My best games of the year

2017 has been a spoil of riches when it comes to the quantity and quality of the video games that have been released this year. I can’t remember such a huge year in recent memory – and certainly not since I started paying very close attention to video games over the last few years.

Not only did we get huge, amazing games, Nintendo also released its new console, the Switch. I have one and I cannot tell you how much I love it. It seems unfathomable to me still that we can have an entire console virtually packed into the size of a tablet and be able to take it on the go. Is the battery life not the greatest? Sure, I’ll give you that. Is the console underpowered when compared to the PS4 and Xbox One? Yes, by quite a bit. However, Nintendo and its third-party partners have found ways to make exceptional games that don’t require all the window dressing of their 4K competitors.

I’ll put it this way: while Sony and Microsoft are slugging it out in the ring, Nintendo is outside the arena selling unofficial merch and racking in the dough.

Microsoft also released an iterative version of the Xbox One, dubbed the Xbox One X. I’ve never owned an Xbox, but I can say that I went into GameStop the day it came out, and everybody who was coming in while I was there was either picking up their pre-order or they were buying the console on the spot. If that’s any indication of how well the system is selling, then good for Microsoft if this new iteration will help them make up some ground with this current generation – a generation that they’ve clearly lost.

Other than a VR controller peripheral and an updated VR headset, there was nothing new for hardware on Sony’s side. They didn’t need new hardware, however, because the PS4 is still the best selling console worldwide and doesn’t seem to be giving up any ground any time soon. They had some big exclusive releases this year, from Horizon: Zero Dawn, Persona 5, and Uncharted: Lost Legacy. As a Sony fan and PS4 owner, there hasn’t been any shortage of games to play.

Now onto my favorite games of the year:

Horizon: Zero Dawn

I haven’t finished this game yet, but it is certainly something special and unique. I was actually most surprised to see that it came from Guerilla, who had only previously made first-person shooters for the Killzone franchise. So to make an open-world RPG about robotic dinosaurs and living post-apocalypse is quite a leap.

They landed that leap with an exceptional game that will be talked about for a long time. I don’t usually care about how photorealistic things can look in video games, but the visuals are spectacular. The details of the human character’s faces and the intricacies of the dinosaurs and other creatures you encounter are amazing to see. The artists for this game did an outstanding job creating a lush, vibrant world to look at.

However, without any substance behind it, the game would just be eye candy, and it is certainly not eye candy alone. The gameplay is superb, with providing different options for tackling each beast that suit to your playstyle – whether you want to be more direct, or more covert by setting traps and bombs and luring the mechs where you want them to go. It feels like the game designers thought of everything.

I can’t say too much about the story because, as I said before, I haven’t finished it yet. But what I have played so far is very engaging and definitely has me interested.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

After dozens of hours into this game, I am still discovering new things in the rich world Nintendo created.

On its way to release, this game was delayed many times, but in the end it was worth the wait. This game is – at all times – stark and barren, yet rich and full of life and wonder. Everywhere you wander seems to have a story to tell and something to discover.

The shrines are like 120 mini-dungeons, each with their own unique challenges and puzzles to solve. In some instances, getting the shrine to reveal itself is the challenge.

This game is so well crafted and created with such care, it’s hard not to fall in love with the game yourself, and I can’t wait to continue to find more of what the creators hid in Hyrule.

Super Mario Odyssey

It still blows my mind that Nintendo released a new Zelda and a new 3D Mario game in the same year.

In almost complete contrast to Zelda’s bleak and sometimes unforgiving world, Odyssey slaps a grin on your face that doesn’t go away even after the final credits roll.

Each power moon you find and earn feels so rewarding, and it urges you to find the next one. Currently, I’m sitting at just over 300 moons, so I still have quite a ways to go. However, I’m very excited to know that I’ve got more things to discover in each kingdom.

Persona 5

This game is perhaps the single most stylish game I have ever played. Right from the beginning, you’re thrown into a super cool heist story that makes you feel like the coolest kid in school.

The game’s menus and UI are even cool to look at, with the ransom note style font and the use of red, white, and black throughout that makes everything pop off the screen.

All of this style would be nothing without some substance, and the game’s many systems sure do provide substance. The battle system is deep yet accessible, combining personas to create new and more powerful ones never gets old, and when you’re not infiltrating palaces, you’re managing the many relationships in your character’s life in order to get stronger and be better at infiltrating palaces! Each system feeds into the other, and it all makes a very fun, complete game.

Well, those are my favorite games of 2017. I know it’s a little late considering we’re already into 2018, but I do what I can. Let me know what your favorite games were. Take care!

 

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