It has been a phenomenal year for PlayStation exclusives. Titles such as God of War and Spider-Man not only garnered intense critical praise, but also delivered mightily impressive sales. It’s a demonstration that, more than anything else, what gamers want most from their AAA titles is quality. But 2018 wasn’t all about the Kratos and Spidey double combo; there were two outstanding remakes of classic titles from yesteryear brought to life with modern processing power – both Shadow of the Colossus and Yakuza Kiwami 2 delivered on fan expectations – and we can’t forgot to mention Detroit: Become Human, which delivered both controversy and compelling storytelling in equal measure, nor Yakuza 6, which finally saw a Western release to the rejoice of many.
This made picking a winner rather tricky, but in the end, as a Scottish Spaniard and French Scotsman taught us, there can only be one.
Spider-Man has always been one of the more reliable superheroes to moonlight in video games. Older gamers will have fond memories of the PSX and N64 game, whilst the PS2 era featured the highlights of web swinging in adaptations of the original film trilogy and the underrated Ultimate Spider-Man. Insomniac’s PS4 exclusive knocks all of these out of the park, however, as the technology finally allows for the kind of free-running and webslinging that really brings Peter Parker to life. While at heart Spider-Man is a fairly typical open world collectathon, the sheer joy of exploring a wonderfully crafted New York as Spidey makes even the inevitable repetition enjoyable. Abilities, power-ups and more challenging enemy types are introduced at perfectly judged intervals and the now obligatory RPG elements allow you to make Spidey fit your playstyle.
Added to all of this, the fan service of different Spider-suits and a cast of familiar bad guys result in a game that feels like playing a big budget comic book. Spider-Man doesn’t just work as escapism or nostalgia, however. The combat system is deep and involving, and the level design offers the right balance of freedom and constraint. Even the stealth levels are well handled, and give Mary Jane Watson and Miles Morales a chance to shine. The whole package is a delight, and I defy anybody to play through the Stan Lee cameo without shedding a tear.
– Steve C
God of War – Runner Up
God of War was impressive in many ways. It turned the one-note Kratos into a three-dimensional character, created a story that effortlessly inverted Norse Myth to startling effect, provided players with the most satisfying weapon of 2018 in the form of the Leviathan Axe, and even achieved the formidable feat of Atreus not be completely annoying. It looked very pretty too. But I only discovered its most notable achievement after I finished the game.
Being left on a high by the dramatic culmination of God of War, I decided to fire up God of War III Remastered. My fond memories of the game were soon washed away, the combat was stodgy, puzzles were obtrusive, the jumping was ridiculous and why did Kratos have no nuance? The most notable achievement of God of War is that it’s just too good, and you can’t go back.
Yakuza Kiwami 2 – Runner Up
Spider-Man and God of War are the two biggest PlayStation exclusives of the year, and they share a lot of common DNA. Both games are visually stunning action-adventure experiences with light RPG mechanics that took us on emotional journeys involving the importance of family and bonds. Yakuza Kiwami 2 embodies all of these traits just as successfully, delivering a breath-taking look into the lives of Japanese crime families and retired yakuza legends. It absolutely deserves to stand alongside these other two incredible exclusive releases.
Much like how Spider-Man perfectly captures the hustle and bustle of a modern New York City, Yakuza Kiwami 2 crafts picture-perfect slices of Japan in its two explorable town environments. Kiwami 2 doesn’t have the same open-world scale as Spider-Man or the sweeping vistas of God of War, but every inch of the small towns you explore in Kiwami 2 is rife with activity. Every street corner plays host to a different side-mission or activity, and the small scale of these environments is made up for by the sheer beauty of them all. Yakuza Kiwami 2 is the perfect companion to a trifecta of incredible action-adventure games that graced the PlayStation 4 this year, and if you enjoyed the other two, you owe it to yourself to experience this one as well.
– Miguel M
Honourable Mentions (in alphabetical order)
- Detroit: Beyond Human
- Shadow of the Colossus
- Yakuza 6
And that’s our pick for the best PlayStation 4 game of 2018. Do you agree? Sound off in the comments below and be sure to check back tomorrow when the Game of the Year will be revealed.