2017’s been a bit of a weird year, hasn’t it? Outside of our little bubble of polygons and frame rates, the world’s gone a bit… Er… Mad. Fortunately, video games have had one of their strongest years in decades, and we’ve had a smashing year filled with astonishing titles. It is with this, that I bring you NGB’s Game of the Year choices!
Today will be the first 4 categories, followed by a few more tomorrow, then the “Best of the Rest”, with our 10-6 and 5-1 choices by the end of the year. Some exciting discussions ahead!
Plenty of nominations included this year, in a category that wasn’t overwhelmingly strong. NieR: Automata’s mix of strings and hard rock was a strong contender, as was Destiny 2’s, with Nico stating “I don’t have enough words to describe how much I love the soundtrack to Destiny 2. There are specific tracks from the OST that are just stunning when listened to without the game, but with it for context those tracks are even better. I said in my review of the game that this is my favourite soundtrack from any game.”
Persona 5’s soundtrack was in with a shout as well, with Deb saying ”If there is one thing I love more than Persona’s art style it’s the soundtrack; it’s always a must have purchase! Persona 5 was no exception to this and I imported the OST from Japan the instant the trailer dropped. I even had it before the game released; such was my faith it would deliver, and boy it did! Filled with jazz (which I adore!) and some electric rock, the upbeat tracks fill me with excitement whilst others help mellow things down. I’ve spent countless hours listening to this over and over again, from my working commutes to writing reviews; I just love it! Even the artwork and packaging for it is quite snazzy too.” Robin followed this up with ”The latest Persona game isn’t only a terrific game, but it has a real ear worm of a soundtrack. A mix of J-pop, electro jazz and dramatic orchestral tracks, the soundtrack perfectly echoes the contrast between the real world and the shadow worlds visited throughout the game. Spanning three discs, this is one album that hasn’t left my playlist all year.”
WINNER – HELLBLADE: SENUA’S SACRIFICE
The audio design in the game alone sets this one way ahead of everything else on our list. Whilst there are no overtly bombastic orchestral scores permeating your every beat, Hellblade’s astonishing use of binaural audio puts it in front of most other games on our shortlist. Treating mental illness with the utmost respect, Hellblade portrays Senua’s psychosis with an unnerving attention to detail, and has you feeling paranoid throughout. A delightfully dark and twisted soundtrack to a game that is, at times, genuinely difficult to play.
Whilst this year has been pretty good on the whole, there have been a couple of standout controversies, and one company in particular has been singled out for the abuse in the form of EA. It’s the loot boxes that prompted a vote from Ben and Andy this year, with Andy being more disappointed by the general turn that EA were making when it came to monetisation, and Ben lamenting the poor outcome of Star Wars Battlefront 2. ”The progression in the multiplayer being so intrinsically tied into a loot box heavy system took away a lot of what made the first game so pick-up-and-play, with a great deal of the game being left to chance. Coupled with a story that only lasted 4 hours or so, and you’ve got a concoction that could (and should) have been so much better than it ended up being.”
Rather controversially, Charles said that the Legend of Zelda was among his most disappointing games, for the fact that ”It’s not a Zelda game! I do not like the shrines that have removed standard temples and I do not like the weapon degradation mechanic. The whole thing makes me fear using a good weapon because it will break in 10 hits. The master Sword is even included, and you are basically told to only use it against the main enemies such as Gannon himself because the blade will dull otherwise.”
However, there was a clear “winner” in this category, in the form of…
”WINNER”: MASS EFFECT ANDROMEDA
Yes, Mass Effect came back this year, and proved that sometimes we can have too much of a good thing. I’ll let Deb, our resident Mass Effect apologist, take it from here:
”Anyone that knows me will tell you how much I love the Mass Effect series, and don’t get me wrong, I did love Mass Effect Andromeda too, it’s just not had as much of an impact on me as I thought it would later on down the line. I can rave about the original trilogy for eternity, Andromeda however, has somehow lost its lustre with me; and believe me, it’s very hard for me to say this. I loved the characters, I loved the gameplay and the new worlds were gorgeous, yet it still wasn’t complete, a story unfinished and hopes of more squashed and promises broken. Bugs were eventually ironed out, yet it is undeniable that releasing an unfinished and buggy game has left a smear that just won’t go away. I honestly hope that there may still be a bright future for Mass Effect, however, for now I can’t deny that I am somewhat disappointed and fearful for my dear series.”
BEST VR GAME
This was down to two, really. The absolutely fantastic Super Hot VR took votes from Ben and Nick, for its innovative use of the technology, fusing it with Super Hot’s incredible mechanics to provide an undeniably cool VR experience. However, the deserved winner brought a touch of the AAA industry to the VR space which was much needed.
WINNER: RESIDENT EVIL 7
Of course, Resident Evil 7 wins our Best VR award, for being the first “major” release in VR that allows you to play it from start to finish in Virtual Reality. In Jonny’s words: ”Resident Evil 7. Not a VR exclusive, but the first sign of a huge franchise embracing the new tech fully rather than just throwing it in as a curiosity or bonus mode. Also it scared the fuck out of Ben so that’s worth it alone.”, whilst Nico says ”All you need to know is that Resident Evil 7 is so good in VR I never want to play it again.” It’s a fantastic game, and it’s a VR experience that will terrify you beyond belief.
BEST “OLD” GAME
And finally, to wrap up, we’ve got our “Best Old Game”, which is a game that we’ve been playing in 2017, despite it not actually coming out over the past 12 months.
Honourable mentions to Rocket League (As it’s probably Jonny’s favourite game of all time ever), Windjammers (Robin’s pick), Crash Bandicoot, whose N’Sane Trilogy propelled it to the top of Nico and Deb’s list. “When the N’Sane Trilogy was announced I was besides myself with excitement! The re-make of one of my favourite games as a child was even better than I had hoped it would be. The game speaks for itself and I am so pleased we got Crash to return!” says Nico.
However, our winner (by quite some distance)…
WINNER – MARIO KART 8
Undeniably, the older game that’s had us all coming back for more this year, thanks in no small part to its release on Nintendo’s new console, The Switch.
Nick says: “Still the best Kart racer around. Whilst the majority of content had been seen before, some good tweaks and a new platform vindicated the return of this utterly addictive and beautiful game.”
Matt S says: “Whether you want to admit it or not, MK8 remains the best racing game ever made. It’s better looking than Forza, more fun than Forza Horizon and features more realistic physics than Gran Turismo. Hell, it’s also got more personality than Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikonen put together, so if you needed an excuse to buy a Switch (which you don’t) then MK8 Deluxe just adds the icing to the cake. Ever dreamt you could whip the Joy-Cons off and play against your pals on the train or in Nando’s? Now you can!”
So that’s day one! Tune in tomorrow and we’ll run through some more categories – Check out our video discussion below!