You may have read about my "Top Three Games of 2015" on Honest Games Reviews (http://honestgamesreviews.com/blog/hgrs-games-of-2015/) but as I mentioned there, I don't think picking just three games has given enough credit to the games of 2015. So I have chosen to expand upon that here and give you my top picks of 2015.
I have found 2015 to be a great year for gaming. There have been a massive number of Indie and AAA games that have been hugely enjoyable. I've been thinking about formats in which I could write about my picks of the year...a top ten, choosing the best of the genres etc. And in truth I still don't know how I'm going to tell you about my favourite gaming moments this year. So I'm just gonna start writing and see where it takes me...
Best Xbox One Exclusive: Some people love them, some people hate them but there's no denying that console exclusivity is here to stay. I'm not going to count timed exclusives in here, because unless you're a really impatient person you can get the game on any console at some point in time. These categories are for the games that will never see the light of day on the "rival" console. So with that in mind it is Gears of War:Ultimate Edition that has to win this crown. I know, I know it is a re-release BUT it is a damn perfect re-release of a game that is actually pretty old. Seriously load up the original and just feel how clunky it is.
Best PS4 Exclusive: Now I bought my PS4 when I felt like there were enough exclusives on it that I wanted to play. A lot of people give Sony stick for not having exclusives, but I don't really understand where this comes from...I found it much harder to nail down my favourite PS4 exclusive of the year. I haven't been able to play some of the games I have on this yet, so they obviously couldn't enter into the list (sorry Bloodborne!). I opted for the game that I primarily bought the PS4 for, Until Dawn. I bought this and my brother came round the next night to play it and over the next couple of weeks I saw him much more than usual! Until Dawn is basically a game of a cheesy 90's horror film...and that's what makes it GREAT! Graphically the game is superb and the game really does have plenty of shocks. I can't wait to play it again and hopefully save more people!
Best Fan Service Game: In a year that saw a bazillion games getting a HD remake "because the fans wanted it" this award should have been a lot harder to give out. But in my mind the only game that can be considered a true fan service this year is Super Mario Maker for the Wii U. Super Mario Maker gave Mario fans the world over the power (and an incredible interface!) to make their own Mario levels. Honestly the UI is something dreams are made of and the ability to share your levels online and download other means you will never run out of Mario levels to try.
Best Co-op: I love to play games co-op but this year, this gen even, I don't think there have been enough co-op games. Ark: Survival Evolved has changed that, finally. Ark is a great survival game, but it gets infinitely better when played alongside friends. Find it in Early Access now and grab it (if you're not one of 1,000,000+ who has already).
Best Multiplayer: I'm using multiplayer as online and against others to shoehorn this one in here really. And you can play the winner of this co-op in what is actually my favourite mode but anyway Star Wars: Battlefront is my multiplayer game of the year. Which is a good job seeing as the majority of the game is in the Online section. Fast and slick (when you're not suffering from lag anyway) Star Wars Battlefront is the most fun I've had in an online shooter for ages.
Best Telltale Game: Ok maybe I'm cheating here, giving Telltale their very own category but bear with me. This year saw the release of three (!) episodic Telltale games: Tales from the Borderlands, Minecraft: Story Mode and Game of Thrones: A Telltale Series. I have been lucky enough to play all three so I'm going to tell you which one you should buy if, for some crazy reason you have limited yourself to just one. And the answer is...Game of Thrones: A Telltale Series every time. This game was the perfect foray into the world of Westeros, featuring plenty of betrayal and nastiness from some of our favourite characters from the show (honestly Cersei's smirk translates just as well to a game world). This game truly pulls the rug out from under you multiple times throughout, and it is all the better for it.
Honourable Mentions: There are a lot of games that I have had a LOT of fun with this year, so I'm going to give them a mention because I want to spread the love.
The Escapists - One of the first games I streamed on Twitch when I began earlier this year, it is a great little sandbox game where you have to escape from different prisons. DLC is cheap for those looking for more places to escape from and there has even been FREE DLC!
Everybody's Gone to the Rapture - I know this game got a lot of stick for being a "walking-sim" but when you really delve into it, was you get is a great story that is beautifully realised. Honestly I was flicking through my Twitter pics the other day and screens of this game were sandwiched between pictures I had taken at Lyme Park. I had to do a double take. It is THAT beautiful.
Sparkle Unleashed - I love me a good ball-busting puzzle game and this has filled the Zuma shaped hole in my XB1. And even though Zuma is now available through backwards compatibility I still find myself down "just one more level" on this.
Plague Inc. Evolved - A late entry because I only picked it up in the sale but this iOS game has made a great transition to the home console. Well worth picking up!
King's Quest - Another episodic game, but this is releasing much further apart than anything Telltale does and has 1000G per episode! It's a great little game that serves as a decent nostalgia kick for any 90's point and click fans out there.
Quest of Dungeons - A great little game that you put on for ten minutes and end up forgetting to feed the dog (or children) because of. Buy it.
Ori and the Blind Forest - This game doesn't need me to give it an honourable mention, I'm yet to speak to someone who didn't love it. But it was a beauty of a game and if you haven't already you should play it. Now.
Anyone who follows HonestGameReviews will have already read what is below, but if you haven't please read on to find out what my Top Three Picks of 2015 were. I think 2015 has been a damn good year for gaming and I'm excited to see what 2016 can bring us. I hope everyone has a fantastic New Year and I'll see you all in 2016!
3. The Swindle
The Swindle is easily my favourite indie game of the year and is the perfect example of a simple premise that has been perfectly executed. The graphics are good but the controls and handling are where this game really shines, it is just so slick and responsive. The aim of the game is to complete a number of heists in the hope of doing the big one within 100 days. Each heist is different as they're all randomly generated so no two players games will be the same. Your character can die (mine does a LOT which I'm sure anyone who watches my Twitch streams is surprised to hear) but you can respawn with a new one minus all of the upgrades you had purchased. The Swindle is the perfect game to have pinned for whenever you have a spare ten minutes, but be warned ten minutes is never enough on The Swindle.
2. Life is Strange
Life is Strange is an episodic game that, to date, I have only played through once so it obviously hasn't had that many hours put into it. But this game makes it onto the top three list anyway because it is just that good. Yeah the dialogue is sometimes pretty cringe-y but Life is Strange deals with ideas that are rarely touched upon in this medium and it does it really well. In a year that saw a huge slew of episodic games Life is Strange is the standout title for sure. The graphical style is beautiful and whimsical making Arcadia Bay one of my favourite game locations of the year. For the most part the characters are engaging and well-written, but the best thing about this game is the way in which it explores "The Butterfly Effect". As always I'm spoiler free so I won't go into much more detail, but I see this being in a sale in the not so distant future and if you haven't already bought it then you should definitely pick it up then. Life is Strange is a brave idea of a game that actually worked and I can't wait to play it through again.
1. Fallout 4
Anyone who knows me knows I am a HUGE fan of the Fallout franchise, and well, Bethesda in general. Bethesda can do no wrong for me and Fallout 4 has just cemented that for me. Fallout 4 has offered a vast improvement on all previous Fallout games and given us yet another amazing open world to explore. Graphics aren't quite as shiny as some of the other offerings this year, but it's a new Fallout game so most of us can forgive it for that. And for the first time your character has an actual voice - something I never realised I missed in previous Fallout games until this one. You don't need me to go into a ton of detail about a game as huge as Fallout 4, unless you've lived in a bunker you know of it and what it offers to gamers. Fallout 3 had always been the game I'd take to a desert island but Fallout 4 has hopped, skipped and jumped right over it. I have sunk many an hour into it already and barely scratched it's surface. But the time I've spent in the Commonwealth isn't nearly enough, and I fear that I could spend a year of my life on it and still miss some of it's offerings. If you're looking for a game that offers MASSIVE value for money look no further. Buy it. Now.
Worst Game of 2015: Toro
I mean, seriously, if this isn't on everyones worst games list it'll be a miracle. Everything about it is terrible and it had the honour of being the first game I ever deleted from my XB1 and gave a 0 star rating when forced to review it. To be fair on RecoTech they seemed to take all of the stick I sent their way quite well, even sending me multiple copies of their next release for review and giveaways. I'm still trying to decide whether that was meant as more of a punishment though...
One to Watch in 2016: Gears 4
I found this really tough to narrow down, and I was hoping I'd pick a little known indie or something less mainstream. But I'm a MASSIVE Gears fan and I am thoroughly invested in the universe so the opportunity to play another Gears game on the new hardware is hugely exciting for me. With the release of Gears of War: Ultimate Edition earlier this year my excitement for another Gears instalment only grew and I can't wait! Sorry to anyone reading this who was hoping to see something they had missed for next year!