Continuing on with our writing staff selections for the best of 2017 up next with have Emma Rees. So read her list below and let us know if you agree with Emma’s picks.
2017 has been an incredible year for video games, TV shows and hardware. For game releases, it’s easily one of the most memorable years since the days of the PlayStation 2. Here, I have chosen a winner and a runner-up but believe me, it was no easy feat. So many excellent titles have been released that I actually called 2017 a ‘Golden age for gamers’, for never has there been such a choice of fantastic games regardless of what genre or platform you’re into.
Game of 2017
Runner-Up: Persona 5
I have been a fan of the Persona series ever since I played Persona 4 on the PlayStation 2. It is a JRPG where you manage your friendships (called social links), free time and school life, all while fighting in another world, trying to solve a series of murders with your friends. The story was fantastic and the gameplay and characters were compelling. It was the single most addictive game I had ever played. Then Persona 5 came along.
The first thing that blew me away about Persona 5 was its style. It’s one of the most outlandishly styled games I’ve ever laid eyes on, using a lot of reds, blacks and graffiti style
menus’. And it’s absolutely beautiful. I’d go as far as to say that Persona 5 is not just a game, it’s interactive art. Backgrounds and character models look stunning and the world
always feels alive. It is set in Tokyo, Japan which is a delight to explore both during the day and at night. The soundtrack sticks in your head and is brilliant enough that I want to add it physically to my collection.
The premise is very similar to previous Persona instalments. Between trying to figure out just what the hell is going on and assembling your group of vigilante’s you will be working on friendships (called confidants), managing your school life, improving your personal traits and working part-time jobs. It is an extremely addictive concoction and just like with Persona 4, I found myself playing well into the early hours.
Winner: South Park: The Fractured But Whole.
I have been a huge fan of South Park since 1999 and over that time there were some pretty awful South Park games on the PlayStation and Nintendo 64. South Park: The Stick of Truth released in 2014 and I fell in love. It was just like playing through a long South Park movie with the exact same animation, jokes and voice acting. Imagine my excitement when I heard the sequel, ‘South Park: The Fractured But Whole’, was in in development. The Fractured But Whole continues from Series 21 of Southpark where there is a prequel to the game called ‘Franchise Prequel’.
When I opened it on Christmas Day and finally got to play, I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest. It’s similar to Stick of Truth, except the combat now includes tactics where you can
move to highlighted areas before executing your attacks. Combat is fantastic and varied for every character and class, not to mention hilarious in some cases. The jokes are exactly what you would expect from South Park; shocking and lewd. But unlike Stick of Truth, this one isn’t censored on the console versions. Compared to Stick of Truth, there are many more objectives to complete and more stats to manage. The town also new places to explore since the series has progressed. If you take the time to explore there are loads of laughs and throwbacks to much earlier episodes of the show. Just like Persona 5, South Park: The Fractured But Whole, has kept me playing well past when I swore I’d put the controller down. There is always ‘one more thing to do’, or ‘one more person to speak to’. I’ll be sad to finish the game and that’s why I have chosen it as the winner of 2017.
Best TV Show
There were so many recommended TV shows in 2017 that I couldn’t possibly get around to watching all of them. I have my winners though and they are;
Runner-Up: South Park (Season 21)
Yes, it’s South Park again. Over the years South Park has got better and better, evolving as time goes on. Episodes now follow a continuous storyline throughout seasons that make me binge watch right through to the cliffhanger for the next season. A lot of characters who didn’t feature much before, have undergone a lot of development and are now more memorable without feeling forced. Trey Parker and Matt Stone continue to deliver jokes that are as controversial and on the ball as ever. They’re always up to date on the latest events and controversies and never fail to make me laugh. Season 21 focuses on Donald Trump, young love, mental health and diversity yet manage to take things as seriously as they make fun of them. Being the geniuses that they are, Trey Parker and Matt Stone manage to pull it off flawlessly, highlighting awareness while continuing to deliver the humour that the series is known for.
Winner: Stranger Things (season 1 & 2)
I had heard so much about this show that’s on Netflix that I simply had no choice but to watch it. What really made me subscribe to see it, was that I heard it was full of the eighties and nineties references and had a lot of resemblances to Stephen King’s ‘It’. It sounded like everything I would enjoy as I was born in the late eighties and am a Stephen King fan, yet I still wasn’t prepared for the sheer amount of binge-watching that would ensue. It’s one of those shows that is impossible to stop watching once you start. Stranger Things is a horror-drama that is so nostalgic it made me forget I was watching it in the year 2017. It has been filmed in such a way that it felt as if I was actually watching it in the eighties and it’s overflowing with pop culture and video game references. The monsters were suitably terrifying and the horror itself was reminiscent of Silent Hill. Stranger Things borrows a lot from Stephen King’s ‘It’ but it’s more like a reference for fans than a copy of his style. There are four boys who end up embroiled in danger and mystery when one of them goes missing. Their personalities are completely believable and endearing. In fact, every single character in the show is interesting and the acting is top notch. Winona Ryder particularly stands out as the stressed and concerned mother. Both the soundtrack and musical score are excellent, perfectly capturing the time period it is set in. Stranger Things is a brilliant nostalgia trip full of tension that I can see being referenced for many years from now.
Although I don’t have a runner-up here, as I only owned one piece of newly released hardware, that’s not to say that that I didn’t consider buying some of the many amazing
products that have released, including the powerful Xbox One X. It is astounding how fast technology is evolving and gaming hardware, in particular, is a perfect example of the
impressive things that can be achieved.
Winner: Nintendo Switch
I loved the Nintendo Wii U but after it’s short life cycle and a small library of exclusives, I was wary of buying a Nintendo Switch. Now I own one, it’s safe to say that I’ve never been
more impressed with a game console. Despite the other fantastic consoles out there, the switch is my favourite console since the PlayStation 2. The most obvious feature is its portability. It’s so easy to go from playing a game on the TV to taking it out of the dock and taking your favourite games wherever you’d like. It’s also quick and seamless. I also love how the joys work. Not only do they function together as a single controller, they also function as separate controllers for two player games! The switch also has built-in Bluetooth so it’s easy to connect Bluetooth controllers such as the 8-bit-do pads for even more players. Another thing that astounds me about the switch is its huge library of games over a short
period of time. Not just ports, but Nintendo Switch Exclusives and games from third-party developers. In just ten months there have been more quality games released than I could
possibly have time to play over the next few years, and there are many more to come.