And so, the end of the year is almost upon us. With hundreds of games released throughout the year, surely there’s been something for everyone? At least one game to remember 2022 by?
While The Game Awards will bring the “official” winner on 8 December from the shortlist of Elden Ring, A Plague Tale: Requiem, God of War: Ragnarok, Horizon Forbidden West, Stray and Xenoblade Chronicles 3, for our award, any title is allowed.
There are no right or wrong answers of course – whichever game you feel is your Game of the Year holds that title for you, and no one can take it away – but in the interest of fun we thought we’d all make our case for the game which has hit the spot for us in 2022.
We’ll now be taking a bit of a break for the festive season, unless something comes up we decide we’d really like to chat about, so see you in 2023.
In the meantime, give us your suggestions in our Discord.
Metroid Dread | Rob Holt
Yes, yes, yes, keen-ear’d observer, I am bending the laws of the task to my will, as Metroid Dread did indeed release during the back-end of last year. Does the fact that I only recently uncovered a batch of time in which to play it help my cause at all...?
Back when the world was sepia - around 2011, if I recall correctly - I had my first of several attempts at understanding/enjoying the Metroid series, with 2D classic, SUPER. I enjoyed the atmosphere of it, but found the punishing difficulty - yes, I am a noob, and yes, Dark Souls can bugger off, too - a tad too rich for my liver. I tried again with Prime, but the pointer controls solicited such profound rage & frustration within my very noggin that I never made it past the second hour. Why then, Young Idealists, has Dread been the entry to finally take-a-hold?
Let me reel off a ream, chums: I’m older, and although significantly stupider with every passing day, I am wiser to the tricks of these MetroidVanias, and have grown to love them for their multiple paths, abilities and puzzles. The way Dread opens up with each new discovery or scrap is utterly dreamy, giving this creaky-hipped curmudgeon a great sense of satisfaction - especially learning and beating those punishing, bastard bosses. The music and sound effects are delicious, the controls metronomically tight, the graphics luscious, and the story is wonderfully, accidentally hilarious/dross. It all bubbles away to create a heady, highly replayable jous.
Are the E.M.M.I enemies a total pain in the Harris? Yes, almost definitely, but the joy in which I took in destroying them only served to prove how much I had enjoyed and invested in this entry in the series. AND I actually finished it.
“The longer the note, the more dread."
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: Booster Course Pass | James Parry
Like Rob, I’ve also picked a game which didn’t come out this year, but its constant presence on the sales charts since 2017 is a testament to its quality.
After a few years off, I’ve bounced back to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe thanks to a combination of a regular tournament with some very cool people and the Booster Course Pass, bringing 48 new tracks to the game over the next couple of years, bringing the final total to 96.
The approach Nintendo is taking to breathing life into the game is smart. Since it’s been five years, you might expect Mario Kart 9 news by now, but instead the team is doubling down on the strength of what’s already there but adding replayability and variety.
It might not be all-new, with most of the tracks coming from previous games, but plenty are being included from Mario Kart Tour, which far fewer people are familiar with. On top of that there are small updates being made to tracks here and there, showing player feedback is being taken into account.
There’s another eight tracks coming next week with the Rock and Moon Cups, including a special, Christmas-themed new course, Merry Mountain. What more could you want?
Honourable mentions should go to the very fun Cat Café Manager, the charmingly endearing The Last Hero of Nostalgaia and the curiously different Pentiment.
Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 | Liam Andrews
Modern Warfare 2 might have only just arrived, but since its release a little over a month ago I’ve pretty much been glued to it.
The campaign is decent (though nothing the series has done has ever topped the original two Modern Warfares (Modern Warfi?) in my opinion) and isn’t afraid to throw a few curveballs at the player by introducing RTS elements and crafting. While these would probably be considered gentle underarms in other games (especially the latter), their presence in a CoD campaign was notable.
The multiplayer is as addictive as ever, and the new unlock system does a good job of encouraging players to try weapon classes they might have otherwise avoided. The game modes have hardly changed since the original MW released, but that’s a testament to their quality, rather than a lack of evolution.
I’m also going to lump Warzone 2 in with Modern Warfare 2. Even though they’re technically two separate products (the former being free-to-play) the two are intrinsically linked, sharing menu screens and weapon/character progression, at least until the next CoD comes along.
The battle royale part of Warzone 2 hasn’t yet grabbed me the way 2020’s Warzone did, but the DMZ offering, which sees players trying to get high-end gear out before the last extraction helicopter leaves, has been hugely enjoyable and is set to be my go-to multiplayer experience for the foreseeable.
Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet are finally here, and trainers young and old are already hard at work exploring the brand new Paldea region, inspired by Mediterranean Spain.
In fact, we’ve been transported to many different locales over the years, with similarities to real places both close to home and far across the sea, but the question is, which was our favourite?
Perhaps you’ll choose Kanto, from the original, Red, Blue and Yellow games, or do you prefer the English-inspired Galar region? Let us know in the comments, or in our Discord.
Alola – Pokémon Sun and Moon | James Parry
While I did hugely enjoy exploring the Pokémon take on the UK in Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield’s Galar region, it’s Sun and Moon’s Alola that drew me back into the franchise back in 2016.
The Hawaii-esque island paradise proved to not only be a great way to make the game feel exotic and different, but also brought the opportunity to introduce regional variants of existing pokémon, since the location was so remote and you felt like they legitimately could have developed differently.
Case in point is the tribal Alolan Marowak, with a spinning, fiery bone baton making it far more inspiring than its Kanto predecessor. Raichu too had not only a really imaginative look, riding on its tail like a surfboard, but a psychic/electric typing which introduced some really interesting match-ups and made one an instant mainstay in my team.
The structure of the game was a little different as well, with the gyms swapped for outdoor trials, so you avoid a, let’s face it, often contrived series of mini battles crammed into an odd-shaped building and do something a bit more unusual.
Finally, if it’s a holiday destination you’re after, you could do a lot worse than four idyllic islands packed with exciting new and remixed pokémon and a dash of sunny (and moony?) weather. Certainly beats late November in the UK anyway…
Sunderland - Pokémon Go! | Chris Brand
As I'm still in the preliminary stages of playing a Pokémon game (lots of planning, talking about it, general prep work, etc.), I've enlisted the help of my dear friend, Jimmy, for this week's topic. Tiny Little Jimmy, as I've decided to call him as a thank you for the assistance, had this to say when I asked him to write a few words about his favourite region in Pokémon Go!
"My favourite place I've been to in Pokémon Go! has to be Tokyo or Shinjuku in Japan. The sheer amount of Pokestops is surreal when you first experience it, if you're from an area with not many. The raids will also be full quite often, meaning if there's a legendary or Ultra Beast you really want, you have a much higher chance of being successful."
However, Naughty Little Jimmy didn't travel the world to discover these places, he simply spoofed his real-world location, which is not only cheating, but also far more effort than I would be willing to put in, so I think it's only fair that we disregard everything he's ever said.
Now that Jimbob Cheatpants has ruined my idea, I've been forced to write about the only thing I know, Sunderland. There's a gym only a stone's throw away from where I live and a good handful of parks within walking distance. If I was looking to recruit a bunch of animals to form an army, something I have considered on and off over the years, then a nearby park would be the first spot I'd check. I'm assuming that's all you need, a place to catch animals and a place to train them.
Today you've learned that I live in the best possible area to start a rewarding Pokémon Go! career (if I ever get around to it), but the real lesson is that you should only do me a favour if you've got pretty thick skin.
With the release of the excellent Pentiment this week (which you should absolutely read more about immediately) we’ve been wondering what games make the most of a 2D art style, hand drawn or otherwise to become our favourite examples of the format.
Gaming leapt into 3D in the mid 90s, and these days only tends to look back to a flatter perspective if it has a specific reason, or if the scope of a project is limited, perhaps because of the size of the studio.
There are countless indie darlings to choose from alone – Hollow Knight, Stardew Valley and Cuphead to name but a few – but what takes the crown as your favourite of all time? Let us know in our Discord.
Castle Crashers | Liam Andrews
While I could have easily looked to the past for a favourite 2D title, I’m going with a (relatively) modern game in Castle Crashers. I played this around 2013 on Xbox 360, a few years after its initial release, and though I haven’t been back since, it was definitely one of my favourite gaming moments on a console that had plenty of them.
Castle Crashers struck a good balance between difficulty and welcoming newcomers. As a fairly regular player of games, I found many of the boss battles challenging enough to keep me entertained, while my playing partner, who never played games, was kept engaged thanks to the game’s pick up and play nature and simple control scheme.
It was also pleasant to look at, with a bright, bold cartoon-like art style, and had bags of character and plenty of visual gags. While the developer The Behemoth took that humour and art style into their other games, none of them managed to grab me the way Castle Crashers did.
The hack ‘n slash gameplay might not have been ground-breaking, but it was bloody good fun, and I missed it once the credits rolled around. Here’s hoping for a sequel, one day.
Aladdin (MegaDrive/Genesis) | JAmes Parry
There were a lot of games that crossed my mind for this question. In recent years the likes of Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends immediately came to mind, but arguably they still would have been effective as 3D side-scrollers, though the Ubi Art framework makes the designs far more endearing.
This led me to delve back further in time, to the MegaDrive era, where the likes of Streets of Rage 2, Sonic The Hedgehog 2 and Gunstar Heroes all defined what an amazing 2D game looks like, but in the end I chose Aladdin.
Licensed games have come a long way since, but in those days, they were almost always terrible, and Aladdin flew (on a magic carpet, if you will) in the face of that to give us a game awash with the designs straight out of the film, and the consistency would only work by the game being 2D.
From the idle animations to how accurately the characters and locations are realised, especially in the opening levels, the game is the quintessential representation of the film and its characters.
What makes the game even more impactful is that there is a SNES Aladdin game, produced by Capcom no less, released around the same time, which is completely different and, ultimately, not as good.
Plus, I challenge anyone to find a better, and more impossible endless running escape level than Rug Ride.
There's no escaping Ragnarök, the Viking apocalypse, and its namesake God of War Ragnarök is no different, with PlayStation fans' excitement building to a fever pitch over the past few months.
The prospect of Kratos and Atreus' continued adventures got us thinking about other gods in the gaming world we've enjoyed following around, so who's your favourite?
You can choose the God of War himself if you wish, of course, but If you think you've got a particularly unexpected choice then why not chat with us about it on Discord.
Raiden | Chris Brand
If you've not played through Mortal Kombat 11 and don't want spoilers, you can skip this part and go away knowing that Raiden is a badass. He shoots lightning from his hands, he protects Earthrealm, he helps old ladies cross the street (without also helping himself to the contents of their purses) and he rarely kills Liu Kang. He's not only the mightiest god, he's the nicest. Even if you don't believe in the God of Thunder, he believes in you, Champ. Go about your day merrily, knowing that Raiden is watching out for you. For everyone else...
We're screwed. Raiden has foolishly relinquished his godhood and passed on the mantle of Protector of Earthrealm to Liu Kang. He used to be a revenant, you know? Fire God Liu Kang (as he's calling himself these days) was once resurrected to be a puppet for the evil sorcerer Quan Chi. I can deal with zombies, but kung fu zombies? I'm not familiar with that particular franchise, though there's no doubt in my mind it actually exists (yep, I checked).
Raiden is now mortal and, given his advanced age, I think it's safe to assume that he won't be around to guide Liu Kang forever. For the moment, Raiden's infinite wisdom may be enough to keep our ex-zombie protector in check, but when the inevitable happens, who will step up? Can Kung Lao be relied upon to provide meaningful counsel, or will he just make silly, hat-based, suggestions? Maybe Kitana will have a calming effect on Fire Tyrant Liu Kang? Granted, she's still demanding everyone calls her "Princess" and her step-dad is the whole reason for this situation, but that doesn't necessarily mean she's just like the other power-hungry elites.
Raiden was the best we ever had. Sure, he messed up occasionally, but none of us are perfect. Can you honestly look in the mirror and say your god doesn't make mistakes?
Din, Nayru, Farore (The Golden Goddesses) | Liam Andrews
From a purely numbers perspective, The Golden Goddesses, seen in various The Legend Of Zelda titles, beat most other challengers to the title of best gaming god hands down. I mean, three is better than one, no?
They also have a much more no-nonsense approach when it comes to creating (and running) the world of Hyrule, which I also like. Din creates the world, Nayru makes all the rules, Farore stuffs it with animals, then they’re out, job done. Perhaps Bish, Bash and Bosh would be more fitting names for them.
Not sticking around for all the (mostly Gannondorf based) drama that occurs afterwards could be seen as a negative, but this gives some of the (mostly Link based) locals the chance to have their moment in the sun and makes for some great adventures.
Although they’ve yet to make a significant appearance in any Zelda title (as far as I can remember anyway), this does leave room for them to pop as playable characters in future releases. Perhaps a prequel that explores the creation of Hyrule? Or maybe even one set entirely away from places we’ve become familiar with and that explores their own backstories instead.
Autumn! What a wonderful time of year. The leaves are turning a lovely reddish gold, the nights are drawing in, and Call of Duty is once again dominating the gaming landscape. Join us as we team up with the gravelly voiced crew of Ghost, Soap and Price for an action packed adventure in Modern Warfare 2.
Sounds good, but what about the multiplayer?
The main attraction for a lot of CoD fans, MW2’s multiplayer does not disappoint, building upon the excellent foundations laid by the 2019 MW reboot.
Weapons are even more customisable, with tons of attachments and upgrades to unlock, while new game modes have also been introduced to compliment the always enjoyable likes of TDM, Domination and Hardpoint.
What sort of new game modes?
Prisoner Rescue sees teams protecting or capturing a set of prisoners, with roles reversed at the end of each round. Players only have one life but can be revived by teammates if they’re quick.
Elsewhere, Invasion mode plays out like a giant version of Titanfall's Attrition, with teams racking up points by killing enemy players or AI.
Ground War itself isn’t new, but it’s been refined to the point where it can be considered a decent rival to Battlefield’s iconic Conquest mode.
So, would you recommend it?
Absolutely. Modern Warfare 2 is a substantial offering, with plenty of PvP and PvE multiplayer modes and an enjoyable, visually impressive campaign that introduces some fresh ideas to the series.
Expect the game to have quite a bit longevity as well, with a reported two-year’s worth of post-launch content and updates coming its way as opposed to the regular one-year cycle.