Nods for the best graphics, storytelling, soundtrack, and more are all up for contention in the annual Metro video game awards.
2019 might not be going down in history as a standout year for video games but it hasn’t been any kind of disaster either, with plenty of difficult decisions required for our Top 20 of the year. By comparison, our yearly awards aren’t designed to celebrate the entirety of a game, but one particular element that they do very well – even if it’s at the expense of others. Although this year all the winners are great games in their own right. Well, except for the winner of the worst game of the year award…
Luigi’s Mansion 3 (Nintendo Switch)
This has always been an award for artistic, rather than technical achievement, which is why it’s often won by indie games that try to do something other than the usual photorealistic replication of the real world. But technical competence is important, and in both senses Luigi’s Mansion 3 manages to be the best looking game on the Switch. In fact, it’s so far beyond things like Pokémon and Fire Emblem it feels like it’s on a different system, with gloriously emotive cartoon animation and some great lighting effects.
It also features some of the most destructible scenery of any game this generation, which is odd as most of it doesn’t have much gameplay purpose. But describing Luigi’s Mansion 3 as an interactive animated movie really doesn’t feel like hyperbole, and shows just what can be done with the right artistic and technical expertise on even modestly powered hardware.
Runner-up: Resident Evil 2 (XO/PS4/PC)
Baba Is You (NS/PC)
We’ve given this award to both hardware and software in the past but, again, it’s most commonly indie games that win – and none more deservedly so than Baba Is You. Its premise is that you can manipulate the game world by switching around the little three-part sentences that describe each stage. Change Rock is Push to Rock is You and suddenly you are the rock, or take out the stop from Wall Is Stop and suddenly you can walk through it.
You’re not just changing the world but the internal logic of the game, in a way that’s reminiscent of basic programming but feels much more organic and gamified than other attempts at the same idea. It all works brilliantly well and helps create one of the best games of the year.
Runner-up: John Wick Hex (PC)
Format of the year
Unlike previous years there’s no clear stand out in terms of the various formats this year, a sign perhaps of the imminent replacement of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Nobody had a bad year, although a number of the Switch’s more prominent releases – such as Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Pokémon Sword/Shield turned out to be good rather than great.
And so the PC wins essentially by default, although there were a number of excellent exclusives this year, including Total War: Three Kingdoms, Sunless Skies, John Wick Hex, Devotion, and Asgard’s Wrath. No matter what happens to consoles the PC is always a safe pair of hands and that’s been proven yet again this year.
Runner-up: Nintendo Switch
Remake of the year
Resident Evil 2 (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC)
Thank goodness we already had this award category from previous years, or it would look like we invented it just to lavish more praise on Resident Evil 2. Not that it doesn’t deserve it. The Resident Evil 1 remake from 2002 is still one of the best ever but this reimagining of the PS1 sequel with an over-the-shoulder Resident Evil 4 style view works perfectly.
The graphics are phenomenal but what’s most impressive about it, and runner-up Link’s Awakening, is that the underling level design, structure, and even some of the puzzles are still exactly the same as they were in 1998. As a result of this anticipation for Resident Evil 3 is already off the scale – and frankly any other Capcom classic of the era (we are so hoping for Dino Crisis).
Runner-up: The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Nintendo Switch)
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