GWJ Conference Call Episode 168

Conference Call

Our retrospective on the games of 2009!

This week we discuss some of our favorite games of 2009. If we didn't mention a game you love, assume we just forgot or that it's rabbits fault. Have a happy new year, see you in 2010! If you want to submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563.

To contact us, email [email protected]! Send us your thoughts on the show, pressing issues you want to talk about or whatever else is on your mind. You can even send a 30 second audio question or comment (MP3 format please) if you're so inclined. You can also submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563!

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Comments

"I could care less about that game." - Gaald on League of Legends. He is now a level 11 Summoner.

Latrine wrote:

"I could care less about that game." - Gaald on League of Legends. He is now a level 11 Summoner.

Take it back! Take it back I say... oops he did... while playing League of Legends.

I still wince whenever you say "Snezz"

There were were quite a few DOTA-esque games this year: Demigod, League of Legends and Heroes of Newearth are the main three that come to mind. I must admit, I find it odd that you're so willing to embrace one and bash another without instead broadening your horizons.

Lots of sequels/spin-offs as well. I need not name them, but they were all about as good as the original and I'm glad they came out.

Also, Corey: I exist.

First, thanks to Cory for my new sig quote.

Second, I know the categorizations of games were all on a personal level, so it is from that same personal perspective that I say, with all due respect, that those of you (can't remember exactly who it was, but it sounded like more than one person) that put Borderlands in the "overrated / fell flat" category are full sh*t. I would expect that many of the people that posted in the nearly 2,300 posts of the Borderlands Catch-all thread would agree.

I'm honestly suprised that none of you put it on your top 10, or at least honorable mention list, especially Elysium who had Torchlight high on his list of good games, since that and Borderlands share so much of the same Pavlovian-type, addictive gameplay, the only difference being one is a hack-n-slash dungeon crawler and the other is a shooter.

I'm not on a gaming podcast, plus for 10 months of the year, I worked 2 jobs, so I didn't play nearly as many games as you guys, but of the games I did play, Borderlands was easily in my top 3.

On an unrelated note, I miss rabbit on the podcast, although his excellent new article does kind of soften the blow of his recent extended absence from the show.

On an unrelated note, I miss rabbit on the podcast, although his excellent new article does kind of soften the blow of his recent extended absence from the show.

Yeah, that guy is a total tease sometimes. He'll be back with a vengeance next week I'm sure.

Second, I know the categorizations of games were all on a personal level, so it is from that same personal perspective that I say, with all due respect, that those of you (can't remember exactly who it was, but it sounded like more than one person) that put Borderlands in the "overrated / fell flat" category are full sh*t. I would expect that many of the people that posted in the nearly 2,300 posts of the Borderlands Catch-all thread would agree.

As you say, it's personal decision sort of thing. I had to take a week off from playing and by the time I got back to it, everyone was high level and well beyond my skill. We did a quick segment for Big Red Potion and I talked about it on there too. Long form coop games like this are tough because the moment you fall behind, it becomes tough to pick up again. I don't think Borderlands held up well enough to support the solitary player and the coop was fun because the shooting controls felt good and playing with three other people rocks almost by default.

I don't think Borderlands had enough juice to be a great game experience outside the ideal setup of four dudes playing through the game at a similar level.

Yeah I will be eating crow on the show I'm sure. I am having a lot of fun with League of Legends, I have played it exclusively since Christmas. Demigod would still kick it's ass if it wasn't so buggy and the dev's actually supported it like they had said they would, with new maps and Characters.

Certis wrote:

...I don't think Borderlands held up well enough to support the solitary player...I don't think Borderlands had enough juice to be a great game experience outside the ideal setup of four dudes playing through the game at a similar level.

Interesting, I had kind of the opposite take on the game. I kept up with my friends (more or less) in the race to beat the game and cap 50. Only afterward did I realize my preference for playing the game solo. I think it's great! I can't comfortably play that game with other people anymore, as it's a much better solo experience for me.

Playing with that ideal quartet means a lot of scurrying around to keep up, speeding through the world so fast one barely has the time to appreciate its universe or really noodle about with different gun combinations to maximize effectiveness against various types of mobs at their own pace.

Maybe I'm an exception to this, but I was genuinely surprised to hear that Borderlands' solo content was kind of lacking. I hadn't noticed : )

Still dont understand the L4D2 is too hard talk... There really seems to be a significant smaller number of people who have put that too hard flag up compared to the ones who think otherwise.

In many ways, I'm finding L4d2 MUCH easier than the original.

Maybe this has something to do with playing on the 360 for the sequel, but I'm finding it way easier to live through end-stage hordes and special mobs. The original was mostly Find a corner, Huddle, Kill some tanks, limp to the escape route.

Maybe it has something to do with the increased variety in end-stage scenarios?

For the record, here's my entirely subjective top-ten list (courtesy of Giant Bomb's best of 2009 list thingy). Note : uncharted 2 & Assassin Creed 2 might be added to the list, I just haven't gotten around to playing them yet - though AC2 is up next.

10. Shadow Complex
Haven't really played any side scrolling 'metroid-style' games before, since the SNES pretty much skipped the UK completely, but I really dug this western take on the genre. Still ahven't completed it though - which must be corrected soon.

9. InFAMOUS
Probably my favorite of the 'open world' summer deluge games this year. Plus it gave me an excuse to switch the PS3 on for something other than Blueray/DVD viewing

8. Resident Evil 5
Specifically the PC version, which is an AWESOME port, improving on the console version in almost every way (especially with mouse-aiming).

7. Flower
Never been a huge fan of 'artsy' games, but this one really caught my imagination.

6. Torchlight
Diablo with WoW visuals. Yay!

5. Left 4 Dead 2
Due to annoying problems with Steam Vs my BT router I haven't had the chance to play this online very often but I love just popping into the game for a couple of chapters in the single player mode.

Protip : If you find it difficult....*whisper* lower the difficulty a notch...
I promise I wont tell anyone

4. Borderlands
I have to say I also prefer playing through this solo. Probably for the same reasons mentioned above - the thing I dislike about co-op gaming is having to keep up with the fastest players and I like to take my time with it.

Also, whoever thought up the Braaaaaaaains! quest in the first DLC needs to be shot...
out of a cannon...
into the sun.

3. Batman: Arkham Asylum
Because it's freakin' awesome. Played the 360 version originally but I'm working through it again on the PC now (looks - and suprisingly *sounds* - vastly superior, and the cloak is extra flappy with the physX stuff :D)

2. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II
Another game I never finished but really want to get back to. Felt more like the original DoW mixed with World of Warcraft instances and Diablo style loot drops, which works suprisingly well.

1. Dragon Age: Origins
Enchantment?.....ENCHANTMENT!

I only have a top 5 as I've yet to play most of the games that came out this year...

Certis wrote:

I don't think Borderlands had enough juice to be a great game experience outside the ideal setup of four dudes playing through the game at a similar level.

I guess it's a matter of personal playstyle. Like Amoebic and stevenmack, while I enjoyed the multiplayer sessions I did, I actually prefered playing the game solo for the reasons Amoebic mentioned. I made it to about level 34 on playthrough 1 before moving on to other games, and 95% of that was single player, which was a ton of fun for me. Now that I picked up the Dr. Ned DLC during the Steam holiday sale, I plan to go back to Borderlands again soon.

So this is the first entire podcast I finished. Very cool. I'm hooked. Time to start making the time to listen every week.

I found myself agreeing with a lot of Demiurge's opinions except for L4D2. Opposite sides of the spectrum. L4D2 is my GoTY hands down. Like ranalin, I don't understand the "too hard" complaints.

This is the reason there are numerous difficulty levels. Let's be honest here, most of us when playing a new game, automatically opt for Hard (or whatever the equivalent of the second highest difficulty level is) since we as long time gamers have a certain proficiency level with games. Which is fine but multiple difficulty levels were made for the average person to pick up and play on normal or basic to get the mechanics of the game down and then bump up the difficulty on a subsequent play through. Since we're serial gamers, we generally don't have time for multiple play throughs so we opt for that advanced difficulty.

I'd say L4D2 is challenging more than too hard. I mean, 4 humans versus hordes of zombies is not exactly supposed to be a cakewalk. You have choices to make: health kit or defribs? Peels or Adrenaline? Want to see hard? Play on Expert difficulty with Realism enabled.

My list:

1) L4D2. I'm addicted. When I have my 3 hours or so after wifey and baby goes to bed, regardless of all the underplayed games I have, I continually go back to L4D2 and thoroughly enjoy VS with GWJers.

2) Uncharted 2 - insanely enjoyable and beautiful game.

3) Red Faction: Guerilla - giant sleeper hit. I rented this and wasn't expecting anything big. Great gaming experience. I'll be purchasing this in the future so that I can finish it.

4) Plants vs. Zombies - my bang for the buck hit of the year.

5) Dragon Age - RPG was always my favorite genre up until they started sucking and so few were released. Which means up until FF7. I think DA has breathed new life into the genre.

6) Resident Evil 5 - Easy to forget since it was released so long ago.

7) Prototype - I preferred this over inFamous.

8) Demon's Souls - I have a feeling I'll be revisiting this game continually over the years. Not even close to finishing the game.

9) Killzone 2 - Great game apart from the maddening final battle. Multiplayer was super fun.

10) Flower - Most games I'm competitive and goal driven and are based on killing or destruction. Flower was so unlike any of that and I had such a unique experience playing it that it needed a place on my top 10.

    Game I'm glad I didn't drink the Kool Aid on:

Brutal Legend. After playing the demo I knew the only endearing factor of this game was it's humor.

    Games I'm sad I didn't pick up that I intend on playing in 2010

Batman: Arkham Asylum
Assassin's Creed 2

I'd have to agree with the above folks as well. I really enjoyed Borderlands solo when I dont usually get into shooters. I think the combo of quests/leveling and a fairly interesting world to experience really scratched that itch to get me over the hurdle of playing a shooter on a console (I used to run into walls while trying to move and aim at the same time!)

It's definitely in my top 5 of the year!

Demon's Souls still takes the cake for me, and like many people I'm not close to finishing it. Otherwise I think Madden, Dragon Age and Solium Infernum are the games I've spent the most time with and/or have been the most excited about.

Props to Elysium for putting Madden in his top 10. It's a very good version of the game, well, with slider adjustments.

I love it when mommy and daddy fight.

I really want a category for "games from previous years that we're STILL playing that aren't World of Warcraft", and I'd give that to Mount and Blade.
Still playing that game almost daily.

L4D2 is definitely hard and harder than the last game, but I don't get why this is such a bad thing (the guys at Joystiq hate it too). I mean, I never played L4D when it came out and directly jumped to L4D2 and found it challenging but rewarding. Playing L4D after this is like walk in the park.
Great episode, wish you guys all the best in the new year and many more shows to come

benu302000 wrote:

I really want a category for "games from previous years that we're STILL playing that aren't World of Warcraft", and I'd give that to Mount and Blade.
Still playing that game almost daily.

Same here, but I've mostly been playing Warband.

ranalin wrote:

Still dont understand the L4D2 is too hard talk... There really seems to be a significant smaller number of people who have put that too hard flag up compared to the ones who think otherwise.

I think the new one is quite a bit better than the original. It just "works" better - the weapon selection, the more varied normal infected, the additions to the special infected, the location/daylight/color palette just all make this a superior game in my opinion. I don't think it's necessarily harder though, just a lot more to think about.

Love the party hat boon.

I just posted my Games of the Year write-up on my Giant Bomb account last night. Perfect timing:

http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/amn...

My list:

10) Retro Game Challenge (DS)
9) Skate 2 (X360)
8) 1 vs. 100 (X360)
7) Wii Sports Resort (Wii)
6) Demon’s Souls (PS3)
5) Gran Turismo (PSP)
4) Killzone 2 (PS3)
3) The PSPgo and PSP minis (PSP)
2) Borderlands (X360)
1) Street Fighter IV (X360, PC)

Nightmare wrote:
ranalin wrote:

Still dont understand the L4D2 is too hard talk... There really seems to be a significant smaller number of people who have put that too hard flag up compared to the ones who think otherwise.

I think the new one is quite a bit better than the original. It just "works" better - the weapon selection, the more varied normal infected, the additions to the special infected, the location/daylight/color palette just all make this a superior game in my opinion. I don't think it's necessarily harder though, just a lot more to think about.

I was falling asleep when i started the post and didnt finish. Meant to go on that folks that do find it more dificult just seem to be more vocal about it than the ones from the previous game so the impression that its too hard is a bit viral.

Do agree with ya Tboon that it's an improvement over the last.

"Eat a ballsack" is now the new meme of the Conference Call. Thanks, Cory!

My personal top five for the year:

5. The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition - Just like Bionic Commando Rearmed, this is how you do a faithful remake. You hearing me, new X-COM people?

4. Mount & Blade - True, came out last year, but I only got into it this year and am still playing it.

3. Assassin's Creed 2 - Definitely better than the original. Heck, AC1 feels like a beta compared to it.

2. Dragon Age: Origins - Yeah, it mainly makes the list because it exists. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I enjoyed it, but it doesn't make the #1 spot because I have this personal rule where great games should make you want to play it all over again once you finish, not load up an older game that's just like it (Baldur's Gate) or wait for another one (Mass Effect 2 & Star Wars: The Old Republic).

1. Batman: Arkham Asylum - Unlike DA:O, I immediately started replaying it after I finished it. Why? Because it's fun; it never really feels very laborious in its gameplay like the #2 and 3 games on my list. I'll be looking forward to the sequel, but I'm content with what I have right now.

Special Honorable Mention for an Old Game That's Still Being Played - The aforementioned X-COM. I'm sitting on this top-of-the-line gaming PC and I still feel the itch to reload something that was made in the early 90s. That's longevity, folks.

Top five in no real order, I hate choosing number 1s and listing games higher than others, I find it hard to rate games that are totally different from each other better or worse than the other.

-League of Legends: I started playing just a few weeks ago and I'm absolutely hooked. I get in on a few games just about every day and there's always people to play with. The game is constantly growing, which I love, and it gives you a chance to play it and then spend money on it if you think it's worth it, which I absolutely do.

-Left 4 Dead 2: I don't think I really need to say that much. While it hasn't seemed to have as tight a grip as L4D1 did on me, this game is certainly an improvement and just awesome in every way. Zombie killing at it's finest.

-Torchlight: The only two other dungeon crawlers to hook me like this has were the original Diablo when I was a kid and Dungeon Siege. The community content and the ease of the editor makes it even nicer as you can do all that nice modding stuff. Since there seems to be muli-player in the works I can only imagine that will make it even cooler.

-Mount and Blade: Warband (beta): Yes, this is technically a beta but it really has to be on this list. Ever since I was accepted into the multiplayer beta I've been playing this and it's great. The best part about it though is how closely Taleworlds has been working with the beta testers, they are constantly releasing new patches and fixing bugs. The gameplay is tons of fun, the community is pretty good especially with some of the Warbands out there (such as the somewhat over competitive but fun nK, or the Illustrious HOBOKNIGHTS, or even the aptly named Court of Rapists. Full release isn't until 2010 but it still makes my list.

-Trine: While short and with a somewhat lame end, my playthrough of this with my brother was so much fun. The game is very polished and actually does something interesting and somewhat new with a 2d platformer and should be something devs look at and take a page from. Gaming in the past few years has felt so stale and repetitive that this stood out so much to me.

Great Episode.

I'm surprised, though.

Your show is usually pretty good at pointing out decent mobile games. As someone who just jumped into the Iphone community, I have to ask, where was the discussion on the top mobile games of the year?

TCWatson wrote:

Great Episode.

I'm surprised, though.

Your show is usually pretty good at pointing out decent mobile games. As someone who just jumped into the Iphone community, I have to ask, where was the discussion on the top mobile games of the year?

No Rabbit.

Fun show this week. Always nice to hear someone state "eat a ballsack" while the podcast is being streamed into the office.

My top 5 list looks pretty much like every body else with one change:

Demon's Souls
Uncharted 2
Torchlight
Assassins Creed 2
Majesty 2

Man, I love Majesty 2. I keep coming back to it over and over again. It's got the same great charm as the prequel and the same addictiveness. And they added some extra layers of complexity to it.

of course.. there's always Batman AA. Gonna have to squeeze that one in as well.

MeatMan wrote:

On an unrelated note, I miss rabbit on the podcast, although his excellent new article does kind of soften the blow of his recent extended absence from the show.

They like me! They really like me!!!

It's just been a miserable month of scheduling conflicts.

It's just been a miserable month of scheduling conflicts.

Which is funny considering we do everything possible to try and record on the same night every week. Sometimes life just seems to find a way to get in the way of stuff we like to do.