Editor’s Note: Neal Sayatovich is guest hosting this week for his wife, Michelle. So, expect some classic Skirmisher-like ranting from Neal.
The year 2022 has been a long one. Everything we buy has gotten more expensive, war has broken out, and as this column is being written we are in the midst of a massive cold spell that has killed at least ten people in the state where I live. This adds a bit of melancholy to my year in review. I will talk about some of the games I’ve played in 2022 and will give some awards at the end of this column.
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes
One of our newest reviewers wrote this one up, but I was very much playing Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes as well. This title was a very mixed bag for me. I was happy that it was not a collection of random heroes for nostalgia nerds overlaying a nonsensical storyline. At the same time, it also decided to be an absolute slog of a game that padded itself for the sake of length. The Golden Deer campaign took me close to sixty hours to complete. There are still two other storylines, and there is no Warriors game on this green earth that I’d want to spend 180 hours of my life playing. I also feel there was a missed opportunity to make a game like Dynasty Warriors: Empires.
Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
You all knew this game had to be on this list. It’s probably the most anticipated game since the last Modern Warfare 2, and this one was the only slam dunk I had this year. I had a pretty rough go with the beta, but as I expected, the issues I saw were worked out by the time the finished version of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 came out. Activision puts out pretty polished titles, and this was no exception. They also pulled out the stops with a new story and some great character development. The only side effect now is that there is a new bar for shooters, and it will be hard for other titles to reach it, especially on the multiplayer side. That said, the fact that a first person shooter has a solid single player campaign and is not just online multiplayer is a win for me.
Pokémon Scarlet and Violet
I cannot think of a more enigmatic title for the year. There was so much to love and so much to hate with Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. There were some great innovations coupled with mind boggling errors. I would not go as far as calling this game a canary in a coalmine for the longevity of the series, but it is likely going to be a wakeup call to Nintendo and The Pokémon Company that people expect stability over novelty. The open world was fantastic and had an interesting story mechanic that was better than I expected, and the new generation of Pokémon were interesting and well designed. Hopefully, they can patch the errors and some DLC will take the game where it needs to go.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands
This game easily was my most disappointing one of the year. The Borderlands 2 DLC Attack on Dragon Keep was probably one of the best games I played recently. Yeah, it was the looting and shooting of Borderlands in a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. But it made clever digs at gaming pop culture and titles such as Dark Souls. At the same time, it followed the group helping Tina get over Roland’s death and showed how people can use escapism to process loss.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands had none of that. It had some amazing voice actors such as Will Arnett, Wanda Sykes, and Andy Samberg, but the characters felt lifeless. The gameplay was like Borderlands but now with repetitive dungeons, and the writing felt phoned in. Even established characters took a step back. This makes me less hopeful for a Borderlands 4.
Fresh Look’s Award Winners
A Note From Neal: These are just some of the games I’ve played this year that I feel deserve an award.
Best Game of the Year: Beholder 3
Beholder 3 had me the most emotionally involved of any of the ones I’ve played this year. Its choice system may not be as visceral as This War Of Mine or Papers Please, but it will give a gut punch or two and leave you second guessing yourself.
One thing I like about the Beholder titles is that there is a list of ever-changing laws of the land, and you have to look up the exact code that was violated before an arrest report can be sent out. These laws can include items such as not allowing dancing or even crying.
Runner Up: Expeditions: Rome
Expeditions: Rome is easily one of the best tactical combat and light role-playing games that you can pick up right now. Seriously, go over to Steam and give it a try. If you are at all into tactical combat, interesting characters, the Roman era, or just good, solid gameplay, then Expeditions: Rome won’t disappoint.
Most Disappointing Game: Tiny Tina’s Wonderland
See related details above; a title devoid of soul that even messed up established characters.
Runner Up: Pokemon Scarlet & Violet
Weirdest Game: Mario & Rabbids: Sparks of Hope
I don’t think there are nearly enough drugs that I could consume that would lead me to write and develop this monstrosity. You can read my review, but long story short: I still have sock puppet nightmares.
Let’s hope 2023 can shake up the game industry. I plan to play more video games this coming year, and will give you all a better list next year. Stay safe, and remember when dealing with heavy snowfall to dig yourself out of your house using your legs, not your back.