2019 was a wild year for games, at least it was for me. I’ve had so much choice of what and where to play, I’m struggling to keep my list to just ten games. I’ve played my fair share of stinkers, but I’ve had more than my fill of greatness, too.
This year I’ve been gaming all over the place. I’ve got the PS4 Pro and PSVR set up in the living room next to the Xbox One X, as well as a Black Friday-bargain Xbox One S in my bedroom. Then I’ve got my capable PC in the corner with my Nintendo Switch sitting on my desk, constantly tempting me away from doing work. I’ve also got the Oculus Quest – a new addition to the Harding family this year – continually begging to be played. And since the Oculus Link Beta, I’ve had no shortage of great VR games to play in their best possible form. I’m spoiled, basically, and this list will be a mish-mash of games from every console I’ve got cluttering up my house.
Before you go judging my end-of-year list, have a gander at what the rest of the team has chosen for their Game of the Year lists.
The Hong Kong Massacre
Difficult games and I don’t get along, so I was very surprised to find that The Hong Kong Massacre resonated so well with me. It’s a top-down shooter in the vein of Hotline Miami, but with fancier graphics and John Woo-infused gameplay. It’s fast, it’s brutal, and it’ll have you swearing at the telly more than a botched election, but it’s damn good fun and an easy one to pick up and play for a few minutes at a time. You can read my glowing review through here.
I love me a good racer but this year has been somewhat lacking. I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy not one, but two editions of Codemaster’s GRID this year. I first got GRID Autosport on the Switch, and that helped me skive many hours away at work. Then I was offered the chance to review the new GRID for PS4, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There aren’t enough decent, pure racers around these days. R.I.P DriveClub.
If Gran Turismo is too much for you and you can’t be faffed with Ubisoft’s Forza Horizon knock-off, GRID is an excellent option to get you racing. You can read my review of GRID for PS4 through here.
Assassin’s Creed 3 Remastered
I know. I’m scum in the eyes of some, but Assassin’s Creed 3 is my all-time favourite game in the series. I loved it when I played it on PS3, I enjoyed it even more when I got the PC version, and now I’m doting over it again on the current-gen consoles.
It helps that this package also includes the former PS Vita exclusive Assassin’s Creed Liberation, albeit now in HD and slightly adapted. And yes, I’ve also played through that one on multiple platforms multiple times. What can I say? I bloody love the old-school Assassin’s Creed games. And now, this won’t be the last you’ll see of Ubisoft’s murder series on this list. You can read my Assassin’s Creed 3 Remastered review through here, and then my separate Liberation review here.
L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files
I didn’t expect much going into L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files as I knew it wasn’t the full game in VR, but just a selection of cases. Still, when I took my PSVR headset off after my first play session, I was in awe. Rockstar and VR is like chips and gravy. Perfection. They’d somehow managed to cram the impressive facial tech into VR without much compromise, and the gameplay itself was only heightened by being in VR. Exceptional in every way, just a tad short and a little annoying to navigate with the PSVR’s PS Move controllers. You can read my review here.
No, not the PSVR version. I missed that release when the ship sailed back in 2018. However, I did get the chance to play Moss on the Oculus Quest this year, and I was floored. To think that the game was originally running on a PS4 and a PSVR, but was now able to run on a mobile chipset in VR was impressive and didn’t take anything away from the experience.
I genuinely enjoyed Quill’s adventure, and I’m waiting patiently for the next one which, if it releases first on PSVR 2, I won’t be missing again. You can read my review of Moss here.
Assassin’s Creed: The Rebel Collection
I know, I’m as surprised as anybody else, but this double release on the Nintendo Switch has eaten up so much of time over the last couple of weeks that I’d be an arse not to include it on my end of year list. Granted, the games themselves are quite old now, but for Nintendo Switch they’re brand new, so they count. My list, after all.
If like me, you’ve been pushed away a little by Assassin’s Creed’s turn into an RPG, these are a great couple of games that hang onto the old-fashioned Assassin’s Creed gameplay, warts and all. The parkour can be poop and the tailing missions in Black Flag are a proper nuisance, but the rest is bliss for old-school fans of the Creed.
You can read my review on our sister site, Pure Ninty, through here.
Gears of War 5
I’ve never been massively into Gears of War, and the fourth game was something of a damp squib, but Gear 5 laid down the foundation for a new generation of Gears, and I’ve got to give credit where it’s due.
I’ve put many an evening into the game’s multiplayer modes, though mostly Horde mode with mates. It’s a top shooter with an excellent campaign. If you’ve got access to an Xbox, it’s definitely worth a go.
STAR WARS VADER IMMORTAL (SERIES)
The first game I bought for my Oculus Quest was Star Wars Vader Immortal: Episode 1. I bought it before my headset had even arrived. The promise that I’d be able to step into the world of Star Wars and swing a lightsaber around for real was too tempting. It was brilliant. I counted the days between each new episode’s release and then grieved after the last episode’s credits rolled. I need more and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for another Star Wars VR experience. You can read my reviews over on our VR-dedicated sister site, Pure PSVR.
BLOOD & TRUTH
Wow, just wow. That’s all I could say after finishing Sony London Studio’s explosive first-person shooter for PSVR. It did everything right, and that’s despite the PSVR’s annoying quirks. I played the entire thing over two days and then played it again in one complete run.
If you’re a PSVR owner with a soft spot for shooting bad guys to death, you owe it to yourself to play Blood & Truth. It’s a fine example of what can be done with limited resources and decade-old tech, and it has me salivating at the prospect for a PS5/PSVR 2 sequel. Bring it on!
You can read our review of Blood & Truth through here.
Tropico 6 is my personal Game of the Year for 2019. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Tropico games, but it was only with the sixth release that I really got invested. Like, sickeningly invested. I’ve got it on three platforms now. I’ve got the Xbox version that I can play in bed. I’ve got the PS4 version which I reviewed earlier this year, and thanks to Origin Access on PC, I’ve got the PC version to play whenever I like.
No matter which version you play, you’re guaranteed the same amount of depth across the board. I’ve spent many a night sitting at my desk with a bottle of whiskey to the left, an ashtray full of cigarettes to the right, and protesting citizens banging on my palace doors. I’ve cancelled elections for fear of losing power. I’ve given free cars to all citizens in an attempt to cling to it. I’ve had problematic individuals killed, imprisoned, and deported. And I’ve loved every minute of it. Just be thankful that I’m not an actual politician; we all say that we’d be against corruption, but I know for a fact that I’d be on the take from day one.
You can read my glowing review for Tropico 6 through here.