GOTY 2016: Doug's Honorable Mentions
While our list of the top ten games of the year is a collaborative effort, there are always some casualties. Our Honorable Mentions offer each staff member a chance to highlight some of their other personal favorite games of 2016 that simply didn't make the cut.
UEFA Euro 2016 Winning Eleven 2016
PES Productions | April 21, 2016 | PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Count this as a technicality. This version of PES 2016 differs little from the version released in September 2015 — it includes DLC in advance of the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament that was also available for the standard edition — but it is an in-store release that came out this year. It’s also the version I have for PlayStation 4, and the one I put close to 100 hours into this spring and summer. Because, you know, PES and me. We have a long history.
Soccer games have a strange, wonderful way to draw me in. Ever since FIFA 2004, I’ve fallen face-first into any number of titles. Choose a team (more often than not Arsenal), dig into career mode, and build up a juggernaut. While I’ve bounced back and forth between PES and FIFA down the years, more often I’ve landed in the PES camp. And without question, the 2016 edition of the game is the best I’ve played in years.
PES specializes in fast, flowing, smart soccer, and provides you with the tools to make seemingly impossible goals happen. Players all feel like they have unique personalities and abilities: defenders shouldn’t be trusted to take shots on goal, and most attackers aren’t heavyweight defenders, for example. And there’s even a difference between lighter, speedy attackers and bigger, tougher center forwards. That level of detail isn’t always apparent in the competition. Go watch this video if you need more convincing.
I’m still undecided on whether PES or FIFA 2017 will grab me more, but at this rate, I may just keep the UEFA 2016 edition going instead.
Forza Horizon 3
Playground Games | September 27, 2016 | Xbox One, PC
I know I am the racing game fan of the Silicon Sasquatch crew, but the brilliance of Forza Horizon 3 is that it feels more like an open-world game than a true racer. It borrows a lot from some of my favorite racers from the past -- the family resemblance to the Forza Motorsport series is deep, there’s inspiration in feel from the Project Gotham series, and some of the hijinks are straight out of Burnout Paradise’s playbook. More so than games like Burnout Paradise, however, it’s a game with a love of cars — all types, big and small, fast and slow — firmly at the center of the experience.
The player runs a festival all about cars, racing and music. The attendant NPCs, especially your Aussie mechanic, are in love with metal machines of all kinds. Naturally, the car handling and events hold attention, whether playing a couple races or for a couple hours at a time. It’s a hell of an open world to explore, too, especially now that you can also rip up and down a snowy mountain as well. Doesn’t matter if you’re sitting down to play it for 15 minutes or hours at a time, for two events or 20 at a time.
Formula 1 2016
Codemasters | August 19, 2016 | PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
“Another Formula 1 game,” you sigh. Why, yes, I enjoy this series by Codemasters, and it happens to be a series improving with every entry. F1 2016 includes more of the single-player career features lost after the jump to the current generation and refines the racing engine.
However, this year’s entry also makes the racing weekend more valuable than ever before. Instead of just skipping past practice sessions once your car’s setup is dialed in, the team target sessions provide a major source of upgrade points. And digging in for a race weekend is a great way to spend an hour. And after starting with a weaker team and re-starting with another, better team, there’s a big difference between the two. Spoiler alert: it’s more fun to win races than struggle for points!
It may not be as wide-ranging a game as Forza Motorsport, as user-friendly as Forza Horizon, or as simulation-focused as iRacing or any number of PC games. But Codemasters’ F1 games, including F1 2016, provide a fast, detailed racer that looks, sounds and feels like a Formula 1 game, which is more than enough for me.
Nerial | April 16, 2016 | iOS, Android, PC
Swipe right; swipe left. Instead of choosing a potential date, though, you’re the king. And it’s good to be the king, until you die. But don’t worry, you take back over as the next in your line.
The loop within Nerial’s wonderfully crafted gem of a game is running the kingdom, making choices of both domestic or international import (to go to war or not, to close the port to prevent spread of disease or not) and far more personal (to start a romance, or to keep throwing the ball to your suspiciously prescient dog or not). And all of it is handled with witty, sharp, smart writing. And when you die, or are overthrown, it isn’t just a simple Game Over screen.
It’s got amazing art and style, it’s a great concept for a mobile game, and executed incredibly well. The difficulty spikes a bit after the first third, but it’s still engrossing to keep swiping.
100 Foot Robot Golf
No Goblin | October 10, 2016 | PlayStation 4
I love a good golf game. Nothing more relaxing than sitting down and hitting the links. Well, except when you’re doing so while behind the controls of a 100-foot-tall golfing robot.
No Goblin has crafted something which combines golf, giant robots, the McElroy brothers and Evangelion parodies into one of the most heartfelt games of the year. The golf gameplay may not challenge EA Sports anytime soon, but other series don’t have the stars of podcast My Brother, My Brother and Me talking about putt butter. And Tiger Woods certainly is no Project C.
As a whimsical indie game that pays homage to bad anime dubs and the king’s sport of 100 foot robot golf, 100 Foot Robot Golf is recommended.