2020 is only a couple of weeks away and this decade will soon be behind us. We've already discussed our favourite games of 2019 but now we turn our attention to the greatest games of the last 10 years.
One could almost regret killing Dutch, all those years ago in the future.
Sam | SUPERHOT and SUPERHOT VR
I suggested this topic a few weeks ago and despite leaving ample time to mull it over, the magnitude of the task only just hit home. Choosing my 2019 Game of the Year was arduous enough, so to open consideration up to nine more years’ worth of games is more than a little bit daunting.
God of War (2018), Batman: Arkham City, Dark Souls, INSIDE… the possibilities are near endless, but only one title crops up on my shortlist twice. Faced with chronic indecision, that was the deciding factor.
SUPERHOT and SUPERHOT VR are basically the same game despite their obvious control and display differences; declaring them joint winners isn’t cheating, but similar to appointing the likes of Pokémon Sword and Shield. Both centre around the simple concept that time only moves when you do, allowing for some impossibly spectacular fight scenes to be choreographed.
Gameplay is both demanding and empowering, yet at the same time slow and considered in a puzzle-like fashion. Whether you’re playing with a conventional controller on a 2D screen or motion controllers in the 3D realm of VR, its beautifully streamlined mechanics translate oh-so fluently.
There’s definitely an engaging story in there, but the ingenious gameplay is really what does it for me. SUPERHOT and SUPERHOT VR are games I already own and have played countless times, yet willingly rebuy and revisit as and when they’re made available on new platforms.
There's a lot more to SUPERHOT than just shooting Red Dudes.
Liam | Halo: Reach
Bungie’s swansong before moving onto Destiny, Halo: Reach felt like the end of an era, and though 343 Industries have since taken up the mantle of responsibility, the series has never quite hit the same heights as the 2010 masterpiece.
The campaign features a decent mix of large, sandbox style battlefields and claustrophobic close quarters action, and, even though its set before the original trilogy, manages to introduce some new weaponry to the already iconic roster, such as the needler rifle and DMR. It even revamps the look of Jackals and Grunts, and once again brings tough-as-nails Elites to the fore as your main adversary.
“New” abilities such as a limited sprint, something that had never been seen in a Halo game before, gave movement a much needed revamp without impacting on the series’ classic feel, and ditching the Master Chief in favour of a new recruit gave players a blank canvas with which they could make their own through armour customisation.
Add to that one of the best stories told in gaming (no spoilers here, just go and enjoy it if you haven’t yet!) and you’ve got not only the best game of the decade, but arguably one of the greatest games full stop.
The Master Chief Collection is finally complete.
James | GTA Online
It's funny when a game you enjoy is only half of the whole product, but that's been my experience with Grand Theft Auto V. Despite buying it twice, on both Xbox 360 and Xbox One, I have still not played beyond the mandatory tutorial section of the main game, instead I've spent my time in the whacky online sandbox of GTA Online.
Despite a rocky start, and I mean very rocky – with constant connection and stability issues for the first few weeks, let alone days – the game paved the way for Fortnite and others after it in serving up a seemingly endless stream of free updates, as an incentive for players to fork out more real world cash.
Heists alone were an update which the community waited years for, but when it did it reinvigorated the game, giving players a more structured, high-stakes mission that hadn't been experienced before outside the campaign, demanding coordination and teamwork to get the biggest score, in the form of GTA fun bucks to spend on fast cars, planes or even tanks.
The world Rockstar managed to create is the real star, and the reason the game works at all. I still might not have the city map memorised, though plenty of more dedicated players do, but many of the locations are iconic in their own right – even beyond the real locations some of them ape.
It's a fantastically crafted world that no sane person would want to live in.
Let us know your favourite game of the last 10 years.
Ho, ho, ho, chums! Whether you picked up a Switch Lite back in September or you’re expecting one under the tree on JC’s birthday, here are a tinsel-encrusted collection of accessories worth finding in your stocking - and a couple to re-gift, too!
Nintendo Officially Licensed Switch Lite Accessory Set
Now this case really looks the business; the off-white material and high quality zip feel and look great in our dirty mitts. Unfortunately, though, that’s where things take a nasty turn. There’s such a lack of space inside - especially when considering there’s no real allowance for the sticks or bumpers - that you’ll be left wondering how this got the official license from Nintendo. Add to that the shocking, thin plastic screen protector (yep, just the one, so don’t make any mistakes) we recommend you steer clear.
1/5 Drunk Sleeping Relatives
Orzly tempered glass screen protectors
While we weren’t particularly fond of the protector included in the official Nintendo bundle, luckily, the good fellows at Orzly (products designed in London, apparently) had us covered.
Included in the box are four (FOUR) high-quality glass screen protectors. Applying one was relatively easy while utilising the helpfully attached tab, especially with the confidence that having three back-ups brings. Did we mention the package includes alcohol swabs, dust stickers and a microfiber cleaning cloth as well? Oh, and the whole lot is under ten quid.
5/5 Reindeer Carrots
FASTSNAIL hand grip
This ‘ere grip comes adorned in a black that took great pleasure in leaving its mark on the corners of our fair Lite. It feels cheap and flimsy in the hands, and to be frank, doesn’t really help with the offset nature of the Lite’s sticks, especially when playing FPS or twin-stick sports games. Another disappointment, unfortunately.
1/5 Katona’s in an Iceland Ad
We’re back with another quickie, this time for WarpTrough, a portal-grabbing platformer from indie developer Roofkat.
Campaign, you say?
Aye, but a very short one, maxing out at around an hour or two. It’s a decent enough offering (if a tad nonsensical) with monsters, demons and otherworldly beings all making an appearance. Throw in a couple of bad puns for good measure, alongside some alternate outcomes, depending on your choices, and the mode is worthwhile.
However, it’s WarpThrough’s gameplay, rather than its story, that’s the real draw. The weekly challenge mode prompts players to rack up high scores with a select character and level, and is arguably the meat of the experience.
Would you recommend it?
Yes. The £9.29 price tag might seem a little steep at first glance, but collecting shiny orb-like portals is surprisingly addictive (as anyone who’s played Crackdown can likely attest to) and there’s a good amount of replayability, particularly for those who enjoy climbing leaderboards.
Last week we booed and jeered the games that disappointed us the most during the year, souring an otherwise pleasant 12 months. Now, feeling more positive after our cathartic outbursts, we praise and cheer the very best that 2019 has to offer.
There are no good options for this unfortunate Raider.
Sam | Resident Evil 2
If you’ve kept up with our output over the course of 2019, my choice most likely won’t surprise you. The Resident Evil 2 remake was my most anticipated game and one I highly praised alongside Sekiro and Devil May Cry 5 (my respective second and third-place finishers) early in the year.
The game’s impeccable visuals and locations set a photorealistic scene that enhances both the gross out and creeping terrors which are implemented so thoughtfully. It’s a rare example of graphics actually serving gameplay, but looks obviously still aren’t everything.
I’m a sucker for survival horror, but particularly survival horror with strict inventory limits that demand forethought and planning. Add to that standard enemies that can take a full pistol clip directly between the eyes and still get back up, and you have a recipe for edge-of-your-seat gaming right there. Especially when starting out on the highest difficulty setting.
A true masochist at heart, I immediately cranked the difficulty right up and, with that, limited the number of saves. Imparting a genuine fear for loss of time and effort, if nothing else, this razor blade gaming cocktail often had my heart racing faster than an equivalent session of Switch workout title Ring Fit Adventure.
For some, this image alone is enough to impart genuine fear.
Liam | Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
Another year, another round of top titles I’ve yet to play. I still haven’t got to some of last year’s best, let alone 2019’s greatest hits, but I did manage to recently get my hands on the excellent Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown.
Released way back at the start of the year, AC 7 feels like a bit of a throwback to my Rogue Squadron days, except with a lot more missiles and fewer blasters. The narrative is absolute nonsense, so much so that I stopped paying attention to pre-mission briefings and cutscenes very early on, but the rest of it more than makes up for the story’s shortfalls.
Controls are tight, the planes Top Gun levels of cool, and the combat moreish, especially when coupled with the game’s orchestral/electric guitar soundtrack. It’s also quite the looker, with some lovely vistas serving as a backdrop to the meaty action.
The only downside (apart from the naff story) is the heavy reliance on missiles over guns (which also sound a bit limp) but because I’m too much of a coward to try the Resi 2 remake, and have yet to finish Pokémon Moon let alone start Sword or Shield, it still gets my pick of the year.
Ace combat 7 takes the Michael Bay approach to storytelling.
James | Control
Messing about with time, perception and the supernatural was an intriguing prospect even as we were first introduced to Control back at last year's E3.
We'd known Remedy, creators of not only Max Payne but the ambitious, though flawed, Xbox exclusive Quantum Break, were working on something new for a while, and despite going multiplatform, the developer hasn't had to compromise its weirdness to get a quality product on shelves.
Something of a throwback, the game is a singleplayer, largely narrative, fairly open world experience. The live-action elements, something Remedy is known for, are smartly kept to on-screen diary entries and recordings this time around, and the overall effect of not only the brutalist architecture but approach to its story create a world you are excited to explore, as I noted in my review.
While undoubtedly feeling like "a game", the journey is not only memorable, but thought-provoking – particularly if you commit to reading into the world. Most importantly, I powered through the game like a man possessed, which is a rarity, and enjoyed it all the way through. I may even revisit it next year when the PS4 timed-exclusive DLC expansions finally make their way to Xbox.
Time-bending narratives and telekinetic abilities will always grab our attention.
Share your personal Game of the Year picks with us.
A stellar year for gaming is coming to a close. We've seen the creation of instant classics and some high profile releases have really hit the mark, doing everything we expected and more. It wasn't all roses though, as these potential stocking killers could have been so much better...
It may look impressive but air time hurts your run.
Liam | Kingdom Come: Deliverance - Band of Bastards
I first want to point out that I thoroughly enjoyed Band of Bastards and I’m only including it in this list because, as I mentioned in my review, it could have been so much better.
Combat in Kingdom Come: Deliverance might feel a bit awkward at first, but once you get used to it it’s actually a fairly elegant system, although if you do find the swordplay a bit of a struggle (like I do) bashing people over the head with a mace also works well.
Whatever your preferred strategy, fights in KCD are quite fun, but you’d often have to go looking for them in the main game, which is why I couldn’t wait for the arrival of the Band of Bastards expansion and it’s combat centric nature.
The small skirmishes you take part in early doors are excellent, accompanied as you are by the memorable crew of mercenaries, but it’s all done and dusted too quickly, and the final big battle is a somewhat limp affair that’s let down by wonky AI.
What’s there is enough to satisfy any wannabe warriors battle cravings, but it could have been great, rather than simply good, which is the biggest disappointment.
Much like real life, maces solve the problems that words can't.
Sam | Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes
This week’s topic stumped me for a while. Most deemed MediEvil to be disappointing, but I quite enjoyed it; Pokemon Sword and Shield are far from outstanding, but I didn’t expect them to be; Terminator: Resistance is pretty mediocre, but that’s par for the course. What had I played that fell below rather than meeting or surpassing my expectations?
After scouring my list of played 2019 games, it was all the way back in January that I unearthed a release I’d mostly stricken from memory. No More Heroes and it’s sequel are cult classic Wii games in which you play as a trashy American assassin called Travis Touchdown. Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes is the hotly anticipated follow-up that failed to meet its mark.
The new top-down perspective already had eyebrows raised, but marrying that with a collection of unengaging central mini-games made for some questionable gameplay. It wasn’t really what people wanted and the developer knew it, attempting to placate disgruntled fans by stating that supporting Travis Strikes Again might help to fund a full-fledged sequel.
Apparently it did, No More Heroes III now having been announced for Nintendo Switch, but Travis Strikes Again felt disingenuous in addition to underwhelming as a result.
Here's hoping Travis can get the sequel he deserves.
James | Crackdown 3
I made no secret that I was looking forward to the return of the Crackdown series. Despite not being hit by the initial shockwave from the game way back when, the bits and pieces I had played were great fun, so the prospect of bringing that experience up-to-date with a few new bells and whistles was exciting.
Of course, what we eventually got in Crackdown 3, the second most high-profile release for Microsoft this year after Gears 5, was a disappointment in every sense of the word. I got a pre-order in early... in August 2015, but, especially for fans who had been around since the beginning, there was little of the series' magic, reducing the game's open-world mania to little more than ever-increasing tedious distractions wrapped around floaty controls.
The multiplayer was worse still, offering the lowest possible amount of variety and restricting the destruction to an abstract, computer wireframe simulation rather than the spectacle of New Providence (though there wasn't much of that to be found either).
Reducing down a game to its most basic elements is one thing, and often can be helpful when rebooting something for a fresh audience to get rid of any franchise bloat, but here it cut the jugular, and there's no resuscitation in sight.
We still love you, Terry.
Share your 2019 disappointments with us below.