Game of the Year 2016 Day 1 of 3

If there’s one positive thing that 2016 should be remembered for, it’s the abundance of great games. There were so many games out there and so little time to play them all, so it’s time for me to give nods to games that I should have played in 2016. 

The Game I Wish I Bought & Played in 2016

Winner: Hitman

I’m a long time Hitman fan. I was hooked with Silent Assassin, honed by Contracts and impressed with, the last great entry to the series, Blood Money. I didn’t hear many kind words for Absolution and thus I thought the series’ may have lost its way. Needless to say, I was wrong and this year’s Hitman seemed to be the true successor to Blood Money that we’ve all been waiting for. It even won GiantBomb’s Game of the Year.

I didn’t agree with the episodic nature of the game. I tend to buy entire seasons after all the episodes are out and people can weigh in on its entirety. I should pick up Hitman now but with so many games left to play, I just don’t know when that will happen. This is especially true considering I own the runner-ups and have yet to play a second of two of them.

I started Pokemon Sun but it might as well be still sealed in its box because I just got my Litten. 

Runner-ups: The Witness, Final Fantasy XV, Pokemon Sun

 

Game of the Year 2015 Day 3 of 3

We’re here at last. The best sounds, the best year old game and the very best of 2015 can be found in this very post. It’s been real, 2015.

Best 2014 Game Played In 2015

Winner: Wolfenstein: The New Order

Wolfenstein - The New Order Box Art

I really wanted to play it in 2014 but I felt I could put it off until it was cheaper because it only featured a single player campaign. It was a fantastic title and I loved every minuted of it. It was a wonderful mix of old school and modern shooter mechanics. I loved its devotion to 60FPS. I was intrigued by the alternate universe setting and relished every opportunity to explore the game’s spaces. I sought excuses to revisiting The New Order by completing the Platinum Trophy and didn’t hesitate to grab the standalone expansion, The Old Blood. It’s such a shame they don’t make single player shooter campaigns like these anymore.

This was a very tough choice. Any of the runner ups could win this but there could only be one and that falls to Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Runner ups: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies

Best Soundtrack of 2015

Winner: Undertale

Undertale Logo

I was all set to give this award to Ori and the Blind Forest but after playing Undertale and listening to the entire soundtrack daily for four consecutive days, I had to give it to Undertale. The songs are catchy. They transport me back to the best moments of a game that I didn’t enjoyed from top to bottom. There’s also the sheer quantity of different tracks that transition from beginning to end very well; shuffling the track list would be a disservice. Like with Modern Warfare 2’s, I can see myself listening to this soundtrack for years to come and not bother touching the game ever again.

Ori and the Blind Forest was a shoe in until Undertale’s last minute Hail Mary. The soundtrack accompanied every moment with tremendous effect and easily tied the entire game together. It’s also a very pleasant listen outside of the game and will also reside in my iPod for a long time.

Axiom Verge was a weird soundtrack. It felt at odds with the game at times and didn’t mesh as well as the other games but it eventually grew on me. It’s a bit fatiguing to listen to for the umpteenth time while I was retreading areas seeking out upgrades but given a little time, I found myself enjoying each track at least once.

Runner ups: Ori and the Blind Forest, Axiom Verge

Top 10 Games of 2015

The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt PS4 Box Art

  1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  2. Ori and the Blind Forest
  3. Life is Strange
  4. Rocket League
  5. Bloodborne
  6. Galak-Z
  7. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  8. Batman: Arkham Knight
  9. Call of Duty: Black Ops III
  10. Hitman: Sniper

Despite its early launch issues, I pushed on. Despite the long 2-3 month hiatus, I returned and pushed on. In the end, I still wanted to to play more of it and even considered paying Geralt another visit via the expansion. The breadth and quality in The Witcher 3 was incredible and it was exactly what I hoped for from CD Projekt RED.

What if they didn’t stop making Super Nintendo action adventure platformers like Super Metroid and The Lion King ? What if they continued to refine those types of games to a mirror sheen? The result is Ori and The Blind Forest.

Life is Strange gave me “the feels” and played with the modern day adventure game’s conventions in a unique manner. They turned save scumming into an in-game mechanic! That in itself is remarkable but being able to tackle sensitive topics such as domestic violence and bullying without being overly preachy is equally amazing.

Rocket League is the best representation of soccer in a video game.

Bloodborne was my favorite “Souls” game because it wasn’t plagued with performance issues and inconsistent controller response. I enjoyed the de-emphasis on defense and the introduction to on the fly weapon switching. It was refreshing to see the “Souls” formula get remixed like this. Shame about the frame pacing issues though.

Galak-Z was my first whiff of anything resembling rogue-like genre and I really enjoyed the challenge. It wasn’t as unforgiving as other rogue-like titles out there which I felt was a smart move to entice newcomers like myself. The 1980’s anime inspired nostalgia was a nice touch but I wish they would have extended it to the cutscenes as well.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was a joy to play. You will be hard pressed to find anyone who disagreed with that statement. I felt like I could pull off anything that I wanted to from a stealth or action standpoint — that’s not something any other game let alone Metal Gear Solid game can comfortably say. Unfortunately it wasn’t a great Metal Gear Solid game. It was like the anti-MGS4.

Batman: Arkham Knight was what I wanted Batman: Arkham City to be. It’s the best expression of Batman in a video game form to date. I even enjoyed all the tank combat that Rocksteady threw at me. I still didn’t love the Riddler trophies though. Oh, and Batman should really stop involving proteges in his life. He doesn’t know how to handle them.

I still play Call of Duty: Black Ops III’s multiplayer on a regular basis which is not something I thought I would be saying in 2016. I never played TitanFall so all this wall running is novel to me. I wish the campaign was better but it’s not enough to drag the entire package down from this list.

Hitman: Sniper proved to me that Square Enix Montreal can make just about any title on mobile and I would buy it.

Game of the Year 2015 Day 2 of 3

You can tell it’s a good year for games when I have more difficulty whittling down my list of surprises than my list of disappointments. I even had to cheat a bit and cut Black Ops III in half in order to give my list of disappointments three nominees.

Most Disappointing Game of 2015

Winner: Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture Box Art Logo

Dear Esther was one of my first forays into the “Walking simulator” genres. It was beautiful, fascinating and I felt encouraged to explore a space. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture seemed to following down the same path as Dear Esther but it became the deliberately slow movement speed and ugly performance issues ballooned to the point where I just didn’t care if I finished it or not.

The plodding movement speed ran against the exploratory nature of the game which is insane when that’s the only means of interaction.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III’s campaign was a significant step down from Black Ops II’s which was surprise considering Treyarch’s track record. However, I wasn’t as bummed out by it as others because I played it in a co-operative setting.

As for Xenoblade Chronicles 3D? It’s my fault for even buying this game. I knew it had MMORPG trappings but I felt compelled to buy a New Nintendo 3DS game after picking up the refreshed handheld earlier this year. The surrounding praise didn’t help but I should have known better. I’m more disappointed at myself than the game, really.

Runner ups: Call of Duty: Black Ops III (Campaign), Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

Most of Surprising Game of 2015

Winner: Rocket League

Rocket League Box Art Logo

Soccer with cars. I heard rumblings about Super Acrobatic Rocket Powered Cars being a fun game I didn’t bother pursuing it. Rocket League was given away through the PlayStation Plus Instant Game Collection and if it wasn’t for the slowish summer season and the fact that it was “free”, I may have missed out on this simple and incredibly deep game. It’s a game that comes closest to matching the spirt of soccer. I wasn’t controlling a player who manipulated the ball based on his dribbling ability, I used a car and exerted force to manipulate the ball; it was my skill (or lack thereof) that determined if I scored, how well I blocked, how accurate I passed or how fast I dribbled a ball. It was both frustrating and satisfying.

Hitman: Sniper looked like the myriad of other Silent Scope knockoffs on iOS but since it was Square Enix Montreal, I gave it a try and discovered a surprising amount of depth and challenge. I even made my way onto the top 100 or so.

I didn’t think Life is Strange was my kind of game but what did I know? It didn’t matter if it starred high school girls, a heartfelt story was great no matter what.

Runner ups: Hitman: Sniper, Life is Strange

Game of the Year 2015 Day 1 of 3

2015 will go down as one of the better years in video games. I actually struggled to trim down my top 10 and nominees across all my categories.

Today’s categories feature two Nintendo titles that I didn’t spend enough time with despite the fact they’re in my wheelhouse.

The 2015 Game I Wish I Bought & Played In 2015

Winner: Splatoon

Splatoon Box Art

Nintendo’s third person shooter made waves with its unique and innovative approach to the genre. It looked interesting every time I laid eyes on it but as soon as I glanced at the price of $69.99, I was immediately turned off. The early criticisms concerning the lack of content fell by the wayside thanks to Nintendo’s continued support with free maps, weapons and modes.

I should have pre-ordered it with Amazon.ca’s E3 promotional discount but hindsight is 20/20.

Runner ups: Rise of the Tomb Raider, Until Dawn

 

The 2015 Game I Wish I Spent More Time With

Winner: Super Mario Maker

Super Mario Maker Box Art

Super Mario Maker should be an endless supply of platforming fun and I should have been tackling course after course but I haven’t. I played several of the pre-made levels and sampled a number of user created ones. I even made and uploaded a level but I haven’t played nearly enough to even give it a an honest review. As silly as it may sound, I think I would have played it more if I bought it digitally.

As for the other nominees? I spent a solid month or so playing Rocket League but it fizzled away as soon as the third quarter approached. Psyonix continued to support it with paid cosmetic items and free gameplay content but I never found the opportunity to revisit it despite my intentions.

It may seem a little silly to nominate The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt in this category but I really wanted to play the expansion DLC.

Runner ups: Rocket League, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

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