I think that an awards post for each year is a great idea. Having said that I also think that some awarding bodies are dumb as hell. Like doing awards for a year near the start of the year for instance. Well, I wanted to make doubly sure that 2017 was over before posting this year’s MMGaming Awards, which is why it’s getting posted after the mid-point of 2018… Are you buying this…?
You know what, 2017 was overall a pretty fucking good year for games. It sort of actually fits the pattern I’ve predicted that you’ll have one year of slightly disappointing games and then one year of tip top ones (this is after 2016 being something of a disappointment for me).
Unfortunately 2017 is also one of those years that is a missed opportunity for me specifically because of how many of said “tip top games” were released on the brand spanking new Nintendo Switch, which I do not own and do not really intend to purchase. Nintendo managed to do something quite spectacular with the Switch, especially given the abysmal flop of the WiiU, which I have to begrudgingly respect.
It was also a slightly difficult year for video games in general. The loot box controversy, which still seems to hit headlines and the front page of Reddit even now, was a big deal for the video game industry and seems to show precisely the contempt Triple A companies have for their consumers. It also, however, may indicate the first glimpses of fresh air as gamers attempt to throw off their seedy shackles.
Throughout all of this though, MMGaming is here to just play the games and remain removed from the politics (LOL, as if). So without any further ado or dilly-dallying, let’s get into the awards for 2017!
While not released in 2017, I feel the need to give a special mention to Rainbow 6: Siege as a great example of multiplayer gaming done right. As well as actually just being my straight-up favourite competitive multiplayer out there at the moment, I think the ongoing development, updates, DLC and community interaction from the R6S team at Ubisoft has just been phenomenal. Everything I hear points to a team that cares about their game and is determined to keep their players happy. After a year of EA and Warner Brothers (and hell, even the REST of Ubisoft) generally dicking the world’s gamers around it sometimes is just quite nice to remember that sometimes there are a few groups who just want to make decent games!
MMGaming’s Game of the Year 2016
Seb: Am I even allowed to have an opinion this year? After all, I’m one of those poor deluded fools who does not have a Switch or a WiiU and so I have not played our Lord and Saviour: Breath of the Wild. I will, begrudgingly for sure, admit that had I played it I probably would also give it the Game of the Year for 2017 (as I’m aware absolutely everywhere else did too). However, I haven’t… So my Game of the Year might be somewhat out of the left field for those Nintendo fanboys who think “it literally cannot be anything else”.
Even having not played BotW, it was a fairly difficult choice this year for GotY, with two games running extremely close. However, in the end my winner for Game of the Year 2017 is Divinity: Original Sin 2 by Larian Studios. Divinity 2 is simply a fantastic RPG and an example of a studio taking everything they learned from an already brilliant game and then saying “okay, let’s do it again but PROPERLY this time”. It’s got a pretty awesome story, interesting choices and some of the best companion characters in an RPG for a good while. It has some of the most in-depth and tactical gameplay I’ve experienced in a long time and also, somehow, manages to pull off being a fun and compelling RPG even when played in the presence of friends. And let me add to that it’s pretty great as a multiplayer too…
Let down only by the occasional niggle including that even with what seems to be a wealth of options in terms of the directions you can take, there often feels like only one route (and that you would take the same route every time) along with it feeling like it lacks any real sort of morality system, it is still about as close to tabletop RPGs as we’ve gotten in video games.
Runner-Up Game of the Year
Seb: While my choice for GotY might be contentious due to not having play BotW, I think that my runner-up ought to be less so. Frankly it was a difficult choice between this and Divinity 2 for the top spot and there’s very little that I can specifically put a finger on that made me bump it down to Runner-Up.
Prey by Arkane Studios is an example of a game doing so many different things right. It is repeatedly compared to other greats, like it doesn’t have an identity of its own, but really it is a genuinely fantastic game. It’s dripping with atmosphere, has a brilliant story, a very subtle but still present moral choice system, an outstanding aesthetic and some of the very best world-building I’ve seen. It’s not completely perfect, but it absolutely deserves to be so close to the top spot and it just has the bloody misfortune to be released on a pretty outstanding year for video games.
Best Looking Award for Sexiest Game
The winner of Best Looking in 2017 really ought to only be a surprise to those few who both A. know of my penchant for giving this to massive Triple A games and B. only played BotW and decided nothing else could match up to it.
To everyone else, there really is only one clear winner for this award: Cuphead by Studio MDHR. I’ll admit that I personally struggle with platformers, incredibly difficult games and bullet-hell games, so the actual gameplay of Cuphead has never precisely been my cup of tea (pun intended). But good GOD it’s an honest to goodness work of art.
It was in development for 7 years, every single piece of 1930’s style animation was hand-drawn and it fucking shows because for all its lack of ultra-realistic, 4K particles and physics, it has the most unique, breath-of-fresh-air, wonderfully original, incredibly unique and downright perfectly executed aesthetic in YEARS.
I think Witcher 3 is probably one of the best looking games in years, but the unique sheer brilliance of Cuphead’s graphics put it right up there along with even that all-time great.
This was a pretty easy choice given some of the best character-driven story of the year. Life is Strange: Before the Storm by Deck Nine. It actually manages to pull off both having a brilliant and engaging story in its own right whilst also providing a greater depth and level of tragedy to its predecessor. The characters are exceptionally well written and acted. It’s emotional, gripping and overall just absolutely enthralling and entertaining. Admittedly the game was let down by an ending that simply stank of a studio which had run out of resources, but up until that it was pretty bloody great and frankly it’s just a damn shame there’s not more of it so it could have been finished properly.
As always this category sees a lot of competition but as I played a grand total of two of the games which could realistically fit into this category then that’s the game that gets it. This is actually not to say that Wolfenstein 2: A New Colossus does not deserve the award. In fact, much like its predecessor, the game actually is one of those rare gems in the shooter genre that does not entirely rely on visuals and gameplay to suck you in. Admittedly its predecessor is absoltuely the better game based entirely on impact, but that doesn’t make it any less absorbing and frankly just good crackalackin, curb-stompin, Nazi-blastin fun.
A contentious choice here and one which only just barely made it onto this list by the skin of its teeth, with a “full release” coming out in early December. Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds is something of a culmination of the Battle Royale genre which has been growing in popularity the last few years. It’s an odd duck in a number of ways because I actually still have a number of problems with the game. Ignoring all the continuous reports of hacking and terrible lag issues alongside the generally rather poor standard of development by Bluehole (prior to the 1.0 release the game’s optimisation was so absolutely awful it came close to ruining the experience). Plus there are then problems with the actual gameplay itself in that one can spend a whole gaming session just grinding your teeth in frustration, achieving nothing and feeling like there was nothing you could have done.
Despite all these issues though, nothing still can beat the incredible feelings of victory the game provides. The sheer tension and elation of winning games is unmatched by anything else. While it doesn’t have the same consistently fun quality as R6S, the highs are just that much higher. It really is a game that fosters a love/hate relationship, and after hundreds of hours I don’t see myself slowing down any time soon.
Best Indie Game
I can’t tell if I’ve become more jaded with Indie games lately and they have to do more to impress me rather than just be a “early-access, open-world, survival-crafting, puzzle platformer with 8-bit graphics” or whether it turns out that said formula ISN’T the key to making the BestGameOfTheYearTM. Either way, it didn’t feel like a very strong year for the Indie market while the AAA market was doing rather well (y’know, minus making it obvious how little they care about anything other than our money).
It was another close-run thing for me this year as I was tempted to break my “rule” and give two awards to one game and just let Cuphead win it. However, there was a late addition to the roster with a game I’ve only got around to play after the New Year, which has taken me by storm.
Hellblade *hurrrk* Satsuma’s Sandwic– I mean Senua’s Sacrifice, is really a rather brilliant game. The third-person, vaguely souls-like combat is functional but there isn’t much more to say about it. However, the story and visuals of the game are phenomenal. The 10-odd minute intro is also one of the absolute best examples in the medium at immersing you in the game. Combine that with some truly stellar sound-design, Senua’s Sacrifice is just brilliant for how totally compelling it is. The story might not be quite as strong overall as the initial chapters of Life is Strange, but as a complete experience it blows Deck Nine out of the water.
Best Trailer Award for Something which means Absolutely Nothing
As always, it’s difficult for me to pick just one trailer which stands out from among the many absolutely brilliant ones. A fact made worse because actually these days I tend to pay less and less attention to trailers. Weird that…
However, I’d say there were two trailers this year which really struck me for very different reasons. First off was one of the trailers announcing The Last of Us 2, which I’ll say is at least partly because of my excitement for that game. The original The Last of Us is a game I actually only relatively recently experienced and enjoyed massively, so I’m very excited to see it coming back. Having said that it looks like we have to wait until 2019 at the earliest for a release, so let’s keep the hype at low simmer.
The other trailer is half for how fucking outrageous it is, half for the memes and half for Kojima. Yeah, it’s the second trailer for Death Stranding. A game which supposedly some of the main actors in it don’t understand the story yet. The trailer is fucking ridiculous though!
The No-Monies Award for the Game which neither of us played but either of us were interested in
For me the answer here is an obvious one. Breath of the Wild is one of those games I’ll probably regret not playing and I very much doubt I actually ever will. Not because of a lack of desire to actually play it but rather because I simply do not see myself buying a Switch and without a Switch of your own, what are you going to do? Play it in 20 minute dribs and drabs at a friend’s house? No. I think that, unfortunately, unless the unofficial (and not strictly legal) PC port ever gets in decent shape, this is one of those games that is just going to pass me by.
I feel I should say though, while I am still disappointed that I haven’t even tried BotW yet, for me there is zero nostalgia factor in any of Nintendo’s games. I’m disappointed that I haven’t had the opportunity to play it, but at the same time, I think I’d prefer a PS4 than a Switch… Just saying. Now that they’ve splurged their Zelda and Mario games over fanboy faces, really the only other title on the Switch that might be worth getting it for is the supposed upcoming Metroid. Which, of course, wasn’t mentioned at E3 this year…
Beyond this, I think neither me nor Tim ended up playing Mario Odyssey or Mario Rabbids which I guess is unfortunate because I’ve heard the latter is pretty good and the former is practically Game of the Year material on its own. THAT said… Even if I’d played it and loved it I might have deliberately refused to give it any awards simply because of my frustration that HOW THE HELL IS MARIO STILL A THING?!
Biggest Disappointment for a Series Killer
A new category I am shoving into this article because I want to find some way of shoehorning my opinion on this further into people’s face. Mass Effect: Andromeda is by no means a bad game, and despite winning this award I feel that it’s important to reiterate that. However, when I say it’s a disappointment I mean that coming from the perspective of someone who loved the original Mass Effect trilogy and looking back on this new soft reboot can feel nothing but upset at how much it feels like it missed the mark. It felt like a game which refused to take risks, which allowed no real consequences and because of both of these it felt just unmemorable. It felt like a game where all the character had been removed and it had been designed by the numbers by a committee at EA.
Even worse, now due to the poor performance of the game, we’ve had to deal with the complete cancellation of all story DLC, with the events of the Quarian Ark relegated to the pages of a book, and the very continued existence of the series seems to have a question mark over it. At time of writing this originally it seemed very much like Mass Effect had breathed its last with Andromeda but now at the time of posting there has been a recent announcement stating that maybe not ALL hope is lost quite yet.
Of course, I’m sure they’ve been saying that about Half Life 3 for years as well…
I really do hope that Mass Effect comes back again, as my absolute favourite video game series I can’t really hope otherwise, but I also sincerely hope that the next instalment will have actual threats, will be more coherent, more mysterious and subtler in its presentation. I mean for goodness sake, where was Bioware’s A-team here?!
The “Gamers aren’t really people” Award for those who Pissed Us Of
Now, I occasionally (read: regularly) get fucking pissed off by things which happen in the gaming media. Seriously, the amount of times I’ve been tempted to go back and write an opinion piece on Gamergate for instance… Thankfully I’ve yet to give in to that particular desire because covering it accurately and thoroughly would probably take much more time and effort than I am willing to spend.
This year I gave in to the desire though and wrote a full-blown fucking rant about my irritation of the day with the industry. Because it was so long though I have posted it as a separate article in its own right and you can read it here!
Tl;dr: the award jointly goes to EA and Warner Bros for just generally being a bunch of greedy fucking cunts who have shown for the millionth time that really they only care about money and do not care about gamers or making decent games. It’s all about profit to them and honestly we should be ashamed it’s taken us this long to get really up in arms about it.
The “Looking good bro” Award for things we are looking forward to
This award feels like something of a curse now. Last year I said Mass Effect: Andromeda… The year before I said No Man’s Sky… And we all know how both of them turned out! So, perhaps I should try and put the curse specifically onto something I intend to dislike… Anything by Nintendo for instance…
Actually though I will say that there are a number of rather big releases coming out next year which I am so fucking keen for (and I’m going to stick with things we know are actually coming out next year).
In particular I want to go ahead and call GotY 2018 as Red Dead Redemption 2. I mean come on… It’s a Rockstar sandbox. Could literally anything else POSSIBLY win in the same year?
OH well… Guess, that’s times up.
Let’s do this.