Ranking of Game Finished 2018
First, let's get the sports/misc. out of the way
Guitar Hero II
Madden NFL 18
WCW vs. The World
UFC 2009: Undisputed
Fight Night: Champion
ESPN NFL 2K5
NCAA Football 14
Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit
I cannot believe how much less I like Guitar Hero after a decade and some change. Perhaps the 360 version is where my love lies, but the PS2 guitar just felt terrible in my hands. Madden continues to baffle me with a lack of depth and player control, and I can no longer trust EA to put a solid NFL product in my hands. WCW vs the World has aged terribly, but there's a crunch to the moves and a joy and simplicity to the matches that current 2K products struggle to implement. UFC 3 represents the stand-up of MMA well, but the ground and grappling aspects are absolutely atrocious. Meanwhile, the Undisputed game from 2009 did a few things better mechanically, and a few things better with the campaign. Is there any game that needs a sequel more than Fight Night? Champion feels sloppy at times, but the story is entertaining and the boxing can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. And finally, my two favorite football games-- 2K5 continues to feel like the most polished user experience, while NCAA 14 reminds me that there's nothing quite as exhilarating as recruiting a small school to a be a giant killer. Captain Spirit was a cool set-up for another Life is Strange game, and I can totally get behind the idea of more playable teasers.
From here, it's WORST TO FIRST
38. Altered Beast (Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection)
37. Comix Zone (Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection)
36. Town of Light
35. Fighting Force
34. Need for Speed II
I played a few beat-em-ups this year, and it's been a bit of a surprise to me how long this genre managed to stay relevant with how unfriendly it is to the gamer. I had to cheat my way through almost all of them. Altered Beast and Comix Zone are both big time offenders on the scale of "feels like an antiquated quarter-munching arcade cabinet". Altered Beast is iconic IMO, but it plays like dog shit. Comix Zone on the other hand, fails to grasp that it's not very fun to fight 6 spammy sponges in a row, especially when the hit detection is weighted so heavily in the favor of the A.I.. Town of Light is a boring Gone Home clone. It doesn't do anything particularly wrong, it's just SO unmemorable and boring. Fighting Force has some of the worst A.I. I've ever experienced. Waves and waves of overpowered, stun-locking enemies made me pull at my hair, even with an unwavering health bar. Need For Speed II is a classic case of a nostalgia flame that I can no longer rekindle.
33. Mortal Kombat
31. Streets of Rage (Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection)
30. Duke Nukem: Forever
29. The Thing
Fighters were once my thing, but I struggle with them in my old age. Mortal Kombat is the most basic game I've ever played (sans the clones that are even worse). It's wild to see where all this series traveled from SNES in 1992, to PS4 in 2015. 23 years? Absolutely terrifying realization. X-Men is honestly no better than the 3 games below it, but the Genesis sound effects and music are sick. It suffers from the same faults of cheap A.I. (P.S.- that Mojo reset moment is a pretty awful oversight). Streets of Rage is much better in a world where it ditches the boss waves. Duke Nukem is less of a failure if it releases in the early 2000s, and although the humor is fucking terrible, the game is far less terrible than I expected. Very surprised to see The Thing picking up steam as a survival horror hidden gem. It plays fine most of the time (some infuriating moments), executes on some decent tension building, but the foundation and promises it's built upon don't have any consistency to them. Trust and companionship get tossed aside for plot progression and weak scare tactics.
28. Bushido Blade
27. Among the Sleep
26. Uncharted: Drakes Fortune (The Nathan Drake Collection)
25. Stanley Parable
24. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
Bushido Blade is a weird one. There's no other game quite like it. Winning and losing have never walked such a narrow tight rope. The only complaint I have is how frustrating it is to finish against a OHKO opponent, wielding A FUCKING GUN. I thought Shao Kahn was bad. Not like this. Among the Sleep is a neat little "explore and hide" adventure. Nothing else to say really. Drake's Fortune started rocky for me. Comparable to the first season of Parks & Recreation. Stanley Parable is probably something I should revisit. Looking up the web of possibilities, I do believe I missed a lot of content. Love the narration. Majoras's Mask was fun once I figured it out, but man it seemed like that game was laughing at how annoyed I was with its systems. And there sure were a lot of really bad scenarios too (hello fucking Goron platforming).
23. Night in the Woods
22. Soul Calibur II
21. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (The Nathan Drake Collection)
20. Spec Ops: The Line
19. Streets of Rage 2 (Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection)
Night in the Woods good moments outweigh its mundane (regardless of intent) gameplay. Nothing but running to the left made it a pretty difficult experience for me, especially feeling obligated to check the same places ad nauseam for new things to do and being rewarded with nothing. It made checking the next time more exhausting. Soul Calibur II is still one of the most crisp, balanced fighters I've played. Almost every character is fun to use. Drake's Deception unnecessarily changes some mechanics that were already great in Among Thieves, and dials the combat up to 11 making it even more of a nuisance. Spec Ops wasn't the mind-bending Third-Person Shooter I expected, but still managed to be mostly unique with how it handled the story-telling. The combat however, has much room for improvement. Streets of Rage 2 improves on everything from the original Streets of Rage, but feels like more of a Redux than a new game.
17. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
16. Sid Meier's Civilization: Revolution
14. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (The Nathan Drake Collection)
Not quite the masterpiece Shadow Complex is, Deadlight snuck up on me as a surprisingly good action-platformer. Wind Waker is a replay for me, and I liked it less in 2018 than I did 10+ years ago. The stealth genuinely pissed me off, and the Tingle finale made me take a week-long break. Everything in between was great. Civ: Rev would be near-perfect if it wasn't so brief. I somehow always manage to win before I get to do everything I want. Psychonauts had some pretty rough patches towards the end, but I enjoyed a few segments enough to make this a memorable game (collectibles were a little overboard). Among Thieves is the second best Uncharted. They nailed the set pieces and combat, but I still found the combat/exploration balance a little off.
13. Doki Doki Literature Club
12. Eternal Sonata
11. Mortal Kombat XL
Doki Doki was awesome. I think it had the effect on me that Undertale did on many other gamers. I absolutely felt like I was communicating and attaching myself to the girls. Eternal Sonata has some character issues, like how they're all terribly on the nose. 16 year old boys talking like 40 year old playboys is truly off-putting, and how literal the characters communicate is extremely cringe-worthy. The combat is an absolute blast, thankfully, and may actually do the Tales style better than Tales. I just finished Mortal Kombat XL, and this is only slightly edged out by the 2011 Mortal Kombat. I find that X is a little TOO complex. I played through the story in a couple sittings, and found myself quite enamored with some of the new characters (D'vorah, Jackie Briggs, Takeda, Ferra Torr, Erron Black). The story and towers still have the same random difficulty spikes and dips I hated about the original game, but the visual representation of pain, and the smoothness of controls are top-notch. Still not sure how I feel about dial-a-combo. Split/Second has some of the most frustrating and obvious rubber-banding since Super Mario Kart, but holy hell what a ride. Is this the Dark Souls of racing? Outlast was the most my palms sweated all year. A terrifying play through with headphones.
8. Until Dawn
7. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
5. Monster Rancher 2
4. Detroit: Become Human
I was a huge fan of my PS4 this year. The more interactive-cinema games seemed to connect with me. Until Dawn was the most pop-corn ass game of the year. A Thief's End told a story I was invested in, while adding enough new mechanically to renew what could've been a fatigued 4th game in the series (although the CQC is far worse). Firewatch made me feel some type of way that I have yet to come to terms with. A very real experience, with an ending that doesn't answer the questions I needed answers to to achieve complete satisfaction (ain't that life). Monster Rancher 2 is a replay to completion, whereas I could never wrap my tweener brain around what I needed to do to finish all the Cups. The attachment to creatures ripped from some of my favorite video games was authentic, and the rivalries I built with A.I. monsters irrefutable. I know Detroit has its detractors, but I get something out of Cage games that I can't find anywhere else. Regardless of the dudes intentions with his narrative, I have adored every release since the bona fide acid trip that was Indigo Prophecy.
3. Marvel's Spider-Man
2. Resident Evil (Origins Collection)
1. Red Dead Redemption 2
And here we have it. One of my all time favorite games sandwiched between two Triple-A blockbusters. Spider-Man and Red Dead both have their downfalls (repetition being the primary culprit of eye-rolling) but both achieved an unprecedented height of feels. Insomniac crushed the basic gameplay loop, knocked it straight out of the park, but forgot to add any variety. By the end, I was fucking criminals up. But that's basically all there was to do. Climbing to the top of towers and diving towards the street, swinging to safety before splatting on the pavement is the type of thing that there should have been more of. Dodging lightning while aligning satellites. Figuring out how to take down an invulnerable thug and his bath salt cronies. Not drone chasing. Not clearing criminal bases. Marvel has SO many characters. Use them! Red Dead 2 told a masterful story (although Arthur and crew dealt with more bullshit and lying than I found believable), but Spider-Man also showed that Insomniac has some writing chops. My issues with Red Dead revolve (hehe) around arbitrary restrictions in favor of "realism". Fuck off. It's a video game. Don't make me hate your systems! The big offenders were restricted fast travel, not so random "random events" that labeled me a bad guy for avoiding them for the 17th time, and a complete lack of consistency with the weapon wheel and inventory. The moment to moment interactions made story developments connect with me, and my extreme distaste for certain characters felt like my own, and not because Rockstar decided to push them as villains (although the emotions flowing through me when things took certain turns were literally raising my blood pressure). The payoff to this story and all of the gunfights and treachery along the way was nothing short of euphoric.