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Top 10 time stealing video games 2009

Call them value for money, call them the lengthiest titles available - we present the top 10 time-stealing video games of this year.

10. Plants vs Zombies
Plants vs Zombies
Your grass is mine: The completely potty Plants vs Zombies

Peggle, Bejewelled, Zuma; PopCap's catalogue reads like a black hole of time-pinching witchcraft. The Seattle-based company has an enviable knack of taking the most simple of concepts, wrapping them up in gorgeous, colourful presentation and crafting the most addictive games in recent memory. Plants vs Zombies is no different. A tower-defence game, PvZ has you guarding your luscious garden against a horde of rampaging zombies by strategically planting magical seeds. These seeds grow into plants of mass destruction, taking out zombies as they make their way across your lawn. With exquisite attention to detail, it's a game that can refuse to let go, as new content is carefully drip-fed to the player as they progress. Just unlocked a new seed-pack? Well, you just have to have another go to try it out, right?

9. Pokemon Platinum
Pokemon Platinum
Almost too big for your little Nintendo DS: Pokemon Platinum

How many games on the Nintendo DS offer a campaign mode that is over 30 hours long? All right, how many of them offer an in-depth RPG gameplay experience and a story that includes over 100 characters? How about a combat system in which the strategic possibilities are pretty much limitless. Pokemon Platinum may be built on the foundations of an earlier game, but it still packs enough depth and content to keep fans glued to the DS for hours on end. It's true that if you don't know Pikachu from Mewtwo, this title will do nothing for you, but if you're a Pokemon fan, you already know the rallying cry. "You gotta catch them all!"

8. Assassin's Creed II
Assassin's Creed II
Assassin's Creed II: Ubisoft's tale of a nobleman's revenge in Renaissance Italy is utterly mesmerising

Open-world games often pad their length by including tons of meaningless side missions as bait for completists. A lot of the sandbox titles of 2009 were certainly guilty of this, but it's not an accusation you could aim at Ubisoft's tale of a revenge in Renaissance Italy. Aside from the main missions which centred around Ezio Auditore da Firenze's quest to kill a group of conspirators responsible for the deaths of his brothers and father, Assassin's Creed II contains a plethora of side-missions. Players can take part in a ton different activities from rooftop races, to gathering collectables, to taking on quests for NPCs, to seeking out hidden items and more. The game's genius, however, is that nearly every side-mission offers a compelling reason for completing it, be it narrative or material. Players feel compelled to explore every inch of the world contained within the game, and hours can pass between story missions. The fact that it also looks absolutely breathtaking only makes it harder to turn away.

7. Little King Story
Little King Story
He doesn't care if you need a break: Little King Story demands (and receives) the attention warranted by royalty

CiNG's mash-up of a Pikmin-style RTS and town management simulator may look as cute as a button, but don't be fooled. At its core it's as ruthless as its titular dictator and it will crush you without so much as a warning. Despite this, the drip-feed nature of how Little King Story rolls out its discoveries, quests and rewards is almost virtually guaranteed to keep players glued to there Wii console late into the night. If it wasn't so enjoyable, we'd say that this sort of addictive gameplay design is insidious. You may need a break, but the Little King doesn't care. He wants land and you will bend to his will, peasant!

6. The Sims 3
The Sims 3
You think you're a God? We beg to differ: The Sims 3

There is plenty to admire about the latest iteration of EA's life-simulator. It has better visuals, new upgrades (such as the moviemaker option), load-free navigation and gameplay that is rife with possibilities to the point of being intimidating. It wouldn't be a stretch to say The Sims 3 is the best instalment in the franchise. Of course, this means that it's as addictive as its predecessors. The adverts may play up the game by promoting it as the experience of playing God, but the truth is that ultimately the player becomes a slave to The Sims 3. Anyone drawn to it will soon find hours of their lives becoming devoted to taking care of little human tamagotchis.

5. Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Call Of Duty
Sleep is for wimps: The multiplayer on Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is peerless - and completely addictive

Let's face it; out of the millions of people who picked up a copy of Infinity Ward's shooter, a very small portion of them bought it for the single-player story mode. Good thing too, as the campaign is criminally short, clocking in at just over six hours on the normal difficulty setting. Most of the people who picked up Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 were itching to play its peerless multiplayer. Infinity Ward has cunningly designed an online multiplayer which mixes an RPG/perk mechanic with levels of customisation which, while being superbly well balanced, border on fetishistic. Toss in new maps, new match types, in-game goals to aim for (KillStreaks) and limitless possibilities to prove your mettle on the virtual battlefield, and Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer may just make you forget what sleep feels like.

4. Borderlands
Grind away with the weirdest firearms in the galaxy: Borderlands offers lengthy gameplay and lots and lots and lots of guns

Gearbox Software's sci-fi shooter mixes FPS and RPG action in equal measure and sets all the action in a massive open-world environment chock full of locations to explore, treasure to discover and enemies to blast. Gradually, the world of Pandora sucks in the player (especially those playing co-op) and before they realise it they'll have spent hours upon hours exploring, shooting and looting their way across the frontier planet - the game's story having been dumped out of the back of Borderland's speeding car. Clifford ‘Gears of War’ Bleszinski called it "Diablo for a generation raised on first person shooters." It's as appropriate an association as you’ll find. Welcome to the outer reaches of space. Welcome the most enjoyable grind of the year. Weclome to Borderlands.

3. Fallout 3: Game Of The Year Edition
Game Of The Year Edition
The Capital Wasteland awaits: Fallout 3's Game Of The Year Edition offers the original adventure and all the DLC. That is a lot of hours...

It may seem a little like cheating to include this one because Fallout 3 was released last year and while its 2009 DLC packs are all excellent, they don't really count as games in their own right. However, when the original game and the DLC arrived this year in one complete package, we felt it necessary to include it in this list. To those who have yet to sample the delights of the Capital Wasteland through the eyes of the stranger from Vault 101, we say: be aware of what you're getting into. Fallout 3: Game Of The Year Edition is an excellent gaming package, but it's also a black hole which you will want to fall into. When you load up this game, you may hear a sucking noise. That would be the sound of your life disappearing.

2. Dragon Age: Origins
Dragon Age
The realms of fantasy demand all of your time and then some: Welcome to the world of Dragon Age: Origins

By now, anyone who buys a game made by BioWare should know what they're getting. Whether the game's story is set in the realms of fantasy (Jade Empire), the futuristic landscapes of science fiction (Mass Effect), or even tied to an established epic (Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic) they're guaranteed to be a beautiful RPG experience. Oh, they're also going to be so long you might as well take some pictures of your family friends, just so remember what they look like. Dragon Age: Origins is no exception; set in an Tolkien-inspired fantasy land, the game incredibly manages to rise above its cliched sword and sorcery tropes, washing over the player and mesmerising them with its story, characters and astonishing world-building. Such a well worn genre has never looked so fresh and enticing.

1. Street Fighter IV
Street Fighter IV
At last, the world is your arcade - and it's endless: Capcom's timeless Street Fighter IV

Imagine, when you were young, you had owned a magic pair of trousers whose pockets would automatically fill with pennies as soon as they were emptied. Now imagine your favourite arcade game from that time is even better than you remembered. Now stop imagining – because you don't have to. With the release of Street Fighter IV this year Capcom made the dreams of entire generations of gamers a reality. Their timeless fighter marries classic gameplay to modern online multiplayer. The result is that the entire world can now play in the same arcade and best of all, with their game time no longer dependent on feeding pennies into a machine, they can play for as long as they want...


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