Scott McCrae’s Top Ten Games of 2016

There have been a whole lot of good games in 2016, and I feel like this is the year I finally try and write something about the games I liked the most. So here goes nothing:

HONORABLE MENTIONS

First off, here’s some games that didn’t make the list but were definitely in consideration.

Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright: Didn’t find this game as enjoyable as Awakening and I honestly got burned out while playing this one. That made me not want to continue on and play Fates: Conquest and Revelation. Still very much enjoyed the game though.

Watch Dogs 2: A significant step up from the first game, but still has the Ubisoft open world formula problem. I also haven’t played enough of it to put it on here.

Thumper: Really cool horror / rhythm game that makes me very anxious, and because of that I haven’t got to play much of it since one level (which takes about 20 mins) is all I play per session.

Killer Instinct [Windows 10]: The long awaited PC version of one of the best fighting games in recent memory. Can’t really include this since it’s from 2013, but the game is definitely good. Shout outs especially for the stellar port job and the amazing soundtrack by Mick Gordon.

Ratchet and Clank [2016]: Fantastic remake of a Ps2 classic, one of the best looking games of this generation, I haven’t included it here because of the fact that it is a remake but it is definitely worth playing.  

Top ten games of 2016.

10. MOTHER RUSSIA BLEEDS

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As a huge fan of Beat Em’ Ups and the brutal, grimey, 80′s-esque aesthetic of games like Hotline Miami, Mother Russia Bleeds should be a game for me – and for the most part, it lands.

I had to keep it low down on the list because the PS4 release of this hadn’t arrived until very late in the year, and at the time of writing I have only played around 3 chapters of it. But in that time I found it to be one of the more enjoyable, refreshing and outright fun Beat Em’ Ups I’ve played since 2012′s Double Dragon Neon.

9. KIRBY PLANET ROBOBOT

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Kirby – for the most part – has been one of the Nintendo series I’ve held dear to my heart. While not having actually played as many of the games as I would have liked to, Robobot is my first Kirby game since 2007′s Kirby Mouse Attack. While it’s easy to write off Kirby games as having little to no challenge and being generally samey, Planet Robobot has enough charm (which comes off especially well in the soundtrack) and nuance to cement it as one of the best games in the series.

Also, you can not deny Kirby in a Giant Mech Suit.

8. Rhythm Paradise Megamix

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Being a huge fan of rhythm games, Rhythm Paradise (or Rhythm Heaven as it’s known in the States) is a series I have always admired from a distance. With this 3DS version being a “Greatest Hits” so to speak, I thought “what better time to jump in than now?”.

What I got was a collection of games with an amazing sense of humour, style and charm that kept me entertained throughout its 70 different minigames, and very much captures the same type of feeling I got from the Warioware series which holds a place very close to my heart.

7. SUPERHOT

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Superhot has one of the coolest concepts for a shooting game, period – time only moving when you move – which leads to what amounts to you re-enacting several John Wick style action scenes.

It’s hard to talk about the plot elements of this game without giving important things away, but what I will say is the concepts shown in the storytelling are almost as interesting as the concepts shown in the gameplay which is quite the high bar.

To summarise: SUPERHOT is the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years!

6. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

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Uncharted is a series I’ve had kind of a love/hate relationship with. The first game I found to be lacking, and the second and third were both really good games, but I have never been a fan of the core gameplay.

So when I first heard Naughty Dog were doing yet another Uncharted game, I groaned. However, Uncharted 4 proved my cynicism wrong, and ended up being not only the best game in the series but one of the best games of the year with the storytelling, the refined gameplay and the surprisingly great multiplayer. All of these come together in a fantastic way to finish off the Uncharted series with a fitting and cohesive ending.

I especially liked how the Indiana Jones quest for the Macguffin was basically a side plot in this game, and instead the focus was on the characters and relationships between Nathan and his wife, long lost brother and mentor – all of which produce some of the most lifelike and engaging dialogue in a videogame, period.

5. Street Fighter V

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The obligatory ‘controversial’ game on my list comes in the form of Street Fighter V.

Street Fighter is a series that is very near and dear to my heart – definitely makes my top 3 franchises in videogame – but I’ve never been very good at it. Street Fighter V is the first SF game where the mechanics felt accessible, but deep enough so that the barrier of entry isn’t super high while also not so shallow that it doesn’t feel competitive or hard to master.

Not to mention one of the best rosters in a SF game to date. A lot of people have complained that there are less than in SFIV, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Fan favourites such as Birdie, Urien and Alex make long-awaited returns, while series standbys such like Ken, Akuma and Vega were reworked in such a way that almost makes them feel like different characters.

And yes, the game was clearly rushed out for the Pro tour, and is lacking in content (especially in the single player department). The DLC pricing is also a bit steep, but the core fighting of the game is where SFV shines brighter than most fighting games do, which is enough to land it a spot on this list. SFV is probably my second most played game this year after another game on this list and I plan on playing it long into 2017.

4. Titanfall 2

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The first Titanfall game was in a very similar situation to Street Fighter V: lacking in single player content, bad DLC structure, but incredible gameplay nonetheless. Titanfall 2 remedies all of the problems Titanfall 1 has and improves on the original game exponentially.

The multiplayer of the game is still the incredible fast paced action that the first game had, with major improvements such as special abilities like the grappling hook or the stim boost, to the increased amount and variety of Titan classes on offer, new game modes like Bounty Hunt and Colosseum, all wrapped in an amazing multiplayer suite that rivals some of the best multiplayer shooters of all time.

And I haven’t even mentioned the Single Player yet.

The Campaign in Titanfall 2 is one of the best single player shooter campaigns in a long time, and rivals games like Halo, Call of Duty 4 and Timesplitters 2 in terms of sheer quality. A small, concise package full of amazing action, incredible set pieces and surprisingly great boss fights and characters – the banter between Cooper and BT being the highlight.

The campaign isn’t afraid to introduce mechanics that are exclusive to a level and not explored again, which does its bit to keep the game fresh while not overstaying its welcome.

This game was number one on my list at a point this year, so every game from here onwards is a must-play for everyone in my opinion.

3. Overwatch

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Overwatch is bound to be the game mentioned the most this year in everyone’s GOTY discussions. The game is a phenomenon and blew up in ways I haven’t seen since the aforementioned Call of Duty 4. I’ve had so many good times this year playing with friends in this game. It’s so easy to just throw it on and shoot the shit while playing. It also made me a salt mine more times than I would like to admit.

The game also has one of the most phenomenal cast of characters in any video game (Reinhardt is the best character though, let’s be real here). There’s bound to be a character for every playstyle and preference: Soldier “Call of Duty Guy” 76, Jesse “I’m unironically a Cowboy” Mccree and Pharah “Did Somebody Say Quake” Amari.

Even from a visual standpoint, the characters are unique enough that everyone should have at least a few to fall in love with, from the Mad Max-inspired Roadhog and Junkrat, to Lucio – s rollerskating DJ with a dubstep gun and a whole load of optimism. The game is so full of character and charm, it’s hard to hate anyone.

As for negatives, I kind of fell off of the game in a bad way because of the summer event where I got burned by the random lottery loot box system in place for unlocks, and the game also lacks any single player content. But when it got down to it, there was no other multiplayer game I has as many good times with this year (it is also my most played game this year), which is enough to cement it into my top 3 of the year.

2. Hitman

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Hitman is one of the biggest surprises in gaming for a long time. After the lacklustre Hitman: Absolution and the announcements that it would be an episodic game, expectations were very low coming into it.

And when I bought the intro pack when the game came out, those expectations were met. I found the game to be janky in the way the Hitman games have been, and especially after Metal Gear Solid V re-invented stealth gameplay, I walked away feeling burned and disappointed by Hitman.

Cut to later in the year when I started getting into Giant Bomb’s content, I had watched a few of their videos relating to Hitman, and as I was watching the amount of content and depth to Hitman was revealed to me. I reinstalled hoping that the spark would hit me, and it didn’t right away.

But at some point it clicked – the amount of ways to go about the missions and how to finish your missions are staggering in the same ways I felt about Metal Gear Solid V the year prior.

This game went from being one of the most disappointing games of the year for me to my second favourite game of the year.

The maps – Paris and Sapienza especially – are masterfully crafted to give you so many different ways to deal with your targets, and while some of the initial jank still persists (vision cones not being very clear, guards seeing you through walls, awkward controls sometimes) the game has managed to win me over in such a monumental way that it came very close to becoming my GOTY.

1. DOOM

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Speaking of low expectations.

I’ve never been much of a fan of DOOM as a series and I don’t think anyone expected a DOOM game in 2016 to be any good especially after it was in development hell for so long (with versions of it apparently being a modern military shooter referred to as “Call of Demons”), the frankly bad multiplayer beta and Bethesda not sending review copies to gaming sites, things were not looking bright for DOOM.

Yet despite all that DOOM launched with one of the greatest shooter campaigns of all time.

The game begins with about five seconds of a voice talking to the player instructing him to “Rip and Tear” and then Doomguy smashes a demon’s head into the coffin he was sealed away in, from there you’re thrust straight into action, already a far cry from the 20 minutes of talking you get at the start of most shooter campaigns (including DOOM 3).

and the pace of the game never really falls from there, its just constant balls-to-the-wall action from beginning to end in its 10+ hour campaign, introducing new mechanics and weapons for your character along the way.

The game just has has a sense of self awareness so it doesn’t become generic cringe-inducing metalhead schlock, It has a sense of humour about how stupid the concept of a guy named “DoomGuy” being pissed off at all of the demons and wants nothing to do with anything else.

The sense of humour the game has also does wonders in characterising DoomGuy, from him throwing computer screens out the way because he doesn’t care about a characters exposition or kicking highly volatile hell energy canisters, much to the chagrin of Dr Samuel Hayden.

Samuel Hayden is effectively the only major character other than DoomGuy and the way he is portrayed as a scientist trying to harness hell energy to help humans sustain the planet vs DoomGuy’s lack of care for anything except killing demons has a certain Buddy-Cop film vibe that does wonders for the characterization of both of these characters.

This game even made Codex entries cool, by reading them it’s revealed that the Demons view DoomGuy as some sort of Angel of Death bringing nothing but death and destruction to all of Demon-kind.

I haven’t even mentioned the amazing soundtrack by Mick Gordon (Killer Instinct, Wolfenstein: The New Order) which when you look at the game you would assume would just be some generic metal tracks, but instead you get metal mixed with industrial and more electronic sounds to create a blend of styles that not only go perfectly with each other but with the game also. The soundtrack does wonders for the atmosphere of the game and keeps you pumped up through all of the amazing action the game throws your way.

Now DOOM does come with 2 other modes: Multiplayer and Snapmap. The Multiplayer is honestly kind of lacking, for one its loadout based instead of the classic fps style. There are also powerups that are doled out in certain points of the map which just encourages camping instead of people playing the game. It’s not terrible but you could honestly just ignore it.

Admittedly I have not played much of the Snap-Map mode but it seems like it has potential, from what I can tell it’s like Custom Games from Halo? Whenever I have went on I’ve seen some cool stuff like levels from the original game remade, but again Snap-map doesn’t really do much to increase or decrease the quality of the overall package in my opinion.

With all that being said I obviously highly recommend DOOM to anyone, especially if you are a FPS fan and a fan of games that are solely about action, we’re talking about the FPS equivalent of a Devil May Cry or Bayonetta in terms of speed, combat quality and just the frankly badass feeling you get while playing it. It’s been a fantastic year for games and a fantastic year for shooter and to me, DOOM is the best of the lot.

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