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Old 12-28-2017   #1
Don Chipotle
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2017's Games Awards But Actually For Real

Pretty much everyone on the internet has an opinion on what the best game of the year is to the point where having a central award show seems ridiculous. Even the entertainment world has multiple awards across countries and genres; hell television has two fucking types of Emmy's. I respect the hustle, Geoff, but the Game Awards should basically be a two hour show wherein you show teaser trailers and talk to the devs about their games. Games don't need an Oscars, not when everyone and their mother is putting out lists of the ten games the internet creamed over. Do we really need one show to tell us that Zelda is good or one show to remind us that PUBG existed when every GOTY list on the publications says the same thing?

But then us gamers need constant reminders of things otherwise we'd forget what came out two months ago. Like did you know Nioh came out this year? It was hot for a minute then no one cared. What about Yakuza 0? Fire Emblem Heroes? Gravity Rush 2? Hell, did you forget that For Honor came out this year? I bet you fucking did. Games have to have a lasting impression, which is why GOTY lists are constantly just the Ten Biggest Games That Didn't Blow Ass unless you start talking to non journalists and people in the indie games sphere.

What I'm saying is that video game awards tend to fellate the AAA stuff and if you're good but maybe not groundbreaking then eh, fuck off no one cares. Which is exactly why I'm here to give the actual awards for the games of 2017. As everyone knows, my opinion is the cold, hard truth and if you disagree you do so at your own discretion.

Let's list this shit.


Proof Fire Emblem: Awakening Ruined The Franchise Award



Road Taken

I like a Musou game. A good portion of my year was spent playing One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 trying to clear Dream and Nightmare mode with different characters. Speaking of Musou games, did you remember that a Berserk Musou game came out this year? I bet you didn't. Not even Berserk fans want to remember that. Fire Emblem Warriors is a curious thing in that the actual warriors combat stuff is fine - they use the weapon triangle system but it's basically the same system from Dynasty Warriors...7 or 8, whichever it was, and then add more Fire Emblemy shit like pairing units. You can even command units to attack specific enemy units like it's the Fire Emblem games and that's a novel concept that you promptly forget about an hour after it's introduced since it's easier to just swap to other characters and have them do it.

Fire Emblem Warriors is a fine game and all until you look at the roster. Now, Fire Emblem is kind of a big series...in Japan especially so I can't exactly fault them for the choice of roster considering how fucking huge Awakening was. But outside of Marth, Caeda and Lyn fucking the entire roster is from Awakening or Fates. There was a new actual Fire Emblem game this year, a full remake, and only one person from that game is playable here. Who the fuck wants to play as Lissa or Elise? Why not have Roy in here? Or fucking Ike? Nephenee? It's such a disappointment seeing the roster here and realizing I don't really like most of them as characters. It feels like a wasted opportunity despite it being functionally good. I guess Waifus really are the future of Fire Emblem now. Thanks, Awakening.


The David Cage Award for Incompetence Getting Praised



It's fucking vikings

Why do we keep giving Ninja Theory chances? At some point someone really should wake up and realize they've been shitting the bed in new ways with every new release and yet they're failing upwards. Not even the collective whining of Devil May Cry fans was enough to stop them. With their latest release, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, we have a game that is, in all honesty, a 2 out of 5 getting praised for being a 'AA' game because it had a budget but a small dev team.

This game is like an ASMR on nightmare juice.

Admittedly it makes a good first impression. The game opens with titular character Hellblade rowing towards the gates of Hel as a chorus of voices in your ear start whispering about how stupid this is and how she/you are going to die while a narrator cuts through the chaos and actually gives us a plot. Senua is going to Helheim to get the goddess Hel, a goddess she doesn't believe in, to get her lover's soul back after he was sacrificed in a Norsemen ritual. It's very Divine Comedy, mixed with psychosis. The whispers in your head are CONSTANT and act as sort of a whispering guide. The voices will mock you and encourage you, lie to you and help you, and in moments of panic or tension they will act nervous and jittery and add to it.

But their act gets stale when they constantly prattle on, saying the same handful of lines in the same tone of voice as you start to slowly traverse the environments sourcing out the bad puzzles. What starts as novel becomes grating and it's because of the actual part where you play the game. The first hour or so is fine as it is a rather pretty game and the mythology of the Norse gods doled out in little audio logs is actually really interesting. But then the actual loop of gameplay happens and it's boring and poor. The gameplay consists of walking through areas at a pace that even snails would scoff at while trying to suss out the right visual spot to scan twigs and branches in the shape of a rune that Senua may or may not actually be seeing...because it's mental problems and such and such. The movement speed is bad enough, but combine that with the uninspired level design and constantly it feels like you're just walking in circles trying to put a square peg in a round hole.

And that's not even getting into the combat which is atrocious. The combat is rather sluggish and you only have four options. Standard/Heavy attack, a dodge, and a parry. This works fine in a one on one or one on two situation but of course the game doesn't do this and constantly puts you up against upwards of six enemies at any one time. The enemies are all just tall viking guys with different weapons being the only distinguishing trait and all of them have stupid big health pools. You can't lock on to who you want to lock on to, the game picks someone and has you focus on them until someone else attacks you or you kill them. Enemies will thus constantly get behind you and attack you while you can't even see them with only the voices shrieking "BEHIND YOU" as you're already in mid-animation attacking some other dude. There's no cancels in this so enjoy the free hit they have on you, shame you can only take about three before you die but they take like fucking eighteen.

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is an ambitious game and that's the only praise I'll give it. It's a novel concept, a game delving into psychosis and the mental problems it causes. But should we honestly reward ambition even if it amounts to nothing but shitty game design? No. No we shouldn't. You made an interesting game, Ninja Theory. But you also made a fucking bad game. As you always fucking do.

The Raist Was Right Award



Most of the music is shit, but this one's okay

This was the one that finally broke me. I'd always been like "Well I guess they're okay?" when it comes to the Tales games but honestly I can't tell you one I actually liked. I'm starting to think that this series is bad; with Berseria I actually came to that realization. This is a bad franchise and this game somehow manages to be even badder than the last one, which I also thought was fucking bad. Here's a game about someone that plays Reaper in Overwatch because he's 'cool' on a quest to kill the Pope because fuck world peace and religion and shit. Velvet is the series' attempt at a mature, edgy sort of character but she's laughable for all the wrong reasons. The only redeeming characters are Magilou, who is just along to point out how shitty everyone is by being the comic relief, and Eleanor who is there to be the character that actually has an arc.

This game has bad combat and bad characters and worse world and dungeon design. I knew things were bad when early on the game had me go through a shitty linear dungeon, fight a boss, walk back out of the dungeon to go through the not-world map back to town only to then have to go BACK THROUGH THE SAME DUNGEON AGAIN to talk to a dude. And that was like maybe three hours into the game. It was all downhill from there.

I didn't finish this game. I couldn't. It's a bad game and I have only myself to blame. I'm pretty sure Raist once said these games were bad and well, congrats on being right. Never again, Namco.

The Award For Best Visual Novel Meme Game



Congratulations

This year had some meme ass visual novel games that were actually quite dumb and shit. I'm talking, of course, about Doki Doki Literature Club and Dream Daddy. Both of those are visual novels for people that don't know a seme from an uke or a Tsukihime from a Fate Stay Night.

Butterfly Soup is probably one of my favorite games of the year, which I know means it shouldn't be in these jokey joke awards but fuck it it's my list. In all seriousness this game shouldn't really be FOR me despite it having things that I do enjoy. It's a game about four girls of different ethnicities living in the Bay area and bonding through baseball and their own sexual identities. At its core it's about Diya and Min, childhood friends who bonded over their mutual love of baseball, reconnecting in high school. It's a story that resonates differently for different people; obviously I can't relate to the whole parental pressure and coming to terms with being a lesbian thing, but that doesn't mean I can't sympathize and empathize with the characters.

The story being told is simple but it's also caked in realism. Characters reference anime and jokes in a way that feels natural to these type of people. "Okay, what baseball has anime in it?" one character asks as she realizes half the people in the club are only there because of Diamond no Ace and Big Windup. It's entirely authentic and heartfelt and it is one of the few games this year that had me smiling at it by the end. And in 2017 isn't that all we need?

Oh, also this game is fucking free so I implore you to give it a read.

The 'Stop Releasing Games in December You Fucks' Award



I have this game. I don't know its quality because for some reason Monolithsoft put it the fuck out in December. Fuck you stop doing this with your big long JRPGs.

Best Persona 5 Song

Beneath The Mask

Persona 5 has a lot of great tracks. You've probably heard them even if you haven't played the game. But to me nothing really defines Persona 5 quite like Beneath The Mask which is the song you hear most often since it's the song that plays when you're wandering around Tokyo. It starts off as just a mellow instrumental with killer bass (fuck the bass in Persona 5 is super good) but as the game goes on suddenly it has lyrics and it takes a 4/5 song into an 11/5 song. Persona 5 does a super fun thing with lyrics, particularly with Beneath the Mask and Life Will Change, which is the music that plays when you're going to fight the boss of any given Palace.

Beneath The Mask is the best song in Persona 5 which is no small feat.

The Award For Worst Persona Waifu Ever Seriously Fuck You If You Like Her At All



Futaba is the fucking worst. She literally panders to the siscon weeb crowd by being a fucking little sister type who also loves video games and anime and nerd shit. Fuck you if you took the bait. Your waifu is actual, literal, stinky shitty trash.

The Mass Effect Andromeda Award



It's no M4 Part Two

Who would've thought that 2017 would be the year the internet killed a franchise. While that's probably hyperbole, there's no denying that the lukewarm reception to Andromeda basically ended any hope of that franchise coming back in any capacity ever again. Which is kind of a shame but honestly BioWare now is not the same BioWare that people like. I didn't hate Andromeda and I even liked most of my time with it - enough to play it to completion twice and damn near a third time for the sake of getting all the trophies - but it is real easy to see the general lack of...polish the game has.

The changes to combat and character progression is pretty much for the better; no longer being tied down to class and being able to swap to whatever powers you want on the fly added a good amount of depth to the shooting and made it so you could basically roll with whichever party member you wanted and still take advantage of the class combos. The jet pack also made mobility a lot more fluid and interesting.

But the open world design does not play to the series' strengths and the open world maps in Andromeda, while sometimes visually neat, were unrewarding and unfun to explore in or outside the car. The sidequests were also holdovers from Dragon Age 3 in that they were boring fetch quests without any of the semblance of choice that was once integral to the BioWare brand. This fucking game is like the little engine that could except it falls off the tracks and is content to just lay there and ask for a pillow.

The crew is generally fine and by the end of it I enjoyed them more than, say, the crew of the first game as a whole, but man...what a shame that a perfectly 'okay' game could tank an entire franchise.

Mass Effect Andromeda is the New Star Wars trilogy in the sense that its making people who loathed Mass Effect 3 go "You know maybe ME 3 wasn't that bad" much like people who hate TFA/TLJ are saying the prequels were good.

EA has had better years.


The Award For Mediocre Game Praised As Amazing



The only track of music in the game

I bet no one is surprised that I think Breath of the Wild, far and away the most common choice for GOTY, is actually a pretty weak game. But then, of course I would think that because I broke free from the hivemind that is the internet and it's up to me to save everyone else. I don't think Breath of the Wild is a bad game. I just think it's not that good. It's not a good Zelda game and it's an even worse open world game.

The best part of Breath of the Wild is the opening hours or so, when you wake up and leave the cave and see the castle in the distance and the world beyond that. It sets the stage super well. And from there you spend time learning the controls and exploring this plateau area and unlocking your main abilities, then you're told to fuck off and go fight Ganon or do whatever you want and for the first hours after this that sense of adventure permeates everything and actually makes for a grand old time.

But then the game starts to show its shortcomings in pretty much every aspect. The combat is pretty bad because the weapon durability hinders it. Ostensibly it's supposed to be so players don't get attached to weapons or seek out other solutions but that just leads to any actual combat scenario being a bore and things to take longer. The best weapons break far too easily so of course you wind up hoarding them or just avoiding combat altogether.

Then there are the shrines which are a very poor excuse for dungeons. Shrines are basically single puzzle rooms where you do a thing and get a thing and you're done. None of the shrines are really any enjoyable out side of a very small handful of ones where the puzzle is actually clever instead of 'move ball A into hole B only this time there's a fan in he way' and there are way, way, way too many combat trails which are essentially 'fight the same robot enemy only with varying degrees of health based on level'. There are over 100 of these shrines and none of them really felt rewarding.

The gameplay loop is essentially 'explore the world, do shrines, explore the world, do shrines, explore the world, do the plot missions, xplore the world'. There's such an emphasis on exploration that it's shocking how often it seems to dissuade you from doing it. Outside of the desert which has its own rules for traversal (hot in day, cold at night) and the mountains which are varying degrees of fucking cold, the other areas are all about climbing and discovery and yet the game rains constantly, and always, it seems, when you want to climb something because there's a shrine or chest up there, and when it rains your climbing sucks and you slide down and lose your stamina. And there are also environmental obstacles that wind up actually railroading players down a specific path which is the exact opposite of freedom to explore.

My main gripes is that the game peaks in the very first area, where everything feels and seems so novel and exciting. Except that first area is essentially the entire game in a microcosm. That sense of wonder and awe doesn't hold up after twenty hours let alone the hundreds many put into it. There's just not a whole lot of fun to do in the game once the new car smell wears off. There aren't even dungeons like a Zelda game; the game's version of dungeons are just larger shrines (and by that I mean like three rooms instead of one) with the same gimmick of 'find X number of map nodes then fight the boss'. There's barely a story, no characters of interest, music is sparse, and the final boss is literally a cinematic QTE.

Breath of the Wild is a great first impression game. But the more it goes on the more it becomes quite clear that the entire thing is just Nintendo throwing different colors of paint on the same thing and expecting you to be swayed by the pretty colors to forget everything else.

Breath of the Wild is a mediocre game coasting on its developer and its namesake.

The Award For Being A Better Zelda Than the Zelda That Came Out



ALOYYYYYY

It's funny how many people are quick to point out that Zelda came out and basically stole the hype away from Horizon when Horizon is actually the better game by a fucking country mile. Horizon presents an interesting world and characters from the start and makes that the focal point. There's a constant search for answers, namely why and how the world is like this. Why are there robot monsters mixing with tribal people? What caused the post-apocalypse? The game opens with a Young Aloy stumbling into ruins which turns out to be like a bunker-slash-office building where people are lamenting their fate and that of the world. This discovery is what pushes Aloy into leaving her tribe and venturing beyond the...horizon.

Answers do come and in the process we get a damn intriguing sci fi story about humanity at its best and at its most fickle and worst. Aloy as a character is somewhat one dimensional but her performance by Ashly Burch makes her interesting enough to care about. It's not Aloy herself that the game is interested in, but the world it presents. When I first played the game I found myself really loving the little intricacies of combat, of feeling like a hunter as I laid traps and lured out the imposing machines. I assumed that the snowy forests of Colorado were the entire game and then was pleasantly surprised when about a quarter or so through I found that there was an entirely new biome and area of the map that had new machines and cultures and people.

Interestingly enough the game also has Cauldron's which both provide new lore for the game as well as act like dungeons. They give Aloy a new ability and end with a boss fight, kind of like how Zelda does it. Horizon gives you an interesting world and then takes its time exploring it and developing it, from the past to the present and how the different tribes and cultures came to exist. I loved this game and the story it had to tell. I happily dumped 60+ hours finding every collectible and unraveling the mystery of the pre-apocalypse.

This game is a better Zelda game than the Zelda game that came out.

I just honestly wish there wasn't the sequel bait at the end because this game has what so few games do anymore: a fucking actual goddamn conclusion.

The Award For Game I Enjoy Watching More Than Playing



JUMP UP SUPERSTAR IS STILL GOOD THO

I think 2017 is the year I grew out of Nintendo. I'm not going to sit here and try to say Mario Odyssey is a bad game. It isn't. It's really fucking fun even if I think the worlds being somewhat small means the hunt for Moons is made worse because they just throw them all over the place and many of them don't even feel like I did anything to earn it.

But I dunno. I didn't really have a lot of motivation to keep playing the game. I beat it and wound up having something like 500 Moons by the end of it (seriously they hand them out like candy) but I didn't really find myself wanting to play any more. Then something happened. Some streamers I like started doing speedruns and I started watching people develop speedrun routes in real time using movement mechanics in ways that looked like they weren't meant to be used. And I had a fucking way better time watching Mario Odyssey speedruns than I did playing it myself.

Maybe I just like speedruns.

Mario Odyssey is a good game. I just wish I liked it more than I did.

The Award For Game Most Deserving Of A PS4 Re-Release/Remake



FUCK YEAH

Yo what the fuck why is this game not getting the Rogue Galaxy treatment and being put out on the PS4 with trophy support. Fucking you'll re-release Star Ocean 3 and fucking Star Ocean 4 but not this fucking game?

How much will it take for you to put this game out on the PS4, Square? Fucking Namco is over here putting out .hack G.U. and you can't get Tri Ace to put this fucking game out? Fucking make it happen.

Star Ocean 3 and 4 get PS4 releases this year but fucking who cares about those games.

WHEN WILL IT BE TIME FOR RADIATA STORIES.

The Award For Fastest Falloff Of A Rerelease



The one song people know

Final Fantasy 12 was the one main line FF game I never finished. I never got much further than "I'M CAPTAIN BOSCH" on the PS2 and I just sort of got rid of it shortly before selling my PS2 fully. I chalk it up to my being like a dumb teenager when the game first came out and them talking in fancy ass British language being off putting. I also didn't really understand or use gambits.

So of course I jumped on The Zodiac Age as soon as it was announced. Finally I was gonna beat FF12 and now that I'm older and even more dumb surely I'd be able to wrap my head behind the noble titles and the gambit system. And sure enough I did understand shit.

But Final Fantasy 12 refused to change.

I don't even think FF12 is bad or anything, I just found myself not really all that interested in playing after a point. I got further than I did on the PS2 version but I still haven't picked it up since, like, August. It doesn't help that I started FF12 hot on the heels of a better JRPG but I mean...eh.

I'll get to it one day. Maybe some point next year. But man did I ever fucking fall off this game after being so ready to see it through to the end.


The Award For Fucking Everything Up In Record Time



Let's pour one out for Overwatch. Last year's most fun game turned into this year's biggest shitshow as it started catering more towards esports and comp than actual fun and balance.

It was a good run

One day every hero will be a DPS hero because only that way is everything balanced in Blizzard's eyes.

The Award For Best Game of the Year



BEAUTIFUL





YOKO TARO FINALLY SCORED






If anyone actually cares to know my actual top 10 list I guess I can post it.
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Old 12-28-2017   #2
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