My Game of the Year List for 2019
I love video games. I’ve loved them almost my entire life. I loved them enough to make making them my job. I’m not working in video game development anymore but I still enjoy playing games and pondering over them.
Here’s a list of the video games I played in 2019 which I enjoyed the most (in no particular order).
Trials Rising ¶
Here’s my video review of Trials Rising which I wrote and recorded earlier this year during my extended break from employment (don’t expect any more reviews to come where that came from).
Trials Rising is the latest entry in the Trials series of physics-based time trials side scrolling motocross games? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I’ve loved the Trials series since I was in late primary school (the Flash games) and early high school (Trials HD on Xbox 360) and not much is going to stop me from loving it now.
What makes this entry notable for me is the consistency of the quality of the levels. Each level is polished into an either great or perfect state and nothing less. The in-depth rider and bike customization system is not essential but everybody likes playing dress up. Its extensive tutorial system is great for actively teaching new players the high level techniques.
It is a demanding game but it’s worth the effort for the (actual) feeling of accomplishment you gain when you beat your record on a tough level, or better yet, beat a friend’s record.
Blood Bowl 2 ¶
Here’s an article I wrote about Blood Bowl 2 and why I love it. I’ve been playing Blood Bowl for a couple years now. In early 2019, I joined the Reddit Blood Bowl league, or REBBL for short with a Necromantic team christened the “Grr Patrol” with werewolves, wights, monsters and zombies. My team and I were placed into a division with other players and teams, we play weekly scheduled matches (which take an hour or so to complete) and each season ends with the playoffs.
Points are scored, players are injured or killed and your team’s destiny can be made or destroyed at any moment. No other game has made me laugh out loud or swear a storm like Blood Bowl has. It has taught me a great deal about life (I’m not even kidding).
If you’re looking for catharsis then I would strongly suggest you consider joining me in REBBL for a jolly good time (usually, your mileage may vary). If you get into the game then this video highlight reel of my first REBBL match will be quite a laugh.
Resident Evil 2 Remake ¶
Here’s my review of Resident Evil 2 Remake. Resident Evil 2 Remake is… Drum roll please… Drrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr… A remake of Resident Evil 2. It’s the first game I’ve ever beaten eight times in a row.
It’s a great mix of modern and old Resident Evil gameplay, keeping what worked about the originals and updating everything else to modern standards.
It’s relatively short. My first playthrough took a dozen hours or so and my last playthrough lasted a little more than an hour. By the end, I was speedrunning it. I had a spreadsheet describing the codes/clues I needed to solve the puzzles, detailed strategies about dealing with tough enemies and memorized paths through the police station (and the subsequent sewers) for optimizing my run.
Also, my favourite zombie filled Capcom games, namely Resident Evil Remake, Resident Evil 2 Remake, Dead Rising and Dead Rising 2 share common DNA. They are all about exploring a spooky, sometimes comical, space repeatedly, discovering its secrets and solving puzzles while avoiding the ever-present threat of the undead.
I love exploring intricate and interesting spaces repeatedly in games. This really speaks to me for some reason. The following two games will also attest to this.
Mudrunner is a heavy duty Russian vehicle simulation game tasking you with exploring the wild Eastern European wilderness and moving wooden logs from the logging camps to another place on the map.
I’ll never forget the moment after hours of play, I had all the vehicles up and running (you usually start with one vehicle and discover more on the map), I had discovered all the map’s checkpoints, I had built all of the garages on the map. I was on top of the world and then… Tragedy struck.
I was trucking along peacefully making my first (and last, unfortunately) delivery of wooden logs to the map’s goal. I reached a small wooden bridge. At the time, I didn’t quite grasp how small it was in comparison to my big ass heavy duty Russian truck.
I approached the bridge and fell right into a ditch…
Hours of work reduced to nothing due to a moment of carelessness. I would never have guessed that falling into a ditch in an heavy duty Russian truck could be so meaningful.
Hitman 2 ¶
I’m biased. I’ve played all the Hitman games. Ever since Hitman: Codename 47 came out, I had noticed that the games were compelling but they never seemed to achieve their true potential.
It’s clear to me now, after playing Hitman and Hitman 2, that the Hitman games have always been one step away from greatness.
Hitman 2, the sequel to Hitman, is the most Hitman, Hitman has ever been in Hitman’s history.
Age of Wonders: Planetfall ¶
Age of Wonders: Planetfall is a modern 4X strategy game focused on tactical turn-based combat with great controller support set in a futuristic world. The gameplay is split into a Civilization-like strategy layer where the player leads their faction in a bid for control over a procedurally generated overworld, engaging in a XCOM-like tactical combat layer against other factions.
I wanted to play a strategy game with good controller support, and Planetfall was the perfect fit for me. Each player (or AI) takes control a race combined with a secret technology which leads to a lot of variety in the gameplay. For example, you might play as Amazon-like people riding dinosaurs who are into spreading bio-plague everywhere, you might play as space dwarfs really into hacking the world or as cyborgs on the verge of ascending as divine beings.
Its strong focus on combat and how well it integrates itself into the overarching strategic gameplay made this game one of my favourites of the year. I’m excited to go back to playing it whenever the next expansion comes out this year.
EDF 5 ¶
EDF 5, AKA Earth Defense Force 5, is lovely. It’s the same game it’s always been but bigger and better. Earth is being invaded by an alien threat and the EDF soldiers are the first line of defense protecting the Earth.
You start out as a rookie in the EDF, but give yourself a few missions and soon you’ll taking on gigantic mobs of aliens by yourself and coming through unscathed.
EDF gives off major Starship Troopers (the movie not the book) vibes with a heavy dose of straight-faced comedy and satire that may be your cup of tea. It’s hard to tell where the satire stops and where the Japanese translation starts breaking down but it doesn’t matter. It all works in the game’s favour.
Being told on the radio, mission after mission statements such as:
- What are these “humanoid” looking beings?
- What could these “humanoid” beings be thinking?
- Be aware of the “humanoid” threat!
In the cheesiest of voices possible… is priceless. Especially when you consider that the “humanoid” threat they’re speaking of are gigantic frogs that are walking on two legs… I love Japan.
Closing Thoughts ¶
Those are the games I played in 2019 that I enjoyed the most. Overall, 2019 was a busy but good year for me. There was a lot of change in many areas of my life but now that the dust has settled, it’s almost unanimously been for the better.
I hope that 2020 is an even better year for me and I hope that I enjoy the games I play this year as much or more than the ones I was able to play last year.
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