Best of the Rest: Chris' picks of 2009

Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition
A high-definition update – with high-quality voice work to boot! – of the adventure gaming classic, Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition represents a sea change in how LucasArts treats its adventure gaming roots. Instead of squirelling them away in a vault while development continues on Star Wars title after Star Wars title, LucasArts is putting them up on Steam, and remastering them for a whole new audience, with the first Monkey Island adventure leading the charge.

Red Faction: Guerrilla
I'll leave it up to several of my colleagues, who've also placed this shooter slash smasher on their Best of the Rest list, to elaborate upon this game's open-world (and destructible world!) appeal; instead, I'll point out that Red Faction: Guerrilla's multiplayer mode is a significant departure from the campaign's mechanics. Various backpacks grant you the ability to fly, to barrel through walls, to run quicker, etc. – combine them with the game's existing destruction mechanic and the Reconstructor to rebuild destroyed structures and you've got a very unique (and robust) twist on the core game.

Though A2M's grindhouse-em-up may be lacking in some key areas like polish, duration, and replayability, it does an admirable job compensating with fun slo-mo mechanics and style to spare. It's one of the pleasant surprises of the year, and a fine rite of passage for the Canadian developer better known for its uninspiring licensed games.

The Beatles: Rock Band
While The Beatles: Rock Band may seem like a particularly safe choice – It's Rock Band! With The Beatles! – I wanted to take this opportunity to acknowledge the amount of time I've spent playing the game, which itself is a testament to the quality of the game and the replayability of The Beatles' catalog. You've already heard each of these songs, what? ... a hundred billion times? Just how many times do you think you can play them before they start getting boring? A billion? Maybe two billion?

50 Cent: Blood on the Sand
No game this year has more points, more exploding ramps, more helicopter boss battles, and more diamond skulls than 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand. It's a guilty pleasure, to be sure, and one best enjoyed co-op with one Justin T. McElroy by your side.


Resident Evil 5
While I enjoyed much of my co-op experience (playing this game solo robs you of experiencing what the game does right!) the terrible final boss, the comically inscrutable Resident Evil plot, and the at-times cumbersome controls combined to serve as reminders that Resident Evil 5 is not the groundbreaking game its predecessor was. While it provides one of the most robust co-op experiences out there, it already feels in need of a Resident Evil 4-style reboot.

Penny Arcade Adventures, Episode 3
As a fan of the first two installments, the now 14 month gap between Episode 2 and the still-no-sign-of-it Episode 3 is upsetting. What is it with Seattleites, video games, and Episode 3s?

New Super Mario Bros. Wii
The definition of "disappointment": Nintendo updates classic 2D Mario gameplay with a four-player cooperative twist ... then neglects to implement any online functionality at all. We all know Nintendo's Wii Friend Code system is about as poor a multiplayer platform as one could imagine (try to imagine a more obtuse way of managing multiplayer games) but games like Mario Kart Wii and Super Smash Bros. Brawl have shown that Nintendo is capable of providing a passable experience. While online co-op may not be the ideal way of playing NSMB Wii, unable to communicate the in-room excitement of couch co-op, it's more ideal than not playing it ... which is the experience I'm most familiar with.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.