By MisterBananaFoam 0 Comments
If 2016 was the year that eventually got its shit together in terms of vidya, then 2017 was the year that the industry blew its load and climaxed in 5 minutes. To say the summer of 2017 was a dry spell for gaming would be like claiming the Nazis were somewhat bad people – I mean, what did we really get anything out of this year during that time span? Yooka-Laylee? Please. Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition? Oh boy, can’t wait to play the Duke Nukem skin pack rerelease (because God knows they didn’t change anything else about it)! And lest we not forget Birthdays: the Beginning, which, I mean… what? What the fuck are we even doing anymore?
Okay, fighting game fans should at least be satisfied. Injustice 2 and Tekken 7 came out and, not content with being outdone by Smash Bros., have every fucking character in existing media as guest fighters. Capcom still has its foot planted square in its own ass with MvC:I petering out onto store shelves, adding a grand total of, what is it, 6 characters? At the expense of taking out around 12 more? Hoo boy, money well goddamn spent.
I have to make a list of this shit, too, that’s the worst part. I hardly even feel like there are ten games worthy of a ‘Best Of’ list, and the rest would just be on the ‘Worst’ list because they have loot boxes for no reason. I swear, the day they put loot boxes or microtransactions into Mario games is the day I quit gaming. But I mean, there were maybe 2 or 3 seriously amazing game releases this year, and the rest didn’t really even come close to matching them.
So this time I’m doing three lists. Yep, three. Five entries each, one list of games I’d give the gold, one filled with garbage that I’d give the finger, and the last, brand-spanking new and special category I’ve saved personally for games that absolutely no one wanted and no one cared about. The Top 5 Best, Worst, and Literally Why Games of 2017.
Let’s begin with the new category, because this one’s a doozy. I feel like half the games released this year qualify for this list, but I’ll throw in some honorable mentions. Ports don’t count for this list, but remasters do. It’s like when the movie industry rereleased Titanic last year because people are fucking stupid and will pay to see anything in theaters at full price instead of just watching it on YouTube – what’s the point? Oh, and items on this list are absolutely still eligible for one or more of the other lists. I won’t say which one they’ll be on, of course, because that would ruin the point.
- LawBreakers. Poor, poor LawBreakers, suffered from a chronic case of Battleborn-itis right out of the starting gate. This game genuinely looked fun, too, but y’know, if people are gonna spend $40 on a modern class-based shooter with MOBA elements, they’re likely to stick with the fun, animated, and age-accessible Overwatch instead of the gritty, bloody and generic-looking arcade gameplay promised here. I hope Cliffy B’s next outing has a bit more zest to it.
- Night Trap 25th Anniversary – isn’t this game remembered primarily for being stupid? Oh yeah, THAT’S the title I want for my PS4, the game that puts me on a sex offender list. Yee-haw.
- Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, and not necessarily in a bad way. I actually was shocked to see Mario in a goddamn XCOM-like, and with such an odd premise, how could you not want to at least check it out a little bit? However, you have to admit, leading up to the reveal, people likely thought this game was gonna be some kind of gimmick-y minigame compilation, and even then the pairing of one of gaming’s most beloved icons with essentially the gaming equivalent of Minions is still an oddball choice.
- Dishonored: Death of the Outsider was doomed from the start because we had no idea whether or not it was even a separate GAME from Dishonored 2. Was it like the Mario Galaxy 2 equivalent where they thought they could pull a mulligan on the sequel and do another sequel? Who knows, who cares.
- Agents of Mayhem. I will give them credit, because by the time Saints Row finally ended, it absolutely was not Saints Row anymore. It was more like a poor man’s Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. However, this one just doesn’t add anything to the table. It’s generic, has stiff controls, repetitive mission design, flat characters, and is asking for $50 USD. No thanks.
- Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. More scripted events and bombastic set-pieces... gee, just what I needed. Uncharted 4 was pretty, don’t get me wrong, and I actually liked the smooth gameplay, amazing visuals and intense multiplayer, but The Lost Legacy does next to nothing to give me reason to drop another $60. Going by the formulaic and routine plots of the base games, I'm going to wager this prequel doesn't exactly bring any revolutionary plot twists to the table, and as I mentioned before with Death of the Outsider, nobody even knew if this was supposed to be an entirely-new, fleshed-out box release or just an expansion on Uncharted 4. It’ll maintain a lost legacy, alright – that of being lost in the back of the used games store retailing for $4.00 in a year.
- 1-2-Switch. Would’ve been okay if the game had been packaged with the system, like Wii Sports was. As it stands, you’re paying $60 to pretend to milk a cow’s teats with tiny remotes in your hands. And you’re not supposed to look at the game screen while doing it, effectively ruining the purpose of an entire medium. Hm.
- The Elder Scrolls: Anything this year. Yes, even the Switch release that comes with three half-baked reskin mods. With all this and the paid mods fiasco still in full swing, I really do fear for the state of the sixth entry into the franchise.
- Sonic Forces. Come on, we all knew what was going to happen when SEGA revealed the trailer with the dopey custom glasses character with the grappling hookshot. They knew who they were catering to. It wasn’t a complete train wreck (that’s not a compliment) but it added very little to tie together Sonic’s absurd story arcs, is almost entirely inferior to the retro-inspired Sonic Mania that came before it (and that was made by fans, no less), and was just another shallow attempt to saddle the Sonic series with some new dumbass gimmick to attempt to compete with the so-called triple-A games market. Next thing you’re gonna tell me is that we’re gonna get Sonic Universe next October, where Sonic can now craft gear from the rings he’s collected to survive the asteroid he was sent to by Coldsteel, his demon alter ego. That will all be absolutely true, mark my damn words.
- Double Dragon IV. Just leave the poor franchise alone, already. Beat-em-ups are a deader-than-disco genre at this point.
- Syberia 3. A poor man's Telltale ripoff using a cheap engine with ugly graphics and art direction along with wooden and stilted voice-acting. It also apparently took nearly a decade to make, and that's kind of sad, really.
5. Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back. Only fucking Bubsy Bobcat, of all characters, could somehow survive the almost-assured franchise destruction that is Bubsy-fucking-3D: Furrbitten Planet. I am still of the (correct) opinion that the only Bubsy game that matters is the 3D art project meme game some guy made in 24 hours on the internet that sends Bubsy straight into the eighth circle of Hell and rapes the mind of anyone that tries to play it. At least then we got a funny Vinesauce stream out of it. The Woolies Strike Back, on the other hand, is a poor man’s Giana Sisters knockoff - which in turn is already a poor man’s Super Meat Boy - that costs about 50 times as much, and has about an eightieth of the content, of either one of those titles. If you want to play a good meme game this year, just download Yo-Noid! 2 for free instead and save your money or the effort spent on finding a cracked copy of this kitty litter refuse.
4. Knack 2, and no, none of this is because of the irritating videogamedunkey memes. That’s not why this game happened. Sony already had this log in the pipeline long before it started linkin’. It really says something about the reckless, dithering decision-making in the video game industry that interesting, effective and unique properties such as Silent Hills and Mega Man Legends 3 are cancelled at the drop of a hat, yet games like Knack 2 somehow survive the chopping block. If Sony hadn’t bred this test tube baby of a franchise in its slimy underground laboratories until they figured out nobody was buying the first one, it would unquestionably have never seen the light of day. Man, though, would we have missed out on some quality memes! God fucking forbid.
3. Nidhogg 2. This one was just unfortunate, and as an avid fan of the original Nidhogg and its deceptively-simple yet intricately-complex fencing gameplay, I was absolutely abhorrent to the art design of this game. It’s so disappointing, because everything else here is absolutely at least an 8 on a ten-point scale, but the character designs are a 2 at the very most. They’re horrendous! It’s like if someone made a really well-designed and unique 3D platformer that could rival the likes of A Hat in Time and even Super Mario Odyssey, but made it a licensed property using the Garbage Pail Kids as protagonists. They killed the hype for their potentially-eSports-worthy series in a matter of literal seconds, and that is a damn shame.
2. Hey! Pikmin. Remember when Chibi-Robo was molested beyond recognition into a generic sidescrolling platformer with literally no defining features to its name? Now Nintendo have decided to do that to an even more firmly-established IP, mucking its chances of receiving a proper installment for the Switch. I puked a little in my mouth when I saw the trailer for this game and witnessed how slow it seemed to progress. If I wanted to play a colorful handheld platformer with gimmick-y touch controls and puzzles, I would just throw on my DS or Wii U and play either of the Kirby Ball-Curse titles.
1. Drawn to Death is what happens when you get a ten-year-old to come up with every design aspect of a video game. It’s hard to believe this puerile, putrid pile of filth was the brainchild of one Mr. David Jaffe, famous for his work on the God of War and Twisted Metal series, because the jokes and art style the game suffers your witness with induce the very opposite of enjoyment. I’m not kidding when I say Drawn to Death literally sucks fun out of your emotional state – it has confusing and dreadfully-unbalanced gameplay (which, being a multiplayer-only game, is a death sentence right then and there), can only hold up to four players in online matches, tries to aim for the ‘lulz’ humor camp and misses by several thousand country miles, and the art style is literally just total artistic anarchy, with the overall theme being that there is no theme at all. I received this game for free via Playstation Plus membership (yeah, that really tells you Sony had a lot of faith in this one, didn’t they?), and I STILL feel ripped off. I could have spent the extra 3 hours of life this game took away from me donating to charity, exercising, doing my taxes, posting blogs on the internet that nobody will read… any of that would have been more productive than installing and playing Drawn to Death.
While we’re on the subject of mediocrity, we may as well take a dip into the piss pool as well. Let’s give a gander (at a safe distance, of course) at the Top 5 Worst Games of 2017. Now, ‘worst’ here is a very subjective use of the word – I don’t necessarily mean the game itself is bad (although that is certainly the case for some of them at the very least), but when you read my comments, you’ll understand why I chose them to be where they were. Oh, and ports and remasters aren’t eligible for either list, unless they’re very special cases. Neither are budget titles or asset flips – don’t give them the satisfaction of actually being called ‘game developers,’ and maybe they’ll, I dunno, stop ‘developing’ games? There’s a thought.
- Hey! Pikmin, because, honestly, what the fuck? Have I not made it expressly clear that the Pikmin series does not deserve a game like this?
- Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, for somehow having less content than all of its predecessors, falling victim to pre-order DLC expansion dreck and presenting us with just awful character designs and voiceover work.
- Mario Party: The Top 100, just for being a sheer disappointment, making moronic decisions in remastering some of the most infamously-stupid minigames in the series and having a terrible multiplayer component despite the foundations of the series being built upon the multiplayer.
- Syberia 3. See above in the 'Honorable Meh-ntions' list. At the very least, it has no microtransactions, so, well, it has that going for it, although it still has DLC for some reason. Why you'd want to get more out of this game is beyond me...
- Road Rage for the PlayStation 4. Are MotorStorm or Road Redemption just a bit too exciting for you? Do you wish your post-apocalyptic bike combat racer was watered down, looked like ass, controlled worse than ass, and blasted the same irritating butt-rock song in your ear over and over again? No, you don't. You're better than that, and yes, you deserve better than Road Rage.
- Hello Neighbor, which is rather disappointing because the concept is very novel and interesting. If only the game worked properly on top of it - I've heard instances of the player character standing too close to a wall and getting caught by the neighbor because their faces were clipping through. Perhaps this one could've actually benefited more from staying in the Early Access incubation chamber a bit longer.
5. Mirage: Arcane Warfare. Chivalry was one of the sleeper hits of this generation, and despite its slower pace and odd choice of DLC, it is still played and beloved to this day. The almost-literally spiritual successor, Mirage, does nothing to improve upon the initial concept of Chivalry besides giving it an art style that clashes completely with the type of game it presents. Inevitably, adding magic and more advanced projectiles to a game primarily focused on realistic sword combat leads to a mishmash of gameplay that doesn’t feel nearly as fun as it should. Additionally, I’ve heard about various netcode problems, which, in a game such as Mirage where every swing counts, may as well be the death knell. I cannot believe I’m saying this, but you would likely be better off playing For Honor than this, because at least that game has unique melee mechanics and isn’t impossible to comprehend.
4. Mass Effect: Andromeda. EA games comprise of nearly half this list. If that doesn’t give you some kind of indication of how terribly managed this company is, then I don’t know what else to tell you. As for the game itself, it’s plagued by repetitive open-world design scheme, the same tepid and uninteresting combat mechanics from other titles abruptly being made worse in this one, tons and tons of bugs galore, an uninteresting plot, and the most hideous default protagonist created in an EA game yet. This one deserves to be shot out into space and consumed by a far off quasar at the vast reaches of the known universe.
3. NBA 2K18. Normally, I give absolutely zero shits about sports games, but this year, I’m giving 2K games all the shit. The entire contents of my toilet are being packaged securely and mailed to them as we speak. To my knowledge, this game functions and performs similarly to other NBA titles of recent memory, so what’s the big idea? Apparently, the big idea was to turn character stat progression for the main campaign mode into an enormous grind-fest that sees the player laboring hours upon days upon weeks grinding for the in-game currency they need to increase their stats or unlock other options. Or, of course, you could just buy packs of the stuff and have overpowered characters right from the get-go. Even as a sports-illiterate, and even if the rest of the game is semi-decent, this is just absolute scum. We are now smack dab in the middle of the era of paying $60 for the equivalent of mobile phone games, and until this ceases, 2K will never see another cent of my money.
2. Drawn to Death. All the evidence can be seen above, and I rest my goddamn case. The only, the ONLY reason this shit heap isn’t at the very bottom of the barrel is that it was a complementary game 'gifted' to me as a PlayStation Plus exclusive deal. The only thing I lost here was three hours of my life I will never get back, which is more than I can say for the poor bastards who bought into the next game.
1. When Alec Guinness warned us about a wretched hive of scum and villainy a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, we had no idea he was actually talking about the corporate offices of one Electronic Arts. What we got for our negligence was Star Wars: Battlefront II, which pains me to write, because there is a game with that exact title that deserves to be on the opposite list for its respective year. Man, oh man, did Electronic Arts take the fucking piss out of this one. Of course, my hype for this game was long dead by the time the E3 multiplayer showcase rolled around, featuring commentators that were obviously not given any sort of direction about what the fuck to even say about the game and battles that looked okay, but seemed to fall victim to many of the same shortcomings of the previously-released Battlefront outing.
Battlefront 2-thousand 17, however, managed to shake up the entire medium with its disgusting loot crate progression system and outright mucked up excuses to attempt to defend it. Imagine paying $60 for this game and realizing you had to get the absolute dogshit kicked out of you match after match after match because you didn’t have stat bonuses and other equipment that other players randomly obtained, which may take you literal weeks to obtain on your own without shelling out more cash on top of what you already paid! I don’t care how polished the game is, at that point, whoever developed that shit is an absolute pack of fiends. That’s not even the end of this game’s problems, of course – incredibly shoddy netcode (likely due to the developers having to scramble and throw together fake apologies and fluff to stifle the raging crowd instead of fixing the game’s servers) and a half-assed, repetitive campaign mode that doesn’t even come close to emulating the excitement of Galactic Conquest… Mechanically, Battlefront II isn’t necessarily the worst game of 2017, but from a consumer standpoint, and almost every other angle on top of that, it sure damn well is. I hope all the backlash is enough to even slightly convince Electronic Arts that their bullshit practices won't be tolerated anymore... but let's be honest, it likely won't be. Next year, they'll be apologetic, we'll lap it up like hounds, and then three years from now, it's back to the same scummy practices that they're well-known for. An endless cycle of pain and displeasure, for certain.
You would be forgiven if by now you thought that gaming was on the verge of death from reading everything written above. That’s mostly true, but it doesn’t mean some companies aren’t putting in a genuine effort to rebuild and reclaim the old glories of past years. The proof is in the following games that comprise the Top 5 Best Games of 2017. Same rules apply from the Worst list, no remakes/ports with outstanding exceptions only, no games that haven’t officially released yet (early access, ‘foundation release,’ whatever the hell you want to call your bullshit unfinished product), no continually-updated games (i.e. Overwatch), etc. etc. Also, a few of these are games I’ve personally played, and plenty of them aren’t, so if I rank things differently, that’s just, like, my opinion, man.
- Crash Bandicoot: The N-Sane Trilogy is a special exception if I ever saw one. The updated Crash models and textures look fine as hell, the ability to play as Crash’s sister Coco is a nice touch, the original game is no longer batshit insane to get 100% on, alongside various other tweaks such as the addition of time trials, and the two sequels hold up just as well. Absolutely a bargain if you even think you’re interested in diving into a little bit of Sony’s history.
- Night in the Woods, with a cute yet eerie art style and an emotional story. One of 2017’s most slept-on games, no doubt.
- Horizon: Zero Dawn. It’s no Breath of the Wild if you ask me, but it still lived up quite well to its past E3 showings by offering you a variety of ways to play – stealthily, diplomatically, as a berserker-ranger, among other things. Looks great too, and feels unique among the Far Cry-inspired open-world adventure titles.
- NieR: Automata, again mostly for its uniqueness in its setting, characters and plot, as well as having a fantastic ensemble of music and engaging combat.
- Everybody’s Golf. This is another one I think many gamers slept on. Hell, I wasn’t even sure if it was actually coming out this year, but it’s been one of my most played all year, having a surprising amount of depth (as do all Hot Shots Golf games) with neat additions such as an expansive character creation system and open course activities. Speaking of golf...
- A Golf Story on the Nintendo Switch deserves praise as well for its RPG-like progression, plethora of content and hitting most of the marks that Everybody's Golf did with a charming and humorous story to boot.
- Persona 5 was apparently pretty good. I haven’t played it though, so I can’t really echo any of the sentiments. Good on you, though, Atlus. Keep doing your thing.
- Nioh. Yeah, I know, I know, ‘it’s just like Dark Souls, it automatically deserves to be on the list’, I’ve heard that song and dance before… truth is, this one just didn’t click as well with me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely got a superb Western samurai theme going on, the stance system is unique, and there’s a shitload of content, but come on, you can only keep making Dark Souls so many times before I stop giving you the shill on these lists. Nice try, Team Ninja. Runs at a smooth 60 FPS though, so there’s that.
- Hollow Knight was this close to being in the Top 5 for me. The gothic setting and characters are quite well designed, the Metroidvania upgrade trees and exploration bonuses give it plenty of replay value, the boss fights are fun as hell, it generally feels fun to play and has a 2D Dark Souls-y vibe to it without indulging in the genre’s heinous cheap difficulty too much so that it isn’t as engaging. Easily the best of the honorable mentions.
5. Sonic Mania. All you nerds at Sonic Team better be taking notes, because this is how you make a good goddamn Sonic game – a pure adrenaline rush mixed with smooth controls, vibrant and gorgeous levels, a phenomenal soundtrack, replayability in the form of multiple characters and alternate endings, and secrets and alternate paths abound. The franchise certainly never was the same ever since SEGA tried to give Sonic a bit of an edge to him in his 3D outings, mostly through hammy 90’s mannerisms, disjointed and non-cohesive stories and artistic decisions, and fucking frog fishing. Mania perfectly encapsulates what made the old Genesis games magical, while coming up with a few tricks of its own, and at an absolute bargain price of only $20, it makes a convincing case that the blue blur still has a place in modern gaming.
4. Divinity: Original Sin II is a game I could honestly see many people playing multiple times through and still get a refreshing experience every time. The character creation and lore are incredibly expansive and immersive, and combat is a wise blend of XCOM-like turn-based strategy and traditional fantasy RPG elements, yet both are only a fraction of what Original Sin II truly has to offer. The campaign is extremely malleable – scenarios can play out in hundreds of different ways, and if you’re willing to experiment, entire swathes of the game can be either skipped over or thrown off the tracks into a completely new scenario. Wanna do it all with a friend? Why not four of you? If you’re looking for the quintessential Dungeons and Dragons experience in a video game, Divinity: Original Sin II makes an incredibly convincing case.
3. For the longest time, I remained undecided on whether or not video games can truly be considered an art form. One game, however, in 2017 single-handedly changed my opinion sharply and suddenly to the ‘pro-art’ movement, because let me make something expressly clear, if you don’t consider Cuphead to be a shining example of high art, then there is no pleasing you, you stubborn prick. I have never seen a 2D platformer look and sound this good – they absolutely nailed the Steamboat Willy/Popeye aesthetic they were gunning for, most prominently in the visual department but the sound design is nothing to gaff at, either – for Christ’s sake, the game opens and you’re immediately presented to a barbershop quartet piece about the main character and his buddy, in granulated old-school fashion. You can tell a lot of heart went into the presentation here, and the ‘game’ part isn’t too bad either, with tight controls and a multitude of special abilities to equip to fit your play style. Definitely the indie game of the year, just barely eking out Hollow Knight (referred to earlier in the Honorable Mentions).
2. It feels like mere months ago, I was mocking Nintendo for only having The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as their main showcase at E3. Don’t I look the fool – this is easily one of the most engaging open-world experiences of the modern era, and up there with my favorite Zelda titles, just shy of Majora's Mask. Just like Majora’s Mask, Breath of the Wild was able to take concepts mainly foreign to the Zelda series and integrate them so seamlessly into the formula that it almost never breaks your attention. The map is absolutely enormous, and not empty, either – it’s chock full of sidequests, monsters to battle, weapons and upgrades to acquire, and all sorts of secrets to unveil. While it lends a guiding hand, Breath of the Wild certainly does not railroad you into doing what it wants – if you so desire, you can scour the land for trials to increase your maximum health and stamina, cook various dishes, slay giant creatures, get slain by giant creatures, infiltrate strongholds, take pictures of the local wildlife, fling bombs at children, confront the final dungeon right after exiting the starting area if you're sadistic enough… what more could you want from a game in general, let alone a Zelda game? I’m giving it the runner-up spot solely because the objectives can get immensely repetitive after a while, but how you approach them is entirely driven by your will to try and to think, and that’s what makes this game brilliant.
1. Come on, don’t kid yourself, it’s Super Mario Odyssey, hands down. Maybe it is my nostalgia for the old 64 classic, who knows, but no other game this year even came close to the pure joy and elation I received from this instant classic. Odyssey was a game I paid $360 for – yes, I bought the system solely for this game – and I don’t regret a single goddamn penny to this day. It’s everything Nintendo promised it would be and more – gigantic, sprawling levels with an absolutely maddening amount of collectibles to hunt down (and not in the bad, DK64 way either – every single Power Moon collected feels rewarding), remarkable visuals with unlockable cosmetic outfits for Mario to try on which actually makes collecting coins feel meaningful this time, versatility in Mario’s movement and combat options in the form of his new companion Cappy, a stellar soundtrack with tons of variety from swing dancing to heavy orchestral pieces, actual fucking character development for Mario (to explain, this is easily the most expressive he’s ever been – he dances, has an expansive wardrobe, reacts to the environmental temperature, and in cutscenes, his fiery, hot-headed jump-first-ask-questions-later personality actually gives him flaws as a character – the deepest this has ever gone in any other Mario game was when Mario takes a nap if you stop playing in Mario 64. This is fucking insane, I can’t believe more people aren’t talking about this), throwback references to any and all of Mario’s lore in almost every level... this is the ultimate 3D platformer, the paradigm of Mario’s legacy. It’s a little on the short side, the levels are a bit generic, some of the Power Moons are a bit effortless to obtain, but none of this matters in the long run because for every grievance I had with this game, I had about ten more things to praise about it. I haven’t felt this awakened and amazed playing a video game since Portal 2 back in 2011. I have to give Miyamoto and the rest of those wizards at Nintendo a standing ovation and a tip of the hat for this one. Absolutely magnificent.