Morgan delivers his final judgements on the games he’s reviewed this academic year, just to cram it down your throat one last time.
If there’s one thing popular review series have taught me, it’s that you can’t end the year (or in this case, the academic year) without some sort of list detailing the best and worst of it all. So I suppose I’d better do one quick before the Earth inevitably stops in its orbit around the sun. A couple of ground notes before we get started:
- If I’ve reviewed more than one game in a single franchise, only one of them can be included in this list (wink-wink, nudge-nudge)
- A full tier list of all the games I wrote about is available at the end
Now, to go forth and spread the word about games that you’ve most likely already forgotten that I played.
3rd Best – “Poundland Bargain-Bin DVD” Award for Being Best Enjoyed Drunk
It was either this or Call of Duty Zombies and it feels a little disingenuous to give an award to a game mode that accounts for only about ten per cent of a full game. A full game that can be best described as the visual equivalent of horse tranquiliser. So, Injustice 2 it is.
Yeah, it’s fine. Whatever. True, the story campaign has all the impact of a bread-and-butter boxing glove and the cosmetic system is laughably obsolete, yet the general design and gameplay still give it just the right amount of catharsis and allow you to find your own level of success.
But before any DC fans out there start getting all smug about things, I want it on record that this is less an endorsement of the game and more a condonement of everything else I played this year. I had absolutely no problem choosing my three worst games, the list of candidates in that department was more drawn-out than the average Neil Young song.
3rd Worst – “Sixty-Foot Water Cannon Backfire” Award for Most Disappointing Experience
I understand that in the modern games industry, small-time creators are rooted up the driveshaft more often than the Whore of Babylon, so naturally, it makes sense that they don’t get the biggest bucks for their projects. But what a moral hell it must be when you haven’t enough cash to render your game playable, yet too much to cancel the whole thing and not be jailed for fraud. One can only imagine the dilemma that faced Joey Drew Studios: a stretch in the slammer, or willingly releasing Bendy and the Ink Machine on Steam and admitting they made it.
And it had such a promising concept, too. Older cartoons have always been slightly creepy, the recipe for horror success was always there. Focus on the blank-eyed stares or overly happy music of early Disney when creating your monsters. Not on which jump-scare noise best recreates the sound of an easily-startled wildebeest accidentally walking in on his parents having sex.
2nd Best – “Bar Fight at Your Grandfather’s Wake” Award for An Unexpectedly Fun Time
The phrase surprisingly good doesn’t do Doom Eternal (title drop) justice. It would have been surprisingly good if it didn’t lull me into a trance by the fifteen-minute mark, or the fiftieth demon skull being turned into an egg cup – whichever came first.
Even if the platforming is blatantly unnecessary and defeating one enemy, in particular, is like trying to swat a fly with the help of a soda bottle, the more tactical mindset you’re forced to adapt builds challenge nicely, rather than having the game just parachuting in Hell’s entire buggery squadron the millisecond you touch an ammunition pack. The change in environments also gives it a much-needed sense of progression: we’ve moved on from the first game, we’re no longer just dithering around a laboratory complex modelled after a children’s adventure soft play for seven hours.
2nd Worst – “Vanilla Ice Cream” Award for Something That Has No Taste, Yet Everybody Somehow Likes It
EA have done it again!
…oh, sorry, wrong tone.
EA have done it again.
Star Wars is very much a safe investment; the world could be taken over by carnivorous grapefruit tomorrow and there’ll still be post-apocalyptic survivors uploading reaction videos on the latest Bad Batch trailer in between scrounging trips and being shot to death by raiders. And naturally, it’s the only type of investment EA would be willing to back when they’re not preoccupied with tossing foetuses onto piles of burning money.
At best, Star Wars Battlefront 2 looks nice and plays nice. Just ignore the subconscious undercurrent of corporate mind-control that awakens slightly in your brain each time you hear a lightsabre igniting and you may even enjoy it.
“English Premier League” Award for Completely Unsurprising Winner
I’m sure my choice for game of the year comes as little surprise; it’s been referred to multiple times within my articles, as well as recommended to every man, woman, child and paving stone I’ve come across. However, there still might be an entire two people in the country who can’t predict what that choice will be, so, to make it brief, the position as the only S-tier game on my list belongs to Bioshock Infinite.
Some may call the plot’s themes slightly pretentious, but with a twist I didn’t see coming and an ending that actually made me feel something other than the usual air of vague contempt, I’m a hundred percent confident in stating that this is certainly one of the better experiences I had this year. It would likely be number two on my best-days-ever list, right after the time I threw that brick at Nigel Farage.
“Cardi B Greatest Hits Album” Award for Absolute Worst
And so, we move from the best game to the worst. To put it simply, I’d honestly be hard-pressed to think of a better title with which to encapsulate the word boredom. Imagine picking up a spilt kilogram bag of rice one grain at a time with only an eyelash. Then forget that idea entirely, as you still would have gotten a more validating experience out of it than if you were playing Zombie Army Trilogy.
If each feature of a functional-but-bland game was an infinity stone, then this debacle would be chosen to wield Thanos’ gauntlet. Bland hordes of enemies in bland “spooky” environments which you blandly shoot with your bland-looking sniper rifle…
It’s never a good sign when you can tell a prominently-released spin-off will be bad just by watching the trailer. There’s no attempt to adapt the original Sniper Elite gameplay or change it in any way, hell, there’s barely even a plot. It’s like they were aware that nobody would care enough to play it.
Go ahead and have a play if you can never get enough of watching a head blow up in intense, gut-curling 360p quality. Maybe you’ll discover a hidden message within a level that reveals a deep and complex narrative, which I missed because I was too busy watching paint dry on the opposite side of the room.
The full tier list: