It’s the final countdown…
And we arrive at the top five in our Game of the Year 2015 list! It’s been one hell of a year, with sequels and new IP arriving left, right and centre. Which games made the top of our list? Read on to find out!
5 – UNTIL DAWN
Gari: Until Dawn is a game that caught many gamers (including myself) by surprise. My biggest surprise is just how superb and highly enjoyably a title it is. It may be cliched regarding its story, but thats its strengths and charm in all honesty. If you love a teen horror game with a great story that keep you entertained from start to finish, then you can’t go wrong with Until Dawn. Alongside a great story is superb voice acting from a cast that includes Hayden Panettiere. If you own a PS4, Until Dawn should quite simply be part of your collection.
Adam: Another game that makes my top 5, another where choices are the key to your success or failure. Until Dawn is a horror title like no other as you, the player, gets to decide who lives and who dies based on your choices in the game. I can’t say I was too successful in keeping everyone alive, but the complete journey from start to finish was really enjoyable. Also, Hayden Panettiere…..
Nico: Suspense, emotion, drama and even a few jokes. Until Dawn had everything it took to blow everyone who had the pleasure of playing the game away. Hollywood actresses and actors took a back seat as we made their decisions for them and decided who lived and who died.
4 – FALLOUT 4
Nick It’s easy to wax-lyrical about Bethesda’s superb freedom and approach to their open-world games; we already new that would be the case. What surprised me was the ambition to expand on those staples with deep crafting, building and character development that outdoes anything they’ve done before by some margin. It had its technical issues, but Fallout 4 can be innately charming and can reward your curiosity in ways no other title can.
Deb: There is no doubt that Fallout 4 has seen a lot of hype this year, being at the top of most people’s minds including my own. I was relatively new to the Fallout series; having never played previous entries myself but rather having watched friends playing it for hours. That didn’t stop me from pre-ordering the Pip-Boy Edition the instant it popped up and also the Fallout Anthology for PC.
When it comes to games, I love to drag out each new experience for as long as possible, to take in as much of it as I possibly can. At times of course I want to rush in but I hold myself back; I love to put in a lot of hours painstakingly crafting my story through whichever adventure awaits me. That is why Fallout 4 excited me so much! As a sandbox game it offers me everything I could ever want in a game; a vast open world with no limits, I can go where I want and do what I want; there are no rules. There is plenty to distract me from the main story, from helping various souls with their problems, crafting my very own settlement to just taking a stroll with dogmeat and admiring the views. Of course the game has been riddled with bugs but that has not dampened the experience for me; it is a very beautiful post-apocalyptic world indeed!
It allowed me to craft the perfect in game version of myself, something I always look for to personalise my experience. I can adapt the world in any way I see fit, from crafting my dream town to modifying weapons that better suit my style. I am not one for shooters but here the combat system makes it easy for me to take control, making it much more approachable. The style was also a big sell for me; I love the 50’s and thus the soundtrack and graphics including the many posters and signs make for a very happy adventure, despite the sad events that have unfolded.
Charles: It certainly has it’s flaws, but Fallout is a cracking game. The vast amount of choice within Fallout means that you can play it however you like and really personalise your play through. Other sandbox titles going forward really need to look at how Bethesda have truly given you a game that you can lose yourself in, without realising the that time is passing in the real world.
3 – BATMAN ARKHAM KNIGHT
Ben: Forget Origins, this is the third part of the Arkham Trilogy. A stunning conclusion to the Dark Knight’s story, with a story that just proves that they *get* Batman, Rocksteady have taken everything they’ve learned from Asylum and City to craft the definitive Batman game. Yes, the Batmobile sections get a bit tiresome, and yes, the PC version was an undeniable and catastrophic failure, but Arkham Knight is the culmination of everything that they’ve been working toward with the series.
Asim: Sure, the Batmobile was overused a bit and tricky to control at first, but that doesn’t detract from what is an otherwise spectacular Batman simulator. The finale of Rocksteady’s Arkham trilogy perfects the combat (still so good), traversal, exploration and everything else the developer introduced to great effect in Asylum. It looks great and the story is filled with incredible moments. Man, those last few hours, I will never forget the way I felt. Superb.
Gari: Being a huge fan of what Rocksteady had done previously with the Batman franchise, I had high-hopes for the last game in their trilogy and I wasn’t disappointed. A stunning game from a visual standpoint that captures Batman and the world brilliantly, but with gameplay and a fantastic story attached, it all pulls together to offer a fantastic universe to dive into. If you want an open-world game that captures the essence of a comic-book character in the right way, then you can’t go wrong with Batman: Arkham Knight. As the last title in the trilogy, Rocksteady have pulled out all the stops to tie up all the loose ends with the series and gone that extra mile to do so. If you love Batman or have even a slight interest in comic book characters, then you can’t go wrong with the fantastic, Batman: Arkham Knight.
Nick: Not all trilogies get the ending they deserve, but that’s not even remotely the case with Rocksteady’s final entry in the series. Arkham Knight is a masterful example of honing and tweaking an experience in the right ways, whilst adding new mechanics like the Batmobile, albeit slightly overused, to great effect. There’s few comic book hero games that capture the feeling of empowerment as well as this does and it’ll be influencing future games for a long time to come.
Nico: Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman, then always be Batman. That is exactly who you are in the final instalment of this epic franchise, and it will surely go down as the best in the series. An incredible story goes along with the groundbreaking combat mechanics. Batman, we love you!
2 – LIFE IS STRANGE
Robin: I have waxed lyrical at length about Life is Strange on many occasions, not least in my personal game of the year nomination piece. Life is Strange took the ball right out of the hands of Telltale Games and ran with it – creating an emotionally effecting, moving story, that let you manipulate time and space.
Playing as teenager Max Caulfield, the title let you re-wind and re-write history, trying to save your best friend and investigate a series of strange natural phenomena in the small-town American town of Arcadia Bay. Some people didn’t appreciate the teen-speak and college setting, but Dontnod somehow managed to create a relatable tale that left a lasting impression, despite the supernatural elements. A real surprise package that showed a non triple-A title could put the big boys to shame.
Adam: A week ago, Life is Strange never even come into consideration for my Game of the Year pick, let alone my top 5. This is how special Life is Strange is. Life is Strange is nothing but brilliant. You choices you make throughout really make you feel like you are altering the game’s path, giving you a experience tailored to your own thoughts. Dontnod have done a wonderful job with it, with each episode gripping you from start to finish.
Asim: I just finished this recently after stopping at episode two due to being busy reviewing other games and work in general. Man, how stupid am I? It’s flawed and the logic behind some its story elements are questionable, but that pales into insignificance when the rest of the game nails almost everything else. Telltale are seen as the kings of the episodic story based genre, but Dontnod’s effort tops anything they’ve done. Yes, even The Walking Dead season one, it’s that good. No other game in this genre has made me feel as engrossed, emotional or conflicted as Life is Strange. It’s relatable, it’s brave… It’s brilliant.
Ben: This was a game that I picked up on a whim, having heard a bit of positive buzz about it. I started through episode 1 and 2 without much fanfare, but then one lazy Sunday, I fired up the PlayStation TV in the living room, sat there and mainlined episodes 3, 4 and 5 with my wife watching. It had us both hooked. Initially written off as a piece of teen fluff, Life is Strange’s story evolves into something beautiful, with each and every interaction paying off in different ways. The ability to rewind time in a choice based game adds a new dimension to the otherwise flat gameplay, adding much more of a moral quandary to every decision you make, given that you can view both outcomes before eventually settling on your chosen one. A solid six hours were spent being utterly gripped in the final throes of Life is Strange, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I picked it up for around £15, and it’s got to be one of the best £15 I’ve ever spent.
Gari: Life is Strange is a title that I was a little skeptical about due to the fact that my love for titles in this genre had wained slightly after being oversaturated with games of a similar ilk, but once I started playing and the breathtaking and emotional storylines took hold, I knew that this was something special. Not only does it have brilliant storytelling throughout with tense and gripping sections that will make you gasp, Life is Strange ultimately has a cast of characters that you care about and want to learn more about them and the world they live in. What an experience from start to finish and without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best titles Ive played in a very long time and undeniably the best episodic game series out there. What Life is Strange is in a nutshell is a tense, heartbreaking, emotional rollercoaster of a game that everyone should experience.
NGB’S GAME OF THE YEAR FOR 2015 IS…
METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN
Ben: Hideo Kojima’s farewell to his flagship series is so close to perfect in so many ways, the negatives almost don’t matter. The missteps in Act 2 are plenty, and well documented, but they pale in comparison to everything that this game does right. Mechanically, I can’t fault the game. As a Metal Gear fan since the launch of MGS, the story wraps up in a way that only Metal Gear can. Gameplay? It’s second to none. An open world that shames most developers that have been trying for years to perfect, Kojima and his team nailed it on the first try.For every complaint I had with the game, there were at least 5 things that blew them away without a care. Chapter Two felt rushed? Yes, but the new stuff within it felt so incredible that I didn’t really care. Quiet’s costume and reasons for it were nonsense? Absolutely, but she was such an incredible character that I accepted that trade off. The game felt unfinished? Maybe, but if Kojima had held off until his vision was complete, we’d probably still be waiting. I was beyond excited for this game, and after spending over 100 hours in Afghanistan, Africa and Mother Base with Snake, I can honestly say that this is, quite simply, one of the finest experiences I’ve had in my near 25 years of playing video games.
Asim: Not only the best game of 2015, The Phantom Pain is one of the best games ever made. The open world gameplay (whether it’s stealth or action) is astounding. It’s so good, so intricate and so deep that it’s ruined every other game in the genre. Hell, missing chapter or not, I’m even a fan of the story. Hey, newsflash, it’s fine to leave certain things unsaid or untold sometimes. It’s just a shame the future of the series and Hideo Kojima is up in the air. What a game.
Nick: Hideo Kojima’s departure from Konami wasn’t ideal, but he certainly left there with a true gift of gaming. I lost my way with the series with Metal Gear Solid 3, but The Phantom Pain restored my interest fully with not only the amazing open-world orientated stealth gameplay that offers so much freedom to your approach, but with every small surprise and fun mechanic that comes along with the ride. One of the best productions ever, without a doubt.
Robin: After the disappointment on MGS4, I was actually tempted to give Phantom Pain a wide berth. The emphasis on shooting rather than stealth in Guns of the Partriots – combined with the lengthy cutscenes – had really caused my faith in one of my favourite game series to wane.I’m so glad I stuck with the Phantom Pain though.
It is far bigger than any previous entry in the series, and allows the most freedom of choice to the player. You can tackle missions however you want, and more than ever before, you feel like you can actually alter your game plan as you go along, and adapt to each situation as it arises. With the addition of the massive customisation and asset management systems, there is always something to do – sometimes so much so that you can often get too distracted from completing the main story missions!
Nico: Never has a game been as anticipated as this one. Hideo Kojima has delivered his final masterpiece in the Metal Gear Universe, and it’s one hell of a game. It’s as close to perfect as you can get. Story, mechanics and everything else had me playing for weeks. Big Boss may have said his goodbyes, but what a way to do it.
And there we have it folks! Our Game of 2015 is Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. What was your favourite game of 2015? Let us know, and let us know what you’re looking forward to in 2016! Stay tuned to NGB both via the website, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter as we kick off the New Year’s content very soon!