It’s been one hell of a year for PlayStation fans. There’s been another slew of masterful PlayStation 4 exclusives, ready to showcase just what the seven-year-old console can still achieve, while Sony have also managed to deliver a fantastic new games console in the PlayStation 5 and a set of excellent launch titles to go alongside it.
There’s a very different feel to the start of this generation though, and it’s not simply down to the extremely high demand that there is for the new console. When all was said and done, Sony did choose to bridge the divide and embrace cross-generational gaming with the likes of Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Sackboy: A Big Adventure. Where the PS3 was quickly sidelined so that the PS4 could take centre stage, there’s some continuity here and Ghost of Tsushima was not the final first party exclusive that the console would receive.
With a banner year for the PS4 and the first glimpses of what the PS5 can do, it’s actually been rather difficult to choose the best PlayStation game of the year, but choose we have.
“Remake Final Fantasy VII!” It was a call that echoed across the internet after a tantalising tech demo on PS3 back in 2005. Despite having been responsible for teasing us all, Square Enix claimed that it couldn’t be done. The project was just too big and everything single part of the game would have to rebuilt from scratch. Yet the fans continued to call, across years, across decades, and fifteen years after that first teaser, Final Fantasy VII Remake launched on PlayStation 4.
It was a project destined to fail. Final Fantasy VII was a genuine classic, the Casablanca of video games held in high esteem by millions of people with epic battles and an eighty-hour story that made you laugh, and in a first for many people, made them cry. An impossible task, and yet Square Enix managed to not only honour the original, but create an opulent new classic.
Final Fantasy VII Remake has had so much love lavished upon it, from the pointless VR sequences that are a feast for the eyes, to the five minute dance sequence in the Honeybee club – the latter originally being an awkward encounter with dubious writing that has been turned into something much more fabulous and gender fluid. Battles are now fast and and exciting, emotional scenes are heartbreaking, and to keep even the most die hard fans interested, there are some new plot twists for future games to explore.
Although the graphics, sound, and battle system have been remade, the core story of a rag tag team of misfits that grow to become friends remains the heart of the game. This isn’t a story of good versus evil, it’s a story of friendship and that’s why the calls for the remake echoed through the internet; we missed our friends.
Runner Up – The Last of Us Part II
Naughty Dog have once again shown themselves to be the masters of the PlayStation hardware, eking out every once of what they can from the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro. It’s a stunning visual showcase once more and provides a canvas for a slew of outstanding character perforamnces and another epic post-apocalyptic tale to be told.
Epic, and yet utterly personal. Naughty Dog took their story in an unexpected, closely guarded direction, that wrong-footed many expectant fans of the original and led to an intense backlash. It’s remorseless as it explores the cyclical nature of revenge, the core horror and stealth action leading to heart-pounding battles for survival that draw on every resource you can scavenge, and will have your wits fraying as you try to escape another intense encounter.
Naughty Dog have surpassed themselves once more in another game that many will see as the culmination of an entire console generation.
Runner Up – Ghost of Tsushima
The competition for Best PlayStation Game is always rather intense, but in another year, Ghost of Tsushima could easily have clinched this award.
Sucker Punch’s rendition of Tsushima Island is gorgeous, for a start. Wind sends rippling waves through fields of pampas grass as you ride through it and blood and mud splatters all over you as you cut down enemies. That core combat is a joy as well, requiring that you use the correct stances against particular enemies and rewarding both timing and patience handsomely.
Then there’s Jin, Khotun Khan, Masaka, and all the other characters that fill up the world as well. These characters are well written, sometimes funny, and sometimes telling genuinely emotional stories. Even the side missions here feel like tales that are worth telling, though naturally they pale in comparison to Jin’s quest to rescue his uncle and ultimately free Tsushima from the Mongols.
Ghost of Tsushima is special to me for personal reasons, but even without them it’d still be one of the best games of the year.
– Gareth C
Honourable Mentions (in alphabetical order)
- Astro’s Playroom
- Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
- Nioh 2
To catch up on the Game of the Year awards we’ve handed out so far, here’s a handy list!
- Best Xbox Game
- Best Nintendo Switch Game
- Best VR Game
- Best PC Game
- Best Single Player Game
- Best Narrative
- Best Gameplay
- Best Independent Game
- Best Visual Design
- Best Original Soundtrack
- Best Multiplayer Game
- Best Ongoing Game
- Best Remaster/Remake
We’re very, very nearly done with our Game of the Year awards now. The overall award is just around the corner, but first, a bit of a palette cleanser…