Its been a strange year for games this year, many of the big hitters have actually left me disappointed if I’m honest. But there have been a couple of games I was not expecting much from that have really impressed me.
So what is my game of 2015?
Well before I get to that, I want to recognise the elephant in the room…well two of them actually.
Two big games this year that I liked, but still left me feeling disappointed overall.
Just as a side note, possible spoilers ahead. Though I’ll try to avoid as much as I can.
Batman: Arkham Knight: I loved…sorry LOVE Batman: Arkham Asylum and I will stand by my opinion of it being the best of the franchise so far. I have felt the series has declined as it has progressed though, but that didn’t make them bad games, just not a great as the original was.
Still, I held out hope that Rocksteady would deliver an opus especially seeing as this was to be their final Arkham game in the franchise.
After completing the game, I just felt “empty” and to be honest found while playing the game it was mostly a chore rather then a pleasure.
Those Batmobile Vs tank battles dragged on and on. It was interesting the first time, not so much the second time, the third time they were tiresome and by the time you get to the final part of the game with 70 tanks to take down…it was just tedious and dull.
The big reveal of the Arkham Knight’s true identity was so obvious and telegraphed I fail to see how it was meant to be a surprise. I’m not the world’s biggest Batman fan, I know the basics. But even I called the reveal of the Arkham Knight after not too long.
I was really looking forward to Scarecrow being the main villain, but he is not due to the overbearing, overuse of a certain other villain…The Joker. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Joker as much as the next man. but he has been the focal villain in all the games so far and I so desperately yearned for a change. The whole Joker’s blood being in Batman was a nice idea and a great way to bring Joker back I admit. But it was just over done and too “in your face”. Climb a building and JOKER!. Crawl trough a vent and JOKER! Open a door and JOKER! He was just everywhere and I feel that concept of Joker being part of Batman would have been so much better if it was more subtle and used more on a subconscious level, tricking and misleading not only Batman but also the player.
The overall plot was so hackneyed and trite I quite honestly lost interest about halfway through.
The gameplay itself just didn’t feel as if it had evolved. Rocksteady claimed the game HAD to be next gen as the game was too ambitious for the previous gen…I saw none of that. Graphically far more impressive yes, but gameplay wise it had not evolved at all.
Bad game? Not at all. great game? Not even close.
Batman: Arkham Knight was just an average game at best.
Onto my second elephant in the room and this is a BIG one.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain: Just forgetting about the whole Konami Vs Kojima controversy for a while. This game got old fast. Now I think the shift to an open world styled map was a great one, just a shame the development team didn’t bother to make these open world maps interesting or engaging.
I constantly found myself repeating the same handful of missions over and over in the same locales over and over. This game offered very little in variation. The open world maps were mostly empty and barren as well as being such a pain to navigate.
The plot was paper thin and the voice acting was flat. It has none of the humour that made the MGS games stand out and none of the inventive or creative boss battles that were a staple of the MGS franchise.
I wish I had more to say about this game, but it really has very little worth talking about. There had been a lot of rumours about Konami cutting a fair bit of content from the game. For that, I am grateful as I don’t think I could stand any more of the banal, redundant and repetitive gameplay.
It is probably best that Kojima has no more ties to Konami and hopefully in the future we will see a truly great MGS game once more.
It was okay, but just lacking so much depth and variety. I can only assume the high praise this game got was due to drug educed reviewing…or being paid off.
So those were my two big disappointments of 2015. They were okay, but nothing great.
Lets move onto the games I really enjoyed before I get to my Game Of The Year.
Rise Of The Tomb Raider: After the more gritty and adult reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise in 2013 I was really looking forward to this one. Lara is back doing what she does best, jumping around in tombs and shooting endangered animals in the face.
This game has everything the previous game had, but brings with it a few new additions and also builds on what made the last game so enjoyable. With more weapon variety and even more upgrades and an improved stealth mechanic to help you deal with enemies quietly, coupled with new skills for Lara to learn. The game gives the player a lot to work with while you explore the semi-open world map, trying to find relics, treasures and even learn new languages along the way.
The crafting and upgrade system has also been improved as well as the addition an interesting weather system and time of the day which affects the type of animals you will encounter.
This really is more of the same, only with plenty of spit and polish to help improve the whole experience a hell of a lot.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt: This almost made my GotY…almost. A beautifully detailed open world to explore melded with the impressive combat and variety from the previous game. This game is amazing and well deserving of the high praise it receives.
With you playing as Geralt of Rivia the monster hunter trying to track down the sorceress Yennefer of Vengerberg. Along the way you get to explore and interact with this impressive game world the developers have crafted. With so much to see and do from finding abandoned villages, caves and even haunted forests. Then having the pleasure of drawing your sword and using your magic to take down the many, many monsters you’ll encounter along the way. With some monsters only appearing in specific locations or even only at certain times of day.
Each village you find even has its own economic and social conditions and depending on which village you are in and their personal beliefs or social conditions, you will find this affects they way they welcome, talk to and even interact with Geralt.
A wonderful action/RPG with so much to see and do, you’ll never get it all in one play through.
Mad Max: This is one of the games that I really didn’t expect too much of this year. Yet I have put in well over 40 hours into the game and still not bored of it. Its another open world style game all set in the world of Mad Max.
With you playing as Max, the game is not directly based on any of the films but it is inspired by the film series as a whole. It feels a lot like Mad Max 2, but has the aesthetic and style of Mad Max: Fury Road.
The hand to hand combat is similar to the Batman: Arkham series, however it feels much more brutal like Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. But the game also features a really impressive car combat mechanic with you being able to use your car as a battering ram or even sit in the driver seat blasting away with your shotgun. You can even target individual parts of vehicles to weaken armour or take out the driver. Your car is fully upgradeable from improving the engine, armour, tires to even attaching weapons like a sniper rifle, flame-throwers and even a harpoon you can use to remove parts from enemy cars or tear down structures and gates to open new areas to explore.
Max himself is also upgradeable. With you being able to change cosmetics like how Max looks to more important upgrades that will improve Max’s personal armour, hand to hand combat and even learn new skills.
The game offers a hell of a lot, despite the really simple plot (a staple of Mad Max) which is your car being stolen and dismantled and you have to build a new car…or Magnum Opus as the game calls it and try to get hold of a V8 engine.
One thing that really surprised me was how interesting the world map is, seeing as it is just a desolate wasteland. It still has a lot of variation with plenty of places to find and explore. The game as a whole really puts me in mind of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (a game that almost made this list too) only with much more to see and do.
Cracking game and one that is often overlooked with reviews being very mixed. Yet a game I have found to be amazing and rewarding.
So, what is my Game Of The Year then?
Well if you have read this blog for the last few months, or if you are a friend/family member. Then you’d know that Fallout 4 has been my big game this year, the one game that got me to finally go next gen and the only game I have ever pre-ordered.
So lets get this out of the way then…
Fallout 4: Is not my GotY….shocker! I have to admit, it was a close call. A VERY close call indeed.
Fallout 4 is a wonderful game, no doubt about it. It is deep, engaging, funny (at times), emotional and offers a tonne of variety and gameplay. There is so much to see and do here its simply impossible to sum it all up in the short space I have allowed myself here.
Fallout 4 is a work of genius and a game you can put days and days into and still only just scratch the surface. Create your very own character with a very deep and intuitive character creation tool and go out into the post nuclear war Boston wastelands. Shape and create your character however you see fit. Be a pillar of the community and help out those less fortunate. Or break the law, steal, murder and become feared.
Learn from a plethora of skills and talents to help create and shape your persona.
With a huge open world map to explore, hundreds of individual locations to find and loot. Craft weapons, armour and even build settlements with plenty of more options to play around with. Want to build a farmland? You can by planting food and getting your settlers to look after the crops. You can build defences like turrets and guard platforms. You can even build entire structures and decorate/furnish them. Create stalls to bring in trade, build generators to provide your settlement with electricity. The list goes on and on…
Fallout 4 is one of the most in depth crafting games outside of Minecraft and the really amazing thing about all that is…its not even a main part of the game. You can play through the whole story not having to craft a single thing (after the opening tutorials). But that is the kind of game Fallout 4 is, so much of what you can do is simply not necessary. It is just there for you to play around with and enjoy if you want to and the more you do play around, the more you will find to play around with.
Fallout 4 was almost my Game Of The Year, but the reason it didn’t quite make it was simply because as great as it is…its not a major leap forward from the previous games. It just didn’t grab me as I hoped it would.
My actual Game Of the Year is my second surprising game this year (after Mad Max).
Dying Light: A spiritual successor to the Dead Island franchise with it being made by the same team, only without the licence. Dying Light is the game Techland wanted to make with Dead Island, but were held back by budget restrictions and other problems.
With this game, Techland took everything that was restrictive and cumbersome about Dead Island and threw it all out. They then took everything that worked with Dead Island and turned it up to eleven.
Its (yet) another open world game with you playing as Kyle Crane. Crane works for The Global Relief Effort (GRE) and is dropped into the fictional city of Harran, where a mysterious viral outbreak has turned most of the population into flesh hungry zombies. Crane is tasked to getting hold of a sensitive file stolen from the GRE by somebody called Kadir Suleiman, which he is using as leverage to blackmail the GRE.
This is an all action first person game with some really interesting and well implemented game mechanics. Crane is an expert at parkour and can run, jump, slide and climb pretty much any and everything in the game. This give you a real sense of freedom as you climb buildings and other structures. There is also a levelling and upgrade system that is split between three main skills. Strength helps you with your attacks and basic hand to hand combat/melee attacks. Stamina is where you can improve your parkour skills and basic cardio. Then there is survival which is where you learn any and everything that can help you survive the day to day life in Harran.
The game is very melee weapon based, but there are also plenty of guns to find and use too.
The most terrifying part of the game is when the sun goes down and night time comes.
During the day, you can go out quite safely and scavenge for supplies and items, as the zombies are mostly slow and predictable. But when the sun goes down, things get a little more intense as the infected zombies turn much more aggressive and faster, plus the night also brings out a new type of zombie that will actively hunt you down.
You can even craft and create weapons by adding elemental mods such as lightning, fire, etc as well as improving their durability, attack and other stats. Plus the game has an amazing four player co-op mode which is immense fun with a few friends.
I first played this game when my brother let me borrow his copy. I completed that and went out and brought my own copy and the season pass for the game too. The DLC was very, very weak…but coming in February 2016 is Dying Light: The Following. A HUGE expansion to the main game that is said to be just as big as the vanilla version of Dying Light. The DLC brings plenty of new additions aside from a whole new map there is a drivable buggy that can be upgraded, a load of new weapons, all new enemies…and it’s completely free for season pass holders.
I can’t wait for this slice of Dying Light goodness.
As I said, it was a close decision between Fallout 4 and Dying Light. But I feel Dying Light was a massive improvement and several huge steps forward over Dead Island while Fallout 4 was pretty much the same as Fallout 3 (not a bad thing at all) with a few minor tweaks. Plus with Dying Light, I really was not expecting too much and was pleasantly surprised when I did finally play it.
So there you go, my Game Of The Year 2015 all wrapped up.
Please check out my Film Of The Year 2015 too if you haven’t already.