It was an incredible year for video games, especially in the first person shooter arena, and here are my picks for the top 10 games I played in 2016.
- Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End: Uncharted 4 is a masterpiece on pretty much ever level. Visually, it’s maybe the most stunning game I’ve ever played, with gorgeous, jaw dropping locales and arguably the best character animations and digital acting ever. Unlike it’s PS3 predecessors, Uncharted 4 also didn’t slip into supernatural wonkiness in it’s final act, instead telling a rip roaring adventure tale of a secret pirate utopia full of multiple ships worth of treasure while also closing the book on the story of Nathan Drake in an emotional and satisfying way. If you have a PS4, this is a must buy.
- Doom: Doom took a chainsaw to everyone’s expectations and delivered a fast, brutal and fun return of the seminal FPS series. Incorporating a new system of “glory kills” that lets you get health back for delivering brutal melee finishers to stunned enemies, Doom rewarded constant offense and created a flow of combat that no other game could match. Multiplayer didn’t really set the world on fire but the campaign was well worth the price of admission.
- Titanfall 2: I said no other game could match Doom’s flow but Titanfall 2 comes close and does surpass Doom on the movement side. Finally adding a single player campaign to the original’s mech and pilots based multiplayer, Titanfall 2 had things in it’s campaign that made it more like a first person Prince of Persia than Call of Duty, especially in the brilliant time travel based level Effects and Cause where you can jump between the past and present at will. You also have the fantastic Titan BT at your back to encourage you and subtly guide you about where to go next.
- Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare: Black Ops 3 last year was one of the worst ever entries in the CoD franchise but Infinite Warfare pulls a complete 180 and delivers one of the best single player campaigns since the Modern Warfare era, solid multiplayer and a fun 80’s themed Zombie mode. The campaign is setup around the central hub of your space aircraft carrier, the Retribution, and the fact that you can decide where to go next on the battle map is a small detail but really makes you feel like the captain and you get to know your crew more than any characters in CoD since Soap and Price. The dogfights in the Jackal fighter jet are also really well done and the game embraces it’s sci-fi setting for missions the likes of which you’ve never really seen before (stealth sniper mission through an asteroid belt anyone?)
- Ratchet & Clank: If you read my Top 10 Worst Movies of 2016 list yesterday, you know that I put the movie based on the game at number 10 but the game based on the movie based on the game is classic, awesome Ratchet and the only way to experience the new reboot/remake of the original game. You’ll see and do things that are familiar from the original Ratchet & Clank, like hoverboard racing and solving water based puzzles with the Hydrodisplacer but there’s a ton of new weapons like the Pixelizer, which turns everything 8 bit and a new collectible called Holo Cards that lets you earn unlocks if you get specific sets of cards. Skip the movie and just play this to experience Ratchet & Clank’s first foray onto the PS4.
- Stories: The Path of Destinies: I’m really glad this was one of December’s PS Plus free games because it gave me the chance to play one of the best games of the year (also everyone whining about not getting AAA games every month can suck it). Stories puts you in the paws of roguish fox Reynardo, who joins the rebellion against an evil toad emperor. The main gameplay gimmick is that Reynardo comes into possession of a book that he slowly realizes shows him possible futures based on his choices and you’ll play through and make these choices and try to unlock four truths that will unlock the one good ending to his story. The combat system is fantastic, borrowing the multiple enemy/countering system of the Arkham games and it’s got a hilarious sense of humor delivered with top tier narration by Julian Casey that makes the game seem like playing an audiobook.
- Battlefield 1: Battlefield has never really had the best campaigns but their trip back to World War I offered up a unique and interesting set of, basically, short stories following various soldiers during the war, like a fighter pilot or Italian shock trooper, that just so happens to align with a specific vehicle or class in multiplayer, so you’re learning a bit about how to play in that arena as well. It looks and sounds incredible and definitely worth at least a rent to try out the campaign.
- The Deadly Tower of Monsters: Just like Stories above, Deadly Tower of Monsters featured excellent narration as one of it’s defining features, except this time, you’re listening to the “DVD Commentary” of a 60’s sci-fi director for the “movie” that you are actually playing. Without the narration, this would probably just be a solid but unmemorable top down shooter but the narration elevates the game with it’s bizarre behind the scenes stories and the secrets of what you are seeing. Visually, the game also leans fully into the cheap sci-fi aesthetic with visible strings, stop motion creatures and “aliens” that are just guys in costumes.
- The Final Station: You wouldn’t think a pixel art game could create a sense of dread but The Final Station does exactly that as you explore a post-apocalyptic wasteland full of strange, zombie like creatures that may be alien in origin. You play the conductor of one of the few running trains in this world and at each stop you need to set out on foot and find a special code as well as scrounge for supplies but, each time you enter a new room or open a door, you’re risking an ambush by these creatures, so there’s a great risk/reward element to whether you want to risk exploring or just find the code and press on.
- Enter the Gungeon: A rogue-like dungeon crawler, Enter the Gungeon is unique in that, instead of the typical swords and melee of other rogue-likes, you have an arsenal of different guns and all your enemies are sentient bullets, grenades and other weapons. There are a number of different characters to choose from with different starting guns and equipment and each foray into the Gungeon is randomly generated, so it’s never the same twice. Add in great control mechanics like the vital dodge roll and you’ve got a fun game perfect for a few quick rounds of fantastical shootouts.
- Punch Club
- Not a Hero