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 30th December 2018.
IT has been a rollercoaster of a year with many highs and lows, but gamers still had plenty to cheer. From AAA to indie, there have been some truly generation-defining titles like God Of War and Super Smash Bros Ultimate and that’s before you get to the juggernaut that was Red Dead Redemption 2. That not only set the gaming bar even higher but also showed Scotland can be a world player in the industry once again. If that wasn’t enough, Playground Games also partly set Forza Horizon 4 here. It all added up to a great year, so here are my top 10 games from over 145 we reviewed in 2018 . . .
10. Shadow of the Colossus (PS4)
2018 was a strong year for remakes and remasters, with the likes of Okami and Bayonetta 1 and 2 getting a new lease of life. But one remaster stood head and shoulders above the rest. Shadow Of The Colossus was a stunner that took what fans loved and made it better . . . from the visuals to the overall controllers, everything got a tweak. The tale was epic, hunting the hulking colossi was awesome. It might seem a simple story on paper, but it will have gripped you.
9. ONRUSH (Xbox One, PS4 and PC)
FOR every runaway success there is one that, no matter how good, fails to hit the mark. Codemaster’s ONRUSH flipped the tried-and-tested racing formula on its head. It was an arcade racer that had more in common with the likes of Overwatch than the more traditional racers. It turned racing into a real team sport where winning wasn’t the key to victory. A bold idea with a great visual style. It should have been a runaway success, but failed to light gamers fires. Hidden gem.
8. Celeste (Xbox One, PS4, Switch and PC)
IT wasn’t just the AAA boys who had hits in 2018 — the indie crowd had the likes of Forgotten Anne and Laser League. But if you play one indie game this year it has to be Celeste. It looks like a standard platformer but has hidden secrets. From the challenges to a core tale that will stun you with its approach to some of life’s more challenging subjects, this is a winner. That bravery also shows why indie games are so important in the gaming landscape.
7. Monster Hunter: Worlds (Xbox One, PS4 and PC)
AT the beginning of the year Capcom challenged gamers to join the fun with the latest instalment of their long-running Monster Hunter series, Monster Hunter Worlds. For many, it was the first time they’d tasted the game as it was basically a reboot for a western market and the first shot it had on an Xbox system. Nothing comes close to teaming up with your friends and stalking some huge beasts. Challenging, deep and bags of fun for you and three mates.
6. Far Cry 5 (Xbox One, PS4 and PC)
HOPE County may have been a new location for the Far Cry series, but the open world First Person Shooter has a gem with its fifth instalment. Playing as a young deputy, things soon go south as you run into the Seed family. They have taken control of the peaceful county, so it’s up to you to stop them at all costs. It might be a little less over the top at times when you consider other games in the Far Cry family, but that doesn’t stop this one being a blast as you drive, fly and shoot you way across a good-sized section of Montana. This is good on its own, but the fact that it sets you up perfectly for New Dawn, which lands in February, is an extra bonus.
5. Super Smash Bros Ultimate (Switch)
IT may only have been out a few weeks but Nintendo hit it out the park with Super Smash Bros Ultimate. This is a keen that has earned the Ultimate tag in a much-loved series. Packed full of fighters, stages and titbits for fans, this is a complete package and a must for Switch owners . . . and that’s before you even start fighting. It’s fast, frantic and over the top you battle with some of the most-loved characters in gaming — and you can do it on and offline with friends. It’s easy to pick up but hard to master. Super Smash Bros Ultimate is bags of fun from the first punch to the last power-up.
4. Marvel’s Spider-man (PS4)
SONY have had a strong year, and it was close between fourth and third spot. But fourth is Marvel’s Spider-man comic book-inspired tale. The brilliant gameplay really makes you feel like the wall crawler. It’s packed with things to do around New York as you fight crime and save the day, and battle the everyday challenges of being Peter Parker. Iron Man may have been the film that kick-started the Marvel cinematic universe, Spidey could be the gaming equivalent.
3. God of War (PS4)
WHEN you think of God Of War, then one word dominates your thoughts — BOY! That isn’t a bad thing because it highlights the core tale of a father and his son. It’s a bold move when you reboot a much-loved series and God Of War nails it with the jump from Greece to the frozen Norselands. It helps breathe real life into what was once a mindless hash and slasher. It grows into an epic tale built around the father-and son relationship, and how far they are willing to go for each other. Stunning. A must-play for PlayStation owners.
2. Red Dead Redemption 2 (Xbox One, PS4 and PC)
THE battle for top spot could not have been closer. In any other year Red Dead would have walked it. It takes your gaming expectations and belts them out of the ballpark. This is an experience that raises things to the next level — from the story to the gameplay, nothing has come close to it. And few games have such a definitive style. Yes, the story is slow and the missions are long, but Rockstar have purposely crafted the tale that way so you soak up the amazing world they have created with such detail. The odds are you’ll have played it and know why it is a winner. If you haven’t, then stop reading this and go and grab a copy right now.
1. Forza Horizon 4 (Xbox One and PC)
DRUMROLL . . . the No. 1 spot goes to Forza Horizon 4. For one reason above all others — that feeling of pure joy you get from racing around Scotland, from Edinburgh to the Highlands. It can’t fail to put a smile on your face. The series has always been more arcade-focused and Horizon 4 stays true to that, but it builds on the solid foundations of Horizon 3 while adding some new features and tweaks. But few games give you the sense of freedom you get when you turn up the tunes and just floor the pedal in your supercars and blast around some of the prettiest parts of the UK. Yes it’s a bit lighter than past instalments for the more hardcore fan, but it’s a joy to play — from racing against the Flying Scotsman to saving the world as Master Chief in his Warthog. It’s the perfect slice of racing fun that everyone can enjoy no matter how good you are. So, let’s hear it for our Game of the Year 2018.
I’ll be back in the new year with more from North of the Border. Catch ye’s…