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With a lot of awards going out to many of the same games this year, it only makes sense to pay a little respect to a few of the games that may not have fit within some of the ubiquitous standard-fare categories. That doesn't mean you won't see some familiar names on this list but you might see a few unexpected games as well. So here's an unofficial list of some of the most original games of 2009.
Probably considered more of a guilty pleasure than a breakthrough achievement in game design originality, Shattered Horizon still managed to branch outside the typical paradigm set forth by a lot of other big name games by incorporating zero-g gameplay with a hauntingly engaging soundtrack. Futuremark Studios set themselves apart from a lot of triple-A publishers by taking a different approach to the shooter genre and it paid off well with this PC exclusive gem.
There’s no denying that Fallen Earth, a Fallout 3 meets Mad Max MMO, is an incredible combination of adventuring and action that deserves some serious recognition. One of the most original and best of 2009 included this action-oriented, adventuring MMO by developers Fallen Earth. The game includes a deep crafting system, first or third-person over-the-shoulder shooting action, dungeon runs, customizable vehicles and a massive landscape available for gamers to explore. Despite the heavy system requirements this is still easily one the best games of the year.
Would it not be sacrilege to not include this game on the list? Despite being the mascot for Captain Casual Crusader (i.e., Nintendo’s Wii) New Super Mario Bros., still managed to wow gamers with its seamlessly entertaining gameplay and innovative take on the aging platform genre. It scored a perfect five stars in Rich Knight’s review and rightfully so. It takes everything everyone loved about the 2D era and supped it up with 3D visuals, four-player cooperative and competitive modes and a range of insanely addictive stages. Nintendo hit a home run with this one of a kind platformer for the Wii.
It was a little redundant always seeing the exact same examples used to describe this game, such as typing in God to take on an atheist – I’m sure five year olds got a laugh riot out of that asinine match-up – Scribblenauts actually offered tons of cool concepts to help players progress through the game. Running on the Objectnaut engine, this game contains tens of thousands of words related to various items and objects that can be summoned to solve many of the game’s puzzles. The idea behind the game made it an easy sell for retailers and garnered developer 5th Cell a lot of well-deserved attention.
BioWare isn’t one of my favorite companies. I sort of stopped being impressed with their titles when “love talk” became one of the gameplay highlights for their RPGs. By the time Knights of the Old Republic rolled around I was a bit tired of the formula. However, BioWare has gone back to the medieval roots with DA: Origins and rekindles some of the classic fantasy storytelling and character development that made Baldur’s Gate such a popular and classic PC RPG.
I’m sure a lot of people might complain about this being on the list but, honestly, there were no other racing games (or games in general) quite like this one that was released this year. What’s more is that Forza 3 came jam-packed with a lot of great content; tons of customization options that provides limitless replayability and an online component rivaled by no other racing title out there. All the various racing types; the auction house and the community features made this one of the most original and content-rich titles of the year.
There was no doubting that this game had to make the cut. The first ever MMO that pits RTS gamers versus FPS gamers in large scale battles is easily one of the most original concepts for the past decade. Running on the Unreal Engine 3, Field of Honor is a hard hitting MMO that doesn’t pull any punches. Team work is essential for winning on the human side and strategic planning is a must when controlling the bugs. Either way, the sci-fi aesthetics, atmospheric environments and original game modes makes this an easy top pick for one of the year’s best original games across any platform.
Modicum of originality would be an understatement for this beast. Billions of guns in one game is just mind-blowing. Toss in the fact that the gun manufacture matrix that powers Borderlands is propriety tech that also affects the environment, vehicles and enemies. Gearbox really stepped outside the box with this game and all the praise it received, it definitely deserved. While Modern Warfare cleaned up in sales, Borderlands actually set the stage for a completely new route for designing and playing shooter RPGs.
While it was released a year earlier in Europe, The Void found its way to North America with pretty much zero fanfare or regular news coverage. Nevertheless, this is an odd game that is so creative and so original that it had to make number one on this list. In addition to having little to no discretion with putting the human anatomy on display with a few elemental effects and a birthday suit, The Void managed to take on a story that’s about as bizarre as its gameplay. Players can execute a number of actions drawing glyphs using the mouse, just like Okami. There’s also a completely alternate take on using special abilities, health and interacting with NPCs. Sadly, this description doesn’t remotely cover the extent of this game’s originality or depth, but if you ever check it out you’ll see why it was number one on this list.