With 2009 in the books, it's time to look back at the gaming year's cream of the crop. Casual gamer? Check. Are you hardcore? We got you too. Here's what caught this gamer's eye in '09, plus a peek at '10.
10) New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Duh … Wii)
Mario and Luigi need to save Princess Peach (yes … again!), trudging familiar landscapes in a new adventure. Bring three pals for a bang-up time in the aptly named Mushroom Kingdom.
9) Halo 3: ODST (Xbox 360)
While the Master Chief was busy smacking around the covenant in Halo 2, human Orbital Drop Shock Troopers are tasked with the unenviable job of keeping earth intact. The online firefight game option is worth the price of admission, but no matchmaking lobby keeps Halo 3 lower on this list than it could be.
8) Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Wii)
Chronically overlooked, Muramasa offers classic 2D platforming the way it's meant to be done. Plus, you're a fuckin' ninja!
7) Street Fighter 4 (Xbox 360, PS3)
Barely beating back less heralded BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger for best overall fighter of '09. The latest entry to the Street Fighter series defies time like Guile's hair defies gravity (and logic).
6) DJ Hero (Wii, Xbox 360, PS3, PS2)
A hip-hop, house musical mash-up that's almost as fun to watch as it is to play.
5) Left 4 Dead 2 (Xbox 360)
With levels based on classic zombie flicks L4D2 makes the dead folks go fast, giving you an even slimmer chance of escape. Fighting back the zombie horde with three friends doesn't get more fun.
4) Brütal Legend (Xbox 360, PS3)
Save a world game based on heavy metal album covers? Sounds awesome, right? It is, and the funniest to come out all year. (Thank you, Tim Schaefer and Jack Black.)
3) Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3)
There are two reasons to purchase a PS3. One is the Blu-Ray player. Second is the opportunity to play Uncharted 2. A graphical masterpiece.
2) Batman: Arkham Asylum (Xbox 360, PS3)
The Joker traps the Caped Crusader, and it's up to ol' Bats to fight his way out of Arkham Asylum, taking on a rogues' gallery of adversaries along the way. Batman games are usually a little underwhelming, but not this one.
1) Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
Following up Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is some task, to be sure, but Modern Warfare 2 delivers, and them some. The year's best first-person shooter is also the year's best game. Nothing even came close.
Games to look forward to in 2010
Bayonetta (Xbox 360, PS3)
So, you're a witch who uses her hair to fight angels. You have boots with guns in them. Ummmm, OK… sounds ridiculous, and it is, but it's also ridiculously beautiful, and the demo kicked.
Bioshock 2 (Xbox 360)
Set 10 years after the critically acclaimed Bioshock, this time you are the prototype Big Daddy roaming the undersea city of Rapture. Beware the Big Sister, she's fast and mean.
Heavy Rain (PS3)
I haven't figured out if this is a game, or a next gen "choose your own story" book, but the noir setting and somber storyline is nonetheless intriguing.
Dante's Inferno (Xbox 360, PS3)
Loosely based on the first part of the Divine Comedy, our hero goes to hell to get his girl back, and fights spawn of the creepiest looking hell to date. Doesn't sound like the poem? Remember, we like it loose.
Darksiders (Xbox 360, PS3)
No one told the dude War, Horseman of the Apocalypse that it wasn't yet time for the rapture. So it's up to unwieldy monikered guy to figure out why he was called to bring the end of days early, when it's not even 2012 yet.Bryant Franks' eyes often buzz and dilate for no good reason. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org