While I did not take the time to track every game released for console, PC and dedicated portable game systems in 2016, I am fairly confident that the total is over 1,600 and possibly as high as 2,000 (US.) According to research firm, SuperData, the total dollars spent on PC and Console gaming, worldwide, was close to $70 billion. These are some BIG numbers (not completely believable/verifiable… but BIG.) While every gaming website is now in the process of giving you their “Best Of” for the past year, I have always thought that these compilations were bogus. No matter how big the site, they simply can’t cover all of the games released, and those that they do cover are split up among a handful of editors/game reviewers.
So, while they may have fairly educated opinions, they are just that – opinions – based on those games that they did play and ignoring the ones which they did not. So, at the end of the day, what they are really giving you is their list of favorites – not the “Best.” My list is admittedly very personal, but I believe no less educated. While I estimate that I probably played 200 or so of the new games on offer for the various platforms in 2016, I have whittled that down to the 25 that I enjoyed the most in 2016. The list is chronological and not based on any empirical rating system. In addition, there are games, like Civilization VI, that are from genres that I simply do not play – if it has anything to do with “RTS,” “turn-based,” or “world-building,” I am out. So, no matter how great they might be to those that enjoy that particular genre, they are not going to make my list.
They’re what I like, because they’re what I like – no definitive recommendations made and no apologies offered. I am guessing, however, that a number of these can be found on your lists as well.
Rise of the Tomb Raider (PC)Publisher: Square-Enix Developer: Crystal Dynamics/Nixxes
Although released originally in 2015 for Xbox One and Xbox 360 (and my favorite game of 2015), I couldn’t wait to come back to Ms. Croft’s latest adventure when it was released on PC in January. Why? Well, first of all, it’s a great game that deserves to be played more than once. Secondly, Nixxes, the developer responsible for the PC port, was kind enough to patch the game for Stereoscopic 3D. SOLD! You haven’t lived as a gamer until you have experienced ROTTR in breathtaking 3D!
Firewatch (PC)Publisher: Campo Santo Developer: Campo Santo
February saw the release of this compelling Indie title and the story, sense of isolation and developing relationship between your character and the mysterious woman at the other end of your radio combine to make Firewatch one of my most memorable gaming experiences of 2016.
SUPERHOT (PC)Publisher: SUPERHOT Team Developer: SUPERHOT [...]
It was phenomenal when it was released on Xbox One nearly a year ago (my thoughts on the original can be found here), and it is still a truly fantastic adventure on PlayStation 4 as 2016 draws to a close. Even Naughty Dog’s release of “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End” as a PS4 exclusive earlier this year can’t dull my enthusiasm for the latest adventures of Lara Croft. “Rise of the Tomb Raider – 20 Year Celebration Edition” gives us the original adventure, all of the game’s DLC, some pretty cool packaging, a new difficulty level and a new side adventure, “Blood Ties,” that takes place in Croft Manor, allowing Lara to both explore the mansion and her family’s history, and that includes support for PlayStation VR (more on that when I delve deeper into PSVR next week.) Bottom line; The game is still gorgeous, the adventure still epic and the new additions welcome. It will be interesting to see how the year’s delay to reach the world’s best-selling video game platform will impact sales (not to mention the large shadow cast by Uncharted 4), but I have a sneaking suspicion that ROTTR 20 is going to hold its own at re/etail over the next 60 days or so. After all, the game has sold roughly 1.5 million units, combined physical and digital on a platform (Xbox One) that has sold to roughly half of the global consumers as has PlayStation 4. If my math is correct, that theoretically would translate to 3 million units on PS4. If sales come close to that target, then we can effectively say that Xbox’s timed exclusivity was for naught, as was the prolonged wait for PlayStation consumers.
Rise of the Tomb Raider – 20 Year Celebration EditionPublisher: Square-Enix Developer: Crystal Dynamics Release Date: 10/11/16 Platforms: PlayStation 4 Price: $59.99 Initial Impressions: Same great game with all of the original expansions, Blood Ties is an excellent addition, still one of the best games of the past few years
Lara Finally Takes a Bow on the World’s Best-Selling Game Platform – One Year After ROTTR’s Original Release
Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, when Sony’s PlayStation division introduces a new piece of hardware, you can bet that there is going to be a promotional tie-in with Taco Bell. In my eight years at SCEA, I saw it over and over again – PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4… every hardware introduction seemed to come with cheese and re-fried beans on the side. In truth, it was a little embarrassing. I ran the advertising business for PlayStation and did not have anything to do with promotions, but I always wondered what was going on in their world… I mean… it’s PlayStation for cryin’ out loud – can’t we find just ONE other promotional partner, or are we going to have to make another run for the border?
Or, in other words – Mi no quiero Taco Bell!
I suppose the school of thought adhered to by both parties is that the combination of a sedentary hobby and the consumption of high calorie, high fat food go together like an unemployed 20-something male and his mom and dad’s basement. So, this is a natural fit, right? Why worry about diabetes and heart disease when you can enjoy a Doritos Taco and a Mountain Dew while sitting on your ass for hours at a time playing insert game name here?
Now, we have the pending introduction of PlayStation VR and the two companies are at it again… “Buy a $5 Big Box and be entered to win a PSVR!” The difference is that this might finally be a cross promotion that the American Heart Association can get behind. At least with PSVR, there is the opportunity to stand up, move around, run in place and trip over the cable tethering the headset to the PlayStation 4 – that could burn off a few of those Big Box calories!
And, success with this promotion might open a few doors for other products from Sony Interactive Entertainment. The “PlayStation 4 Pro” was recently introduced and received a rather tepid reception. It could use a good promotional push and I think I have the perfect idea…
We’ve all seen the pictures of PS4 Pro – it’s a triple-decker, right? Say it with me… “two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun!” Somebody in SIE Promotions reach out to Mickey D’s and make it happen! (Ping me if you need a contact!)
Sigh… I Weep for Humanity!
“Obduction” is the classic adventure game, “Myst,” for a new generation. Gone are the static screens of yore – to be replaced by a gorgeous, creepy real-time world that is just begging for its secrets to be discovered. The world is called “Hunrath” – a far off alien landscape that inexplicably has buildings, objects, artifacts, etc. from Earth scattered across its landscape. When you begin the game, it is as if you are in the old west – America circa 1850-ish – but surrounded by glowing purple mountains/topography. Like Myst, and many other games that have come since, it is your job to discover why/what/when/where and who through a series of increasingly difficult brain teasers that allow you to alter the landscape and delve deeper into this strange alien environment. While I am enjoying the world and the concept, and quite challenged by the puzzles, I am also frustrated by the severe lag/frame-rate issues present in the game. A quick check of the Steam discussions has shown me that I am one of many suffering from the same technical issues. In addition, the game has been out for two weeks and there has been little feedback from the developer, Cyan Worlds, and no patch addressing the issue. Make no mistake – there is a great game here, it is just a shame that, like so many games in this day and age, it takes weeks after launch to sort them out.
ObductionPublisher: Cyan Worlds Developer: Cyan Worlds Release Date: 8/24/16 Platforms: PC/Steam Price: $29.99 Metacritic: 78 My Impressions: Beautiful, clever, obtuse at times, severe stuttering/lag/frame-rate issues that need to be addressed
Obduction – A Game that is Much, Much More than Myst for Millenials