Game of the Year 2016 #1 - Hitman

The time has come me to reveal my Top Game of 2016. If you have read all, some or only this article, thanks for doing so and I hope you enjoyed this trip with me. If you missed reading any of my previous articles or want to reread them, check them out here: #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, and #10. Now, have fun reading about my number 1 game of the year.

  1. Hitman

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My history in terms of Hitman is that I tried out Blood Money and never finished it because I bounced off of it so hard. Absolution came out but I was never interested in it. When this new game was announced with an episodic release schedule I was kind of interested but didn’t want to play it until the Quick Look that Brad and Dan did. It was at that point I decided to check it out. I played the starter pack and then quickly bought the rest of the Season 1 content.

This game is the best game of the year for both the creativity they showed in making this a more enjoyable product as well as both how it was released and how much replayability it had. The creative side of this game is evident from the start. When you begin, you learn about everything that makes the game unique and then you are thrown in with different ways to approach the task. The Opportunity systems is of the most unique systems to put in a game like this. From being hand held but also having to actually do every task yourself, you get to explore the level but also be able to try out the various systems in the game and how they work together. When figuring out which Opportunity to try out, you can read a little bit about it but after that you have to go through it. You can sometimes figure what will happen when you complete it but the coolest thing is seeing it all work out.

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The release schedule was met with skepticism from all sides but it turned out to be the best thing for this game. It not only let people fully explore the map each time rather than hurrying through it to get to the next mission but it allowed the game to stay in the collective consciousness of people. Most games just come out and have a lot of praise for a week or so then it falls to the side unless it is a super special game. This one was with us from March until the end of the year from the new missions, the summer bonus content, the Elusive targets and everything else they did. I wonder if more companies will try and replicate this or decide it only worked for IO because Hitman is uniquely set up for this to work.

The last thing about this game is the replayability found in the game. From going for a level 20 mastery on each map to the Escalations to the Elusive Targets, you had plenty of reasons to return to this game after you had finished the main story mission. The Elusive targets are one of the coolest things IO has done. You get one shot at the target and if you mess it up, then you are done for good. There have been a bunch of Targets that I have tried to do but messed up because I made on small mistake that continued to grow in size as I didn’t stop and think about what I was doing.

2016 was a year of craziness, both in good and bad ways. One thing we can all see is that in video games, this was an excellent year and one that I hope 2017 will find a way to improve on. Thanks for reading and have a great 2017

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Game of the Year 2016 #2 - Doom

Welcome back to my Game of the Year countdown. Today, we look at the best FPS of the entire year. If you’ve missed any of the other articles, check them out here: #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9 and #10.

2. Doom

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This is the most surprising game of the year for me. I have never played any Doom game before this one but had watched Brad play through Doom 2. I heard so many good things about this game that I bought it. However, this one lost out on being number one because I dropped this game for at least 2 months this year. I went back to it and finished it and loved playing it but I can’t have it at number one because of that one thing.

This game, though, is an amazing shooter that makes you want to explore the levels because of how dense they are with things to do. The amount of care they put into this game is evident in every level. After each combat scenario, I would spend at least 10 minutes looking around the arena in order to see if there were any secrets around that I had missed. The map was so well done to show you where the secret was at but making you puzzle out how to get up or down there. I didn’t do as much of that when I started playing it but as I went further and further, I spent more and more time poking around and searching for things.

Each combat encounter is so well done and the in the moment actions you have to take are so smooth and tight you just fall into the game. The shooting and weapons are so well done and sound so great that you just want to shoot the weapons while you aren’t fighting just to hear them. As you move your way around each arena, you have to figure out what weapon to use and when to switch so you don’t run out of ammo at the worst time. Normally, I just stick with one weapon in an FPS and never switch things out. With Doom, you are forced to change on the fly depending on what demon you are facing.

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The biggest thing to me is that the game never seemed to be unfair to you. Sometimes, games just feel unfair to you but Doom never did. Whenever I died, it was because I was using the wrong weapon or hadn’t switched to a different one when I needed to. This game feels so fluid, fun and intense that everything works out. A small part of the game that I grew to really love was the story. They don’t hold your hand and you have to puzzle parts of it out but once you figure out what exactly is happening, you pump your fist and go “Hell yeah”. It is so subtle and you figure out how it fits together as the game goes along. The first time you get to Hell and listen to the audio logs they have there are amazing and so well done.

The last thing I’ll talk about is the music. When the music kicks in, you know that shit is about to go down. The music fits perfectly with the game and helps to bring it up to the next level. The music is always there and you are always cognizant of when it’s on so you just let it surround you and bring you deeper into the experience.

Come back later today for my favorite game of 2016.

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Game of the Year 2016 #3 - The Witcher 3: Heart of Stone and Blood and Wine

Thanks for coming back and for reading. If you’ve missed any of the previous days, check them out here: #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9 and #10.

3. The Witcher 3: Heart of Stone and Blood and Wine

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The Witcher 3 was my Game of the Year last year. I loved everything about the game and when the DLCs were announced, I was prepared to play them. However, I decided to wait until they went on sale before I played them since I needed to take a break and play through some other things. Once they went on sale, I picked both up and started playing through them.

With the Witcher series, you know that you’ll get amazing stories and great character moments. Both of these expansions deliver in that aspect and more. In Heart of Stone, you learn that everything you think you know isn’t what happened. The best thing is going through and figuring out what to do because none of your choices are good ones. You can only find one that is the least bad choice.

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Blood and Wine shows you going to a place that is home to some friends of yours from a while prior to Witcher 3 happening. It goes deep into vampire lore and helps you to better understand what goes on around the other parts of the world. The location is very different because it looks like a place you’d go to on vacation. There is still a lot of bad shit going on there but you just feel better about it because the location is so beautiful. It also has a beautiful end that closes the world of The Witcher 3 down for good.

The combat still feels really nice and when you die, you know that it is your fault. The way they introduced the new mutation system was pretty cool but I unfortunately didn’t do much with it since I’d used most of my skill points for useless skills before I found out about this new skill tree.

While this was just more of The Witcher 3, it was more than enough to make it back onto my list. Thanks for reading and come back tomorrow when we get to the biggest and most pleasant surprise of the year.

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Game of the Year 2016 #4 - Titanfall 2

Welcome back to the next installment of my Game of the Year blog. If you’ve missed any of my other articles, check them out here: #5, #6, #7, #8, #9 and #10 Today, we take a look at the first of two FPS on my list.

4. Titanfall 2

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When Titanfall came out, I was really excited to try it out and get into it. However, I didn’t pick it up at launch because I didn’t have the money for it. When I did pick it up, I loved playing it and especially loved the co-op horde mode they put in later. I wasn’t one of the people who was clamoring for a single player campaign though. When Titanfall 2 was announced and a single player campaign was going to be a part of it, I thought it was fine they were doing it.

However, when I actually played the campaign, I was blown away by how great it was. The relationship you have with BT is so well done that I was saddened by events that take place later in the game. The design of the levels was so well done and it made you think about how to traverse the environments instead of just showing you how to get to the next combat encounter. There are points where they show you how to move around the environment but you are given free range to move through stuff if the game allows you to do so. The combat is just as cool as ever and the weapons in the game feel right. This is even without talking about the MP.

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The new mode they’ve put into this is Bounty Hunt. While Attrition still holds most of my attention, Bounty Hunt is still a nice diversion from time to time. Bounty Hunt has you going to set points on the map and killing AI characters while your opponents try to do the same thing. Each AI enemy you kill gives you a bonus that you can turn into a bank that opens up between the rounds of AI enemies. The biggest part is that you can steal half of the bounty from other players which gives the matches a nice push/pull feel to them. The effect of seeing your Titan fall to you is still amazing and I will never tire of it.

The way you level up is also a really smart thing because it is based on how you use your equipment and not just based on getting kills. Even if you aren’t the best at FPS, you will still be able to get some experience for you next level so you don’t feel like crap about how bad you played during the match. This is an awesome way to get you to mess around with other guns, Titans, and equipment when you otherwise wouldn’t do that.

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One of the smartest things they’ve done with MP is setting up groups. These allow you to set up games with people who are in the group so you never have to play with random people if you don’t want to. Happy Hour is the other big thing they came up with. During an hour, you can get extra experience so that you are incentivized to play at least once a day because you can normally either level up during Happy Hour or get close enough that you’ll play another match to level up. This has been the MP game that I’ve fallen into this year and I will continue to play it for at least the next year.

Come back later today when I'll reveal my #3 game from last year.

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Game of the Year 2016 #5 - Defense Grid 2

Welcome back to the countdown of my Top 10 games of 2016. If you are wanting to see what came before go here: #6, #7, #8, #9 and #10. Now, on to the #5 game of the year.

5. Defense Grid 2

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With this game, I was interested in it when it was announced as a Games with Gold title. I read up on it and found out it was a tower defense game. I have always enjoyed that type of game and felt this one would be good to try. When I downloaded it, I loved playing it so I went through and got every achievement that I could. The really cool thing about this game is that each level has 10 different ways you can play it. They range from normal to limited towers, limited money, only certain towers and others. They force you to figure out how to work through it and think on how you are going to work through the level.

I played through each level once in the normal gameplay mode and then went back and played through as many of the other modes for each level as I felt like playing. One of the achievements was to play and beat 100 modes so it encouraged you to try out as many of the other modes as possible. This was my podcast game this year and it was the best one I’ve played through for that purpose. It got to the point, like most tower defense games do, where I could just let it go and read until the end of the level. Some people don't like that but I really do.

The actual towers are actually really good and diverse so you can experiment in order to figure out which ones you like the most. The sniper towers were very over powered so you could get a bunch of those and then use the towers that slow people down so you don’t have to do much else. However, the best tower is the missle tower which is the strongest and worth having as many of them as possible. You have the ability to upgrade each tower from green to yellow to red, but most of the time you didn’t need to move them to red tier unless absolutely necessary.

Thanks for reading and come back tomorrow for the 4th best game of the year.

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Game of the Year 2016 #6 - Sunset Overdrive

Welcome back to the countdown of my 10 best games of the year. If you want to see any of the previous days, check them out here: #7, #8, #9 and #10. Now, onto the 6th best game of 2016.

6. Sunset Overdrive

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This was a game that was a launch title on the Xbone and I loved the Ratchet games on PS2 so I was very interested in playing it. The one problem was that many people said they liked it but didn’t really feel 60 dollars was a worthwhile amount for it. It was announced earlier this year that it would be a part of Games with Gold so I knew that would be the time to play it.

I did play it but it took me a long time to finish it because I really couldn’t play it for super long amounts of time. I didn’t dislike the game but it felt like it was a better game in small chunks. That’s the main reason why it is #6 and not higher.

The biggest plus this game has is the style found in the game and the various weapons you got to use when playing. The weapons were pretty inventive and offered you many different ways to play. From the fireworks gun to the bowling ball launcher, Insomniac did another great job in making weapons that were not only fun to use but were fun to experiment with. The traversal system was also extremely well done. The idea they had of making it mandatory to grind and do other types of of moves in order to make you more powerful was really well done and helped to vary how the game played. The other good choice they made was to have an auto aim while you were grinding or jumping so it would not be a frustrating experience.

The humor in the game is very hit and miss but when it does hit it is really well done. The best part was the LARPers who have actually lost their mind and you have to pretend to be like them so that they will follow you. However, when the humor misses, it is really bad. The preppy kids was the worst part of the game and thankfully it was the first group you interacted with so it could have been a lot worse.

Thanks for reading and come back to see the first game in the Top 5.

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Game of the Year 2016 #7 - Rebel Galaxy

Welcome back to the continuing reveal of my Top 10 Games of the Year. If you have missed any of the previous games, you can look at #10, #9 and #8. Now, on to #7.

7. Rebel Galaxy

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This was a game that I really wanted to play. I had to wait for it to come to the Xbone since the only computer I have is a MacBook Pro that’s not super powerful. Once it was on the Xbone I immediately downloaded it and began playing it. I immediately fell in love with the game and how it just throws you into the universe. The story of the game is largely forgettable but the action it brings you through in the story is excellent. My favorite part is the combat. If you have played Assassin’s Creed Black Flag, then you know what it’s like. The cool thing is that you can change what kind of weapons you use. If you want to get up close and personal, then you can use a shotgun like weapon or you can choose to fight with long range weapons as well. The amount of customization you can engage with is excellent. From figuring out what kind of shields you use to what kind of engine/special weapon and many more things, you can play the game how you want to.

The reason that I have it this low is I feel that the technical aspects of the game were kind of bad with the framerate dipping in higher activity times. The other thing is that the difficulty spike when I played it was so insane that I stopped playing the game for around 3 months. I did go back and finish the story after figuring out how to get around the difficulty spike though. It was not a great impression to give someone otherwise it would have been higher on my list.

Thanks for reading and come back tomorrow, where, we’ll take a look at the #5 and 6 games.

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Game of the Year 2016 #8 - Assassin's Creed: Syndicate

Welcome back to Day 3 of my Game of the Year reveal. Today, we are going to take a look at my #8 Game of the Year. If you missed any of the previous days, you can go to #10 and #9 to read about them.

8. Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate

I played this game at the very beginning of 2016 and it was one of the best AC games that I have played so far. It’s not as good as Black Flag but it is right below that game in terms of quality. I did not play Unity because I heard it was terrible and I had hope for Syndicate since it was setting up to be a good year for AC since the series seemed to be on a one year good, the next bad cycle.

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The big thing that made this game so much fun was that the main characters were so well fleshed out and sympathetic. The best thing about them was that they were written believably as a brother and sister. Games can fail spectacularly when they try and show different family dynamics or anything that approaches that. This game did such a great job of showing both Jacob and Evie as their own characters with their own strengths and weaknesses. They covered each other's faults over and had an amazing dynamic.

The other thing that made the game so enjoyable was that the story was well done and the game played about as well as any AC game has so far. The tale of how Jacob and Evie went their separate ways in London to take out the Templars was well told and done in such a fashion that you always wanted to see what was coming up next. The small detour you get to take into the future was also well done and seemed to possibly set up a way for them to continue the “present day” story that was put on hold for the most part after AC 3. I’ve always been a fan of the goofiness that defines the series when it comes to the “present day” story and this was the right amount of stuff to work with.

The game continues to be a well controlling experience as well. The traversal stuff seemed to be tightened up even more and it shows. There were not as many problems in traversing the city as there have been in the other games. The main way they fixed this was to give you a grappling hook. This allowed you to move up to the roof of any building really quickly and get you moving horizontally that much quicker. The combat is still a lot of fun and the ways in which they block the city off through “levels” was a very cool way to make sure you didn’t go outside of a part of the city you weren’t ready for.

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Overall, this was an excellent way for me to start my year of gaming off and I am now eagerly awaiting what Ubisoft does with AC next year since they took 2016 off to work on some things.

Thanks for reading and I hope you come back tomorrow for my #7 Game of the Year, where we’ll be jetting around the galaxy like a rebel.

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Game of the Year 2016 #9 - Audiosurf 2

Welcome back to my Game of the Year countdown. Next, we will be taking a look at one of the best music games around. If you missed the beginning of the series, check out #10.

9. Audiosurf 2

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This game ended up being on my list again because I have continued to play it throughout the year. This game was around this spot last year but I didn’t have as much time sunk into it then. I now have over 177 hours in this game and I will continue to put more into it. Since I wrote about this last year, I won’t be writing as much about it as some of the other games on this list.

The thing I will say about this game is that the more I have played it, the more I am seeing the strategy involved in getting as high a score as you can on each song you play. I started out just playing the game like I did the first one but it wasn't’ until about 20 hours or so into playing it that I learned how to truly being playing it. I was continually frustrated that I was not getting a higher score than the people who were above me on the leaderboard so I sought out more information and strategies on how to get better. There is an excellent strategy guide that one of the players put together on the Steam page for the game that was a godsend for me. From that point forward, I got higher and higher scores and found myself finishing in the upper half of the leaderboard and even taking the top spot on a regular basis.

This is another great game to play if you have 30 minutes or so. Like my #10 game, the base game is very simple and easy to get into but the strategy and complexity of the game only comes out once you have spent a decent amount of time playing it.

Thanks for reading and be sure to come back tomorrow for my 8th best game of 2016.

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Game of the Year 2016 #10 - Super Mega Baseball: Extra Innings

Welcome to my Game of the Year Extravaganza. Last year, I went through my honorable mentions then dug into my top ten games of the year. This year will be a little different. I am not talking about my honorable mentions and instead will be spending one day on each of my Top 10 games. The final thing to know is that these are games that I played and beat this year, not just games that came out in 2016. Today, we look at the only sports game to make it onto my list this year.

10. Super Mega Baseball: Extra Innings

When the Giant Bomb crew did a quick look of this game, I was intrigued by what it was doing but I didn’t feel like spending money on something that may not be good. You can only get so much from a Quick Look so I waited. It then became one of the Games with Gold and I leapt at the chance to try it out. I then grew to love to play this game. If I had between 30-45 minutes to kill, I would load this up and play a game. The games would normally take that long because I would score between 15 and 30 runs each game because I wasn’t doing much to challenge myself against the AI.

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The look of the game is very exaggerated and the character creator is decent to play around with. There are not a lot of ways to customize your characters but there is enough to spend some time messing around with it.

There is no multiplayer in the game but it doesn’t matter because the mechanics of the game are really well done. I created a team of all female players and have been kicking ass with them from the start. The actual gameplay is both very simple to work with and also has surprising depth that you can work with and engage with. The higher you crank the AI up, the more you have to finesse and actually think about how you are hitting and pitching the ball. One of the most surprising parts of the game is how much fun it is to pitch the ball. You choose from 9 different pitches to throw and you have full control over where the ball goes. You can pitch either in a normal manner or in a power manner. I have not done much with the power pitching because it is a little harder to control.

The other thing that keeps me coming back to this game is the ability you have to improve your character through giving them buffs to their stats. Each player starts out with stats based on the team they are a part of. You can choose from around 4 types of teams: power hitters, great fielders, great hitters and all around teams. I chose to play one of the power hitters and have been trying to gear my players towards their strengths while also looking to make them as well rounded as I can. You choose from 4 different areas to hire people in: trainer, coach, style and and gear. Based off of those, you can then increase or even decrease their stats in multiple areas.

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I have used this game as one of my podcast games and it is so great to do so. The only reason it’s not any higher is that I can only play one game at a time because it does get to be a bit of a slog to play it for more than one game in a row. It’s a highly enjoyable game but it only works in small bursts.

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