games / Columns

The Top 8 Games of 2020 So Far: The Last Of Us 2, Final Fantasy 7 Remake, More

August 11, 2020 | Posted by Marc Morrison
The Last of Us Part II

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball. Well, 2020 is almost 3/4ths finished and it’s been an…interesting year to say the least. While games have been coming out still, the pandemic and other matters have put a severe depression on the game industry. I thought it might be time to do a roundup of games so far. This isn’t a complete list of games since I haven’t played them all. I’m sure if I had, RE3 or the new Ori game might make this list, but I didn’t. With that said, let’s begin:

#8: Journey to the Savage Planet

The actual platforming and exploration of Savage Planet is great. It’s a first person Metroidvania where paths/secrets are closed off until you get the right upgrades, which generally lead to more upgrades or at least materials for you to use. The real problem with the game is that combat is…lackluster to say the least. Aside from a charged shot, you don’t get much in the way of combat upgrades, and the enemies you encounter are generally not enjoyable to fight. Still, I enjoyed my time with the game and especially all the orange goo you can eat for health upgrades.

#7: Snowrunner

I found Snowrunner to be a relaxing video game coupled with bouts of sheer terror and frustration. Just driving around and hauling simple cargo is fun and a nice way to spend the day. The terror/frustration comes into place if you have to make a run to a treacherous part of the map, and you are just praying that your truck doesn’t get stuck in a bog, or tip over, forcing you to go back to the garage and try again. There’s also a nice sense of accomplishment when you fix a bridge or clear a rockslide and then getting around the map becomes like 20% easier due to one obstacle being cleared. The only real problem with Snowrunner is a lack of a story/campaign/things to keep you motivated but it’s still a damn fine game.

#6: The Last of Us 2

I dunno, I think The Last of Us 2 is good but not “best game evar!” great. Like, it is still an enjoyable game but the story didn’t hook me near as much as the first game, and the alternating characters kind of bugged me. Granted, I didn’t finish the game, I stopped playing when Abby’s story gets really going, but that was more because I was afraid of my PS4 over-heating than any other reason. I think one thing I didn’t dig was that, from a gameplay perspective it is very close to the first game. Like, outside of the obvious visual bump-up, there is very little that is changed from the gameplay from the first game. Still, the open-Seattle bit with Ellie/Dina was pretty cool, and I kind of wish more of the game had been like that.

#5: Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE Encore

I’m kind of lumping Tokyo Mirage in with Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition. Both games came out for past Nintendo systems (Mirage was Wii U, Xenoblade was Wii), and while both games had their fanbases, neither game hit as well as it should. Between the two that came out for the Switch this year though, I prefer playing Tokyo more. I like the characters more, enjoy the somewhat classic SMT battle system and the game has a far better sense of style and personality that Xenoblade. Xeno isn’t bad, it just seems very traditional, while Tokyo is at least trying to look different.

#4: Hardspace: Shipbreaker

Here’s the odd thing about this game, it’s still in Steam Early Access and it’s still better than most of the “finished” games that I played this year. It just has a great sense of control as you fly around in a zero gravity environment cutting apart derelict ships. There aren’t a lot of ship designs but that works to your advantage at a certain point since you begin to realize where everything is and it becomes more of a routine. Ships break apart in some great ways, with huge sides of ships being able to be cut off from the main hull and then dump in the appropriate recycling bin for credits. I can’t wait until the game is fully out and mod support is (hopefully) included in it. Imagine being able to cut apart the Galactica or USS Enterprise-D? That would make this game truly special.

#3: Ghost of Tsushima

Having just beat the game last night, I can say that I really enjoyed my time with it. It’s not perfect, the story has no real choice, I don’t like the stance system, it’s fairly repetitive, but you know what? That’s all fine. This is basically the “Assassin’s Creed Samurai” game that fans have been begging Ubisoft to make for forever. Better than that, it’s based on the older (re: good) AC games, where you can murder someone by actually being stealthy and it’s not a bloated monstrosity of a landmass. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of repetitive stuff in Tsushima, if I have to do any more goddamn Fox Den’s I may scream, but on the whole, it’s a great game to play, particularly if you have a new podcast or an old TV show to re-watch, since you don’t have to focus too much on it.

#2: Final Fantasy 7 Remake

I think if you divorce FF7R from everything before it, it stands really well. It’s only when you realize how much story is left, how many more episodes they have to crank out, and how long it will take, that the horror truly sets in. On the face of it though, Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a nice accomplishment in the vein of complete remakes, like Resident Evil 2 or Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes. It modernizes the gameplay, has a huge bump up in visuals (obviously), and pays respect to the original game. There are still things I’m not a huge fan of, particularly the last “dungeon” when your characters were split up and you had to press switches to reunite them, but the whole of it, this was a great game, and I look forward to part two coming out, possibly sometime in 2024.

#1: Persona 5 Royal

For anyone who knows me, this is obvious, but hey, it still stands. I loved original Persona 5, so much so, that I replayed that game about 4 times to get all the trophies in it. Thankfully the trophies in Royal are far easier to get, so it only required that I play once, which was nice. It means I don’t have to bust my hump to knock out anything for future playthroughs. The new characters are interesting, even if Kasumi isn’t integrated all that well. There’s some really nice battle changes, like letting your ammo replenish after every fight and the Baton Pass being broken once you fully level it up. Atlus took an already excellent game and made it even better, so that’s why it’s on my list.

For comments, list your favorite games of the year so far, and why.

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