Leading Games Figures Weigh In On Their 2009 Highlights

2009 has been a terrific year for all things PlayStation, with the launch of the PS3 Slim and the release of stellar titles such as Uncharted 2, Killzone 2 and inFamous only scratching the surface of what the year offered. You’ve voted for your favorite titles of the year, we’ve announced our game of the year, and even The Queen has got in the gaming spirit, but what do leading games industry figures make of 2009? Gaming icons such as Shuhei Yoshida, President of SCE Worldwide Studios, Dylan Cuthbert, President of Q-Games, and Ed Byrne, Creative Director of Zipper Interactive, among many others, weigh in on their highlights of the year.

Shuhei Yoshida, President, SCE Worldwide Studios:

“My biggest highlight for 2009 has to be Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. When I saw the live demo in the SCEA E3 Press Conference, my jaw dropped to the floor and my eyes were glued to the big screen. Playing the game through was the smoothest, most unputdownable experience as well. It was a truly remarkable achievement by the Naughty Dog team, and a benchmark for future game development. We were able to release many exciting, innovative titles in 2009 like Killzone 2, inFamous, EyePet and Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time. Big PSP titles hit the market to celebrate the launch of PSPgo like Resistance: Retribution, Gran Turismo, MotorStorm Arctic Edge, Invizimals and LittleBigPlanet too. 2009 was really a great, fruitful year for PlayStation fans!”

Paul Rustchynsky, Lead Designer, Evolution Studios:

“2009 was a stand-out year for me with titles like Flower, Demon’s Souls and inFamous but Uncharted 2 stood tall above the competition. Never have I played a game that was paced as well, looked so amazing, or had such a wide variety of jaw-dropping set pieces. And to back all that up it had an extremely strong multiplayer component featuring both competitive and co-operative play. Uncharted 2 is not only my favourite game of last year, it’s also my favourite game on PS3 to date!”

Mike Hayes, Managing Director, SEGA Europe:

“2009 saw PS3 really hit its stride. Releases like Uncharted 2: Among Thieves raised the bar for the games industry as a whole and showed that cinematic storytelling need not come at the expense of truly immersive gameplay. A milestone in gaming that will stand the test of time. 2009 saw PS3 emerge as a fully convergent media device that delivers compelling movie content, alongside music through the VidZone application, whilst PlayStation Home continued to grow and evolve into a unique connected social space in the living room. In 2009 PlayStation Network started to deliver download-only experiences that were comparable to those found elsewhere on the platform; Fat Princess and Trine provided diverse gaming experiences that showed the power and imagination of the platform developers.”

Simon Barlow, Design Manager/Assistant Game Director, Evolution Studios:

“I’m likely not the only person to pick this one, but I have to say that Uncharted 2 was a real stand-out, and a true landmark in gaming. The quality of the presentation, the rich storytelling and the variety of gameplay marks it out as a modern classic. It’s one of those games that appeals to gamers and non-gamers alike. Even my wife couldn’t help but become embroiled in the escapades of Nathan Drake!”

Ricky Haggett, Designer and CEO, Honeyslug:

Flower and Noby Noby Boy – a one-two punch of gaming wonderment which kept me occupied for weeks, filling my lounge with their swirling colours and sumptuous sound.”

Darrell Rodriguez, President, LucasArts:

“My highlight is essentially fourfold. This fall we brought out four great games to Sony platforms – Star Wars The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes, LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues, Star Wars The Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition and Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron. Each game is incredibly different on the platforms, from being able to relive the excitement of the Clone Wars television series, getting reacquainted with everyone’s favourite archeologist, experiencing a new and much darker side of the force, and taking a beloved franchise in new directions on the PSP. We’ve been extremely happy to put these titles in the hands of Sony gamers and to see how excited they’ve been to play them.”

Matt Southern, Game Director, Evolution Studios:

“My highlight of 2009 was FIFA 10, which narrowly beat Batman: Arkham Asylum. FIFA 09 was the title that made me switch from an old favourite, and the latest version takes what was great in 09 and overdelivers on it. For me it’s all about Be A Pro mode, which I play more than any other mode. The brilliant introduction of mechanics that you would normally find in an RPG mean I can now have a career as a footballer, growing in strength, skill and success, which is thrilling.”

Nat Marco, Lead Designer, Honeyslug:

“I drummed, strummed and sung my way through Beatles Rock Band this year. The visuals look great with a strong ’60s vibe reminiscent of Yellow Submarine and Magical Mystery Tour. I also found myself truly creeped out by Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham Asylum – I was pleased to see they stayed true to the comics and kept the dark DC vibe!”

Dave Ranyard, Senior Manager, SCE London Studio (SingStar):

“I’ll tell you what I loved this year… EyePet – it’s such a good experience to sit down with my family and play. The kids love it! Such a different experience. I’m also very proud of SingStar: Take That! A perfect SingStar! And they were fab at Wembley too!”

Ana Kronschnabl, Producer, Fluffy Logic:

“We were really pleased with Savage Moon: Waldgeist and the fan reaction to it has been great; makes all the late nights worth it! The Death Blossom bugs were our favourite – they look great then they explode. We’ve also been wowed by Resident Evil 5 – an amazing looking game, the two player mode was great fun. Plus, it is hard not to comment on Modern Warfare 2, it looks amazing and is packed full of great ideas. It just shows what developers can do when given the space to create. We also think the new PSP is very pretty. The oddly named but fun Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! on PSP has been really addictive.”

Ash Monif, COO, Subatomic Studios:

“Being hand-picked by Sony Computer Entertainment to be featured in the minis programme and having our game Fieldrunners selected as a launch title was a great experience for us. Everyone we worked with at SCEE was very professional. They helped us every step of the way from development to launch.”

David Hamblin, Principal Artist, PlayStation Home:

“For me the highlight of the year was seeing the growth of new content in PlayStation Home, with lots of cool new spaces to explore, SingStar, Ratchet & Clank and inFamous to name just a few. And in particular the success of special events such as the SingStar Dizzee Rascal party and Halloween which show a glimpse of the potential of the platform. I am really excited to see how PlayStation Home continues to evolve and grow next year and beyond.”

Dylan Cuthbert, President and Managing Director, Q-Games:

“My 2009 highlight was probably inFamous – it’s the first game in which I experienced true gut-wrenching vertigo (the prison on the second island). Considering I’ve been playing games for about 30 years it’s great to know I can still experience new emotions with games. I also thought the enemy guys were kind of cute, in fact the whole game didn’t have blood and guts and was still a superb game. I think games just don’t need so much gratuitous stuff. For example, Fallout 3 for me would have been better without the splatter – still loved the game though!”

Mark Bunting, Producer, SCE Cambridge Studio (PlayTV):

“I am split about what has been the greatest highlight this year. The new model of PlayStation 3 is more accessible to people and I like the shape and style. I also think that we are all trying to push more out of both platforms with non-gaming media like PlayTV and VidZone through to ground-breaking titles like Uncharted 2: Among Thieves on PS3 and LittleBigPlanet on PSP. In pushing our own imagination we are making the whole entertainment experience richer for our community.”

David Evans, Senior Programmer, PlayStation Home:

Naughty Dog won my heart again with Uncharted 2, which is every bit as awesome as the first one. Along with Modern Warfare 2, these games represent the pinnacle of AAA entertainment. Flower, which I played until I’d unlocked every trophy, was a joy to experience, incredibly emotive and at the same time great fun.”

Ed Byrne, Creative Director, Zipper Interactive:

“2009 was the year where we saw PlayStation 3 really come into its own. With the announcement of the new model at a lower price point and a year’s worth of extremely diverse titles from Fat Princess to Killzone 2. I think the popularity and quality of the system is undeniable and very encouraging for PS3 developers. Really though, my PlayStation highlight was travelling home to Ireland to promote Zipper’s next game MAG to the media there recently. After a 12-year absence, it was a trip that was both personally and professionally gratifying, especially seeing how dedicated the gaming community there has become.”

Dan Durnin, Communications Manager, PlayStation Home:

“While Uncharted 2 and Modern Warfare 2 really broke new ground in terms of cinematic gameplay and production values, I was completely hooked on Batman: Arkham Asylum, which nailed so many key elements for me, from the free flowing combat to a great story and clever riddles. The sheer quality of PlayStation 3 titles this year has been extraordinary, across so many different genres. PlayStation Store also grew in leaps and bounds, and really opened my eyes to some amazingly original games like Flower and Fat Princess.”

Nicolas Doucet, Senior Producer, SCE London Studio (EyePet):

“My PlayStation highlight of the year was the launch of the new PlayStation 3 model. It gives families a great reason to join the PlayStation community: Dad can go on the most amazing action ride with Uncharted 2 while the kids will feel the magic with EyePet.”

Andrew Eades, Executive Director, Relentless Software:

“As a gamer, I loved playing an Infinity Ward shooter on PlayStation 3 for the first time. Modern Warfare 2 was an intense and awesome experience. Uncharted 2 is also amazing and a visitor to my house asked what film I was watching when they poked their head into the sitting room! As a developer, I’m so proud of the Relentless team who have delivered the excellent Buzz!: Quiz World and I’m excited about the release of Blue Toad Murder Files on PlayStation Network.”

What where your highlights of 2009? Tell us in the comments below.