We are right at the end of 2015 and I think we can all agree that gamers as a whole have been very spoiled this year. Fallout 4 was finally released and hell was it worth the wait, Halo 5 blew our visual minds on the Xbox one and Bloodborne was the dark horse that destroyed almost every expectation for Sony. Ofcourse its not all sunshine and rainbows as we have had numerous delays announced, one of which being the new X-com game for PC which really pisses me off! And the parting of the great Hideo Kojima from Konami following Metal Gear Solid 5’s release.
2015 has been good to us and picking out just 5 of my favorite games this year was incredibly difficult but here they are with a few short words on what I thought about each of them. Please enjoy and please let me know what your top games of 2015 were.
Metal Gear Solid 5 The Phantom Pain
There’s only one thing to say about The Phantom Pain and that is Masterpiece. The latest installment in Konami’s flagship franchise has been a long time coming and damn was it worth the wait. Putting us in control of the legendary soldier that is Snake for what may be the last time, now voice acted by non other than Jack Bauer himself(Kiefer Sutherland), we are taken away from the series norm and dropped into a substantial open world to wage war against enemies that have taken much more than just Snakes left arm.
What makes The Phantom Pain great is not the story which in all honesty lacks focus of previous games nor is it the absolutely perfect gameplay that rewards you whether you’re sneaking into an outpost or blowing the living shit out of it. No Metal Gear Solid 5 respects you as a player, you have the freedom to approach the game anyway you like and the game pulls no punches in return. Never before have I been so rewarded and punished for my decisions that I genuinely feel intelligent for outsmarting a full base of guards after extracting a captured prisoner.
Yes there are larger games with billion plus square miles of open world for you to explore and a trillion side quests and mini games to complete but this is an open world game that doesn’t sacrifice size for substance. MGS5 is why I love gaming, easily my top game of this year maybe even of all time.
Ori and the Blind Forest
Stunningly gorgeous, elegantly simple and an emotional rollercoaster. Ori and The Blind Forest is a Microsoft exclusive side scrolling platformer with incredible art direction, an emotional story and excellent gameplay. The first thing anyone will see when playing Ori and The Blind Forest is obviously the stunning visuals and it would have been easy for the developers to go half arsed after doing such a good job on that because the game would have still sold a hell of alot at face value.
Fortunately they made an almost perfect platformer to go with the impressive looks. You take control of Ori, a magical creature in a dark fairytale world which has seen better days and that’s where our story begins. Told in a mythical language with subtitles across the screen the story sees you take Ori on a journey to restore the forest and is well worth the 12+ hours of gameplay you get and you will be replaying the game after, believe me.
Along with the replay value is the perfect control system for Ori, I can’t remember the last time I played a platformer with such absolute pinpoint precision and perfect timing. The game is expertly designed around this fact with level design being built around the fact you need to master your abilities then execute them at almost millisecond precise timing and when you make that perfect jump to outrun a rising flood it really makes you feel good and like you worked bloody hard for it. You win this game through skill and timing and that never gets old. Well worth the entry fee.
It’s a new Fallout game, what else needs to be said… Gamers have been waiting for this title for years and when it was announced at E3 we went fucking crazy! Hell we knew it was going to be announced and still every gamer worth their salt wet themselves seeing that first trailer. Taking us to the nuked wastes of Boston this time around Fallout 4 has almost everything. A gigantic open world to explore check, side quests galore check, a huge array of weapons check, funny and interesting characters check. It ticks all the boxes.
Not only do we get Bethesda’s tried and tested open world formula here but we have the much heralded addition of base building, a mode that could have easily made a game all by itself not to mention a full support for the modding comunity that will be coming to consoles as well next year. Fallout 4 is the premier league leader of what all open world games should attempt to be. There are not that many single player games nowadays that can easily take up 200+ hours of your gaming but this is definitely one of them and it’s worth every single second.
Honestly I have to say I was surprised by this game when it came out, I have to admit I’m not the biggest fan of the dark gothic style games but when this was released on PS4 and I took a look at some of the outstanding media reviews and YouTube videos that were up I just had to go out and buy myself a copy of the game, and boy was it worth the money.
It’s easy to be cynical and call Bloodborne a Dark Souls knock off and to be honest there are good points to support that statement but after spending a good 60+ hours on the campaign I’d say that Bloodborne takes everything that Dark Souls does well and mashes it with a better told story and some survival horror elements. Combat in Bloodborne will be familiar to Dark Souls vets letting players dodge, block, attack, stagger and retreat but Bloodborne puts more of an emphasis on maneuverability and attacking from a good angle than the tried and tested shield block, attack rinse and repeat of Dark Souls. Something I think makes for a better gameplay experience.
Visually the game is stunning taking a sort of moody gothic look and plastering it over what you’d be forgiven to think is victorian era London, think Van Helsing meets The league of Extraordinary Gentleman with a hint of Dracula added for good taste. The visuals are only let down by a few system problems, long loading screens, framerate drops and most annoying of all parts of map where you’d get trapped unable to move and have to reload.
My favorite thing though and what has kept me playing is the genuine sense of horror the game gives you. The enemies are truly repulsive and when you first come up against a monster 3 times your size you really do start to question your ability to handle the event, emotionally I mean its bloody scary or walking through the door of a cathedral and before you can take in the visuals a gruesome hideous thing jumps you from behind coming off the window ledge just above the door, christ I had to check my pants it was 2 in the morning!
Well worth the money and a great game that will keep you going for hours and multiple playthroughs, a true great for the PS4.
The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt
The Witcher series has always been known for making high quality maturely themed role playing games and the third installment is no different. The Witcher 3 is an improvement of everything from The Witcher 2, the combat is more fluid and feels great, the magic upgrade and loot systems are almost perfect, the world is bigger and the stakes in the story weigh on you long after you put down the controller.
The Witcher 3 puts you in a large densely populated open world that always feels like there is something to keep you occupied, the good thing is there is so much content that even after you finish the main questline you’ll be happy to dive back into the game to slay more monsters and see what new personal stories you can gleam from the people living in the wild and cities.
What has always drawn me to The Witcher games is the fact that they wear the adult themes on their sleeves and never shy away from the fact these games are meant to be played by a very mature audience. The fact of the matter is if you don’t want to make the sorts of choices that aren’t clearly black or white then dont play this game, if you don’t like the fact you can have sex in the game then dont play this game or if you don’t like the fact there are politics in here that makes Game of Thrones look like an episode of The Muppets then well…. don’t play this game.
This game is meant for the people who want to play a role in a game where decisions are difficult but need to be made, where when you swing your long sword to cleave a man in half you see the blood spill into the floor when they are down. The Witcher 3 is huge, it’s dark, it looks amazing and treats its audience the way we want to be treated, like we are living in this terrible world and we just want to live through it and do what we can to make it better.
The only let downs are the few graphical glitches that accompany most open world games of this size. There are a few instances of quests becoming broken if not completed in the correct order which leads to the familiar and annoying instance of reloading a previous save. I also encountered a few game crashes in my 120 hour playthrough but considering the sorts of glitches there were when Fallout 4 was released later in the year we can forgive The Witcher 3 for the. This game is a must play for any lover of role playing games.