What a jam packed year!

This has been a crazy year for games. We’ve had some absolute bangers, solid games and others that are just plain odd (Death Stranding). So, in no particular order, I am going to run through my top five games of this year.

  1. Far Cry: New Dawn

Far Cry 5 was and still is a very divisive game. It was the first in the franchise to take place in America and it received a lot of flak for its story, both pre/post launch. After the anti-climactic ending of Far Cry 5, a direct-sequel to Far Cry 5 was announced at last year’s Game Awards. Set in a future shaped by the end of FC5 your role in the game is that of the Captain of Security or simply put “Captain”. I decided to go 115% and make the character as close to Steve Rogers as possible to the point where I made sure to pickup a shield. Unfortunately, there were no vibranium shields only standard versions.

With this being a Far Cry game, there are characters from previous games that return or… legacy versions of them. You have the next generation of the Seed family, Hurk, the Rye’s, and Grace Armstrong in terms of new and returning characters. The main antagonists are a pair of twins who have practically taken over the location and function similar to Raiders from Fallout. When it comes to gameplay this game is extremely fun however, there’s not much to do outside of the main story. All that aside, it’s an optimistic view on how the world would react in the event of… the ending to Far Cry 5.

2. Days Gone

When this was first shown at E3 two-three years ago I was skeptical. Don’t get me wrong, I like Sam Witwer, I like Sony Bend, at the time I thought the zombie genre was a bit played out. Boy was I wrong. I freaking love this game. Other people were a bit harsh and called it a rip-off of The Last of Us. This is not even close to being true. Days Gone is a mishmash of different systems from different games. Usually a game with this type of situation would be laughed at, but Days Gone it pulls it off. The zombies are known as “Freakers” who are nocturnal predators that *can* be out during the day but aren’t as frequent as the night. At night it is a damned freakshow, no pun intended. The way the swarm works is similar to the World War Z movie in that in single numbers they aren’t much of a threat. When they are in a mass the odds won’t be in your favor.

The game mechanics are homages to many games. Your bike is your life as without it you are screwed. This is similar to Mad Max in that your car was key to your progression in the game. Another, is the currency system. It borrowed a lot from State of Decay in that the more you did for the HQ, the more you were allowed to take from them. The difference between that and Days Gone is that there are multiple camps in the game. Each mission you do for a camp grants you more points for said camp. There are random encounters in which you can save someone from an attack and send them to whatever camp you prefer but you make sure they say YOU sent them there in order to get additional points.

The game certainly isn’t on the same playing field as Last of Us or other higher tiered Sony IP’s but it has its own level.

3. MLB The Show: 19

The song above, from the soundtrack to Ken Burns: Baseball perfectly describes how I feel about the game that is over 150 years old. While some people have Madden, NBA 2k, or FiFA, I have MLB: The Show. I have been playing these games in one form or another since its inception in 2006. My main goal in Franchise mode is to take a team that is under .500 like the Royals, or Mets and turn them into winners. Also to take the obligatory top tier teams (Yankees, Brewers) to the postseason at the very least.

There was a feeling of being burnt out of this game at launch as a result of playing hundreds of hours of MLB 18. A few months ago I had an itch to play it and the spark in me ignited into a blaze. It’s visually appealing, fun to play, has custom music support, and let’s you transform a small market team like the Royals into a $300 million club. While there are people who play The Show who prefer holding onto prospects rather then trading them for big impact players I am a mix of both. Some teams I have drained very poorly (Brewers), others I have enriched (Yankees). This is fantastic for fantasy Baseball GM’s who are too intimidated by Out of the Park Baseball which is very in-depth and more stat focused than The Show.

The biggest improvement in Franchise mode which I love to death is the new contract extension system. Not only that but there are three options to those: Front/Back loaded which is pretty self explanatory as the money will either be upfront or at the later years of the contract. The other is the financially weak in Normal which is the same amount over the course of 5 years for example. While I am proud of certain moves I’ve made like getting Paul Goldschmidt to the Yankees from the Cardinals in exchange for Estevan Florial and two other prospects or getting Chris Archer to the Royals as my Ace. I however, made some duds such as bringing Jorge Polanco or Nate Jones to the Giants and Royals respectively. As I write this all six teams are in playoff contention and I am glad this game exists. If you want to take a gander at Graydon and I’s co-op review check it out here.

4. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Star Wars is back on top! Single-player games at the very least. With the debacle that was the loot boxes in Star Wars: Battlefront II and the cancellation of the Amy Hennig penned “Project Ragtag” and closure of Visceral Games made virtually everyone angry. With nearly every game released by Electronic Arts over the past two years they were or nearly had a multiplayer component. When Jedi: Fallen Order was officially announced at E3 2018 by Respawn”s Vince Zampella there was little to be excited about. When footage was shown at Star Wars: Celebration people got a sense of what the game would look like. That all changed at this year’s E3 when gameplay was shown. There were elements of Dark Souls, Metroid, and Titanfall 2 in Jedi: Fallen Order. It ended up being a game that feels like a companion to Titanfall 2 as Respawn developed both games.

Perhaps the one thing I love most about this game is that despite being a Souls-like there are actual difficulty modes. Yes! This isn’t one of those games where your first response to a question regarding difficulty will NOT be “Git Gud”. I was so relieved when I saw the four starting difficulties because I was scared I wasn’t going to be able to play it due to my bad reflexes. The story is fresh, the gameplay is nice and fluid, and the game feels like what a new Jedi Knight game would be in today’s day and age.

With the game taking place 14 years before A New Hope it fits right in as a bookend to Star Wars: Clone Wars and a little insight into the time before Star Wars: Rebels. It feels very much like Rebels in the fact that it feels like you are in that world. From being hunted by Inquisitors, Stormtroopers, and other hostile enemies you get a feeling that you are on the run. You can read my review here.

5. Resident Evil 2 Remake

Credit: SuperBestFriendsPlay (YouTube)

Time to go back in time to 2013 when I had first started here at VGU. When I became a regular on The Dual Shock Show, Matt Mobley and I were talking about Metal Gear and he brought up a video called “Two Best Friends Play Metal Gear” and from that moment I was addicted. Aside from the anthology show they had on the Machinima channel they did LP’s and one that they a couple of years earlier was Resident Evil 2. One of the hallmarks of the Two Best Friends Play channel was the various Resident Evil one-off videos. I have fond memories of listening to the Super Best FriendCast when the Resident Evil 2 Remake was announced as the episode title was “WE DO IT!” Well, before the RE2 Remake was released the Super Best Friends broke up. You can read my personal thoughts on it here.

Fast forward to January of 2019 and Resident Evil 2 releases on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. I really enjoyed this game. In preparation for the game I had been playing the original on my Vita and boy was that a mistake. When the Resident Evil 1 HD remake and Resident Evil 0 HD were released in the middle of the decade they were simply HD remasters of the games. This is a full on remake of the 1998 critical hit. I was worried when the first gameplay videos hit as a result of playing Resident Evil 7 and whether it would be 1st person view or the Resident Evil 4-6 over the shoulder view. I was wrong and despite there being mods on the web to switch camera angles the over the shoulder method is more satisfying than RE7. The game despite making the original locations look like a technological marvel, is different in many ways. The biggest is perhaps the changes to certain characters. A big example would be Robert Kendo. In the original RE2 he was simply a gun shop owner who eventually got his sh*t wrecked by hordes of zombies. In this he’s seen as a tragic character who has seemingly lost everything. His encounter in the Leon campaign nearly made me stop playing and go have a good cry.

Well, there you have it, my top 5 of 2019.

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