Let's start with Tiger Woods, since he's all anyone wants to talk about suddenly. Aside from his adultery/the media's freakout, his video game was one of the best of 2009. Sadly, Tiger doesn't meet girls in the game.
You'll find Tiger in my Top 10 Video Games list for 2009, a very good year, creatively.
10. "Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars" by Rockstar for Nintendo DS; rated "M" - In this fun if morally bankrupt "GTA" experience, you kill people, hijack cars, deal drugs same old, same old, but executed nicely.
9. "Brutal Legend" by EA for Xbox 360 and PS 3; rated "M" - You play as a roadie (voiced excellently by Black Jack) who slips into a fantasy land where you drive hot rods across vast fields, and kill baddies with an axe and a guitar, accompanied by Ozzy Osbourne, Lita Ford and other metal heroes. Crazy!
8. "Wet" by Bethesda for Xbox 360 and PS 3; rated "M" - It looks and plays like a Tarantino film (sword play and gritty cinematography) mixed with Lara Croft (jumping and pole-swinging).
7. "The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena" by Atari for Xbox 360 and PS 3; rated "M" - Vin Diesel is back in this first person, stealthy action-adventure. Half of it is an upgrade of 2004's "Escape from Butcher Bay." The rest is all new spaceship action; shimmying ledges and ladders, and shooting idiots.
Top Ten New Games
Here are the Top 10 best-selling video games, according to retailer Game Crazy. Games are listed by title, company, gaming system, and rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Most games are priced $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $50 for Wii; $40 for PSP; $30 for DS and PS 2.
1. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" (Activision) for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3; rated "M" (blood, drug reference, intense violence, language)
2. "Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks" (Nintendo) for DS; rated "E 10+" (mild fantasy violence)
3. "New Super Mario Bros. Wii" (Nintendo) for Wii; rated "E" (comic mischief)
4. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" for PS 3
5. "Assassin's Creed 2" (Ubisoft) for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3; rated "M" (blood, intense violence, sexual content, strong language)
6. "Left 4 Dead 2" (Valve) for Xbox 360; also available for PC; rated "M" (blood, gore, intense violence, language)
7. "Wii Sports Resort" (Nintendo) for Wii; rated "E"
8. "Guitar Hero World Tour (with guitar)" (Activision) for Wii; also available for Xbox 360, PS 3; rated "T" (lyrics, mild suggestive themes)
9. "Mario Kart Wii (with wheel)" (Nintendo) for Wii; rated "E" (comic mischief)
10. "God of War Collection" (Sony) for PS 3; rated "M" (blood, gore, intense violence, nudity, sexual themes, strong language)
(Ratings: "E" for "Everyone"; "T" for "Teen"; "M" for "Mature 17+")
6. "Scribblenauts" by Warner Home Video Games for DS; rated "E 10+" - This was maybe the most groundbreaking game of 2009. You write words like "god" and "TNT," and god and TNT appear on screen. Tens of thousands of words are in the database. Write words, those objects appear, then interact. Amazing.
5. "Tiger Woods PGA Tour '10" by EA for Wii, Xbox 360, PS 3, PSP, PS 2; rated "E" - Insanely addicting golfing.
4. "The Saboteur" by EA for Xbox 360, PS 3 and PC; rated "M" - The best "GTA" rip-off of 2009 is a fantasy set in Nazi-controlled Paris. You get great guns and blow up zeppelins with rocket launchers.
3. "Afro Samurai" by Namco Bandai's Surge for Xbox 360 and PS 3; rated "M" - The sword fighting is above-average. But the astonishing look, feel and sound are beautiful art forms, narrated with attitude by Samuel L. Jackson, set in a silky mood of American anime.
2. "Uncharted 2: Among Thieves" by Sony for PS 3; rated "T" - Play as an Indiana Jones-type in this beautiful shooting-and-climbing game, featuring a satisfying storyline featuring quirky twists, tongue-in-cheek cinema scenes, and clever dialogue delivered by perfectly cast actors.
1. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" by Activision for Xbox 360 and PS 3; rated "M" - The solo mission is quite good, but the online shooting is the most addictive and realistic in years (fantastic "balance" in 14 modes and 16 maps). The new cooperative mode called "overview" is groundbreaking.
Oh, and I'm flawed: Originally I gave "Wet" just three out of four stars, and "Afro Samurai" and "The Saboteur" three and one-half stars. Clearly, I should have given them four stars since they've stuck with me.
("Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" by Activision retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3 - Plays most fun as an online first-person shooter, or a cooperative game, but is too short as an offline solo campaign. Looks fantastic. Challenging. Rated "M" for blood, drug reference, intense violence and language. Four stars out of four.)
Doug Elfman is an award-winning entertainment columnist who lives in Las Vegas. He blogs at www.lvrj.com/columnists/Doug_Elfman.html.