Console Domination’s 2015 Game of the Year Awards
So now, as 2015 comes to a screeching halt, its airbags deployed and the cheeseburgers that it robbed from the food bank strewn across the road for all to see, we cast our gaze back over the year that was. We do this of course not to lament 2015’s poor driving or critique its decision to steal cheeseburgers in the first place, but rather in an attempt to determine which games stood out from the crowd and gave us the ultimate experiences of the year.
You guessed it! Console Domination’s fifth annual Game of the Year Awards is back and as per usual, it is where we recognise the titles the team have deemed to be the best of the best for the year. We’ve simplified things a little this year, removed the fun but, let’s face it, superfluous categories and instead have boiled it all down to the top five titles of the year as voted by our contributors.
Check out our GOTY podcast for nominations and discussion aplenty. It’ll be coming soon!
Whilst it was always going to be a struggle to surpass 2014, 2015 was still a pretty darn good year for gaming. In fact, 20 games (29% of those reviewed) managed to snag an overall score of 9 or higher, indicating a pretty decent effort. Unfortunately, due to individual budget restrictions, personal preferences and the like, our contributor’s picks are subjective and not everybody could agree on which was the best overall game of the year from the get go. As such the guys have come together and after much intense debate and soul crushing elimination decisions, we have come up with a winner… or five.
So join us as we delve into the sea of gaming that was 2015 and emerge with the victors in hand.
Star Wars: Battlefront (review here) comes in at number five in our Game of the Year line up:
Star Wars: Battlefront gets a nod for game of the year 2015. Sure it has its share of issues but what game doesn’t? To me as a Star Wars fan the game hits the right cords from the sexy and sleek opening menu to beautiful and stunning level design. The musical score, audio effects are all there directly taken from the movies.
The games modes are easy and fun to pick up and play with my personal favourite being Hero’s Vs Villains, this mode selects 6 random players who will play as either Han Solo, Luke Skywalker Princess Leia, Boba Fett, Darth Vader or the evil Emperor Palpatine. The objective of this mode is to kill all three Hero’s or Villains to win the round. It’s simple it’s fun and best of all matches are found instantly at any time of the day.
Star Wars Battlefront allows me to enter a universe that I love and for that reason it gets a solid look in for Game of the Year 2015.
Halo 5: Guardians (review here) comes in at number four in our Game of the Year line up:
As some old school fans of the franchise have pointed out, it may not be the best Halo ever made, but that doesn’t make it a bad game! The fear is that 343 is taking the Halo universe in unsettling direction, but regardless of story line, Halo 5 guardians has nailed gameplay! If you want to feel like a super solder on a mission to save the galaxy you got it! Unlimited sprint, jet booster evaders, a 6th sense like objective finder, and a bad ass game design that makes mobility and combat effortless!
Halo 5 utilises the Xbox one’s hardware capacity perfectly at 60 FPS and 1080p it crams as much action as possible into every single frame and it looks absolutely incredible! Not to mention Microsoft have managed to get their online servers to work “*cough* Master Chief Collection *cough*” more or less perfectly, lending its servers to over 7 million matches in its first month after release! So far the multiplayer platform has been smooth sailing, with new game modes like warzone and a reward system like the REQ packs, not only is the game smooth, its rewarding at an end game level as well!
It’s good to see a developer listen to their fans, at the end of the day we are the ones that are going to buy and play the game. 343 really took on the feedback from previous titles in the line-up and use it to make a game that we literally asked for, this paid off for them with over $400 million in sales in the first week making this “the biggest halo launch of all time” because of this I think the franchise looks like it has a bright future ahead of it! And that is why Halo 5 guardians deserves a spot in our top 5 GOTY for 2015.
Bloodborne (review here) comes in at number three in our Game of the Year line up:
When looking at releases throughout the year for nominations for game of the year, I have a certain formula that I adapt to sort out the good, the bad and the ugly. This criterion comes to the fore when picks are dwindled down to my final choice. This criterion has a few key elements, those being; has the game been released relatively free of bugs and have a feeling of polished completion? Is the game engaging from beginning to completion? Does it deliver a hefty challenge? Does the game fully achieve what the designers had set out for and would I recommend to anyone to play it?
Bloodborne answered yes to all of these and delivered From Software’s greatest adventure yet. I wondered leading up to its release if From Software could actually pull off what I saw as a gamble. The Souls series has a strong following and to try and tamper with its formula and create an entirely new world that would gain the support of fans was risky. Also making the release exclusive on PS4 in the console market was another risk. Fortuitously the result was the studio’s best release to date.
The setting of Yarnham was one of fear, decay, horror and beauty and one that will be remembered long after the games completion. The frustrating boss encounters, the maddening sickness that infected the world was as wondrous as it was grotesque. The trade mark difficulty and requirement to learn from previous mistakes returned. Everything in this harsh world was out to kill you, even at time when you thought help was on hand things could quickly spiral into danger.
The feeling of weakness, competing against odds that felt insurmountable was back, as was the unequaled feeling of elation that accompanied triumph. No game has ever made winning feel more empowering, more glorious or more well-earned. Again it is this feeling that makes you endure so many defeats and hollowness that accompanies the repeated death. Bloodborne is by far the most fluid in terms of game play and controls that From Software has ever produced.
These are the reasons I had Bloodborne at the top of my list this year. I yearn for the feeling of greatness, the pride of my victories. That and being able to slay a beast that resembled a giant mutated vagina, and lets be honest, no other game delivered that!
The Witcher III: Wild Hunt (review here) comes in in the runner-up position in our Game of the Year line up:
It’s interesting that while the Witcher series had long received critical acclaim, it wasn’t until the third and seemingly final instalment of their series that they’d receive the commercial success and public recognition that the quality of their work deserved. The Witcher series has always featured incredible storytelling as their strong point, but it was with Witcher 3 that CD Projekt brought their A-game in every other aspect. They streamlined the gameplay, they tightened up the combat, they made it more accessible whilst still making it deep, they placed it in an open world to explore, and they basically made it one of the prettiest, one of the best sounding, and one of the most intricately crafted titles of this year. It’s a great game, and a great RPG.
You can talk about the expansive open world, the enjoyable combat, the broad level of customisation, but when it comes down to it, the storytelling is still the most amazing part of The Witcher 3. It’s a dark and gritty fantasy setting, a bleak and miserable world filled with magic and monsters, with ruthless kings and scheming sorceresses, of racism and superstition, of church led witch hunts, and race wars between men and elves. It’s an entirely crappy place to be, where happy endings are few and far in between, where heroes tend not to end well, and where your best intentions could have horrible consequences. Even though you try to be a hero, sometimes it just isn’t enough, and people can and will die unintentionally because of decisions you make.
All this is conveyed by some truly excellent writing, and some great voice acting. What impressed me was that this careful storytelling applied to all sorts of quests and characters, major and minor. Characters such as the Bloody Baron, a brutal drunken warlord who abused his family, rules over a terrified population of starving peasants, and commands a cutthroat army of looters, rapists, and pillagers. And yet he’s also a sympathetic and oddly likeable character despite being utterly reprehensible. He’s a flawed character, capable of surprising nobility, and shocking brutality, and one of the most well written and well-acted characters I’ve seen in a game. Or one surprising side quest where you discover the trapped ghost of woman who died horribly after an ill-fated romance. Free her from the tower she’s trapped in and you’ve unlocked a blight upon the world, with countless innocents killed by the maddened ghost. Reunite her with her lover and break the curse and her lover dies horribly, with no real happy ending in sight, just the dead.
It’s this incredibly well written and well delivered storytelling, with plenty of emotional depth, maturity, and moral ambiguity, that – when paired with solidly crafted open world gameplay and RPG mechanics – elevates Witcher 3 above the pack and into contention for Game of the Year.
By the slimmest of margins, Fallout 4 (review here) edged The Witcher III: Wild Hunt for Game of the year honours:
You had to have seen this coming. Fallout 4 wasn’t NOT going to be a Game of the Year nominee. How could it? Each of Bethesda’s massively sprawling open world single player RPGs are an incredible exercise in scale and ambition. Their worlds, always so painstakingly crafted, so large in scale, so broad in ambition, and so full of amazing little things to discover, make for some of the most addictive, most enthralling, most captivating games around. Fallout 4 is no exception, perhaps being their most incredible world yet.
I could talk about the things that drive me nuts about Fallout. The relatively lacklustre storyline with its disappointing ending, the sheer unrelenting monotony of radiant quests, and of course the tons of bugs that you can expect from a Bethesda release, but that doesn’t take away from how utterly compelling Fallout 4 is. I’ve sunk in nearly 100 hours at this stage, but I want to keep going, to keep discovering, to keep improving myself.
Building up your character is one of the most rewarding parts of a Bethesda RPG. I must have wasted countless hours in Skyrim just on crafting, on improving myself and my gear. Fallout 4 gives you no level cap, and a ton of perks to unlock. So you keep going, endlessly chasing experience points to improve yourself just that bit more.
But discovery is always the most amazing part of any Bethesda RPG. The worlds they create demand it. That mountain to be scaled, that city to be visited, that enemy base to be crushed, that building to be looted. You’re placed in an open world filled with mysteries to be discovered, so you explore it. You walk from one end of the Wasteland to the other. You fight the countless foes, ransack countless locations for loot, and in doing so you make your own stories, but you also discover others. You find the little things. Small stories. Glimpses into the world you’re wandering through.
A small cardboard box with a child sized skeleton holding a teddy bear. A holotape log of a girl who was disowned by her family and was left alone and scared in a cabin in the woods just as the bombs fell. A small gentleman’s club where the wealthy got together to smoke cigars and drink wine, filled with skeletons and poisoned wine, the remnants of a mass suicide by men who knew the end of the world was at hand, and wanted no part of what came next. It’s that sense of discovery, of amazing locations, of deadly enemies, of valuable loot, of tragic stories, of darkly funny events, that makes Fallout so compelling.
So, for providing yet another incredible world to explore, and yet another almost dangerously addictive gameplay experience, Fallout 4 is our Game of the Year for 2015.
So there it is in a nutshell, 2015 done and dusted. Congratulations to all of the games that made the top five and a fist bump and air salute to our winner – Bethesda’s latest sprawling open-world RPG Fallout 4.
Unfortunately, 2016 was a frightfully good year for gaming and there were plenty of other quality titles that didn’t get a look in against the RPG juggernauts that took out our top three. Here is a list of the remaining games that came up in our game of the year discussion and by extension should peak your interest if you haven’t checked them out yet:
Batman: Arkham Knight, Dying Light, Life is Strange, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Mortal Kombat X, Ori and the Blind Forest, Rainbow Six: Siege, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Submerged, Tales from the Borderlands, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter and Until Dawn.
So what do you think? Did we pick the right games or are we way off? Let us know on Facebook and be sure to stay with us as we begin our coverage of 2016 and all of its awesome looking titles in the near future. For now, though, game on and peace out!
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