And the Black Horse of 2009 is: Mech Suits!

It’s safe to say that most all of the 1,200+ games that were released in 2009 featured some kind of hero. Be it an inanimate paddle, a scholarly unicorn, or any number of grizzled space marines, these stars were aided (or impeded) by my officially unofficial ‘Black Horse of 2009’: the Mech Suit. Call it a bipedal walker, a power suit, an exoskeleton or what-have-you, these metallic puppets ruled 2009 from the shadows; never taking center stage themselves, only punching up the excitement at key moments. They even broke into mainstream cinema in a big way, featuring in pivotal scenes of both District 9 and Avatar. Sure, they’ve been around for a long time and probably had their best year during the hey day of BattleTech or Macross but the more I think about 2009 the more I see just how many mechanized power skeleton armor suits we saw.

I realized all this after seeing Avatar which, among other games, made me want to run home and load up Red Faction: Guerrilla. Taking back Mars with a hammer is a delightful prospect when coupled with the game’s landscape-changing physics engine but things really got stupid-fun when you were able to find a Walker. Service machines by design their steel limbs and epic size made everything more entertaining but I never felt like I wasn’t having any fun if I wasn’t driving one around. Conversely, I was only enjoying myself in Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure when I powered up the globe-trotting adventurer and took the most eXtreme Tea Time known to man. Henry hops into his gargantuan clockwork robot suit and flings steam-powered fists across the screen while stomping cute enemies all the way down to the touch screen below.

In between those extremes is everything from the form-fitting suits of Section 8, Halo 3: ODST, and Metroid Prime Trilogy to the hulking armored enemies of Bionic Commando,  Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin and Shadow Complex. And in between those were at least a dozen no-name budget games from the far reaches of Eastern Europe that filled the DS, PlayStation 2, Xbox 360 and (of course) PC with more robot suits than I care to list here. I gave up counting pretty quickly but there’s no doubting that mech suits finally become such an integral part of gaming in 2009 that they didn’t even have to take center stage.

Did I miss a major mech appearance? Got a personal favorite? Use your remotely-controlled robot arms to leave a comment and let’s talk about it!