The year has finally come to a close. It feels like the first half blew through, while the latter half seemed to drag on. While the year might have been a mess, there were a ton of fantastic games that were released. So, as many people do, I thought I would give a highlight to the top five games that I enjoyed this year. The way I chose these games comes down to how much I enjoyed the game overall. It could have a tight addictive gameplay, an interesting narrative or had updates that kept me coming back for more over the year. Now, like most other people, I didn’t have the chance to play every big game that came out this year. I currently only have an Xbox One and 3DS to play games so you won’t see Uncharted 4 or any other Sony exclusives on this list. You also won’t see games that came out in the last couple of months. I am currently trying to go through Dead Rising 4, Final Fantasy XV and Dishonored 2. I am trying to talk myself out of Dishonored 2 to finish at least one of the other games but I don’t see that happening soon.
So, without further ado, let’s begin the countdown
5. Batman: A Telltale Series
If you don’t know me, I am a big Batman fan. I love the rogues gallery of villains, the conflict of Bruce vs Batman and all the hard choices Batman has to overcome. The team at Telltale brought all those elements and made their own story that none of us have seen before.They’ve taken traditional Batman lore that almost everyone knows and flipped it on its head. The first episode sets itself up as if the game was going to be yet another Batman story. Then ends on a twist that counters what we all know about Bruce and his history. At first, I thought they were just trying to gain interest for the second episode before saying psych! That thankfully didn’t end up happening and Telltale crafted their own version of Batman that no one else had yet done.
On top of the new story, the game features the well known Telltale choose your own narrative story. Will you save person A or person B? Will you taunt your opponent or call for reason? The biggest choice of the series is the choice to approach a situation as Batman or Bruce Wayne. Neither choice is particularly wrong but the choice will have varying outcomes. Do you approach with fear or come as a well known face to talk reason? This was the first Telltale game where I felt that my choices mattered in a long while. Probably since the Walking Dead season one. It took a careful balance of both of Bruce’s lives and I loved the game all the more for it.
4. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
I’ll be honest, I didn’t like Human Revolution all that much. I felt that the controls were overly clunky, the discussion parts fell flat and the notorious boss fights broke how I tried to play the game. I put Mankind Divided in my Gamefly queue with little to no expectations. The game starts off asking if you want to go mission lethal or not. I always take the non lethal the first run through if possible and jumped in head first. I didn’t really get into game until about two hours in, which is when the new augments come in. The Icarus Dash, Icarus Landing and Glass Shield Cloaking made navigating the intricate level design a blast. I could look to the ceiling to find air vents. I could Icarus Dash to from the ground floor to walk over everyone. If that wasn’t an option, I could move cover to cover and use the Glass Shield Cloaking when multiple guards were stationed in a single room. I could also use my arsenal of weapons and gadgets to take guards down as I see fit. I could taze on guard which would draw the attention of another that I can ambush when he comes to investigate. All these possible scenarios make the game a joy to play through.
That said, there is the big issue that is the story. It seems to just go around in circles until you find out who the villain really is. You know who it is if you have seen early promotional material but I won’t spout it out if you haven’t. You find out what the big baddie is up to and end up stopping the plan, killing or knocking out the villain and saving the day. Then, news arises that he was only a pawn in a much greater organization that has been slightly teased through the game. It seems like there will be a little more. Suddenly, the credits appear, leaving you wondering, “Is this really it?” I haven’t felt an ending this abrupt since Star Wars: the Force Unleashed II.
Looking past the poor narrative, I found a game that was challenging. Asking myself, “How am I going to tackle my obstacles with all of Adam Jensen’s toys and augments.”
3. Hitman Season One
My first experience with Hitman was on a Playstation 2 demo disc. It was one of the ones you get from the official Playstation magazine back when it was still a thing. My brother and I played that demo to death. We tried to figure out multiple ways to get into the main mansion where the target was. We would laugh as we frantically ran when we were caught, scream as we fought our way out and promptly get shot down. After that, we played Hitman: Blood Money and we knew we were fans of the series. Fast forward ten years later, we get a brand new Hitman game that tries to reach the older Hitman games with new additions to ramp up the replayability.
If for some reason you don’t know what Hitman is, the title pretty much says it all. You get one to four targets, gear up and then sneak your way in. All the options at Agent 47’s disposal make every scenario a bloody playground for you to test a large manner of tools and opportunities. On one of the early levels, you can take out both targets in one fell swoop as they are distracted by fireworks. One watches from the balcony while the second target watches from the ground. Simply push the person on the balcony off and both of your targets are taken care of. Best of all, it looks like an accident so no one suspects that they were murdered. It’s moments like these where you slip in and out without ever being suspected that feel as if you solved a really intricate puzzle. A very silent, deadly puzzle.
Like many other people this year, Doom really sneaked up on me. I knew of it’s existence, watching E3 footage and thinking, “Meh.” The brutal, quick glory kills looked awesome but I worried that it would drag the game down with a repetitive feeling. I threw it on my Gamefly queue to give it a shot. By the end of the game, I couldn’t put down the controller as I would put on a beautiful ballet of blood. Ripping and tearing through every single demon on Mars, I started to feel like a monster myself. The meeting of the old school rules and storytelling with new mechanics such as clambering and upgradable abilities made Doom feel like something fresh while nostalgic at the same time.
The biggest draw to the game is how everything seems to fit together so well. Doom feels like you are playing out a game based on those brutal heavy metal covers you would occasionally see on store shelves. There is demonic corruption, demonic runes, gore and high tech machinery that cause mayhem everywhere you look. The soundtrack mixes heavy electronic beats and guitar riffs that will make your blood pump as you bounce around the blood palace that you’ve created. The mix of the visuals and sound perfectly compliment the push forward combat that Doom teaches. You are a heavily armed shark with freaking lasers on it’s head. You have to keep moving or you will die. You will burst heads, crunch bones and tear bodies to make sure the demons regret ever coming on Mars. All of this together creates one of the best power trips you can get this year and I love the game for it.
You aren’t trapped on Mars with the demons. The demons are trapped on Mars with you.
I have never really been hooked on a Blizzard game before. I have never played the Warcraft, Starcraft and the only experience I have with Diablo is in it’s third entry. I heard stories of how people would get hooked on their games for years. I never thought I would get that absorbed by a game. That all changed this year. Overwatch started out as a an impulse purchase because I was starting to get tired of Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2. That was the best purchase decision I have made this year mainly due to how hooked I am on it. That also makes it one of the worst purchases I have made this year because I don’t want to play any other multiplayer game.
Overwatch, like most Blizzard games, is a tightly tuned game wrapped in a wonderful personality. The game is filled with a multitude of heroes that all have varying abilities. No one hero shares any ability making them all feel very different from one another. The most magnificent thing is how almost every hero is viable in a team even though they are all so different. One top of that, the heroes all have different personalities to make you bond with a character mechanically and emotionally. My personal favorite is Lucio. Lucio is an upbeat DJ that stole a device that has different effects based on the music running through it. He can provide healing to any other hero on his team or switch to a speed boost to get a hero out of trouble. His main weapon harnesses the power of music and shoots the bass to damage opponents. On the other end of the spectrum is Winston. A giant scientist gorilla from space that is obsessed with peanut butter. He has the abilities that consist of a giant leap forward to chase down opponents with low health as well as large bubble shield that can protect other teammates.
It’s the fusion of bringing all these differing characters and making them all work in a balanced multiplayer shooter. WIth the magnificent game structure and the promise of future content turning true, I can see myself putting in some overtime on Overwatch.
Well, there you have it! My favorite games of this year aren’t really too surprising but I thought I would share some more attention to them. Overall, I think 2016 was a really good year for videogames. I think 2017 has the potential to be even more exciting with the imminent release of the Nintendo Switch in March along with other games I am already excited for like Injustice 2. I am sure there will be more surprises revealed once we hit the second quarter of the year so who know what will happen! All I know is that I look forward to playing more fantastic games.