Is 2017 really over? It's new year's day so I guess so. As I lament the ever-quickening passage through time I'll take a brief moment to cast my mind back to happier times in the year. As my old man's brain's relative comprehension of time processes at greater speeds, I find it difficult to recall what I have played this year specifically. Probably, this list is biased greatly by: a) what I have played most recently, and b) those games which made a lasting impression on me.
Here are my top 5, because I like to work in primes.
5 - GTA Online (PlayStation 4)
I didn't expect to be playing GTA V this year. I played the game's story when it was released, on PS3, in 2013! However, a timely PSN sale gave me and the gang the impetus to throw down in the online mode. Despite several hours of struggling with mind-boggling matchmaking/party play quirks, perseverance rewarded us with a rich and rewarding MMO experience. The game's Heists gave us something to shoot for, and with the addition of Motorcycle Clubs and Corporations there was always plenty to be getting on with.
4 - Dungeons & Dragons: Lost Mine of Phandelver (Table Top)
Yes, that's right, a pencil and paper game in GOTY listings. 2017 marked my first venture into the world of tabletop RPGs and now I've popped, that's great. The lure of D&D had been there for years, it just took me 35+ years to actually get myself together and organize a group and take the helm as DM. There's an intimidating amount of history, lore and rules (guidelines) to D&D, but the starter set gives just enough flavour to get even the most inexperienced of groups going.
I'll be starting a podcast of my adventures in D&D in 2018 so stay tuned for more.
3 - Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle (Nintendo Switch)
I don't think anyone saw this game coming before it was announced. I initially shrugged with indifference when I heard about the IP crossover with Ubisoft's Rabbids and Nintendo's golden boy (man). My interests were piqued however when I heard that the game was turn-based, borrowing heavily from the XCOM format of instance-based turn based duels. In practice the format works really well; the gameplay has been simplified somewhat, which suits me and my kids alike. Rather than a lot of the art of play being strategic resource management a la XCOM, M+R keeps a lot of the cleverness for the maps themselves. In terms of un-docked play, M+R is my go-to choice for the Switch this year.
2 - Fire Pro Wrestling World (PC)
I have a firm belief that pro wrestling is a perfect medium to emulate in gaming. I also believe that the right game could transcend the gaming market and appeal to players who aren't wrestling fans already. Fire Pro Wrestling is as close to that vision as we've got and its sequel continues to be the superlative pro wrestling game going. Combat in FPWW is simple yet effective with timing based mini-games with each grapple; match pacing is consistent and fun. The sprite-based graphics and basic animations are purposely lo-fi and charming with it. Where competitor products will focus entirely on graphical representations of real pro wrestlers, FPWW flips the script and is better for it.
Keep your eyes on GoPlayThat for FPWW simulations of upcoming PPVs from all across the wrestling world.
1 - Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo Switch)
This is the best game I have ever played, period. Admittedly I haven't been as committed to the Zelda (or any Nintendo) franchise as some, so maybe there are better iterations. For me, however, this was a truly breathtaking experience that helped me fall in love with the Switch. This game has spoilt 3rd person action RPGs for me, even my beloved Soulsborne collection felt hollow and lifeless when I went back to them after playing BOTW. This is the problem with playing the best game ever, how the heck do you follow it up?
The Switch has been a slam dunk this year, it's hard to really pick a "top" anything when there's such an abundance of quality output on the console. At any rate, these games were great too:
- Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo Switch)
- Splatoon 2 (Nintendo Switch)
- Arms (Nintendo Switch)
Bring it on 2018, I got an Xbox One X for Xmas so I'm looking forward to the gaming opportunities having the holy trinity of consoles at my disposal brings.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!