Festive Feature: Top 5 Set Pieces of 2009
Written Wednesday, December 23, 2009 By Dan WebbView author's profile
For the last couple of days now we’ve let the visuals and the atmosphere do the talking. Today we throw all that out the window and focus on the action, in what we deem to be our Top 5 Set Pieces of 2009.
In order to make this year’s Top 5 set piece list, the games and their respective scenes had to not only wow us, but also offer non-stop action, have plenty of variation, whilst additional brownie points were awarded for those that tried something new.
As it was yesterday, expect a spoilerific article.
DJ Hero on the whole had a pretty stellar and diverse soundtrack, but it was, and always will be, the Daft Punk 8 track setlist that'll steal the show. The French duo didn’t settle for their iconic likenesses and just a few tracks in the title, instead they had 8 mixes of pure electronic funk that's enough to bring the house down. With 6 mashups and 2 megamixes, the Daft Punk setlist remained in our memories long after the last track was spun.
Check out a sample of the setlist (2 tracks and a megamix below) below. We’d love to have brought you the lot, but seriously, there’s like over 30 minutes of the stuff. It's a pretty epic 30 minutes though!
The Saboteur may not have been polished quite as much as we’d like to have seen, but the fact remains that Pandemic had a lot of good ideas. This can be seen in the mission variety and set pieces alone.
Making its way into fourth this year is one of the most diverse and well thought out missions we've played this year. Before this year I’d never hitchhiked a ride on a Nazi Zeppelin to stop the execution of a fellow comrade, but now, thanks to Pandemic and The Saboteur, I can safely say I've done that. The mission is non-stop action, has a ton of variety and lasts for well over 20 minutes. This is how missions should be structured.
Admittedly we cheated somewhat with Modern Warfare 2’s entry into our Top 5 this year by condensing the final two missions into one. Why? Well, they were one mission if you ask us, despite the mission select screen saying otherwise.
The final mission for us was the highlight and a perfect climax for the rollercoaster ride in Infinity Ward’s modern day shooter. From the very first moment where you stealth your way into an enemy occupied cave in Afghanistan, to the last moment where you take down Shepard with a well placed knife; everything about the final mission had you on the edge of your seat.
It has everything from breaching and clearing a room wired with explosives, wiping out wave after wave of Shepard’s men, some stealth scenes, massive explosions, a high speed boat chase (with rapids and a waterfall) and having it all capped off with an epic three way battle between MacTavish, Price and Shepard.
It's also worth mentioning the way the spec-ops soldier’s eyes roll into the back of his head after you rappel down the cliff-face adds a sense of realism to what is an already great mission. It’s amazing how these touches and attention to detail can heighten the experience. The whole mission is just fast paced, high octane action and that’s why it comes in at number 3 on our list.
Pre-release, a lot of who-hah surrounded Assassin’s Creed 2’s flying machine as Ubisoft Montreal were using it to show off the title’s mission diversity. When we finally got our hands on it last month, it was equally as good as it looked at E3... if not better.
There was something so soothing and tranquil about gliding high above a well depicted and lively Venice on the way to save the Doge from an assassination plot. It was probably helped somewhat by the incredible draw distance and epic score from Jesper Kyd, but using an authentic Leonardo Da Vinci designed glider, dodging incoming arrows and swooping in to kick a guard off the roof every so often makes it one of the most memorable experiences and set pieces of the year.
Our only qualm with the flying machine is that we simply don’t see enough of it and instead of being able to use it whenever or redo the mission via a mission select screen, you have to play the first 10 or so hours again just to give it another go... although, it’s probably worth it. We can’t wait for The Battle of Forli DLC to give it another go.
After experiencing Rockstar’s latest crime drama, GTA IV, the audience seemed to be effectively cut down the middle. On the one hand, there were those that loved the serious tones and epic crime drama of it all. Then on the other hand, there were those that believed Rockstar took the fun out of the title. The Ballad of Gay Tony looks to please both groups and boy does it.
In typical, old-skool GTA style, the last mission of Gay Tony sees the protagonist, Luis Lopez, have to cause havoc at the Firefly Island Amusement Park, bust up a load of Russians, destroy some stashes of crack, and then race for a plane on a motorbike before parachuting out of it as it becomes a giant fireball.
Only GTA could pull something like this off and it does so in style, which is why we deemed it our favourite set piece of the year. It'll be interesting to see where the series goes from here. Will GTA V be more like San Andreas, or will it be more like GTA IV? Only time will tell.