Wednesday, March 1, 2017

My 2016 Games of the Year

For you longtime blog visitors (both of you), this will bring back memories. For the rest of you, here's a quick explanation.

I don't play new games all that often. So, rather than come up with my games of the year, evaluating the four actually new games that I played, I generate a list of the top ten games that I played during the previous year. That means that the games could have been released at any point in history (see #2), or are repeats from last year (see #1).

Anywho, here's my list. I spent most of the second half of this year playing D&D, and while I do love dungeon delving with the total freedom that D&D gives you, I kind of miss video games. We'll see how 2017 pans out.

I always put my lists in order, because I need to judge things.

10. Rocket League

Rocket League is an international sensation...which I find to be just decent. It's not that I dislike the game or anything. I get why it's fun, and I enjoy it from time to time, I just don't have the same excitement that it gets from a lot of other people. Specifically Scooter. Still, it's fun enough to round out my top ten.

9. Clash Royale

I'm not generally one who sticks with phone games. I get my fill and then move on, because none of them really ever have an "ending." You just keep going, keep building, keep leveling up, keep grinding, and never really "accomplish" anything.

Clash Royale has a lot of that same grind to it, but there's something gratifying about finding a deck that you can run well, and rolling over a couple opponents in a row. Combine that with a solid clan and regular splashy content, and I find myself consistently engaged by the Clash.

8. 4 Elements

So the funny thing about this game is that I only started playing it because I knew I wasn't playing many games, and figured I'd start towards the top of my games list. So, starting with the number "4" and 4 Elements, I fired up a new game. It's a simple puzzle game with its own twists of strategy. I wouldn't call it revolutionary on any level, but it's aesthetically pleasing and simple enough to pick up. I would just barely recommend it, if you're looking for something to kill a few hours.

7. Destiny

I bought Destiny basically because a friend told me to. I hadn't played an XBox One game in a while, and he had suggested it a few times. So I grabbed some pack off Amazon that included a couple expansions and fired it up. It's made by some of the same folks who made Halo, and it shows in a lot of the artwork and gameplay. That said, it doesn't really capture that certain something that Halo's campaign system had.

The game itself is fairly fun, it's essentially an MMO first-person shooter, but your experience is very rarely "massive," which is a good thing. You can do a series of solo missions (that you can bring friends along to complete as well), and you can also join a queue for dedicated multiplayer missions, missions that are considerably more difficult and require teamwork to complete. Overall, it was a pretty fun experience, and while I won't be paying $60(!) for a new expansion, I might pick it up down the road someday.

6. Dead Rising 3

I love Dead Rising. If I had to pick one franchise that I think defines all that I like about video games, it's Dead Rising. It's got great weapons, a somewhat open world, and the the ability to render massive numbers of zombies inert. Eddie got me Dead Rising 3 for Christmas last year, and I dove into it eagerly.

And it was good. It wasn't the perfect sequel like Dead Rising 2 was, and it wasn't a revolutionary advancement like Diablo 2. It was a solid game with some interesting characters, and enough of the classic material I enjoy to keep me entertained. The one caveat I would give it is that, while the graphics are an "improvement" over the previous games, the extra layer of detail is a bit difficult on my eyes over longer gaming sessions. It became too much eventually and I set the game aside, but someday I definitely plan to get back into it and finish the story.

5. Heroes of the Storm

A repeat from last year's list, it's still a very solid game that has developed a lot over the past year. There are a ton of new heroes, though this year's crop is a bit less revolutionary than last year's; there's no hero like Cho'Gall or Lost Vikings this year. In that regard, it's getting a bit closer to League of Legends, but with the solid gameplay, the introduction of a similar "brawl" system to Hearthstone's, and the fact that the game continues to be completely free to play, it's still a winner in my book.

4. Lifeline

Anthony told me about Lifeline when it was free on iPhone for a couple days (or maybe is still free? I don't know). It's essentially a choose-your-own-adventure book, put into the context of you being on the other side of a communication device, trying to help a stranded space traveler survive on a moon or asteroid or planet. I don't remember the specifics, but I remember really enjoying the game. The way it presented the story was insanely entertaining, and while the finish was clearly built to encourage you to purchase a follow-up game, it was satisfying. Very well done.

3. Sid Meier's Civilization V

So I was a little late to the Civilization V achievement hunter party, but I did get there eventually. Over the past year, I nabbed a couple dozen achievements through considerable playtime, as I figured out what settings I needed to use on my laptop to make it work without crashing...often. The game is just really, really solid. Every time you play it's a new experience, and the maps and different civilizations provide nearly endless replay-ability. It'll be a while before I get the new one, obviously, but that's partly Sid Meier's fault. He made the previous version just too damn good.

2. Total Extreme Wrestling

TEW is a wrestling simulation game. That's right. A wrestling SIMULATION game. The game puts you into the role of a head booker at a wrestling promotion, and your job is to put on the best product possible to increase your popularity, generate income, and keep your job. You manage rosters, contracts, locker room chemistry, pushes, and all of the business aspects of how you put on a show.

It's the kind of game that appeals only to a narrow group of people, but I'm one of those people. I freaking love this game.

1. Dungeons and Dragons

I mean, what else is there to say that I haven't already said? I play D&D 2-3 times a week, which when you compare that with the 4 times a week I work, it takes up the lion's share of my free time. It's complex, it's cooperative, it's creative, and it's social. I say again, D&D is the perfect game.

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