While The Game Awards may have decided the Game of the Year is (the admittedly marvelous) It Takes Two, we all know picking the absolute best experience players have had this year can be a little less clear cut.
How do you judge it? The game you played the most? Enjoyed the most? Was disappointed by the least? We've been doing some soul-searching as a team to find our own answers to these very questions, and we think we've each come up with something we can stand behind.
So, without further ado, presenting Pass the Controller's official Games of the Year. What was your pick? Let us know in the comments.
Halo Infinite | Chris
Although it's markedly different from every Halo to come before it, Infinite is the best the series has been since Reach.
The biggest drawback, as James mentioned in our review, is the omission of co-op in the campaign. Halo is at its peak when you're playing on legendary difficulty with someone by your side, pushing forward inch by inch, scavenging the battlefield for any weapons that still have ammo. Without that, the campaign still provides a good mix of intrigue and action, with Master Chief having a much more prominent role than in Guardians, even though he shares it with that other star of the show; the grappling hook.
Whilst it has the potential to save one's life should you "heroically" drive a Razorback full of Marines off the side of the map because I wasn't paying attention, I tend to employ it more offensively. Unfortunately, the offended party is usually me. There's no feeling quite like pulling an explosive container towards your throwing hand and hurling it, with Spartan strength, at a very close, very indestructible, piece of level geometry. I am a bigger threat to myself, and any of the UNSC who are brave enough to tag along, than the Banished could ever hope to be.
The multiplayer aspect has failed to grab me, the battle pass system pushed me away, and the absence of Firefight leaves me with little desire to explore that side any further. The campaign and grappling hook are solid enough to make Infinite my number one choice, narrowly beating Forza Horizon 5 and my Back to the Future-themed Delorean.
Resident Evil Village | Sam
I’m a fan of the Resident Evil series in all of its guises. Whether it’s an action entry or a traditional survival horror instalment, there’s no doubt that I’m coming along for the ride. Village confidently marries both of these identities and has fun doing so, helping its genuine scares to simultaneously be enjoyable and endearing.
RE Village, the eighth mainline entry in the franchise, features an ensemble cast of antagonists. These disparately kooky characters also operate in their own areas of the remote setting. As a result, the game feels like a Halloween theme park filled with enticing attractions you can’t help but get drawn in by.
Facing fears in a safe environment can be exciting to the point of amusement, which is a giddy feeling that Village often evokes. It helps that Capcom isn’t afraid to drop great gameplay features, locations and characters to move on before they lose lustre. Lady Dimitrescu plays a minor role, for example, though made a big enough impression for Maggie Robertson to win Best Performance at The Game Awards (2021).
While the structure and vibe are what really make Resident Evil Village stand out, of course, it wouldn’t be a GOTY contender without outstanding fundamentals. The gunplay and puzzles are absolutely on point, while the sense of continual character and arsenal progression makes for high replayability. It’s also worth recognising the RE Engine for achieving some near photorealistic visuals.
Liam | Hell Let Loose
I first tried Hell Let Loose last year, back when the game was still in Early Access on PC before refunding it due to technical issues. Fast forward a year, and HLL was rumoured to be heading to XSX and PS5 sometime in the winter. Fortunately, these rumours turned out to be true and, even more fortunately, I was able to secure myself a Series X to play it on.
I’m glad I made the decision to refund on PC, as this is most definitely a game worth enjoying properly. While it’s not breaking any new ground visually, it’s a decent looking game which is better appreciated on a big screen (not to mention a stable framerate, which my poor laptop couldn’t deliver).
I enjoy a good tactical shooter, and HLL is one of the best. The combination of lethal weaponry and fragile players makes for some very intense shootouts. The lack of aim-assist and the high-recoil guns means success feels very much earned.
HLL has a big focus on co-op play and communication, and I’ve been surprised to find most players are happy to talk tactics during matches. It’s an even better experience with a few friends in tow and has firmly established itself as my go-to title for the weekly multiplayer get together.
What's your 2021 Game of the Year? Let us know below.