Cynic Gamer: 2009 was a Bad Year for Gaming
The end of the year is near and as always we’re getting flooded with lists that are supposed to show just how great the last twelve months have been when it comes to gaming. “Great”? If anything, 2009 was a boring year with hardly any game worth getting a score of over 90!
I can already see the fanboys coming, shouting that I’m totally out of line and that “their” platform DID get fantastic games with which they’ve had plenty of fun. I won’t deny that, but let me tell you this: a 90+ score means (or: should mean!) a game is so awesome it will be remembered for years and will be played still even decades after release. Games like Civilization, Starcraft, Warcraft 3, Doom, Metroid Prime, Street Fighter, … they set the standard in their genre (or even created their own genre!) and are still remembered by many people as groundbreaking decades after their release. Did we see such games in 2009? No we didn’t!
You just have to look at Metacritic’s Best Videogames of 2009 to know how pittyful this year has been.
With an average review score of 91, Metroid Prime Trilogy is the best game that was released on the Nintendo Wii. Excuse me, but this is a re-release of three games with added motion control. If ANYTHING will be remembered, it will be the ORIGINAL Metroid Prime games and not this Wii compilation. Clearly the Wii didn’t have a great year as Beatles: Rock Band comes in at second place and Guitar Hero 5 third. Wasn’t the Wii supposed to be some kind of innovative console? All I see for 2009 are sequels and rehashes of old classics.
On the Playstation 3, the absolute number one is without a doubt Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. It has a whopping metascore of 96%, but for what? Yes, it’s fun and yes, it’s extremely polished. But does it actually do anything unexpected? Have we gotten so soft that we are already stunned to see something that actually does what it’s supposed to do next to having a good storyline (which EVERY game should have)? Hell, the AI isn’t perfect and the camera isn’t either. It’s a well-worked out game that shows craftmanship, but it does NOT move the gaming industry into a new direction nor does it show any innovation other than maybe some technical stuff that will be outdated before you know it. And even that is questionable. The devs for once got enough time to release a game that’s not plagued with bugs and we’re cheering like it’s the second coming…
Numbers two and three on the PS3 are Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Street Fighter IV but we’ll cover those in a second.
The PC, the granddad of modern gaming has become a pittyful platform that many publishers are deserting because they can’t earn as much money on it as they can on consoles.
Therefore it’s sad to see that a fight game ended up as the highest reviewed game here. Indeed, Street Fighter IV got an average review score of 91% which gives it the top spot in 2009. Since when do fight games rule the PC? What happened to first person shooters? Or Real-time strategy games? These genres have been the stronghold for the PC for years and now we have to go down the list to find Left 4 Dead 2 (another sequel) in fifth place!
Microsoft shouldn’t be laughing too much with my comments on the other platforms as the Xbox 360 didn’t do much better.
With an average review score of 94, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 ended up first which is quite sad seeing that this game will be most remembered by the uproar it caused with the airport level where you get to kill hostages, the fact that America is under attack and – last but not least – the lack of dedicated servers.
Second and third place were respectively for Street Fighter IV (93% on average) and Batman: Arkham Asylum (92% on average). One may say that these games were fun, but did they innovate? Did they change the way games are being perceived? Did they alter the way games are being played? Did they, in fact, change ANYTHING in the gaming industry? Will anyone even remember these titles in ten years except when they accidentally see them laying in some bargain bin of a second hand games store? I doubt it very much!
In all honesty, I do have to admit that Modern Warfare 2 did do something only few other games have done in the past: decide to ignore the criticism of the hardcore crowd and give the middle finger to “politically correct” people and not bow to the powers that be when it comes to standing by your product. Cudos to Infinity Ward for that. And for that reason, and that only, I would say that if there’s one game in 2009 that deserves some credit, it’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, even if it isn’t anything groundbreaking when it comes to actual gameplay and was plagued with a number of bugs on release.
Saying that 2009 was a great year for gamers would be making a joke of all those titles that breached barriers and set things in motion in the past. 2009 was a year filled with sequels and 90+ scores for games that just did what they were supposed to do. Hopefully 2010 will bring us some true innovation and if there’s one thing we should learn from 2009 it’s that the games press has become way too easy with giving high scores.
90+ should be given only to those games that set new boundaries, that are earth-shattering, that make you jaw fall flat on the floor and blow you away, that make you feel that everything you’ve played in the past was kiddie stuff and that you’ve now entered into a whole new era.
With the end of the decade at hand, that would be a good intention the games press should follow: do your job a bit more seriously and be more critical to what you get on your plate instead of just following the hype.
And with that good intention, I wish you all a Merry Christmas, a happy 2010 and plenty of great – and innovative – games that actually deserve 90+ scores!