Month: January 2018
Game of the Year 2017
Yakuza Kiwami (PS4)
An honourable mention only because I just haven’t played enough of it yet, otherwise it might have made the list.
Runner up (for similar reasons): Dishonoured 2 (PC)
Dawn of War III (PC)
Somehow Creative Assembly took the worst parts of the two games preceding this one and created something that was very pretty, but ultimately kind of shallow and not particularly enjoyable to play.
10. Persona 5 (PS4)
A contender for most disappointing game, Persona 5 makes an incredible first impression through amazing music and presentation that oozes style. However as the game goes on, the flaws become more apparent: companions are shallow with only a couple being interesting at all; dungeon design goes from being quite cool to utterly abysmal; and, worst of all, the translation into English is garbage, robbing a lot of the dialogue of any charm it may have originally possessed.
Persona 5 is still a good game, but it pales in comparison to Persona 4 on every level except the presentation, which is a real damn shame.
9. Horizon: Zero Dawn (PS4)
I’m not a big open world guy, but Horizon managed to capture my attention through a combination of a really well-realised setting and an excellent protagonist. The story moved well, and the gameplay was pretty satisfying and presented a nice challenge. Horizon was an entertaining and extremely pretty game and I look forward to seeing where the inevitable sequel goes.
8. Sonic Mania (PS4)
I grew up as a Sega kid and Sonics 1 through & Knuckles hold a special place in my heart. Mania represents a return to form for Sonic games after literally decades of utter shit, and was a great and surprisingly challenging nostalgia trip.
7. XCOM 2: War of the Chosen / Long War 2 (PC)
I’m going to cheat here and use place two major pieces of content for XCOM2 under the same heading.
Long War 2 is a massive mod that fundamentally alters the way XCOM2 plays, adding in a tonne of new content and complexity that makes the fun but flawed original game substantially more interesting, not to mention challenging.
War of the Chosen is a massive official expansion that fundamentally alters the way XCOM2 plays, adding in a tonne of new content and complexity that makes the fun but flawed original game substantially more interesting, not to mention challenging.
Of the two, LW2 was definitely the more complex and interesting, but I really liked the additions that War of the Chosen made. It’s a real shame that it seems the the two expansions will never be truly integrated with each other.
6. Hand of Fate 2 (PC)
Hand of Fate 1 was a great concept, combining rogue-like facets with a mix of collectable card game, RPG, and arena combat. Hand of Fate 2 expands and improves on this in every way and is a fantastic game to sit down with for a half hour burst or for several hours as you try to conquer the various challenges. Even losing doesn’t feel too bad, as every run will see you unlocking new cards to ensure that things go differently next time.
5. Pyre (PC)
SuperGiant continues to hit it out of the park by creating weird genre mixes and adding in their unique style. Similar to Persona 5, Pyre has a unique and gorgeous graphical style, matched by incredibly good music by Darren Korb. Unlike Persona, however, the writing is as good as the presentation. The gameplay is no slouch either, mixing visual novel aspects with a surprisingly deep religious rite version of basketball…kind of? It’s hard to explain, but Pyre is definitely worth dipping into and finding out first hand.
4. Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)
This game was worth buying a Switch for.
Super Mario Odyssey plays the way you remember Mario 64 playing, and combines the best parts of that game (and mediocre sequel Sunshine) with bits and pieces of the rest of the franchise, and then tops it off with a bunch of changes and that Nintendo polish to make what is easily the best 3D Mario game. The possession mechanic is heaps of fun, the worlds are all unique and mostly interesting, and the game oozes charm.
3. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (PC)
Wolfenstein: The New Order was an amazing game and the sequel continues literally minutes from where the first left off, leaving the fight against the world-conquering Nazis behind in Europe to instead take the fight to an America that has capitulated and collaborated. What follows is a game that is both surprisingly emotional and, sadly enough in these times, rather cathartic in unabashedly portraying Nazis as evil and worth fighting against.
Thankfully, Wolfenstein II has the chops to let you mangle Nazis with dual shotguns while also just-about-perfectly walking the line between poignant examination of how American society could embrace Nazism and an absurd, darkly humourous alt-history 1960s where the Nazis won and built a space station on Venus.
2. PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS (PC)
Mr Unknown loves his all-caps apparently.
What is there to say about PUBG, really? The game is a phenomenon that does nothing original, instead cribbing parts from a bunch of older games and mods (ARMA, DayZ, etc). What it does do is put those disparate influences together pretty much perfectly. Everything in PUBG feels just right – the maps are incredibly well designed and memorable, the guns feel good to shoot, the vehicles are just the right type of shitty, and the game covers everything from horror game in Solo as you know you’re being stalked by someone, through to a fun hang out with a group of friends in Squad. You can take it as seriously or as lackadaisically as you like, and no matter what you’ll have fun.
No multiplayer FPS has grabbed me like this since probably Team Fortress 2. I’ve put hundreds of hours in already, and I’ll be putting in hundreds more getting murdered with my crew.
1. Yakuza 0 (PS4)
Like many Westerners, I’d heard about the Yakuza series over the years, but had never imagined playing one. That all changed when Giant Bomb began playing through Yakuza 0 in their excellent Beast in the East series.
It took me maybe three episodes before I decided to buy the game and I am so happy that I did. Yakuza 0 is simply incredible. It tells a fantastic crime story, has a great combat system, and there’s so much to do that it kept me going for more than 30 hours.
Yakuza 0 isn’t just my game of the year for 2017 – it’s legitimately one of the best games I’ve ever played, and is the reason I’ve picked up Kiwami, will be picking up Kiwami 2 and Yakuza 6, and will continue to play each new remake and original game.