It’s been a funny old year. But rather than focus on the negatives or the divisive, it’s worth remembering some great things happened. And rather than an endless list, we’re focusing on what meant to the most to us personally. If you haven’t checked out Qaz’s highlights, it’s worth a read before I respectfully disagree with him.
Gaming in 2016 Saw Legends Fall:
Much of my videogame consumption revolves around racing games and first-person shooters. Call me Mr Mainstream if you like, but for more than a decade, the staples have been Halo (for both the gameplay and mythology – I’m a sucker for slightly cheesy sci-fi), and Call of Duty for multiplayer.
I think that may be over. I was late to the Destiny party, but worked hard on catching up. And dived straight into the Rise of Iron when it was released in September. The tale of the Iron Lords wasn’t the best game narrative I’ve experienced, but it was enough to frame the new content, and that included the Halloween Festival of the Lost and the Christmas Dawning event including Sparrow Racing returning.
Despite the release of the most interesting Battlefield in years, and Infinite Warfare bundling Modern Warfare remastered, when it comes to jumping on for a relatively quick game of multiplayer FPS, there’s really one highlight.
It’s quick to pick up, simple to understand, and the lack of performance bonuses for experienced players makes it less intimidating until you see the skills of the pros.
Basically, if you’re not going to bother making an FPS feel ‘real’ (whether that’s modern combat or sci-fi), then why not combine depth and fun.
The other highlight for me continues to be the Xbox One version of Rocket League, which also offers surprising depth for a relatively simple concept. Despite the release of Forza Horizon 3, Assetto Corsa and more DLC for Project Cars, there’s no game involving automotives or sport which can make me cry out with joy and frustration on such a regular basis…
Celluloid Robots and Preachers:
I’d agree with Qaz that Go 8 Bit is a debut highlight of the year. But The Grand Tour is basically notable for how close it has carbon copied Top Gear (both good and bad), even when it desperately needs to evolve.
The second season of Mr Robot probably didn’t hit quite as high notes as the first, but remains one of the most interesting and timely series around.
But a personal highlight for me was the fact that Preacher was able to not only adapt something potentially difficult to visualise in real life, and did a brilliant job of it.
You may have expected Joe Gilgun to be entertaing as Irish hard-drinking vampie Cassidy, but Dominic Cooper and Ruth Negga did a brilliant job of making the characters their own. As did the rest of the cast, which is all the more challenging when you’re not just adapting literary characters, but those who were given iconic looks by Preacher artists Steve Dillon. The sad news of his passing in October was followed by the news production of season 2 was about to begin.
As for film?
Bookending the start and end of the year with two new Star Wars films. Going to see them both with my son, and being able to somehow avoid spoilers. And the fact that either one was a decent addition to the franchise, and more enjoyable than the prequels.
Sounds & Other Stuff:
There were some brilliant records released in 2016, and one personal highlight was Hopelessness from Anohni, which can suck you in with a sumptuous electronic soundtrack, and then hit you with challenging lyrics when you pay more attention.
Metallica were back with a pretty good album in Hardwired. And despite not being the most radical indie rock, Honeyblood’s Babes Never Die provided a earworms that took a fair while to shift.
But for me the real highlight has been embracing the Spotify Release Radar playlist. I’d been OK with their recommendations on the Discover Weekly offering for a while, but didn’t realise how good the algorithm would be at also highlighting the newest songs out I’d enjoy.
My favourite recent example was providing Snooza, the latest lilting Swedish-language indie pop from Sakert!, followed by Nine Inch Nails’ Burning Bright. Both of which I loved and immediately squirreled away for future listening.
Other quick highlights?
- The Wicked and The Divine remains a brilliant comic for anyone who enjoys music and graphic novels.
- Exploding Kittens provided hours of hilarious card game fun for 3 generations of my family over Christmas
- As the father of a child who aspires to pro gaming and vlogging stardom (alongside becoming an explorer, astronaut, and more), I really enjoyed reading ‘My Embarrassing Dad’s Gone Viral’ by Ben Davis with him.
Think that’ll do for now…