Holy hell, it’s 2020! Truly, where did the time go? Looking back on this year, I can’t recall playing a single thing. I know I did, but mainly they were all games of years past. If you haven’t heard me on the Player’s Club podcast at all this year, I made it my goal to tackle some of the old backlog and see how many games I could play in 2019. I did just that, and uncovered some real gems like God of War, Celeste, and Life is Strange!
So it’s been a wild year in terms of old games, but as for 2019… I got nothin’. Okay, I have a few picks, but they’re not much. Rest assured, this is not going to be some part two of Emmett’s giant list. That kid put a lot of work into his Game of the Year picks, and I commend him for it. But now you’re stuck with me and my lousy year. So let’s get to it, shall we?
MLB The Show 19
This game has been my companion throughout the entire year. If a video game could be considered a “partner in crime,” MLB The Show 19 would take the cake. Due to the fact that I fell head over heels into major league baseball last year, our very own Allan Muir suggested I purchase MLB 19 this year. I not only pre-ordered the thing, but I’ve been playing it nearly every night since. I have seriously gone weeks in a row where I can’t sleep without playing a round or two. It’s an addiction – but I’ve never felt more alive.
All jokes aside, MLB The Show 19 is amazing in nearly every way. As I stated in my half of our joint review earlier this year, I’ve had an absolute blast with the Road to the Show mode, creating my own player and watching him rise through the ranks to major league stardom. I’m happy to say that “G-Man Plush” is still going strong, now as a member of the New York Mets, albeit begrudgingly. Also, rather unfortunately, March to October is still a broken mess that does not live up to the hype it instilled in series fans prior to release. Hopefully this mode will be fixed in the upcoming MLB The Show 20, because I’m about to pre-order that game so hard.
The Walking Dead: The Final Season
I couldn’t possibly talk about my 2019 without mentioning the death of Telltale (and its impending rebirth) or The Walking Dead‘s epic conclusion. I’m counting the season in its entirety as a product of the year, seeing as my entire 2019 was shaped by the emotions it left me feeling. I still remember vividly the day I sat down to play the final episode, Take Us Back. I remember stopping a few times in the game to just breathe, ponder my decisions, and look back on what a thrilling tale this series has been overall.
Clementine has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Playing Telltale’s Walking Dead in 2012 was one of my first Xbox 360 experiences, and it shaped how I’d view video game narratives for the rest of my life. This series got me into writing, and instilled a yearning for deep, gripping plots in my games of choice. The Walking Dead‘s final season brought a satisfying end to a story I’ve carried with me throughout the whole decade. It’s only fitting that I mention it here in my 2019 recap. Thank you, Telltale, for all you’ve done.
As a small added bonus, I’d like to give a little shout-out to Square Enix and Dontnod for their contributions to my year. I’ve not only played through the entirety of Life Is Strange Season One and Before the Storm, but I also played through Season Two in full, just finishing it up this weekend. I must say, this series is absolutely delightful. Sure, Telltale games may have paved the way for such episodic choice-driven narratives, but Dontnod really makes the formula their own by adding rich exploration elements and powers like time manipulation that can flip the whole plot on its head at any moment. Life Is Strange truly feels like a whole different monster, and while it took me some time to warm up to both seasons, in the end I feel like my life has been deeply enriched by these characters and the story they’ve told. I cannot wait for more of this franchise in the future.
If you thought I would talk about my favorite games of 2019 and not mention Golf Blitz, then you clearly don’t know me, sir and/or madam. Let me take you back to the beginning of this year, when I wrote an impressions piece on Golf Blitz‘s beta. This little mobile game about playing minigolf with random people online across zany courses full of wacky power-ups brought our little old website to victory! I’m talking IGN numbers, baby! We became rock stars of the video game journalism world with just a tiny piece about mobile minigolf.
I joke, of course. But in all reality the amount of views my Golf Blitz article got was astounding. It was quite humbling, actually, as I really was trying to put on my professional voice and tell the world of this awesome game coming down the pipeline. Thankfully, it seemed to work, as Golf Blitz now has thousands of players, and it’s been pumped full of updates and ranked play and new costumes and such. The game is really doing incredibly, and I’m so proud of Noodlecake for their efforts in making golf fun for everyone. Thank you for reading my articles on mobile gaming, as well. It really does mean a lot, and seeing as over half of the new games I played in 2019 were mobile games (no joke), I’d say you really got a glimpse of my Game of the Year list already!
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
One of the most breathtaking games I’ve played all year, Modern Warfare has successfully proven that not only is Call of Duty better than it’s ever been, but it’s certainly got a lot of ideas left in the tank. Without spoiling anything, I’ll say that Modern Warfare really sets up a bright future for the franchise, and with amazing sights, sounds, and bloody action that’s guaranteed to keep players glued to the screen, I can’t imagine anything more exciting than that.
I intend to do a more in-depth review of Modern Warfare in early 2020 (better late than never, right?), but in a nutshell, this game left me feeling emotions unlike any game before. Its opening cutscene alone forced me to put the controller down and take a breather. The narrative is raw, chilling, and heartbreaking, while also managing to deliver the gut-punch of explosive action the series is best known for. Not to mention, the multiplayer has been expanded tremendously with new modes and more players than ever before. Modern Warfare may very well be my game of the year, and I never would’ve imagined I’d be saying that in 2019.
Furthermore, I must sidebar here to mention another mobile pick of the year. Recently I have fallen in love with Call of Duty Mobile, which I never got to cover in an App Recap, but it simply cannot go unnoticed by fans of the franchise. I have never seen such a masterful port of Call of Duty‘s multiplayer, and it’s available completely free on mobile devices. Its visuals are console-comparable, its leveling system is simple and easy to understand, and customization is comprehensive yet extremely user-friendly. Not to mention the zombies mode and battle royale offer the most cooperative fun I’ve had in years in any video game across the board. I truly cannot sing the praises of Call of Duty Mobile loud enough. It is a mobile masterpiece.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order
Finally we come to my heart’s favorite game of 2019: Ultimate Alliance 3. I say my heart’s because while it may not be the best game I’ve played all year – seriously that award may go to Call of Duty Mobile, now that I think of it – I have waited over a decade for a proper sequel to my favorite game of all time, and Ultimate Alliance 3 delivers on that nostalgia. From the many worlds and the extensive cast of characters to the complex, thought-provoking boss fights, this game feels like the original Ultimate Alliance on steroids.
While its cartoonist art style may appeal to a younger audience, I feel like at its core The Black Order is made for fans of the original games, now being at least 10 years older. The experience system is so much deeper, with character customization offering genuine RPG elements. The boss battles – my favorite aspect of gameplay – require strategy and following patterns, unlike the originals which had you wailing on an enemy until their health bar depleted. Ultimate Alliance 3 took the beautiful gameplay mechanics of the originals and added more meat to its already perfect formula. New techniques coupled with the charm of yesteryear makes for one of the best games of 2019, and certainly well worth the wait.
Honorable Mention: My Friend Pedro
I didn’t want to leave Pedro out of this list, seeing as it was a genuinely fun game, and one of the few actually brand new games I played this year. Hell, I even reviewed it, how about that? Its gameplay was satisfying – complete with bullet-time mechanics that made every kill look like the Fourth of July, – but overall its story was forgettable and the reliance on replayability after an extremely short campaign left a bad taste in my mouth. That being said, I think everyone should give My Friend Pedro a shot if you’ve got a few bucks to spare. Pick it up in a sale, do some mindless shooting and flipping all about, and then reminisce on what you played in 2019. Surely, you played more than me, and now you can cross Pedro off the list, as well.
So how did I do? That certainly was no walk in the park, seeing as I really didn’t play many new games. But that’s the beauty of video games, isn’t it? Even taking a year to explore the past and see what you’ve missed can be a lovely experience. Was my 2019 a bust? Absolutely not. I enjoyed every second I spent in old games like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Darksiders and Halo 3. Video games are eternal, and it doesn’t matter what year you enjoy them in, or how many you play. The goal of gaming is to enjoy yourself. So in that case, I’d say the real game of the year of 2019 was…
Call of Duty Mobile. Seriously, go play this game. Magnificent.