My Top 10 Games of 2015 – John Newby

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Posted December 22, 2015 by John Newby in Video Games

I love Christmas. The decorations, the baked goods, and the songs just make everything so fun and festive. The snow aspect may be frustrating, but it provides more opportunities for playing games. This sure comes in handy given the fact that Game of the Year happens at the same time.

With my heart full of Holiday cheer, I present my top 10 games of the year. I do have to say that my list is a little incomplete seeing how I haven’t played Just Cause 3 or Metal Gear Solid V, but don’t hold that against me. I still think there are some great games on this list.

  1. Batman: Arkham Knight

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Rocksteady’s Arkham games were fantastic on the previous generation of consoles, but they were partially limited by technology. This changed with Batman: Arkham Knight. The new consoles gave Rocksteady the ability to create a bigger world with more weather effects and countless criminals to beat up. Plus, they also threw in new gadgets and an unstoppable Batmobile with which to wreak havoc across Gotham City.

Unfortunately, Arkham Knight isn’t higher on the list because of two reasons: the story and the tanks.

The story wasn’t particularly bad, but it was predictable from the start and a little forced at times. The only truly great part of the story was the subplot about Joker taking over Bruce Wayne’s mind, and that was because of Mark Hamill’s performance. Hamill was great, but unfortunately he couldn’t redeem the tank battles.

There were multiple battles throughout Arkham Knight that forced you to drive around in a Batmobile tank and fight dozens of enemies. These battles were frustrating in the worst way, and they took away from the brilliance of Rocksteady’s combat system. The Bat tank was hard to control, and the enemy weapons were overpowered. There was even a battle against Deathstroke Redacted that was played out entirely via tank combat. It’s sad when the mostly subpar Arkham Origins has a better fight sequence against the highly skilled assassin.

Rocksteady’s final Arkham game should have been amazing, but it ended up being simply adequate. It was still better than some of the other games I played this year.

  1. Need for Speed

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Need for Speed is a dumb, dumb game. The FMV is fairly pointless, the characters are terrible, and the network issues cause a lot of problems. However, Need for Speed has one big thing going for it—it’s really fun to drive around. The Sprint Races require a lot of speed and catlike reflexes to win, and you feel really cool hitting roughly 200 mph in ridiculous cars. Of course, the Drift and Gymkhana events are by far the best things in the game. Ken Block is an inherently cool guy, and not much feels better than using a combination of speed and precision to perfectly recreate his videos.

I could have replaced Need for Speed with Madden 16 or Black Ops III, but I just haven’t had as much fun with those games during 2015. Despite all of its faults, Need for Speed is still a very entertaining game that’s worth playing.

  1. Star Wars: Battlefront

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I have been waiting for a new Battlefront ever since the awesome Pandemic closed its doors. Finally, the wait ended in November, and the result was a mostly great game. I know that many people disliked Battlefront, and I understand why. The campaign was a little thin, and the multiplayer maps few, but I didn’t particularly care. Split-screen survival mode was a blast to play with my wife and friends, and the first-person speeder chase on Endor was exhilarating.

The main thing that made Battlefront a really fun game to play was the ability to recreate the big moments from the movies. I wrote in an earlier article about Battlefront that I had the best experience during a big battle on Endor. Basically, I helped take down an AT-ST and barely avoided decapitation via speeder bike. It was an exciting moment in an already frantic battle.

To be blunt, I just appreciate being able to play a new Star Wars game that isn’t terrible. Looking at you, Force Unleashed II.

  1. Rocket League

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I find it very humorous that one of the most popular games on PlayStation Network basically recreates a funny challenge from Top Gear. That’s right, the British motoring show had a challenge back in 2007 in which the hosts used little cars to play football. Yes, Psyonix released the precursor to Rocket League back in 2008, but it still came after Top Gear, so the BBC gets credit.

I’m not trying to sound critical of Rocket League. In fact, I think that the soccer game is one of the best releases of the year. Racing around in weird cars while rocket boosting into oversized soccer balls is so much fun. The game gets even better when you nail the perfect front flip and launch the ball into the goal. The craziest thing is that Rocket League isn’t a simple game where you and your two teammates run around like grade school kids. Scoring goals and winning games requires a ton of strategy and constant communication between teammates, and I love that fact. This metagame makes Rocket League infinitely more playable.

And on that bombshell, let’s go to the next entry. (Don’t sue me, BBC or Jeremy Clarkson).

  1. Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China

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Does anyone even remember that a download-only Assassin’s Creed came out this year? No? I figured.

It seems like Ubisoft didn’t really bother to market AC Chronicles: China, and that’s just sad. AC Chronicles mixed 2D and 3D action in a unique way and made the assassinations really fun. The classic hiding in a bush assassination looks way different from the 2D perspective, and it’s pretty funny at times.

I’m not entirely sure what the story of AC Chronicles: China was, but it honestly didn’t matter in the long run. Ubisoft built this game as a fun little alternative to the main series, and it was definitely a success. Turns out that Assassin’s Creed can be just as good in bite size form.

Did I mention that Chronicles: China also plays like Shadow Complex?

  1. Fallout 4

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This is a weird entry. I hated Fallout: New Vegas and thought Fallout 3 was boring. In fact, I haven’t liked a single game in the Elder Scrolls or Fallout series, but Fallout 4 is one of the best games I played this year. It doesn’t make sense. All I know is that Fallout 4 has captured my interest in a very new way, and I’m overjoyed by that fact.

Being fairly new to the Fallout series makes it difficult to figure out certain systems, but that hasn’t stopped my enjoyment in the slightest. I really dig exploring the world and finding weird characters. This does cause problems when you run into extremely powerful mutants, but that’s part of the experience…I think. All I know is that finding Nick Valentine was one of the most entertaining quests in the game simply because of the mobsters.

  1. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

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Two AC games in the same list? That’s impressive.

It may seem weird, but Assassin’s Creed Syndicate managed to do something Ubisoft’s flagship studio hasn’t done since Black Flag—make me care about the main characters. Assassin’s Creed: Rogue and Unity were decent games, but I just didn’t care about their main characters in the slightest. Jacob and Evie Frye, on the other hand, are actually likable and fun to play as. Jacob is bigger and slightly crazy while Evie is smaller and stealthy. Both characters have different strengths and weaknesses, but neither feels less useful than the other.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate also includes tools that make more sense in the world. First off, you have a train that can be used as a mobile stronghold and transportation, which comes in very handy when traveling around London. Next, you have a Batman-esque grappling hook that makes traversing the rooftops much easier. Finally, you have a vast array of stagecoaches to hijack and use for kidnapping Templars. Your gang can even roam around London with the stagecoaches and provide extra backup during fights.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is a pretty cool new take on the series, and it’s definitely one of the best games of the year.

  1. Mad Max

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I mentioned in my article “Ode to the Underrated Mad Max” that Avalanche’s first release of 2015 built upon my love of The Saboteur with the brutal combat and destructible watchtowers. Well, this sentiment held true during my entire time with Mad Max. I never grew tired of roaming the wasteland and destroying War Boys. Sure, it helped that Max’s car was fun to drive and the wasteland was gorgeous, but credit goes to Avalanche for making a fun game that didn’t get boring.

Mad Max may have been missing a deep story or political intrigue, but it was a truly enjoyable game to play. Thank goodness WB let the game come out when ready instead of trying to release it on the same day as the movie. You won’t see Mad Max on a lot of year-end lists, and that’s a crying shame.

  1. The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt

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Was there a more hyped game than The Witcher 3 in 2015? Everywhere you looked, there was another trailer or poster popping up to advertise Geralt’s new adventure. Some people found the never-ending stream of commercials irritating, but at least The Witcher 3 was good enough to justify this marketing campaign.

Unlike The Witcher 2, CD Projekt Red’s third game was an astoundingly beautiful open world full of cool side characters and missions. The Witcher 2 wasn’t bad; it was just limited. The cool thing about The Witcher III is that the most innocent side quest could turn into a massive storyline full of political intrigue and murder. I won’t spoil one of my favorite quests, but I will say that I didn’t expect a frying pan to lead into such crazy situations.

So much happens in The Witcher III that it’s hard to actually follow the main quests. You will start to follow a story path but immediately get distracted by monster hives or specific beast hunts. It’s a little overwhelming and extremely fun at the same time. Where else can you kill vampires, werewolves, and various mythological creatures?

The only reason why The Witcher III didn’t get the top spot on my list is the fact that it’s easy to get burned out. There’s a fine line between having too many or not enough quests on the agenda, and The Witcher III skirts that line like nothing else. To be fair, this exhaustion only really appears in completionists, but it’s still sad.

The Witcher III is a fantastic game that improves upon previous versions. Just don’t try to do everything, or you might hate yourself.

  1. Dying Light

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Dying Light won’t end up on a lot of best of lists for 2015, but I think that’s mostly because it was released super early in the year. No one even remembers that Techland’s latest zombie game came out in 2015, which is unfortunate. Well, I am not one of those people. I think that Dying Light was the best game that came out this year!

On the surface, Dying Light shouldn’t be that great or in-depth of a game, but I found the first-person combat and parkour abilities extremely entertaining. Climbing abandoned buildings to find secret entrances made the exploring more nuanced, and it totally made killing enemies easier. Jumping up and kicking zombies to their doom was great, as was setting them on fire with flammable ninja stars. Seriously, that’s a pretty cool way to mess up some zombies.

The combat was fun, but I even found the story of Dying Light to be interesting. The group of survivors in the tower was more appealing than those in Techland’s previous zombie adventure, Dead Island, and I actually felt sympathy for the main character. This soldier was forced into a stressful situation, and his options were severely limited. Somehow, he still found a way to help out the important people and (mostly) come out on top.

Dying Light has a great combination in the vertical world, fun combat, and genuinely likable characters. I don’t think I played a more entertaining game in 2015.

 


About the Author

John Newby

A random dude obsessed with coffee, blue heelers, and most nerdy things. Big fan of Star Wars, Borderlands, Arrow/Flash, and a whole lotta video games. The Saboteur is underrated, and Silverado is the best movie ever made.