Video Games of 2017: Fated Retribution
My Top 10 Games of 2017 list for y'all
My Top 10 Games of 2017 list for y'all
To me, Wolfenstein: The New Order is up there with Doom, Half Life, Halo, and any other important first person shooter. I love Machine Games' take on Wolfenstein so I was really looking forward to its sequel. Sadly, Wolfenstein: The New Colossus did not live up to the standard set by its predecessor.
Wolfenstein: The New Colossus opens incredibly strong with a sequence I wrote a whole term paper about for university. Up until a bit after "THAT MOMENT" Wolfenstein II features a phenomenally well told story that I love. But this already iconic moment is a double-edged sword. As it not only sets up an expectation for rest of the game, but is the end of Wolfenstein II's consistent quality. Anyone who knows the moment I'm talking about probably remembers a feeling of "How can they even top this?" The sad truth is... they don't. The fiery anticipation this moment creates fizzles out in what is one of the most excruciatingly anticlimactic last few hours of any game I've ever played. It is quite clear Wolfenstein II's last few hours are rushed. As it is also at this point where the side missions open up. When these appeared it lead me to believe that there was much more to this game. When really they are just a mechanism to artificially stretch the game's length. As each side mission has you revisit old levels (only one of which looks different) and do very basic objectives. These side missions are damning evidence of how rushed the game is and are quite detrimental to game overall. As each repeated visit just made me realize more and more how boring the level design is. When I finally returned to the main missions I was astonished at how little was left. I don't want to spoil the end of this game so all I can say is that I only realized I was mid-climactic scene because an achievement popped up and told me. Despite how disappointing this game is to me as a whole, the good moments are so strong that it still deserves a spot on my list at #10.
The most damning thing I can say about NieR: Automata is that it’s a Platinum game with boring combat. Knowing your combo inputs hardly matters and the dodge button can be spammed without consequence. Where NieR: Automata shines is what it does as a whole with its multiple playthroughs; as each run alters your perception of the world and the game established in the initial playthrough. The ‘A’ playthrough features a shallow and boring story with hardly anything of note. It is in the ‘B’ playthrough, which is for the most part a rerun of ‘A,’ where things only begin to get interesting. ‘B’ is where you get to peer behind the curtain and get faint hints the real meat of the game. Because of this, NieR is a hard sell, you have to trudge through a lot of tedium to get to the interesting moments. I forced myself through the ‘A’ run while my friend constantly reassured me “the amazing moments happen later” only to find out the second run is composed of mostly the same stuff. But what else can we expect from Yoko Taro, whose M.O. is very interested in opposing what we expect from video games. Who else would force us to play a game twice to get to the real game?
Let us not be mistaken, if it weren’t for the revelations of playthroughs ‘C’, ‘D’, and ‘E’, NieR: Automata would not be on this list. What is a strange first 10-15 hours of meh becomes something of deep contemplation: (Spoilers) What would you do if your entire meaning and reason for existence was a lie? As humans, we are not afforded a single and definitive meaning for life. Because of this, humans have created many possible religious, philosophical, and scientific explanations for our existence. These explanations have been formed over thousands of years. NieR’s robots and androids differ from us because their meaning was clearly defined for them. And because of this they have something humans never will: a tangible meaning of life. And because it is tangible it can be taken from them. So when the robots' meaning becomes questionable, they are forced to create new meaning by emulating human behavior and “becoming” the real-world philosophers and great thinkers they idolize. The YoRHa androids cling to their meaning by perpetuating a lie. So when androids like 2B and A2 learn that there are no more humans to protect, their existence becomes a crisis that we humans cannot experience. NieR is set in a post-apocalyptic Earth amidst a never-ending conflict of human creation. Humanity no longer exists, but the conflict it created lives on. Does this mean that the singular and final definitive meaning of humanity is the unending conflicts we create? This question of the magnitude of humanity’s inherent meaning in comparison to the definitive meaning of life we create is why NieR: Automata is on this list.
Tekken 7 is the full package and even more importantly a good fighting game. The mess that was the release of Street Fighter V may be a blessing in disguise as it created a void which has been filled with Tekken 7. I have never been so into a Tekken game, or 3D fighters in general, until I met this entry. Tekken 7 is an extremely beautiful, well polished, fully featured, and surprisingly accessible fighting game. This summer I spent hours in the training mode trying to figure out every possible thing I can do as a jaguar-faced luchador. Every victory I achieve online gives me a serious feeling of accomplishment. In a fighting game world where Capcom has fumbled both Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom, Tekken 7 is refreshing, necessary, and most of all, worthy.
When Prey 2 was cancelled no one expected to ever see the franchise again. So to see it brought back as a System Shock-like immersive sim was quite the surprise. This iteration of Prey does not stand out for its story or characters (not that it ever has), but for the vast creativity I was afforded throughout the entire game. Prey is one of the few games where I actually feel free to figure out my own solutions. For example, later in the game there is a green house you can’t enter via conventional means without knowing the password. I was simply too impatient to figure that out so I used my strength spec to stack large boxes and climb to the roof to break the glass and jump in. This and many more moments makes Prey feel like a game you’re breaking when actually it’s accounted for whatever nonsense you’ve come up with. Is the hole to small for Morgan to climb through? Shapeshift into a mug to roll in. No stairs? Shoot some glue onto the wall and make your own. Prey is a fun series of combat encounters and platforming puzzles that can be tackled in some really creative ways. All set in and around a beautiful and fully explorable space station that perfectly details the interesting universe of Prey.
Persona 5 was the one game I NEEDED to play in 2017. The Shin Megami Tensei series is my favorite RPG series, and Personas 3 and 4 are two of my favorite games of all time. What I am happy to say is that Persona 5 is a masterfully crafted video game featuring the best combat, music, character designs, environments, and UI in the series. My overall opinion of Persona 5 is positive but with a lot digression. Where it matters most, Persona 5 lacks. The story and characters are the weakest they’ve ever been. I am incredibly attached to the casts of Personas 3 and 4, whereas with 5 I hardly care about any of them.
My largest complaint with Persona 5 is that it very much feels like a “Greatest Hits" Persona title. Meaning it derives far too much from its predecessors. Almost every plot element, and even some character roles, can be traced back to Persona 3 or 4. So there were many many moments that just felt too familiar. But it should be known that the few moments in this game that are fresh are quite amazing.
To get into some specifics on the similarities:
Persona 4 and 5 both feature murder mysteries and in both games the culprits are in similar employments and relations with other characters. Persona 4 the killer is the partner of your detective uncle. Persona 5 the killer is a detective who works closely with a sister of one of the main characters. In both games the killers are given their powers by a God to test humanity. Persona 3 features Tartarus, a tall tower somehow connected to the “Apathy Syndrome” epidemic. Persona 5 features Mementos, an underground maze formed by humanity’s sins. The ultimate sin being Sloth, humanity’s inaction towards the evil in the world, also known as apathy. In both games these towering dungeons are integral to the end game conflict. Persona 4’s themes deal with how the media shapes public perception and consciousness. Persona 5 deals with how the media is exploited to skew public opinion about the villains and the Phantom Thieves themselves. These are just some examples of how Persona 5 is far too familiar and features too many borrowed elements from Personas 3 and 4.
If Persona 5 were more focused on venturing into new ideas it would probably be my favorite game in the series. Outside of its story and characters it has the best look, feel, combat, and sound of the entire series. So despite all this digressing it was still a very enjoyable experience with some exciting moments. So although I felt disappointment in this familiarity of the latest entry, Persona 5 is still one of my favorite games of 2017.
Mario Odyssey is the delightful return and modernization of the Super Mario 64 form. 64 invented the 3D platforming genre while Odyssey brings it even further. Odyssey expands on the hub world mechanic by shelving it and having each world itself be a hub for open exploration with special rooms acting as sub-levels. Odyssey has the best movement of any Mario game ever made. I fear for any sequel that lack the maneuvers afforded by Cappy. Odyssey is simply a delightful game that rarely disappoints your desire to explore every inch of each world. This seems to be Nintendo’s new method for its main franchises and I can't wait to see which series gets this treatment next.
Within the last two years I played through both Mega Man 1 and Mega Man 2. In those playthroughs I gained an appreciation for the challenges those games provide. But sometimes the obstacles in those games feel absolutely insurmountable through methods other than luck. Cuphead's boss fights have clear inspiration from the Mega Man series, but every fight feels fair. Cuphead’s boss fights (meaning not the run and gun levels which are the only things I dislike) are so unique, each offering a totally different experience and challenge. The excellent gameplay and feel, matched with its flawlessly executed artstyle, makes Cuphead one of the most inventive and fun games of 2017. I can't wait to see what Studio MDHR does next.
In 2007, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare established the multiplayer shooter genre into what is has been for the past decade. Today, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has caused what may possibly be another tectonic shift of that magnitude. Within the next few years it is inevitable we will be seeing larger and better known game developers tackle the Battle Royale genre. We are already seeing this today with Fortnite’s sudden addition of a Battle Royale mode. Just this effect alone makes PUBG a significant title for 2017. But what did it mean to me? PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds fills the hole in my heart that DayZ left. I always felt that I’d enjoy DayZ even if it had no zombies. This turned out to be true, as PUBG is very much the DayZ experience concentrated down into a manageable time period. But make no mistake, despite the much smaller time commitment PUBG is, here I am 4 chicken dinners later and I still get that heart pounding sensation. PUBG, despite all its glitches and jank, is the first good attempt at a game of this kind. I know for a fact that my mere 60 hours on the game is just the beginning.
Yakuza 0 is the best the series has ever been (of the games released in the West, still eagerly waiting for 6). The story is incredibly well done and the characters are effectively loveable and hateable. The Yakuza series excels at getting you excited to take down loads of Yakuza baddies. The villains in this game are a delight to witness and then pummel. What is most surprising about this game is that Majima, who has always been an insane man for comedy’s sake, is somehow made into an actual character that I came to care for even more than Kiryu. I would say more but I’ve already written an entire review of this game and I still feel the same about what I wrote so I’ll just link it here.
The 3D Zelda titles all suffer from their linearity. Although the games feature open worlds, there is a highly defined path you must traverse in order to progress. The puzzles tend to have only one solution, and specific items that you may not even have are required to solve them. Breath of the Wild is truly the breath of fresh air the 3D Zelda series needed. As it throws out nearly everything we expect a Zelda game to be. Instead of spacing them out over the course of the game, Breath of the Wild gives the player every item they need to solve every single puzzle right in the beginning of the game. This means you can never have a moment of “Oh I’ll just have to come back later with a new item.” The only thing stopping you is your ability to solve the puzzle. Link is already equipped with every function you need, so it is left to you to figure out which tools and in what ways that puzzle can be solved. Breath of the Wild goes even further than this, and throws out the notion that a Zelda game needs dungeons. You are not required to do any dungeons in Breath of the Wild. If you’re good enough, you can walk straight into Hyrule Castle and take on Ganon and finish the game as soon as you leave the starting area. This completely subverts the structures of the past Zelda games, 2D and 3D. Nintendo experimented with this in A Link Between Worlds, but fully realized it in Breath of the Wild. The creativity afforded to the player and the absolutely massive, beautiful, and secret filled world makes Breath of the Wild my favorite game of 2017, and my favorite Zelda game of all time. Breath of the Wild has forever changed what Zelda can be and I am intensely interested in how Nintendo can even approach the next game.
Use your keyboard!
Log in to comment