The Top 5 Games of 2018

What a year for video games! This list will probably come as no surprise to anyone, but if you are yet to play any of these games then read on to why you should!


The original Spider-Man game back on the PS1 will always hold a special place in my heart. That game enthralled me, terrified me, and cemented my love of video games in general from a young age. Subsequent Spider-Man releases haven’t quite grabbed me enough to usurp the loyalty born of nostalgia. That is until now.

Oddly, perhaps, the first thing I want to praise is the setting. Swinging over one of the most fully realised digital interpretation of a city, the game captures the vibe and feel of Manhattan, even as you zoom about the rooftops. But dropping down to ground level, you feel like you are amongst a genuine city (except the people on the boats). It always frustrates me when I cannot truly explore a city, ie, open any doors to shops or buildings, and because Spider-Man does the external so well, it frustrates me no end that I cannot dive deeper into the Manhattan experience it presents so well.

Despite getting lured away from the main missions to explore, the main narrative of the game is no slouch. Mixing a nice variety of missions with a story that steadily ups the anti, giving each passing mission more narrative weight. The inclusion of Miles Morales and Mary Jane Parker missions added an extra dimension to the gameplay and allowed a greater depth of story to be told. Throw in some lesser known canonical villains to avoid well-trodden story paths, while creating new timelines for classic villains means that I am eagerly waiting to explore this dimension more. Hopefully it stays separate from the main Marvel Universe and is allowed to grow these fresh perspectives into future sequels.

Away from the main storyline, there is plenty to do, but not so much that it becomes overwhelming or a chore *cough Odyssey!* The science-lab side missions set up by Harry Osbourne, retracing the steps of Black Cat or submitting to the will of the Taskmaster all create the varied gameplay that keeps you hooked. Plus, the collectibles are fun and worthwhile; the backpacks give you greater insight to the current world, while the photo opportunities give you a number of cool easter eggs and insights to the lore of New York City and the greater Spider-Man universe. Finally, the number of costumes you can get to enhance your experience was an amazing breath of fresh air, considering I expected them to be squirreled away in lootboxes or as “additional content to be purchased”.

Sorry PS1 Spider-Man. But it’s time for me to let go.


Dark Souls remastered

This is a cheat technically because Dark Souls came out in 2011, which is insane considering the impact the “Soulsborne” series has had on video games as a whole. There is not much to be said about this near-perfect gaming experience, made all the better here with included DLC and sharper visuals (which frankly don’t even improve things that much, so beautiful was the first game). Dark Souls is the game every gamer should play. Embrace it, love it or hate it, it is certainly an experience one must endure to try and understand the “video game as art” concept. Its difficulty creates the lowest of lows, but also the highest of highs. Few games have made me so euphoric and so angry within the space of a few minutes.

I will say no more. Go play.


Red Dead Redemption 2

I’m still not over John Marston. Let me make that clear. Arthur Morgan is a decent alternative, a bit more easily read than Marston, but then again, Red Dead Redemption 2 takes place in a simpler time (that and I’ve not finished the game yet, so there is still time for character development). Slow, deliberate and realistic to a fault, I resisted RDR2 at first, it didn’t hook me the way I had hoped. But slowly, over time, the playing experience became like willingly sinking into quicksand. Inch by inch you get deeper into the world of Red Dead, and although part of you want’s it to hurry up, the other just wants to enjoy the different pace that this game offers.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is neither artful or utterly tasteless, it is both these things to the nth degree. Showcasing a realistic world and giving players a high degree of freedom within it will always cause controversy as we have seen when players gleefully murder suffragettes fighting for women’s rights. It is an unfortunate by-product of such a simulation. However, conversely, I straight up murdered everyone attending a KKK meeting and left several survivors on the train tracks to be obliterated.

As a prequel, the game gave me a bit more time with John Marston, the games defining masterstroke. But it is one dealt with a tinge of sadness. I spent literally hundreds of hours with Marston during the course of what is arguably my favourite game of all time, and as such, had plenty of memories of our time together. But for him, he hadn’t experienced any of them yet. And worst of all the whole while I kept thinking about how all of the game was a little pointless because I already knew how it was going to end (for Marston at least). But it is about the journey and not the destination and RDR2 serves up one of the most compelling and immersive journey’s set in the wild west. So great is this game and so impressive its contribution to the Wild West genre that it should be breaking down the barriers of mediums to be mentioned in the same breath as The Searchers, Unforgiven or The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.


Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Some people are into space-operas, some into steam-punk fantasy, others into post-apocalypse zombies. But me? I live for ancient Greece.

My interest in the Assassin’s Creed series ended when we left Renaissance Italy. Since then, each passing game has held little interest for me. But as soon as Odyssey was announced, I knew that I was going to buy it. The reviews could have called it the worst game of the series, nay, the worst game of the century and I still would have bought a copy, such is my love of ancient Greece.

Thankfully I was not disappointed. The setting is beautifully realised; from the simple villages to the hustle and Bustle of Athens, the desert plains in the south to the mountainous regions in the north. And every inch of it filled with more busy work than you could ever want… really… it’s too much. Many complained (rightly) about the unabashed monetization of Odyssey, with many complaining the game was made to be more of a grind than necessary to encourage players to buy additional gear or boosts to improve the in-game experience. Yup. After spending £80 on the game and the season pass, they wanted me to fork out another £16 for an “XP booster” that would allow me to level up at a reasonable rate, f*cking nonsense. Progressing through the main storyline, you would often find yourself unable to complete the next quest because your level was too low and every enemy completely wrecked you. But I had dove so deeply into the experience that I never had that problem. By the time I was ready to actually tackle the main story quests, I was nearly at the level cap with some fantastic gear to boot. F*ck you Activision. I hate you for making an absolutely amazing game that felt like it was tailored exactly to my dream specifications.

Playing as a female Warrior was a wonderful experience and Melissanthi Mahut does an absolutely superb job as Kassandra. Over 100 hours in the game is starting to get a little tedious, but up until this point, there has been more than enough to keep me busy. As always, the historical elements of the game still add a layer of exploration no other game series has allowed, so the Creed series can always be praised for that, but this time, it is their occasional suspension of belief that truly allows the game to shine through. Embellishing historical narratives and throwing in Mythical creatures elevates Odyssey from yet another Assassin’s Creed game to one of the most engrossing video game experiences since Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.


God of War

Given that the series was built on such a solid and successful foundation, the newest entry into the series took a monumental risk by taking the rulebook and throwing it out the window. The history of video game franchises is littered with spin-offs, reboots, and sequels that took new directions, only to fail. Some even destroying the franchise in the process. But with God of War, not only did they risk it all by changing almost every aspect of the very God of War concept, but they actually pulled it off for the better.

Taking the God of War series out of Greece was a bold move. But with his initial quest completed and the Hellenic hierarchy completely destroyed, staying with the Greek theme would have been like trying to farm on soil that had just been salted. So north we go into the harsher lands of Norse Mythology. As previously stated, I am a huge fan of Greek Mythology and all the stories it has to offer, so initially, I accepted this move with a little sadness and perhaps trepidation that the series would lose something by shifting away from a mythology that has such a recognisable bestiary of creatures and Gods.

But they are not done yet. No. As well as changing the setting, they are trying to change the protagonist Kratos himself. Leaving behind the version of himself that murdered an entire pantheon of deities on the blood-soaked shores of the Aegean, Kratos is now older, wiser and less prone to being the divine murder machine we have come to know and love.

But such is the strength of the writing of God of War that even from the first moment with Kratos, we know he has changed and we are swept up into the narrative that we have no time to complain (even if there was something to complain about, which there is not). Now a father and having just lost his wife, we reunite with a very different Kratos. A special shout out to Christopher Guest who delivered one of the best vocal performances of the year as the new Kratos, another major change that I felt might alienate some die-hard fans, but in fact was perfect for this slower and more deliberate Kratos. A father who wants to protect his son from his own mistakes and teach him to be a better man than him. The plot centres on Kratos trying to fulfill the final wish of his wife, who asks that her ashes be scattered from the highest peak in all the realms. Straight away, the old Kratos would have had no time for such frivolities and moved on. The inclusion of ashes is interesting considering Kratos is covered in the ashes of his first family, and further, Kratos still possess that dogged and grim determination to see a task through no matter the outcome, but instead of destruction, it is now to a more noble task. I will say no more about the story, but through his amazingly complex and realistic relationship with his son Atreus, as they try and complete this task, we are able to watch unfold a drama so profound yet so relatable that it overshadows the combat for large swathes of the game.

Make no mistake, however, every throw of your axe and every swing of your fist is even more satisfying than any other game in the series. The only thing missing from this game is the large battles that were standard in the previous games, but replacing that was one of the best fight scenes of all time between Baldur and Kratos right at the start of the game. The change of camera style lends itself to whole new combat (and puzzle) systems that open up the game and demands you treat it as more than just a button-mashing, mindless hack-n-slash. The single continuous camera shot, with no breaks throughout the entire game, is a miracle in storytelling and gaming mechanics.

The art style is simply gorgeous, each realm offering something new and unique to behold. And the game itself allows you to do some minor exploring, but not in a traditional open-world sense. While for some, the lack of freedom might be a turnoff for some, but the realms offer more depth per square mile. The map is large and the main area is cleverly constructed lake. Progressing through the game causes the water level to sink, revealing more areas and openings to new areas, showing you don’t have to have a huge open world to make a game worth exploring. In fact, much like Spider-Man, limiting the area actually encourages a more in-depth exploration and side quests and awesome loot can be found.

Overall, I could not find a flaw with God of War, its narrative, its character development, its combat system, the setting, the visuals, everything is just so perfectly executed. In an industry obsessed with loot boxes, battle royale’s and lining their pockets with as much money as possible through “online services”, it’s nice to see a single player and offline experience that delivers more. I never thought it possible to turn God of War into a drama so perfect that it would leave such a lasting effect. And that is why, despite a stellar year for video games, God of War stands taller than the Midgard Serpent over the competition.


What have I missed out or do you agree? Feel free to comment or like this post to validate my existence! 






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