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Press Start

Video game news, reviews and commentary with Gazette reporter Jake Magee.

Press Start: The best games of 2016

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Jake Magee
Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Another year is about to wrap up, which means it's time for me to look back on the plethora of games players were blessed with this year and determine which were my favorites.

Yes, I know it's early. But I'm not buying any new games until after Christmas, so this is my definitive list.

It was rare this year that a game truly floored me, but 2016 was a solid year for games overall—especially considering there were plenty I never even got around to playing. In fact, I barely touched the games I was most looking forward to a year ago. I blame a lack of time (and the occasional mediocre review score that made me reconsider throwing $60 at some titles).

I have high hopes for 2017. “Horizon: Zero Dawn” is a new franchise that looks stellar; the “God of War” sequel is taking the series in a new direction, and we're finally going to get a sequel to “Red Dead Redemption.”

As we close out 2016, the future of gaming looks bright.

Note: Keep in mind this list doesn't include several games I haven't gotten around to but almost certainly would have made the cut, such as “Pokemon Sun” and “Moon,” “Uncharted 4” and “Overwatch.”

6. “DESTINY: RISE OF IRON”

“Rise of Iron” was 2016's expansion to the popular shooter “Destiny.” Sadly, it didn't even come close to matching the incredible leap forward last year's expansion, “The Taken King,” took, breathing fresh air into the game.

Still, “Rise of Iron” has plenty of new content that made it worthwhile. The new raid was solid and fun even if it felt a bit short and, oftentimes, too easy.

The new venue, the Plaguelands, offered new missions to take on, and it's always a blast to use the new flaming battle ax to vanquish foes. Mutiplayer-focused fans were given a new game mode to play and new maps to play it on.

Honestly, “Rise of Iron” feels like filler until the inevitable “Destiny 2” launches. It didn't tread new ground, but it did expand on what already makes “Destiny” great. For that, it makes the list.

5. “INSIDE”

Playdead's spiritual successor to its first sidescrolling hit, “Limbo,” is every bit as intriguing as its predecessor. It's short, simple and ambiguous, but it's not a game I'll soon forget.

Players control a young boy who travels through a factory where zombie-like people are controlled with strange devices. The boy solves puzzles, sometimes using the mindless husks to his advantage, all while being pursued by guards, dogs and mysterious entities.

The dark, cold and lonely setting and lack of any real narrative make “Inside” feel like some eerie, lucid dream. The result is a strange, unsettling game that leaves most of its story to interpretation. The last 15 minutes surprised me and had me scratching my head several minutes after the credits rolled.

4. “GEARS OF WAR 4”

It's been a long time since a good “Gears of War” game came out. Spinoff game “Gears of War: Judgement” twisted the “Gears” formula too much to appeal to longtime fans, but “Gears 4” builds on what made the original series so awesome.

In “Gears 4,” players control a new band of heroes years after the conclusion of “Gears 3.” The game is every bit a reboot for a new generation of players as it is a continuation of the story original fans fell in love with a decade ago.

“Gears 4” doesn't take too many risks as far as the story goes, but the series' new development team, The Coalition, faithfully created a lovable cast of news characters, a solid assortment of new weapons and built on what made the cooperative multiplayer mode, Horde, so much fun.

In other words, “Gears 4” is a solid staple in the series, and with the groundwork laid, “Gears of War 5” likely will be an even bigger step forward.

3. “DOOM”

I never played more than a few minutes of the original “Doom” from the 1980s, but because I played 2016's “Doom,” I don't have to.

“Doom” is fast, frantic, incredibly violent and utterly ridiculous. A space marine on Mars is trapped fighting demons, eventually traveling to hell itself to stop them from infesting reality.

But the over-the-top premise doesn't matter. What's important is the gameplay feels how I remember those short sessions of the original “Doom” felt with updated graphics and new, hyper-violent finishers. With a stellar metal soundtrack and endless demon-killing that doesn't grow stale, “Doom” was a surprisingly good reboot of a game that helped give birth to first-person shooters.

2. “TITANFALL 2”

In the shooter “Titanfall 2,” you don't just run around shooting bad guys (though there is plenty of that). You also perform crazy stunts such as wall runs and pilot gigantic robots while shooting bad guys.

“Titanfall 2” isn't much different from the original “Titanfall” in terms of gameplay. Multiplayer is the main selling point, and battles play out the same way they always have: Kill a few guys as a Pilot, call in your robot Titan, climb inside, fight with it until it blows up, repeat.

But “Titanfall 2” brings new features to the table, mainly in the form of customizable weapon and Titan loadouts, new game modes and, of course, the series' first story mode. “Titanfall 2's” story is actually pretty solid, especially its second half. It's better than most campaigns in first-person shooters, and that makes for a great game overall.

1. “DISHONORED 2”

“Dishonored 2” earns top honors just for how unusual a game it is.

It's basically a first-person shooter, but the various ways players can take it on are astounding.

The game features two protagonists with distinctive powers and narration as you go through the story. There's also the option to sneak through missions or go in loud, killing everyone in sight. It's possible to beat the game without killing or being spotted by a single person, and how you choose to play affects the story and its outcome.

“Dishonored 2” features masterful aesthetics. The graphics and art style are distinct, and levels are expertly crafted with worthwhile secrets to discover. From start to finish, “Dishonored 2” is a rewarding, engaging game every bit as great as the original. For that, it's my game of the year.


Video game columnist Jake Magee has been with GazetteXtra since 2014. His opinion is not necessarily that of Gazette management. Let him know what you think by emailing jmagee@gazettextra.com, leaving a comment below, or following @jakemmagee on Twitter.


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