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Best of 2009 - Brütal Legend

As one year transitions into the next, I find it a healthy and refreshing endeavor to look back upon the past year and reflect upon those experiences which touched me the most; to discover which games stood tall above the rest and, for one reason or another, made a lasting impression.

Over the next few days, I will be sharing my own personal list of the ten best games of 2009, followed by those that didn't quite make the top ten and even a few of my greatest disappointments of the year. These are in no particular order, but they are the games I found most worthy of praise. Reflecting upon them makes one thing clear: it was a great year for gaming.

Many games can rather easily be described by the sum of their parts. If you don’t mind shortcoming A, if you like gameplay mechanic B, and if you’re willing to accept flaw C then you should buy the game.

But sometimes you come across an enigma. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, a game just doesn’t quite manage to fit your analytical template so easily. 

Games like these transcend any of their individual parts to create a whole experience that, if it manages to capture you with its magic, will amaze and enthrall despite a potential laundry list of problems that should, by all rights, be driving you nuts.

Brütal Legend is too short, its controls are clunky, its single player game is a tutorial for a multiplayer mode I’m not interested in, the strategy gameplay it tries so desperately to hide is a genre that’s normally a huge turnoff for me, its open world is full of repetitive side missions desperately in need of more variety, and it tries to do way too many things at once.

But none of that matters. The world it creates is one of the most original and fascinating I’ve seen in a game in years. The humor that I love so much from Tim Schafer is wonderfully entertaining. The story is surprisingly touching and even comes to a satisfying conclusion. The soundtrack has to be the most metal collection of awesome tunes ever assembled. 

Despite having so many things that should be problems, I still felt sad when the credits rolled, not because the game was too short or I felt ripped off or unsatisfied, but because I just genuinely didn’t want it to end. I was so enthralled by the whole package that none of my individual criticisms mattered even a whit.

Admittedly, if its special brand of magic didn’t capture you like it did me the blemishes on its face would be all too apparent. 

But for me, the simple fact that this game existed was almost enough to make it one of my favorite games of the year. I loved every second I spent in its world. I even went back to it once or twice post completion just to roam around and get achievements I had missed, which is something I almost never do. Once I finish a game, it’s usually totally off my radar. Even more amazing is that I’ll surely pick it up again in the future.

I love me some Brütal Legend, even if I have no interest whatsover in the intimidating multiplayer mode that’s supposedly its reason for existing in the first place.

For simply existing and being awesome almost beyond description, Brütal Legend is one of my Best Games of 2009.

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