It’s been a really, really good year for games. Looking back, it’s hard to find a month where there hasn’t been at least one top-notch, must-have title, and we consider it our task – nay, our duty to go through each and every one of them, and tell you which ones were our absolute favourites.This is our list of the best games of 2009. It was hard-argued and hard-fought (at least one staff member will be having their Christmas dinner through an IV) but we’ve finally compiled a list of the best games of the year, sorted by both the best in each genre, the best on each platform, nods to the best publisher and developer, and – of course – what we reckon is the best game of the year.That’s enough of a preamble so, as the song goes, here it is. Happy Holidays!The team also discuss their choices in part one of this special video feature. (View part two here)
Best MMO of 2009 – Aion: The Tower of EternityForget “best-looking MMO” – Aion is one of the best-looking games we’ve seen, and the sharp graphical styling helps create an almost unprecedented feeling of adventure. Your character (which you will craft, over the course of several hours, into a bronzed god of a being using the ludicrously in-depth customisation tools) has wings, and with these wings you can soar about the gorgeous landscape for the best views of the utterly stunning vistas. It’s not all about the graphics, though: a smart combo system, well-designed instances, and clever social tools draw players further into this beautifully realised world. Best RPG of 2009 – Dragon Age: OriginsDespite early worries that Dragon Age was focusing on sex, violence, and Marilyn Manson, it instead turned out to be a deep game that mixed the best of old BioWare with the best of the new. It’s a classic RPG with the stats and tactical combat that we hoped for, but it’s all combined with the best of BioWare’s story-telling, characterisation, and world-building. As astonishingly good as everything else is – and I could wax lyrical about all of it – it’s the world that’s the real star of the show here, not only in the way that its history and all of the related prejudices unfold as you progress, but in the way that you feel like an important part of it with the power to change things around you. Anyone craving a spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate, a tactical challenge, an immersive world, or simply a bloody brilliant RPG, should look no further.{PAGE TITLE=The IncGamers Awards 2009 Page 2}Best Music Game of 2009 – The Beatles: Rock BandThe combination of The Beatles and music games has been a long time coming, presumably because Harmonix wanted to make a genuinely loving tribute. This isn’t just a pack of 40-odd Beatles songs: it’s got authentic performance areas, it’s got character models and animations which the surviving Beatles reportedly agonised over, it’s got utterly marvellous dreamscape environments for songs that weren’t performed live, and it’s got a wealth of never-before-seen audio, video, and pictures. All of this comes together with Harmonix’s utter mastery of note-chart crafting to make a game that will thrill any Beatles fan while slowly turning anyone new to the music into one by reminding everyone just why they’re considered one of the greatest bands of all time. Best Sports Game of 2009 – Fight Night Round 4It’s been a good year for sports games with even the most stale franchises attempting to do something new, but nothing has innovated quite as much as Fight Night Round 4. The boxing champion makes a triumphant return with plenty of vast improvements, including proper physics. While that might not sound too impressive, it means that there’s no invisible wall around your opponents and that a crushing haymaker can become a glancing blow depending on what your opponent does. At long last, range matters, and you’ll need different strategies for different fighters. Fight Night Round 4 is a surprisingly tactical game that looks dazzling, controls brilliantly, and has a lightning frame-rate right the way through.Best Strategy Game of 2009 – The Sims 3The Sims 3 is a deceptively clever strategy game, not least because – until you strip it down to its bare mechanics – it’s really hard to notice that it is a strategy game. This iteration has taken another jump worthy of Mike Powell, opening up the entire town to your Sims. Instead of spending their lives in their house and then disappearing off-screen to go to work, you can now send them outdoors. Take your Sim to the park and have him busk, or maybe go to a friend’s house and eat all of their food. The Wish system gives a wide variety of goals based on each Sim’s character traits, and those same traits give them a level of AI sophistication that stops you having to babysit them every five minutes. There are a wealth of options available here, and you can take as much – or as little – control as you like, with brilliance like Alice and Kev showing just what can happen if you take things to the extreme and then see what happens.Check out Part two of our 2009 Awards Agree with our choices so far? Think something else should have made the list in your opinion? Let us know in the comments.

Paul Younger
Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Founder of the world's first gaming cafe and Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.

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