Top 10 Games of 2015
It’s coming up to Christmas now, so undoubtedly a lot of game buying is about to happen (for those who didn’t utilize Black Friday sales properly), and soon after that, a New Year will begin, which will herald a new host of video games to play!
2015 has been an eventful year for videogames, seeing the release of games from franchises long left dormant. Ten years went by before we saw another Battlefront game, and 7 years went along without another numbered sequel to Bethesdas Fallout series, but both made their appearance this year, to some mixed reactions. And, we still have many new games on the horizon to look forward to; like Cuphead, Uncharted 4, The Last Guardian, as well as the next Zelda game, among many others.
Although now it’s time to reflect on the year as a whole, and look back on some of the more significant games that had us hooked throughout the year.
Northern Lights and the cast of I’m Game For This have recalled the games that they fell in love with over the last 12 months. And so, here we have Northern Lights Top 10 Games of 2015.
Cities: Skylines: Does what SimCity couldn’t and allows the creation of vibrant cities.
Rocket League: Car soccer; simple concept done exceptionally.
Prison Architect: The sim game that lets you be the warden of your own prison.
Don’t Starve Together: Taking an already amazing game and implementing co-op multiplayer.
Indivisible: Only a prototype, but still impressive. Imagining it as a full game is enough to make you giddy.
Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer: Design and visit homes for all your favourite Animal Crossing villagers.
Star Wars: Battlefront: A solid shooter, despite a crippling lack of content.
And now, for the Top 10 games themselves…
10. Just Cause 3
Kicking off the list is the third instalment in the explode-a-thon known as Just Cause. Playing again as Rico Rodriguez tasked with the modest mission of taking down a corrupt government and “liberating” areas through means of constant explosions, creative tethering of one object to another and a bad-ass parachute and wing suit combination.
The Just Cause series epitomizes the sandbox genre, which is to have big, stupid fun! Just Cause 2 did this exceptionally well, and with this in mind Avalanche Studios have built upon this idea, but made the world bigger and the scope for brash shenanigans much broader.
Sure enough there will probably be an attempt at online multiplayer in the future, just like with Just Cause 2, which will make what is already frantic fun into a garbled nightmare beyond comprehension.
9. Halo 5: Guardians
The Halo franchise has always been a stellar inclusion in the first-person shooter genre, and initially people were worried that the series would decline without Bungie at the helm, but Halo 5: Guardians, continues an illustrious series with some top-notch online multiplayer and a story that leads the Master Chief to question his past beliefs.
You see the story through the perspective of Master Chief, as well as another Spartan called Jameson Locke’ a legendary man-hunter who is searching for Master Chief after several colony worlds fall under attack.
Although closure is not available, as there is another game intended for release that will wrap up the second trilogy of games once and for all, the game doesn’t lose any of its visceral appeal, with a great focus on the online multiplayer as well as the plot.
But that, in itself, is the reason this game isn’t higher on the list: the multiplayer is 100% online. Credit where credit is due, but the addition of split-screen co-op or local versus matches would have been much appreciated.
8. Xenoblade Chronicles X
The youngest game on our list, coming out little under two weeks ago, Xenoblade Chronicles X has already proven its worth as a great end to a great year.
Centered around the humans who manage to escape a devastated planet Earth, you are a human whose ship crash-landed on the planet Mira whilst carrying an entire city. It’s now down to you and the other members of your team to restore New Los Angleles in a bid to keep the human race alive.
Xenoblade Chronicles X acts as a spiritual successor to the widely unrecognised gem Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii. The game also builds upon the well-designed combat system that the last game established, providing a mixture of real-time combat and turn-based. The sights and sounds around the planet Mira are gorgeous. The game does a great job of letting you loose in a grand, mysterious world whilst also immersing you into its epic story.
Xeno X does a great job of preserving a game and franchise that may have slipped under a lot of people’s radar, and has already garnered a cult following and guaranteeing itself “classic” status in years to come. This spiritual successor to the original game has been given a sparkling lick of paint for the next gen. The original Xenoblade Chronicles pushed the Wii to its absolute limits, and Xenoblade Chronicles X does just the the same for the Wii U.
7. Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate
Monster Hunter never ceases to impress! Monster Hunter 3 was some of the most fun co-op multiplayer you could achieve on the 3DS, and the newest game is no exception. The clue’s in the title: you hunt monsters, then you fight them, or rather, you get destroyed by them, regroup and try again over and over until you finally beat it and loot its corpse.
The concept may seem simple on its face, but the Monster Hunter series has always prided itself on an intricate combat system, that requires players continued improvement, rather than levelling up or acquiring the one “right” weapon to fight something with. Monster Hunter 4 opens up the space in which you fight monsters as well; allowing you to climb walls and perform flying sneak attacks on enemies.
The biggest change Monster Hunter 4 adds, as well as the new weapons, is the fully integrated online multiplayer, which means anyone can play with anyone in the world (stable internet connection providing). No longer do people have to huddle around each other to take on a monster together with local multiplayer.
6. Batman: Arkham Knight
It is very important to note that this is the CONSOLE version of the game we’re talking about here. The buggy, broken, unfinished mess that also bears this games name is absolutely NOT on this list. So now that’s out of the way…
Back to true form, Arkham Knight sees Batman yet again facing insurmountable odds against a plethora of classic Batman villains, the head of which now being Scarecrow; the master of hallucinogenics.
Arkham Knight brings a much larger scope than its previous games in the series, with a bigger area to explore and investigate with a larger array of bat-themed paraphernalia to throw at the enemy until they faint/die/go to sleep.
Capturing the best aspects of the Arkham series of games, namely found in Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, Arkham Knight spikes the decline in Rocksteady’s games back up to the top where it always needed to be, and if it is true that this is the last Batman game they will be making, it’s reassuring to know that they’ve left it on a high note.
Made as a spiritual successor to another spiritual successor, Bloodborne takes what originally made Dark Souls fun and reworked the combat to give more focus on offensive melee weapon and gun-play, without losing sight of it’s roots.
The abridged version of the plot is: you are dropped into the town of Yharnam on the night of “the hunt”, tasked with slaying beasts and the plagued locals, to vanquish the eternal night.
With beautifully creepy skylines everywhere you look, a mysteriously vague and intriguing plot and an eerie Victorian back-drop makes for an atmospheric and exhilarating experience. The punishing difficulty that the Souls series is known for is still ever-present, but persevering and finally defeating the ridiculous behemoths you come face-to-face with is one of the most satisfying experiences you can have this year.
4. Fallout 4
The hype train has finally ended it’s journey and pulled into the station. Fallout 4 dropped in November and summarily astounded everyone with its size, missions and the additional weapon modding and settlement building features that makes it stand out from its predecessors. But really, it garnered so much love because it was basically Fallout, but again; and that’s all it needed to be!
After the bombs dropped and irradiated everything forever, your character ventures outside the confines of Vault 111; the vault that kept him/her frozen for over 200 years after the nuclear war, only to find their son has been kidnapped. And with that, you can venture across a vast wasteland and do absolutely anything that you want that isn’t following the main quest line (there’s quite a few things that’ll distract you from actually finding your son, or even attempting to look for him).
Most of this games critique was geared to its numerous glitches, but whenever these glitches aren’t funny, they’re at least trivial and easy to look past. It might have climbed a bit higher on the list if the package was a bit more tightly wrapped.
3. Super Mario Maker
Make ROM hack creations of yesteryear easily accessible, provide a hub for the world to share their evil level sets, and package it for anyone to pick up and create with, and you’ve got yourself one of the most enjoyable games to make its way to the Wii U.
Half of the game is creating twisted Mario levels for your friends, or people online, to struggle to get through with all their hair intact, and the other half of the game is struggling through other people’s twisted Mario levels whilst pulling out your hair in frustration.
This gave players the ability to make the Mario levels that they always wanted to, across four generations of the Mario universe. It already has a vast community contributing more and more levels every day, working upon the Trials: Evolution and LittleBigPlanet philosophy of re-playability, by theoretically creating a NEVER-ENDING SUPPLY OF MARIO!
2. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain
Overcoming many obstacles during its development cycle, the fifth and final numbered Metal Gear game finally came out this year to a wave of praise. Working as a prequel to the main Metal Gear games, the main character, Big Boss, awakens after being put into a 9-year long coma after the destruction of his former mercenary group, MSP.
Upon awakening, Big Boss forms “Diamond Dogs” to exact revenge upon the men who destroyed MSF.
The Phantom Pain, much like Ground Zeroes, takes a more open-world approach to the Metal Gear stealth gameplay. The amount of missions and tasks you can carry out means that you can be replaying areas of the game over and over again, just to discover everything the world has to offer and grief every soldier you can find by shuffling towards them in the famous cardboard box, deploying fake inflatable Big Boss dolls, or simply attaching a huge balloon to them to recruit them into your own private army.
The scope from re-playability is huge, and the story is rich and enticing (if not a little bit confusing at times). The Phantom Pain is only one epic part of the decades-old epic plot-line that the Metal Gear franchise has spun, and proves itself to be a worthy instalment in the series, and a worthy contender for Game of the Year. Although…
This one came out of nowhere. Starting out as a humble Kickstarter campaign, raising just over $50,000 to its cause, creator, Toby Fox, has made one of the biggest explosions of internet fandom/hatedom in the gaming world to come about this year.
Undertale is a traditional RPG where you can either choose to kill the monsters that attack you, or try and talk it out and spare their life so nobody gets hurt. You’re a small child that finds themselves in a world of beasts, wise-cracking skeletons and dogs; looking for a way back home.
Predominantly turn-based, it also incorporates a fun and intuitive battle system, where in order to dodge attacks, you have to manoeuvre a small heart around a series of bullets or attack patterns in order to avoid getting hit.
The game provides some genuinely touching moments throughout, as well as a great deal of funny ones too, which is impressive considering how hard comedy is to pull off in video-games.
The game appeals to all of those starved of Earthbound games for all these years, but is accessible and enjoyable for anyone else who may not have played many RPGs at all.
Love it or hate it, Undertale has made an impressive mark on the gaming world, and earned its spot as this year’s Game of the Year.
Have a very happy new year, everyone!
by Ed Quinn