective stands alongside 2007 and 2008 as some of the greatest years that gaming had to offer despite the depression that it was in America. If 2008 maintained the momentum that 2007 brought with games like BioShock and Call of Duty 4 then 2009 broke the glass ceiling with games like Assassin’s Creed II and Batman: Arkham Asylum. Come on a journey with me as I take a look at a key selection of games and reminisce with me.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2

Starting off with an absolute classic.

Modern Warfare 2 was in many ways the apex of classic Call of Duty, it is fondly remembered for its dumb single player campaign that was criticized left and right and its iconic and excellent multiplayer that expanded upon that very iconic multiplayer from its predecessor, Call of Duty 4 by going bigger and expanding it with more killstreaks and weapons and in many ways, it is still the most definitive multiplayer experience that Call of Duty has ever offered in its history and it is the second best entry in the modern games from Call of Duty 4 to Call of Duty Black Ops IV.

In many ways, Modern Warfare 2 cemented the status quo of what we see today in modern multiplayer-centric games like Battlefield V and Call of Duty: Black Ops IV. Expanding things that were grounded in reality to making them crazier and more flamboyant, here is the pro version of that perk that increases your melee range or decreases the kills you need to earn that killstreak you’ve been trying to get and here is the pro version that increases damages against vehicles like the Harrier. On top of that, it offered extensive customization that was limited just to weapons and killstreaks, you could experiment with different things and see what works and what doesn’t out on the field.

Much like what Kotaku wrote back in 2015, Modern Warfare 2 was destined to fail thanks to trouble behind the scenes but it ended up being a complete cult classic because it was simply a fun game that didn’t take itself too seriously despite the seriousness of its campaign. With its multiplayer, Modern Warfare 2 was one of the best games of 2009 that would go down in the history books.

Batman: Arkham Asylum

By 2009, licensed games based on characters were getting better but majority of them still sucked and Batman himself was in that category. Games based on Batman were absolutely atrocious with games like Batman Begins and Batman: Rise of Sun Tzu until Rocksteady came along and turned the Batman videogame franchise into gold.

Arkham Asylum was inspired by the likes of BioShock and Metroid Prime with its rendition of Arkham Asylum where Batman explored a Metroid-style rendition of the famous asylum where he fights his rogue gallery in an effort to defeat his greatest arch-nemesis, the Joker. In a world that was filled with lame comic games and garbage licensed games, Arkham Asylum was a welcome surprise and its legacy can still be felt today with the likes of Insomniac’s Spiderman and numerous other games.

Borderlands

“Mad Max meets Diablo in this daring and groundbreaking 4 player co-operative game.” – Game Informer.

When I picked up Borderlands 1 in 2009, I did not like it and I didn’t enjoy it. I wasn’t convinced and no matter how much I tried to get into it, I would just stop and go play the last matches of World at War before Modern Warfare 2 released since Borderlands released a few short weeks before the biggest game of the year released. I gave it go with a friend and that’s when everything changed, I ended up being a complete fan of the series and I really enjoyed the original game.

The main reasons why I loved the original Borderlands and how I became a fan of the series are completely old school. Just like in that 2007 issue of Game Informer, Borderlands was a game that was a mix of Mad Max and Diablo plus Fallout 3 in this sprawling world of arenas and the beginnings of what would become the open world genre of what we see today, I loved how each path led you across the level before dumping you back at the beginning and you exit the level and are greeted by the semi-open world. Borderlands rewarded a very different playstyle to games like Call of Duty as it rewarded off-the-hip shooting which encouraged you to play a more fluid playstyle like jumping around and shooting or shooting from the hip as you run around in circles.

In many ways, Borderlands is the first person shooter equivalent of Diablo as there was a vast variation of weapons, great amounts of loot, and you could experiment with different characters as each character had a different ability. It’s kind of amazing that the original Borderlands was the first looter shooter and was heavily influenced from Fallout 3, one of 2008’s killer hits that changed the landscape forever, Borderlands was influenced by Fallout 3 as it featured an intrusive on-screen inventory update prompts, exaggerated difficulty scaling, and much more but Borderlands was a shooter first and an RPG second. In the end, Borderlands ended up being one of the decade’s best games and one that ended up being very influential.

The Beatles: Rock Band

It’s usually tough to get people to play music games which includes Rock Band because they find it lame and dumb but The Beatles changed all of that to some extent despite it not exceeding the sales of other Rock Band games as the sale numbers fell short thanks to the 2008 recession that America was crawling out of and the video game industry itself was slowly recovering but it ended up being the second highest-revenuting game of 2009 just behind Halo 3: ODST.

The Beatles: Rock Band, much like Fallout 3 and BioShock before it, introduced me to the music of the 20th century but most importantly the music of the Beatles and who the Beatles were. Without The Beatles: Rock Band, I wouldn’t really have known who the Beatles were and wouldn’t known their music, in many ways, the Beatles: Rock Band is nearly a perfect vehicle for introducing the iconic and very influential music of the Beatles to the younger generation and to cement the best music of the 1960s into their minds, decades after their breakup.

And this concludes the first issue of 2009 and the Best Games Turning 10, come back tomorrow for the second and final issue of the Best Games of 2009 that will be turning 10 this year. What a long way we have come in video games from this specific era.

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