HERE ARE SOME OF THE BEST CONSOLE GAMES FOR THIS YEARDate: 2018-12-12
It's been a pretty insane year for all the console games and, with all the hardware that's made its way to the foreground, some real gems of games have entered the market.
With new console announcements likely looming next year, here are some of the best console games for 2018:
Red Dead Redemption 2
(PS4, Xbox One)
Red Dead Redemption 2 has got to be one of the world's favourite games for 2018. Set in 1899 in an America on the brink of modernisation, as the sun sets on the ways of the wild, Wild West. Players get to step into a world filled with revolvers and cowboy boots as Arthur Morgan, the intensely-loyal right-hand man to outlaw gang leader, Dutch Van der Linde.
Rockstar has definitely done it again, creating a story and characters that are among the most compelling we've seen in a game. They may not be good people, or even likeable in all cases, but all 20 or so of the gang members are fleshed out and relatable some way or another. By the emotional end of the journey, you will feel like you have sat through six stellar seasons of a Western TV show.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a major milestone in every conceivable way, standing strong among some of the best games this generation has seen.
God of War
From start to finish, God of War is a masterpiece in terms of storytelling, gameplay as well as look and sound. Whereas the previous games in the series have tended to be button mashers, the combat in the latest instalment was a more tactical and better-rewarded skill – while still being as brutal and satisfying as ever.
Despite the pre-release claims of no camera cuts within the game, you could argue that, technically, this wasn't completely true. But, for the most part – and if you were good enough – it was largely possible to play through the game as a single, seamless experience, further adding to the immersiveness.
It's impossible to list everything that's great about this game – we haven't even mentioned possibly the best NPC of the year in the form of a disembodied head Kratos carries around on his belt – but, suffice to say, if you haven't played God of War, you definitely should.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Nowhere else can you get Mario, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man appearing alongside characters from Metal Gear Solid, Street Fighter, Final Fantasy and Castlevania. The roster is bursting at the seams, with over 70 characters from almost 40 years of video game history along with more than 100 stages whipped from dozens of virtual worlds.
The combat itself is faster but still feels tight, perfectly walking the tightrope between casual and hardcore players. Although it is predominantly a game for up to eight players, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate does not skimp on the solo content either. There's a hefty Adventure mode that experiments with pretty much every possible combination of characters, items and stages, as well as the returning Classic mode and other challenges that extract every last drop from this deep well.
Embracing the playful party spirit of Nintendo and the Switch, in particular, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is an absolute must.
Everybody's favourite web-slinger has come a long way since the vertical scoller. The power of today's consoles has enabled an impressibly realistic virtual 3D recreation of Manhattan for Spidey to swing around in.
And it is the web-swinging mechanics of our titular hero that make traversing the game's open world so much fun. Sure, it might not strictly adhere to the laws of physics, but it is fast, satisfying and easy to master. In so many open world games it's a relief when you finally unlock fast travel capabilities but it's almost an irrelevant here.
There have been plenty of superhero games over the years, but few, if any, create the feeling of being a superhero as well as Marvel's Spider-Man, and is a worthy inclusion on this list for that alone.
Forza Horizon 4
(PC, Xbox One)
Forza Horizon 4 is the best driving game going around, in fact, it's more than just a racing game. Prefer to turn off the traction and stability controls and get sideways? Head to a drift zone. Want to push that hypercar to the limits? Try and set a new record at a speed trap or point to point speed zone. Just want to get seriously airborne for a few hundred meters? Head to the nearest Danger Sign.
Then there are the surprisingly addictive online Forzathon Live events every hour on the hour, and the ability to go one on one with players from around the globe or join a team and tear up the road.
The UK setting of Forza Horizon 4 is stunning, from green country fields and rocky mountain trails to the roads of quaint country villages and the tight city street of Eidenurg. The biggest departure from previous games is the introduction of seasons, which keeps things interesting by changing the driving conditions and scenery from week to week. Snow-laden winter roads and frozen lakes give way to a spring thaw, followed by sunny summer skies (but still with the odd shower – this is the UK remember), and leaf-strewn autumn streets.
It may not have had a lot of competition this year, but Forza Horizon 4 would be hard to beat as best driving game in any year.
Jurassic World Evolution
(PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Who does not love dinosaurs? And who does not enjoy building the Jurassic Parks of their dreams, and then watch them all come crumbling down...
Jurrasic World Evolution follows the tried-and-true Zoo Tycoon structure, as players build food and entertainment facilities, staff building, path and pens, then populate the park with an all-star lineup of dinosaurs from the movies, like T-Rex, Velociraptors, Triceratops and Brachiosaurus.
The game strikes a perfect balance between the two themes of the movies: the majesty and chaos of nature. When things are running smoothly, menial tasks like feeding or repairs can be quite zen, and it's nice to just drive around and watch some dinosaurs doing their thing.
Some of the game's best moments come from those times where you're failing to restore order, prioritising which problem to deal with first.
Out of everything on this list, Jurassic World Evolution is the one that most likely slipped under your radar but, if you're a fan of dinosaurs or park-building games, it's worth sinking your teeth into.
Pokémon: Let's Go Pikachu/Eevee
Pokémon: Let's Go Pikachu and Pokémon: Let's Go Eevee is basically Nintendo trying to cash in on the scores of new and nostalgic fans reeled in by the ridiculous success of the Pokémon Go mobile game in 2016.
Let's Go is the first "core" Pokémon RPG to land on a home console, but there are a few caveats. The game is a remake of Pokémon Yellow, which graced the Game Boy back in 1998, and it's a joy to roam this colourful world in Full HD and see all the classic critters come to life.
Although the battle system remains the same as the general Pokémon series, the influence of Pokémon Go is hard to ignore. Wild 'Mon are now caught using the same timing-based catching method from the mobile game, and the creatures can be transferred between Go and Let's Go.
Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu/Eevee is a decent middle-ground for casual players and the core RPG fans alike, but we can't help looking forward to the brand new games in the series due out around this time next year.
Shadow of the Colossus
One of the best of 2005 makes the list, yet again, in 2018. The classic Shadow of the Colossus was ahead of its time and was arguably held back by the PlayStation 2 hardware on which it first appeared, but now thanks to the power of the PS4 – and especially the power of the PS4 Pro – the game has another opportunity to shine with this ground-up remake.
The story is kept to a minimum and sounds kind of ridiculous when written down. Players take the role of Wander, who ventures into a forbidden land to find a way to revive his lost love. There is a spirit named Drmin who offers to help... if Wander hunts down and kills the 16 colossal creatures roaming the land.
Each colossus battle plays out more like a platforming puzzle than a traditional boss fight. Most of them regard you with the indifference we'd pay an insect, barely acknowledging your presence as you climb and jump your way across their strange half-organic, half-stone bodies. Bringing down each one requires a mix of timing, trial-and-error and puzzle-solving.
The gameplay is mostly the same as the original, but the control scheme has had a tune-up for modern sensibilities and the visuals have been refreshed with 4K upscaling on PS4 Pro. If you missed this gorgeous tragedy of a game back in the day, now's the time to catch up.
There were a few other games hovering around the periphery, but we've decided to be as brutal as Kratos dispensing with a pack of Hel-Walkers and keep things to a tight eight. Of course, we're keen to hear the games that had you glued to the controller in 2018, so let us know your picks in the comments.