2015 was a big year in video games. Several massive releases each of which several were genuinely incredible. Well, rather than sating us, we were only provided with a hunger, nay a NEED, for more… Unfortunately though it seems that the gaming industry’s recovery period is at least a year because 2016 was mostly, let’s face it, pretty disappointing.
I guess it’s only fitting that the games of 2016 would be a bit subpar given how shitty everything else was this year. I mean seriously… This is legit a meme now… 2016 was ACTUALLY cursed? What the heck?
While I could harp on about all the numerous other disasters of the year, we’re here to talk about the games, and realistically the year gets a 7/10 average. There a number of fairly big releases with a fair amount of hype which then were just not quite up to scratch. And, of course, let us not forget that this year actually saw its fair share of outright disaster in the gaming industry too.
So, an overall average year which I can’t wait to shrug off and hope that 2017 is ready to give me the satisfaction I so desperately crave (bantz, bantz, 2017 will fuck me silly, bantz). We still have an awards post though, a post to let you know the cream of the crop, even if the cream is decidedly thin on top of an awful lot of crop.
I hope 2017 uses a crop on me…
Okay I’m done. AWARDS TIME!
There are a couple of games from this year that both Tim and I wanted to specially mention because we both absolutely loved them, but for separate (if similar), reasons we felt couldn’t include them in the running for GotY.
The first special mention goes to Factorio, by Wube Software. Not in the running for GotY or even Best Indie Game because it is not yet out of early access and we only include full releases on our lists for awards. However, it is still worth a mention because despite being in (very) early access, I think this might be the game me and Tim have collectively played the most of over the entirety of 2016. Absolutely fabulous factory building fun which combines puzzle solving, combat, base-management and design, and realistically if I felt I could ignore the arbitrary rules we have decided on then I probably would. Absolutely exceptional.
The second special mention goes to The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine DLC by CD Projekt Red. Again, like Factorio, this is not in the running for GotY because, again, it is not a full game, and is in this case only a DLC. However, again like Factorio, it is also one of the absolute best things to have come out of video games last year and is as deserving (and possibly even more so) of your time than anything that won our actual awards. It’s worth mentioning that there is something around 50 hours of content here in something which is legitimately just a DLC… “Not a full game” he says, whilst looking scornfully at the 5 hour play time of Titanfall 2. Honestly, again, were it not for the same arbitrary rules we have this probably would have easily taken the top spot for me. Fucking Witcher 3 man… What a game.
MMGaming’s Game of the Year 2016
Seb: I think this might actually be one of the hardest years I’ve ever had to choose a Game of the Year for, and this includes 2014 during which the only game my laptop could run was Mount and Blade. The problem is that despite a number of rather good games there hasn’t really be any single one which made my heart pump faster, my breath catch in my throat or my penis any harder (godamn it, am I making sex jokes again?!). This is a problem compounded when I look at both of our honourable mentions of the year and consider openly that nothing else I’ve played this year has actually been as good as them.
In the end it, actually rather unfortunately, came down to a process of elimination. Rather than any one game being particularly outstanding, I considered those games I did play and enjoy and then one-by-one cut them out of the running for various reasons. Perhaps unfortunately I have missed out on a number of the bigger releases this year and so the real diamond of 2016 could still be out there… That said though, with the singular exception of Uncharted IV, almost all the major releases have fairly mixed reviews. All 7+/10 on average to be sure, but nothing that screams “exceptional”. So I am actually rather confident in my choice.
While it’s a low 8/10 itself, in my mind it does at least feature some of the best stealth action gameplay available along with fantastic level design and top-class world-building. Even if its story is uninspired and the characters leave me cold, Dishonored 2 does definitely deserve some recognition for its successes and I should feel pretty terrible for providing so many addendums before I allowed myself to say that.
Tim: Is it worrying that literally nothing is shouting “GAME OF THE YEAR” at my face in an obnoxious manner? I really can’t think of anything that is entirely worthy of the title. As Seb says, this year was filled with really good games just no total show stoppers. Annoyingly we both agreed that Factorio isn’t fully released and so can’t be my GOTY (it’s definitely my GOTY) so I’m going to have to go with… Battlefield 1?
I certainly think there may be better games released this year, but for me Battlefield 1 scratched the right itch at the right time. I’d been craving a first person shooter, large scale battles and world war themed for a while and Battlefield 1 delivered, even if it’s formula is rather tired at this point. The combat, the graphics, the overall immersion and the glorious sound make for such a polished package that keep me going back game after game, not to mention the fantastic operations mode. The positives far outweigh the negatives of terrible load times and uninspired loot crates. Anyway, bring on 2017 and may the games be shit hot!
Runner Up Game of the Year
Seb: My choice for Runner-Up GotY was actually significantly easier than for the top spot. While I couldn’t really think of anything that I wanted to just grab and rub all over my face there were a number of games which I would definitely at least provide with an overly eager handshake, maybe a backrub.
Stellaris by Paradox Interactive fits that bill perfectly. Despite glaring issues in the late-game when it turns into a simple slog towards the finish line with a repetitive cycle of war and peace, with no real chance of anything stopping you from attaining ultimate victory, Stellaris I think provides the best simulator of running a Galactic Empire I have ever witnessed. Even without that, it is an outstanding strategy and 4X game which truly allows for many hours of fun and strategizing.
Tim – Dishonoured 2. While I’m nowhere near completing it, Dishonoured 2 has grabbed me by the balls and ran. The world is just so darn interesting, the combat is so fluid and nice. And the powers, the powers are so fucking satisfying. I’m looking forward to smashing through the rest of the levels and KILLING. EVERYBODY. (silently).
Best Looking Award for Sexiest Game
Is it just me or is the Frostbite engine just quite good?
I mean… Battlefront looked pretty last year and Battlefield 1 is pretty pretty this year.
That’s all I’ve really got to say about that.
Much like for the Game of the Year, there was no particular game this year where the story absolutely stood out and shone. No particular plot, character or narrative that either of us particularly wanted to delve into greater and greater depth. Perhaps this may be linked to the fact that neither of us thought it a particularly good year for games, as I know for me personally I place a lot of weight on story in games.
However, it is still worth saying that Tyranny by Obsidian Entertainment was not only a great fun game but did have a story which was overall very engaging and interesting. Particularly when one takes into account the replay value that could be garnered from seeing how all the different possible choices and interactions could play out. It is a very tightly and well-written experience. Unfortunately it does somewhat fall to pieces in the final act, with an ending which is somewhat anticlimatic, but until that point it is pretty excellent!
A real surprise this year for me was our winner for Best Shooter. Overwatch by Blizzard is an only-multiplayer game, going for full game price, which I actually could not recommend more. It has all the running, jumping, climbing trees action of Team Fortress 2 with truly top-notch visuals, an endearing sense of heart and humour, and the sort of intelligent hero design that one would expect from top tier MOBAs instead of an FPS.
While it may be worth mentioning that neither of us played DEWM last year, Overwatch is actually a brilliant game with the possibility for casual, fun play all the way up to the high-ranking competitive. Blizzard really outdid themselves.
Can I also make a special mention here of how fucking awesome the Overwatch trailers are? This is an only-online, multiplayer FPS. It has no story whatsoever. And yet I absolutely adore the characters and lore. I really get the feeling that the developers loved this game as much as the fans and that translates into characters with real soul.
Perhaps a mite contentious choice on something in the same category as Overwatch no less, but the choice I made for Best Multiplayer this year is actually: Overcooked, by Ghost Town Games. Pretty simple reasoning behind it though is that it is by far simply one of the most good fun couch co-op experiences I’ve had in recent years. It’s fun to play, fun to watch, fun to yell at. It’s lighthearted, amusing and really deserves far more attention than it actually has. A real reminder that sometimes the best games are the most straight-forward and really only care about having a good time.
(Honourable mention: Another early access title, and not yet a full game, but definitely something to keep an eye on. Battlerite by Stunlock Studios has the potential to be a real game changer in the MOBA market.)
Best Indie Game
Have you ever felt that urge we all feel to go and become a farmer and live out your life in peace? With a merciless grind of grueling early starts, constant soul-wearying drudgery as you follow the endless cycle of planting, harvesting and clearing, the backbreaking work of looking after your animals every day for the slightest rewards? Surely this is a calling to which we can all relate?
No? Well. Maybe not in REAL LIFE. But if Stardew Valley is any indicator, then there is definitely something just ludicrously fun in doing it in a video game. Developed entirely by one man, Eric Barone, Stardew Valley is essentially a bigger and better Harvest Moon, and given how many hours of my youth I poured into perfecting my farm on Harvest Moon it really makes perfect sense that a bigger and better version would only be even more addictive.
Best Trailer Award for Something which means Absolutely Nothing
As always it is worth mentioning that I KNOW cinematic trailers do not represent anything of note of any game and are only to draw attention to a game in the flashiest way whilst revealing none of the flaws. But who cares when some of them are just SO damned good?
Again, as per usual, this category leaves me incapable of deciding which trailer I think was the best of the best. Considering the standard of animation these days, one often has to look for something MORE from trailers. Admittedly, awesome animation is usually the first thing one looks for, but the ones which tend to leave the biggest mark on me are those which then offer something more than just pretty visuals.
Such is the case with both of the trailers I say were the best of this year. The Last Bastion animated short, an 8-minute video featuring Bastion (a.k.a. “Play of the Game”) from Overwatch. Not only an extremely impressive feat of animation but also a surprisingly gut-wrenching story for the robot soldier suffering from intense PTSD. A touchy-feely, kinda-sad, feel-good video that is genuinely on Pixar levels of excellence.
The other trailer is the cinematic Betrayed trailer for the Knights of the Eternal Throne expansion for Star Wars The Old Republic. SWTOR has always had exceptional trailers and one of the best bits about them is that the lightsaber fighting in them manages to be the most visceral and realistic imagining of the combat I have seen in any medium to date. This particular trailer is also excellent though because of another heart-breaking story, this time with no happy ending though. Really worth a watch, even if the actual product its advertising will be nowhere near as good.
The Award for Consistent Life-Stealing
I feel that it deserves some kind of special mention that following the release of World of Warcraft: Legion this year, Tim once again could not resist the siren call of that game which took up so much of our childhood. Both mine and his first real love and a comforting embrace whenever we do return to it.
I personally take responsibility for the fact that he has now stopped his subscription, because I “resisted the temptation” (he would use another phrase) to renew my account following the release, and these days me and him both look for games we can play with each other.
However, it is certainly worth reminding ourselves that not only did Legion succeed in roping Tim back in for a few months, but it was also extremely well received by both critics and fans. Seems like there might still be some life in the old dog.
The No-Monies Award for the Game which neither of us played but either of us were interested in
It has been both a good and a bad year for MMGaming. On one hand I’d say that the increase in the standard of our content has been dramatic and exciting, plus we are covering more games these days (even if most are of a small indie nature).
On the downside though, through numerous small hang-ups I feel like this year has actually been the most inconsistent for us in terms of Triple-A releases in quite a while. In fact there are a number of big releases which neither of us have played yet, and at least one of us want, a couple of which might have actually been in with a good shout of GotY or Runner-Up at least.
In particular these are: DOOM (or as I call it… DEWM… Which I actually will be playing at some point in the coming month), Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (we both enjoyed Human Revolution, so more of the same would surely be quite good), Uncharted 4 (one of the strongest GotY on just about every major website as one of the only games to receive average ratings above a 9).
And this isn’t even starting on the ones that might have been amusing, but probably were not really in with a shot of winning awards from us such as Mafia III (lol, has THAT reviewed badly or what?), Watch Dogs 2 (an apparent marked improvement from the original, so might’ve been worth my time) and Titanfall 2 (actually apparently has an acceptable campaign this time around).
No real ragrets though. There’s only so much time and money we can realistically throw at this hobby of ours.
The Year of Pokemon Award
However much I may not be a fan of Nintendo (and I feel this is well documented), it certainly has been a bumper year for them because of the resurgence of Pokemon (minus the fact that absolutely everything else they release is utter trash). It really has been a surge as well, with two releases this year which absolutely smashed through records and expectations.
First there was Pokemon Go by Niantic, the enhanced reality phone app which allowed you to catch Pokemon in the real world. The amount of downloads for the game were absolutely staggering with hundreds of millions of people worldwide leaping into the craze within the first weeks. It had such widespread reach that the app was brought to the attention of the whole world as people went crazy, running around catching Pokemon. Of course, it was a complete fad and as a game extremely shallow (it held my interest for approximately 10 days and has been gathering dust on my phone ever since). Apparently there are still 20 million daily users in the US but this is still massively down from the original and I suspect slightly exaggerated. If people are still using it, they are further and fewer between these days. Not that it makes much difference considering the short-term bump in Nintendo’s stock the app delivered.
But then a few weeks ago they released Pokemon Sun and Moon, by Game Freak, the latest iteration in the flagship game series of Pokemon. This time everything I’ve heard about the game has been pretty stellar, about how it injects a healthy dose of life into the series. More importantly though but it’s been selling like hot cakes at a convention for hot cakes… In a cold country… Where hot cakes are considered a delicacy.
The “Gamers aren’t really people” Award for those who Pissed Us Off
Every year. Every bloody year there’s someone on our shit-list. I guess it’s to be expected really, but this year is actually a little different. You see this year I think there are TWO major entrants in this category, and both are big-enough fuck-ups that I both can’t and actually don’t want to choose between them. So they both win the award for someone that pissed us off!
First up is the obvious: Hello Games, for the absolutely ridiculous farce of No Man’s Sky. I feel they are pretty guilty of lying about content, using screenshots and trailers which were not representative of the final content, delivering a game that was nowhere close to the project promised and indeed missing oodles of features that were said to be included (as well as other issues, such as a cap on the amount of things one can “discover” and name). Then to cap it all off there was never any admission of guilt and they spent a lot of time just trying to deny what everyone else knew.
Admittedly, I feel like a large part of the blame falls on publishers Sony and everyone (including us) who overhyped the game into the highest reaches of the cosmos. But I still believe their piss-poor handling of an overall shitty situation has basically ruined any credibility they might have tried to garner.
Also, it is worth mentioning that an investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) determined that the No Man’s Sky steam page did not mislead consumers. I personally feel that this is not true and that it just seemed like the game was definitely not what was promised, even if from a legal perspective it is deemed “close enough”.
The second is worth saying, even after this particularly massive fuck-up, simply because it comes from a source that I have trusted for years. Bethesda and its new review code policy. I have consistently loved or at least enjoyed Bethesda games but now it seems that they are now taking it for granted that people will enjoy their games. Now major reviewers will only receive a code a DAY before release, preventing anyone from coming up with a review of the final product and thus preventing early customers from making an informed decision. They then have the absolute GALL to insist that this decidedly anti-consumerist policy is in the best interest of the gamers.
My one consolation there is that already it may be harming their sales and reputation, especially after the god-awful state the PC port of Dishonored 2 was released in. It’s a no-win situation where they’ve basically shot themselves in the leg and are in absolute denial about the blood they are shedding.
(Honourable mentions on this list include EA, as always, this time for a rumoured attempt of a hostile takeover of CD Projekt Red, which is a terrifying prospect).
The “Looking good bro” Award for things we are looking forward to
I was tempted to not include this award this year after we all saw the result that can come of over-hyping a game. Nothing could be clearer than seeing that the hype surrounding No Man’s Sky directly contributed to its absolutely appalling reception by critics and games. However, saying that from this point on “I will swear off anticipating any games whatsoever” is an obviously ludicrous statement. I think TotalBiscuit said something of the sort that objectivity is an impossible but worthy goal to strive for. And here is an area where I cannot be entirely objective.
Especially as the game that I think I am most looking forward to in 2017 is fucking Mass Effect yo! If you know me then you know I love Mass Effect! And we’re about to get another one! I’m practically getting an erection just talking about it! Plus we legit JUST got a release date too! HYPE.
OH well… Guess, that’s times up.
Let’s do this.