It is that time of year, time to pick those titles that deserve special mention. It is time to highlight those games that grabbed us, disappointed us and surprised us. Welcome to the Player 2 End of Year Awards. It is now time to celebrate the AAA titles that lit up our gaming lives in 2019.
2019’s AAA Game of the Year
Dylan Burns – Death Stranding
I’ve written about Death Stranding extensively on this site, so I won’t repeat myself, except to say that this is unlike anything released this year or even this decade. I love how the traversal design draws my attention to every rock, every slop and every gradation. I love how it truly is about the journey rather than the destination. I love the music, which kicks in perfectly at key moments. I love the batshit insane story, the awful dialogue, the weird and overlong cut scenes (some of which I will admit I skipped). It’s just a crazy, crazy game that fits the description of a flawed masterpiece. I wish the games industry could support ten more ego-filled developers with blank cheques from publishers. I wish it could support a hundred more. Imagine the games we’d have. Death Stranding is important for this reason. It shows what is possible when unchecked imagination and singular vision is filtered through the work of hundreds of people. This is an essential experience.
Stephen del Prado – Control
Perhaps it’s due to the fact that I never got around to playing the RE2 remake just yet, nor have I made a lot of progress in many of the big Switch titles I’ve picked up this year. Nevertheless, when thinking back over the past 12 months, Remedy Games’ Control stands out above big hitters like Days Gone, Sekiro and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. An engaging premise, enjoyable combat and some of the most thrilling sequences I’ve played in a game (Ashtray Maze anyone?) make Control a game that left me wanting more, be it via DLC or a full-blown sequel. As the only game I’ve purchased a season pass for this year, I can’t recommend Control enough. If you’re one of the many (many) people who overlooked Control earlier in the year, I implore you to pick it up as soon as you can, not only help ensure a sequel is economically viable for Remedy Games but to also experience my favourite game of 2019.
Nick Getley – World War Z
Even though the game borrows heavily from Left 4 Dead, I have had such a fun time playing Saber Interactive’s World War Z. A frantic co-op zombie third-person-shooter, World War Z sees players sprinting from location to location, desperately trying to survive the zombie apocalypse established in the 2013 film of the same name.
I would consider the game a compulsory multiplayer title, as bots cannot match the panic and excitement of playing with three friends. Zeds will climb on top of each other, scaling immense structures and spilling over the edge of great heights, their corpses slowly filling areas until they can safely reach the players – it’s truly a sight to behold at times.
Best of all the game has seen a number of post-launch updates – and they’re all free! Saber Interactive have cultivated a community around World War Z, and the game just keeps delivering the goods. If you are after a bloody good time with friends, don’t hesitate to pick it up.
Hope Corrigan – Control
This game could have easily taken biggest surprise but I was saving it for the top spot in my heart instead. Control. I started Control incredibly unimpressed. I felt like it was trying too hard and the gunplay didn’t feel right yet. The characters felt, weird, off, rigid. Everything felt kinda off and then I realised it was meant to.
It took a few hours but once I settled into Control I adored it. I love the SCP style lore. Objects of power are fascinating as shit to me but they can also be seriously terrifying. It’s a really dark world but Control makes you always feel powerful enough that I never ran into issues with being too scared. I have a real problem with scary games so it allowed me to indulge an otherwise untouched facet of gaming which satisfied a craving I didn’t even know I had. Having those powers opened up the combat and it started becoming fluid and fun. I really enjoy that the overworld map is confusing and difficult to navigate but if you use the in-world signs it’s easier, just like real life. My brain squirms when I fully grasp some of the concepts that are being explored in a way I enjoy and my thumbs liked the action. Control satisfies me in ways no game has before, and if I was so inclined I would have lit a hearty cigarette and laid there, basking in its end credit glow.
Shaun Nicholls – Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order
After so many years without a good single-player Star Wars experience, my trust in the force was finally rewarded. Learning to utilise the force powers of a Jedi in combat, whether by simply using a force push to knock them off a ledge, or getting creative with the use of multiple force powers was a challenge to be the best Jedi I could be. Combined with a story and characters that drew me further into the world I am looking forward to seeing what else Respawn can do with the Star Wars Universe.
Matt Hewson – Control
I have always been a Remedy fan so it is no surprise that I liked Control, but even I was surprised at how much this game ravenously stole my time. Never one to pick up extra bits of lore in games, I found myself hungry for more information, more background on this crazy world that Remedy has created. The delicious mix of powers and gunplay, the amazingly warped level design and a story that is like the best episodes of the X-files make this an easy choice for me. The cherry on the top is the fact the game links back to Alan Wake in some wonderful ways, making it a pure joy for a fanboy like me.
Paul James – Resident Evil 2: Remake
I’m no horror guy. Every time one slides across my desk I wince from the jolt of anxiety that rushes through me. Resident Evil 2 did that, and it made me relive that feeling over and over again throughout its playtime. I’m in love with the game. It’s truly a masterclass, every which way you look at it. Don’t be fooled by the fact that this is a remake of a PS1 game, everything Capcom has delivered with this 2019 release makes it a modern classic.
Adam Rorke – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
This was quite a hard one for me as there’s been an incredible amount of games this year that could easily slot into my favourites list, but for this year I think I’m going to have to sit with the new Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Now the multiplayer is fun and the graphics sure are purdy … but that’s not why it’s my favourite this year. The single-player campaign really hit a mark with me, normally I’m used to the super-soldier saves the world stuff that goes hand in hand with titles such as this. But this campaign felt more like the horrors of war, that soldiers are people and often, innocent people get caught up in the chaos. I had to pause this campaign a few times before completing as the characters and setting were handled extremely well. I highly recommend people check it out.
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