Monday, 11 January 2016

End Of Year Gaming Round-Up 2015

Written during the last week of 2015 for Forces Of Geek

New Year's Eve approaches, which can only mean one thing: END OF YEAR LISTS! I love compiling my round up of 2015 and try to choose games that stood out personally to me. 2015 on first glance seemed a bit bare on the gaming front until I realised that in the same year as it was announced, Fallout 4 was also released! I am still playing this game and intend to do so right up until February...or March...or forever? With so many great games to take me into 2016, I will not be suffering from the January blues this year and hopefully, after reading my list and following my recommendations for games to catch up on, go back to or start anew, neither will you dear reader, neither will you.

Without further delay, here are my personal top 5 picks from 2015, if I've left your favourite off the list, go make your own or simply whine at me in the comments, I love that and will most definitely pay it no mind.

Fallout 4

A choice I made apparent in my opening paragraph, how could this not be on my list? For me, Fallout 4 was (before it's release) my most anticipated game of the year. Or it was after the surprise announcement from Bethesda earlier in the year. I certainly wasn't disappointed upon release date and was also one of the lucky ones who managed to get the limited edition that came with a working Pip Boy. After freaking out like a huge fan girl over my bulky plastic wrist device, upon booting up the game, my heart was full of joy the moment that the theme music began. I assure you, my previous sentence wasn't mere hyperbole, I was so happy.

As with all Bethesda games on release date, there were a few glitches but nothing major. It ticked all the boxes for me as a Fallout fan and I love the fact that there are relationship options with your companions, a nice addiction! Plus, I haven't come close to finishing this game (I am an endless side quester) and yet, it's still my game of the year. If you haven't picked it up already, I heartily recommend it, the side quests alone will fill your January!

Star Wars Battlefront

An extremely fun game, however I think it's fair that I only recommend it if you are the kind of person who enjoys multiplayer gaming. Taking down AT-ATs, controlling them at times, flying in X-Wings and randomly spawning as Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker and wielding a lightsaber is thoroughly enjoyable. Though I suspect my enjoyment comes out of the fact that I am a fan of the Star Wars franchise. Saying that, who would buy a Star Wars game if they hated it?! Only a fool!

Granted, this is not a game I'd go back to regularly but it's still a solid game and made it to my list because it felt like Star Wars and it kept the buzz of the films release going. Admittedly, this game was made infinitely more exciting after the release of Star Wars The Force Awakens, not for any spoiler-y reasons but because it made me eager to go back to it. If you need something to fill the void between now and the next film, this is your game.

Assassin's Creed Syndicate

Ignoring the furore that surrounded this games predecessor and the rather stupid sounding name (I mean, it sounds like a Business and Marketing buzzword spoken by cretins in suits who have no idea what they are selling), this game is an improvement. While Assassin's Creed Unity failed to incorporate female characters into the multiplayer mode, I mean, Syndicate had two playable characters you could switch between, one of which is Evie Frye. In fact, I didn't quite understand why Ubisoft felt the need to include her brother Jacob because no one I know opted to play through this game as him.

The two characters have different play styles, Evie being more stealthy (like an assassin should be!) and Jacob, a street fighting, loud, arrogant thug who has the stealthiness of a cow. Despite my gripe with Jacob though, I still adored this game and in part I wonder if that's because I recognised many of the landmarks and streets of London (I love the detail in these games!) and it filled me with nostalgia for my home city. Speaking of nostalgia, as with most Assassin's Creed games, things do get a bit repetitive and after a while you begin to feel a sense of deja vu with some of the missions, but the story is interesting and the gameplay is fluid. 

Super Mario Maker

It saddens me every time a Nintendo title is released that I know I will adore because I no longer own a Nintendo console and Super Mario Maker is one of those games. During it's release and the weeks that followed it, my social media news feeds were flooded with people sharing their level creations and I felt lost and alone, wanting desperately to design my own or play my friend's levels.

So why is this game on my list if I haven't played it? Well, quite simply because it felt like I was the only one without it and for it's immense popularity. From discussions with friends, I've also felt as though I have played it through them. It's like an endless game, you can play levels made by people all over the world, if you don't think that's cool then we should stop hanging out, who even are you anyway? It combines creative level building fun (AKA game design..I mean, how cool is that?) with a friendly (mostly) online community.      

Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited

Not to be confused with the original Elder Scrolls Online atrocity, this new and updated version that was released this year fixes pretty much every issue, including ditching the mandatory subscription fee (which was the only thing stopping me from purchasing the original). The Tamriel Unlimited version is a thing of beauty, just when I was craving Skyrim, it appeared to me unexpectedly on Christmas Day (Praise be to Santa!).

It plays like a simplified version of Skyrim but with lots of other players on the same server, some might be on the same quest, some are just wandering but not once does it feel cluttered or claustrophobic, quite the opposite in fact. The map is absolutely huge and there are a crazy amount of territories to explore, there is no doubt that you could play this as obsessively as World Of Warcraft if you wanted to. You don't need to join a guild or meet up online with friends to complete quests either, you can essentially go it alone. With so much to do and multiple quests and story lines, this game will have plenty of replay value, you know, if that's your thing. 

Those are my top 5 and regular readers might be surprised to find that I have excluded the most recent Halo release. Well, the reason for that is that because local 2-player co-op was removed as a campaign option and for that I couldn't bring myself to include it. The Halo franchise betrayed me, it was one of the only game series that I could guarantee local co-op on, so both myself and my husband could play together. Now it seems, there really is no hope for my beloved game mode. Farewell local co-op, sleep well. 

Other notable titles that almost made the list included; The Witcher III, Until Dawn, Batman: Arkham Knight and Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain. Don't forget to let me know what you think of my picks and to list your own in the comments section, until next time be sure to check the site for all of the Best Of 2015 lists.  

I raise my glass to 2015 and it's offerings and also to 2016, who knows what unexpected announcements E3 2016 holds? 

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