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.