games / Columns

The 8 Ball: Top 8 Games of 2017 – Injustice 2, Yakuza 0, More

January 2, 2018 | Posted by Marc Morrison
The Atom Injustice 2

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball. It’s the first column of the New Year, so I thought I would take a look back at the last year with my favorite games. This is not an all-inclusive list, then again, no GOTY list is truly all-encompassing. I certainly haven’t played every great game that came out this year, so this is just my personal list of my most well-liked games. The biggest caveat here is that I don’t have a Switch, so games like Mario Odyssey or Zelda: Breath of the Wild are missing. I’m certain they would be on here had I played them, but I haven’t. If anyone wants to grab me a Switch and those games, feel free to drop a line in the comments. With that said, let’s begin:

#8: Gravity Rush 2

I’ll admit I haven’t gotten too far into Gravity Rush 2. It’s not because the game is bad, but it’s because the first time you really have control over your powers and you’re dumped in the hub city, I spend all my time collecting crystals in the game world. There is a ton of them, and they are in the air, hidden in hallways, or stuck on the bottom of the buildings mid-air, and I spend my time hunting them all down. Oh, also, the combat is pretty interesting, the characters are charming, and the game is visually striking. I’ll probably never actually finish Gravity Rush 2, but that’s because I never want the ride to be over.

#7: Injustice 2

Honestly, Injustice 2 isn’t too much different from Injustice 1. It still has the same, slightly neutered super-moves, three button combat, and the weird “Clash” system, that I don’t think anyone actually likes. The edges of the game though have had a lot of tuff added to them, to make it a different experience. Chief among them is the loot box system. In every other game, it feels exploitative and lame, but the loot boxes in Injustice 2 aren’t game breaking, and are mostly a cosmetic thing. You can buy higher-tier ones with more money, but you earn so many of them just in the mission mode, which you never really need to. The mission mode is also changed, so that there are now different Earths for you to visit and beat down various other characters in. This nets you the boxes, and also various gear for the other characters. Also, this game has Hellboy and soon the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which nets it an automatic placement on this list.

#6: Divinity: Original Sin 2

I liked the first Divinity: Original Sin game, but something about the starting area and general questline felt a bit too antiseptic for me. It was a good game, but it felt somewhat lacking in personality. This isn’t the case with Original Sin 2, which has playable characters of an animated skeleton, overthrown lizard king, and possessed singer, rounding out your party. You can still create your own characters but taking one of the pre-made ones with their own unique backstories is far more rewarding. Combat largely remained the same, at least in my view, but I’m still impressed by the environmental interactions you can accomplish in battle. Say you come across a band of enemies close together, you can either make it rain on them, then throw a lightning spell shocking them all, or teleport a fire barrel in the middle of the group and detonate it. Divinity: Original Sin 2 felt like a much more confident game than the last one, and I imagine Larian’s next game will be even better.

#5: Horizon: Zero Dawn

Horizon: Zero Dawn tends to crib from elements of other games, but adds wholly unique elements of its own, to create something special. On the surface, it looks just like a Batman game, or Assassin’s Creed game, but those looks are wrong. Horizon is much more focused on your character, Alloy, having battlefield knowledge, and letting you set up traps. Some of the bigger machines you have to set up traps, because just trying to take them head-on is a death sentence. The designs of the robot animals is great from the weakest ones to the strongest, as each are detailed, and you can see specific weak spots on them. Considering this is the (likely) start of a franchise, this is one of the strongest debuts of a game in a long time.
#4: Puyo Puyo Tetris

I’ve read a lot of other sites GOTY lists the past few weeks and it is astounding to me that this game isn’t on anyone’s, or at least the ones I saw. Puyo Puyo Tetris was the reason I got a PlayStation 4 three years ago, and I’m not saying that without hyperbole. The second I had the extra cash, I splurged on an import copy of Puyo Puyo Tetris, due to me never thinking it was going to come to America. Then in 2017 my dreams were answered when this game was announced to be coming stateside. I am one of the lucky few who has a digital copy of the game (a review copy), and I will forever have the game installed. The basic premise is that it’s a mash up of two games, Tetris (which everyone knows) and Puyo Puyo, which isn’t quite as well known here, but is easy enough to pick up. The story has you playing both games separately, and sometimes together. It’s a superb game on its own, but playing with people is where it can really shine.

#3: Yakuza 0

Yakuza 0 is a game that actually got me into the Yakuza franchise. I’m still amazed that feat is even possible. Yakuza games always seemed to appeal to very specific crazy people, who mixed in Japanese words in the middle of their daily speech, or could name all 47 prefectures of Japan. The fact that the sales base for these games dried up is further evidence of this. However, Sega (along with Sony’s help, I imagine) brought over Yakuza 0 to the west anr was able to resurrect the franchise. Yakuza 0 has two playable characters, Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima, set in the 1980’s of Japan. Each character has their own distinct fighting styles, and storylines, and while each character is seemingly on a separate path at the start, they do eventually crossover as the story unfurls. It may be based on a PS3 game, but the world of Yakuza 0 is incredibly detailed, fun, and funny, with a whole host of wacky side characters and sidequests for you to accomplish. The karaoke sequences along make this game worthy of a pickup for any player.

#2: NieR: Automata

If you had said to me at the start of 2017, that a NieR game would be one of my favorite games of 2017, I would have laughed at you. The existing NieR franchise wholly passed me by, and I imagine most of the gaming public as well. Still, Automata brings a few things to the equation that really make it stand out. First is the combat, which is a Platinum Games staple. It’s not as deep as Bayonetta or Metal Gear Rising, butit still feels the same, with different attacks, dodging around, and time (slightly) slowing when you perform a good counter. The characters of Automata are great, from 2B’s initial stoicism to caring about 9S, to what happens to Pascal, to the history of Emil, almost all are memorable. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that NieR: Automata has the best soundtrack of the year (with Persona 5 being a close second), and that it has 26 different endings for you to try and accomplish.

#1: Persona 5

Persona 5 is a game that I’ve replayed twice, and got pretty deep into a third run of that game. Considering the first run of that game took me about 80 hours, and the second playthrough took me about 40, that speaks volumes about how much I did enjoy it. Persona 5 isn’t without its faults, Ryuji really sucks as a character, and occasionally the game can be obtuse in what you have to do next, but these are minor issues. No other game, to me, looks as great as Persona 5 did, from a creative standpoint. The other characters like Futaba, Tae Takemi (goth doctor), and Morgana really standout in the game. Plus, the battle system, once you learn it, can make the game feel like it belongs at the forefront of all JRPG classics. I bought the special edition of the game and it’s a purchase I’ve never regretted in the slightest.

For comments, list your favorite games of 2017 and why.

Next Issue
Top 8 Most Disappointing Games of 2017

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The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison