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Game of the Year 2015: John's Picks


John Kidman

A new Disney entry into the Star Wars franchise lit up the box office, while a Pixar movie flopped in the box office. We have experienced a full year of watching companies and people alike partake in digital panhandling for finances on websites like Kickstarter, Patreon and GoFundMe. The Cubs met with an untimely exit from the MLB playoffs to stifle their Back to the Future II World Series forecast and we lack our sweet hoverboards.

 

We saw some new entries into some of our favorite game series and a massive amount of hype for future projects. This year has been filled with highs, lows and everything in between. Like it or not, 2015 is in the bag.

 


 

 

 

 

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The Ultimate Sad Face Award

-Rise of the Tomb Raider-

Rise of the Tomb Raider is the automatic winner of my Ultimate Sad Face Award because it is the one game that I really wanted to play this year, but skipped entirely. My decision was not a criticism of the game's exclusivity, but rather the result of some pretty poor marketing. A ton of money was thrown at television spots and it is well received, but in who in their right mind thought it was a good idea to drop Tomb Raider on the public the same day as Fallout 4?

 

I may get a mulligan to do right by Lara Croft next year when we likely see it launch on Playstation 4, but at that point I will have played Uncharted 4 and will not want to pay $60 for a year-old game on a different platform. If this list were on my phone, it would just read Tomb Raider with a large, adjacent sideways sad face.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Snorlax Award

-Super Mario Maker-

Snorlax does not move to the beat of anybody's drums except his own. So. What you do when you're being criticized about not creating games or content fast enough? You give them a polished tool to make their own levels. Nintendo did this in the form of Super Mario Maker. I have a soured disposition toward pushing user-generated content creators as a “game,” but even I found myself intrigued by what Nintendophiles could do with such a user-friendly interface. Garden variety sadists and Yoshi haters rule the day, but there are quite a few levels out there that would fit perfectly in the confines of a 2D Mario title. The great thing? They are not hidden behind a wall of horribly built levels.

 

 


 

 

 

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The Shameless Double Dip Award

-Destiny: The Taken King-

Have you ever been to a place that sells ice cream by the scoop and they shamelessly up-sell you on a second scoop? Typically that second dip only costs a fraction of the original scoop because they've already packed the cone and put the first scoop on top. Unfortunately, Bungie is the company that sold you on the first scoop, didn't pack the cone and then gave you a generic Vanilla/Chocolate flavor despite ordering something a little more extravagant. When confronted, they offered to sell you a second dip of ice cream, but that second dip would cost the exact same amount of money as the first dip (sprinkles sold separately).

 

In case you missed it: Destiny: The Taken King is the ice cream. The base game is still the same and it still lacks a bit of soul, but the additional content offered makes a bit of difference and one of the biggest turnarounds for a game this year.

 

 


 

 

 

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The Amnesia Award

-Pillars of Eternity-

My favorite video games are ones that use amnesia as a story telling device, but how often are video games the source of amnesia? The Amnesia Award belongs to the game that will make you sit back at the end of the year and think “that game was great, but did I really play it this year?” This year's winner, Pillars of Eternity, topped the chart for this award, following the trend of good game that may have been forgotten because of its release at the beginning of the year. I would recommend picking this game up, especially if you are in the market to fill your isometric RPG void.

 

 


 

 

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The Golden Wrench Award

-Fallout 4-

“If it ain't broke, don't fix it.” Why? It might just be a feature. Fallout 4 may initially seem like a game that receives a free pass for its faults because of an unhealthy love for the developers, but Bethesda's ability to create an atmospheric experience through the expertly crafted locations is unparalleled. Fallout 4 gave me unique companions to accompany me across the wasteland, where I spend the majority of my time exploring and scavenging. This is the exact same thing I did in Fallout 3 and I've loved almost every minute of the game. If you need direction and structure, don't waste your time with Fallout 4 because this game is designed for those who ask “What's just over that hill?”

 

 


 

 

 

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The Leisure Suit Award

-Fallout Shelter-

This award is dedicated to all those games we play that aren't really considered heavy hitting, but we spent a lot of time playing. Fallout Shelter may be free and designed for your mobile devices, but there is a reason people find it so addictive. The Fallout series is one that is played from the perspective of an extraordinary dweller, but Shelter lets the player engage their vault life as an overseer. You can dictate where each person works, choose procreation partners and the more sadistic players can opt to eradicate the dwellers who get on your nerves.

 

Fallout Shelter appears to be a shallow simulation game on the surface, but there are a lot of nice touches that help bring it under the Fallout umbrella. Two Fallout games, one list. This just isn't right.

 

 


 

 

 

 

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The Sportsball Award

-Rocket League-

Electronic Arts and 2K keeps players inundated with new licensed sports titles each and every year, a trend that will not likely vanish in the foreseeable future. Many sports titles do little more than perform minor tweaks to last years product, update rosters and offer plenty of new microtransactions. The Sportsball Award belongs to the best sports title of the year and this year's winner is Rocket League.

 

It is one one of the few sports titles that felt like it brought something new to its predecessor, even if that only means taking the existing formula found in Psyonix's Super Acrobatic Rocket Powered Cars and rebranding it. Rocket League provided players an upgraded multiplayer experience, graphical updates and a whole slew of microtransactions.

 

 


 

 

 

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The Dessert Award

-Xenoblade Chronicles X-

One day you will find yourself at a restaurant after eating a large meal and decide that their lava cakes look delicious. You order dessert, but can only muster the energy to eat one-fourth of it before needing to box it up. Xenoblade Chronicles X could easily be my favorite game for the entire year, but its release date so close to the Holidays and at the tail end of a veritable buffet of video games ensured that I wouldn't be able to sink enough time into the game to dethrone The Witcher 3.

 

I may not have finished Xenoblade Chronicles X yet, but the game's quality and appeal are two absolutely undeniable selling points. The beautiful environment even gives you untethered access live actual wallpaper for your television. Xenoblade Chronicles X may be jockeying for playtime at the end of the year and a little indulgent, but just like that lava cake it will be devoured before the next meal.

 

 


 

 

 

 

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That One Artist Award

-The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt-

No. This award does not belong to the most overrated, self-important or racist artist on the market. This year's 'That One Artist Award' belongs to the game that snatches the microphone when people are speaking positively about any other game. Was your DLC good? That's fine and I'll let you finish, but CD Projekt's earliest DLC was good AND free. Good story and Open World? That's great, but Geralt of Rivia has something he would like to take up with you.

 

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt hit on all cylinders this year. Great narrative. Great, natural shift to a true open world setting. Great visuals. Great soundtrack. Did I mention that the Witcher 3 was great? This game, without a doubt, is my Game of the Year.

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