2018 was a solid year for those of us that play video games. Looking back at 2017, however, I didn’t play as many new releases. There were some major releases that I had no interest in, like Black Ops 4, Battlefield V, Fallout 76, and many others, so I didn’t play them. I also spent a good part of the year playing older games, mostly XCOM and XCOM 2.
Most of the games I played this year I enjoyed. When I did enjoyed them I spent a good amount of time playing them. When I didn’t care for them I was done with them as soon as I hit a point of contentment. For those that I just didn’t like at all, their time was short lived in my gaming queue.
Let’s look at the games of 2018…
Missing: Life is Strange 2
The prelude, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit released back in June. Then the first episode of Life is Strange 2 released in September. Having played both of these and enjoying them I would love to put Life is Strange 2 on my GOTY list but I can’t. We don’t even have a release date for the second episode, much less episodes 3, 4, and 5. My hope is that they are polishing these episodes up but my fears are that they are making major changes because of the feedback from the first episode.
Hot Mess – Metal Gear: Survive
Not only a bad Metal Gear game but also a bad survival game. I don’t play many, if any, survival games but this one just felt like there was always one too many mechanics punishing you and not allowing you to have any fun with the game. The fact that it uses the Metal Gear name and assets makes it feel incredulous. Konami seems to want to make money on people’s nostalgia with things like this game and pachinko machines rather than continuing the franchise properly. The most positive thing I can say about this game is that I only wasted $3 dollars renting it rather than buying it at full price.
Dishonorable Mention – Battletech
Having not played a Battletech game for some years, I was happy to see this game come out… that was until I played it. The game play is solid and I even got in to the story somewhat. However, I could not get over the fact of the game’s inability to explain itself. After playing over 12 hours I could not get a grasp on what I was doing or how I was supposed to do it. For example, I would equip my mech with a machine gun but I never got a chance to use it. I know I had equipped ammo but was there something I was missing? Wrong chassis? Wrong power source? Was I too far from the target? Was I too close to the target? I don’t know. If there would have been a tutorial or some other in-game explanation of how everything worked I think I would have not only liked this game better but stuck with it longer.
What A Let Down – Shadow of the Tomb Raider
The problem was not that the game was bad. In fact, I quite enjoyed it. The problem is that it felt like more of the first two games. The graphics were about the same and mechanically the game wasn’t much different than its predecessors. My biggest issue with the game was the story. Lara Croft continues to be a character that it is hard, if not impossible to empathize with. The player is supposed to feel bad that Lara is in such desperate times but when she becomes an all out blazing murderer it is hard to feel bad. With this being the third game of the series, it is even more of a mystery how you still can’t feel bad for Lara and she still isn’t a Tomb Raider.
Too Much, Cowboy – Red Dead Redemption 2
The game is good but suffers under the weight of its own density. I loved the characters and environment. There a number of characters to meet and conversations to be had. At first it was great but then it felt overwhelming. Trying to manage what each of them were saying and where it fell into the world became daunting. When you add in all the inventory, crafting, and health systems, it quickly became a management-sim rather than a cowboy game. What got to me most was all the side missions and how they interrupted the main story. I would be trying to play through the story only to have a side mission come up and I could do nothing but complete it just to try to get back to the task at hand of playing the story. Don’t get me started on the gun play, it’s horrible. The things I liked about the game I really liked, the things I hated I really hated.
Fun with Holes – Donut County
Short. Sweet. Fun as hell. It took only a few hours to play the entire game but I loved every minute of it. I even went back to replay a few of the chapters and chase some of the challenges. The humor was off mark intentionally but always funny and kept me laughing while I played.
Nearly the Best – Marvel’s Spider-Man
This game does whatever a spider can. It looks great, even on an original PS4. It plays great, tons of fun just to swing around. On top of all that the story holds up. I’m not saying it is an all time great story but for a video adaptation of comic it is good. Where Red Dead Redemption 2 drew me relentlessly to side content, this game allowed me to play it when or if I wanted. I found times I would mainline story quests and other times I would go from side quests to side quests but at my discretion, not the game’s.
The Very Best of 2018 – God of War
I said it when I reviewed the game but I’ll say it again, I never thought that a God of War game would even be in a discussion of games in 2018 much less be great. Not only is it great, it’s my top game of 2018. Congratulations!
When this game was first announced I kind of wrote it off. I had played a few of the original games and wasn’t too impressed. The idea of bringing the series back had no appeal to me. However, as various outlets starting showing the game and talking about it I became interested. It looked much different than the previous games and boy is it ever! This game is a continuation of the story line but the environment and game play feel completely new. At first the game felt like the same button-smashy type of game God of War games always were but once I learned a few techniques, like dodging, blocking, and parrying, combat felt completely different. Add to that the depth of story this game hit. The blend of Greek and Norse mythology was not only clever but well composed. By the end of the story not only did I love this game I wanted a sequel.
There you have it, the game I never knew I wanted became the game I loved the best. I will say that it seems as though I missed a lot of games this year(Detroit: Become Human, Far Cry 5, Hitman 2, to name a few) but there aren’t any on this list that I feel compelled to play at this point and I’m comfortable making this list without them. Many others will probably have a different list than mine and I’m fine with that. I’m certain a lot of other people liked Red Dead Redemption 2 better than I did but that’s ok.
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A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.