2018 Games of the Year

Game of the Year


God of War



I mean...what else could be it? Well, yeah Red Dead Redemption 2 or Spider-Man, but that is how big an achievement God of War is on so many levels. Masterful storytelling, intuitive combat, voice acting that makes you feel inadequate as a person that can barely speak in real life and certainly one of the best looking games ever made.

From my review:
"Now the series has done something that many of its fans have done. It grew up. The testosterone filled teenagers that began playing God of War in 2005 are now 13 years older, in their mid to late 20's, or older, possibly with families of their own and trying to navigate the overwhelming world of parenting. Now Kratos is back and instead of the chain swinging, dick laying masculinity god, he is a humbled, soft spoken father helping navigate his son through danger."


God of War basically told all other games what to do if they want to raise the bar with one bit of dialogue between Kratos and Atreus.

"Do not be sorry. Be better."

Runners-Up


Red Dead Redemption 2



There is a reason Rockstar game releases are events. Because they don't annualize their franchises to hell and they take years crafting true open worlds that feel lived in and honing their stories to make sure it will stand the test of time. We waited 8 years on Red Dead Redemption 2 and what Rockstar did, quite simply, was make a sequel that was better than the the original in every way. With a cast of characters that fans of the original will remember along with new additions that make you want to shoot them in the face until your trigger finger cramps (Micah), the folks at Rockstar made sure that their game was not just about "look how big our world can be " (AC: Odyssey) but about "look how immersive a world can truly be".

Spider-Man

Finally someone puts together all the right things to make a great superhero game that is not Rocksteady. Insomniac was the right studio to take on everyone's friendly neighborhood you know who. They integrated their penchant for weaponry and gadgets from Ratchet & Clank along with the most freeing gameplay to make you feel like you are Spidey. It only took a few minutes to think you could do anything in the city, whether it was web slingshotting between close buildings to roll jumping from incredible heights and landing perfectly on a car full of bad guys. There was equal care taken with the story as well with an experienced Peter Parker making the best vehicle to carry the game instead of another origin story. A few less MJ and Miles stealth missions would have helped, but does not shadow the fact this is one of, if not the best, superhero games ever made. And don't get me started about the photo mode.

Best of the Rest


Shadow of the Tomb Raider



Lara Croft's trilogy capper ended on a high note. The reboot Tomb Raider series has been one of my favorite franchises since it started in 2013. I have gone through the first 2 games on multiple occasions and the bar was set high for the end of her first act story. While the story does not hold up as well as you would hope (getting the Trinity stuff out of the way as an afterthought) the gameplay that made Tomb Raider and SOTTR so much fun is intact with some welcome additions. The world is larger and more involved and does 2 things really well: ends Lara's origin story on a high note and make you ready for the next stage of her adventure.

Detroit: Become Human



David Cage games are hit or miss. For every Heavy Rain there is a Beyond: Two Souls. It seems with Detroit he finally has been able to marry the "walking simulator" gameplay with a great branching story of 3 diverse characters set in a believable not-too-distant future setting that entices players to replay and see what other possibilities are out there. I still believe Connor is the single best video game character of 2018 and that in a year with Kratos and Arthur Morgan.

Far Cry 5



Far Cry 5 is by no means perfect, but it made up for the disappointment that was Far Cry 4. Using the Montana backdrop for a skirmish with a religious cult was actually a breath of fresh air after the settings of 3 and 4. Injecting a lot of campy humor, including a small amount of political jokes, made the time in Hope County fly by. You also make friends with a bear named Cheeseburger.

Most Disappointing Games

Assassins Creed Odyssey



This is not disappointing because the game is bad. Far from it. Odyssey is a beautiful, sprawling game. Almost too big at times. Origins was my Game of the Year last year and I had high hopes since the ancient Greek time period is one of my favorites. For some reason it did not connect with me like I thought it could. Much like South Park: The Fractured But Whole last year there was a disconnect. I liked the setting better than Origins but the characters and the story was not as good, and towards the end, made a head scratching move that made it feel like a grind fest akin to Shadow of War.

State of Decay 2



State of Decay 2 was one of the games that was on my most wanted list last year. I put dozens of hours in the first game, and even with its excessive jankiness I had a lot of  fun with it. When the second one released it became apparent that it was much larger, both in terms of scale, but also jankiness. A lot of problems in the first game remained untouched and were even worse. The new upgrades to the camp survival system felt more like annoying busy work and was nowhere near fun. Now the first game was a great first entry for a small studio, but I expected a lot more especially with Microsoft helping Undead Labs and pushing it like a full on sequel that changed enough to warrant 30 bucks. I would honestly play State of Decay 1 more.




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