The countdown of my personal picks for the best games of 2009 kicks off today. For the next two weeks I'll be running down my top ten. At #10 we travel to the other world of Pandora...
10. Borderlands (360, PS3, PC)
Randy Pitchford has a big mouth. He's not afraid to tell people his opinion on a whole range of topics. Sometimes it rubs other people the wrong way, even when he's right. And he was right about Borderlands.
What I liked about Borderlands is how Randy chose just the right RPG ingredients to add to an already solid shooter base. They didn't over egg the story, opting to offer a streamlined quest interface that told you where to go and provided just enough context about why you needed to go there. Instead, the focus remained squarely trained on the RPG systems of skill development and inventory management. This worked to the benefit of maintaining a shooter style pace to the action while still allowing you to make interesting choices over your character's progression in those brief down-times between quests.
Borderlands was at its very best when played co-operatively. It followed the Left 4 Dead model where co-op becomes a shared experience in contrast to the overt contrivances of, say, Resident Evil 5 or Gears of War. Sure, you'll help out your team by reviving fallen friends or selecting skills that offer a team-wide bonus, but ultimately it's more about the camaraderie gained from surviving together in the same world.
Kotaku AU's Games of 2009 are my personal picks for the best games of the year. I make no claim to have played everything released this year, nor do I pretend to be any way objective in my rankings. I look forward to debating my choices with you in the comments.