Best Games of 2018

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Best Games of 2018

Postby KleinerKiller » Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:50 pm

After the exceptional gaming year that was 2017, which had numerous masterful games that told their stories and implemented their game mechanics in entirely unique ways, it's kind of disappointing to me to see this year dominated by a few mostly cinematic games being hailed as "genre-defining" and "the best of the generation". But you know what, there were still some goodies.

Honorable Mentions: Shadow of the Colossus PS4 remake, Yakuza Kiwami 2, God of War (wasn't as taken with it as everyone else, outside of the terrific hype of the first boss fight and the mid-game equipment twist), Vampyr (incredible highs in the vein of classic Western RPGs like KOTOR and Vampire: The Masquerade, marred by unbelievable lows)

Oh, also I got Dark Souls Remastered this year after years of skepticism fading into interest. It's awesome, but it's just a remaster of an older game and doesn't even have Shadow of the Colossus's graphical overhaul and minor mechanical / UI improvements, so it doesn't really count for me.

I also want to recognize Return of the Obra Dinn even though I have no capacity to play it for myself yet, just 'cause it's fucking cool.

5. A Way Out

A Way Out can be a little clunky, a little janky, and a little ridiculous. The story is fairly outlandish, and the voice acting is most often cheesy as hell. But if you get a friend online to play it (and only one of you needs to have the game to do so), it's an incredible experience. Carefully cooperating to complete puzzles and stealth sequences in order to escape from prison, evade the cops, and get revenge on the crime lord who wronged you both is a fantastic journey, whether you're just taking time to play various side games with your buddy or deliberating over which character's plan to go with. Everything winds up and up from the prison break to a marvelous hospital sequence to an explosive jungle raid, eventually leading to a suitably epic and emotional conclusion befitting the devs who brought us the notoriously sad Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. It's genuinely one of the best multiplayer experiences I've ever seen.

4. Hitman 2

I got into the 2016 Hitman too late, but I was just in time for its long-awaited continuation, and as much as some may complain about it being functionally the same game with more levels and some gameplay upgrades, I'm having a blast with it. Navigating the dauntingly huge and dense levels in search of the best possible way to take out your target unnoticed, even when that seems like an impossible task, is more thrilling than ever -- the racetrack level in particular is so sprawling and complex that even after multiple wildly different replays, I'm still not convinced I've seen the majority of it. The story's messy and weirdly told and doesn't quite live up to the promise of the first part, but who cares? Murder!

3. Spider-Man

All right, I'm a big hypocrite in regards to my opening statement. Spider-Man is at its core a mostly cinematic "map game" the likes of which I've played dozens of times before, and a huge part of the reason I love it is its surprisingly nuanced story and characters (especially the slow, tragic development of the main villain). All the same, the web swinging is mechanical perfection to a level where I'd recommend it even if its plot were completely barebones; just whipping around the city at lightning speed, swinging low over crowds and bouncing off rooftops stays exhilarating from the first jump to the final fight. These key ways Spidey feels to control and how doing so slowly slips you into the character's mindset are enough to make up for the mostly lackluster boss fights and tedious street crimes, and with how much cool shit the game teases for its sequel, I'll be there on day one.

Shame the DLC trilogy kind of sucks, though.

2. Deltarune: Chapter 1

The only reason this isn't my GOTY is that it's technically not a complete game, even though it delivers a very satisfying standalone experience. The long-anticipated sequel / prequel / ambiguous side-universe thing to Undertale, Deltarune's first chapter dropped without warning on Halloween and blew me away. Over the course of its roughly 3-4 hours, this little prologue for the full game told a nearly complete story that nevertheless opens up exciting windows for the future, introduced a new cast of lovable characters, took its predecessor's battle system to its next logical evolution, and generally proved Toby Fox wasn't a one-trick pony. It's a rare piece of media that can make me feel intense nostalgia, dread, joy, and confusion in equal measure, and if/when the full game ever comes out, it'll take a strong contender to beat it out for my GOTY.

1. The Missing: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories]

The Missing is an LGBT-positive atmospheric puzzle platformer in the vein of Limbo or Inside, made by the infamously weird cult classic creator Swery (of Deadly Premonition and D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die "fame"), where the central game mechanic requires you to painfully dismember yourself to solve problems on the way to completing a dark, metaphor-filled emotional rollercoaster of a story. Yes, I had difficulty believing it even existed, too. But it's real, and that description's accurate, and it's absolutely gorgeous, and I'd recommend it to anyone. I will say nothing more, because it's one of those things you just have to see for yourself.

And because positivity is boring...

Worst Game: Fallout 76

This year's been so long and arduous that I genuinely forgot things like Metal Gear Survive, Radical Heights, and Agony didn't come out in 2017. But even for how unplayably garbage those games were, how could I give this title to anything other than Fallout 76? Sure, you may be able to make your own fun in it on the rare occasion when it works, but beyond all of the well documented crippling gameplay flaws, inexcusably common game-breaking glitches, and ceaseless shitstorm of ludicrous controversies and mismanagement from Bethesda, FO76 is the worst game of the year because of what it represents. It is the death knell of a once-beloved franchise, the curbstomp that followed Fallout 4's crippling knee to the crotch (luckily, the original Fallout devs seem to be recapturing the magic with The Outer Worlds). It is a window into the culture of corruption, laziness, and willful incompetence that seems to permeate Bethesda Game Studios these days (Bethesda Softworks, the publisher side, is still great though). And it's a mirror held up to the state of the triple-A games industry, the state where releasing something so atrocious, so clearly unfinished, and subsequently having possibly the worst PR nightmare in gaming history (entirely as a result of disrespecting and disregarding consumers at literally every turn) was even allowed to happen in the first place.

TL;DR: Fuck Fallout 76. Everyone who hated it from the announcement was right.
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Re: Best Games of 2018

Postby gisambards » Wed Jan 02, 2019 1:19 am

5. God of War
Whilst the story wasn't amazing and felt often pretty derivative, and it did ultimately start to feel a bit repetitive, God of War was really solid and had some amazing visuals too.
4. Hitman 2
I'm a big fan of the Hitman series, and Hitman 2016 really lived up to those standards. Hitman 2 could be criticised for the sheer extent to which it really is just more of the same (whilst I do much prefer it when sequels don't make unnecessary changes to the formula for the sake of being different, Hitman 2 makes so few changes that one does rather question why it couldn't just be an expansion pack for the first one - although on the other side, here in the UK at least it actually wasn't being sold for the price of a full game, which does make up for that), but it maintains the high standard of its predecessor and all of the new levels are fun.
3. Assassin's Creed Odyssey
I'm surprised by how much I'm enjoying Odyssey. I actually liked how the Assassin's Creed games used to be, so I was initially quite frustrated by just how different they are now, but after I started trying to treat Odyssey like its own thing I was taken with it pretty quickly, and I think it's a solid ARPG. Also, I am actually intrigued by the story even in spite of very wooden dialogue and generally poor voice acting, which means it must be doing something right in that department too.
2. Far Cry 5
Since Far Cry 3, the Far Cry series has probably been the best argument for applying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" to video game sequels. Far Cry 5 is gameplay-wise very much just more of the same, but that same is still really enjoyable and is transposed to a very interesting setting. A lot of the supporting characters are pretty annoying and the story is fairly simple, but the Seed family are some of the best villains I've seen. Also, they actually wrote some hymns based around the cult in the game that you can hear at various points that are surprisingly good.
For example, "Help Me Faith", which is the theme for Faith Seed, who is by far the best of the game's four villains:

1. Red Dead Redemption II
Red Dead 2 has some gameplay issues, and the survival elements are invariably more annoying than immersive. But it's still a really enjoyable game to play overall, and further I think it's really up there with The Last of Us in terms of demonstrating that a video game that is still very gameplay-focused can be a medium for telling a great story.
Red Dead 2 and Infinity War have both made me very happy this year, because it's nice to have massively-hyped things that actually live up to the hype for once.

Worst: Just Cause 4
Just Cause 4 makes Assassin's Creed Unity look good. The graphics are actually worse than Just Cause 3, the glitches and numerous bizarre and unnecessary changes make the game unbearable to play, and they tried to make it more story-focused but there's barely a story. At least for Fallout 76 (although that was also a reprehensible disaster) Bethesda have the slight excuse that they were (inadvisedly) trying a genre that they weren't used to. But I don't understand how it's even really possible to make a game so similar to and yet so massively worse than its predecessors.
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Re: Best Games of 2018

Postby Deathclaw_Puncher » Wed Jan 02, 2019 2:05 am

I only got to play Far Cry 5, 76, and the Life is Strange releases this year. I purchased Red Dead Redemption 2 but I'm working on the Mass Effect Trilogy at the moment because of Nash Bozard's game stream on twitch.

Far Cry 5 was pretty fun. The scenery is gorgeous, the peggies are fun to stab in the head with throwing knives, and Boomer is a very good boy.

Life is Strange: Farewell, The Amazing Adventures of Captain Spirit, and Life is Strange 2 episode 1 were something else. Farewell ended the story of Max and Chloe where their troubles all began and was a real tearjerker, with Ashly Burch and Hannah Telle reprising their roles. Captain Spirit had a good climax but I find kid logic as a narrative in media to be annoying, which I felt bad about because of some stuff that happens later in the preview. LIS 2 is certainly off to a good start. The drama is heart wrenching, Lyla and Daniel are adorable, and you'll never look at $50 the same way again. Even using the walking mechanic can be overwhelming because you're constantly looking out for Daniel. The only real downside is that the protagonist Sean is a furry. A lot of people seem to be taking issue with how over the top racist some characters were, but considering the game centers around two Mexican-American brothers on the run in 2016 America and that people have proven that they can be cartoon caricatures of racists in real life what with all those 911 calls complaining that non-white people exist in public and those same people tend to believe in Q, I'd say it's justified. Seriously, what were they expecting? Sean Diaz to be some token Trump supporter who volunteers to be deported?

And Fallout 76 wasn't all bad. It had a damn good in-game radio.
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Re: Best Games of 2018

Postby Anglerphobe » Thu Jan 03, 2019 10:23 pm

I really liked God of War. The story was, admittedly, lacking in intrigue with its listlessness and shallow depth, but I will not betray the enormous fun I had playing this game. The action in God of War was by far the most enjoyable gameplay I have experienced this year. It's dynamic and varied, with great controls and fantastic visuals. This was a rare game in which I didn't find the "beat up lots of these enemies" challenges tedious, which is saying a lot because I usually despise that sort of thing. Even beyond the excellent combat, the gameplay shone. The puzzles were, on the whole, really well done. Everything felt fair, with the mechanics introduced clearly while avoiding bashing you over the head, and the rewards were worthwhile.
Visually, the game was really excellent. The spectacle and atmosphere of its different realms was wonderfully realised, aided by a kind of underrated score. In terms of visual and atmospheric variety and quality, I think it's in the running for the best looking game of all time.
The (massive inverted commas) "No loading screens!" gimmick was less important than advertised but actually better than I expected it to be. All in all the experience of travelling around the world of God of War was always enjoyable and interesting. This game is superb at avoiding tedium, better than any other game I have played this year. Even when the gameplay is not interesting (say, when you're rowing around on the lake) there is interesting exploration (or potential future exploration) drawn from the game's wealth of optional areas to distract you. I wasted huge amounts of time not advancing the main story because of these.
The area where God of War fails is its writing. I will not contest Gisambards' assessment of its main story, and I will add that generally the voice performances left something to be desired. This is a spoiler free post, but know that I (someone who knows his Norse mythology and has played quite a lot of fantasy games) guessed most of the game's "big reveal" moments well in advance. No fewer than three end of story reveals that I got halfway through the first act. I'm not sure whether it was intentional Easter Egg type hinting to those players who would get it, or just unimaginative storytelling. Kratos languished out of his own context of characters, lacking much in the way of convincing and/or compelling motivations beyond his relationship with his son. That was something of a saving grace for the game's story, providing the only really interesting characterisation and drama.
God of War is my GOTY for being relentlessly enjoyable to play. It's not high up my all time game list, but it was my favourite for 2018.

Red Dead Redemption 2 was a runner up, being a grand and spectacular experience itself, but its gameplay was far inferior. Rockstar has really never excelled in keeping me interested in jumping through its hoops, and RDR2 felt very similar to GTA:V in that sense. Travel to waypoint, listening to some dialogue, follow some instructions, engage in whack-a-mole cover shootout, et cetera. I think I stopped giving a shit about the bizarrely numerous and mostly indistinguishable flunkies of the different enemy gangs somewhere in the early chapters, and I was not surprised to still be playing very similar encounters literal weeks later as the plot steadily progressed.
The game's survival and "camp happiness" elements were, frankly, poorly conceived and even more poorly executed. The game's immense length managed to reduce their effect of stalling the story to some degree, but I could never escape the feeling that I was playing two completely different games, inelegantly blundering into each other at various junctures. It's hard to feel different when I'm obliged to go out and pick oregano to garnish my chunks of mouldering squirrel meat on the roadside on the way to my 75th gunfight the same enemy gang (whose recruitment drive must be the best PR campaign in the entire wild west). That will heal my gunshot wounds better, unless I received them in an unavoidable cutscene at the whim of the plot. Then bullets do completely different damage for no reason better than drama. This irritated me a bit the first time, but Rockstar went back to this particular well incessantly. No main character is vulnerable to gunfire unless the bullet hits them in a cutscene. Obviously it would be annoying to have important people die in ordinary firefights but the "character Arthur values suddenly loses his/her invulnerability to gunfire" trick is played an insultingly high number of times.
That, in fact, ties in to my only really large complaint about this game. I can abide wasting my free time roasting venison over a fire or picking flowers. I'm down for shooting 600 faceless O'Driscolls over the course of innumerable and nigh-indistinguishable firefights. I'm even okay with every chapter ending with exactly the same plot device rehashed in increasingly melodramatic ways. This game's positive elements easily outweigh all of that.
What I can't get behind, though, is being made to play a movie. An often mediocre movie. The fact that various characters can only be harmed by bullets in cutscenes is one iteration of this tendency for the writers to place their storytelling over your gameplay. At one point, you are put in a fight which you essentially just watch, because your opponent has an (unprecedented and presumably magical) ability to neutralise all of the game's clunky shootout mechanics, leaving you unable to actually attack him until this pseudo-cutscene becomes an actual cutscene in which that superhuman ability vanishes and the character is killed like any other. These are examples of a very pervasive aspect of RDR2's gameplay. The player is very much "along for the ride" in even minor set pieces. It is sometimes done elegantly, but all too often it feels enormously heavy handed to effectively force me into acting out the cutscene the writers had planned, damning ingenuity and inventive gameplay. Rockstar has form for doing this. I really hate it. If the pseudo-cutscene is good enough to justify it, which it rarely is, I can accept and even enjoy it. If I'm made to chase some giggling, uncatchable little fuck through a scripted "comedy chase scene" because my agency over the main character was taken right as he does something stupid and careless, and because the game contorts itself to trap me in this encounter by denying me the use of my equipment or my horse or any in-game mechanics, I cannot.
I really hope the enormous success of this game leads developers to seek inspiration from its many wonderful aspects and not from stuff like this. RDR2 was a great experience, plagued with minor irritation which became exhausting across its enormous length.

Honourable mentions:

The No Man's Sky award for wasted potential and the fucking over of crowdfunding backers: We Happy Few

I will start by saying We Happy Few is not a bad game. It is a flawed game with some really good elements and resources. The concept, writing, acting, and setting are great. All of this is sadly ruined by horrible execution. WHF would have been amazing a polished linear/semilinear Assassin's Creed or Dishonored style stealth game. Its pill mechanic is interesting, and the way it subverts a lot of standard rpg tropes makes for surprisingly engaging gameplay. Unfortunately, it is an open world game. More unfortunately, it is an incredibly buggy open world game, with mechanics that were not polished for the experience the game ended up being. It ends up a gimmicky, poorly paced, seemingly unfinished mess. There is a chance WHF can be saved by patches, but I'm not holding my breath.

Tedious, pretentious turd of the year award:

Nominees:

Detroit: Become Human About an hour of interesting and engaging content padded out by huge quantities of mediocrity. Of the game's three plot arcs, two meander along aimlessly with flat characterisation, derivative storytelling, and not one second of interesting gameplay for the first several hours. The other is more interesting but largely rehashes "androids and humans: together they fight crime" as done far better by previous works, though it does have some genuinely engaging characterisation and moments. One of the other two arcs picks up, becoming suspenseful and poignant, before nosediving again, while the third remains terrible beginning to end. This is the title meant to tout games as a great storytelling medium, featuring little to no actual gameplay and a mostly forgettable story infested with cliche and wooden dialogue. This game says nothing and does nothing for the entirety of its length. It does look pretty though.

The Quiet Man I'm not even going to do more nominees. This is your winner. Good fucking god this game is awful. The protagonist is deaf, and as a result all sounds in the game are represented by weird distorted synthy stuff. There are no subtitles. Not even for the sign language the protagonist seems to understand. Not even for his own dialogue!This wouldn't be a problem if the game had been written with more care, to allow gameplay, imagery and contextual clues to supersede dialogue as a means of exposition. That, however, is very much not the case. The Quiet Man is a three hour game consisting of just under 45 minutes of actual gameplay and all of the remaining time in live action or in-engine cutscenes. Incomprehensible cutscenes. Cutscenes which rely and focus on spoken dialogue which we cannot hear in order to explain an incredibly, woefully, comically nonsensical plot.
The visual storytelling manages to be both insultingly heavy handed and entirely incomprehensible, in part due to some of the worst cinematography I have seen in a game in recent memory. A patch adding the cut dialogue threw terrible, scenery chewing acting into the shit stew that is this game. It did little to clarify much of the confusing and bizarre plot.
On the rare occasion that you do get to experience it, the gameplay is appalling. This game is an old fashioned beat 'em up - and only an old fashioned beat 'em up, there are no other gameplay elements - relying on a system of fighting animations that is woefully incomplete. It is nowhere near adequate to provide more than a few smooth transitions from one move to the next, resulting in fights that look like the very worst terribly edited jump-cut B-movie action. The protagonist stutters and zips around the room, existing simultaneously in different locations like an electron. He throws a punch into thin air, teleporting his fist onto the chin of a randomly selected baddy on an unfortunate and simultaneous teleportation directly into its path. This can happen if the character throws a jab into mid air above a guy lying spread-eagle on the floor while facing away from him. Protag flips around like his polarity has been instantly reversed, and the floored bad guy flashes to a fully upright posture in order to take the punch square on his jaw, at which he flops back to his previous position. Using the slow motion finishing move mode allows you to experience this through the lens of nauseating camera angles, the screen pinging around spasmodically as rubber character models flail between the path of each other's punches and kicks and the cold, hard floor. If this description makes the gameplay in The Quiet Man sound entertainingly ridiculous, do not be fooled. It is sort of funny for a few seconds, before becoming frustrating and, eventually, misery-inspiring.
What really cinches the TPTOTY award for The Quiet Man is the extreme pretentiousness with which it presents its awful story, pacing and gameplay. This is one of those titles which revels in its deliberately obtuse, convoluted, contrived mess of a plot, and it does so on account of its hero having a disability and some amount of the incomprehensibility it so prides itself on owing to the representation of that. Do not, under any circumstances, play this game. TPTOTY and WGOTY by several lengths: The Quiet Man.
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Re: Best Games of 2018

Postby Doodle Dee. Snickers » Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:55 am

gisambards wrote:5. God of War
Whilst the story wasn't amazing and felt often pretty derivative, and it did ultimately start to feel a bit repetitive, God of War was really solid and had some amazing visuals too.
4. Hitman 2
I'm a big fan of the Hitman series, and Hitman 2016 really lived up to those standards. Hitman 2 could be criticised for the sheer extent to which it really is just more of the same (whilst I do much prefer it when sequels don't make unnecessary changes to the formula for the sake of being different, Hitman 2 makes so few changes that one does rather question why it couldn't just be an expansion pack for the first one - although on the other side, here in the UK at least it actually wasn't being sold for the price of a full game, which does make up for that), but it maintains the high standard of its predecessor and all of the new levels are fun.
3. Assassin's Creed Odyssey
I'm surprised by how much I'm enjoying Odyssey. I actually liked how the Assassin's Creed games used to be, so I was initially quite frustrated by just how different they are now, but after I started trying to treat Odyssey like its own thing I was taken with it pretty quickly, and I think it's a solid ARPG. Also, I am actually intrigued by the story even in spite of very wooden dialogue and generally poor voice acting, which means it must be doing something right in that department too.
2. Far Cry 5
Since Far Cry 3, the Far Cry series has probably been the best argument for applying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" to video game sequels. Far Cry 5 is gameplay-wise very much just more of the same, but that same is still really enjoyable and is transposed to a very interesting setting. A lot of the supporting characters are pretty annoying and the story is fairly simple, but the Seed family are some of the best villains I've seen. Also, they actually wrote some hymns based around the cult in the game that you can hear at various points that are surprisingly good.
For example, "Help Me Faith", which is the theme for Faith Seed, who is by far the best of the game's four villains:

1. Red Dead Redemption II
Red Dead 2 has some gameplay issues, and the survival elements are invariably more annoying than immersive. But it's still a really enjoyable game to play overall, and further I think it's really up there with The Last of Us in terms of demonstrating that a video game that is still very gameplay-focused can be a medium for telling a great story.
Red Dead 2 and Infinity War have both made me very happy this year, because it's nice to have massively-hyped things that actually live up to the hype for once.

Worst: Just Cause 4
Just Cause 4 makes Assassin's Creed Unity look good. The graphics are actually worse than Just Cause 3, the glitches and numerous bizarre and unnecessary changes make the game unbearable to play, and they tried to make it more story-focused but there's barely a story. At least for Fallout 76 (although that was also a reprehensible disaster) Bethesda have the slight excuse that they were (inadvisedly) trying a genre that they weren't used to. But I don't understand how it's even really possible to make a game so similar to and yet so massively worse than its predecessors.


I'm actually going to agree with your number 3 as my number one. I didn't play a lot of 2018 games (which will likely change when I pick up a Swtich after my tax returns, since I want a few future Nintendo games (Fire Emblem, Pokemon, etc), but Origins was great in my eyes. I think a lot of it has to do with me not playing an AC game since Black Flag, whereas a lot of reviewers have played each one since then and have become exhausted with the series. I still thought it was fun, could be really funny at times, and they brought the ship combat back, which was massively important.

As for the worst, I would pick Fallout 76, if because I'm exhausted of so many single-layer franchises still trying to chase the MMORPG model.
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