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#1 Ocelot


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Posted 07 November 2017 - 08:11 PM

Now I know what you're thinking: "Ocelot, if the rumours about you being the handsomest man alive really are true, how do you manage to be so humble about it? And, also, isn't it only November? Why are we doing this so early?"


The short answer is that the rumours are greatly exaggerated, and in truth I'm probably only maybe in the top ten handsomest men on the planet. Maybe only top twelve! No, probably top ten. But, anyway, as to the second question, I just like talking about video games, man. We don't need to hash out the official best game of 2017 right away; there's plenty of time for arguments and squabbling amongst ourselves until we all unanimously decide that it's Horizon Zero Dawn.


I feel like 2017 will go down in history as one of the best years we've ever had for this children's hobby we're all hopelessly addicted to; I've been knocking out GOTY contenders every month like clockwork, and even the ones that aren't quite my favourites have still been really good. We've struck a rich vein of quality in the ol' video game mine, and that Texas Tea is a'bubblin'. Timbeeeerrrrrr!


I'll start with a cheeky little list of all the amazing games I've played this year before I get started on some longer-form thoughts:


Gravity Rush 2

Yakuza 0


Horizon: Zero Dawn

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Nier Automata

Persona 5



Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle

Yakuza Kiwami

Dishonored: Death of the Outsider

Metroid: Samus Returns

Assassin's Creed Origins

Wolfenstein: The New Colossus

Super Mario Odyssey


And that's just me with my narrow tastes and unwillingness to play anything that seems too scary (Resident Evil 7) or hard (Cuphead). And that's just the games I really liked; if I widened the net to catch everything I didn't love but still enjoyed we'd be here all week.


So with that out of the way, tell me about some good video games you played this year! We don't have to hammer out top ten lists or anything, I just thought we'd talk about some games and stuff. You might need Wikipedia's list of games that came out in 2017 if your memory is as bad as mine is.

#2 The Werewolff

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 09:17 PM

Would love to vote on this, but literally the online game I have played all year (that was released this year) was Cuphead...and I did quite poorly, to say the least...

The other one. 

#3 Ocelot


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Posted 10 November 2017 - 09:45 PM

Would love to vote on this, but literally the online game I have played all year (that was released this year) was Cuphead...and I did quite poorly, to say the least...


Still counts!


Oh no no no, you guys. I'm not letting this one slink away unposted in. I'll discuss GOATees in here all on my own if I have to. IT'LL BE THE BEST GOTY THREAD EVER and you'll all feel really dumb for not having jumped in sooner!


The first game I want to talk about is Prey, which is a totally unrelated non-sequel to the other game called Prey from 2006, and is also completely unrelated to the famously canceled-in-development Prey 2. Prey 2017 is a game from Arkane (makers of Dishonored), and I absolutely loved it.


If you're struggling to call it to mind (because it was, unfortunately, not especially popular or successful), picture System Shock 2, and then stop picturing things because it's that. You're a feller (or a gal) on a space station overrun by nasty things, and you have to go places and complete tasks by doing all the things that make immersive sims so wonderfully addictive: improvising, combining systems with other systems, hacking doors, reading e-mails. I may have mentioned once or twice that I absolutely adore reading e-mails in games; some day Platinum Games is going to make a stylish, hardcore e-mail-read-'em-up and it'll be the last game I ever need to play.


Preyoshock is the true successor to the System Shock games, in a way that Bioshock only ever paid lip service to. It is such a cool game, with so many neat tools to experiment with. It's one of those delightful games that will give you an objective and leave it to you to work out the details, where any given task can be achieved in half a dozen different ways. You have a gun that fires rapidly-hardening blobs of goo, which you can use to stun enemies, to plug up vents, to block doorways, to create impromptu staircases up the sides of walls to reach otherwise inaccessible areas, and even to set speedrun records by shunting your own character model outside the world space and skipping the entire game. There are matter fabricators strewn about the space station that let you break down any items in your inventory into their constituent raw elements, then rebuild those elements into any new toy you happen to have the blueprints for. You can scan the alien bad guys and gradually spec yourself into the alien ability tree to give yourself all kinds of cool powers, but you have to be aware that the more alien DNA you engineer into yourself, the more you run the risk of the stations automated defence systems turning against you.


UMPH it's such a neat game! And in proper immersive sim fashion, everything has its own in-game, in-lore explanation if you dig deep enough. There's a Nerf crossbow you can build for yourself, which is near useless in almost every situation, unless you happened to read the lengthy e-mail thread amongst members of the space station's staff about how they all decided to design a toy crossbow with capacitive darts that could set off eachother's touchscreen computers so they could irritate eachother at work. Then you suddenly realise that you can now activate various electronic locks to open doors by firing your toy crossbow darts through open windows at computer screens, and the whole game opens up before you.


Even the mission design is impressively open. Prey has main missions and story missions, and a fairly linear progression from one mission to another, but the difference here is that so much of the game seems entirely optional. You can kill anyone you like at any moment, including the people who send you on errands, and the game has to account for it. When the ending rolls around, it's less a 'go here for the good ending and here for the bad one' setup, and more just a series of objectives that you can do if you want to. You can destroy the space station, you can make a thing that'll kill all the aliens, you can brain wash the bad guy into flying you home, you can rescue all the people remaining on the station, or if you want to you can do none of those things. You can kill every single person you meet on the station, or you can just kill some of them and hide their bodies and never tell anyone about it. You can follow a certain side quest path that leads to an alternate escape pod you can take all by yourself like a third of the way through the game, leaving everyone else to die. 


The story makes this really interesting, too. Long story short, you're playing as a someone who's had their mind wiped a bunch of times, and you're following orders from a robot one of your previous selves has left behind, programmed with instructions about how to get off this heap. But early on you'll meet another robot, programmed by a different version of yourself, telling you something entirely different. You're constantly meeting new characters who all remember you, but it's never clear exactly which 'you' they knew, and whether that even matters in the grand scheme of things. Reading through different people's e-mails, some of them think you're a saint and some a monster, and all points in between. The game leaves it up to you to decide who to trust, if anyone at all. It's not a game I'd recommend playing for the story itself, but it is a really interesting world to inhabit, if that makes sense. The lore and world-building really add to the game's atmosphere, even if the actual plot isn't the greatest thing. Similar to Dishonored, really; I'm not that interested in the story of a dude taking down a conspiracy plot, but love being in that game and soaking it up.


Prey is such a GOTY, you guys. Oh man. If you've ever enjoyed a Deus Ex, a Dishonored, a Thief, a ___ Shock, you're going to feel right at home. It has some sore points, like perhaps a little too much unavoidable combat that isn't especially enjoyable, and the performance and load times weren't great on PS4 (definitely one to play on PC if you can), but nothing that really stood in the way of me adoring the game.

#4 Spark


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Posted 11 November 2017 - 08:14 PM

Prey was the easy shoe-in for GOTY in the early half of the year. Personally Breath of the Wild never stood a chance against it, and definitely doesn't now following Wolfenstein and Mario Odyssey. It'll be lucky to crack the Honorable mentions if Life is Strange: Before the Storm sticks its landing in the final episode.

"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 11 November 2017 - 11:54 PM

Well, on the subject of Breath of the Wild: The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild


Yeah, it certainly had its problems, and  I can't say it was my favourite Zelda, but I think it's a remarkable game all the same and definitely worth a place amongst the best games of the year. In the grand scheme of things, BotW probably doesn't do anything that hasn't been done before in video games, as an open world game with survival elements, main quests and side quests, a little bit of RPGness, some crafting and puzzle-solving and all that good stuff. What it does do, that sets it well apart from most other games, is combining all that stuff into one and then giving it that ol' Nintendo polish. It's pretty cool.


I once saw BotW described as an unusually 'analogue' game, which I thought was pretty solid. It's a real simulation of a world; not an ultra high-fidelity looker, but a world where if you think something should work, it probably does. It's Far Cry 2 made by Nintendo, with a little bit of Metal Gear Solid V thrown in for good measure; a game built upon a thousand interwoven systems governing how everything should work behind the scenes. It's a game where you walk up to a boat moored at the shore, and instead of hitting a context-sensitive INTERACT button to get it moving, you cut the rope with your sword and then pull out your Korok leaf to blow wind onto the sail. A game where you might not have fire arrows in your quiver, but if you have a few moments you can cut down a tree to make firewood, dump a piece of flint on the wood, hit the flint with your sword to start a fire, then nock an arrow, dip the tip of the arrow in the fire, and bamzo, you've just made a fire arrow. A game where they needed to give you two different types of bombs, because the round ones will roll down hills and you need a square one if you want it to stay where you put it.


In some ways I enjoyed the fervor around Breath of the Wild more than I enjoyed actually playing it. The enormous internet outpouring of surprise and delight whenever someone discovered that "OMG, if you do this and then this the craziest thing happens!". I don't personally have the creativity or patience necessary to think up or execute some of the ridiculous things I saw people doing in the game, but I loved watching them do it. True to form, Nintendo made the Nintendo-est open world I think there's every been, where there's always something interesting to find or something fun to play with. I played the game for about 90 hours and there's still loads of stuff out there I haven't seen, and I don't think people will ever exhaust the possibilities of what you can do with all the rune powers.




And speaking of that world, what a nice place it was! Remember the whole goofy adventure you had to go on to get into the Gerudo village, where everyone is a seven-foot tall Amazon goddess with a six-pack chiseled from marble and thighs for days, and they won't let you in until you disguise yourself as a pretty girl? Remember the first time you decided to brave Death Mountain and literally burst into flame? Remember Eventide Island, when a simple trip to a mysterious island suddenly turned your Zelda into one of them there Dark Soulses? This game felt like a grand adventure in a way very few games do; few Zelda games, even. My unguided trip through BotW's Hyrule was so much more memorable to me than, say, being led by the nose through the Hyrule of Twilight Princess or Skyward Sword. The perverse joy that comes from knowing the game wants you do go one way and then deliberately going in the opposite direction is here in spades.


Although, come to think of it, Breath of the Wild never actually tells you to go here. The game doesn't really do waypoints, as such. Quest design is always a matter of "Go north until you reach ____ geographical marker, then head east", which is a really nice change from the 'follow the glowing dot' design of almost every other game in our current era. Can't let the player get lost, because then they won't meet the next challenge designed to make them want to buy a lootbox, right? Breath of the Wild delights in getting you lost, because that's when you're going to find all the cool stuff. And, on a personal note, that sense of lostness was amplified for me because I decided BotW was going to be the first game I played in full Japanese after I started learning the language late last year. It was a trial by fire of sorts, but it's something I'll probably never forget. The feeling of triumph when I finally solved a cheeky little riddle was at the very least doubled by my self-imposed handicap :P




But onto the complaints, of which there are plenty. Chief among them, for me, would be the absence of so many classic Zelda tropes I loved in the past. While the 120 Shrines might provide more dungeoning than ever before by volume, the quintessential Zelda thing of spending an hour or two working your way through one single dungeon, meeting an ever-increasing challenge as the designers take a given gameplay theme as far as it can go, is gone. I'd hoped the Divine Beasts might provide something like this, but they were like half an hour long at best, and all four were the same thing; manipulating a big machine to alter the level layout was a neat idea, but not one that needed to be repeated four times. Breath of the Wild dips its toe into a huge number of different ideas, but never dives all the way in.


Next up would be the much-derided weapon degradation system. I didn't hate this as much as some people did, but I do think it needed a lot of reworking. As a way of pushing the player out of their comfort zone, never letting them get attached to one gameplay style and sticking with it for dozens of hours, it certainly worked, but it also introduced a lot of silly problems. It completely devalues the idea of loot, for one. You simply don't get excited about opening a treasure chest; partly because you're inevitably going to have to close it again because your inventory will always be full and you'll have to dump your least valuable weapon to pick up a new one, but also because even the greatest weapon in the game can only be used for a limited time before it disintegrates. Oh, an ancient glowing light axe that does 60 damage. Great. Can't wait to take out two mini-Guardians with it and then throw it away. It changes the paradigm of Zelda from "Hit everything with your sword, yaaay!" to "There's a Bokoblin base over there, but if I go and kill everyone in it I'm probably going to break all my weapons and not get enough back for it to be worth it, so I'm not going to bother", and I can't imagine that's what Nintendo intended.


Then there are the little annoyances, like the fact that you can't climb when it's raining. So much of this game is climbing, and it rains really often, and it's just a pain. You know if you go away it'll be hours before you find yourself back at that cliff you want to climb again, and you know it doesn't take that long for the rain to pass, so more often than not you just stand there like a doofus waiting for the rain to stop. I know Nintendo probably didn't want to just give you some ability like climbing spikes that would essentially 'turn off' that element of the game, but I think they should have done something. There are a lot of pretty drab fetchquests, there's a disappointing lack of enemy variety (with most new areas simply having the same enemies in different colours), the framerate was pretty poor at launch, and the English voice acting was surprisingly bad.




No individual problem is enough to spoil the game, but taken together they do lend a certain feeling of not-quite-there-ness. The kind of thing that makes you hope that Nintendo's next 3D Zelda will take the framework of Breath of the Wild and take it in a different direction. Not all the way back to Skyward Sword territory, but maybe a nice middle ground between your more traditional Ocarina style and the BotW design. Keep the open feel, but replace Shrines and Divine Beasts with real Zelda dungeons. Keep the survival elements, but tweak the weapon degradation values (or maybe dump that element altogether). Keep all the different outfits, and then add even MORE different outfits because Link Dress Up was the best part of the game.


I think the unique feel of every Zelda game is one of the series' biggest strengths. Each one of these games is different in its own way, each one has its own list of pros and cons, and Breath of the Wild is no different. But it is also, without a doubt, the biggest shakeup Nintendo's made for the series since Ocarina of Time first popped out into that third dimension, and I think it's pretty admirable just how successful they were. It takes some serious guts to throw a spanner in the works of one of your biggest cash cows, and some serious skill to actually pull it off, so it's lucky for us that the Nintendo of 2017 seems to have both of those.


EDIT - Added a few gifs of the game's best character to spice up an otherwise plain wall of text.

#6 Randomman96


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Posted 12 November 2017 - 01:36 AM

I would participate in this since I've played a metric crapton of this years titles.  However, I will be forgoing anything until Mid-December, as I am currently fending off my rage towards my PC for it's constant dying and self-f***cking in the past couple weeks.


#7 Ocelot


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Posted 12 November 2017 - 03:01 AM

I don't know if you guys have watched Mayor Pauline during the breakdown of Jump Up Super Star, but she does a cute little dance that the internet has identified as her original sprite animation from the Donkey Kong arcade game in 1981:




Which leads me to talk about a little game called Super Mario Odyssey, and how it's so absolutely delightful. You should probably listen to the song while you read this:



3D Mario games have always been the ultimate in making the simple act of steering a man around with a video game controller endlessly enjoyable, and our favourite plumber feels better than ever in Odyssey. I guess, by some kind of transitive property, that might make Odyssey the best-feeling game ever made? I mean, if you want to make that argument, I don't think I could come up with any kind of compelling rebuttal, so let's go with it. Mario Odyssey feels so wonderful from the instant you pick up the controller, in that perfectly video-game-y "easy to pick up, hard to master" way. Mario games are fun for the most inexperienced players to the pro-est of the pros, and Odyssey takes it a step further than ever in both directions, with the fun hat capturing mechanics to take the edge off some of the more difficult platforming for newcomers, to a more extensive set of advanced manoeuvres than ever for the hardcore. People talk about skill ceilings, and Mario Odyssey probably has one of the highest ever, but it also has a remarkably low skill floor, if that's a thing. You do just run and jump, after all.


You don't go ten minutes in this game before the friendly hat man who lives on your head suggests that you might want to be a T-Rex, and that's not a sentence you can write about very many video games. The answer to more or less every quandary in Mario's Odyssey is "throw your hat at it", and the reaction you get is almost always an utter delight. "Can I be that thi- OOOOOOOH I CAN BE THAT THING!" In general, if you can't be a thing, you can at least ride that thing, and if you can't be it or ride it then it's probably at least a nice fellow who'll say something encouraging and give you a Power Moon. Mario's world is such a nice place to be, and every new area you reach on your journey has a whole new race of friendly people to meet. Sometimes they're Fork people, sometimes they're Fish people, sometimes they're talking watering cans, but they all share a lovely sense of supportiveness and amiability... is that a word? They're nice, is what I'm saying. Except that one world that I think accidentally got swapped in from the next Dark Souls game; I don't know what that was about.




I think my time with Odyssey has just about come to an end, after finishing the main story, collecting about 550 Moons and having a couple of attempts at the super hard, super secret final level. There's plenty more out there to do, but I've cleared out all the really fun stuff and it's only the bits that I know are going to make me really stressed out that I have left. Races, crazy hard platforming challenges, and that final looooong level with no checkpoints; I'd like to be able to say I beat the entire game, but these days I just ain't about that life any more. I've had more than my share of fun with a wonderful game, and I'm happy to leave the big boy stuff to the big boys.


I do kind of want to start the game over again on a new save file, though. That feeling of just Mario-ing is so addictive, I can't get enough of it. That particular momentum he has, the need to spend a moment getting up to speed from a standstill, or that exact timing of the sideflip; it's like you build up that skill over the course of the game and you don't want to let it slip away through lack of use. It's such a buzz being able to pull off some sneaky tricks that can get you where you aren't supposed to be, brazenly ignoring the designated path in favour of your own harebrained obstacle course full of walljumps, hat throws, side flips and whatever else you can throw in before you inevitably mess it all up. This is one game where I genuinely hope Nintendo releases DLC, not because the base game is lacking in any way, but because it's just so good that I want moar.


EDIT - btw, one of the late game kingdoms has these things hanging up all over the place:




And I think it's a cheeky little pun. The bottom two characters say something like 'Sky Kingdom', or 'Rule over the Sky' (which will make sense if you know which kingdom this is), and I believe they're intended to be pronounced 'Koopa' :P

#8 Ocelot


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Posted 19 November 2017 - 03:17 AM

Let me tell you fine ladies and gentlemen about the most stylish video game of all time, a game by the name of Persona 5:




Now, full disclosure here, I haven't finished Persona 5. It's a 100 hour JRPG even when the player isn't studying his or her way past a language barrier, and of course I decided to play it in Japanese, so it might end up taking me years to finish. But I do think I've played far enough into the juicy meat to give my expert opinion of what kind of game it is, and how every little bit of it is just oozing with unique, inimitable style. It's a game where any time I reach a new area I have to pause for a minute or two to properly appreciate the new smooth jazzpop bop that my ears are treated to, where every character portrait makes me feel like even more of a boorish lout with their impossibly stylish outfits, and even the MENUS look so cool I can't stand it:




(I recommend this absolute tune for best results while reading my big thing here, btw. The developers just drop this cool customer on you when they introduce you to the place where you buy healing items, the utter madmen.)


Persona 5 is the story of a young kiddo with the kind of unruly hair that any male model would kill for, convicted of a minor misdemeanour in his home town and sent to stay with an irascible friend of the family in Tokyo to serve out his probationary period. You'll experience the hardship of transferring to a new school full of cool kids in Shibuya, make friends with a crowd of misfits of varying social circles, stick your nose in all of their business and probably eventually kiss at least one of them, oh and every now and then you'll use a mysterious smartphone app to enter an alternate world born of the unrequited desires of certain unscrupulous individuals, where you'll fight demons in a very Japanese-video-game-esque depiction of young people coming of age and dealing with their internal struggles. Oh, and by the way, this time you're all Phantom Thieves, and the whole game is themed around the idea of you being a team of daring cat burglars pulling off impossible heists. It's like Ocean's Eleven, only with impossibly trendy Japanese teens. And demons.


It's awesome, is what I'm saying. While the game doesn't exactly turn the JRPG paradigm on its head, it is at least a perfectly-well-executed one of those with a sense of style that's just second to none. I mean, it seems reductive to boil the whole game down to 'style', but oh man what a style it is! Every moment of the game just looks so beautiful, and sounds even better. It really can't be overstated just what a singular experience it is. All the things you think of when someone describes a game as 'very Japanese'; take that, turn the volume knob up as high as it will go, combine it with a spicy bassline that you just can't help tap your foot to, and you have Persona 5. There's nothing out there that will make you feel more like a cool Japanese teenager who has it all worked out, and I know you might think that sounds dorky when I say it, but what I'm saying is that when you play Persona 5 you won't. This game is a "What It's Like to Be One of the Cool Kids" Simulator.




It's an amazingly well-written game, too. Despite all the fanciful whimsy, they manage to ground the world with surprisingly believable characters. Right at the start of the game, when you're registering at your new school, the game focuses briefly on one of your new teachers who's been saddled with showing you around the place. She's a young woman, presumably fairly new to the teaching gig, without much life experience, and she seems so unsure of herself and anxious about being saddled with this new kid. A transfer out of nowhere, surrounded by rumours of some kind of police record; why did it have to be her class? I found myself feeling sorry for the poor woman even after just a few lines of internal monologue; someone who's ultimately nothing more than a NPC, really. So, if they write their minor characters with such care, you can imagine how well-fleshed out the major players are. It's good stuff. The game taps into that latent trauma we all share just by virtue of having gone to school as young people, and as such feels so much more relatable than your average save-the-world story, but the excellent writing lends it a certain extra effectiveness. You have to give a game credit for making you feel that particular desire to crawl into a hole and die that comes with being reminded of something embarrassing you did in High School that you'll never be able to forget as long as you live.


One day I fully intend to finish Persona 5, but until then I'll keep plugging away at it in chunks and enjoying every moment. This game took so long to make that it all but skipped the entire PS3/360 generation, so I'm OK with taking my time finishing it :P

#9 Ocelot


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Posted 25 November 2017 - 12:32 AM

Roundabout the end of 2015, Sega added a game named Yakuza 4 to the Playstation Plus free game list thing, and a handsome young man in Australia took that as an opportunity to try out a series he'd always heard about but had never quite got around to checking out. Yakuza, that's that Japanese GTA knockoff, right? Well, that same young, good-looking, Australian man's life was forever changed about an hour later, when he discovered that Yakuza games were incredible and that he loved them all to bits, and that he'd been an utter fool to have ignored them for this long. And, in case you haven't guessed it yet,  that foolish, muscular young man's name? Albert Einstein Ocelot.




The Yakuza games are always set in the year and approximate time of their original release, but Yakuza 0 is a prequel set in 1988, where our intrepid hero Kazuma Kiryu is just a bratty kid, all of 20 years old. Due to some shakedown-related shenanigans, Kiryu is set up to take the fall for the murder of an innocent businessman, and so kicks off a really interesting story of organized crime subterfuge and no-good-ery, during which you have to fistfight like a million guys and have some really excruciatingly tense conversations with guys way higher up the Yakuza tree than you are, whose allegiances are never quite clear. Meanwhile, Goro Majima, a recurring villain up to this point, is dealing with his own conspiracy over in Osaka, and for the first time in the series we get to play as him as he also fights a million guys and gets into a lot of trouble.


Japan in 1988 sort of had the neon-lit disco aesthetic of America in the '70s, so imagine that as interpreted through the eyes of Japanese businessmen who mainly know what America is through Hollywood movies, and now imagine that everyone has briefcases full of money on them at all times. If this game is to be believed, Japan's bubble economy was a time when you could just trip over fat stacks of cash in the street, or pluck it out of the air like fluttering rain drops, and that idea reaches seemingly every part of this game's design. Thousand Yen bills fly out of the people you punch in place of blood splatter effects, and said bills take the place of XP in this game. You power up your character by pouring money into a skill tree, so you can go from a billionaire to broke in a few minutes' leveling (and then you have to go and punch more guys!). But be careful about walking around the streets of Japan with that much cash on you, because there are huge walking mini-boss enemies out there who'll take it all away if they catch you and beat you in a fight (a lot of things in these games are solved by punching, btw).


Money flows so freely in '80s Japan that later in the game your two characters will accidentally stumble into cartoonishly lucrative jobs. A property investment tycoon spots Kiryu's moxie from a distance and immediately offers him a job at his firm, which leads to a wild series of events wherein you'll more or less buy the entire city and then have to face off against a shadowy cabal of flamboyant property investors who think they can keep Tokyo for themselves. One wants to fight you for control of his district, one challenges you to a round of Outrun, the '80s Sega arcade game. One particularly unfortunate one wants to face off against you in a round of karaoke, little does he know that you are the greatest karaoke-ist in all Nippon:



Meanwhile, Majima ends up running a Cabaret Club, in what is genuinely one of the most addictive minigames I've ever played. From something approaching the classic omniscient strategy game commander perspective, you'll oversee a night of action at the club, which involves pairing up rich customers with girls that match their personalities in order to try and bilk as much money out of those suckers as possible. With six tables to juggle at once, an endless stream of customers and the needs of your own girls to think about as they tire of throwing fake smiles at gross old men, it can get hectic in just the right way an arcade game should be. I honestly feel like I could buy a whole game of nothing but Cabaret Clubbing:



Yakuza 0 feels like the peak of Yakuza series to me. After five mainline games and a handful of spin-offs, it feels like the studio took everything they'd learnt along the way and poured it into one borderline perfect video game. They've tried single-character games, multi-character games, giant intermeshing conspiracies and smaller, more personal stories, and all manner of different combat styles and other forms of gameplay, and you can feel the benefits of all that experience in Yakuza 0. The story and writing are probably the best in the series, and the gameplay is without a doubt the best its ever been, with each character having three different combat styles that can be swapped between on the fly for some blazing hot 60FPS dude-punching action. GOODNESS ME it's just an excellent video game all around, and I love it to bits.



#10 Saber-Scorpion


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Posted 28 November 2017 - 10:13 AM

These game of the year discussions always make me realize just how few games I play every year. :P I will have make a post about Divinity: Original Sin II later, I guess, since I'm pretty sure it's the only new game I played this year besides Horizon: Zero Dawn...




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#11 Spark


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Posted 29 November 2017 - 12:53 AM

Take our combined suggestion, Scorp. Play Prey. That thing is right up your alley if you love the old school System Shock stuff.


And no I'm not saying that just because I want to see your take on a Morgan Yu minifg...




Before the (Freaking) Storm



It's not even finished yet, but I'm confident on giving it a solid spot already because the current 2 (of 3) released episodes have already been 2 absolute highlights of the year for me. The original Life is Strange was one of my 2016 discoveries, and it hit me like speeding train. And BtS might be even better. It's certainly one of the best prequel stories I've ever come across. Prequel. Yep, to LiS. And whoever here has played it knows just how much looming anguish and grief awaits these characters. And yet...when you're playing BtS, you start hoping and praying that stuff won't come to pass, despite its inevitability.


Chloe's new VA is fantastic and I hope she has a bright career ahead (Ashly Burch unfortunately couldn't do VA work during the strike, but she still helped with dialogue in the game.). Rachel is pretty much lives up to the hype of her myth established in LiS. And the best part is its telling its own self-contained story within its prequel trappings. So while it's beholden at large to LiS, it still has its own identity, one I would argue that enhances the original, and rises above it. Seriously give this game a try. Right now, or when it's complete. Either way.


The last hurrah of Arcadia Bay and its inhabitants deserves the attention.


Also, the group Daughter made an entire album specifically for the game, and it is GLORIOUS. Give your ears a listen at this sampler:


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



#12 Ocelot


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Posted 11 December 2017 - 01:14 AM

Lemme just check a few of these runners up off the list quickly, because they're not quite worth a full wall of text but I still really enjoyed them:


Metroid: Samus Returns: Hey Nintendo made a Metroid again! And it was great! I have a few issues with the area and enemy variety, in that the whole world kind of blends together into one fairly indistinct melange, where each new area has all the same enemies all over again but this time in different colours, but overall I just loved playing through Samus' Return, Samus Returns. I had my doubts about playing a 2D Metroid with the 3DS's Circle Pad rather than a D-pad, but after playing it I actually think Samus Returns has the best controls in the series; the 360 degree manual aim cuts out all the awkward positioning stuff you had to do with your aiming locked to 45 degree angles in the older games. And the bosses were so cool! Really, really difficult, but still fair and amazingly rewarding to finally beat.


Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle: It's impossible to talk about this game without mentioning what a bizarre concept a Ubisoft-developed Mario/Rabbids crossover is, let alone one that plays like an XCOM-style strategy game, but it came together so well. As someone whose idea of strategy in a video game only really goes so far as punching the bad guys and dodging when they try and punch back, I kind of stink at this game, but I still really liked it all the same. It's designed well enough that even a schmuck like me can comprehend all the systems at work and feel like a cool guy when a plan comes together perfectly, and feel like an even cooler guy when my plans fall apart completely but I manage to improvise my way out of a heinous pickle. This is one of those rare Nintendo-exclusive third party gems that people are going to look back on fondly for years.


Gravity Rush 2: Imagine the original Gravity Rush, but run it through the Wonderful-101-izer. Even beyond what you'd expect for a Vita-to-PS4 sequel upgrade, they went nuts with this game. They gave you more gravity powers and more cool ways to use them, which is great, but then they decided to be crazy people and start shoving in gigantic bosses all over the place, ridiculous story twists and turns, like five different endings, a fight against a skyscraper-sized corpulent mass of horrific homunculi, followed with a fistfight against SATAN; I didn't know it beforehand, but when I learnt that this game was directed by the man who created Silent Hill some things started falling into place. It's a bit rough in places, and there's an irritating tendency to create challenge in missions by temporarily stripping you of your powers (I hate that so much), but this game is such an incredible spectacle that I can overlook them.


Nioh: Imagine Dark Souls crossed with a super technical character action game full of stance changes and frame-perfect timing and all that good stuff. I didn't play as much of this as I would have liked to, because I found it really stressful and I'm just not really a Souls/perma-death kind of guy. The things I enjoy about good character action games, like rewarding experimentation and creativity, don't really mix well with such a high penalty for death; I feel like the game is a little at odds with itself. But it still has some really cool combat mechanics, and I guess you can probably reach a point where you don't have to play so carefully once you've leveled up enough.


Uncharted: The Lost Legacy: What a great Uncharted game! What started as DLC for Uncharted 4 became a full standalone release, one that took me longer to play through than either the first and third games, and I had so much fun doing it. Chloe and Nadine were such a great pair of reluctant buddies to spend that time with, and this game feels like the culmination of Naughty Dog's decade of experience making Uncharted games. The final action setpiece is like a greatest hits compilation of every amazing moment of Uncharted-ing, rolled into one incredible car chasin', convoy drivin', train climbin', rope swingin', fist fightin' breathless action spectacle that's probably the best thing ND has ever made.


Assassin's Creed Origins: I'm surprised at how much I enjoyed a trek back into the world of tower-climbing and man-stabbing. AC Origins completely dumps the awful control scheme of ACs past, instead letting you just enjoy the game without holding a trigger the whole time, and it's so much better for it. It's heavily MGSV-inspired, and with that inspiration unfortunately comes the same repetitiveness, where more or less every mission is just infiltrating a base and killing/extracting something, but sometimes the story gets really enjoyably silly to break things up. How many other games let you throw a thousand spears at a rampaging war elephant elephant from the back of a chariot that Julius Caesar is driving?


Wolfenstein: The New Colossus: I was a little down on this one in the early hours, with some really overbearingly maudlin dialogue from our hero BJ Blazkowicz, a scene where a bad guy forces you to shoot a dog (that doesn't time out if you refuse to do it. Thankfully you can intentionally miss), and some really poor level design that had me really frustrated as I couldn't work out where to go. But then I realised just how good the game's writing and voice acting is, and things started falling into place. This game is genuinely funny, which is so rare in an industry where 'funny' generally means a character loudly shouting internet memes with zero artifice; Machinehead Games' writers have a wonderful command of character voices and comic timing and all that good stuff. And then I found the button that turns the one gun you're shooting Nazis with into two guns to shoot Nazis with, and then I realised you could mix and match said guns, and then I hit the halfway point of the game and witnessed what is absolutely, 100%, the most incredible scene in any video game of 2017. I'm going to put it in spoilers, because it really is a spoiler, but I really recommend that if you aren't going to play this game, definitely watch this scene:



#13 Ocelot


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Posted 27 December 2017 - 06:11 AM

All right, sports fans, it's time for the main event. The one you've all been waiting for. It's SSLF's Best Game of 2017, as voted by the SSLF GOTY Awards Committee, a well-respected organisation so selective in its membership criteria that, as of yet, only one person has been allowed to join its ranks. That person has taken time out of his busy schedule to be with us today, so I'd like you all to give a warm welcome to Ocelot!


Thank you, thank you everyone, great to be here today. Yes, thanks to Ocelot for that wonderful introduction. I'm happy to be here to announce the winner of SSLF's Best Game of 2017. It's been a great year, but I think we can all agree that one game stood above the rest, and I won't waste any more of your time. The winner is, of course...


Devil May Cry V.


But, due to the slight technicality of DMCV not actually being released, or even announced, in 2017, we're going to give it to Horizon Zero Dawn instead.




I love this game so much. I thought it was a cool premise from the start, a feisty young woman hunting robot dinosaurs with retro-future weaponry, but my hype was always tempered by the knowledge that it was coming to us from the makers of the Killzone series. I wouldn't say I outright dislike any of Guerrilla's previous efforts, but... well, I can't really think of anything at all to say about them. Even the name 'Killzone' sounds like 'Video Game: The Official Video Game' to me. I didn't have the highest of hopes going into this Horizoning business. Also, what's with that dumb name, right?


This game blew all my expectations away, and took my face and three feet of small intestine with them in the shockwave. I expected clunky but functional gameplay, and I got one of the smoothest, slickest-controlling characters around with a fantastically in-depth and unique combat system. I expected pretty nice graphics, but I got what might genuinely be the prettiest video game ever. And I expected a pretty terrible story, to be honest, so imagine my surprise when found myself voraciously devouring every tiny snippet of lore that made the mistake of getting too close to my gaping LORE MAW. I drank this game in like a man dying of thirst. I haven't fallen in love with a video game world like this since that fateful day I opened the Codex in Mass Effect 1. You might say that Horizon is the best game I played all year, even.


OK, so let's back up: Horizon: Zero Dawn, is a game where you play as a redhead named Aloy, an outcast from her tribe of hunter/gatherers in a weird kind of techno-primitive society of indeterminate era. Aloy is that particular kind of clever, motivated protagonist that makes you feel like some of that go-getter attitude might rub off on you in real life, but she's also naive and inexperienced about the world around her. All the better for you and her to go on an epic adventure together, then, discovering all that the world of Horizon has to offer! Other tribes, other races of people, all manner of bizarre customs and cultures to fit in with or bounce off. You'll meet a cast of memorable characters, exhaust their dialogue trees and do their chores for them, fight alongside them and maybe kill a couple, as is the destiny of the RPG protagonist. Horizon's world is a really nice place to be, with every corner of the place having its own unique theme of colour, architecture, and even technological advancement that sets it apart from everywhere else. 




And in between the 'talking to guys' parts, you'll find Horizon's other great strength: the 'killing things' parts. Horizon's wilderness bristles with all manner of robot animal, some friendly, most hostile, some mundane beasts of the land and others legit T-Rexes with lightning guns and laser cannons all over them. In a world where the standard pistol/assault rifle/shotgun spectrum doesn't exist, you'll make do with bows made of scavenged metal, firing jury-rigged arrows with exploding metal teeth on the tips that can sheer off enemy weaponry. Some guns will simply nail a target to the ground with steel cables and spikes, while others will allow you to set explosive tripwires to create traps (ideally before a battle, but more often by the seat of your pants when your best-laid plan goes awry, if you're anything like me :P). The focus on single-shot weapons with long reload times gives the combat a much different feel to your average third-person manshooter, and a nice little recharging bullet time mechanic ensures that you can make your shots count. A good fight in Horizon involves exploiting an enemy robot's AI routines and hammering at weakpoints, dropping fire grenades to overheat a dinosaurs systems and then landing surgical strikes on its unprotected robo-sweetbreads when it lowers its defenses to vent excess heat, diving and rolling and sliding to avoid its attacks and maybe even trying to clobber it with your stick if you're feeling saucy. Aloy feels amazing under the thumbs, with controls that allow you to swap weapons and ammo types on the fly, dodge and return fire in the blink of an eye without even thinking about it. Boy it's really good, you guys.


And then every now and then you'll come across a seemingly ancient science lab hidden underground, and there you'll follow the tracks of a story I could not get enough of. The backstory of this game, the events that lead up to the 'present day' state of the world of Horizon, are so wonderfully conceived and written that I was utterly enthralled in every one of the game's "time to learn some stuff!" missions. Told mainly through text and audio logs Aloy discovers as she delves into ancient ruins, the story of a civilization's downfall and how it lead to an era of cavemen and robots is brilliant. I love it so much. I would honestly buy any stupid tie-in comic books and novels Guerrilla wanted to release, even if it made me hate myself the whole time. I want to know everything. The game ties up all its own loose threads at the end, makes good on everything it sets up, and that kind of satisfying storytelling is to be commended in this day and age, but I still want to know more I want Guerrilla to write new things! Make seven more Horizons! Give me Horizon until I can't take any more! FEED ME!




And such is the story of 2017's undisputed GOTY, Horizon: Zero Dawn. In a year where I played like ten games that could all be GOTYs in their own right if they'd released in less-crowded years, this is the game that I loved more than anything else. I think you should play it.

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