Read Stuart’s column every week in The Scottish Sun, where he shares his reviews, news and podcasts with the 99.3% of the World’s population not fortunate enough to be able to buy a physical copy of the paper. The following appeared originally in The Scottish Sun on Sunday 31st December 2017.
THIS year has been massive — the launch of the most powerful console ever, the Xbox One X, and the wonder of the Nintendo Switch. But the quality of games has never been higher. I really struggled to get it down to 10. Cuphead and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice just missed out. It may cause arguments as I reveal my top 10 for GOTY 2017 . . .
No. 10 – Halo Wars 2 (Xbox One and PC)
REAL-time strategy games are not the most common of beasts on consoles but 343 Industries and Creative Assembly cracked it with Halo Wars 2. This has all the trappings of a full Halo game — but for the armchair generals of the world. Add in the fact that Atriox has to be the best bad guy in Halo for years and you have a game that’s worth visiting even if you’re not a RTS fan. And the Blitz mode is a blast.
No. 9 – Resident Evil 7 (Xbox One, PS4 and PC)
BE afraid, be very afraid. Fear came home in 2017. There were a number of scare titles but Resident Evil 7 was the Daddy. It was head and shoulders above them the rest. The developers took a brave new path in going first person but it paid off big-time. They produced a truly scary game with a tale that urges you to keep pushing on. Sleep was a rare thing after this frightfest. And that’s before PSVR ratcheted things up to 11.
No. 8 – Sniper Elite 4 (Xbox One, PS4 and PC)
YOU get fads in games and one of this year’s themes was World War II — and they didn’t come bigger than Sniper Elite 4. It had huge playgrounds for you pick your spots and snipe your way through the conflict in Italy. And the sniping was the star of the show. The X-ray kill was simply stunning — few games gave you that level of satisfaction when you hit a target from distance. The way the skull popped in gory detail was, literally, mind-blowing.
No. 7 – Aaero (Xbox One, PS4 and PC)
IT is great when an indie game makes the top 10 and we had a strong year for the smaller developers. Aaero blended on-rails shooting and rhythm-based action to make a fast-paced and frantic game where the soundtrack was not just a great listen but was actually central to the gameplay. Add in the way the difficult ramped up to become a true test of your ability and Aaero was king of the indie nation.
No. 6 – Forza Horizon 3 Hot Wheels (Xbox One and PC)
LAST year’s game of the year, Forza Horizon 3, got a few add-ons, but the Hot Wheels pack was a stunner. It blended the worlds of Forza and Hot Wheels to make the stuff of dreams for nine-year-olds. You got to blast your favourite cars around miles of that signature orange plastic track. This didn’t just add to the game — it totally re-wrote the rulebook.
No. 5 – DiRT 4 (Xbox One, PS4 and PC)
THERE were some really strong racing games in 2017, but DiRT 4 was on pole. The SIM-heavy speedster takes the winning formula from past games and then goes up a level. It is tough. Soooo tough. It is no game for weekend racers wanting a blast in the forest. This is hardcore rallying. It takes real skill to learn how the cars handle on the different surfaces and just how far you can push them to the limits. But you have to love the authentic look.
No. 4 – Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4)
SONY gave fans a real treat with the introduction of Aloy — a strong, powerful new character. Being able to join her quest as she travelled across a wild land of ruins and battled hulking machine beasts was a real standout. It was a gripping tale with loads of possibilities — from talking to tribes to hunting machines. Horizon Zero Dawn did everything well. It was easy to get lost in the tale. This is a must-have game if you are a PS4 owner.
No. 3 – Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)
IT was a tough call to see what game was runner up in 2017 — a bit like having to pick which one of your children you love the most. Mario returned with a bang on the Switch and Odyssey is a joyous tale as you explore the world.
He is joined by Cappy, who gives you powers that open up how you play the game, and there is a real respect shown to past titles. Fans will love the mix of old and new. And finishing the game is only the beginning . . .
No. 2 – Zelda Breath of the Wild (Switch)
YOU need a strong title when you are launching a console — it’s the best way to show off what your shiny new kit can do. Nintendo knew the score — Zelda was a must-have on the Switch from day one. The tale joins Link as he has to find the truth about the past as well as defeating the force of evil. However, it was the new world and what you could do that stunned everyone. Playing it in hand-held mode on the Switch is incredible.
No. 1 – Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (Xbox One, PS4, Switch and PC)
IT was over the top and in your face. It made Nazi-punching a great way to spend an evening. But, Wolfenstein II was a lot more than a shooter game — it actually made you think about the tale. It provided possibly the best gunplay this year in a game that was super-tight. There was an epic tale that blended touching moments with some absolutely horrific events and it was done in such a stunning way that you could not be offended. This was a game that was prepared to shine a light in some very dark corners, but it managed it in a very sensitive way.
The adventures of Blazkowicz and co. in a 60’s America ruled by Nazis is a joy to play from the first shot to last reload. And it is set to get even better because the new DLC is adding more storylines and characters. Lock and load, people, you are in for treat long into the new year. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is bags of fun with a great tale and outstanding gameplay. It also has the best Scottish character EVER in gaming. So, for all that, Wolfenstein II takes our game of the year title.
One more thing…
BIGBEN and developer Kylotonn Games have announced that TT Isle Of Man: Ride On The Edge is out in March. The reveal came with a new trailer accompanied by a poem called The Siren. It is written and read by journalist and motorcycle enthusiast Nancy Von Short, and highlights the passion around the TT races, with the game being the official racing TT SIM.
I’ll be back next year with more from North of the Border, catch ye’s…