It’s finally here, folks! We just started a new year. With that said, we have another year of gaming wrapped up, and we here at MP1st thought it would be best to acknowledge the cream of the crop, and which games stood out the most. While 2022 has already started, we’re here to deliver the MP1st Year End Awards, and name our Game of the Year for 2021!
Note that the winners here have been picked via staff voting, and have been made with no platform bias. Simply put: these are the best experiences we’ve had this 2021.
MP1st Year End Awards – Game of the Year 2021 Winner:
Best Action Game – Returnal
Housemarque’s first-ever AAA game didn’t just deliver, but it managed to smash everyone’s expectations. It’s easily one of the best surprises of the year. Our review states, “Returnal is a great game and showcase for the PS5. It reminds me of what I have aways loved about video games; gameplay that hooks you and keeps you invested in that “one more quarter” kind of way that so relatively few games do these days. Housemarque largely succeeds with their first AAA outing in a big way and have released what I feel is the first true Game of the Year contender for 2021.”
Best Action Adventure Game – Psychonauts 2
Double Fine is in fine form once again with Psychonauts 2. Not only is it a charming platformer, but it brings the humor, memorable characters, and most importantly, the fun, into the genre. This is one adventure players should check out.
Best Audio – Returnal
When the PS5 was announced, one of the key defining features that Sony hyped up about was the console’s all-new Tempest Audio Engine. At first many thought it may have been a gimmick solely used for marketing purposes, but after the release of Resident Evil Village and Returnal, we can finally see what all the hype was about. If there is ever more of a game that demonstrates true 3D audio, then look no further than Returnal. Pairing the title up with PlayStation’s own Pulse headset, and of course the DualSense, Returnal is capable of delivering a fully immersive experience thanks to the help of the developers utilizing the Tempest Engine. A true audio showcase.
Best Visuals in a Game – Forza Horizon 5
When Xbox and Playgrounds Games announced Forza Horizon 5 back at E3 2021, we were simply blown away by the visuals they were pushing. I don’t think there has ever been a racer that has looked this good, at least in the scope of being open world. On a visual level, Playground Games has really outdone themselves, making a rich and vibrant world filled with an abundance of details. Best of all, it runs incredibly smooth.
Best First Person Shooter – Halo Infinite
Who’d have thought it? After a disastrous reveal, 343 Industries would rise up and deliver a free-to-player Halo game that was worth it and then some. Halo Infinite managed to kick Call of Duty Vanguard and Battlefield 2042 to be our first-person shooter of the year! Our review states, “All in all, Halo Infinite is a worthy entry to this legendary franchise. That is an achievement by itself. But what I really appreciated is the fact that 343 took risks. These risks are things that could have completely soured the experience and turned away even the most diehard fans of the franchise. In the end though, those risks paid off. Infinite is in my opinion, 343’s best Halo title yet, and I couldn’t be more excited to see where it goes from here.”
Most Disappointing Game – Battlefield 2042
For a lot of staff members, Battlefield 2042 was supposed to represent a return to form for the franchise after taking a long hiatus from the modern war setting. Sadly, as outlined in James’ MP1st review of Battlefield 2042, the title didn’t live up to expectations and instead, offered an experience that didn’t quite feel like a Battlefield experience anymore. That’s not to say the studio can’t turn things around, as it is a live service after all, but they have a long way to go before a bulk of the fans come to accept it.
Best Indie Game – Narita Boy
Tim Lawrence (from our Narita Boy Review) – “Narita Boy didn’t have to be very good. It was largely crowd funded on Kickstarter and once it was out it could have been like a lot of Kickstarter games and been a non-starter that got launched and fell flat. But the team at Studio Koba really pulled this one out. It’s not a life changing experience nor is it some deeply spiritual journey, but I think it’a a fun retro game that understands it’s still a modern release. This is the sort of project that makes big publishers take a team seriously and whether they decide to partner with a publisher or stay indie: I suspect we’ll see more from Studio Koba coming down the pipeline…er, datastream.”
Multiplayer Game of the Year – Halo Infinite
343 Industries snags another year-end award from MP1st! Unsurprisingly, the game is a better experience for online gaming than Battlefield 2042 and COD Vanguard! Our review by AJ states, “In short: it is fantastic. Halo Infinite multiplayer is a perfect blend of old school Halo, with just enough modern flair to keep new players and fans of Halo’s contemporaries happy.”
Game of the Year – It Takes Two
Surprised? Yeah, thought so too. In the end, a game without any progression mechanics, guns or multiplayer explosions is what won as Game of the Year here on MP1st! Our review says, “At the end of the day, that is what stands out in It Takes Two. It’s fun. The game is effortlessly fun. While the marriage of gameplay and story wasn’t what I had hoped – I wasn’t ever really invested in May and Cody’s relationship – I was constantly having fun playing it. And for me, that is what matters most. Highly recommended.”