2017, what an incredible year for video games! I spent most of 2017 paying off my student loans and saving money for San Francisco. Which didn’t give me a ton of time to play video games. But I still sampled quite a bit of this year’s best games to make a top 10 list. Like previous years, I make it a rule to finish each game. So, that’s why The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey and Horizon Zero Dawn didn’t make my list because I’m not even close to finishing them. Now on to the games!
10. Mario Kart 8: Deluxe (Switch)
An excellent port of the superb Mario Kart 8. I played the crap out of the original game on Wii U. So it doesn’t rank high on my list this year since I included in my 2014 list. However, Nintendo wisely added enough content to justify the double dip and its inclusion in my 2017 list.
First off, I don’t plan on trading it in ever. Since it’s possible to play Mario Kart anywhere now thanks to the Switch’s handheld mode. Second, the DLC tracks I missed out on the first time rock! And I hope the eventual Mario Kart 9 borrows from the design. Making tracks outside of the MK universe allows for fresh takes on the MK formula. Such as the Legend of Zelda’s iconic Temple of Time and F-Zero’s Mute City. Finally, the multiplayer modes add even more replay value and eliminate the main weakness of the original release. Play it if you missed it on Wii U. You won’t regret it.
9. Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment (3DS)
Kudos to Yacht Games for continuing to support Shovel Knight with free content! Specter of Torment retreads common ground from the first game but still feels unique. I liked the flashback sections the most since they feel like new levels.
Specter of Torment 1up’s Plague of Shadows for me because I enjoy playing as Specter Knight more. His levels feel more satisfying to traverse with a scythe than using bombs. While I’d rather play Shovel Knight 2, I don’t see much to criticize here. I’m all for Yacht Games releasing more expansions that complement the base game. Even better they do it without charging original buyers a dime. I’m excited what the final expansion Shovel Knight: King of Cards hitting this year brings to the table.
8. Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition (PS4)
I’m no stranger to Bulletstorm. I even wrote an article about its controversy when I went to school at UW Milwaukee. Well, it only took me seven years to finally play it and I now understand why so many players found it so fun. Like MK8, Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition updates a classic with modern features. Since I never played the original Bulletorm it ranks higher than MK8 for my top 10 list this year.
The core gameplay remains solid and still plays, unlike any other shooter. While playing I always looked for what creative ways I could annihilate my enemies. Why shoot them point blank when it’s more fun to lasso them into a blade saw with my trusty whip? Bulletstorm encourages you to think outside the box and that’s why I love it.
7. Agents of Mayhem (PS4)
Sick of waiting for Crackdown 3? Then consider checking out the criminally overlooked Agents of Mayhem. AOM offers a variety of agents to play as and no agent plays the same way. It’s a blast to switch between all three protagonists at once and it adds a layer of strategy that Grand Theft Auto V lacked. It’s almost like playing a tag team fighting game like Tekken Tag Tournament. Where when one character gets low on health you switch to the others. I sampled out each character in their respective story missions. And each one’s backstory features a Saturday morning action cartoon cutscene that brings the game to life.
Sadly, the plentiful character variety doesn’t extend to the story missions. And it’s not surprising that AOM received scathing reviews for its repetitive structure. You’ll go to legion lairs and clear out wave after wave of enemies. Some missions even require you to do this before you start the actual mission! Still, the core shooting remains entertaining enough to compensate for the lack of mission variety. Some cool missions do exist though. Like the one where you sabotage a pop star’s performance so his fans see him for a fake.
To sum up, Agents of Mayhem isn’t the greatest game ever. Yet, it’s over the top silliness and fun shooting kept me playing until the end. I don’t regret playing it and wholeheartedly recommend it if you enjoyed Crackdown.
6. Star Wars: Battlefront 2 (Xbox One X)
If you look past Star Wars: Battlefront 2’s controversial loot boxes, you’ll find a decent Star Wars game. One that fulfills your dreams of playing something that looks like the movies.
For me, the single-player campaign takes the spotlight over the multiplayer. Iden Version played by Jania Gavinka from True Blood gives a great performance. And I didn’t expect so many Rouge Squadron-esque levels or lightsabers to make an appearance either. Once the campaign finishes three additional DLC story missions keep you playing. While not amazing, they lead the story to a proper conclusion which the main game lacked.
Outside the campaign, I dabbled in the arcade mode’s 20 short levels that offer three tiers of difficulty. In arcade mode, you play various horde-style modes until a timer runs out or you get enough kills. It provided a few hours of fun, but once I got to tier three the difficulty spiked too high. Online multiplayer didn’t grab me either. However, I found some enjoyment out of the Blast, Strike and Heroes vs Villain modes. The Starfighter Assault and the Galactic Assault battles lost their appeal after a few times since the matches dragged on too long for me.
Once I tested everything in SWBII I felt satisfied and don’t plan on going back to it. Still, I enjoyed my time with it and if you’re a Star Wars fan at least rent it. If only to see a Star Wars video game that finally looks like the films that inspired it.
5. Arms (Switch)
A fresh new IP from Nintendo always gets my attention. The Wii U gave us Splatoon and now with the Nintendo Switch, we get Arms. I spent a long weekend playing Arms and getting to know each new character. Like Overwatch, each character plays uniquely. So you’re sure to find someone who matches your playstyle. While it’s disappointing there isn’t a proper story mode, the Grand Prix mode offers hours of fun. And the Tekken style mini-games provide a nice break between matches.
What’s Arms greatest strength? It’s easy to pick up and play even if you’re terrible at fighting games. Something Splatoon did well for multiplayer shooters. Your list of commands isn’t rocket science and easy to remember like Super Smash Brothers. And half of the fun comes from faking out your opponent with one move. While the other half involves lining up your second attack. Also, not since Soul Caliber does a fighting game demand you pay so much attention to your defensive play. In Arms, a strong defense matters as much as a strong offense.
I’m glad Nintendo took another risk on a brand new IP and I hope an Arms 2 irons out its faults. With an improved single player, Arms 2 could revolutionize the modern fighting game.
4. Prey (PS4)
Prey starts out with a fantastic intro. Which sets the stage for an epic journey to discover your past on Talos 1. A lavishly designed space station filled with secrets. However, when you encounter your first typhoon enemy the game falls apart.
Chief culprit: Prey’s over-reliance on combat. While it’s possible to sneak past enemies, often it’s unavoidable and fighting the typhoons feels frustratingly dull. Since you’re vastly underpowered and you’ll struggle to find ammo. So you’re better off running away from enemies instead.
Prey does give you a wrench and encourages you to freeze enemies with the glue gun, but it’s tedious. I didn’t enjoy smashing tiny enemies that move quickly with a crowbar in Half-Life and I’m not a fan of Prey’s take on it either.
Luckily, Prey gets better the more you play. Once you get a shotgun and learn to create your own ammo combat gets less aggravating. Which lets you focus on doing the dozens of side quests alongside the main storyline.
Seriously, don’t overlook the sides quests! You get tons of neuromods for upgrading your abilities and they add more detail to the storyline. I did most of them. And before I saw the end credits of Prey my game time surpassed the 30-hour mark. I’m glad I stuck with Prey. Even though I almost gave up several times. It’s an engrossing game and while it doesn’t hit the same high marks as Dishonored it’s worth playing.
3. Splatoon 2 single player (Switch)
Splatoon’s multiplayer on the Wii U never grabbed me like it did others. I enjoyed it, but for me, the single player trumped it. It brought back warm memories of Super Mario Sunshine and I didn’t want it to end. I’m happy to report that the sequel’s story mode lives up to the original and feels right at home on the Switch. It’s not a revolutionary leap over the original. But I enjoyed all the new guns, mission variety and grinding on ink cables still never gets old.
However, Splatoon 2 falls short of the original game in one small way. The final boss battle. It’s fun and features a cool ending song, but it’s nowhere near as epic and bad ass as the first one’s multi-phase gauntlet. Nintendo’s bound to remedy that with the eventual Splatoon 3 though. So I look forward to what final boss battle they come up with next time.
2. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (PS4)
How could an Uncharted game without Nathan Drake work? Pretty remarkable actually. Without a Drake to focus on Uncharted: The Lost Legacy finds creative ways to shake up the standard Uncharted formula. First, with no extensive backstory to wrap up LL doesn’t overstay its welcome. LL adventure time feels substantial without the filler that plagued Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.
Second, clever open world design make the experience feel different from past Uncharted games. Like Uncharted 4, multiple paths lead to the same destination. But LL features sides quests that Naughty Dog lets players tackle in any order. Third, LL plays like a greatest hits version of Uncharted. It takes the best parts of the franchise and combines them into explosive action set pieces. LL even offers a clever take on the typical helicopter boss battle seen in many action games.
In conclusion, LL more than lives up to the quality of past Uncharted games. And I’d love to see more games in the franchise. As long as Naughty Dog continues to innovate the formula. Don’t miss out on this awesome experience. Chloe Frasier and Nadine Ross carry an Uncharted game without Drake marvelously. How about a younger Sully adventure next Naughty Dog?
1. Resident Evil VII (PlayStation VR)
Believe it. My 2017 game of the year released in January! Resident Evil 4 remains Capcom’s greatest video game. But in terms of pure horror Resident Evil VII surpasses it. Not since the Silent Hill days do I feel so excited and terrified to play a video game. REVII plays great on a TV screen, but playing it in PlayStation VR takes it to 11. The incredible immersion with PSVR brings a whole new dynamic to the experience.
Simple scenes like walking past a creepy grandmother in a rocking chair. Or down a long empty hallway feel terrifying! As does hiding behind a table while unkillable enemies a hair away search for you. Sometimes it’s too much and you’ll need to take the PSVR headset off to catch your breath! My heartbeat dramatically went up and down while playing REVII. And even though I felt terrified to go back I couldn’t wait to play more.
PSVR makes REVII a real game changer and once I beat the game it felt impossible to play it on a flat TV screen. While it’s easy for me to fault the game for its second half. Which focuses too much on combat and not survival horror. The first half feels so fresh and expertly paced that I didn’t mind. It’s not perfect, but nothing else last year came close to REVII’s wow factor. The joy and terror of playing REVII in PSVR all add up to an incredible experience that’s unforgettable. Making it an easy choice for my 2017 game of the year.
There you have it. My top 10 games of 2017. I’m going to spend 2018 catching up on the games from last year I missed or didn’t finish. But I look forward to what’s new on the horizon. I’ve already played the betas for Dragonball FighterZ and Monster Hunter: World and look forward to playing the full games. As for what else, I’m most looking forward to Red Dead Redemption 2, Kingdom Hearts 3, Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Metroid Prime 4.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for my honorable mentions.