5) Phantasy Star 0 (DS) - Iím a huge fan of Phantasy Star Online. I hated Phantasy Star Universe (and its portable incarnation) because of the changes made to the formula that seemed like a step down to me. PS0 is a step back in the right direction. It certainly will seem like a relic of the past to some since it hasnít enhanced the addictive formula of its predecessor, but thatís a relic I didnít mind revisiting because I loved it so much in the first place. I had a blast playing this game with 3 other people (a little nostalgia always helps) and anyone with a hankering for a fun hack ní slash RPG on the DS needs to try it.
4) Borderlands (Xbox 360) - Borderlands is one of those games that I really enjoyed playing, but because it doesnít have any sort of interesting story I probably wonít be coming back to it in the future and wonít be remembering it in the years to come. That's really more of a jab at the lack of quality RPGs when compared to recent years than anything. That doesnít mean Borderlands isnít still incredibly fun and stylish. The shooter and RPG elements blend seamlessly in this game and it certainly scratched the itch I had for a game that lets me play constantly without those dumb things called ďplotĒ getting in the way. Donít get me wrong, games with good plots I would recommend over this any day, but it is a nice change of pace to play a game that entertains from start to finish in a breakneck pace.
3) Mario & Luigi: Bowserís Inside Story (DS) - The Mario & Luigi RPGs have been of consistently high quality and Inside Story continues that tradition. It uses the DSís features very well, implementing them into the gameplay without them seeming shoehorned in and features an excellent localization. The game is frequently hilarious to boot and the traditional action RPG combat the series is known for is still a hoot. This game was definitely one of the best of the year on any platform, period.
2) Demonís Souls (PS3) - I have yet to finish Demonís Souls, but it is easy to see why it is so special. This is a tense and atmospheric game featuring a brilliant score and larger than life bosses that wonít go down easy. I donít think Iíve felt as much accomplishment in an RPG as I have taking down those behemoths. Sure, I died around the next corner by a puny monster because I wasnít paying attention, but that is the brilliance of Demonís Souls. It keeps you on the edge from start to finish and in a medium where difficulty is starting to get hard to come by, Demonís Souls is a breath of fresh air. This is the PS3 exclusive RPG the system owners have been waiting for.
1) Dragon Age: Origins (PS3) - Picking my favorite RPG of the year was rather simple, really. Dragon Age: Origins was the only RPG of last year that I spent more than 50 hours on, an accomplishment considering I am becoming increasingly annoyed and irritated by games of that length because I simple donít have the time for them. Well I made time for Dragon Age. I was addicted to this game almost instantly. Not having played any games similar to it might have made it seem fresher to me than others, but that doesnít take away from its accomplishments. They are many, as listed in our GOTY awards, and Dragon Age is deserving of all of them.
Biggest Disappointment: Star Ocean: The Last Hope
I was ecstatic for this game. Star Ocean: Till the End of Time remains one of my PS2 favorites to this day and the fact that they could improve on an excellent battle system with next generation hardware graphics made it sound like a dream come true. It was far from it. The game has horrendouse voice acting and writing, topped by a story that isnít even remotely compelling. The battle system was still excellent, but beyond that I was dumbfounded by what tri-Ace had wrought here. Hopefully Resonance of Fate can redeem them a little, but I remain skeptical.
Non RPG of the Year: Batman: Arkham Asylum
Uncharted 2 was a close second, but Batman: Arkham Asylum inched by it with its incredible attention to detail for the excellent source material. Iím a pretty big fan of Batman and Iíve been waiting for a game to do the dark knight justice, and this game did exactly that. It handled multiple genres, from stealth to beatíem up, with grace and the pacing was perfect. This wasnít just my favorite non-RPG of the year, it was my favorite game of the year, period. I canít wait for the sequel.
Most Anticipated for 2010
This is, without a doubt, Mass Effect 2. The first game is still the best RPG Iíve played this generation and BioWare hasnít hit a wrong note yet. All of the improvements they will implement will be extraordinary, I have no doubt. BioWare has gone on record as saying that they want this to be their Empire Strikes Back, and all indications point toward that being the truth. We may have our GOTY in January folks.