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SSLF's 2018 GOATest of all Year Awards, featuring Dante from the Devil May Cry series

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#1 Ocelot


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Posted 29 November 2018 - 08:44 PM

Hey what's up losers I heard you like lists, so I thought we'd do some lists of things we like. Some video games were released in 2018, and some of them were really good, and boy do I have some words to write about the ones I liked.


Here's the giant, shameful list of the waaaay too many games I played this year, helpfully sorted into the three categories that matter:


The ones that were a load of rubbish:

Ni no Kuni 2

Kirby Star Allies

Mario Tennis Aces

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise


The ones that were pretty OK, I can't really complain but also I didn't really love them, also look at how many of these are remakes:

That remake of Shadow of the Colossus

Far Cry 5

Dark Souls Remastered

Octopath Traveler

Shenmue 1 and 2 remasters

Detroit: Become Human

Spyro remakes

Pokemon Let's Go Eevee


The really good ones I liked a lot, oh god they're all AAA blockbusters I'm such a capitalist pig:

God of War


Marvel's Spider-Man

Assassin's Creed Odyssey

Hitman 2


Red Dead Redemption 2:

Red Dead Redemption 2


Yeah, I don't really know how to categorise RDR yet, but I'll muddle my way through to an opinion after I write about 2,000 words about it! Stay tuned for waffling!


(And also please feel free to talk about your own favourite games this year so I haven't just made yet another topic where I talk to myself :P)

#2 Ocelot


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Posted 01 December 2018 - 04:41 AM

OK, let's get into this, and let's start with Red Dead Redemption 2, because after a solid month of playing this game I've finally finished it, and then finished it again, and then finished it some more. The PS4 version doesn't come with a "time played" stat tracker, unfortunately, but I'm pretty sure I'd be near a hundred hours at this point. This is a game of extremes, and I both hate it and love it in possibly equal measures. It defies quantification by any normal metrics of criticism. It is, at the same time, a masterpiece that will define this generation of video games, and an absolute garbo dinosaur from like two generations ago. Rockstar plays by different rules to everyone else.



Before I say anything else, I want to make it clear that you have to play this game. You've just gotta do it. Nobody else has ever made a game like this, and I don't imagine anyone ever will until Rockstar releases their next juggernaut in six to eight years. This is probably the most expensive video game that's ever been made, and that money positively drips out of your TV screen at all times. Seemingly every mission has a unique musical composition to perfectly set the tone. It is perhaps the best-looking game ever made, with some kind of custom-made technology that gives the air itself a sense of thickness that I've never seen before. There are over 500 animals in the game, each with their own AI routines, sounds, and 3D models so detailed that you can watch their carcasses skinned in real-time. This game comes on two discs, takes two hours to install all ONE HUNDRED GIGABYTES of data to your hard drive, has perhaps the most-detailed open world you'll ever see and then hides a cheeky little surprise for you once you pass a certain point in the story. The main story alone is 60+ hours long, with six chapters, an epilogue, and then an EPILOGUE PART TWO.


And while I'll get into the flaws in a little bit, when this game is good it is incredible. This is the best story Rockstar has ever written, and Arthur Morgan is one of my favourite leads in this entire medium. His character arc here is equal parts heartbreaking and life-affirming, a long journey from one man to another, and much like The Last of Us it's an exploration of a man who is not fundamentally good. Arthur isn't a player analogue, he's his own man, and the game puts you in his shoes to experience his thought process, not act upon this world through him. There are a few choices here and there, but this is not an RPG; you're going to be Arthur through the good and the bad, and it's a wonderful trip to go on. The writing is superb, the voice acting excellent. The characters are so strongly established, with such distinct voices that I could name and describe every single one of the two-dozen strong members of the Van Der Linde Gang. This game is something else.


Alright, let's get to the "BUT", though: Rockstar's game design hasn't evolved at all since GTA IV. Every mission in that game was a shootout in a warehouse or a scripted, unwinnable car chase, and every mission in RDR2 is a ten minute horse ride followed by a shootout. Worse, the missions here are so heavily scripted that any attempt to stray from the very clear instructions laid out to you by the magic white text at the bottom of the screen will result in an instant Game Over. When the white text tells you to do something, you do it, often because the game has literally turned off all your buttons and only allowed you to walk in the direction it wants you to go anyway. You will walk to the highlighted area, you will perform the required task, and any deviation from the script will not be permitted. I've had the game magic an entirely different gun into my holster to the one I normally use, because the script says "Arthur uses a revolver here". And this design persists all the way through the entire game; I literally failed the final encounter of Epilogue Part Two because I dared to shoot before I was supposed to. While other video games in the genre have pushed towards greater player agency, Red Dead Redemption 2 actively punishes the player for taking any kind of initiative. If you're going to play this game, you're going to play it on Rockstar's terms.


And this might not be so bad if the all-powerful script called for some interesting gameplay, but this is a game where you can walk, ride horses or shoot people, and there are only so many ways you can spin those three gameplay verbs. There are over a hundred missions in this game, and maaaaybe ten of them stick out as being something different, but the rest are just this vast, dull morass of riding that horse and shooting those guys. And with movement controls this sluggish, and aiming controls so plainly bad, you're not going to find your stimulation in the rote monotony of crouching behind rocks lock-on shooting hordes of cowpokes. I think of my personal game of the generation, The Witcher 3, also a game noted for repetitive "pop Witcher senses and follow a trail to things that need to be killed" mission design, but I think the difference there is in the aforementioned player agency. While your moment-to-moment gameplay in W3 isn't exactly electrifying, it's all in service of a story that bends to your choices, with quests that have multiple outcomes and far-reaching consequences and dialogue you get to be involved with. In comparison, RDR2's story is entirely locked-down and non-interactive, which is fine, but its gameplay is, too. It gives this feeling that your presence as the player is barely even necessary, because you're only allowed to watch and follow orders.


Also, just briefly and without spoiling anything, Chapter 5 of this game is absolutely dreadful and 99% of it should have ended up on the cutting room floor. The whole chapter. A confluence of the worst gameplay tropes and a bizarre, pointless detour for the story that does nothing worthwhile. It's followed up by an absolute masterpiece of storytelling in Chapter 6, but boy oh boy it's really bad.


So, that's Red Dead Redemption 2. Nobody but Rockstar makes video games like this, for better and worse. This is the dumpster-fire masterpiece of a company that operates with an essentially infinite budget and refuses to take any cues from its competitors because, well, maybe it doesn't actually have competitors. Those Houser brothers shamed their employees into hundred-hour work weeks for eight years, spent God knows how many hundreds of millions of dollars, and here we are with a game I hated but will also never forget as long as I live. How do you even fit something like that onto a GOTY list?

#3 Rune Walsh

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Posted 01 December 2018 - 09:07 PM

This is just what I can remember starting this year, so there's probably more I can add later.



Pretty good stuffs

AC Origins

Into the Breach

Dead Cells


Xenoblade Chronicles 2

Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet


This is pretty good. I should finish this someday.

Final Fantasy XV

Tales of Berseria

Danganronpa V3


How did it take me this long to actually play this

Final Fantasy VII


It's OK, I guess?

Monster Hunter World


Pretty good, but that one incident basically scarred me for life...



Really Good Stuffs

AC Odyssey


A Hat in Time

#4 Spark


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Posted 03 December 2018 - 11:09 PM

Crap I love but haven't Finished

  • AC Odyssey
  • Octopath Traveler
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Night in the Woods

The Good Stuff, Mate

  • God of War
  • Forza Horizon 4
  • Life is Strange 2 (Even if it's only got Episode 1 of 5 out so far)

It's Aight - Tier

  • Spider-Man
  • Spyro Reignited Trilogy

How the hell have I not gotten to this Sooner?

  • Bloodborne
  • Devil May Cry HD Collection
  • Devil May Cry 4
  • Stardew Valley

Garbo Crap, Keep Away from Me

  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  • Far Cry 5
  • Fallout 76

Now That It's Finally Fixed and Functional Product

  • Halo: The Master Chief Collection

"The reunion at hand may bring joy. It may bring fear. But let us embrace whatever it brings."



#5 Ocelot


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Posted 04 December 2018 - 12:31 AM

I just wanted to make a special category here for...


A Series of Video Games I Really Enjoyed Catching Up on in 2017:

Resident Evil!


I spent a couple of months this year playing all nine mainline entries in the Resident Evil series, after only ever having played 4 and 5 before now, and I had a lot of fun doing it. Not only was it nice to learn that the modcons of video games in our modern era haven't totally ruined my ability to go back and play games from the mesozoic era of the late '90s, but it was also nice to see how the series progressed over the years. And they were mostly just great, fun games in their own right, too. Except Code Veronica. I hated that one.


(Technically I also played through the entire Shenmue series, but I don't know that that counts because there are only two of those and I did it on a PS4.)


How the hell have I not gotten to this Sooner?

  • Devil May Cry HD Collection
  • Devil May Cry 4



#6 Ocelot


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Posted 22 December 2018 - 07:40 PM

Some slightly expanded thoughts about various GOTY contenders:


God of War: This game was excellent, and I really don't have too many complaints, but it just didn't quite hit me in the way a true GOTY does, y'know? But I really liked it, enjoyed playing the whole damn thing and getting the Platinum, and I'm looking forward to seeing where they take Bearded Kratos and Boi from here. While the story of Baldur, Freya and Magni/Modi is pretty forgettable, the characterisation is extremely strong and the relationship between angry man and son is where the real meat is (and Mimir was great, too). I had far more fun with the combat than I ever did in any of the old GOWs, so that's a plus, too. Another two or three really good bossfights and some more variety to the enemies would have gone a long way; I think the sequel on the PS5 is really going to blow minds, once a certain fellow with a certain hammer shows up.


Assassin's Creed Odyssey: This is my favourite Assassin's Creed game, and I never thought this series would get its hooks into me again after such a long slump post-Revelations. They've totally overhauled the game from top to bottom, ditching the excruciating control scheme of old for a setup that's light, fun and easy, and turning the bloated action/adventure/stealth design into a pretty respectable attempt at an RPG (admittedly still a bloated one). Odyssey is a gorgeous Ancient Greek world full of memorable characters and wonderful accents, headed by the best lead character in the entire series, Kassandra, a big muscly woman with a husky voice who I had so much fun getting into all sorts of questing trouble with. They even manage to take the tortuous First Civilization story in interesting new directions, positing that First Civilization mad scientists used Ancient Greek times as a testing ground for their unethical experiments and essentially declaring that all Greek Mythology is 'real' in the canon of Assassin's Creed. It's long, the world is too big, and if we're being honest Ubisoft has a long way to go before they're rubbing shoulders with the greats of the RPG genre, but I loved this game to bits.


Spider-Man: Young Ocelot would never have imagined that one day Sony would be funding a big budget blockbuster Spider-Man game. Superheroes were once exclusively the domain of quick and nasty movie tie-in games, but times have changed, and here we are with the madmen signing cheques at Sony having approved this masterpiece of Spider-Man-ery. God it's good. I never expected anything more than a nice-looking New York to swing through, but this game went above and beyond with excellent swinging, fantastic DMC-inspired combat, a genuinely wonderful story, and somehow this open world that you swing through at a hundred miles an hour is also one of the best-looking games I've ever seen. I've seen people complain about the stealth sections and parts where you play as Mary Jane or Miles, but I actually really liked those, too. The bossfights are excellent, the side content is repetitive but so fun to play that I happily cleaned up the whole map; I've seen people complain about the Mary Jane and Miles segments, but I really liked those, too. This game is just pure joy under the thumbs.


Vampyr: On paper, this game is janky, unattractive, and middling at best quality-wise. But once you play it... well, it's still all those things. I don't think Vampyr is really a great game, but it has a series of ideas about RPGing that I found fascinating and that fire it lit inside me kept me pushing through all the mediocre combat and terribly lacking quality of life features it could throw at me. This game is just so clever about meshing traditional RPG morality systems and video game difficulty curves with the actual moral quandaries inherent in being a newly-turned vampire who needs to feed on humans to survive. Feeding gives you huge XP gains, but will lock you out of sidequests and story content because you're eating the quest-givers. Not feeding might seem like the moral high ground, but you actively make the game more difficult by not getting that XP you need to level up. Some NPCs are evil enough that killing them might seem like the right thing to do, but once you start down that road you need to confront your own sense of morality to decide when to stop. It isn't all perfectly executed, but I just thought the game had such excellent ideas to keep you paralyzed by the kinds of excruciating shades-of-grey choices that all the best RPGs force on you.

#7 Princess Bacon

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Posted 23 December 2018 - 02:43 AM

I just wanted to make a special category here for...


A Series of Video Games I Really Enjoyed Catching Up on in 2017:

Resident Evil!


I spent a couple of months this year playing all nine mainline entries in the Resident Evil series, after only ever having played 4 and 5 before now, and I had a lot of fun doing it. Not only was it nice to learn that the modcons of video games in our modern era haven't totally ruined my ability to go back and play games from the mesozoic era of the late '90s, but it was also nice to see how the series progressed over the years. And they were mostly just great, fun games in their own right, too. Except Code Veronica. I hated that one.


Funnily enough, I've been playing the old Resident Evils this year too, but I've had a bit of a rougher time of it. Not because of the mechanics, but because controllers just don't make sense to me. I try to tank move with a thumbstick or d-pad and my brain just shuts down, but then I get RE:RE:HD on PC and suddenly everything makes sense, W forward, S backward, A and D turn.


And then let me tell you, getting RE2 running decently on PC is a pain. First you need to obtain an original 1998 English PC release that doesn't work on modern operating systems, then import a Japan-exclusive 2006 PC release that does work on modern operating systems but is completely in Japanese (except the voice acting which has always been in English) and do some fiddling around and frankensteining with the files until you get a Win10-compatible English-language-with-hardcoded-Japanese-subtitles 640x480 locked to windowed only mostly functional game (Just watch out for the one save point that's bugged and deletes all your saves if you try to use it). The things I do for support for the best input method for the vast majority of games.


But yes, RE1 and 2 are absolutely brilliant, the slow and clunky gameplay works perfectly for horror, RE1 in particular is meticulously designed for maximum spook when it comes to the map layout, camera angles, etc. I highly recommend them to everyone who has not played them before.

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