Best in Class Part: One / 19th of February 2015
It’s been just under eighteen months since the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were released, in that time we’ve seen some underwhelming launch games, impressive remasters and maybe even a future classic or two. With that in mind let’s have a round-up of the best games currently available in each of their respective genres, and who knows maybe you’ll be inclined to pick up something you missed, or forgot about, on release day.
The First-Person Shooter
Easily the most saturated of the genres, the first-person shooter explosion of the previous generation is in no sign of slowing down just yet. Practically straight from the get-go we’ve had a veritable smorgasbord of FPS games to sink our time into such as the now excellent, but borderline unplayable during its first few months Battlefield 4, the franchise reinvigorating Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, and more recently the underwhelming Evolve. Of all choices available, a lot admittedly will come down to personal preference, but that being said there are still some shooters that have managed to shake up the status quo, or which can be pointed to as the pinnacle of all that’s been refined over the past decade.
It’s a toss-up between two on this one I feel, and although it now runs it close, EA and Dice’s Battlefield 4 is piped by EA’s other major entry to the FPS sphere, Xbox One exclusive Titanfall. Developed by Respawn entertainment, a team comprised mainly of ex-Infinity Ward staff, Titanfall was the game that managed to take Call of Duty’s twitch shooter speed and turn it up to eleven. By giving players the chance to transition seamlessly between traditional infantry combat and vehicular mayhem, in the form of every otaku and tech geek’s wet dream, a three storey armoured mech. From the MechWarrior games of the nineties, Japanese anime such as Gundam Wing, right through to the terrifyingly brutal Steel Battalion and its ridiculous peripheral control console, there’s always been something fundamentally satisfying about charging into a fight whilst piloting a big fuck off robot.
With mechs in their game, and having it play just as we’ve always imagined but had been seldom realised, Respawn could have left things there. Titanfall would probably have been a successful first outing no doubt, but its less showy innovations are what merited its critical success. They’re what’s truly impressive about the game and why it’s our pick for best first-person shooter. Of course what I’m referring to, it’s the inclusion of not only the easy to learn, hard to master parkour that compliments the mech combat so perfectly, but more significantly the inclusion of A.I. grunts throughout every multiplayer match. It may not sound like much, but in truth their inclusion was twofold and helped give the game truly mass appeal. If you weren’t so good at the speedy Call of Duty style combat, then these easy to knock off grunts serve to give even the most bumbling player a sense that their contributing to the fight. I’ve had more than my share of close games that were decided by low ranking players learning the ropes via grunt and spectre kills. It’s was a truly great idea from Respawn made all the more impressive by its simplicity and ranks alongside the likes of Gears of War’s active reload system as an underappreciated masterstroke.
The Racing Game/Driving Simulator (Whatever You Want to Call it)
Much like shooters the racing genre has quite a generous selection of games to choose from. Perhaps there’s something about a new console generation that gets car fanatics all pro-active, but much like the PS3 and Xbox 360 before it, this generation has been inundated with driving games straight from day one. There’s no doubting the genre is a good graphical benchmark for testing out just how much of a leap the latest hardware is, but recently there’s been a push away from the more traditional track based racing games and into something sandbox-like - or at least more real world environments - whilst still keeping the focus on high end supercars.
That’s something that I’ve absolutely no objection to, favouring rally games over the sterile and repetitive track based racing is something I’ve been doing for years, and if I can have the best of both worlds in exciting racecourses without restricting car selection then all the better. But with that being said keep it within the bounds of reason, Forza Horizon 2 may exploit the beauty of the Italian countryside all it likes but when Lamborghinis and Ferraris start cutting across fields and driving like nitro-infused Land Rovers I have to draw the line. Aside from that the entire clubbing festival and almost yuppie like tone of Playground Games take on the open world racer means that though some might object I just can’t justify it as today’s racing game of choice.
So if I can’t take a track based traditional racer, and the open world of Forza Horizon 2 is out of the question what am I, and anyone with sense left with? It certainly won’t be Ubisoft’s criminally unimaginative empty world simulator The Crew - or ‘Assassin’s Car’ - as it’s been rightly renamed by the online community. It looks as if, even though it was broken almost as completely as Battlefield 4 was at launch, and its PS Plus version is still yet to materialise, Evolution Studios and Sony exclusive DriveClub is the best the genre has to offer as of today. Since its problematic launch the game’s seen more than a few updates and has had additional content gifted to owners by way of an apology. It may not make up for the bad name it earned but should you pick up DriveClub now then the game is something really worth getting into. Perhaps not a classic for the ages, but with the best weather effects in any game you can care to mention, and with track variety ranging from beautiful snow strew Norwegian coast roads to breath-taking Japanese mountainsides, DriveClub is a racing game that has something that few others do, a personality and style that’s not repellent or - in the case of most track simulators - nowhere to be seen. It’s not anywhere near as good an out and out racer as it, but not since Project Gotham Racing 4 has any racing game really managed to convince me of this and so DriveClub is our racing game of choice.
Well that’s all for now in our look at the best games in each respective genre, conveniently enough for the partisan fanboys out there that’s one each on exclusives for both Xbox One and PS4. The series will pick up again next week as we continue our sophisticated and very scientific selection process of which games we think are either good, or at best, the least shit.