Welcome everyone to the 2019 Gamer Crash Awards and also a Happy New Year’s Eve to you all!
As I hinted at in a previous post, I’m doing things a little differently this year. Instead of devoting an entire month to individual posts, I’m doing an all in one style list. Fear not though, I’m going to have plenty of categories for you to consume before getting to my ultimate winner.
So I hope you enjoy the end of year awards and make sure to stay tuned for the return of my crystal ball as we take a look at 2020.
My Biggest Disappointment – Anthem
Oh, Anthem. You poor, poor game.
So why is this here? Well, clearly there’s been a lot said about it, but for me personally, Anthem let me down the most. I was super excited about this game and the potential it had. I mean, on paper it sounded amazing. A BioWare game set inside a world filled with loot and four distinct RPG classes that can fly.
Then the game launched. Oof. While the flying mechanics were outstanding, Anthem missed that typical spark of inspiration with missions that were repetitive, a world that largely felt lifeless, boring loot, and core issues which ultimately dragged the experience down. Things never really improved as the game lost a number of high profile senior developers, the DLC roadmap was delayed indefinitely, and word broke about the horrible development cycle. All in all, Anthem just wasn’t what we were all hoping it could have been.
Other considerations: Crackdown 3
I’ll be honest, 2019 had more than a few games which came outta no where for me. So instead of just highlighting one, here’s a few that stuck with me:
Devil May Cry V – I’m not the biggest DMC fan. In fact, I avoided the first four games and came into the series from the underrated DmC: Devil May Cry from Ninja Theory. However, something about Devil May Cry V really appeal to me and I jumped in on day one. I’m super glad that I did because I really enjoyed the game overall and I absolutely loved that the game put a big emphasis on having fun. The music, combat, and diverse characters really made this one stand out.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – Even though this is a Respawn developed game, Fallen Order wasn’t really on my radar leading up to launch. I can’t explain why to be honest. However, the positive word of mouth and strong reviews made me reconsider.
I’m glad I did because Fallen Order is a really fun, Souls inspired single player experience. Meditation points act like bonfires where you can save and upgrade Cal’s abilities or revive when your journey comes to an untimely end. Button mashing will get you killed as the combat here requires more strategy and defensive maneuvers like blocking and parrying. The story was entertaining and had some cool twists, though I wanted a bit more from it by the end. Definitely check this game out.
Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair – Based on the reception to the first Yooka-Laylee game, I was surprised to hear that Playtonic was making another one. However, the veteran studio made up of former Rare employees smartly decided to change up the formula from the third person collectathon style.
The Impossible Lair takes inspiration from the more recent Donkey Kong Country games by taking the open world gameplay and switching it back to 2D side scrolling. It works so much better and the game is a joy to look at thanks to its burst of color. The levels are diverse and players can even alter them from the overworld to mix things up. The overworld is a top down view and has plenty of secrets and upgrades to uncover, making this a really surprisingly robust and fun package.
Darksiders Genesis – Originally I thought this was going to be a true Diablo version of Darksiders. Surprisingly, I was wrong. The only thing they really have in common is the isometric camera angle.
Outside of that, the game lets players take control of both War and Strife, and both Horsemen feel very different from one another as War is more hulking brute while Strife is the faster and range oriented option. What surprised me the most is how Airship Syndicate was able to distill the traditional third person action/adventure and put it into this game. It really does feel like a traditional Darksiders experience and that is worth celebrating.
FOMO Award – Destiny 2: Shadowkeep
I’ll be honest, Destiny 2 has a grip on me that has only gotten worse since the Shadowkeep expansion arrived. As such, I don’t know if this award is a good one to earn or not. While I’m having fun with the game still, I feel like its kind of holding me hostage a bit. This stems from the fact that each season has elements which are temporary, meaning that when the next season hits, content is shelved or removed entirely.
This creates a sense of fear due to missing out on stuff. For me this season, I’m trying to earn a title, a name or phrase that appears under your character’s name. It’s purely cosmetic, almost like bragging rights that you achieved this thing during this season. I’m getting close to it, but there’s more than a few requirements that are not easily obtained or will take a while to push through. Considering this content goes away, I feel like I have to play as I’m on a clock. I’ll be honest, I know a lot of this is in my head and that I can simply choose to not bother, but there’s a part of me that feels the need to see this through. Thankfully, Destiny 2 remains a well made game, so it’s not as bad as it seems. Overall, I’m not sure if I’m a big fan of this seasonal style that Bungie has created and I can’t say if my engagement level will continue like this next season.
The What’s Old Is New Again Award – Borderlands 3
When it first launched in September, there was a lot of talk about Borderlands 3 not really pushing the envelope all that much outside of adding a few key quality of life updates. Considering we haven’t seen a core game in the franchise for a very long time, I’m perfectly fine with that.
The addictive formula of past games remains intact here and has largely gotten even better in the months following it’s launch thanks to all of the updates from hot fixes to a mix of free and paid DLC. In fact, the well received first expansion features the fan favorite villain Handsome Jack.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Gearbox could get away with this again in a Borderlands 4, but for now, I’m perfectly happy with Borderlands 3.
Best Indie Game – Katana Zero
Instantly went on my radar as soon as I saw it revealed in a Nintendo Direct, Katana Zero is a super slick and stylish action game. It’s core component is that everything is kille din one hit, including your character. Thankfully, the main protagonist has access to time manipulation to help assist in making it through each room. There’s nothing really more satisfying than making it through an entire room racking up stylish kills and not getting touched.
The story is way better than I thought and the music really ties everything together. This is a very satisfying and creative experience that I encourage everyone to check out.
Late to the Party Award – Hades
As I’ve said in the past, and game made by Supergiant Games is an instant purchase for me. They’re a smaller studio who is 3 for 3 in my eyes in terms of game releases. Actually, now make that 4 for 4.
What impresses me so much about this studio is that they never seem to rest on their laurels. Every game they release is different from the last, giving fans a completely new and different gameplay experience. While that may frustrate those who continue to wait for Bastion 2, I absolutely respect the hell out of them for taking risks.
Hades is their latest venture and it puts players in the role of Zagreus, the prince of the Underworld, who wants to escape to Mount Olympus. Featuring an isometric camera view, Hades features rogue-like elements mixed in a dungeon crawler package. So why am I late to the party? Well, it released in early access last year on the Epic Games Store, though it came to Steam in December of this year. That’s where I picked it up, so technically, I’m a year behind.
Other Games I Loved In 2019:
The Outer Worlds – A return to form for Obsidian Entertainment! While it may not say “Fallout” make no mistake that this really is a spiritual successor to Fallout: New Vegas. If you want to remove the bad taste of Fallout 76 from your mouth and experience a fantastic action RPG style game, The Outer Worlds is absolutely worth your time. The world building, characters, and writing is all top notch. The updated graphics engine is also a major plus as well.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 – The word Mansion may be a stretch here as the third time around, Luigi is attempting to survive and safe his friends in a hotel. Thankfully, the hotel formula allows the developers to play with a ton of new and interesting concepts once you reach a certain point. Each floor typically has its own theme or puzzles to solve, making sure the experience stays fresh.
Catching ghosts has never looked so good and I particularly love all the little visual details the team has bee able to add in. Seeing Luigi get freaked out over the smallest things is a joy. Well, for me, maybe not so much for him.
Pokemon Sword/Shield – This game got a ton of pre-launch hate, but I’m thoroughly enjoying my time in the new Galar region. There’s just something so satisfying about returning to the classic formula of catching little creatures. What also helps is the fact that we’re finally getting a proper core experience on a major console.
Seeing classic and new pocket monsters in high definition on a big TV feels really good and I love the UK aesthetic that the Galar region has.
Gears 5 – Ever since that twist ending in Gears of War 4, I’ve been eagerly anticipating the continuation of Kait’s story. While it’s predecessor felt overly safe, kind of like they were reintroducing the franchise to fans, Gears 5 pushes the pedal to the metal and wastes no time in ramping up. Kait steps into the main protagonist role this time around as we’re taken on a journey of who she really is and how she ties into the main conflict still raging on the planet.
There’s a ton of surprise twists and turns (especially in the final chapter!) and the game even throws new gameplay related elements in this time around including new open map skiff areas which allow you to explore and tackle side missions. The multiplayer remains compelling and fun as well, though the Hivebuster escape mode kind of lost it’s shine after a few weeks. Overall, this is a great content package and maybe the best game in the franchise so far.