Another year has gone by and it's time once again to hand out our Game of the Year Awards. Welcome, and we hope you enjoy the rundown. You can recheck the list of nominees before starting, if you wish, but we've got you covered throughout this feature. We'll list out the nominees and then tell you which title is the winner, along with a brief explanation as to why it won. So now, without any more preamble or ado, here we go:

Achievement Awards

Best Graphics

Nominees

Winner: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

This is often a difficult category but we wasted no time in quickly handing the award to the only title that could possibly win: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves . With some of the cleanest, crispest and most accomplished visuals you've ever seen in a video game, this is currently as close as one can get to "playing the action movie." Everything from the amazing character detail and animation to the luscious backdrops just shone . Killzone 2 was impressive as well, but this…this is a whole new level.

Best Music

Nominees

Winner: Brutal Legend

We admit; it was a "brutal" oversight not to have nominated this one initially, especially when it was bound to win. Not only are we big metal fans, but we also can't think of another game that has ever had such a sweeping, entirely satisfying licensed soundtrack. With so many of the old-school metal Gods and classic pieces of hard-hitting music, this is what really made the environment of Brutal Legend come to life. You just gotta love what Tim Schafer and Double Fine did with this one!

Best Sound Effects

Nominees

Winner: Killzone 2

Shooters tend to have the most intense sound, so it's probably not surprising that it came down to Killzone 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 . But Guerrilla's excellent FPS included such amazing effects; they put us in the midst of the action and made us jump with every wonderfully loud explosion or crack of gunfire. Along with the visuals, it was the effects that really pushed this one into the limelight and kept it there. Can you imagine not playing this one with a quality sound system? 'Cuz you really shouldn't have done that if you did.

Best Acting

Nominees

Winner: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

You know, if we did individual performance awards, we'd have to consider Mark Hamill as The Joker in Batman: Arkham Asylum and Jack Black as Eddie Riggs in Brutal Legend . But we wanted to award the best possible cast and that just had to go to Uncharted 2 , where every last major character was fantastic. Led by Nolan North (Drake), Emily Rose (Elena) and Claudia Black (Chloe), we had professional talent for each and every major role. This is exactly the way all such ambitious projects should be in the future. Just a little note to all devs.

Best Writing

Nominees

Winner: Batman: Arkham Asylum

This was extremely difficult because the story in Uncharted 2 was so wonderfully implemented. But really, the dialogue given to the characters in Arkham Asylum seemed singular, in that it captured the dark comic book style that allowed this particular asylum to leap off the screen. Perhaps it was the lunacy of The Joker combined with the way they wrote lines for Batman and other supporting characters; it all just came together so well. For the type of game it tried to be, you couldn't have provided a much better script.

Best Artistry/Art Direction

Nominees

Winner: Assassin's Creed II

It came down to Uncharted 2 and Assassin's Creed II and after a little deliberation, we decided on the latter. Why? Well, there's little doubt that the artistry in U2 was unbelievable, but Ubisoft really went that extra mile in producing several of the largest, most intricately detailed city environments ever seen in video games. The attention paid to every tiny detail was downright amazing, from the NPCs realistically wandering the streets to even the most obscure yet still beautiful cornice of a random structure in Florence, they didn't miss one square inch. It was just…gorgeous.

Most Original/Innovative

Nominees

Winner: Flower

Perhaps surprisingly, we found most of the innovation in the little downloadable titles that showed up on the PSN in 2009, which is why three of the four nominees are only available on the Store. Demon's Souls received some consideration but in the end, there's just nothing like thatgamecompany's Flower . I still remember seeing the lone flower show up on my screen, and for a minute or two, I was confused…am I supposed to do something? Then I hit the X button and I was on my way. The result? One of the most relaxing, rewarding and exceedingly unique gaming experiences ever. Play with the wind, guide the petals; it was almost…surreal.

Most Overlooked

Nominees

Winner: BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger

One could make an argument for just about any title in this category, but how many people have even heard of BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger ? How often does one of the best games of the year go almost entirely unnoticed, except by die-hard fans of the genre in question? Thing is, nowhere near enough people recognized the inherent quality in this flashy, old-school fighter, and while I know many of you wanted Demon's Souls to win this category, bear in mind that the game didn't sell badly. Oh, and it just won Game of the Year at GameSpot, so it's hardly "unnoticed" right now. BlazBlue just needs more love.

Most Anticipated Game

Nominees

Winner: Final Fantasy XIII

Considering the unbelievable 2010 lineup, you can probably guess that we talked for a while about this one. We were able to eliminate Bayonetta , God of War III , and Heavy Rain but we had to think long and hard when it came down to FFXIII and Gran Turismo 5 . We're just such huge fans of both franchises but I guess it came down to this: we know both games will be great, but we know more about what to expect with GT5. We really have no idea what the FFXIII experience will be, primarily because each successive installment in the franchise feels brand new. And so, despite the stiff competition, we decided we want nothing more than this epic RPG.

Genre Awards

Best Multiplayer Game

Nominees

Winner: Killzone 2

Say what you want. Defend Modern Warfare 2 until you're blue in the face. The bottom line is that we believe there's no better online experience than Killzone 2 in 2009, and that's entirely due to the superiority of this particular shooter. Granted, there may be a few more bells and whistles in the MW2 online modes, but that can't stop KZ2 from coming out on top. It's hardly the popular choice but this isn't a popularity contest; this is our Game of the Year Award extravaganza and we'd much rather go online with Guerrilla's masterpiece any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Best Downloadable Game

Nominees

Winner: Flower

It was a tough choice between Flower and Shatter ; after all, we gave them both the same score (9.0). Both are entirely different experiences and both are super fun for entirely different reasons. But we had to consider the innovation and ingenuity that went into Flower and that's what ultimately tipped the scales; essentially, Shatter did have unique elements but it wasn't 100% original like the game where you control flower petals in the air. We can't wait to hear about thatgamecompany's new project…guaranteed it'll be totally unique once again.

Best Puzzle Game

Nominees

Winner: Braid

There weren't a huge assortment of quality puzzle games in 2009 but one certainly stood head and shoulders above the rest: Braid . It took a while for it to come to the PSN but now that it's here, it's a definite must-try for all puzzle aficionados. It's not quite as mind-bending as last year's winner ( Echochrome ) but it's bound to give you fits. Can your brain handle the flow of the complicated time-space continuum?

Best Music/Rhythm Game

Nominees

Winner: The Beatles: Rock Band

You might think this would be a tough category but Arnold wasted no time in naming The Beatles: Rock Band the victor. Perhaps it's due to the classic and nearly incomparable soundtrack that is bound to satisfy a huge number of music fans. In the future, you're bound to see more music titles based around certain legendary bands (we've already seen some), but of course, you gotta start with what is arguably the most legendary band ever. So many have adored The Beatles and now, they can emulate 'em in a digital format. Sublime.

Best Racing Game

Nominees

Winner: DiRT 2

We didn't realize how thin this category was until we actually looked at it. We just didn't have a lot of top-quality racers in 2009 but there's one that can indeed be considered elite, and that's DiRT 2 . This off-road simulator is about as good as they come, despite a few small flaws. If you're looking for the year's best racer and you were disappointed that Gran Turismo 5 wouldn't arrive until 2010, you can't go wrong with this one. Need for Speed: SHIFT was great but there were one too many mistakes, despite that totally intense in-cockpit view.

Best Sports Game

Nominees

Winner: FIFA Soccer 10

The sports category is always tough, especially when we've seen a great resurgence in the Madden franchise and The Show seems to keep getting better and better. But in 2009, FIFA Soccer 10 takes the crown; its almost unrivaled level of realism and authenticity allows all fans of the sport to dive in with gusto. There was a time when Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer appeared to eclipse the long-running FIFA franchise but recently, EA Sports has stepped up big time. You just won't find a better virtual sports experience on store shelves.

Best Role-Playing Game

Nominees

Winner: Dragon Age: Origins

Although there were only two nominees this year (definitely expect more for 2010), it still took a bit of thought. And while we're well aware of the extremely loyal following Demon's Souls has garnered, BioWare's Dragon Age: Origins just stole our hearts. We fell in love with the game almost instantly; its traditional yet far-reaching format is unbelievably addictive and in all honesty, I had a problem with the balance in Demon's Souls ; i.e., the fact you used Souls for absolutely every purchase of every kind. Perhaps that's what did it. But either way, we agreed that Origins had to win.

Best Fighting Game

Nominees

Winner: Street Fighter IV

Although BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger was in definite contention, the nod went to Street Fighter IV , which allowed the ailing franchise to shoot back to the top of the fighting charts. Fast, furious, colorful and oh so challenging, SFIV is the game many fans of the genre had been waiting for. It was too frustrating for some but the hardcore followers found battling nirvana, and we just couldn't ignore this accomplishment. You can bet that when Super Street Fighter IV releases next year, these same fans will once again be very, very happy.

Best Shooter

Nominees

Winner: Killzone 2

It's just no contest. Killzone 2 redefined the nature of the first-person shooter in our eyes and from now on, it will be the measuring stick against which all other shooters will be measured. Too many people have forgotten it since it was released way back in February, but we're not about to overlook it. It showed us the way FPSs could be with the proper amount of work and dedication; we had weight, we had true human physics, we had the feel of an elite, futuristic soldier beneath our fingertips. And oh yeah, an awesome setting and atmosphere with both a fantastic single-player campaign and online multiplayer mode. It's just spectacular, the whole way 'round.

Best Action/Adventure Game

Nominees

Winner: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves won Game of the Year at the Spike TV Video Game Awards but somehow lost the Best Action/Adventure Award category to Assassin's Creed II . Perhaps understandable but still confusing. We're not about to make any such mistake: despite ACII's tremendous credentials, there's just nothing better in this category. In fact, it could very well be the best Action/Adventure title of the entire generation thus far, although one could certainly make arguments for Grand Theft Auto IV and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots . Either way, though, U2 is just too good; it's exactly what we've been looking for in this genre.

Best Multiplatform Game

Nominees

Winner: Assassin's Creed II

2009 can be argued to be the year when PlayStation 3 exclusives dominated but there were plenty of great multiplatform titles, as there usually are. The winner this year is actually surprisingly easy as far as we're concerned; it goes to Ubisoft's outstanding Assassin's Creed II . Bigger and better in almost every possible way, this sequel represented such a gigantic step in the right direction that we were blown away. Adopting far more in the way of depth, in terms of both the gameplay and storyline, this is the fully realized stealth/action, medieval GTA-like game that everyone must at least attempt. Beautiful and ceaselessly engaging, ACII is a gem.

Best New IP

Nominees

Winner: Batman: Arkham Asylum

It wasn't easy to choose between Batman: Arkham Asylum and inFamous but when all is said and done, Rocksteady's production was just a bit more polished and accomplished. There's a certain amount of childlike glee one gets from playing inFamous for hours on end but Arkham Asylum is arguably the single best superhero video game in history. Furthermore, the stellar atmosphere, characters, and storyline rockets Arkham Asylum into the stratosphere in the realm of new IPs. Anybody want to bet that Heavy Rain might have a shot at this award next year…?

Special: The PSXE Favorites

No one game wins this category; it's merely a look at what we found to be the most entertaining games of the year. It's not so much about good and bad here (although all of these titles are excellent, of course), it's more about what we enjoyed most. At any given time during 2009, you can picture Arnold, John or me having oodles of fun with at least one of the games listed above. I suppose we could each pick our favorite but that'd be tough to do and besides, you get to look at the whole bunch this way. If you haven't played a few of these, we strongly suggest trying 'em out ASAP.

And now, for the big moment…

Game of the Year

Nominees

Winner: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Two things happened when Uncharted 2: Among Thieves came out: first, Arnold provided you with our review, which had a very clear tone of awe and 100% satisfaction, along with the meaningful quote, "It defines what videogames mean to me." Second, I finished my play-through and almost felt like crying, both because it was sadly over and because the past 25 years of my gaming career went rocketing through my skull at top speed. Why? Because it felt as if this was the culmination of…well, everything. Everything we had always wanted out of this hobby.

Nearly perfect pacing. Nearly flawless mechanics, in both the combat and platforming aspects. Superb acting. Jaw-dropping visuals. And above all else, an experience that won't be forgotten any time soon. This is the second year in a row I've almost gotten misty-eyed writing about our choice for Game of the Year (last year's MGS4 left an indelible mark as well), and don't forget that the original Uncharted: Drake's Fortune co-won Game of the Year back in 2007 with its partner, God of War II . And if you're wondering, yes, we've chosen this lovely lady here to reveal our Game of the Year Award. Hope she knows about it.

And that's that. We hope you enjoyed the Awards this year and here's looking to an even better 2010! 'raises glass'

P.S. We'd also like to thank all our most loyal readers who have made this community so strong. They routinely give us great feedback and comments and it's because of them that everything remains intelligent, civil, laid back, and overall, very pleasant. Guys like WorldEndsWithMe, TheHighlander, Scarecrow, Alienange, Jawknee, LimitedVertigo, ffrulez, Banky A, Qubex, www, "blank line," King James, UltimaDream, Aftab, LegendaryWolfeh, BikerSaint, Fane1024, Jed, and Arvis are always welcome around here. Always. You think we don't notice you guys? HA! Thanks so much to you all. ­čÖé

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