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Top 10 2017

It’s that time of the year again.  Well, actually, it’s not February, so I’m actually on time this time around.  The point is, it’s time for this year’s top games of the past year, and unlike previous years, I’m actually able to round things out with a definitive top 10.  The past few years, I’ve only been able to do a top 5, whether due to economic restraints, or due to the fact that the year was kind of not very good.  I don’t know what happened to game developers in 2014 or most of 2015.

Normally, I do an entry on each of the games, which is as long and detailed as a regular review, but since I haven’t done a full line up of ten games since 2011, I’m going to change up my format just a little bit.  The top 5, which are in order this time, will have their own entries.  Numbers 6-10 will be in their own entry some time later in this week, which will be somewhat shorter.  A few of the games on the list, while excellent in my opinion, don’t have a lot to write about, so that’s part of the reason, but also because of time on my part.  It will take several days to get out all of the write ups on the top 5, so adding five more would be a nightmare.

2017 was an interesting year.  Not only did it give us the best collection of video games in a decade, revived genres and gave us games in venerable franchises that were the best in decades, if not ever, it was also one of the worst years in terms of how players were treated by publishers.  Not to mention scams online, more and more shovelware being heaped upon Steam, the elimination of Net Neutrality laws and lootboxes.  It’s hard to say which of those are actually the worst things to happen to gaming this year, although if I’d have to pick, it might be that legislators are coming back to regulate video games.  Weirdly, I think I’m actually on their side this time, as strange as it is to say.  I remember Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, Jack Thompson and Joe Lieberman, so even though the proposed legislation is different and not about censorship or trying to classify video games as children’s toys, it still makes me feel odd to say that I think I might be in favor of legislation regulating video games to protect children.

Several games were ruined this year by lootboxes and other forms of attempted extortion by game publishers.  I understand that game development is an expensive, time consuming endeavor, and that game publishers are businesses before they’re art houses, but this time around, it’s so much worse than it’s ever been in terms of publishers trying to monetize gaming, simply for the sake of improving the salary of the publisher’s board and pumping up their stock prices.  Games had their guts ripped out, mechanics altered and, in some cases, outright destroyed in order to have lootboxes or other prize systems shoved into them for no reason.  Destiny 2, Star Wars: Battlefront 2 and Middle-earth: Shadow of War, a game which would have managed to be offensive all on its own, but the lootboxes make it a particularly nasty stab in the eye.  How bad things will be is to be seen, because while Star Wars didn’t sell as expected thanks to its lootbox shenanigans, we’ve got Electronic Arts writing scientific papers about messing with matchmaking to get players to spend more on microtransactions and Activision-Blizzard patenting ways to use matchmaking systems to pair up players with better weapons or items so they’ll spend more money in the cash shop.  It’s a disgusting play.

That said, we had some great games this year.  So, without further ado, here are this year’s honorable mentions.

PlayerUnknown's_Battlegrounds_Steam_Logo

Copyright PUBG Corporation

I didn’t get a chance to player PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds this year, but I did watch some friends stream it and I’ve caught a few Let’s Plays of it.  Because of the huge impact it’s had on the gaming community, I have to, at the very least, give it a nod.  This isn’t exactly my cup of tea, but it is fun, and while it’s not the first game to do a battle royale style game, it’s the first to do it as well as this.

There are some issues with the X-Box One, apparently, and cheating is rampant though.  Even if I had played it, those alone might actually disqualify it from my top 10.  Still, it’s already beginning to push online multiplayer shooters beyond the basic FPS deathmatch or CoD style multiplayer, so that’s a good thing in my mind.

Cuphead_(artwork)

Copyright Studio MDHR

This one I did get to play, and I have very mixed feelings on it.  On one hand, I appreciate its difficult, how smooth the gameplay is, how deep the gameplay is and, or course, the absolutely gorgeous hand drawn animation.  Just from the beautiful graphics alone does this deserve some recognition.  Development of nearly five years to get something this beautiful definitely deserves praise.

On the other hand, the game is hard in a way that is more reminiscent of old arcade games than utilizes any real difficulty.  It feels great to play, and it’s a wonder to control and the bosses are some of the most imaginative and complex out there, but there’s too much RNG to really make the game feel like it’s fighting fair.  Bosses don’t need to have a pattern or anything, but the lack of predictability on some of them is just unfair.  Also, a lot of the Run and Gun levels kind of suck.  Sorry.

Nioh_cover_art

Copyright Team Ninja, Koei Tecmo and Sony Interactive Entertainment

Nioh seemed like a great game, but I only got a chance to play the first level.  It’s sort of like a samurai infused Dark Souls that’s well made and has a lot of interesting bosses, but isn’t quite as deep or challenging as Dark Souls.  Fitting, since it’s made by Team Ninja, it felt very much like Ninja Gaiden to Dark Souls’s Castlevania.  Similar in scope, nearly as difficult, definitely worth praise, but not quite at the same levels.

On the other hand, I only played through the first boss, then died after the first checkpoint once I got to Japan.  Maybe I missed some of the cool stuff.  It’s possible my to 10 will have to be revised at a later date.  However, since I played so little, I am remiss to put it on my top ten, even if I do have one incomplete game on there, but I did more than beat one level and stop playing back in January.

Resident_Evil_7_cover_art

Copyright Capcom

Another one I really wanted to play, but I watched a bit of it being played by a few people on YouTube, and I was impressed.  It looked really cool, and more importantly, long time fans seem to have really enjoyed it.  I’m not big into horror games, but I feel like I should give it some sort of recognition for doing it really well.  What I saw was really well made, and actually made me interested in playing it, and I don’t even like Resident Evil games at all.  That should say something.

Much like with Nioh, if I get a chance to play and finish it, I may have to update my top 10 list.  This is a game that I definitely want to check out, but I haven’t yet.  Hopefully, it lives up to the reputation it’s built over the past several months.

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