Festive Feature: Top 5 Set Pieces of 2009

Festive Feature: Top 5 Set Pieces of 2009

Written Wednesday, December 23, 2009 By Dan Webb
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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.


User Comments

Forum Posts: 576
Comment #1 by ovoon7
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 01:26:21 AM
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I agree with about 2 of these.

Forum Posts: 576
Comment #2 by ovoon7
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 01:27:12 AM
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#4-2 are well deserved

Forum Posts: 14818
Comment #3 by Webb [STAFF]
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 01:27:40 AM
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@#1 - Let me guess, you've not played the other 3? =P

Forum Posts: 17
Comment #4 by Pk oQCo
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 01:33:09 AM
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MW2 and AC 2 sure have their place in the top 5. Can't say for the other 3 tough. ( didnt played them ). Maybe will give them a shot

Forum Posts: 1
Comment #5 by Kidge
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 01:48:08 AM
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Daft punks setlist was epic on dj hero I'm glad it's on top 5. :D

Forum Posts: 7
Comment #6 by a mont 360
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 01:49:17 AM
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great list

Forum Posts: 136
Comment #7 by OMGmyFACE
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 01:50:57 AM
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That last mission in Gay Tony, man. I HATED that mission. Doesn't look so hard when watched like this, though. Fun as hell and epic. This is a good list, just platinumed ACII. Amazing scene.

Forum Posts: 324
Comment #8 by MrIacob
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 03:20:14 AM
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#7 I just finished yesterday TBOGT. I think the battle for GOTY should be GTA TboGT vs. AC 2. The last mission was awesome.

Forum Posts: 17
Comment #9 by Whitesnake75
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 03:26:24 AM
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Great to see the Saboteur making the list. Very good game and underrated imo. One of the only games that stayed in my drive till I k'd it in one playthrough. Even though there were over 1000 free play targets, it never seemed to get stale going after them.
Nice list and good variety in it.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #10 by banned266767
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 04:09:55 AM
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gay tony absolutely #1 and I'm glad the end of MW2 is up there.

Forum Posts: 2416
Comment #11 by Deyankees1
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 05:12:34 AM
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Agree with all, AC2 Flying machine was fun as hell one if the most memorable moments this year gaming wise in my opinion.

Forum Posts: 130
Comment #12 by Pwnedbyspas
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 06:07:01 AM
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The voice actor of the foreign guy at the end is Omad Djalili

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Comment #13 by Barad
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 06:27:25 AM
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MW2 ftw!

Forum Posts: 3508
Comment #14 by Yunder
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 07:34:39 AM
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Perfectly balanced list. Job well done again, Webb. :)

Forum Posts: 24
Comment #15 by gamefreakduf
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 08:09:51 AM
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haha that double takedown at the end of the ac2 one was dirrrrty! nice work webb haha

Forum Posts: 77
Comment #16 by Grim
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 09:08:54 AM
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this Daftpunk set sounds wicked, gimme some pills and after all just shove me into the pool!!!!!!!!!!!1

Forum Posts: 349
Comment #17 by HarperBird
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 09:25:02 AM
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nice list but with the 4th choice you also get to go on a Nazi Zeppelin in WolfStein but tht game was poop-tastic to the max!!

Forum Posts: 89
Comment #18 by CaMmY95
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 09:49:47 AM
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MW2 Well deserved the whole campaign had me gripped never mind the last level.

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Comment #19 by Juzt Skillz
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 11:27:08 AM
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Glad to see Daft Punk up there as well as MW2 and AC2

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #20 by CheesyToast111
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 12:33:32 PM
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I really didnt feel that griped by the MW2 campaign, it was better than COD4 but it still felt kinda boring

Forum Posts: 242
Comment #21 by SuperWoody64
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 12:42:40 PM
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Daft Punk is the best band in the world. Saw them in coney island 2 years ago for alive'07 and it was the best concert I've ever been to.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #22 by Acid Mother
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 12:44:46 PM
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Guess I'm the only one who thought MW2's campaign was a major letdown seeing as it's the same damn campaign we played 2 years ago. Ooooh, but we have thermal now! F**k that, where's the 'no fighting in the war room'-proportioned epicness?

Forum Posts: 14818
Comment #23 by Webb [STAFF]
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 01:05:15 PM
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@#22 - I thought it was far-fetched and a little wishy washy in terms of plot, but as far as entertainment goes, it was action from start to finish.

Forum Posts: 985
Comment #24 by Dr Popodopolus
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 02:48:18 PM
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Go Back to Vice City Rockstar! Please!

Forum Posts: 21
Comment #25 by Olliezilla
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 05:04:38 PM
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I thought Arsenal have improved on the Set Pieces this season personally, I would have gone for Gallas & Vermaelen getting their head on most of the set pieces, but I respect your choices.

Forum Posts: 92
Comment #26 by ROA5T BeeF
Friday, December 25, 2009 @ 01:23:45 AM
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Good list. Those all sound very exciting. I have to try the Saboteur out for myself soon.

@22 & 23
I agree that MW2 was very far-fetched. I enjoyed it, but it was nowhere near the experience that COD4 was the first time through. I'm not 100% where I read this, but one review compared COD4 and MW2 to the films Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. CR had a great story and good amount of action and then QoS was all action and it was quite short. I agree and the same to COD4 and MW2.

Forum Posts: 211
Comment #27 by Munkeh111
Sunday, December 27, 2009 @ 03:22:19 AM
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I would complete disagree with the AC II one, I hated that part of the game

Forum Posts: 415
Comment #28 by KingSigy
Sunday, December 27, 2009 @ 01:41:22 PM
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Wow, DJ Hero up there is sweet. Yeah, Daft Punk really propelled that game into the stratosphere for me, but DJ Hero is solid even without them.

Forum Posts: 42
Comment #29 by El Sc0rch0o
Sunday, December 27, 2009 @ 05:52:58 PM
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the bridge from l4d2 should be numba one

Forum Posts: 435
Comment #30 by David x360a
Monday, December 28, 2009 @ 05:03:01 AM
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I'm one of those who hated GTA IV, so hopefully Rockstar will go back to the style of GTA III/VC/SA. I agree with #29, Left 4 Dead 2 should definitely have been on this list - but the concert is even better than the bridge, IMO.

Forum Posts: 247
Comment #31 by atomic viking54
Wednesday, December 30, 2009 @ 04:49:47 PM
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good list

Forum Posts: 10
Comment #32 by ERIKDOTCOM
Saturday, January 02, 2010 @ 10:05:01 AM
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I'm surprised L4D2 isn't on here, it seems like that bridge part was pretty epic.

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