And thus, the Best Thangs is kicked off! We’re trying to keep our celebrations subtle, subdued and short this year. After the absolute hedonism of SAT500 and our round-up last year, we’re playing it cool.
have you noticed..
SIKE. FOOL. YOU’RE A FOOL AND I GOT YOU. HA. That’s the kind of shit that makes me forget about all my ailments, hell yeah boiiiiii. But yeah, video games innit. I’ve wasted most of my intro space on desperate attempts at comedy, so here are the games I missed out on this year.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Detroit: Become Human
Yo, this be Reuben. Here we are again, eh? I said a while back, can’t remember exactly when, that I’d stop writing about video games on this site. Over the past year or so I fell out of love with the whole media somewhat, with various reasons for which being well put by a certain tired old hack, while I simply lost time for it and got into music more, basically. hOwEvEr, I’m back and better than ever. Well, maybe not, but here I am, writing about games. Whether you like it or not, here’s the first installment of our Best Thangs of the Year programme we’re gonna shove down ya. Oh, but before we get right down into the badboi here’s the games I missed out on this year, oops:
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Just Cause 4
Monster Hunter World
God of War
Red Dead Redemption 2
Far Cry 5
Best Old Game We Played This Year.
Here are the games we missed the first time round that damn good anyway!
Until Dawn (2015) – An ooky-spooky throwback to the slumber-party-slashers of yore, complete with a fun gimmick and a couple of big, bastardy jump scares.
Super Mario Odyssey (2017)
Okay sure, it’s only a year old (I’m not playing a lot of old games generally). However, as could’ve been predicted by literally anyone, this was probably the best Mario game in years, and my personal favourite since Sunshine. In terms of scope, Nintendo have absolutely smashed it, with an obscene amount of content at the player’s disposal. The design is rich and interesting, the gameplay simultaneously challenging and welcoming. The old and new assimilate together for what could very easily be called the “ultimate” Mario adventure.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (2017)
I’ve only played this multiplayer, but what the heck, I played it first in 2018, so it qualifies. It’s also one of very few olduns I played in the year, so yeah… Still, what a game it is. Nintendo grabbed Mario Kart 8 out of the Wii U wreckage, spruced it up with a couple more items (plus a better item mechanic), a bunch of new tracks, and a handful of new characters — and you didn’t need to pull out your wallet for DLC! This is probably the best Mario Kart game full stop, so nice one lads.
Awarded to the environments rich with shit to look at and shit to do.
Spider-Man – Though quite contained in comparison to some of 2018’s expansive-ass game worlds, swinging around a Manhattan as vibrant and bustling as this is a big part of the immersive Spidey experience that Insomniac offered up.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Of course, anyone who got their hands on Rockstar’s latest opus (and that is everyone here, yes?) will know that those lads know how stick your ass in a world that you won’t wanna leave. More Western than Clint Eastwood riding a tumbleweed, the vast wildlands of New Hanover and New Austin offer up surprises at every turn, be at snake bite victims, hidden treasure or KKK indoctrinations — all ready for some *spits into a jar* intervention.
As you can see from my list of games I missed out on this last year, I didn’t play most of the world-y games that were on offer, so Spidey does kinda win by proxy here. Still, Insomniac’s rendition of Manhattan is scarily realistic, big enough so that it feels massive, but not so big that it gets silly, which is what you want, I reckon. Swinging around the skyscrapers is a joy, whether that be the Empire State or Avengers Tower, and just looking at that skyline is awesome.
Society would have you believe that attractiveness is the key to success. So let’s reward that?
God Of War – Maybe the pinnacle of graphical power right now? I think so. Guys, I think it might just beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
Red Dead Redemption 2 – The realistic modelling here forms the basis for the characters you’ll grow to love (and hate in many cases) — as well as fully realising that aforementioned game world. Purely cinematic.
Forza Horizon 4 – Gorgeous *horizons*. Hahahahaha. Hehehehehehe. Pff. Ha.
Considering that it’s been my most anticipated game for THREE YEARS ON THA TROT, it’s no surprise that Spider-Man will be making a few appearances here; every single entry will have the Raimi suit in it — mark my goddamn words. It may not seem too important, or particularly relevant to Best Visuals. However, the stunning, vibrant graphics of this game, combined with the Raimi suit, makes for therose-tinted reality of my memories playing Spider-Man 2 on Gamecube. Now THAT is a rush.
Dragon Ball FighterZ
I’ve always been a sucker for Akira Toriyama’s manga/anime series – it’s legendary for a reason – and that’s honestly mostly through video game adaptations of it through entries like Budokai Tenkaichi 3 and Raging Blast, so to see that none other than Arc System Works (Blazblue, Guilty Gear) were developing a fighter based on it was exciting to say the least. As expected, they delivered, and FighterZ is probably the best Dragon Ball game yet. What sets it apart from other games this year, though, is its incredible vibrancy, with splashes of colour exploding all over the screen to provide the flashiest, most vivid Kamehamehas and Galick Guns anyone could ask for, which, I might add, perfectly complement the fantastic cel-shaded graphics that Arc System managed to pull off, staying true to the beloved series while making it look hella pretty.
God of War – Yeah I mean I haven’t *played* this, but I’ve seen it in action on a PS4Pro. Need I say more?
Forza Horizon 4 – I’ve only played it minimally but mAN it’s pretty.
Mario Tennis Aces – SO. MUCH. COLOUR.
Spider-Man – Insomniac managed to pull of technically impressive visuals here with a hint of colourful vibrancy, so kudos. (also, photo mode is fun)
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – A natural progression from the last entry on Wii U, but it’s more dynamic and that really makes a difference.
Games nowadays are often all about telling a tale. These are some of the best tales told today.
Red Dead Redemption 2 – A sprawling, affirming tale of one’s place in the world, the writing and performances help bolster an intrinsically relatable and gripping narrative.
God Of War
I’ll level with you, I’m not overly familiar with the God of War series, with this entry being the first I’ve actually played. As such, the Greek-centric lore of previous entries is pretty lost on me. Regardless of that, I found all that stuff to be redundant in comparison to the core of what God of War is about; family. The relationship between Kratos and Atreus is, much like RDR2, entwined their sense of place in an unfamiliar world. While the Nordic grandeur of the journey was indeed engaging, God of War, especially in its final moments, showed true vulnerability — something that doesn’t happen in video games like this, where you spend half the time ripping people in half with your bare fists.
It feels kinda like a drawn-out Spider-Man film, and I bet, yes, while being a couple hours too long, granted, I’d enjoy it enough at the big-screen if the same plot was made into a movie. It’s sprawling and grand enough to keep me on the edge of my seat, so whether you’re beating up villains to find out some mystery or looking around for backpacks you know you’re in for a good time here.
At the end of the day, however, games are meant to be played – so gameplay’s always taking president.
Far Cry 5 – A jam-packed, explosive-as-hell romp through the pine curtain, complete with kerosine, quadbikes and bears.
Forza Horizon 4 – Another masterclass in racing games — THIS IS STANDARD, PEOPLE. THIS IS THE STANDARD.
God Of War – Combo-centric, meaty, punchy action. How many times am I gonna punch a hole through a fire demon before it gets boring?
Soul Calibur VI – More Soul Calibur??? Yes please. More character creation? I fell in love quicker than you could say “skeleton with no trousers in the Voldo class called Bony Tony”.
You’ve got ya Arkham-esque combat, making fights feel like a breeze, whippin’ gadgets with absolute ease. You’ve got ya webslinging, givin’ ya a huge sense of freedom within a relatively small game world. You’ve got ya varied missions and side missions and fucktons of stuff to do and collect, I mean, that’s self-explanatory. It’s no secret that this superhero adaptation is an absolute joy to playthrough, be it plowing the story or aimlessly thwippin’ about Manhattan, admiring the scenery and poppin’ those badboi tricks.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
As I said before, Ultimate very much plays like Smash 4‘s successor, which comes as a different touch for the series considering that past sequels felt more like reboots every time. By no means though is this a bad thing, because Smash 4 was and remains one of my favourite games of all time. What this new entry does is it refines and makes better anything that was slightly off with its predecessor, while making what was already good even better, with about a billion tweaks that become increasingly evident with every play, whether that’s with a fun new item or assist trophy, a change to a character’s moveset or a more technical tweak — it plays a little more like Melee this time and that’s a good thing. Also, mate, everyone’s back. I can play as Young Link and Pichu again and that makes me so happy.
Spider-Man – Webslinging and beating up thugs has never been more fun, and it certainly hasn’t been as smooth as this. I can play this game for hours on end and never get bored.
Soulcalibur VI – A full return to form for my favourite one-on-one fighting game series, it’s a blast every time even if I can barely win a stock online.
Dragon Ball FighterZ – A perpetual blast to the senses, one of the most chaotic and fun fighters out there, even if a little bit restrictive — we don’t notice that, it’s fine.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 – The intricate passing moves you can do in this thing are second to none in the footie game bracket, and for that and its brilliant realism it pips FIFA’s latest to this spot.
Overcooked 2 – It may be simple but it works wonders for a fun co-op time.
And, finally, here we are, the best game of the year.
God Of War (3 Nominations – Winner of Best Story) – So, so close to my no 1 pick, this one. Hectic, chunky gameplay, cut with a gorgeous visual palette and the most cinematic, hard-hitting narrative of the year.
Red Dead Redemption 2 (3 Nominations – Winner of Best World) – Rockstar have diddly-done it once again here. It’s the closest thing to being in a western you’ll find, complete with hogtying and ‘baccy chewin’ galore.
Soul Calibur VI (1 Nomination) – A huge return to form for the franchise, with all favourites back on the track and the character creation — MATE, I cannae stress how happy I am to see you back.
Forza Horizon 4 (2 Nominations) – The only time you’ll ever hear say anything vaguely interesting about cars — I like the fast ones.
Spider-Man (3 Nominations – Winner of Best Visuals and Gameplay)
omg what a phat surprise-o. I don’t care if I’ve lost my shock factor (Lord knows I didn’t have much to begin with), but, after the three years I’ve spent hyping this boi up, I had no doubt in my mind that it wouldn’t be my game of the year whenever it came out. Now, it’s out and, look at that, it’s my game of the year. The visuals are vibrant and gorgeous to look at, the gameplay fluid and engaging; you know that, I just told you that. The long and short of why Spider-Man is my game of the year is just how fun it is. Insomniac know how to give you fun, 2014’s Sunset Overdrive made sure of that, but it’s just transcendent how joyous it is to do all that wild stuff in the Spidey suit — THE RAIMIII SUITTTTTTT.
1. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (2 Nominations, Winner of Best Gameplay)
I’ve not yet played this nearly enough – I don’t actually own it but a couple of my absolute bois own it so I play their copies multi-player – bUT I can tell already how brilliant a game it is. As ever, there are so many technical intricacies to get to know, so much lore and extra content to get stuck into, and so much fun to be had with the extensive list of characters and stages on offer — which, this time, is the most yet by some distance. This is the biggest, best Smash Bros. game yet, and that’s quite some statement considering how damn good the past games have been. It really is the… Ultimate Smash Bros. experience.
2. Spider-Man (4 Nominations, Winner of Best World and Story)
As I mentioned before, I kinda fell out of games in the past year or so, but it was none other than this piece of awesomeness that got me back into them good and proper. For me, this cements Insomniac as one of the leading game developers. They’ve topped off years of brilliance with Ratchet & Clank with this. I mean, come on. It’s Spider-Man. The endless bonus content, gripping story and sumptuous gameplay makes it dangerously addictive, and it’s needless to say that I’m once again obsessed with my favourite super-hero. also ps. all the screenshots on here were done by yours truly using the OG photo mode. yea boi.
Dragon Ball FighterZ (2 Nominations, Winner of Best Visuals) – Loud, dynamic and in-your-face. Dragon Ball at its finest.
Soulcalibur VI (1 Nomination) – I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this and I wasn’t disappointed. This will be my personal go-to multiplayer game for the next while.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 (1 Nomination) – I love football games, what’s it to ya?
So that’s it for the year in game. Be sure to stay tuned for Stuff And That’s Best Thangs Of The Year Volume II – Music and Volume III – Film. How exciting!
Lots of hugs, kisses and lacerations,
Bringing redundant opinions for scrollers everywhere,