Jump to content

The RLLMUK Game of the Year Awards 2020 - Currently Showing: The Game of the Year!


Jolly
 Share

Recommended Posts

45 minutes ago, Jolly said:

2. The Last of Us Part 2

 

820853957_lastofus.thumb.jpg.09f7b2103764d8f11a8145be3273c5c8.jpg

 

If you could cast your mind back to the hazy days of January last year – when we could all touch each other’s faces with gay abandon – the RLLMUK 2019 Game of the Year awards was rocked by a scandal that shook the forum to its very core. The computer game “Gears 5” managed to make its way to number 13 in the countdown. Perhaps we should have seen the signs that COVID had already landed on our shores – I struggle to think of a surer indicator of a loss of taste – but the thread was momentarily overrun by a discussion on how these awards should be presented. Were they supposed to be a passionate, joyful celebration of your favourite games of the year or were they a chance for the me and the crew to present opinions honestly, regardless of whether we agreed with you or not?

 

I know which way I fell on – why on Earth would I spend hours on this if it wasn’t for an opportunity to show off – but I could also see the other side if I took my glasses off and squinted really hard. So when we started compiling the votes for 2020 and could see from a mile off that this issue was going to rear its fungal invested head again with The Last of Us Part 2 – a game that none of us had played and nor had any great desire to – I really wanted to find a way to convey why you all rate it so highly without compromising my journalistic principles (lol) and also without having to play the fucking thing.

 

So! I’ve made my way through the forum thread and stitched together the following review made entirely out of your words. This means is that I get to avoid any confrontation (and I think we could all do without a fight about a videogame right now) and you guys get to think ‘yes, we are right and Jolly is wrong’ - which is such a rare emotion for anyone to experience it would be cruel for me to take it away from you.

 

Over to you then. This is why The Last of Us Part 2 is your Game of the Year Part 2.

 

--

 

I can't stop playing this.  And when I'm not playing it, I'm thinking about it. 

 

I don’t even know where to begin, it’s absolutely amazing.  I'm close to tears, just at the intro. 

 

Naughty Dog are bloody wizards. Damn, this is so far ahead of anything else on the PS4 graphically that if you’d told me it was a PS5 game I would have believed you. I can’t believe how smoothly it runs and of course the animation is something else. It’s the little details, the death throes of fallen foes, the way their bodies just come to a standstill and then stay where they fell, the way the blood pools around them, the way it soaks into the snow, the perfectly realised arterial spray and it’s placement. Good God it's a technical marvel. I'd urge anyone to at the very least have a good look at it. Can't remember the last time I was so bowled over by graphics.

 

The gameplay is something else. The environments are so dense that encounters can play out millions of different ways, but you’re always on the back foot feeing like you’re improvising against the odds. That must be so hard to balance. The new additions, especially prone and squeezing through gaps, make good use of the dense environments and really elevate things beyond the first. The many little tweaks to the meshing gears of the combat systems have big implications despite all seeming iterative. Encounters play out like 20-30 minute one-take sequences which are somehow energising and gruelling at the same time.

 

They really ease you into the combat. First small buildings with a few infected. Then a couple of humans. Then more open environments. Some Scramblers. Then some dogs and before you know it, you jump through windows, sprint over rooftops, crawl through grass, hide under beds, place traps and desperately try to find a safe spot to bandage yourself while groups of humans and dogs hunt you, all in the same encounter. 

 

It’s really good. I mean really good. I barely breathed for about 20 minutes towards the end of Day 2. Bloody hell that was intense. The way the pressure is always on with the dogs and very active, aggressive AI means you can't just hole up in a corner somewhere and pick the enemy off at leisure, it's stick, move, stick, move, a constant readjustment on the fly of your tactics and the use of all of your weapons and abilities. Even small areas are packed with combat opportunities, hidden objectives and alternative routes, the replayability through some of these sections will be amazing. I love stealth done well and this is pretty much as good as it gets. The way the violence escalates and spikes is brilliantly done

 

I know that the acoustic soundtrack is very similar to the first game but there's also some heart-rending ambient drone stuff going on here which is tearing me apart. I've just played through a section that is one of the greatest things I've ever experienced in a game and that music will stay with me for a long time. 

 

It’s like the first game but everything looks, sounds and feels more slick. Exploring the world can sometimes be an exercise in ‘find the walls’ but it so well disguised I can’t blame the game for this because the play area feels really rich and responds in the way you’d expect - there are, unfortunately, some painted-on doors but they’re few and far between. The pacing and combat are improved over the original. The combat is an improved version of what they tried with the later Uncharted games. Punching someone square in the face now really gives a sense of weight. 

 

As for the actual story...Holy fuck. I’m starting to feel a bit physically sick while playing. Not from the gratuitous violence or the plot specifics, but the relentless oppression of being hunted, the sensation of bad choices and regrets being compounded on top of each other, and the possibilities brewing in my head from various Chekhov’s guns seen earlier. the characters are well drawn and I'm having a nice time getting to know them. I think anyone suggesting it does anything new for storytelling in video games should go and play Outer Wilds, but for what this is, essentially hours and hours of walking around as exposition is barked at you, it's clearly best in class. And with that combat system there's a really nice blend between the big HBO story they're telling, and the much smaller stories that I get to tell when they crop up via the emergent combat systems. 

 

This game is the closest I think I’ve seen to Kojima levels of excess, without the soft porn female characters and hamburger recipes. It’s like they took every cool idea for a game sequence they’d had for the past five years and decided to use all of them. I'd give anything to be able to experience it all for the first time again.  Just don’t want it to be over, like a teen on their first holiday without their parents. I’ve loved games before but never been so blown away by the various components that make this so great. 

 

It's relentlessly grim, unforgivingly harrowing and at times almost unbearably tense.

 

It's also the best game I've ever played and a bona fide masterpiece

 

--

(With many thanks to Stanley, Marlew, Bucky, GamesGamesGames, Uncle Nasty, Moz, womblingfree, Majora, Vemsie, Stopharage, BitterToad, MansizeRooster, JoeK, Popo, Spacehost, Pinholestar and Timmo)

--

 

 

Thor

I never wanted a sequel, but here we are, with a sequel that is truly worthy. Another stunning technical achievement on aging hardware, but this takes the characters from the first game into uncharted (hoho) territory. A brilliant tale of revenge told in an interesting way. A fantastic game. 

 

LaveDisco

a company cursed by ludonarrative dissonance, intentionally make an entire game about it. A phenomenal achievement. 

 

Hylian

Actually managed to better than the original game in every way. Superb story, drama, gameplay, graphics, sound. Almost perfection. 10. 

 

Opinionated Ham Scarecrow

I completed it twice, back to back. I've never done that before. I just couldn't let it go. The first game is probably up there as goat for me so for this to live up to that expectation was quite the thing.

 

imp

I think the general criticism of this game has been unfairly harsh. I agree with a lot of the specific points held up against it, but can’t help feel that the discussion around the game has been overwhelmingly focused on its flaws rather than its successes, and the game has basically been getting slammed for falling short of its own ambition. Yes, there’s ludo-narrative dissonance, yes, the moral dilemma presented to the player is one that is in no way applicable to anyone who has ever lived, but when you see so many games receiving praise for unambitious but emotionally simple stories that are essentially straight out of children’s books, I think games like this one, which have had considerable thought and effort put into them to try and move the needle, are absolutely praiseworthy even if the results are mixed. Plus, even if the story isn’t satisfying as a whole, the presentation and acting in each cutscene is beyond anything that I’ve seen before or since. Putting the story aside, I think there’s real magic in the weightiness of how it plays, as well. Coupled with the phenomenally set-dressed environments, it lifts the gameplay beyond the bones of the game’s mechanics, and I enjoyed almost every second I was in control.

 

Alan Stock

Even despite the flaws, this is a tour de force on many levels. An incredible technical achievement where I could only gape at the detail of the environments and characters. A brave story taking massive risks and sort of pulling it off. A compelling evolution of the stealth combat of the first game in well designed combat arenas. Amazing set pieces and environment design. Loads of memorable moments. Great acting and cutscenes so real-looking it's easy to forget you're playing a game. Polished to a sheen and full of insane attention to detail. I didn't want it to end. Only let down by pacing issues and a story which doesn't quite achieve what it was aiming for. Emotionally affected me in a much deeper way than I expected.

 

Jamie John

The Last of Us 2 made me cry, and I think that's amazing - a videogame, a medium which, not that long ago, was thought of as just a series of beeping shapes and lines on a screen, being able to make a grown man cry his eyes out, and a grown man who (without wanting to sound macho) doesn’t really cry at anything, is incredible. It's a testament to how far games have come, but it's a bigger testament to the quality of NaughtyDog’s storytelling: this is the best written, best acted, best voiced game I have ever played. I was entirely invested from the first minute to the last, thirty hours later, intrigued to the point where I regularly played it until the early hours of the morning, and I thought the game absolutely justified its runtime.

 

 

 

 

I didn't write any of those, did I? Crikey, don't recall having any of that to say haha.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks to you all for the hard work in figuring out the rankings and all the write ups. My taste never seems to fully align with the rest of the forum, but I can't feel too hard done by with the results this year. Especially pleased with SOR4's finishing position. What I will say though is that if I had played Monster Train earlier I think that would have made my number 2 spot as I have put in a serious amount of hours into that game since December. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Animal Crossing is the game of the year unless you bought it for your partner who made the main character on your island then got bored after a few weeks so you constantly have to log in as their character to progress anything or do any major construction projects / improvements but you can't delete them as they still come back to it occasionally and there's no way of changing the town mayor.

 

If you're in that situation, it's fucking bullshit.

 

Same if you have kids that share a Switch I imagine.

 

And don't even get me started on the online.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not surprised at AC winning at all. Not my cup of tea, but I know it was brilliant for so many last year. I'm just happy Half Life: Alyx made the list, let alone almost getting in the top 10. :)

 

Massive thanks to @Jolly and the gang for all the efforts, and for asking me to contribute to the alternate awards. :hat:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ah, what a culmination of a wonderful awards thread! Loved the concept of constructing your Last of Us 2 review from other people's snippets. It's been a pleasure to check in every day and read something new in article-quality writing from both the organisers and quotes from forumites about last year's triumphs, I'm honestly going to miss it. Special shout out to the alternative awards highlighting games we don't know - or just making us laugh (trailers, damn you got me man!). Thanks all!

 

One thing not mentioned about Animal Crossing in the writeup which deserves highlighting is the amazing music. After a few days when things start unlocking, you finally get access to the full suite of tunes, a different one for each hour of real-time. I'd daily deliberately log on at 10am just to experience this wonderful tune, it pumped me up and motivated me for the rest of the day, and it just sums up the whole atmosphere of the game: upbeat, chill and funky! 2020 was a shit year for real life but it was a hell of a year for gaming, we were truly blessed with a boatload of stunners!

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jolly well done to everyone involved with this year's awards. As mentioned numerous times up-thread, the writing quality and style has often been much, much better than just about anything I have seen on any professional site over the last year, but with the added bonus of a personal rllmuk twist and piss jokes. Just superb stuff.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you everyone for doing this, thoroughly enjoyed reading all the comments and reviews - just brilliant. 
 

So pleased Animal Crossing won but totally believe LOU2 deserves its place too.

 

:)

 

p.s. my daughter informed me the other day her play time on AC is now 550 hours, obviously a lot of that was due to lockdown but even so :blink: I was dually shocked and also a little bit proud :blush:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Excellent taste and choices for the top two games this year. 

TLOUp2 is by far my game of the year. It's an absolutely astonishing synergy between game-play and story-telling in the medium. No other game has come close for me.

Animal Crossing is by far my most played game this year, and the most time I've ever put into a game in the series... so also excellent to see it here. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 I’ve been playing most of the top 20 over the last week or two. Personally my top 3 would be Yakuza, Cyberpunk and Paper Mario as I think they were all utterly amazing, but I can’t moan as I didn’t vote. 
 

Glad Demon Souls didn’t take the top spot as my own take is that games of its ilk are against one of my core beliefs that games should be as inclusive as possible.

 

Did Immortals get a look in?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I fucking new The Last Of Us 2 would get beaten by a cartoon animal game. Everyone is so tired of living in a dystopian apocalypse is which they rejected it despite it being the game of our times. We had a chance to double down and really imagine what would happen if we we continue to be consumed by hatred, but we were so bored by COVID and Trump and Brexit that we couldn’t appreciate a story about cute kids growing up into ruthless killers, with a side order of horse splatter and dog entrails.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I mean, I refused to play it because I outright reject the core thesis of Neil Druckmann's regarding the unversality of hate and how he wanted to demonstrate and reflect that emotion in players, and from what I've read and seen (even including e.g. deeply positive, wildly spoilerific takes on the game) that's very much how the whole thing plays out. I just don't find "humans by their nature are inevitably inclined towards revenge and this will drive eternal cycles of violence" as a particularly worthwhile interpretation of people or of society, and even with death of the author in mind, I'm actively disinclined to play a game predicated on that idea. (Particularly when it's the sequel to a game I didn't like in the first place)

 

For anyone who doesn't particularly want to visit the Washington Post, but is interested in what Druckmann was aiming for, the opening paragraphs summarise it pretty well:

 

Spoiler

The formulation for Ellie’s turn toward darkness can be traced back to the year 2000. Then in his early 20s, Druckmann witnessed news footage of a crowd lynching two Israeli soldiers in the West Bank. “And then they cheered afterward,” Druckmann, who grew up in Israel, recalls. “It was the cheering that was really chilling to me. … In my mind, I thought, ‘Oh, man, if I could just push a button and kill all these people that committed this horrible act, I would make them feel the same pain that they inflicted on these people.’"

 

The feeling faded, though. Eventually, he looked back and felt “gross and guilty” for his intense feelings. With “The Last of Us Part II,” he wanted to explore that emotional tumult on a didactic level.

 

“I landed on this emotional idea of, can we, over the course of the game, make you feel this intense hate that is universal in the same way that unconditional love is universal?” Druckmann says. “This hate that people feel has the same kind of universality. You hate someone so much that you want them to suffer in the way they’ve made someone you love suffer.”

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Having deleted Twitter off my phone, but still wanting something to scroll through whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, I have really, really enjoyed reading these. Reading others’ enthusiasm for games I may never play, some that I might play, and some that I have played, is a strange joy, especially as things don’t seem to be getting much chirpier in the real world right now. 
 

And the replies have been interesting and thoughtful, too. 
 

Thank you. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Wiper, if you didn't like the first game then I doubt you'd like TLOU2, but, for the record [ending spoilers]

Spoiler

by the end of the game, Ellie does come to realise the futility of revenge, how it doesn't bring her any closure, and the game (ultimately) is very critical of the idea of reciprocal, cyclical violence. It just takes a lot of violence on Ellie's part before she comes to that realisation. I wouldn't go so far as to say that the end of the game is optimistic, but it's not relentlessly bleak, either. Ellie doesn't achieve redemption, but she's definitely a different person from the character we meet at the outset. I'm very excited to see where the writers take her character in the all-but inevitable third part of the trilogy, and the fact that I'm writing that sentence about a videogame says a lot, I think.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Spoiler

Yeah, I know how it ends (amongst other bits and pieces I've absorbed, the loving Noah Caldwell-Gervais video I linked discusses the game without any reluctance to discuss its ending or story beats throughout). I just don't find the ending particularly compelling in that regard, though - that the psychopathic murder spree finally ends with its perpetrator sort of letting go after merely maiming her opponent still returns to the logic that the hatred has to 'run its course' before it can be shut off, particularly as it is only reflected in the monstrous 'both-sides-are-wrong' portrayal of post-outbreak Seattle. It's just too cynical a world view for me to get behind, much as I found the presentation of Joel's warped self-centred pseudo-fatherhood in TLOU to be presented in too disturbingly sympathetic a light.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Wiper, I don't see the relevance of whether a game's underpinning theme is or is not a worthwhile interpretation of society/people. Surely you'd play almost no games if you were always looking for that?

 

edit: To slightly counter my own post, I guess Animal Crossing could be a good interpretation. Bringing people together. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh, that's a completely fair comment, and yeah, there are plenty of games where that bothers me not in the slightest; they tend to be less heavily focussed on their narrative aspects, however. Like, to take a game I'm currently enjoying very much: every Hitman game's story is utter bobbins, but it's all presented as part of a game of slapstick excess, and the lengths it goes to try and justify Agent 47's actions* are almost endearing in their stupidity. That the on-the-nose story is all about absurd cabals of villains that need murdering with extreme prejudice doesn't bother me because there's no point at which the game tries to make its story convincing, barely even bothering to flesh out its main characters.

 

But in a game where story is front and centre, and presented with extreme sincerity and no expense spared to tell the story in as compelling a manner as possible (and where authorial intent has explicitly been discussed, by the author no less, on multiple occasions), I'm more bothered if the game is peddling a message and world-view that I disagree with!

 

 

*presumably ignoring any of the times where the player inevitably fucks up and goes on a killing spree

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One particularly interesting thing about TLOU2 to me is that after the immediate assorted backlash waves from various quarters (misogynists, people who didn't get what they wanted, people with reasonable grievances about the themes or execution) there was a narrative that 'everyone forgot about it' shortly after release. It was often framed as 'crunch hundreds of people to death and spend hundreds of millions of dollars for a game nobody is even talking about two weeks later'. 

 

I understood why it was the most legitimate, go-to target for AAA cuntery (until Cyberpunk), yet the idea that it offered nothing more than a bit of cheap momentary controversy seemed very odd to me. I felt that the claim was more wishful thinking or a failed attempt at a dunk to exorcise the lingering frustrations. Nevertheless, I heard it so often that I assumed that I was a relative outlier after the dust had settled. But I guess not. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was impressed by a lot of what TLOU2 did and it would've made a top 10 for me, because it's a very exciting and atmospheric action game. But I could never love it, and it definitely left a bad taste, in line with what @Wiper says. The success of the finale seems to rest on you buying into that near-total pessimism about humanity, so it seems like something of note. It's bleak in a one-note way, which fails to interrogate its own assumptions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

15 minutes ago, BadgerFarmer said:

I was impressed by a lot of what TLOU2 did and it would've made a top 10 for me, because it's a very exciting and atmospheric action game. But I could never love it, and it definitely left a bad taste, in line with what @Wiper says. The success of the finale seems to rest on you buying into that near-total pessimism about humanity, so it seems like something of note. It's bleak in a one-note way, which fails to interrogate its own assumptions.

 

Spoiler

But the ending isn't pessimistic. Ellie lets Abby live, then Abby and the kid escape and find refuge in Santa Barbara (or at least that's what's heavily implied by the change to the title screen). Ellie returns to an empty house, yes, but she's learnt that revenge ultimately doesn't bring her happiness and we see that she has the capacity for change (unlike Joel, in many ways) and that there is the possibility for her redemption. The final flashback scene, where we see her telling Joel that she's going to try to forgive him, shows that she's finally come to terms with his death, and what he did to her.

 

I think that hate definitely serves as a catalyst in this story, and it's what drives the plot, but, in the end, the game is more about grief - what grief can cause us to do, but also what we can do to overcome it. Just like the first game.

 

I fully expect part 3 to be about Ellie tracking down Dinah and attempting to reunite with her, trying to earn her forgiveness and show she's changed in the same way that Joel did with Ellie in this game. At least until he got his head caved in.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

37 minutes ago, Jamie John said:

 

  Hide contents

But the ending isn't pessimistic. Ellie lets Abby live, then Abby and the kid escape and find refuge in Santa Barbara (or at least that's what's heavily implied by the change to the title screen). Ellie returns to an empty house, yes, but she's learnt that revenge ultimately doesn't bring her happiness and we see that she has the capacity for change (unlike Joel, in many ways) and that there is the possibility for her redemption. The final flashback scene, where we see her telling Joel that she's going to try to forgive him, shows that she's finally come to terms with his death, and what he did to her.

 

I think that hate definitely serves as a catalyst in this story, and it's what drives the plot, but, in the end, the game is more about grief - what grief can cause us to do, but also what we can do to overcome it. Just like the first game.

 

I fully expect part 3 to be about Ellie tracking down Dinah and attempting to reunite with her, trying to earn her forgiveness and show she's changed in the same way that Joel did with Ellie in this game. At least until he got his head caved in.

 

Yeah, I get that but

Spoiler

I never felt that Ellie was redeemable by the end. The implication is that what she's done up to that point is somehow just the actions of a flawed human, swept up by grief. But actually she's a monster - what she does goes far beyond any kind of comprehensible reaction. So I think it only works if we have a very low opinion of humanity in the first place, so that terrible acts seem normal and the smallest gesture of love or forgiveness appears like some kind of redeeming miracle.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Down by Law - yes, I agree that the gameplay often gets overlooked, and it is, indeed, excellent. The unrelenting intensity of it is second to none. Some people give it flak for being too on-rails, but (apart from a couple or set pieces, like the car bit in Hillcrest) I didn't see that criticism at all - each enemy encounter is like a mini sandbox and it's entirely down to the player how they choose to proceed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. Use of this website is subject to our Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Guidelines.