Brandon’s Year of Video Games in Review – 2017 Edition

I had a lot of fun in 2017 playing new video games and revisiting some of my old favorites. I thought it’d be nice to look back on the highlights of the year when it comes to the games that I played.

Nintendo Switch

I don’t know how else to start off this post without discussing the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo came out with another innovative product that has pushed the realms of what is capable in gaming. In essence, they created a system that is not only capable of running current, modern video games on your TV, but you can grab it and take it with you on the go whenever you want. It’s truly is an amazing technological feat that is only made more impressive by the quality of games they released this year.

The system launched with a new Zelda game, called Breath of Wild which thrilled audiences everywhere. Almost every single person who bought a Switch at launch bought Zelda, and Nintendo crafted a wonderful world for players to get lost in for hours on end. Zelda took home quite a few Game of the Year Awards and is already being considered as one of the greatest video games ever made.

Nintendo is so friggin smart it kills me sometimes. They knew they wouldn’t have a Mario Kart ready for the Switch, so they decided to go back and re-release Mario Kart 8, along with all its DLC for the Switch shortly after it’s launched. This way gamers would have a wonderful Mario Kart to play multiplayer with and for many of them, it would be the first time experiencing Mario Kart 8 since the Wii U didn’t have near the amount of sales that the Switch did. I owned Mario Kart 8 since its release on the Wii U and bought it day one for the Switch as well. It’s a game that gets play almost weekly in my household and a very worthy addition to the Switch library. I’m also very appreciative that Nintendo made some changes, fixed a few issues, and even added a super easy mode so that everyone can enjoy Mario Kart despite their age or ability.

This is the Sonic game we’ve all been waiting for. Sega reached out to some modders who create new Sonic games and allowed them to utilize their skills and abilities in an official capacity. What resulted was a Sonic game that felt straight out of the 90’s, but featured new tricks and gameplay abilities. Sega priced it perfectly at $20 and it felt good to see Sonic return to greatness.

Splatoon was Nintendo’s first attempt at a large scale online multiplayer shooting game. It was amazing. They took normal shooting dynamics, made it kid friendly, yet still competitive and fun. The only disappointing part was the lack of people who played it since the Wii U wasn’t a big hit. Splatoon 2 came out on the Switch and brought the same zany gameplay, wacky characters, and strange music, and made it all work with a much larger fan base. Nintendo keeps Splatoon fresh by rolling out new content monthly, as well as scheduling special Splatfest events that feel truly special thanks to the night time atmosphere and exclusive maps. Splatoon 2 takes everything that makes Splatoon so great and amps it up just a little bit. I love it and its one of my favorite games of the year.

Talk about a mash-up game no one expected, Mario and Rabbids was a surprisingly well made game that channeled both the humor of the Rabbids with the high quality of Nintendo. I don’t think people know 100% of what to make of the game, since it’s essentially a turn based strategy game, but I love it. It’s beautiful, plays well, offers that perfect level of difficulty, and is by far the best use of the Rabbids since the first game. I actually would welcome more Mario/Rabbids games in the future, but definitely not something on a yearly rotation. Ubisoft loves to run things into the ground, so hopefully Nintendo will make them spread out any future sequels in order not to dilute the franchise.

My first truly memorable video game experience was Super Mario Bros on the NES. For the past thirty years, I’ve enjoyed almost every Mario game that has been released across all the consoles and handhelds. A new Mario game is not something I miss out on and this year was no different. I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical about the use of Cappy, but man does it work well. Mario feels fresh, yet familiar. It’s a wonderful game and one that I had an absolute blast playing.

You can read my micro review of Mario Odyssey here for a little more detail.

I fell in love with the world of Skyrim back in 2011 when I first bought it on PS3. I’ve since played the Special Edition on PS4 and now finally on the Switch. It’s the same great world with an amazing soundtrack and fantastic cast of characters, except this time I can take it with me on the go. I can clear a dungeon on the couch while watching Netflix and that makes this version the superior version for me.

I’ve been playing Rocket League for a couple of years now. I started off on the Xbox One, then moved over to PS4, and finally onto the Switch. The gameplay is identical and the only disadvantage the Switch has is the graphics have taken a hit coming to a console that is less powerful. Still, being able to undock the Switch and take Rocket League on the go, or play from the couch more than makes up for some muddy graphics.


PC Gaming

2017 also saw my return to PC gaming, although in a very limited capacity. I purchased new laptop and while it’s nowhere near a gaming machine, it’s powerful enough to run some of my favorite games from ten years ago, along with a few new ones.

This is by far the highlight of my PC gaming. I’ve been a fan of Fire Pro Wrestling for several years now and this latest iteration is by far the best. The ability to use the Steam Workshop to download new wrestlers and rings makes this game infinitely customizable. I love the look and gameplay of Fire Pro and will take it any day over WWE 2K.

I’ve discussed my issues with the 2017 edition of Battlefront 2 before, but I’m here to discuss the original Battlefront 2 from 2005 today. I used to play this game on the original Xbox with my friend Alex all the time. It was some of the most fun I’ve had playing online and I’m thrilled that Disney allowed for new servers to be established. I’ve enjoyed revisiting this classic game but I really hope someone comes along and stabilizes things a little more to ensure better connectivity.

Some other games I enjoyed on PC: Flatout 2, Emily Is Away, and Emily is Away 2.


Playstation 4

In order to pay for the Nintendo Switch, I needed to sell off some video games. I ended up parting ways with my Xbox One and decided to make the Playstation 4 my primary console. We only had a couple of games on the system and so this year I was able to explore some of the Playstation exclusives along with some other new games.

Yeah, I’m a year late or so, but that didn’t hinder my enjoyment for Uncharted 4. It’s an excellent addition to the Uncharted franchise. The gameplay is straight up what you expect from an Uncharted game and the graphics are amazing. It’s easy to get lost in this game and just wonder how they made it look so beautiful. I also really enjoyed the driving segments they added, it helped break up some of the non-stop gunning missions.

So, this isn’t a new game for me, since I owned it on the Xbox One since it first came out in the summer of 2016, but Overwatch is one of the games like Splatoon where it’s casual enough that I can enjoy it every day.

When I’m looking for something a little more competitive and more intense, I put in Battlefield 1. It’s by far the best multiplayer FPS I’ve played in a very long time and it blows all its competitors away. Even Call of Duty’s weak attempt at creating a WWII game this year could not match the greatness that is Battlefield 1. This was another game I repurchased after selling my Xbox One because I play it so much I couldn’t be without it.

Journey isn’t so much a game as it is an experience. My first time playing through Journey on the PS3 was a mind blowing and emotional experience. I was thrilled to relive that experience on the PS4 with updated graphics.

I suck at fighting games, unless you give me a twenty-five year old game and a fight stick. I promised I was done buying fighting games because quite frankly, I don’t play them enough. They usually lack single player content and I’m never good enough to fight online.

Injustice 2 caught my eye though, mainly because it included Swamp Thing, one of my favorite characters. I held off on buying it until PSN sold it for under $20 on Black Friday. I decided to fool around and put together some DC dream matches and I found myself feeling a bit like a natural. I played through its well-made tutorial and got a little better. Then I started the story mode which was several hours long, full of wonderful voice acting and some fantastic graphics. It didn’t take long to realize that I was fully in love with Injustice 2 and my only regret was not buying the complete edition with all the DLC.

I’m a massive fan of Tony Hawk and other extreme sports games. When I was in high school those games were all the rage and I hate that we don’t get new versions of those games today. Well, Steep is a new version of an extreme sports game, including an open world where you can ski, parachute, snowboard, hang glide, and more. I played the demo when it was released in fall 2016 and liked it, just not enough to pay $60. When it hit under $20 during Black Friday, I decided to buy it and like Injustice 2, it was a great decision.

Arkham Origins includes remastered version of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, two of the finest games ever made. I cannot even begin to fathom how many hours I’ve poured into both games over the years.

Earlier this year, I got an inkling to play through the Arkham games again and picked up the collection. I blew through Arkham Asylum in a week or so, but decided to wait and play Arkham City another time. I ended up trading in my collection, which is something I thoroughly regretted later on. Lucky for me, PSN knocked Arkham Origins down to $9.99 in December and I got another opportunity to continue my fight against the Joker.


My Top Five Favorite Games I Played This Year:

  1. Injustice 2
  2. Mario Odyssey
  3. Breath of Wild
  4. Steep
  5. Splatoon 2

 

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