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Top 10 Games of 2015

Every now and then, when perusing various message boards, I see people complaining about the state of games. They're too simple. They're streamlined handholders. They're broken pieces of crap.

Yes, I would agree that some of the mass marketed games are struggling to deal with an identity crisis these days. How do you make a game that isn't crushed from the ever-inflating budgets of AAA games, yet strikes a balance between two very different target audiences - the "casual" and the "hardcore" gamer.

But if you look past the Call of Duty and Assassin's Creeds of the world, you'll see a plethora of games from 2015 that make this a great year to be a gamer.

List items

  • The Witcher 3 had so much hype leading up to its release, it seemed nearly impossible for CD Projekt Red to deliver on all its lofty promises. Free DLC? A massive open world, yet a rich story line? Decent voice acting, even for side characters? It promised the ocean and surely it could only deliver a wave of success at best, right?


    The Witcher 3 is a masterpiece.

    The way the trees sway in the wind as a storm approaches. The way the sun shines through the tree branches and radiates off Geralt's glistening armor. The way Triss cracks the faintest hint of a smile, just to convey there's still some emotion for Geralt deep within her. It's all so masterfully crafted.

    As I stated in my review earlier this year, I've never seen a game world so well realized. Sure witches aren't real...but if they were? I very well believe they'd look like the crones from Crookback Bog.

    One small review for a top 10 list can't begin to capture everything that the Witcher 3 delivers on, so you'll just have to trust me. And if you don't want to trust me, then perhaps you can trust the other eighteen bajillion top 10 lists this year that are claiming Witcher 3 the best game of the year.

    Well done CD Projekt Red. You deserve it.

  • RC Cars that can fly through the air via rockets, double flip for boosts, and smash a giant ball into a goal to result in a satisfying explosion.

    'Nuff said.

    But in all seriousness, Rocket League possesses oh-so much more than what meets the eye. It's deceptively simple and inviting to new players, yet presents a ceiling so high that it's being considered the next, hot eSports game.

    Rocket League's quick 5 minute pick up and play design is smart and addictive and probably the reason for its success. Rarely do I have a game that has me by the shorthairs like this. It's the first time in YEARS that I woke up late for work because I was up too late gaming. "Just one more...just one more"!

    It will break friendships, create new ones, and bring smiles to your face - all in a measly 5 minutes.

  • Oh Bloodborne - you torment me so. Loud, late-in-the-night, lengthy play sessions, sweat-laced controllers, and pounding fists are bound to ensue whenever this game is fired up...and that's precisely why I love it so much.

    While the formula stays true to the Dark Souls' identity (corpse runs, farming, short-cut based level design, and grueling boss battles), enough is changed to make it feel like its own, unique game. The removal of shields made for fast-paced battles, which made fans of the Souls series apprehensive. This change to the battle system was a smart and much needed twist to prevent series fatigue.

    Bloodborne delivers on so many levels beyond gameplay as well. The art direction, spearheaded by the brilliant Hidetaka Miyazaki and his team, is the best art direction I've seen in a game to date. It's dark and unsettling, daunting yet focused, and yet in some way, one of the most beautiful games I've ever laid eyes on.

    Bloodborne truly is in a class of its own. There's no game quite like it, and for that reason alone, it will have a special place on my shelf for many years to come.

  • SOMA made me realize that video games can be both fun to play and tell incredible stories. SOMA may be the sleeper hit of 2015 for me. It's a damn shame more people aren't talking about this game, because the ending may very well be the best ending of a game in 2015.

    It's hard to talk about SOMA without diving too much into the story and overarching concepts, but I'm reluctant to do that because I don't want to spoil a single minute of the game's journey.

    Fans of horror may be left disappointed, but those who enjoy a dark, psychological sci-fi story will be hard pressed to find a better game this year.

  • What's this? A city-building simulator that actually 2015!?

    Colossal Order and Paradox, whether they realize it or not, made an amazing business decision by releasing Cities: Skylines in early 2015.

    After EAs absolute blunder with the latest Sim City release, it was clear that there was an audience for this type of game. More importantly, this audience was ravenous for something to play that wasn't either fantasy-based, medieval-based, or more than 10 years old.

    But more importantly, Colossal Order created a city-builder that was in depth yet not overwhelming. It had been years since I found a game of this genre that captured me quite like this. There's a whole lot to build and manage in the game, yet it all made sense to me. In a genre where I can often lost interest in 15-20 minutes, Cities: Skylines managed to sink it's hooks deep in my skin and keep me coming back for more all year long.

  • Yes the story was a mess, but frankly, I don't give a damn. The mechanics, feel, and flow of Metal Gear Solid V was so damn good that I'm willing to overlook some of its flaws. Some may argue that the game should be higher on a top 10 list for 2015, but there are some gripes that prevent me from bumping it up higher (repetitive missions, a rushed ending, terrible treatment/representation of what could have been a great female character, etc).

    That being said, Metal Gear Solid V did a lot of things right as well. D-Dog and the supporting characters were fun to mess around with; the number of ways to complete a mission due to excellent emergent gameplay was unseen in any game before it; and Kiefer Sutherland somehow overcame the seemingly insurmountable task of replacing David Hayter (despite not using Sutherland's talent enough for some reason).

    With the amount of drama that surrounded the Konami-Kojima whirlwind this year, it's amazing that the game even shipped - not to mention actually delivering on fans' hopes and expectations.

  • It's Fallout 3, but this time around, you actually have a reason to collect all those aluminum cans.

    Sure - it's a Bethesda game, and with that comes a lot of jankiness. Some people question why we give Bethesda the free pass for this kind of stuff, and to them I say "Why not"?

    If we didn't have a problem with it in Oblivion, Skyrim, and Fallout 3, then why do we suddenly have a problem with it now?

    Embrace the jank.

  • I'm not going to lie - Dying Light didn't have much going for it leading up to launch day. It was developed by Techland, and as you may recall, prior to this game they were really only known for Dead Island (which was received with mixed reviews).

    Can a company right the ship, and make a game so eerily similar to the original attempt, and deliver on it?

    It may be unfair, but it's for these very reasons that I think everyone loved this game. They went in with the bar low enough to not leave disappointed.

    But don't let that fool you. There truly are some awesome aspects to this game. The parkour elements were executed wonderfully, the nighttime stealth scenarios were some of the most tense moments I've felt in a game during 2015, and the graphics were stunning.

  • Folks are getting fed up with the number of SUPER-Mega-ENHANCED-Deluxe-REMASTER versions of games that are coming out these days, and I'm in that group.

    But Chris, if you're so fed up with them, why in the hell are you including one on your top 10 list?

    Because this is the gold standard.

    Larian upgraded the game in so many ways, it's hard to ignore the value you get out of it. A controller support that rivals Diablo 3 was added. The inventory has been cleaned up in a number of smart, efficient ways for both console AND PC players.

    (The game was my favorite game from 2014, so I also wanted some excuse to fit it in my list again for 2015 :D )

  • When I first saw Toy Story in the theaters as a kid, I stared at the screen wide-eyed with amazement. "One of these days, video games will look like this," I said.

    It took 20 years, but I'm proud to say we're just about there.

    The art direction in Ori and the Blind Forest is sublime. I'm not going to lie, I'm a sucker for moments in games where the foreground is used in a manner to present space and depth - particularly in a side scroller. The first time you see a creature move in the foreground of your screen will send shivers down your spine.

    Beyond this, the game starts off with a heart stinging opening that rivals Pixar's 'Up' for the award of "Most likely to make a grown-ass man shed a single tear"