Game of the Year 2019

As I write this it is December 31st at around 5:30 PM, and as I look out of my window I can see the first wave of fireworks lighting up the sky over Copenhagen. It's time to look back for a bit, and reflect over the year 2019. A year that a lot of people were disappointed about, when the early game of the year talks started. Some people felt there had not been a lot of games released. I couldn't understand what they were talking about. Yes, 2019 did slow down after two crazy years, but it's nowhere near the worst year in games. Remember 2014!?

To me 2019 was extremely solid. Sure it was a very empty summer between Crash Team Racing and Gears 5, but I think people forget how packed the Spring was. Summer was a perfect time to catch up on all the good games. Unlike 2014 I had no problem coming up with 10 games, and I want to mention some of the games that didn't make it on my list.

If you owned a Switch, 2019 was yet another great year. Nintendo's hybrid console, who also recieved a purely handheld brother this year, saw great releases both from Nintendo and third parties. Ring Fit Adventure, Yoshi's Crafted Adventure and Pokémon Sword/Shield are fine additions to the console's already impressive library. At the same time we got great ports of The Witcher III and Alien Isolation, showing that if you know how to work with it, the Switch is capable of great things.

Besides that we saw games like Kingdom Hearts III, Shenmue 3 and Crackdown 3. All games we had heard about for a long time that finally saw the light of day in 2019. Now to be fair, I had pretty much forgotten that Crackdown 3 came out this year. That game was unfortunately very disappoiting, and the original Crackdown remains the best in the series. Shenmue 3 turned out to be a game released in 2019, but played like a game from 2000. Which is great if you love Shenmue I guess. Kingdom Hearts III seemed to do the job it was meant to do.

There were pleasant surprises like Tetris 99 and Man of Medan. Fun online shooters like The Division 2 and World War Z. Halo Reach made it's way to the Halo Master Chief Collection, and Microsoft decied maybe it was time to buy a bunch of game studios. 2K blew our minds, with how low you can set the bar for a game being deemed ready for release with the extremely buggy WWE 2K20.

There was a lot more to 2019 than these little tidbids, but the we also keep thinking about what's next. As we are about to enter 2020, there were two key piece of news in 2019 that makes us all excited for next year. PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X will be with out in the wild by this time next year. There's always something special about console launch years. The future is about to be revealed, and we will get an idea about where the next 5-7 years of gaming will go. I am very optimistic even if this current console generation had been a bit different. I own both a PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, and those consoles have made the end of the generation feel less technologically strangled. Remember how Xbox 360 and PS3 games could barely run by the end of that generation? Sure that seems to be the case on base consoles, (Control, anyone?) but if you have upgraded you might not be as desperate to see the new consoles just yet. That's why it's great to know we'll be treated well before PS5 and Series X arrive. 2020 has a lot of great titles coming up. The Last of Us Part II! Animal Crossing! Cyberpunk 2077! Resident Evil 3 Remake! The future looks bright. Both the immediate and the more distant future. At least in the world of gaming.

All I have left is to say goodbye 2019. Hopefully history will be more kind to you than some experts has been at some points. You were not a bad year for gaming, and there was something for everyone. I had great experiences but I am also very intrigued by what 2020 has in store.

List items

  • I had high hopes for this game, but I didn't expect Capcom to come up with the best remake I've ever seen. Remaking a game is very hard. Either the game retains too much of the original, making it feel outdated, or it's too many things are changed. It's a delicate balance, but I think Capcom has nailed it perfectly with Resident Evil 2.

    The game feels new, but still like Resident Evil 2. It's hard to explain but if you've never played RE2, you will most likely enjoy it just as much as people who played the original. Things have been changed and moved around, but without compromising what made the original one of the best games on PS1. This is without a doubt Resident Evil 2, but in a modern way. It looks amazing, plays fantastic and you'll panic every time you hear Mr. X's foot steps.

    It might have come out in January, but I never forgot how good this game is. Just the fact that this is a remake of a game from 1998, and yet feels like a newly designed game is quite the achievement. Look at the MediEvil remake, and then compare it to this. While MediEvil looks pretty, they didn't update the core gameplay and that's where RE2 differs. It's such a joy to play, and sets the bar very high. I doubt Resident Evil 3 can repeat it, but I don't mind being surprised one more time.

  • Last year I was suprised to have a Call of Duty game on my top 10, and I didn't expect it to happen this year either. I assumed Black Ops 4 would be the CoD game I'd mainly play for the rest of this console generation, but I was wrong. Very much so.

    I feared that MW wouldn't be able to make a better multiplayer experience than BLOPS 4, but it does. You can instantly feel this isn't running on the excact same engine, like the last 10 or so CoD games. The way it moves is still very fluid, but there's a depth to it that it didn't have before. Shooting the guns feels so much better now as well, and a big reason for that is also the sound.

    I've always admired the sound design in the Battlefield games. DICE are amazing at making guns sound powerful and terrifying. Let's not forget that is what a gun should be. Terrifying. A tool created for you to kill with. Infinity Ward has stepped up in a big way. Every pull of the trigger in this game, is accompanied with a fitting noise. Something that makes shooting in this game feel even better.

    One thing is the gameplay, which is rock solid as always, but it's also a very nice package around it. The one thing BLOPS 4 was missing is back in MW, and that is the single player campaign. It's nothing spectacular, but it's action packed and definitely well worth playing. Then you have the competetive multiplayer with a wide variety of modes, a nice (expanding) amount of maps and the usual progression system. Although to deliver players new maps for free, Activision has gone with the Battle Pass model to make up for the lost revenue. It's a fair solution, and it gives dedicated players even more stuff to unlock. I also need to highlight the new 2 vs 2 mode. It's surprisingly fun and very tense. The maps are all perfectly designed for these quick shoot outs, and with a friend it's even better.

    Lastly I have not spend a lot of time with co-op. The Special ops part of the game. At launch there were a lot of bugs, but I can't say for sure how it is now. Infinity Ward has also added some new stuff, and hopefully it's fine when I get around to try it out.

    I don't know how the next CoD game can top this. I hope I'll be surprised again next year, but for now I really don't want a new CoD game. This feels like the complete package and a game that deserves a longer life time than just a year.

  • This game is very special to me. Well, let me be more specific. The original Link's Awakening on the Game Boy is a very special game to me. My brother decided to pick the game up during a vacation in Spain back in the mid-90's. Way before he was able to speak English and I was about to start learning it in school. If you're from an English speaking country or a bigger European country, you didn't have the problem I did as a kid. Back then no one localized games for the Scandinavian countries. Well maybe some did on the Amiga or something like that but certainly not Nintendo. Nintendo didn't even publish games (and to this day they still don't) in the Nordic region themselves.

    So when my brother and I first tried to figure out playing Zelda we immediately had trouble as we didn't understand all the hints the characters in the game tried to tell us. Luckily as I began learning English in school, I picked up this game again and it helped me a lot. It was a big motivation to learn as I gradually understood the game better and found out that Zelda is actually a fantastic game.

    Sure Link's Awakening had some restrictions because it was on Game Boy and it's also a bit.....wierd when compared to other Zelda games. That said it still plays great in this remake. It's not a long game no, but it still has the great Zelda gameplay you know from the old top view games. The art style looks great and finding the eight instruments to wake up the giant fish is still a joyful adventure anyone with a Switch should experience. Yes it scores a lot of cheap points with me, but I am extremely happy with the way Nintendo has handled this remake. Again, taking a 28 year old Game Boy game and turn it into a modern console game worth playing today is not easy. My hope is that Link's Awakening will gain a bit more respect with this release as I feel it's always been a bit underrated in the Zelda community.

  • I don't really have a lot to say about Mortal Kombat 11. It's just a very fun game to play and extremely well designed. Netherrealm Studios have managed to create a fighting game both the casual crowd and the hardcore fighting game crowd can enjoy. If you just want to button mash, and see fatalities you can absolutely do that. If you want to go way deep about a single character, learn their moves and count frames that's also available to you.

    Once again MK11 delivers on the single player front. Although Tekken 7 finally was the one other fighting game trying to compete in this field, nothing can beat MK if you just want a single player experience. You have the great story mode which is better than MKX, but lacks the cheap nostalgia points of MK9. It's well told and will make you want to complete it. Then there's all the challenge towers to keep you occupied until you decide maybe you should play online or with some friends.

    I wonder where the series goes from here. This feels like the perfect conclusion to this trilogy of MK games. With the launch of PS5 and Xbox Series X looming, it's the perfect time to build a new MK up from the game. Something the game is sort of teasing I guess. The question is will be a succesfull new start like MK9, or will it be a new MK4?

  • At last we had a succesful Star Wars launch from EA and who knew? It only took a well made single player game to do it. Not a Battlefield clone, with a ridicilous progression system and greedy loot boxes? What a surprise.

    To be fair, Star Wars Battlefront II is apparantly a decent game by now after all it's updates and fixes. That still won't remove the bad taste it left when it launched. That's why I was sceptical about this game, even with Respawn as the developer.

    Respawn has made some great games, in the shape of Titanfall 2 and Apex Legends, but those are FPS games. This is a third person action/adventure game. Can Respawn make a game like that as well? Turns out they can. One of the best Star Wars games in a long time, maybe since KOTOR. A fun action/adventure that borrows elements from games such as Uncharted and Dark Souls to create something any Star Wars fan should get their hands on.

  • This game had a tough job. The original was not only the Wii U game I played the most. It was probably one of the games I've enjoyed the most in all my life. So how can you create something better than that?

    It's very tough for me to come with a simple answer to that. In some ways SMM2 is clearly better than the original, but in other ways it just didn't quite grab me the same way. Don't get me wrong. Making levels is still as easy and intuitive as ever. It's also just as fun. Except, if you've played the original you'll miss the Wii U Gamepad. That's not very often you'll hear someone say that, but the Wii U really was the perfect platform for Super Mario Maker.

    You can of course control it with a Joy-Con or a Pro Controller when the Switch is docked, but it's just not as intuitive as a touchscreen. Luckily it's easy to just pick up the Switch and use the touchscreen, when you feel like creating, but not having direct access to the big screen when you want to playtest your level is annoying.

    These things are just nitpicking though. The game itself is still fantastic. If you didn't have a Wii U, or didn't play the original at all, you should give this game a chance. Nintendo even added a better single player mode, so there's a little bit more meat on the bone if you're not interested in creating levels.

    The biggest problem is the online modes. It doesn't work very well, and maybe not really something we needed? Nonetheless, any fan of 2D Mario games should pick this one up.

  • For some reason I didn't really think a lot about this game when it got announced. In general I didn't care much about E3 this year. 2019 is the year E3 died for me. When you don't even have all three console makers there, it's done. Sure I noticed it was from Obsidian, but I hadn't caught the fact that this would be like a spiritual successor to Fallout New Vegas.

    If you liked that game this is going to be right up your alley. Thank God for Microsofts Xbox Game Pass, as this game launched there and that's why I played it. Sure it's not perfect, but if you love running around a big world exploring, talking to people and clear quests you need to play this.

    It's good to see Obsidian back with a great game like this and I can't wait to see what they can creat now they've got Microsoft's backing. It should lead to great things....but then again we saw what happened to Rare I guess. Fingers crossed this won't be the same.

  • I remember playing the original when the Gamecube launched, and wasn't overly impressed. I loved the looks and the charming art style, but the gameplay never quite got the hooks in me. I did actually pick up the sequel for the 3DS but have for some reason never felt compelled to actually play it.

    So it's a bit of an achievement, I really like the third entry in the Luigi's Mansion franchise. I used the word "charm" earlier, and this game has a lot of that as well. The animations, the facial expressions and the art style is extremely charming. It's the atmosphere a game like MediEvil really wants to nail, but doesn't quite reach. The Addams Family mix of humour and spooky.

    The game isn't really that different from the other ones but, it's been fine-tuned a little more. The whole "complete a floor one at the time" structure, makes it a lot better for me. I can play a floor, then put it away for something else, and then return later. Luigi's Mansion 3 is sort of a palette cleanser for me, which might not sound super positive but I think it is. You can play it in chunks, without the game getting too repititive and overstaying it's welcome.

    Also bonus points for a fun co-op implementation. Equally great when you play with a friend or a kid.

  • I've not been a reliable fan of Ace Combat. The first one I actually bought was Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere on the PS1, and I loved it. For some reason though, I never picked up any of the PS2-iterations. Then came Ace Combat 6 for the Xbox 360, and I got that for Christmas and had a blast. Then came Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, which kinda cooled my interest in the franchise.

    When this game was initially announced though, it did woke something in me. I was ready to jump into a plane again, and when Bandai Namco also confirmed support for PSVR I was fully on board.

    While it would eventually turn out that VR was a seperate mode, and not just the full campaign, I'm not complaying. The standard campaign is fun, controls well and has the usual crazy story to keep you entertained from mission to mission. Then there's also multiplayer, both competetive and co-op, to round out a nice complete package for any AC fan.

    The VR mode does need to be mentioned though. Even if it's not very long, it's a very nice bonus and I hope we'll eventually see a full AC VR game. If you own PSVR and can find AC7 for cheap (should be possible by now) you should definitely give it a go. It's one of the best PSVR experiences I've had yet.

  • If you own a PlayStation VR, this is probably the best game that came out in 2019. Not that PSVR has been forgotten. I actually commend Sony for not ditching it, Vita-style. By now there's enough quality games for PSVR, that if you don't own one yet, it's worth picking one up. Together with Moss, Astro Bot, Beat Saber and Rez Infinite, this is one of the essential titles to pick up.

    Become one of London's most efficiant gang members, and shoot your way through this british crime action drama. Taking magazines from your belt, and reloading your gun may sound a bit trivial. That is until you hide behind a table during a shoot out, reload your gun, wait for the right moment to pop out and shoot an enemy in the face. Then it becomes extremely immersive, and it's a game I strongly recommend you at least try out if you have a friend with a PSVR.

    PSVR games might not have evolved a lot during 2019, but comparing this to the PlayStation Worlds gangster mini-game shows it's definitely getting better. I can't wait to see what awaits for PSVR in 2020, and especially what awaits on PS5.