It’s that time of the year when we start to reflect on the games we’ve played over the last 12 months. It’s fair to say we’ve had our fair share of amazing games release this year and we want to share with you a few of our favourite ones.
Last year we picked a few games and this year we will be doing the same thing.
Game of the Year – RDR2
For me the choice is pretty easy for which game is my favourite, it just has to be Red Dead Redemption 2. Sure it’s an obvious choice, but that’s because it is such a well-crafted game. I’m actually yet to complete the story for the game, but I’ve spent long enough playing it to know that I love it. I don’t think it’s perfect or without flaws – the controls are pretty bad by modern gaming standards, but it’s the attention to detail in the world and how cinematic it all is that makes me love it.
I’ve not been in a game world that has felt so alive for such a long time, riding through the countryside is beautiful, walking around your camp and seeing people interacting with each other makes it feel real and like the people are ‘alive’. The characters in the game are memorable, because some of them are amazing and some are terrible people – I’m looking at you Micah, and they’re all great performances.
Whilst the story is slow paced and actually quite linear in it’s design, it’s the freedom to go off and do what ever you want around the story that I like. If you want to spend 5 days in game hunting animals up in the snowy mountains you can. Maybe you want to head to St Denis and play poker and drink for a few days, fine go for it. But when you do want to get back to the story, there is a really good solid story to get stuck in to.
Often I find with modern open world games that the stories can be a little weak and don’t engage me enough to make me want to go back to it, so I lose interest. With RDR2 when I got back to a main mission I get sucked back in to the characters and the development of each of them. For me it’s just a fantastic game all around.
Noteworthy Mention – Far: Lone Sails
Far: Lone Sails was a game I was really looking forward to for a long time and when it finally released it delivered the goods! A solitary and unique adventure across a dried out world on the brink of extinction, Far was memorable from start to finish.
Sure it was a short experience, but I loved every moment of it and I didn’t feel that the length of the game let it down in any way. In fact had it gone on longer I think it would’ve been unnecessary.
The visual style, the sound track and feeling of loneliness in the game were all amazing and added up to a very enjoyable game.
Noteworthy Mention – Insurgency: Sandstorm
I’m going to be honest, I think I could’ve picked a few games for my final mention, but I wanted to choose something a little different to my previous choices. I also wanted to pick Insurgency because it wasn’t really a game on my radar as much as any other. Sure I had half an eye on it, but I wasn’t really following it that closely. But, I’m very glad I started playing it because it has been such a fun game to play these last few days and has quickly become my favourite shooters of the year.
The visceral, intense combat, excellent sound design and fantastic gun play have married up to create one of the sleeper hits of the year in the FPS genre.
Game of the Year – God of War
I was honestly going back and forth between this and Will’s pick of Red Dead Redemption 2 for my GoTY. RDR2 is still so fresh in my mind having been the last game I completed this year (although as of typing this, we’re at 90% through Spider-Man). But in that respect, because it’s so fresh, it actually helped with my decision to go for God of War.
What I loved about God of War is how different it is to a lot of single player, story driven games there are currently available. There’s no revenge plot, there’s no treasure hunt or running from anyone. It’s simply a story of loss. The loss of a loved one and the journey a father and son take to pay their respects to their dearly departed. The catalyst for their story is closure and throughout this journey re-building a distant and fractured father-son relationship.
Continuing on with the theme of different, Sony Santa Monica have created an open game, but not open-world. You are exploring a stunning and beautiful Midgard amongst the age of Norse mythology all through one continuous shot. What this means is, there are no loading times between areas, there are no changes to visuals during cut-scenes, the whole game is just one stunning continuous shot game.
One of the greatest pleasures I’ve had in gaming this year is battling the array of enemies throughout the realms using Kratos Leviathan Axe which is just incredible to use. The weight behind each hit as you unlock new upgrades is a joy. And come on, it comes back to you on demand when you throw it. The more you become used to the combat, the more you can optimise the strategy of doing the heavy hitting with Kratos and using Atreus to aid with his ranged weapons. It’s just a masterpiece with regards to combat.
It’s these things that give God of War the edge for me when picking game of the year. When a year has as many incredible games as 2018, and it’s this close to pick the overall winner, the nit picks need to be considered, and this is why God of War took the prize for me, I can’t legitimately recall any time I found any annoyances or nitpicks for me. It’s truly a master piece and has to be considered one of, if not the game of this generation.
Noteworthy Mention – Red Dead Redemption II
Of course I loved RDR2. This game will always be special to me, in that it was the first game my son and I completed (granted, he was between 1 to 4 weeks old throughout).
RDR2 is incredibly ambitious, and pulled off so many feats. Visually is a technical marvel. I legitimately can’t recall a game blowing my mind this generation as much as some of the sights that RDR2 has provided. As the game progresses the characters become a second family to you and my god do you ever care for your horse as if it were a real pet.
But from all the positives and incredible accolades that this game rightly deserved, the reason it was just pipped out for me are some what more to do with completing the story. I’ll be spoiler free so you are safe to read on.
In my opinion, the game felt like it was a tutorial for the first 3 chapters. When you look at the missions for those 3 chapters, that’s a lot of time spent learning things for the first time and a lot of hours. Again to me, not much in terms of building the story happened in that time. Yes we understand that the family are on the run, and we know Blackwater is taboo, but this all just felt about making money to get to Tahiti. That said though, it did an excellent job of selling you on actually liking Dutch and just how loyal and faithful Arthur Morgan and John Marston are to Dutch.
While Rockstar at the kings of creating real breathing worlds and realism in general, I feel there was a little too much for this game. Looting bodies was just ridiculous, maintaining a healthy weight and fitness was a tad annoying but not terrible. And navigation throughout menus wasn’t great. And please explain what the point is of having the whole of RDR1s map available to explore after the game if it’s baron and lifeless. I was expecting to be heading down to Armadillo with Arthur and John to pound some whiskeys before doing a job. Considering how incredibly detailed and full of life the new locations for RDR2 were, I was surprised the assets weren’t continued down into the old map too.
I feel like I’m bashing the game, I shouldn’t, I honestly loved it, Once I reached chapters 4 onward’s the game really stepped up in regards to drama and intensity. The missions with good results and missions with bad results all felt like they were really building up to something, which they did. What a finale, the soundtrack to the closing moments of this game will remain with me in my gaming memory vault in my head forever. It’s just those minor nuisances that resulted in me picking God of War over Red Dead Redemption 2.
Noteworthy Mention – Spider-Man
Sadly for Insomniac Games, Spider-Man came out in one incredibly strong year for video-games. It did itself very proud to be included in countless game of the year selections, as well as other categories, but compared to the brilliance of God of War and RDR2, it’s just fallen short of collecting the accolades it genuinely does deserve.
The attention to detail that Insomniac have put into this digital version of New York City is staggering. Walking around on ground level is as fun as swinging between the skyscrapers purely for just soaking up some of the NYC mannerisms that you find on the streets.
In terms of the story, I’ve been hooked. Yes I did drop playing this once RDR2 came out, but come on, I had a month of paternity and RDR2 is one of those games that once spoiled loses it’s wow factor. But since returning to Spider-Man I’ve been wowed by some of the moments the story has provided. It’s particularly powerful upon the introduction to Miles Morales.
However as with all great games, there were a few things I found a tad annoying with Spider-Man. Getting 100% completion in each district. Wow, just wow. I think what this needed was some variety. Having to complete 5 gang crimes, sable crimes, prison riot crimes and demon crimes per district was a chore. And the Taskmaster drone challenges and stealth challenges were insanely frustrating. Come to think of it, the only real district specific tasks I did enjoy were the site seeing photo’s and Harry Osbourne’s research stations.
You could of course complete the game without doing the district side missions, but you are rewarded specific tokens for the various side missions that go towards new suits, upgrades and gadgets, so if you were looking to get the Spider-Man outfit from Avengers: Infinity War, you’re going to need to get stuck with none main story tasks.
Still, a brilliant fun game, and as mentioned, deservedly should be considered in game of the year category, but just released in one hell of a strong year for games.