Christopher Koep’s Top 10 Games of 2017
2017 has been one of the most incredible years for gaming to date. Everything from the return of Resident Evil, to the next chapters of Mario and Link, to the slate of crazy crossovers coming to games like Injustice 2 and Tekken 7, this year was wild. As it draws to a close, I look back on the games released and ponder which I enjoyed most. I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t necessarily fit them in a ranked order (though I will say Persona 5 “wins” overall) due to how different and interesting each one was, but I can safely discern which deserve to be on the top 10. Without further ado, here are my top 10 games from 2017.
What happens when the most iconic 3D fighting series gets updated to the current generation of consoles? Stunning graphics, solid netcode, and gameplay that is unrivaled is delivered to hungry fans around the globe. Tekken once again makes a huge splash on the fighting game market with its most recent release, adding a cinematic story mode, depth laden gameplay, character customization, and the same flair and polish one expects from the King of Iron Fist. Combine this with an attention to detail that makes crossover characters like Akuma and Geese Howard feel right at home in the 3D realm, and you have a recipe for excellence.
Persona 5 is an overwhelming game. Heavy subject matter, difficult battles if under leveled, time constraints, and many choices await you in Atlus’ latest entry in the franchise. However, the game is crafted with so much love and care that it is difficult not to enjoy the burden. Persona 5 ups the difficulty from Golden, reintroducing the nuclear element and puzzles mid dungeon. Style oozes from the game, with jazzy music, a beautiful art direction, and the obviously gorgeous “all out” attacks. Demon negotiations also return to up the difficulty in acquiring Personas, and the ideas of morality and rebellion make Persona 5 one of the more aggressive games I’ve played tonely. P5 is everything I wanted from a Persona sequel, with solid combat, another impressive story, and more excellent music. Add my heart to the list of things the Phantom Thieves have stolen.
Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite
On the surface, Marvel Vs Capcom: Infinite can be deemed roughly one of the worst/most disappointing games of this year, with its poor character designs and roster choices. However, when diving into the core of the game, it does enough to shake up the formula to create one of the most enjoyable 2D fighters of recent memory. Infinite strikes a much finer balance between casual and hardcore play, with the introduction of auto combos and easy supers. The removal of assists allows for more freedom in combat, and the infinity stones add extra strategy and flair to one’s playstyle (Do you opt to zone with the reality zone, counter attacks with the time zone, or are you more offensive and prefer rushdowns and dealing big damage with the power stone?). Infinite is the prime example of why you shouldn’t always judge a book by its cover.
Dead Rising 4: Frank’s Big Package
Frank’s Big Package takes all that worked in the initial release of Dead Rising 4, and scoops on top of it all the DLC offerings, plus a new variation of the campaign that pays homage to classic Capcom titles. Inventory has been streamlined and the town of Willamette offers plenty of places to explore, weapons to create, and zombies to kill. The game is a wonderful way to spend a lazy afternoon, slaughtering zombies dressed like bearded Ryu and wielding an explosive sledgehammer.
Neatherealms second bout with the DC universe (Yes second, we don’t talk about that game) proves to be another success. Improving upon the combat and clash system help to make matches feel faster and more fluid. The cinematic story mode now made standard thanks to Neatherealm, once again features all the cinematic and script qualities of a film, and the daily challenges present in the multiverse are excellent ways to keep fighting fresh. Injustice 2’s biggest feature however, comes in the form of customization. The implementation of new gear and color palettes allow players a sense of identity over their fighter, making sure that rarely will two players have the same speedster or protector of sector 2814. As time progressed, Neatherrealm cared for the competitive scene, making online ranked matches best of five sets with tourney rules. Injsutice 2 not only builds upon its predecessor, it redefines it into a more concise and technical package.
Wolfenstein: The New Colossus
As gaming has progressed it has become a means for interactive storytelling. Nowhere is this more evident arguably, then in New Colossus. Story is told not only through gorgeously rendered cutscenes, filled with excellently voice acted dialogue, but also in game through the enviornemnts and enemy chatter. Each encounter is laden with remorse and despair. Add to this the monologues of a man confronting his imminent demise and you have one of the most somber games from the past few years. However, it isn’t all doom and gloom with Wolfenstein, on top of one of the best narratives of this year the game is chalk full of satisfying first person combat. Often times combat is open, allowing for a mixture of stealth and pure firefights. Wolfenstein is also filled with over the top moments that will leave you with your jaw on the floor, making it one of the most impactful FPS of the past five years in every way possible.
You wouldn’t think bullet hell type gameplay would work in a hack and slash. You also wouldn’t think that a game involving giant mechs, drifting bears, and eyemask wearing robots would hold a deep philosophical story questioning the nature of humanity (granted anime has treaded this ground). You’d be incorrect when examining Nier: Automata however. A bleak dystopian future filled with franticly honed hack and slash combat, combined with the insane onscreen projectiles of a bullet hell fuel the action, with RPG elements added on top. Automata packs a wealth of single player content, with multiple endings requiring multiple palytrhoughs. If hack and slash is your genre of choice, then Nier: Automata is definitely the game for you.
Guilty Gear Xrd: Rev 2
Like 2D fighting games? Like anime? Like metal music? If you said yes to all three (or the first one) then Rev 2 is a must buy. An upgrade of the previous game, Guilty Gear Xrd: Rev 2 increases the roster, balances the cast, adds more music, and stages to the game. Combat has never been sharper, with multiple styles of “Roman Cancels”, and special moves that are insane to see, Guilty Gear has never been flashier with it’s 2.5D gameplay using full advantage of Unreal Engine 3 technology. Characters have never looked better, fighting has never felt as tight, and never looked as good. Rev 2 is a game that oozes hard rock cool with a fighting spirit.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” seems to be a trend these days, with ports and remakes and soulless sequels appearing around every corner. In a world such as this, Mario Odyssey dares to reinvent itself, adding new mechanics and story elements to the three-decades old franchise. The adventures of Mario and Cappy offer new mechanics that elevate the platforming Mario is known for, rather than alienating fans of the series. Combine that with bright and colorful levels and charming music, and Odyssey is a game that offers something new while still maintaining the loveable spirit the plumber is known for.
Breath of the Wild
Link’s Switch debut was a long time coming, but it hit with the force of a Mack truck. Breath of the Wild offers a large world to explore, filled with beautiful horizons and lush fields. New mechanics such as weather status, weapon and armor conditions, as well as the variety added to combat. Crafting allows for Link to prepare various meals and weapons to aid in his quest, and voice acting adds to the hero’s quest. Breath of the Wild is not only a landmark in the Zelda franchise, but in the power of handheld gaming.
I hope the momentum from this year carries over into 2018, and with the slew of releases next year, it’s bound to be. What was your favorite game from this year? What are you looking forward to next year? Let us know in the comments below.