It is once again time for the P2 crew to dish out those big awards at the end of an eventful year. As always the team can’t come to any sort of mutual agreement so we just let them pick their favourites to save the arguing. It is now time for the big one, AAA game of the year.
The P2 Awards 2022 - Best AAA
Stephen del Prado - Elden Ring
When I think of everything that a ‘AAA’ game encompasses – the gaming equivalent of a summer blockbuster – I natural gravitate towards God of War: Ragnarok, the now expected Sony Exclusive Third Person Action Adventure title that is synonymous with GOTY accolades. But having rolled credits on GoW:R, I couldn’t help but feel it hewed a little too close to the work done in its predecessor, so much so that many of the same tricks that title pulled with character development and pacing now felt forced and contrived, whether due to the limitations of the medium or the necessity of previous gen compatibility. Nevertheless, much like my favourite film of 2022 (EEAAO), Elden Ring feels like far more like a scrappy A24 prestige piece that bombastic AAA in some ways, and yet totally fits that mold in others. It’s epic, sprawling, challenging, subversive and does things with the established FromSoft formulas I would have never thought feasible. It’s not a game for everyone, and some days it feels like it isn’t a game for me, but often it’s the things that challenge us we most appreciate in retrospect. That’s why Elden Ring isn’t necessarily the game I enjoyed the most this year on balance, but it is the Best Game of 2022 in my mind.
Jess Zammit - Horizon: Forbidden West
Horizon Zero Dawn had a story that hit me with some very specific, personal feelings, and which made me love Aloy as a protagonist far more than I ever expected. So as soon as Horizon Forbidden West put me back in that same world, I fell in love all over again. I love the combat of this game, the worldbuilding, the characterisation (Ashly Burch, killing it again). It’s the second game I’ve ever earned a platinum trophy in, and I enjoyed every second I spent doing it. I feel like this game got a heap of shit lumped onto it because it was released near Elden Ring, which a bunch of people decided was a flawless game despite a bunch of very obvious flaws. It was a weird few weeks in games, and it has never been more obvious that (shockingly) people play games for different reasons, and find enjoyment in different things. There were a few other big games that nearly took out this title for me this year, so honourable mentions to God of War: Ragnarok, and Kirby and the Forgotten Land.
Paul James - God of War: Ragnarok
As a sequel to the 2018 Game Of The Year, God Of War, God Of War Ragnarok hits every right note, but then it succeeds in doing both the small things and the big ones even better than its predecessor. The scale of the narrative has grown, the enemy diversity and diversity of the combat encounters have been dialled up significantly as well, while the locales you visit, and those that reside within the nine realms have never looked and sounded better. Couple all of this with a best-in-class soundtrack courtesy of Bear McCreary, and you’ve got an experience that not only exceeds God Of War 2018 but also exceeds the efforts of any other title in 2022.
Matt Hewson - Marvel's Midnight Suns
In 2022 there were a surprising amount of games that played to my exact tastes. I love a dark end-of-the-world shooter, so Dying Light 2 was a blast. Insanity is always fun to me so I really enjoyed Saints Row (on PC, the Xbox version not so much) and the whole God of War: Ragnarok package was amazing. But if there was one game that felt like the developers had crawled inside my head and created the perfect “Hewso” experience it was Midnight Suns. The strategy of Xcom, addictive card collecting, strong RPG trappings and the shine of the Marvel universe all combined in such a way that I just can’t stop playing it. In fact, it took me just shy of 50 hours to review the game and now my total is at around 80. I never, repeat, never keep playing a game straight after a review. I love it dearly and while it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, it is certainly mine and is easily not only my AAA title of the year but my game of the year by a long way.
Sarah Ellen - Fire Emblem: Three Hopes
If you wanted to proceed based on pure Metacritic scores alone, you would surely find a better game than this. And this was not even the game that I was highly anticipating this year either. However, it is the game that took Koei Techmo’s remit of “create hack-and-slash games that make us wow and rage concurrently” and successfully apply it to one of the best Fire Emblem games to date. Instead of trying to make us traverse a world dramatically peppered with characters from the franchise (such as the first Hyrule and Fire Emblem Musou games), this time it was the hack-and-slash battle mechanic that was the condiment to the Fire Emblem experience of political intrigue and character growth.
Shaun Nicholls - God of War: Ragnarok
God of War 2018 was an epic game, and the highly anticipated sequel surpassed it in every way. Whether a big climactic boss battle, listening to one of Mimir’s stories as you paddle down a stream or trying to solve one of the many environmental puzzles, Ragnarok was filled with things that keep the player engaged in the world and its characters. Not only that, it had a boatload of accessibility options to allow as many people as possible to enjoy the game in whatever way best suits them. Between the beautiful realisations of the nine realms, a wonderful supporting cast that each has their own development and growth and the story filled with mythical creatures and bombastic set pieces there was no way Ragnarok was not going to be at the top of not just mine, but many gamers ‘Best Of ’ lists.
Rob Caporetto - Atari 50
I tend to not spend a lot of time with most AAA efforts, so my pick is probably a little out of left field.
Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration is an important step in how we celebrate gaming’s history, acknowledging both its highs as well as its lows of the legendary company. Being presented as an interactive museum first and foremost sets up the stories behind Atari as the reason to get exploring in this package.
As you encounter each game, you’ll learn something about its development, and then you can try it out. Now, not every one of its 100+ games is worth spending time with, as some have dated incredibly badly.
But then you get some absolute gems like Tempest 2000, alongside many, many excellent arcade games. Plus, there’s the wonderful reworking of Star Raiders, which goes a long way to helping that game become far more approachable for those not familiar with the original version.
As stated in my review – Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration shows a future where the ups and downs of game development are preserved for all to experience. But more importantly, that old games just aren’t about nostalgia bait, but can still offer something for modern players, should they be given the context as to why they’re so important all this time later.