2017 was a bit of a hit and miss year for gaming, I felt. Games tended to be rather good… or rather rubbish. However, I do feel as though it was a good final year for the 3DS and PC, at the very least, with games from both dominating in our Top Ten for 2017.
N.B. To avoid any confusion re: date formats, the date format used is day/month/year. I will be using PAL region date releases for non-PC games, being in the PAL region myself.
Potential spoilers from this point onwards
- Star Wars Battlefront II (PC)
Developer: Electronic Arts
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: 17/11/17
The latest instalment in the Battlefront series just barely makes its way onto our Top Ten list, mired in controversy and deeply dividing, it is still a good game. However, now that Disney holds the reigns, EA has to provide free content and keep the community on the same playing field, and the content in the game is engaging, well thought out and rewarding.
The same old pay to win still exists however, although may be forcibly removed soon thanks to multiple rulings across the world due to the lockbox controversy. However, the game is visually stunning, gameplay wise it is your typical battlefront/battlefield style game albeit much refined over previous titles, and the maps feel fluid and well designed.
The story mode is a typical Star Wars epic, but with many twists and turns that leave you breathless and surprised. The events tie into the existing canon, and put you in many key moments not seen in the films.
All in all, it is a very good game made well but with the typical EA baggage. It will be interesting to see how Disney will proceed with the game licensing in the future considering the blunders and reaction to EA’s recent actions regarding both Battlefront 2 and other Star Wars games.
- Day of Infamy (PC)
Developer: New World Interactive
Publisher: New World Interactive
Release Date: 23/03/17
Day of Infamy is a realistic WW2 objective based shooter where opposing teams take turns to complete various objectives on paths through various maps. Weapons are restricted to those that each side used, and the action is intense and sometimes even chaotic.
There is also a player vs AI mode, where hordes of AI are either in your way or attacking objectives that you have to hold. In a way, it is similar to the Battlefield series “rush” mode, or the objective mode of the previous game in the countdown.
The graphics are on par or better than many other smaller studio FPS games and the weapons feel authentic and sound so too. This game is highly recommended for those who like objective based and WW2 based FPS games.
- Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia (3DS)
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Release Date: 19/05/17
Originally, this game was conceived as a Japan-only release, way back in 1992, so I was rather excited to see it being updated and being given full voice acting for the 3DS.
What was more interesting to see however, was that not only did this game bring back the traditional Fire Emblem style of gameplay that we’re used to seeing, but also brought in dungeon crawling-type segments, with plenty of enemies to fight, which made for a different, but also good experience within the game.
- Disgaea 2 PC (PC)
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software, Inc.
Publisher: NIS America, Inc.
Release Date: 30/01/17
Although this game was an updated port of a game previously released on the PS2 back in 2006, I felt that the translation to a PC game worked well for this game, and that it feels more at home on the PC. Although the game, as traditional with Disgaea games, is extremely grindy, if you choose it to be, I found this was no hardship in this version, with the game easy to pick up for either short bursts, where you could still feel as though you were working towards a goal, or for longer periods of time.
Even though the graphics haven’t really been updated for this PC release, still looking fairly faithful to the PS2 original, I felt that this worked quite well, and that the game did look good on the PC. I also quite appreciated that the game retained its original humour, and I did have a good few laughs playing through the game again.
- Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands (PC)
Developer: Ubisoft Paris
Release Date: 07/03/17
One of the best Ghost Recon games released so far, in this writer’s mind, due to the expansive gameplay, and large choice of weaponry available, as well as the choice of game modes. Not only that, but the large amount of choice available in this game also makes it an easy one to replay, much extending its lifespan. A solid Ghost Recon game, regardless of previous titles in the series.
- Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon (3DS)
Developer: Game Freak
Release Date: 17/11/17
Well, the inevitable main series Pokémon release had to end up on the list somewhere, didn’t it?
I personally feel that these games are what Sun and Moon should have been – much more content, with far more polish, and a much better distribution of both newer and older Pokémon to catch in the wild. I also quite thoroughly enjoyed the expanded Alola region Pokédex, with around 400 Pokémon to track down and collect within the main story. There were also dozens, if not more, side quests introduced into the game and minigames such as Mantine Surfing and the Battle Agency, which I spent roughly the same amount of time on as I did the main story of the game.
The story was a lot better, and more streamlined, I felt – although these games still had Sun and Moon’s problem of too many cutscenes and tutorials, which interrupted the flow of the game, I felt. However, overall, I did enjoy the games, and they are certainly decent titles in the extensive Pokémon catalogue.
- Dragon Quest VII: Journey of the Cursed King (3DS)
Release Date: 20/01/17
Although I originally played this game way, way back in the day on the original PS2 release, I was still eagerly looking forward to this handheld port. Although a few bits and pieces were changed for this game, such as the addition of the ‘speed up feature’ for use during battles, making those run a lot quicker, if required, it was still every bit as epic as the original, and was a much smoother experience, keeping me entertained for a good forty hours as I completed the main storyline of the game.
- Okami HD (PC)
Release Date: 12/12/17
Okami HD managed to do what I would have considered impossible eleven years ago – it managed to make Okami even more beautiful than it already was. Beyond that, the original console game has translated wonderfully to PC controls, and the game certainly feels natural, deep and immmersive on the PC.
- Harvest Moon: Light of Hope (PC),
Developer: TABOT, inc. and Natsume Inc
Publisher: Natsume Inc
Release Date: 14/11/17
The first foray by Natsume for having a Harvest Moon title on the PC, I felt this was certainly a worthy attempt, with the game feeling a lot more like the older Harvest Moon titles, and not the current crop on the 3DS.
Although the main story mode of this game is relatively short, with it lasting me about 15 hours in total, I felt there was plenty to keep me entertained afterwards, not least the massive crop mutation system, with around 180 or so different crops to discover, and having plenty of animals to raise as well.
There were a couple of little niggles with this game, which did keep it from the top spot, my main one being that seeds can only be bought and sown one square at a time (admittedly later on, you do have the ability to sow more than one seed at a time), and as a person who misses the good old days of neat squares of nine crops at a time… However, there was still plenty to recommend this game, and I look forward to future patches for it.
- Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns (3DS),
Developer: Marvelous Inc.
Publisher: XSEED Games
Release Date: 28/02/17
I can feel this decision causing a little bit of controversy… considering the placement of the most recent Harvest Moon game and the Natsume / Marvelous split… However, I did think long and hard about this, and I have decided, that this year’s game of the year, for me, is Trio of Towns.
Like last year’s Story of Seasons title, I honestly feel these games are closer to the spirit of the Harvest Moon games, and Trio of Towns improved on nearly every aspect that was in the original Story of Seasons. I especially liked the three-town mechanic, with each town having a wildly different flavour. There was a fairly good, if basic, job system in the game, but I thought it made for a nice diversion, and stopped farming becoming too monotonous.
It was also a very good time sink, with plenty to do, lots of items to collect and craft, and a great game, for either picking up in short bursts or spending longer on it.
Written by Karen and Steve