Wow, what a year in video games. The first half of the year was especially good for me, but the second half was damn good too. My format for the awards has changed and now features my top ten games of the year. The old category wins are now denoted as achievements and not separate categories. Now on with the show!
RULES FOR GAMES TO BE CONSIDERED FOR NOMINATION
(List of games eligible for this year’s awards)
– THE GAME MUST HAVE BEEN PLAYED FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS YEAR
– THE GAME DOES NOT HAVE TO HAVE BEEN ORIGINALLY RELEASED THIS YEAR
Nex Machina (PS4)
• Best Music
Groove on Fight: Gouketsuji Ichizoku 3 (SS)
• Most Improved Follow-Up
Red Faction II (PS2)
• Most Surprisingly Good Game
Gravity Rush 2 (PS4)
• Most Disappointing Game
Unholy Night (SNES)
• Worst Game
M2 are the masters of emulation and with their new series of shmup re-releases, M2 ShotTriggers, they are going above and beyond even for them. Dangun Feveron is a 1998 CAVE shoot-’em-up that has never had a home release until now. It’s a fantastic disco themed game with a wonderful soundtrack. Hopefully this will come stateside in 2018.
It’s been very difficult to find an experience as good in the Souls-like genre outside of From Software’s own entries. Enter Nioh. What started out as a PlayStation 3 exclusive when it was originally announced extremely early in the seventh generation turned in to a Soul-like for PlayStation 4 and later, PC. Nioh is an incredible example of the genre and Team Ninja did a great job putting their own spin on the formula. Easily the best non-From Souls-like.
Most people seem to prefer the previous game to this one, Red Faction: Guerrilla. I am not one of those people. I really enjoyed it, in part, because of it’s linearity and not despite it. The awesome environmental destruction is better than ever and the new Magnet Gun makes it work for you. It’s always fun to use it to fling debris at enemies’ faces or make one enemy fly into another enemy!
Somehow with all of the problems this game had in development, it turned out to be an excellent open world GTA clone. It was originally going to be another game in the True Crime series and I think we got something far better than what we would have gotten if it was one of those games.
I first attempted to play Shadow of the Colossus a few years ago, but at the time I really wasn’t having any of it with the controls and grip meter mechanic. After playing Fumito Ueda’s most recent game, The Last Guardian, in December of last year, I decided I would give SotC a real shot at the very beginning of this year. I was able to get a handle on the controls much faster than expected and the grip meter can be a challenge to manage. None of it is perfect, but it worked better than I thought it would. It a very rewarding to figure out how to take down all the colossi and the soundtrack is outstanding. I actually prefer the PlayStation 2 version despite the lower overall framerate because the colossi are a little less aggressive in trying to shake you off, at least they are in the North American version. I’m really looking forward to the PS4 remake at 60 fps.
I enjoyed The Last of Us a lot more than I expected. I thought I would dislike the stealth with limited resources, but the resources weren’t as limited as I thought. The thing about this game I liked the most was the character interactions rather than the story being told. Ellie was a pretty relatable character. I liked the moments when she couldn’t relate to descriptions of things from how lives were lived before the current state of the world as she knew it.
A game of pure dumb fun whether it’s from the combo based gunplay or the over-the-top stupid dialog. It’s a game I’d love to see a sequel to.
Yes, the original Nier gets the nod over the follow-up, Nier: Automata. When it comes to Yoko Taro’s games, it’s first and foremost about the crazy characters and story. Gameplay clearly comes second and after playing both Nier games back-to-back, I can say without any uncertainty that the original Nier has the better story and characters. I can still remember the major beats of Nier’s story, but I have mostly forgotten Automata’s and that says it all.
I didn’t expect Yakuza 0 to become arguably the best game in the series, but here we are. The story is definitely the best in the series. The shit that happens to Tanimura is crazy and it makes you really hate Sohei Dojima for real. Made me happy when he was killed when I revisited Yakuza 1 via Yakuza Kiwami. The Completion Points system made it more rewarding than ever to do as many of the side missions as possible which was great for me as I never did very many in previous games and now I felt incentivized to do so. Oh, Kiryu-chan, I can never stop loving you.
For well over a deacade Guerrilla Games has been slaving away on the mostly middling Killzone series. They’ve always had the technical chops to hang with the best out there and the gameplay was usually fairly good. They always lacked in designing and writing appealing characters and story. Killzone’s Rico was always a scumbag despite supposedly being one of the good guys and the motivation to be against the Helghast was at times questionable and made you feel like you’re the real bad guys. Horizon: Zero Dawn finally married Guerrilla’s technical prowess to great characters, story, and gameplay. It’s such a surprising turn from a studio mainly known for high budget standard fare that I can’t help but name Horizon: Zero Dawn my Game of the Year!