Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and with the year almost closing out we need to use the eyes on the back of our heads to see what we were given during another difficult year for all. I put together a list of those games that helped keep me sane, and in the spirit of the list I’ve decided to use games that were released this year. Each one may receive a review in future, if it hasn’t been reviewed already, but each of them has been great fun to play and I recommend anyone to take advantage of any current or upcoming sales and start spending that Xmas money. In no particular order, please have fun reading:
Agent 47 has been an icon in gaming for many years, across different generations, and is pretty much the face of contract killing in the game world, along with his barcode cranium. A trilogy was released, as a revamp of sorts, that tried to bring back the sandbox stages of the earlier games, in which you are given a target, or targets, that must be eliminated in any way you choose. Hitman 3 is the latest and greatest, and with the correct access passes downloaded you can open up the locations from the first two games, giving you many more open-ended playgrounds of chaos. You can follow the story by watching the cinematics and completing each location in order, picking up the plot as you go along, or you can scrap that and just visit the places that interest you the most in any order you want.
Agent 47 must make his way through guards, civilians and cameras to bring down his enemies, and with espionage tactics at your disposal you can kill/knock out potential threats, disguise yourself as anyone, infiltrate using secret passageways or play it smart and eavesdrop to learn more. A scoring system that ranks you, and levels you up in competition against other players, is a simple motivation to perform at your best and unlock new outfits, spawn locations for the start, and new weapons that can either be concealed or bring the noise depending on your play style. Each mission is repeatable, and some events can be triggered by meeting the requirements, which can be hinted at via intel discovered, or by careful planning. It has its weird moments of game logic that seem too ridiculous to believe, but it was made to be both fun and a creative challenge and succeeds greatly at both, with different players each having their own stories they can tell.
(“Time to stop clowning around…”)
I reviewed this game earlier in the year and have barely put it down since its summer release. It has been fun, frustrating, frantic and fucking incredible, all at the same time. Chivalry is a first-person slasher and can be played in third person (if you’re weak), that typically pits two teams against one another, each being part of a faction, in different game modes. There are duelling modes, and a free-for-all, but due to the potential of playing 32 vs. 32 on a team objective that involves sieges I just play big and throw myself into the madness. Both factions have 4 classes, with three sub-classes for each, that determine your special ability, health, stamina, and weaponry choices, due to the roles they are expected to play.
My favourite would be the tanky Knight, mostly for survivability, and I would play as each sub class equally depending on my needs because he excels at holding the line and absorbing the hits, but also delivering a lot of damage when in a crowd. Attacks are a mix of vertical, horizontal and thrusts, which can be alternated, feinted and enhanced by holding the attack button. Players can kick to break a block, or jab to interrupt and attack, and by mixing up your moves you can become a whirlwind of death as you decapitate your enemies, pick up their heads and throw them at those pesky archers. Players will hilariously use emotes and chats lines with some goofy insults, throw items they’ve picked up, or in a last-ditch attempt to survive an encounter throw their weapon at a charging enemy. It’s a game of skill, but even a smart player with a low skill level can wrack up the kills with a tactical approach, and many games were won by the team with a much smaller kill count. Levelling up and earning gold unlocks more armour and weapon sets, voices, and other customization options, so you can show off the bling to prove how far you’ve come, before you die getting hit with a chicken that was set on fire.
(“Do you feel lucky, punk?”)
A game that only became apparent to me after discovering there was a first one, Judgement, thatwent under my radar until Lost Judgement came into being in September. It’s set in the same universe as the ultimate bad-ass Kazuma Kiryu of the Yakuza series, but with a very different protagonist in Takayuki Yagami. Rather than being a part of the criminal underworld you are on the right side of the law as a lawyer-turned-private detective. Lost Judgement has its own story that doesn’t require playing the first game to understand much, and with a tutorial at the beginning it is easy for new players to get to grips with how to play.(No explanation required!)
I haven’t gotten far into the story, but the gist so far is that Yagami and his associate have had their help requested by former acquaintances in another city that have also begun to privately detect what they are paid to. A case has been opened regarding bullying in a local high school, and involves suicide, sexual harassment and other sensitive topics. Everything does lead you towards the bad attitude of angry thugs that will appear dotted throughout each explorable city setting, a Yakuza trait that puts you in the fun spot of kicking some asshole’s cheeks. The combat style is different, as Kiryu was a street brawler, hitting hard and heavy, but Yagami uses Kung Fu based techniques.
Judgement had Yagami utilize the Crane style for crowd control, attacking quickly with a lot of sweeping moves to thump as many as possible, and Tiger style for harder hitting against single opponents. Lost Judgement brings them back with some spit polish and includes the Snake style, efficient at countering and disarming. The combat is as fun to watch as it is to play through and the sheer level of things to do, even playing a myriad of Sega arcade games, joining a Boxing gym (and using a secret 4th style), drone racing and laying the smack down on elitist prick kids, there is just no reason to put the controller down, other than to use the bathroom when there’s no more room in your undies.
(Ah, the magic of Kung Fu!)
Well, I suppose that’s it, a short and very sweet list of games I would consider having been excellent fun to play this year. I do have a longer list of releases I’m looking forward to in 2022, with a lot of hope that it will be a better year for all. With the PS5 and Xbox Series S/X being the penultimate in gaming consoles there needs to be a massive uplift in triple A games that really push the boundaries of technology, but also providing a great experience. I know that on my list to Santa, after wishing an end to world poverty, a comb for Boris Johnson’s hair and a brain for each and every politician, I’ll also ask for a great new year of gaming.
Well, that’s Jude’s best video games of 2021 list. What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below. Also don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel and if you’re feeling generous feel free to donate to our Patreon, thanks for reading.