PopPunkPanda's Best of 2018!

Its that time again...

My "Best of 2017" did really well last year, so here's 2018's biggest and brightest!

Movies:

3) Deadpool 2

Easily the funniest movie on this list (which admittedly is very superhero focused this year!), Deadpool 2 isn't quite as good as it's predecessor but it's damn close. It's still smart, it's still violent, and it's still silly, anchored by an impressively nuanced Ryan Reynolds' performance and Josh Brolin's second supervillain of the year (see below).

2) Avengers:Infinity War

Just as the initial Avengers movie in 2012 seemed an impossible undertaking, Infinity War shouldn't work. Stitching together dozens of characters, subplots and relationships into a patchwork that is STILL somehow expertly paced, everyone has their chance to shine - even Josh Brolin's exceptional performance as Thanos. I cannot wait for the next movie!

1) Black Panther

A cultural phenomenon and an incredibly important piece of cinema both in terms of superhero movies and the medium in general, Ryan Coogler's first Marvel movie is a celebration of African culture. Kendrick Lamar's soundtrack is excellent, and in Michael B Jordan the MCU has a new high watermark for villainy. Exemplary.

Music

10) Fall Out Boy - MANIA

9) Dance Gavin Dance - Artificial Selection

8) Trash Boat - Crown Shyness

7) The Weeknd - My Dear Melancholy

6) Silent Planet - Where The End Began

5) Architects - Holy Hell

4) The 1975 - A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships

3) The Story So Far - Proper Dose

2) The Wonder Years - Sister Cities

1) Ice Nine Kills - The Silver Scream

My number one pick may be surprising to some, but its the most fun I've had with an album in years. While the idea of basing each song off of a horror movie may have been a gimmick in the hands of less impressive musicians, everything about the Silver Scream is just... perfect. The choruses, the hooks, the breakdowns, the use of samples, the string sections. It's just so much fun to listen to.

Bonus: Counties - If Forever Is What It Takes EP

Videogames

Honorable Mention:

Destiny 2 - Forsaken - Not in the list as it's an expansion, but what an expansion it is. Forsaken arguably makes Destiny 2 the game it should've been at launch, and improves upon every aspect. Destiny 2 is a hard game to recommend without it, but with Forsaken it's easy to lose hours and hours again. Read my full review here.

13) Forza Horizon 4 

Hands down the greatest driving or racing game on any platform, Forza Horizon 4's jump to a UK setting does nothing to dull the delights of its perfect difficulty setting, gorgeous visuals, or event variety. The new "Seasons" system builds more replayability into an already huge game.

12) Pokemon: Lets Go! Pikachu/Lets Go! Eeevee

What initially seemed a cash-grab to tug on nostalgic heartstrings, "Lets Go" is a perfect entry point for a new generation of Pokemon fans. It's catching mechanics will divide old-school fans, but I'm a big fan of how much it streamlines the experience and makes it less of a grind. Seeing Kanto bought to life, as well as all of its inhabitants (particularly on a TV for the first time) was an experience that had me smiling like I was when I was a six or seven year old playing for the first time. Read my full review here.

11) Guacamelee 2

The sequel to a game I struggled to stick with, Guacamelee 2 is an irreverent homage to Mexican culture all wrapped up in a pixel-perfect 2D platformer. Combat is the perfect blend of complexity and accessibility, and the dialogue will have you giggling to yourself throughout. Read my full review here.

10) Dragon Ball FighterZ

I rather like Dragon Ball, or at least I like the aesthetic. I know my Saiyans from my Saibamen, but I'm not deep into the lore. Dragon Ball FighterZ is one of the greatest fighting games I've ever played, and is almost certainly the single most beautiful in the genre. It looks like the anime. If you don't believe me, check out my clip below.







9) Hitman 2

If you weren't aware, Hitman is one of my favorite franchises. While the 2016 reboot was excellent, its episodic model made it tough for it to keep my attention. Hitman 2 rectifies this, adds the first season as bonus content, and is the best in the series since Blood Money. Read my full review here.

8) Call of Duty: Black Ops 4

No single-player modes aside, Black Ops 4 is the definitive multiplayer package. Zombies is a fun ride with friends, but the real meat is found in multiplayer and Blackout. The former preserves the franchise's quick "kill, die, repeat" structure with smart additions like manual healing and squad abilities, while the latter offers just as much tension of it's Battle Royale contemporaries but with a focus on speed and stability. Read my full review here.

7) Monster Hunter: World

As an entry point into a franchise long-revered for it's opacity, Monster Hunter: World achieved what I thought was impossible - it drew me in to an extent I've not felt in a long time. When I jump into a hunt, I can identify monsters by name around me, or point out their attack patterns. I can often work out what their strengths and weaknesses are, too. I've put around sixty hours in, and with an expansion on the way next year I can see that increasing steadily until then. Read a feature I wrote about the game here.

6) Dead Cells

A game I heard of through word-of-mouth in comment sections and Reddit threads throughout the internet, Dead Cells is a side-scrolling platformer where you steadily unlock upgrades. So far, so good. The difference is that every death sets you back to the start, where some of your unlocks carry over. While this sounds tedious, randomly generated levels and a dizzying array of weapons and items make each run feel wholly unique.

5) Into The Breach

Another that I'd heard glowing things about, Into The Breach is a strategy game that feels almost like a puzzle to solve. Each mission sees you defending cities from Kaiju-like creatures in scenarios that wouldn't feel out of place in Pacific Rim. Originally released on PC, it came to the Switch this year and I haven't been able to stop playing it, except for when I'm at work thinking about it. Read my full review here.

4) Super Smash Bros: Ultimate

Another Switch title (2018 was the year I really took to the hybrid console), Smash Bros should need no introduction. Pulling characters from Nintendo franchises as well as others from across the gaming landscape, the concept is simple - pummel your opponents until you can send them flying off of the map. While the gameplay is as satisfying as ever, the sheer amount of collectibles will keep me playing this for months to come, as will the possibilities of late night multiplayer sessions with friends. If you have a Switch, you need this game - I'll be writing up a few more thoughts in the next few weeks.

3) Marvel's Spider-Man

The top three on this list are in a state of ever-perpetual motion. Some days, Spider-Man is number 1, other days its number three. Spider-Man on PS4 is the best superhero game ever made. Better than Infamous, better than the Arkham games, and better than 2004's Spider-Man 2. As good as web-swinging and punching bad guys is, the story is what kept me coming back to Spider-Man to the point where I completed it in around four sittings. The traversal mechanics are so strong, however, that I find myself returning every now and again just to inhabit it's beautiful recreation of Manhattan and sling from roof to roof. Read my brief review here.

2) God of War

The God of War reboot made me think a lot about myself. It's a tale of losing family, it's a tale of starting anew, and it's a tale of a father's love for his son. These are things I can relate to, and God Of War's story pulled me through with new details revealed about it's incredible world scene-by-scene. It never pulls you away from what is happening, all playing out in one continuous view - no loading screens or camera changes. It's combat is the most satisfying of any game I've played this year, and it's performance capture and voice artists are among the best in the world. If you haven't played God of War, consider it your duty to do so. Read my review here.

1) Red Dead Redemption 2

No game has affected me as much as Red Dead Redemption 2 did. There are so many things I'd like to say about it, but describing it with words seem pointless. When I began my journey, wandering through the snow as Arthur Morgan, I felt the game was ponderous, lackadaisical even. It wasn't until I reached the ten hour mark (the campaign took me seventy five hours in total) that it hit me - Red Dead Redemption 2 isn't a game you play to finish. There is an excellent and emotionally affecting ending, of course - Rockstar's storytelling here is their best work yet. But Red Dead Redemption 2 created a world I wanted to live in: a world I could explore, or lose track of time in. In that, it succeeded, allowing me to fall in love with it and video games in general.

So there you have it, my "Best of 2018". 2019 has a lot to live up to, I'm sure you'll agree!


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