Hello, hello, and hello my fine fellow humans! I hope you all had a kickass Christmas and a most excellent New Year. It was quiet here for both events. I picked up one of my brothers for Christmas day, and had both nieces up on Christmas Eve so they could open their presents. And then New Year was nothing special because lockdown was in full effect, so there was nowhere to go. It felt strange not spending New Year in the company of my best mate, matching stupid videos, playing Trials and making lame jokes. I made lame jokes and played Trials on my own, but it just wasn’t the same.
Let’s assume for a moment that you’ve been living in some sort of perpetual darkness your entire life with no access to the Internet, game consoles or even a toilet. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is a skateboarding game that’s all about arcadey thrills and spills as you link together tricks into increasingly absurd combos. For millions of people, myself firmly included, the Tony Hawk series was a childhood staple that helped drive interest in skateboarding and introduced kids to some of the greatest music to ever grace a video game. To this day Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 is one of the highest rated games ever, a classic among classics. Sadly the Tony Hawk game empire crumbled eventually, with Robomodo taking over from Neversoft and doing a bloody awful job it, culminating in the crappy Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 and a naff attempt to remaster the first game. But now Vicarious Visions are taking a stab at bringing both of the first two Hawk games back to life in this remake, and I’m happy to report Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is both a nostalgia filled trip down memory lane and a bloody awesome game for anybody looking to jump into Pro Skater for the first time.
There are a lot of games on the market and it’s impossible to play all of them. But that can also be a good thing, because later on you can stumble upon an older game and play it free of all the initial hype and excitement. That’s exactly my experience with Death Stranding, the latest rollercoaster ride of madness from Kojima. When it first launched in 2019 I wasn’t at all interested in reviewing or playing it. I think at the time I wasn’t in the right mindset for it, and I was busy with so many other games that I let it fly past. But when Death Stranding made its PC debut earlier this year my mindset was a little different and I checked it out. I’m glad I did.
2020 saw quite a few series being resurrected, their decaying corpses being dug up, dusted off, jammed into some new clothes and shoved out of the door. Crash Bandicoot came back to a great reception and Desperados emerged after years and years of hibernation, just two prime examples. But for me the best comeback after a lengthy absence in 2020 was Streets of Rage 4, the first game in the series since Streets of Rage 3 way, way back in 1994.
The year of 2020 was one filled with remakes and remasters, from huge titles like Final Fantasy VII and Demon’s Souls to more surprising games like Destroy All Humans. But for me there was only one remake that I could pick, the one that has brought the most nostalgic joy to my wizened and bitter heart. Ladies and gentlemen, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 was fucking amazing.
In some ways it feels wrong to pick a game that so few people got to play. There’s no denying, though, that Half-Life: Alyx was the best PC exclusive I played this year, and the best VR game by a mile. VR remains an incredibly immersive and fascinating […]
What other game than Cyberpunk 2077 could possibly have won this illustrous award that hundreds of developers clamor over to claim? Well, truthfully, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla almost took the crown due to being a buggy mess and the fact that I still can’t actually finish the game to this day. But then Cyberpunk 2077 stomped in, struck a T-pose, gliding across the floor and stole the crown right out from under Eivor’s hooded gaze.
Launched back in March, Ori & the Will of the Wisps received a lot of glowing reviews but was damaged by performance issues. But since I only got around to finally playing it last week those issues have been resolved and new, shiny Xbox Series X and Series enhancements came out. In other words, I played Ori & the Will of the Wisps in its best form, blissfully unaware of any launch woes it might have suffered from. And I’m so glad I stumbled upon it this way, because it’s a glorious, playful, vibrant, wonderful game and feels like it has been vastly overlooked and underappreciated, despite it being on Games Pass.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales was a strong contender for the best Playstation game of 2020, delivering another slice of outstanding web-slinging combined with a fun story. But Miles Morales was a known quantity – after the success of Marvel’s Spider-Man in 2018, it seemed a safe bet that a follow-up would be terrific. But Ghost of Tsushima was an unknown element. Yes, Sucker Punch have a rich and successful history, but Ghost of Tsushima was a brand-new IP that didn’t actually have much hype and marketing prior to hitting store shelves, and wound up launching right next to the biggest Playstation title of the year, The Last of Us Part 2. That’s a daunting thought for any developer. And yet Sucker Punch didn’t need to be worried because of Ghost of Tsushima ended up being the perfect antidote to The Last of Us 2’s relentless assault of dark themes and violence. The Last of Us Part 2 is beautiful from a technical perspective, but Ghost of Tsushima is beautiful in the truest sense. I constantly abused the photo-mode, taking dozens and dozens of pictures of Tsushima’s awe-inspiring landscapes.
In terms of games Microsoft hasn’t exactly had a great year. While Sony pushed out multiple exclusive games that have garnered incredible critic scores and huge sales numbers, Microsoft have had very little to get excited about. Of course, their planned acquisition of Zenimax could change all of that in the future, but for now Microsoft haven’t had much to offer their players. It’s also a little tricky to pick a game for this category because so many of Microsoft’s games aren’t actually exclusive to their console, typically appearing on PC as well. In fact, the game that I would have selected actually popped up on Nintendo Switch, too, disqualifying it. Don’t worry, though, that game will be appearing later on. So, for this award, I’m including Xbox games that are available on PC, too.