2018 was a big year for the PlayStation 4. Arguably there were three game of the years that the system received. First, there was the release of Red Dead Redemption 2 from Rockstar Games. This game is more of a prequel than a sequel. Graphically it is stunning and has amazing score that nominated for an award at the Game Awards. It added a level of detail that most games do not have any more. Some gamers felt it was just too much, but most received the changes quite well. We will have a separate review of Red Dead Redemption 2 in a future article.
The second game that could have easily been Game of the Year is Spider-Man from Insomniac Games. Insomniac has been a staple studio for Sony going back to the original Spyro the Dragon. In 2014, Insomniac took a departure from Sony and made Sunset Overdrive for the XBox One. 2016 marked the return of Insomniac Games to the PS4 with the remake of Ratchet & Clank. This year proved to be a big year for the studio. Spider-Man was the fastest selling game on the system, narrowly beating the eventual game of the year, God of War. I will admit, when I played the game at E3 2018, I felt the demo was very underwhelming. It felt too much like an Arkham Asylum clone that had no heart to it. Last week I decided to pick the game up while it was on sale and give a true try. Playing the game in its final form has changed my mind of it significantly. The game is flat out gorgeous and the renderings of familiar New York City landmarks is remarkable. For those that have been to the city, you be able to easily identify Madison Square Garden, Central Park, the Empire State Building, Freedom Tower, among others. The world itself feels as big as Arkham Knight, but with more interaction from the NPC’s that populate the world. The fight mechanics still seem to be a loose clone of Arkham, and hacking the comms towers feels like a cross between Arkham Asylum hacking with finding the towers in Assassin’s Creed. The dialog is great and the story is original enough to set it apart from the Marvel Universe, but has enough familiarity that any Spider-man fan will love.
The Game of the Year was God of War from Sony Santa Monica. The game was directed by Cory Barlow, who outside of being a genuinely great person when you talk to him, has been a part of this franchise since the beginning. I will be the first to admit, I have never been a fan of the God of War series, but this game made me truly care about Kratos and want to go back and play previous games. Visually the game is stunning. The detail on the mountains is truly breathtaking. The character detail is amazing as well. The game had a departure from its usual mechanics. No longer is the game rooted in Greek mythology. Moving the game to Norse mythology feels like a true natural evolution of the game. The games controls have undergone an update as well. Weapons controls have moved to the triggers freeing up more things to do with the primary buttons. Combat is extremely fluid, but it will also punish you for thinking you are too much of a god that you are untouchable. The story is top notch and the narrative pulls you into Kratos’ emotional world. Where the game shines is in the voice acting. It is on point and truly makes the characters feel fully realized. God of War, Sony Santa Monica, and Cory Barlog truly deserved every accolade they earned for their hard work.
Looking ahead to 2019, Sony is poised for a good year. At E3 2018 we got more information on several new exclusives coming to the system. Neil Druckman and the team at Naughty Dog gave us a pretty good look into The Last of Us Part II. Sucker Punch showed us that they value authenticity with their games when they unveiled Ghost of Tsushima. Finally, Hideo Kojima and Kojima Productions revealed a gorgeous trailer for their new game, Death Stranding. All three games, look absolutely breathtaking, but it feels like they are more than just PlayStation 4 games. We know Sony is working on the PlayStation 5. With the cancellation of PSX 2018, the announcement that Sony will not be at E3 2019, and the release of a holiday theme that seems to have a 5 instead of an S, the rumors have kicked into high gear. We beg to ask the question, is this the year we get to see what Sony is cooking up with the PlayStation 5?