My Top 5 Games Of 2018

Christmas and New Year joy to all! Now that the end of 2018 is near, this is the ideal time to look back on video games and which games rose to the top for me. Obviously, I haven’t played all games this year, as much as I would like to have that much free time. So, you may have choices that aren’t present on the list either because I didn’t get round to them or they didn’t make the cut. Purely opinion based. So without further stalling, here’s my top 5 games of 2018.

5. Super Smash Bros Ultimate

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This game is a tricky one to gauge for me as it has only just come out. I haven’t put as much time into as other games on my list but I feel this fits comfortably at the number 5 spot. I was concerned that I’d outgrown Super Smash Bros as I hardly played the Wii U version after extensively playing the previous entries. But, so far I’ve put over 20 hours into the World of Light mode alone and I have no sign of stopping. The appeal of all characters and levels from past games being crammed into one package, plus more, is worth the price of admission alone. But, the amount of extra content and the creative ways Nintendo’s series lore is interwoven within the Smash battles is really something special. The game doesn’t need this much content but I fully appreciate the little nods to past series in the World of Light mode. And speaking as mainly a solo gamer, I really feel like the AI is a huge improvement from the last game. Fights are challenging and the AI utilise all tools and dodge roll and hop their way extensively across the stages. Sure, sometimes it seems like the AI is reading my inputs but I appreciate the challenge. Overall this is a great package and it plays great. You won’t come across another game with this much content and a game that also provides the ability to punch Mario into oblivion. I guarantee it.

4. Spider-Man

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I was so happy that this game exceeded the web-swinging from Spider-Man 2! The phrase ‘Captures how it feels to be Spided-Man’ or similar was repeated so much in reviews that it actually became sort of a meme. And I want to avoid saying that but I can’t. It really does capture the feeling of being Spider-Man or as best as I can imagine. The acrobatic swinging is on top form and the fighting is fast pace and fluid. The story is a real highlight for me. There’s a great balance of Spidey characters and villains without being too heavy with the references. I never felt like the story had too much or too little going for it and I genuinely cared for the heroes and main villain which is a great achievement. It ranks 4th because a few things hold the game back which I’d love to see improved in the sequel. I have an issue sometimes with the combat. It gets a bit cumbersome at times compared to the Batman Arkham series and it leads to me bumbling into walls and awkwardly jumping around the brawl. The Miles and Mary Jane missions also wore out their welcome quickly for me. I just didn’t find them fun, they weren’t always clear and they slowed the pacing right down. A change of pace when done right is a beautiful compliment to the previous or following scene but when done wrong it just makes you wish to get back to what you were doing. All moans aside though, I fully recommend this game even if you aren’t a Spider-Man fan.

3. Monster Hunter World

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The Monster Hunter series is one I’ve dabbled in from time to time. I play handhelds less than consoles and so I drop off the portable Monster Hunter’s quite quickly. By quickly I mean after 100 hours which is rookie numbers if you know Monster Hunter games. And so when World was announced I was pretty excited about playing it on the main screen again. It didn’t disappoint. World brings the Monster Hunter series to the big screen magnificently whilst improving the overall gameplay. A big issue I had in the past was how rigid my character felt at times but in World, your character feels sturdy yet mobile. It plays great and features an online system I really enjoy. I hardly use headsets and Monster Hunter World makes it easy to group up with strangers for monster hunting fun and communication emotes which while basic, offer enough variety to get the point across. And then you have the monster tracking system which really streamlines the experience and makes the series feel more focused than previous iterations where you mostly ran to new zones until you finally stumbled upon your sought after prey. Overall, just a great game to hop into for some slaying co-op fun.

2. Dead Cells

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Sometimes, I just want a basic game. A game that is stripped of a big plot and dialogue and loads of filler features and collectables I couldn’t care less about. Dead Cells represents that for me. You spawn as this weird glob thing that attaches itself to a corpse, you run through increasingly difficult levels while finding new weapons and tools and upgrading your stats. You fight through slogs of enemies and run though twisting pathways until you get to a boss or the next section. And you keep going until you make it to the end or you die. After which you respawn as the glob and set off again. If playing through similar corridors isn’t your thing then perhaps Dead Cells isn’t for you as even though the layout changes, there are still structural placements that stay the same. Games like The Binding of Isaac change more of their layouts than Dead Cells but Dead Cells is more about your own comprehension of the combat. You get rewarded for being fast and Dead Cells but you get punished for being sloppy and so you need to strike a fine balance between skill and rashness. I personally love how Dead Cells plays. It’s frantic but controllable. And when you have that control, you have this sense of power that I don’t feel in a lot of games. The way the character moves and how responsive it feels really accentuates that too. It’s a game where I can be effortlessly cutting down legions of enemies one second and then all of a sudden I’m way out of my depth and dodge rolling like an idiot. But it really is a game where the more you play, the more you see your progress through your actions.  To add to that, the more you play, the more permanent upgrades and access to weapons you unlock. Meaning you have more variety and pathways to explore. Dozens of hours in and I’m still unlocking stuff. It’s a game where you can pick up and play an hour of or spend all day trying make it to the end of a run. It’s a games game to me. Lacking in what we expect from most big AAA releases but making up for it in refined classic gaming. And Dead Cells is a masterclass in that regard.

1. God Of War

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This year, like last year with Persona 5, God Of War was my top choice easily. Not only do I believe this to be a well told and fun game to play. But, I really think this is a high point for how game studios should handle past projects. It’s easy to reboot something or to do a sequel a few years later but God Of War really feels like a proper evolution of a character. You could play this game on its own and have a fantastic experience with it but I believe this game is really elevated when you’ve played the past games. Kratos was fun to play as in past games but you would have hated to be his friend or related to him in any way. He was essentially a selfish jerk, fun to play as but basic in character. In 2018’s version of him it really feels like the studio looked at him as a whole and just challenged themselves on making this loud character and evolving him into his next progression. And not even just a small alteration, a big character change whilst also keeping his past nature and actions still present. You feel the weight on Kratos, this heavy burden that he tries to move on from. He reeks of remorse, maybe not about who he killed because let’s face it, a lot of those gods had it coming, but he regrets what he allowed himself to become. I’m going to stop talking about Kratos now as this is the Game Of The Year, not Character Of The Year. Gameplay wise, it’s fantastic. Originally I thought the combat felt more clunky but it feels right for what they’re going for. It’s more weighted than previous games in the series. The Leviathan Axe is a fun new weapon and offers some really creative fighting. The Norse world is a beautiful touch and really opens up a lot of future conflicts which I eagerly await. God Of War is just really focused. It wants to tell a personal story, it doesn’t have loads of filler and collectable, there are fewer characters than fingers of the average person and the game is better for it. A lot of games have end of the world scenarios and God Of War, at its most basic level, is a story of a father and son bond. Sure, events happen around them but we play this game to see their growth. I have to give big praise for the writing and acting from the two leads. The game is leagues above others and joins the ranks of The Last Of Us in terms of characters that I genuinely cared for and wanted the very best for. It takes great skill to achieve that and it deserves recognition for it. Overall this is just a phenomenal game and one of the best returns to a series I can think of. This is how a series continuation should be. You use the past games as a strong foundation, you don’t bury it or dismantle it. Take what you made and what you learned from them and improve upon it. As Kratos told Atreus, ‘Don’t be sorry. Be better.’.

Honourable Mention: Shadow Of The Colossus

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So, I’m cheating here. This is a top 5 but shhhh, I won’t tell if you won’t. Honestly though, this choice is the choice I struggled with the most and one that I’m going to need to think about for future lists. I’ve played this game on PS2, PS3 and now the remastered version on PS4. I love this game and the version that came out this year. If, I were to include this as a contender for this list, Smash Bros wouldn’t be talked about. This is one of the best games of all time to me, never mind of the year. But it’s a remaster! Does that entitle it to be included? I personally don’t think I can include it. If it was my first time when playing it then sure. But, it’s not an original game of 2018 and so it didn’t make the cut. So, I’m writing this for your opinion honestly. Let me know how you feel about situations like this? Also, I just really wanted to recommend this game in case a reader hasn’t played it.

Thank you for reading and feel free comment on what you think of the list or your games of the year. Hope you all had a great Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

November 2018 Free Time: Games/Series/Anime

With October out of the way you would think the scary month would be gone. But no! I’m getting married in January and so even though with each passing month my excitement grows, so does my anxiety and stress levels. Most of this month was spent with wedding details but I still managed to cram in hours of games and a few films. So, let’s begin with the games!

Games

Divinity

After months and months, possibly even a year of on and off sessions, I’ve completed Divinity: Original Sin on PS4. I’ll probably do a review at some point so I won’t get too much in depth here. I’ve just started the sequel too so I’m excited to see how it compares. One thing I will say though. I don’t recall playing a game that actually implemented different skill and class aspects as well as this. What I mean by that is, you get quests and you get class specific skills and spells. A lot of the time, the quests are designed so openly that there is a wide range of ways to complete your task. To a fault possibly! A lot of the time I would be doing a quest and I’ll teleport a thing to a place which would then let me progress in the quest. But I would later find a lever or get a key of a dying character that would have opened up the same progression as my teleport trick. Occasionally I would straight up think I broke the game or that I’ve completely gone off the quest path but sure enough I would end up completing the quest by sheer bumbling. The game is a parent on their phone at the park! It gives you the tools such as a bucket and spade and tells you to go and play. Now and again it’ll look up and say you should try doing this or that but for the most part what you achieve with what you’ve got is all depending on your imagination. It’s an interesting game and I’ll do a review in the future if you’re after more details.

Enter The Gungeon

Another game that I’ve had for ages and been on and off with is Enter The Gungeon. The past few days I’ve given it a proper go. I’ve been craving a rogue-lite game lately similar to The Binding Of Isaac and this fits the bill. For those that don’t know what the gameplay is like, it’s essentially a dungeon crawler with bullet hell mechanics. You kill enemies, get currency, find upgrades, kill the floor boss and progress to the next level. It’s randomised each time and certain progression carries over to the following runs. What I love about the game is it fully embraces the gun aesthetic! There are tons of guns to use each with wacky functions or homages to guns of different medias. The enemies are all gun themed, these include walking bullets with guns that fire bullets, bosses like the Gorgun which is essentially Medusa with Uzi’s. Even the loading screen is a revolver loading animation. The game is pretty challenging too! You really need to explore and gather new weapons otherwise the later floors are going to be a real challenge. There’s a huge game here but I love the fact that the game is simple to play though. It doesn’t tell you much about the Gungeon itself, you have to wade through that and find its secrets on your own but the controls are very basic. It’s a simple to pick up but hard to master game and it’s perfect for those quick play sessions that we all need sometimes.

Shadow-of-the-Colossus

I have to stop buying this game. We all have one. The games we keep buying on different systems. And Shadow Of The Colossus is one of those games for me. So far I’ve bought this on PS2, PS3 and PS4. And each time I fall in love with it again. This is one of my all time favourite games. The whole thing is a giant experience. The scale, the awe, the amazing and perfect soundtrack. Shadow of the Colossus is essentially a bunch of boss battles but each one is distinctive and memorable. Even the weakest colossi I remember more than most final boss fights in other games. I can’t praise the game enough. I think it’s unique, I love the near barren world and the little details you’re left to figure out yourself. The fact that each boss is basically a puzzle you have to solve and as you progress through the puzzle the music changes along with you. Just a masterclass in gaming in my opinion. I can’t wait to buy it again! And again! And again!

Series

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I haven’t finished any series in November but I’m still going to mention a few of them. Especially this one since it has 9 seasons and I’m just flitting in and out of it so I’ve no idea when I’ll finish it but The Office (US). My partner loves this show and I’ve not really been that bothered to watch it. I think because I found the UK version really cringey. I know that was the point but I wanted to gouge my eyes out while watching it. So I was pleasantly surprised to see the US version is more comedy than awkwardness. It’s a great show to watch if you want something light while having your tea or in the background. Sometimes, that’s all you need.

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A strange one I’m currently watching is Barry starring Bill Hader. I’m only 3 episodes in but so far I’m really enjoying it. It has that Dexter show dark humour about it which I’m a sucker for. Barry follows Barry who is a hit man that gets wrapped up in a job in Los Angeles. Circumstances happen which means Barry has to hang around the area which may not be a bad thing for him. During his hit he has to blend in with a local acting group and suddenly Barry feels something he wasn’t expecting. Has Barry found his true meaning in life on the stage? Again, if you liked Dexter I think you’ll like this. It has similar beats.  Barry lacks a lot of emotions but is an expert at killing. He has a code and believes in killing people who deserve it. And he has to have a fake face which he finds very difficult to achieve. The show has a good grasp on when to be dark and when to be funny. Make no mistake, there is quite a lot of grim violence but it all adds layers to Barry and why he is the way he is. So far, it’s a very interesting show and I’m definitely going to finish it. It also features Henry Winkler AKA one of the best character from Arrested Development so that might twist your arm.

Anime

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I’m way behind but I’m closing the gap fast on Attack On Titan. I watched the first season when it came out years ago and I’ve just finished season 2 this week. It’s still a great anime. Got a bit slow at parts and a few characters got a bit too much screen time for my liking as I didn’t really care for their characters but I understand that it was building to something and I completely get it now. The Titans will never not disturb me and even though I got fewer answers than I would have liked, especially how the first season ended, I still appreciate that the plot has progressed and new revelations have come about. There are so many questions raised in this season alone though but I’m eager to watch season 3 and eventually find out some answers. Season 2: Highly Recommend

Jojo Part 5

One of my favourite animes is back, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Part 5: Golden Wind! I’ve been eagerly awaiting this since I finished part 4. I needed my Jojo fix and actually read all the parts in their coloured manga form. So even though I’ve read this entire part, I’m still super excited to watch each episode and to see some of my favourite bits come to life on the screen. And come to life it does, it looks fantastic! So bright and colourful! You’ve got to love the Gang Stars too. All the crew are great and their voices perfectly match what they sounded like in my head. Some people put Golden Wind down and I can understand a lot of their complaints. I’m excited for Golden Wind mainly because it gets me closer to the later parts being released in anime form but that’s not to say part 5 is bad. I personally find the main character and his Stand power to be pretty bland in comparison to the other main characters and powers of other parts. Still, part 5 has some of the best Stand battles, the wackiest Stand abilities and I honestly do love the team. Narancia is a highlight for me and I can’t wait to see some of the future fights. Golden Wind: I’ll always recommend Jojo!

Random Recommendation

Super Best Friends

I’ve been following these guys on Youtube for…..I don’t even want to know how long I’ve wasted my time on these scrubs but the Super Best Friends Play are my favourite Youtuber’s and streamers. Matt, Pat, Woolie and the previous member Liam have some of the best gaming content out there. They love their games and if you ever check out their videos where they play series they love or anything with mechas fighting, you can tell how hype they get. They also host a podcast each week which I really recommend checking out. One thing I will say if you try them out, is if you don’t like them straightaway, try to stick them out a bit. The Super Best Friends don’t make it easy on their channel and I love and hate that aspect. There is a lot of inside jokes and references, stuff that I’d get after years of watching them but to newcomers it is just ramblings. Nevertheless though, if you just want a channel that will play through a game and will give their honest opinion of it, they’re perfect. They don’t ham fist it, they don’t scream at the top of their lungs, they don’t shill their content and they very rarely use cameras. It’s just a pure gaming channel. If you interested in trying one of their playthrough’s I highly recommend Beyond: Two Souls or Omikron. They have a massive hate for David Cage games, besides Detroit Being Human. Mostly because they see the potential in his games but they love when the story goes down the toilet or when his twists don’t make sense. It’s a great laugh.  If you’re a lover of fighting games, I also highly recommend their channel. Each Friday night they play a fighting game, both great or terrible games. I also recommend their Subreddit if you  are willing to try them. You will hardly find a better community and fanbase than the TwoBestFriendsPlay Subreddit.

Thank you for reading this post and feel free to comment your views or suggestions for me to try.