Game of the Year 2017 Users Choice
What can I say about this year in games for me overall. New experiences seem to be the common theme. In and outside of games. I found myself frequently using the word when putting my thoughts to paper.. sorta.
I look at the titles I've played in 2017; games like The Hunter: Call of the Wild, Solitairica, MXGP2, Resident Evil 7, or Top Gear 2 to name a few and, whether it's a genre I've never tried before, a genre I haven't touched in a long time, or revisiting old titles or genres and substantiating good or bad feelings I formed a long time ago. I don't really regret anything I played this year. Nothing jumps out as a waste of money. Everything feels like it's further refining my tastes, helping me identify what I do and don't like in game design and in turn making less wasteful purchases. Over the years I think I'm able to more easily look at a game--maybe I think it's cool-- but I know if I'm really going to spend the time to play it or enjoy it.
The general consensus seems to be that 2017 has been an incredible year for video games, but looking back there seems to be more new titles on my list last year. A large portion of 2017's biggest games are absent from my write up, not necessarily because I think they are bad, but because I didn't feel the urge to try them. It didn't look like they brought anything new to the table for me. Perhaps I'm just becoming more jaded (something I said last year as well), seeing a certain repetition in gameplay mechanics and styles. But even though it may look like most games are becoming same-y, if you just dig a little deeper into what is out there and open your mind to trying new stuff, you'd be surprised at what you discover that didn't know you liked before.
Let's quickly touch on a few of the missing games here. Nier looks like a title that would be unique in my library. I'm curious to play it but I didn't immediately run out and buy it. I have a feeling once I hear all the story bits on the Giant Bomb GOTY podcasts, I will have zero motivation to play it myself. Destiny 2, as good as I'm sure it looks (I thought the first one had some impressive vistas), from everything I've heard.. is just more of the same. Good if you were into it before. I was not. I wrote my thoughts on Battlegrounds a bit farther down this list. I don't have a Switch so I can't play Super Mario Odyssey, and I don't plan to buy a Switch for one game or any time soon. Maybe I'll look at the latest Call of Duty since I have some interest in the WW2 setting.. then again last years CoD was one of my regretful purchases soo.. maybe I won't. Maybe Need for Speed will be cool? Or.. maybe not. I didn't play Shadow of Mordor and so I don't have any particular interest in Shadow of War. Sonic Mania is another title I wanted to try, and still might, when it's on sale I suppose. I'm not even a fan of Sonic or anything. Cuphead looks amazing but isn't the type of game I'm any good at or enjoy. Assassins Creed: Origins isn't doing anything for me. My crash course on AC: I beat and had fun with the first one, 2 was alright but I didn't beat it, 3 was less alright and played less of it, Black Flag was awesome and I loved it.. and I haven't played one since. None of the locales have interested me.
Hardware tidbits: Mentioned my stance on the Switch before. Xbox One X is coming out. I'd normally jump on this, selling my Xbox One S to put towards it, but I don't have the funds to spare right now. Plus, I almost never use my Xbox anyway (where are the good exclusives?!) so I guess it isn't a big rush. And yes I did pick up a Super Nintendo Classic. Shipped one over from the UK to be specific.
I'm sure I'm forgetting a big pile of games that released in 2017. It's hard to keep track. Enough about what I didn't play and let's get onto what I did.
2017: The Year of the Racing Game?
This year you had new releases with Wipeout Omega Collection, Forza Motorsport 7, Project CARS 2, and Gran Turismo Sport. Don't forget the latest Need For Speed which is due out in November. Pretty much all the heavy hitters. Not only the new stuff though: I went through another retro-gaming phase around the summer here. I did pick up some misc titles (Vagrant Story, Vandal Hearts) but most of what I played was racing.
With the purchase and successful mod of the CRT TV, I began dusting off titles I already had or sought out new ones. Gran Turismo 2 (PS1), Zen-Nippon GT Senshuken (SFC), Test Drive 2: The Duel (Genesis), Super Hang-On (Genesis), Super Monaco GP2 (Genesis) the former. TOCA Touring Car Championship (PS1), Drift King Shutokou Battle '94 (SFC), Super Off-Road: The Baja (SNES), MXGP2, and Assetto Corsa (PC) for the latter. I did pick up Forza Motorsport 7 because of an Amazon Black Friday sale, but I barely played it and I didn't want to anymore. Immediately regretted the purchase but I won't bother complaining about it here. I also played Top Gear 2 (that soundtrack!) to completion on my mini Super Nintendo.
Mind you, I didn't finish most of these by a long shot but, old and new, I touch on most of them below.
The 20" Toshiba 20AF41 RGB Project
I finally, on a whim, picked up a CRT TV. And I only did it because this specific one was what I had back around year 2000 or so, it was a good looking TV in retrospect, was only $20 in great shape, and I was looking to learn how to do an RGB mod on this set. After many hours of research, questions, and fiddling, it was success.
The TV now has a SCART RGB connector on the back of the set (which I tried to make look as original as possible) thus allowing me to just plug in my older consoles directly utilizing the (pricey) RGB cables, but without requiring all sorts of converters or adapters. I'm really glad I took the project on as I was able to learn a bit about CRTs, how to calibrate them, even more electronics, and image signals.
- I should say up front that I am not big into shooters, particularly the run and gun variety. I decided to mix things up a bit though and bought Wolfenstein 2 on a whim after see all the comments about crazy story elements and great moments. I spent the first hour or two fighting this stupid "Blue Screen of Death", which many other people seemed to have, and further cemented my lack of enthusiasm for buying on PC. Yea, a game can look pretty, but with these latest consoles its mighty hard to tell much of a difference. And they usually just work.
Fast forward. I just finished it (on easy because I'm not here to challenge myself) with about 15 hours on the clock, and I'm feeling a little.. blah about it. It has some amazing moments, though they all seem to take place in special story scenes, and I'm usually not actively participating in them, aside from one special section which is definitely my highlight for the game. Unfortunately I can't talk about it without spoiling the whole thing. I'd say it might be the best "Moment in a Video Game" for my 2017 as I'm struggling to think of anything else.
Where it does fall short for me, and sadly where I expected, is in the actual gameplay. Wolfenstein 2 feels super straight forward and plain. A real run & gun. It feels.. unremarkable? There just isn't much for me to say about it. The shooting feels decent but that's about it. The enemy design didn't get bat shit crazy cool like I was hoping. Very little variety. Same could be said for the level locales. A couple areas here and there to mix it up but all I can remember is the same industrial, plain, Nazi base interiors.
While playing Wolfenstein 2, I feel like it made it more apparent to me that I like more.. RPG-ish shooters? More mechanics and nuance to them? Like a Fallout or something. While playing this I always felt like my character was moving too fast. I wanted to move slowly and really stew in the atmosphere. I wanted to explore this Nazi run world, but I was quarantined in these linear, compact, almost multiplayer-esque areas.
For what I got out of this, I think I should've waited til it was $20 or so. Wolfenstein 2 just didn't show me anything new.
: One small piece that I keep forgetting about is the in-game Wolfstone 3D arcade cabinet. I don't think I've ever sat down and played Wolfenstein 3D before, only briefly touching it as a child (I would've been 5 around then), but I was immediately absorbed into this. I played through all 9 floors in a little over an hour and really enjoyed it. I might've even found it more interesting than the main game, mostly because the novelty of the whole situation. This significant, cornerstone PC game of my childhood that I see and hear so much about but never really played myself.
- Not my first Yakuza game purchase (I bought Yakuza 2 on PS2 way back) but the first one I really put some time in. Didn't quite finish it. I think I put maybe 30 hours on the clock, I did enjoy what I did play, but eventually lost interest and moved on to other things. Yakuza is like Japan's Grand Theft Auto except.. it's obviously quite different. There is no humongous state to traverse or stealing cars, instead focusing on a dense section of one or two Japanese cities. It's got a lot of detailed story telling. Lots of dialogue. Feel like I'm watching Infernal Affairs or something. And of course all the quirky Japanese culture stuff that I appreciate. The last couple entries seem to have created a fair amount of interest in the West so perhaps this series is going to get even bigger installments.
Another new, unique experience for me but if I'm being realistic about my gaming habits, I'm not sure I'll get back around to this one.
- This was on last years backlog list and I finally got around to playing through it. I had it in a stack of backlog stuff, I couldn't decide, I gave this list to a girl I was talking to at the time and asked which of them I should play, she picked this, and I beat it during the week that I talked to her almost non-stop. We then hooked up, it was a bit weird, and that's how that ended.
I will now forever associate this game with that experience lol
I don't have much to say about the game now as I finished it maybe 5 months ago. It's so close to looking like a Pixar movie.. to the point that they actually have a movie of this game and it looks the same? I have the movie but never watched it because.. well I heard it's literally just the same story as the game? Not sure why I'd want to see the same thing twice.
Anyway, yea the game is perfectly good if not a bit basic. Great for children I imagine with its straight forward, simple controls and mechanics.
- Messing with my original SNES again. I had bought and beat Drift King Shutokou Battle 2 some years ago. That game triggered something inside me, and motivated me enough to sell my '05 Impreza STI and spent the next 10 months buying, importing, and registering a '90 Nissan Skyline GT-R in the US.
I thought I'd pick this one up as well for my collection and give it a shot. Fun game! I was able to beat it over a couple days. Unlike Shutokou Battle 2, this one definitely felt like a precursor to the later Shutokou Battle/Tokyo Xtreme Racer format of racing against rival characters and progressing up the ladder.
- Haven't played a motocross game in a decade or two. Randomly picked this up for $20 and actually played it daily for some time, progressing through a single season championship. Interesting to see how much and how little these games have evolved. Lots of headroom in the motocross sub-genre for some improved physics and visuals, if there is a team and budget to do so. Otherwise they seem to remain in something of a B-tier category.
- I'm trying! I've started! I just need that little push to get over the simple, low level boring stuff.
: I can't even remember when I started playing this. It's been at least 4-5 months now, probably 6. Tactics Ogre fit nicely into my *ahem* toilet game. I'm coming up on 71 hours on the clock and I'm fairly certain none of that is needless idling. It doesn't seem so crazy when you consider how long the majority of these battles are, especially when you play the "Kill everything that moves and take the clothes of their backs" strategy I do.
: Oh my god I "beat it"! Well, at least I got credits and one of the endings I suppose. Game time came in around 80 hours I believe and you'd think with all that time spent I'd have something substantial to say. Turns out I don't.
I honestly don't know what there is to even talk about. The story was either boring or I mostly ignored it, because I couldn't tell you much about it. Just the parts with the Catiua character, being sooo melodramatic it's irritating. The combat system was good I guess? It's kinda the same as FF Tactics. It's the fun tricks that I really enjoy, for example, how your Archers (or generally ranged attacks) will have a certain radius that it shows you can target in and hit, but depending on your position, elevation, distance, and equipment, you can have the Archer shoot beyond the displayed radius and still hit. Um, music and artwork are good. That's about it really. Tactics Ogre: LUCT could've had no story and I would've enjoyed it just as much. Not sure what all the fan adoration is about though, although I have those same feelings for FF Tactics even though I'd probably feel the reverse if I had played Tactics Ogre prior to FFT. Supposedly there is more to the game post credits; maybe finding more areas or going down different branches of the story, but I have no interest. I'm just happy I finally got around to playing this and actually completing it as well. Scratch it off the back log!
Got back on the Minecraft train for about a week. I figured I'd record a video showing off what I built in that week of play time while discussing my thoughts on where Minecraft is as a game in my mind.. but I never did and I don't think there is any chance this far out.
The main point I wanted to touch on in the video, that isn't specifically about this mod, is just how much farther or simpler Minecraft mods could be if Mojang just made like.. a massive set of base materials and substances, essentially a periodic table of elements. There are so many mods for this game, and half of them have their own version, style, ID, and graphics for Copper for example. It creates weird compatibility issues and gameplay confusion. "Oh, I need this copper from this mod to use in this recipe, but I need this other copper for this other one" and one mod has Copper growing from trees and another has you digging it from the ground, another is from alchemy etc etc. It's a little silly.
In terms of the Immersive Technologies mod itself, I really enjoy these more "realistic" item sets and ideas. You end up learning a little bit about materials and how they're processed. I had fun while I played it, producing steel being the big motivator for me, but once I reached that point I was just like.. okay now what. I can make these huge complicated machines with steel but all they allow is me to do is what I already can, except automate it a bit. They need another key stage beyond that, that I assume would cost a ton of materials, which theoretically would be way more than I'd be willing to make manually and thus suits the idea of automation.
I just didn't play enough of these games to have a complete opinion on them
- Another one that I don't think I spent enough time with to have a real opinion of it. I dug out the Oculus Rift (I had recently packed it awhile while cleaning), fired up the game, and got to it. I essentially went straight into the career, picked a race series, started with the Skyline GT-R Group A car which I was somewhat excited for and went to racing. Right off the bat, the Skyline wasn't up to the quality I was hoping. Something about it just didn't feel right, sound right, or look right. The way it drove kind of lacked character? Unique driving characteristics, if you will. I had downloaded a fan-made version of this car for Project Cars 1 or Assetto Corsa and it felt exactly the same. I expect that sort of quality from Joe Shmo in his basement but not a professional team of artists and audio engineers etc.
Still, VR is kinda crazy and awesome, and I continued playing anyway. I must've done one or two complete races (that involves practice/car setup, qualifying, then the race) before I got distracted by my own real world GTR project car and stopped playing.
I did end up playing PC2 shortly before updating this list, but it was only briefly in a day. I completed a segment of practice, qualifying, and a race. Rather uneventful. Game is still very nice and I would like to play it more, but I'm too busy enjoying GT Sport at the moment.
- Picked this up on release. Wasn't in the mood for an RPG (especially one I've already played a ton of) of this sort and still not feeling it but it's time will come I'm sure. I did start it up and played a bit of the intro up until you exit the city. Vaan and Penelo are already less annoying with their Japanese voices so.. /thumbsup
- Didn't play much of this. Felt good but hard. I feel like I played it a decent chunk of time and then it turns out that was only like the first tutorial section basically. I tried the next area and was just getting destroyed. As someone who completed all the Souls games, and enjoys them, Nioh just feels like a savagely brutal game. I should revisit this but I'm not sure I will. Perhaps the differing art style compared to the Souls series is why it didn't hook me, not that I don't like it.
- Played a few jobs/missions/quests whatever you want to call them in this. Pretty much still just Gearhead Garage. Camera/movement was a little awkward or janky when trying to work on something but whatever. I hardly played this as it seemed kinda bugged and off so it won't hurt to wait and maybe I'll be able to give a more knowledgeable opinion on this at a later date.
New Additions to the Still-Shrink-Wrapped Kingdom
- Still wrapped. Picked this limited run "Limited Run" physical copy up from the site when it went on sale. Never played it before. Don't know anything about it. Looked neat? Heard it was at least decent? I forget I have it.
And I think that's it? Yay! One game. Go me.
..besides all the stuff I already mentioned in years past.
Other Titles I Want to Talk About
- I remember seeing this trailer for Tree of Savior a couple of years ago. I absolutely love this art style (reminds me of Legend of Mana) and the music here is awesome. Every time I watch this it makes me want to play it. Finally got around to trying this F2P MMO, now that it is in English, and messed around in it with the Cleric class. A lot like Ragnarok Online which I liked but Tree of Savior didn't hold my interest for long, primarily because I had no one to play it with, and because of that my solo, social-less time with it wasn't exactly fun.
Lots of unique, weird Job classes here (4 base, growing into 80) and ToS has no fear in creating powerful, varied skills for them to use. The class variety and scope feels akin to something like Final Fantasy Tactics. Unlike other modern MMOs, such as Final Fantasy 14, where they spend so much time, and are so concerned about balance because they want everyone to feel like an important, special snowflake and can't make any of these babies upset, that eventually everything just feels the same and dull. Classes and skills just become re-skins. There is no synergy between them. A Black Mage working alone is the same as a Black Mage working with any other job.
I wish I could explore more of this game.
- I haven't played many (or any) multiplayer shooters since my younger days and Counter-Strike. This game reaffirmed why. Steam says I've put 32 hours into PUBG. I enjoyed elements of it.. and then I die in a flash and its frustrating and dumb. I like everything leading up to the shooting. I find the 30 min loot gathering and build up is tense and exciting.. exploratory. I'm that guy. The one who wants to camp in bushes and buildings, stalking my prey, listening and planning. I want to find that perfect sniping spot and hide, waiting for targets to stroll into my trap. Then *BAM* you die instantly from who knows where. Or some dude runs around a corner, jumping and circle strafing like it's a Quake or Halo game, gunning me down.
I did play one or two rounds of Squad with a friend but that was at the tail end of my interest I think. It was a novel experience and I'd do it again. I also got some entertainment out PUBG from watching DrDisRespect on Twitch play it but that's about it. Did not watch any of the Giant Bomb Murder Island series. (Got the shirt though)
- Here was a random one. Almost forgot about Snake Pass as I didn't play that much of it. Very weird, cool, unique game though. Aesthetically, it looked like something Rare would have done.
I should really play more of this but I think it started to get rather hard.
- Or "All-Japan GT Championship". It's very difficult keeping the car on track at first, as it is impossible to actually see the turns coming, so it takes a lot of practice to essentially memorize the 4 courses and learn to predict the right time to slow down and turn. Isn't that the basic premise of racing in general though? Eventually, I was able to get each course down well enough that I beat all the prior fastest lap records that were in the game carts memory (from it's former Japanese owner I'd guess), and then took another stab at the actual career mode. At first it was nice as I could actually qualify and keep pace with the front of the group, but then quickly realized that it becomes bumper cars and you're all over the place. You could go from first, to last, back up to first in the span of a single lap. So I expect you'd have to run at absolute perfect pace without making any mistakes (even touching the grass for a second screws you way up) for the entire race to maybe get first.
At this point, I still felt satisfied with my progress in the game and packed it away.
- Is this just a Metroidvania Dark Souls? I picked it up on the Steam sale and gave it a shot on two separate occasions. I can't play this game. I want to make it clear that I really enjoy the Souls games, but something about Hollow Knight specifically or the 2D perspective is blocking me. Like I have no patience for it. Is it just my current state of mind or the game itself? I keep dying and it feels lame and unfair. I feel so weak. Hmm thinking about that actually, the Souls games really give you everything you need to beat the game up front, the rest is just gear and some stats, where as Hollow Knight, it seems to have various abilities or actions that you unlock like a traditional Metroidvania game, except I'm just so frustrated by it here. I keep dying over and over and I'm just thinking "Give me a dodge roll or something!" because I feel so helpless. I don't like twitch mechanics. Combat that requires constant, crazy precision movement and timing. The Souls games feel like they give you subtle tells but time to react. This seems like obvious tells but no time to react. Of course, I'm sure I barely scratched the surface, only playing it 2 hours.
I reeeeaaally want to enjoy this game, because I love the look and sound of it, but please give me a massive HP boost cheat or God mode or something. I don't want a challenge right now.
- Nice little end of the year surprise. When a game pops up on my radar and I have no expectations and limited knowledge going in, it has a good chance of leaving a mark on my year. This is one example of that, as I just randomly saw it on the Steam sale for $9 and scooped it up. I had a slight hankering for an RTS/builder sort of game but nothing around to scratch the itch.
Pretty straight forward gameplay here. It isn't groundbreaking but it's simple, fun, and charming. I love the voxel art style. Cute, if generic music. I like a strategy game that's more about building and design and less about micro managing units and build queues. I set up my little town, gradually expanding as resources allow, and occasionally defend against a small (or large) dragon and a horde of angry vikings who've arrived via ships, sometimes with giant ogres.
Neat game. Needs more tiers of construction I suppose, which it sounds like it'll get eventually as the devs are continue to make additions to the game.
- On a driving game streak at the beginning of August I guess. GT2 is probably my favorite of the series. Randomly fired this up as something to play on my new/old Toshiba CRT, and looked at my furthest along save game, and was surprised at how much was still left incomplete. Like seeing easy trophies/achievements on a game you love, I felt compelled to fill out the races and push the Completion % a bit higher.
Still a classic. Since I've been playing various racing games on the SNES, Genesis, Saturn, and PlayStation prior to this, it's easy to see how ground breaking GT was for the time. It strikes just the right balance of realism and forgiving gameplay, IMO.
I think it'd be great if they somehow made an HD/upscaled version of GT2, in addition to streamlining the menu system. And yes I am aware of the Bleemcast disc, own it, and played it a fair amount back when it was released.
- I just can't help myself when it comes to talking about this game. It's not all good and it's not all bad. I thought I'd just plop down this small section to link to various lengthy posts I've made about it.
The "Early Impressions" thread where I touch on my thoughts a couple times over the first few days of playing it.
The "What's so crazy about a racing game, featured around racing?" thread where I wrote too much stuff. Basically talking about how the Giant Bomb guys perceive GT Sport in the Quick Look and whether or not this is really out-of-left-field as they think it is. Almost feel like I high jacked the thread.
There are a couple posts I made on the GT Sport Quick Look itself but I can't link those directly. This was pretty much just me pointing out how the GB dudes aren't into this sort of thing so no one should be surprised by their reaction, and responding to another members' comment on how he really enjoys online competitive racing over the single player stuff against AI. Seeing that opinion contrasting against all the nay-Sayers was nice.
I've also uploaded a handful of races from the past week on my YouTube channel. These are generally a good example of what you can hope to see from the online racing in GT Sport, once you get yourself out of the E/D/C grade slum-tier driving you start off in. Bad people just maliciously crash around for shits and giggles down there attempting to ruin a persons' day.
Finally, I went as far as putting together this whole video/replay edit with some commentary because I was curious how it would work and look. Had some ideas and experimented with Premiere Pro. I have no formal training so I have to just wing this stuff.
My Biggest Disappointment of 2017
Breath of the Wild is probably my biggest disappoint this year. Not necessarily because I had high expectations going in on this game in particular, but because I'm comparing it to the various Zelda titles I've played in the past.
It was kinda neat but also not really the type of gameplay I want out of a Zelda. I didn't realize there was a certain structure I want from these titles until I played this. There are plenty of other open world exploration games out there, but there aren't many well crafted, more cohesive adventure games with polished puzzle dungeons and combat. I miss the standard Zelda items and progression. Thinking about it now, when The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds released on 3DS and there were discussions around the different item progression in that, how they kinda just give you everything up front, and many people seemed to enjoy it, all I could think is.. Why would anyone want that? Where's the fun? It would be like a Metroid abili-tease except they never take your powers away.
Then there's the whole hardware issue: I played it on Wii-U and the performance in some spots was sort of.. unacceptable? I'd at least think so in the eyes of Nintendo. It sounds like the Switch was a little better but still not perfect. Either system though, it still comes down to my frustration with Nintendo not producing a console with specs at least on par with its competitors. The whole time I was playing it I couldn't help but imagine how much more incredible this game, this world, could look and feel if it was on the PS4 (let alone the Pro). This feeling was exacerbated having just platinum'd Horizon: Zero Dawn the same day and going straight into Zelda. A key visual component of open world games is load/view distance and BotW would've massively benefited from this. And of course just sheer resolution. So many jaggies on what is such clean, bold art design. It was frustrating to look at the simplicity of Zelda's art and visuals here, compare that to the scope, complexity, textures, animations, sound etc plus the resolution and rendering distance of Horizon, and it's clear how much it comes down to hardware limitations.
I was able to complete the four "dungeons" (if you can call them that, they felt more like mini-games to me) in this but I was just so bored at this point that I put it down and moved on. Will I ever finish it? I don't know. Don't see a real reason to and the general opinion seems to be that the end and last boss stuff is throw away so.. yea. Something I haven't even touched on.. How about that epic Zelda story huh? Couple short, bad cut scenes hidden around the world? Just greaaaaaat.
Or the Master Sword: In BotW it's one of the best moments in the Zelda series, but all the excitement is instantly sucked out by the fact that you can't really use it. It's intended only for boss fights, so it falls victim to the stupid weapon durability system.
The stake through BotW's heart though? I actually enjoyed Skyward Sword for the most part and finished it.. Gives you an idea where BotW is at.. Mwuahahaha! /evilmaniacallaugh