2015 saw the current generation of games really coming into their own, with the last generation being slowly nudged out. All three platforms had their share of successes, though Nintendo maintained its lock on leading the handheld market over the Playstation Vita, even releasing the New Nintendo 3DS XL, a souped up version of its best selling handheld with added shoulder buttons and a wider screen. There was certainly no lacking in variety this year, with games coming out to suit every type of gamer. Creative types had levels to build in Super Mario Maker and Disney Infinity 3.0. Those who long for killstreaks in first person shooters had plenty to choose from, with Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Halo 5: Guardians, Star Wars Battlefront, and Rainbow Six Siege hitting store shelves. Hideo Kojima released his final game in the Metal Gear saga for Konami, touching off plenty of drama outside the game. Sequels dominated the landscape, with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Fallout 4, Mortal Kombat X, Forza Motorsport 6, and Resident Evil Revelations 2 just some of the titles with numbers in them, along with other additions to franchises such as Batman: Arkham Knight and assassin’s Creed Syndicate. From Software gave us yet another beautifully haunting game world to die in with Bloodborne. Techland upped their game with the parkour/zombies title Dying Light. Telltale Games once again churned out strong narratives with its offerings Game of Thrones and Tales From The Borderlands. Indies had their share of the spotlight, with the beautiful looking platformer Ori and the Blind Forest and Chinese Room’s haunting tale of the apocalypse Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. And who knew that a game about cars playing football (or soccer, if you prefer) could be so fun and addicting? Apparently the guys at Psyonix did, with Rocket League proving to be one of this year’s best surprises. On the bottom of the pile was the messy and boringly repetitive Bladestorm Nightmare and my choice for Worst Game of the Year, Godzilla the Game. That was one the highly disappointed me. Despite its fan service of including plenty of monsters from Godzilla’s 60 year history in film a horrible control scheme and bland, generic environments just sucked the fun out of the title. Just where was an oxygen destroyer when you needed one?
For the games at the top, it proved to be a tough choice in how to rank this year’s entries. While a game’s review score doesn’t solely determine where it falls for me in rank, I did use it as one of the criteria to determine a game’s eligibility for my personal Game of the Year, deciding that a game needed a score of at least an 8.5/10 to qualify. That cut off left some bigger titles I played out of the running, including The Order: 1886 (8/10), Halo 5: Guardians (8/10), Star Wars Battlefront (7/10), Just Cause 3 (8/10), and Rainbow Six Siege (6.5/10). I also did not count reissues/remasters/remakes in the mix, so that’s why The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D, DmC: Devil May Cry Definitive Edition, Bastion for the PS4, Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin, and Journey (PS4 version) did not make the list, despite being great games that all scored 8.5/10 or higher. The game to qualify had to be fun, with great gameplay (having a great story was a big plus), gave great value for the money, and had replayability in some way, whether due to branching paths or that the story was just good enough that it needed to be experienced more than once. Before I begin the top ten, here are my honorable mentions for 2015, with the score and the system played on behind it: Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (8.5/10- New 3DS XL), Dragon Quest Heroes (8.5/10- PS4), Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance (8.5/10- PS4), Disney Infinity 3.0 (8.5/10- PS4), Dying Light (8.5/10- PS4), Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (8.5/10- PS4), MLB 15: The Show (9/10- PS4), Mortal Kombat X (9/10- PS4), Forza Motorsport 6 (9/10- Xbox One), and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture (9/10- PS4).
10. Batman: Arkham Knight (9/10- PS4)
Rocksteady’s end to their Arkham trilogy (Origins was handled by WB Montreal) proved to be a rousing finish with some rough patches. On the good side was Mark Hamill returning to give a phenomenal and twisted performance as Joker, and some very creepy. horror like scenes courtesy of Man-Bat. While fun to have the Batmobile to tool around in, there was some over emphasis on car combat and irritating race tracks that drug the proceeding down a bit. The reveal of the identity of the Arkham Knight was also telegraphed way too early (especially for comic book fans) to have the necessary impact. There was still enough good in the game to garner it tenth place, though.
Psyonix hit on a terrifically entertaining concept with its cars playing football (for Americans, soccer) in sealed arenas. There are constant new rewards for each match played that can be used to customize your vehicle, and plenty to do online against friends or other players, a practice mode, and a solo league that you can customize as far as season length. One of the bigger surprises of the year.
8. Tales From The Borderlands (9/10- PS4)
Telltale Games struck gold with adapting the Borderlands over the top action and sense of humor to its own brand of adventure game. The characters proved to be endearing and the story was very well told, offering thrilling moments along the way.
A brilliant homage to horror movies, especially the slasher movies like Friday the 13th and My Bloody Valentine. The tale of a group of friends reuniting at a cabin a year after a tragedy may not be terribly original, but it was very well done, with a great voice cast and branching storylines. Another pleasant surprise for the year in horror games.
Treyarch revitalized the Call of Duty franchise with this entry, giving the series its best outing in some time. Two full single player campaigns that also allowed for co-op, a revamped zombies mode, a fantastic and fun multiplayer, and even a twin stick top down shooter make this the best FPS of the year with something to offer to all kinds of players. One of the best in the series thus far, and not to be missed.
Another title that revitalized a franchise that dipped after the stellar Black Flag, Syndicate gave us two of the best characters to hit the series since Ezio Auditore in the twins Jacob and Evie Frye. The banter between the two was always entertaining, and Victorian London proved to be a fantastic backdrop to the story.
From Software introduced yet another stunning world in which to die in. Yharnam proved to be both haunting and beautiful, and its varied menagerie of deadly beasties and Lovecraftian nightmares offered thrilling challenges. The game even had some touching scenes, showing that even darkness has a heart.
Rise of the Tomb Raider finds Lara off on yet another adventure not long after the events on Yamatai from the 2013 reboot. Filled with plenty of action and exploration the game proves to be the best in the series so far, and Camilla Luddington again delivers a stellar performance as Lara, who struggles with her own demons from the past along with memories of her father. Beautiful visuals and an epic soundtrack provide a great backdrop to the engaging story. It’s a shame fans on the PC and PS4 need to wait longer to play this due to Microsoft’s timed exclusivity deal, but believe me, it will be worth the wait.
The latest in epic open world games from Bethesda, Fallout 4 is just chock full of things to do, from helping others surviving in the post apocalyptic Commonwealth (what was once Boston) to taking out an array of nasty radiated enemies including feral ghouls, super mutants, radscorpions, and deathclaws. The main story, after starting off quite promising, in the end feels a little hollow, lacking any real emotional punch, and it’s that story’s weakness which held this game back just enough for me not give it Game of the Year. It’s still a must have title, and will soak up hours of your life. Plus it has the bonus that your faithful canine companion can’t be lost to you through a violent demise. Multiple endings also ensure that you’ll take more than one trek through the Wasteland.
1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (9.5/10- Xbox One)
CD Projekt Red delivers big time in this installment which wraps up Geralt of Rivia’s tale. Again beautiful visuals and a lush soundtrack form a near perfect backdrop to a well written and well acted story as Geralt sets off in search for the young Ciri. Filled with plenty of memorable characters, unique side quests, and the addicting card game Gwent, the game will occupy a huge chunk of your time, and despite the many hours spent it never once felt old or repetitive to me. The game world and its quests constantly engaged and entertained me, making it one of my favorite RPGs of all time, which is why it gets GOTY from me.
And there you have it, my favorite games of 2015. What were your personal favorites? Sound off in the comments below, and here’s looking forward to another great year of gaming in 2016!
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