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Found 11 results

  1. Gaming-wise, 2015 encapsulated a wide range of emotions from myself. Whether or not it came from reviewing lesser known games... that should remain lesser known, witnessing shocking announcements (I can no longer say the FFVII: Remake and Shenmue 3 are impossible?!), or just the generally consistent great heavy-hitters that sprouted in 2015. More than anything else, however, 2015 was a strong reminder of my own mortality in that I could not even come close to playing/finishing everything I wanted to this year. I made an effort to play quite a bit, but alas, my efforts were not nearly enough. Even so, here are my top 10 games of the year. 10. Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn did the impossible. It made me play an MMO... and like it. Not only like it, but be invested in it enough to expedite a PS4 purchase in order to play it on much stronger hardware (Playing late-game content on PS3 = bad times.). Then came along the first full-fledged expansion pack to the title with Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward. Heavensward added fun new dungeons, abnormally cool boss fights, a few new classes (Astrologian ftw), a soundtrack to brag about, but the most pleasant surprise is probably its intriguing storytelling. The narrative that takes place across Ishgard from its Ivalice-styled political intrigue, or themes like the damaging effects of unchallenged traditions, with the fairly sharp writing to accompany it more than convinced me that the world of FFXIV is the best thing to bear the name in a very long time, some MMO-jankiness aside. 9. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain For the longest time, following Metal Gear Solid V felt like an unobtainable myth. A white whale if you will. It seemed like a fever dream until... BOOM, we wake up with shrapnel lodged into our forehead and the realization that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is actually a real thing. Now, I could make fun of the storytelling, and it noticeably missing an entire third act all day, but for what it sacrifices in storytelling it more than makes up with incredibly rock-solid gameplay. The huge open world, smooth controls, and many buried gameplay nuances that allow one to tackle seemingly simple missions in a multitude of ways makes it easily far surpass its predecessors in gameplay alone. Also, D-Dog 4 lyfe. 8. Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance Official GP Review Even after five main entries, Disgaea feels anything but normal. Sure, they have a similar appeal game by game but their inherent absurdity and gameplay depth keeps rising to the point where their 9999 level caps and a damage counts that reaches past a trillion seems normal in contrast. In spite of it, Disgaea 5 finds a common ground in being a great SRPG. Disgaea 5 boasts many smart refinements of gameplay systems as well as entirely new ones outright that I enjoyed uncovering even as it betrayed my free time. I only wish that an enhanced version formed an alliance with my Vita one day... 7. Splatoon I made a fairly big 180 on Splatoon in general. I was rather annoyed by excessive fandom and was pretty unimpressed by the early "testfire" beta as well. After a couple months of actively ignoring it, and an impulse purchase later, I completely turned around on it. Frankly, Splatoon is a whole lot of fun in multiplayer, more so with a steady group of online victims friends to play with (thanks, GP). The title has only gotten better over time from fixing key criticisms at launch to regularly adding new weapons and maps -- all for free. 6. Divinity: Original Sin: Enhanced Edition Official GP Review I usually avoid adding games to GOTY lists that technically debuted last year (or earlier) but... the Enhanced Edition itself (plus my hypocrisy of adding FFXIV prior to this) gives me just enough of an excuse to include Divinity: Original Sin to forego any such thinking. While I found this year's Pillars of Eternity more on the safer side of a classic feeling computer-RPG in the modern era, Divinity: Original Sin felt both progressive and oddly nostalgic for my former PC gaming self. It forced my creativity to go into overdrive with its fantastic, and flexible, gameplay systems and also had an unapologetic depth to it that can easily run the risk of drowning most people that I highly enjoyed... well, after several early hours of immense confusion about character builds. 5. Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea Official GP Review I feel like I have gradually been associated with the Atelier series. Now, I have no idea why people would get that idea. I mean, it's not like I've reviewed at least five games in the series or have a fascination with barrels or anything. False accusations aside, it has been several years since I've even considered an Atelier game to be anywhere near a GOTY list. That said, even after being disappointed by the prior two entries of the Dusk trilogy I definitely was not disappointed with the gameplay of Atelier Shallie (story/characters is another matter...). As someone who tends to judge how much I like a game by how absorbed I am while playing it I'll just say that I was pretty addicted to Atelier Shallie's deceptively addictive and actively rewarding gameplay structure to say the least. Also, I'm easily impressed by "Barrel!" shouts. (Editor's note: Yep... *looks at article image*) 4. Xenoblade Chronicles X With the original Xenoblade Chronicles, I liked the setting despite my contention with the so-so gameplay. In Xenoblade Chronicles X, I really enjoy the gameplay despite my contention with its so-so main story. What I mean to say is that even though it is a surprisingly significant departure from the well-respected original Wii title it manages to carve out its own distinctly different appeal. The art direction for its massive open-world is top-class, new online features oddly immersive, but, most importantly, its compelling and fairly deep moment to moment gameplay makes me want to keep going back for more. Plus, the mecha Skells are pretty dang cool and anybody who says otherwise I'll just quote the hub theme by saying: "I CAN'T HEAR YOU! I CAN'T SEE YOU!". 3. Undertale Undertale is very clearly the indie darling of this year. You are either swept alongside the fandom hype or find it quite obnoxious for possibly ruining the holy integrity of Gamefaqs polls. Usually I brush off such indie fanfare *cough* Gone Home *cough* but I was actually quite charmed by Undertale. I can certainly nitpick several facets, most from a gameplay standpoint, but what Undertale has in spades are moments. Moments that are only very memorable, from characters to clever gameplay gimmicks, but also show an incredible amount of foresight and heartfelt touches from the modest indie developer Toby Fox. Passionate fandom may have blown it out of proportion by this point, yet it is also telling that Undertale manages to be so memorable and charming in a time where so many games can easily blur together. 2. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Official GP Review I honestly anticipated The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt to be my game of the year before it even started, and I'm surprised it's not. I mean, I know why. The Witcher 3 played quite poorly at launch and I stick by my criticisms of it at the time. However, CD Projekt Red has more than gone the extra mile supporting it with their incredibly respectable work ethic by adding hugely significant patches (granted, many of which should've been implemented day 1) and great DLC in addition (most free). Plus, the game that is there is more than excellent. The incredibly sharp writing and well-developed characters alone outclasses most in the medium but the attention with its world-building and divergent, and unpredictable, quest design sets it head and shoulders above any other RPG this generation. 1. Bloodborne Compared to most other titles on this list, I probably could not tell you much about the setting or story of Bloodborne. I mean, there is an obsession with hunters, dreams, and most obviously blood but... like hell if I can tell you many nuances beyond its powerful and basically nightmare fuel imagery for its enemy designs -- even after two playthroughs. What I can say is that I was very utterly engrossed during both runs by playing and seeing content very differently each time, which was more apparent after playing the downright fantastic and shockingly worth it The Older Hunters expansion pack. People tend to be fixated on the difficulty Bloodborne and prior -Souls games have, which is obviously there, but I care far more about its immensely satisfying gameplay, disturbingly imaginative world design, awesome and versatile weapons, and very creative online features integrated within Bloodborne. Prior -Souls titles rewarded much more passive play and Bloodborne tells you to get over such habits in favor of a much faster and more aggressive, but smart, playstyle that makes it far more fun to play because of it. If you are patient enough to stick with it even as you are learning the ropes, Bloodborne showcases its rightful place as the PS4's best exclusive title. But seriously, I can't tell you much about the convoluted story. Awesome game, though.
  2. John Kidman

    Game of the Year 2015: John's Picks

    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. 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. 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. ` 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. 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. 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?” 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. 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. 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. 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.
  3. Jordan Haygood

    Game of the Year 2015: Jordan's Picks

    It“s that time of the year again, kiddos! That“s right, time for my annual eye exam. But while I await my appointment, I“ve got something else on my mind… Video games. They“re what this great Podunk of ours is named after. Every year we see a countless number of the things make their way onto store shelves, whether actual store shelves or the digital kind. Some are outright terrible. Others are so good that ya just gotta make a “best of†list at the end of the year to showcase the ones you“ve enjoyed the most. Hey, that“s not a bad idea… You know what? Forget the original idea I had for this article. Instead, allow me to share with you my picks for the 2015 games of the year. The Game Most Like EarthBound Undertale When I first heard about Undertale, I was told that it was a lot like EarthBound. Needless to say, I was immediately interested in trying it out. And boy am I glad I did. Undertale is not just similar to EarthBound, even though its similarities are huge pluses in my book, but in general it“s just a fantastic game. It doesn“t take all that long to get through, but with various different endings that depend on the choices you make throughout, you will likely end up playing over and over again until you“ve seen them all. I know I did. The Steampunkiest Strategy Game SteamWorld Heist Official GP Review If you“ve played SteamWorld Dig, you“ll know just how awesome it is. Because it is. No objections. So naturally, the next game set in the SteamWorld universe is also awesome. In fact, SteamWorld Heist might even be better. Especially since Steam Powered Giraffe did the music (and even make a cameo). Hey, I like steampunk stuff, alright? Can we move on now? SteamWorld Heist is a completely different game than SteamWorld Dig, being a strategy game and all, so don“t expect it to be a straight-up sequel. They“re both great, though, and totally worth playing. The Woolliest Platformer Yoshi's Woolly World Official GP Review I freaking adored the incredibly clever Wii game Kirby“s Epic Yarn. Wait, did I use past tense? Silly me. I still adore it. I also adore the latest craft-based Good-Feel title – Yoshi“s Woolly World. Not only is it a quality Yoshi game, and the first home console game featuring the lovable dinosaur we“ve been given in a very, very long time (the last one was Yoshi“s Story, which was released waaaaaaaaaay back in 1997), but it also has perhaps the coolest aesthetics I“ve seen since, well, Kirby“s Epic Yarn. And just like Epic Yarn, Woolly World“s yarn focus also allows for some really clever mechanics. And that“s not even all I love about this game. Like I said, I adore it. The PS4 Exclusive Bloodborne There weren“t exactly a whole lot of PS4 exclusives released in 2015, when you think about it. But who really needs a lot when you have Bloodborne? Not only is it arguably the best PlayStation 4 exclusive to come out of 2015, but it“s also one of the best games to be released for the console thus far. It“s also a new IP, and one that I hope has a pretty long future ahead of it. It“s a bit like the games in the Souls series and has a big H.P. Lovecraft inspiration behind it, which in my opinion is a rather awesome combination. If you have a PS4, buy this game. The Most Ink-redible Shooter Splatoon I“m gonna refrain from making the usual Splatoon joke. You know the one. Instead, I“m just going to praise this Wii U shooter for the awesome game that it is. Nintendo“s newest IP is a lot of fun, whether you“re playing online or enjoying the story in single-player mode. It“s such a creative and enjoyable experience that you can just tell that it“ll go down in history among the ranks of such iconic Nintendo franchises as Mario and Zelda. Or at least, it totally should. I usually don“t enjoy shooters as much as some people, but Splatoon is a blast (of ink). The "Dude, It's Fallout 4" Award Fallout 4 I was waiting for Fallout 4 for quite some time. I know I“m not alone. I mean, as good as Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas are, it“s only natural that I“d be a little impatient. But was it worth the wait? Is…that a serious question? Oh wait, I“m the one who wrote that question… Anyway, Fallout 4 is fantastic. It“s not without its problems, but many of those problems are bound to be fixed via patches, if history repeats itself. I have plenty of hours sunk into this game, and I“ll be sinking plenty more hours after this article. The "Going Out with a Bang" Award Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain In light of the recent dispute between developer and publisher, Hideo Kojima“s final game with the, erm, nice folks over at Konami was quite possibly his best game so far – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. And really, while I would have loved it if Kojima could stay with the company and make even more Metal Gear Solid games (and perhaps a certain Silent Hill title), it“s nice to be able to go out with a bang. Seriously, The Phantom Pain is so good that all I can really say about it is GO PLAY IT. Check out the review scores if you don“t believe me. Thank you for making such an amazing game, Kojima-san, and good luck with your new company. The Best Level Creation Tool Super Mario Maker Anyone who knows me knows that I love to create stuff. And ever since I played my first (and possibly still my favorite) Mario game, Super Mario World, I“ve entertained the thought of creating my own Mario levels. Especially after seeing ROM hacks upon being introduced to this little thing called “the internet.†But I honestly wasn“t sure if that would ever happen without learning the art of ROM hacking myself or creating a fan game or whatever. Anyway, Super Mario Maker exists now, and I much prefer that option. It“s a pretty in-depth level creation tool that also allows you to play other people“s levels worldwide. Whether you like playing Mario games or like the idea of making your own levels for others to play, Super Mario Maker is a must-have. The Game with the Wildest Hunts The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Official GP Review With so much awesomeness packed into The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, it“s no wonder so many people have it on their game of the year lists. Obviously, I“m one of those people. If you haven“t played it yet because you“ve never played the first two, then… Well, play ”em. They“re all great games, so it“s not like it“ll be a chore to play them. But while The Witcher and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings are both fantastic, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is hands down the best entry into the series. The story, the gameplay, extra stuff you can do; pretty much everything about this game is just another reason to play it. And hopefully one day they'll make another one. Game of the Year X Xenoblade Chronicles X I“ve enjoyed quite a few games in 2015, but none quite as much as Monolith Soft“s newest game – Xenoblade Chronicles X. If you recall, I really, REALLY enjoyed the first Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii (I even gave it a 9.5 out of 10 in my review and named it Game of the Year for 2012). I“m not sure yet if I like X better, but it“s certainly a close call. Once I eventually beat the game, I“ll know for sure. On that note, I really am not that far in Xenoblade Chronicles X, even though I“m almost at a 40-hour playtime. Simply put, this game is freaking massive. Not only is the world of Mira massive, but the number of missions you can get addicted to completing can really make you lose track of time. I haven“t even gotten into a Skell yet, though I am really looking forward to it. In any case, while I still have a ways to go, I am already quite confident that Xenoblade Chronicles X is my favorite game to come out of 2015. If you disagree with my choice, or any other choice on this list, there is a complaint box up front. Just write your complaint and I will be sure to not read it. Cheers~ Do you agree with any of the games in this list? What games are you thankful for this year?
  4. WildCardCorsair

    Game of the Year 2015: WildCardCorsair's Picks

    2015 certainly surprised me. For starters, I was almost certain that Batman: Arkham Knight would be on this list, but I guess things don“t always work out the way you think. That“s not to say there were only bad surprises this year; in fact, I“d like to think that many of the games on my list were pleasant surprises. Games I didn“t expect to love or respect as much as I do. Heck, there are even a couple I probably would never have played if friends hadn“t motivated (read: forced) me to try them. Oh, and spoiler alert -- Undertale ain“t here so don“t go looking for it! A side note: Where“s Fallout 4? Don“t get me wrong, I love the game. It“s a great game. But it“s not really that much different from Fallout 3 or New Vegas. Sure, plenty of things work much better in Fallout 4, but there“s very little that“s actually new. For a game that had so much time pass between it and it“s previous franchise installment, I expected more. I dunno, call me crazy. So Fallout 4 gets my honorable mention, but alas, nothing more this year. 10. BOXBOY! Official GP Review A quirky, fun little title from Kirby“s developers, Hal Labs, BoxBoy has become a very unlikely favorite of mine this year. Initially, the visual presentation really turned me off, but due to the (incessant) insistence of Jon I gave it a whirl. Puzzle platforming with a simple premise, but very quickly becoming a test of box management, for the lack of a better word. The further you go, the more creative you have to get if you want to complete each level, even more so to collect all those crowns! Thanks, Jon. 9. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D While Majora“s Mask has always been one of my favorite Zelda titles, Grezzo“s 3DS port takes it a step further, allowing players all the benefits of the original, with some of the enhancements that made Ocarina of Time 3D better, and new ones that make the game more accessible for newcomers (those wussies!). The town of Termina and the people who live in it are really the stars of this off-kilter Zelda title, which each side quest bringing you closer to the people in Link“s world than ever before. 8. Persona 4: Dancing All Night Official GP Review A surprisingly good follow up to Persona 4 Golden... set in a rhythm game? Well, as it turns out that“s exactly what this is. Solid as a rhythm game in general, Dancing All Night impressed me further with it“s highly-uncharacteristic-for-the-genre fully scripted plot that acts as a commentary on idol/pop star culture. The songs are a mix of great ditties from Persona 4 and remixes that are just as amazing in their own right. Visually, the game is near-seizure inducing, with full 3D models inside of a 3D environment and the ability to even watch a “choreography mode” that will show you just the character without all the fancy camera angles so you too can drop it like it“s hot (or whatever it is the kids are dancing to these days). 7. Yoshi's Woolly World Official GP Review I got this a bit late, but the wife and I were looking for something to play together. The cute, crafty world of Kirby“s Epic Yarn had been one of our favorite co-op experiences on the Wii, so naturally this Good-Feel game and spiritual successor was a no brainer. We were not disappointed. This game has a tad more challenge in the level design, plenty of amiibo support, collectathon goodness, great co-op, and best of all, an extreme dedication to the crocheted theme. The way the ground crinkles like fabric, unweaving parts of the stage to find hidden paths, even the slight fraying of the yarn the yoshis and other stuff in the game are made out of screams massive attention to detail that does not go unnoticed. I promise you, this much cuteness is nearly lethal. 6. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate It“s strange to say this now, but I wasn't always a fan of Monster Hunter. I used to complain about the tank controls, complicated control scheme, and hard-for-the-sake-of-hard boss fights that make up the vast majority of the game. And even though I still do, playing with friends has allowed me to see the good things that make those criticisms far less severe. There's an intricacy to the controls that allows for some seriously complex player tactics. The weapon variety is impressive. Online play is surprisingly stable. And MH4U in particular has a variety of Nintendo and other publisher crossover DLC, all of which that has been entirely free and updated regularly. Thanks Char! 5. Xenoblade Chronicles X Not without its problems, sure, but Monolith Soft has done something right when the world of Mira is more interesting than most other open world games 2015 has offered us. The game“s passive online elements, along with the 4-person online quests definitely offer what other open world games have not… the feeling of never being alone. Xenoblade Chronicles X asks a lot of people who would explore it, but it rewards in kind with a rich battle system and seemingly endless treasures to seek out. Oh, and who else hasn“t wanted to pilot a huge transforming mech and beat the snot out of a monster that is 10-stories tall? Surely no one. 4. SteamWorld Heist Official GP Review Image & Form made this game called SteamWorld Dig a while ago, which was cool. It was like a Steampunk western version of Dig Dug -- you know, the thing you never knew you needed. So when they turned their attention to making a new game in the same world, but this time with turn-based strategy RPG gameplay -- well, you could say I was instantly on board. The game revolves around the very Firefly-esque crew of Captain Piper Faraday and their no-good (but somehow still good) pirating of robo-jerks at the edge of space. I mean really, what more do you need in a game? 3. Stretchmo I“ve been a fan of this series since the original Pushmo game dropped early in the 3DS“s lifespan. The calming atmosphere and clever puzzle mechanics have earned it a spot in the upper echelon of modern puzzle games in my opinion, but Stretchmo in particular really stands out among them. Of course, the 3D puzzles are fun, but the multitude of added puzzle elements and even the structure of this game“s free-to-start model are all incredibly well-thought out. I guess you could say that this game stretches your dollar pretty far... I“ll see myself out. 2. Splatoon Are you a kid, or are you a squid? This is a question that has kept me up late at night as my ink-stained clothes messed up my sheets in a way that would even make Billy Mays cringe. An primarily online competitive shooter game from Nintendo. A shooter. Let that sink in. Or don“t, 'cause the stain will set. Ok, I“ll stop, I promise. The game is worth it by itself, but the immense list of post-release (free!) DLC and regular Splatfest competitions have helped the game stay fresh. No, that was not a Squid Sisters pun. Well, okay... I guess now it is. 1. Destiny: The Taken King I started playing Destiny pretty late into its first year, but early enough to understand people“s criticisms of it. The Taken King aimed to change those and I believe it succeeded on almost every point. Crafting more interesting stories, with the use of their you-never-knew-just-how-interesting-they-actually-are characters, improved loot systems, fewer complicated item level increasing sidequests, better PVP, better quest and bounty systems, more content crammed into existing areas, and impressive new areas with loads to do. Sure, it“s just a shooter, but one that rewards players for their time spent fighting the darkness (alone or with friends!), impressive boss design, and plenty of cool new dance emotes too. Yup. It“s a dance off bro.
  5. Editor's note: This year we'll be having several guest writers contributing their Game of the Year lists. First up is Justin Graham, a former Operation Rainfall writer, fellow video game enthusiast, and mutual friend of some of us on the staff. You can follow him on Twitter @Hailinel __________________________________________________________________ Looking back, 2015 was a really solid, satisfying year for me when it came to video games. A lot of great games that suited my tastes hit throughout the year, and I never felt wanting for one that could draw me in. There were, of course, a few unfortunate games that I would have loved to have played more of to give their fair shake (Sorry, Codename: S.T.E.A.M. and Type-0 HD!), but that there were so many games that demanded my attention this year really shows how great of a year in gaming it was. 10. Until Dawn/Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water I put two games in the number ten slot because I felt that they were both really strong horror titles, so why not include them both? Until Dawn is a cinematic adventure game of the sort that David Cage might make, but with a script that“s coherent, entertaining, and revels in the fact that it is, in essence, a playable horror movie. Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water, by contrast, is a tense Wii U game that makes incredible use of the GamePad controller as the Camera Obscura. Both offer entertaining, spooky experiences backed by different themes and ideas, and both work in their own ways. 9. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain The Phantom Pain is a weird, weird game. Weird because of the usual meta reasons that Metal Gear Solid is known for. Weird for not being a traditional Metal Gear Solid game with its open world. Weird for having Kiefer Sutherland as the voice of Snake instead of David Hayter (and it works!). Weird for all of the Konami-related drama surrounding its development. Weird for the fact that it“s the last game Hideo Kojima ever made for Konami. Weird that the game“s final mission was never finished. It“s weird. And it“s flawed. But it still works, and it for all of the things that it does, it does most of them incredibly well. 8. Undertale I really debated where to put Undertale on my list. It“s well-written and, the music is superb, and when it pays other games homage, it wears it on its sleeve without being cloying. Its charming, heartwarming, dark (potentially incredibly so if you play it a certain way), and frequently ludicrous. Take EarthBound, sprinkle in a little Shin Megami Tensei, add a dash of bullet hell, and this is the game you get. All that being said, I“m not as enamored with it as many others are. It“s a fantastic, original game that feels like a very personal vision. It deserves incredible praise and I“d love to see what its creator does next. But as far as the actual act of playing Undertale goes, that“s where it fell short for me and why it“s only in eighth place. (Tumblr, please don“t kill me.) 7. Samurai Warriors 4-II Official GP Review I like me some Musou. Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors, Warriors Orochi, Hyrule Warriors -- if there“s an Omega Force hack-and-slash, I will be there, cutting through thousands of dudes. Of the various branches of Musou, Samurai Warriors has always been one of my favorites, and a big reason for that is the survival modes that the series has often included. And they brought back the Survival Castle in Samurai Warriors 4-II. I could easily spend dozens of hours playing that mode alone. (Story Mode? What“s that?) 6. Nobunaga“s Ambition: Sphere of Influence From one style of Koei Tecmo“s historical madness to another, the latest Nobunaga“s Ambition is has a staggering level of complexity of the sort that appeals to the hardcore strategy fan in me that doesn“t emerge as much as it used to. But it“s still really satisfying to build a tiny faction up from almost nothing into a powerful force vying for control of all of Japan, with all of the resource gathering, diplomacy, and warfare that demands. 5. Super Mario Maker The early 2D Mario games were a major part of my childhood, and one of the reasons why I“ve stuck with gaming well into my thirties. I never did beat the original Super Mario Bros. (I suck, I know), but Super Mario Maker lets me live out my childhood dreams of building actual, playable Super Mario courses. While I haven“t built any stages that are full-blown Kaizo insanity (I actually have to beat the stage to upload it, after all), it“s still spurred my creativity in ways that few games have in recent memory. 4. Splatoon Leave it to Nintendo to surprise everyone with an online shooter that single-handedly revitalized online shooters. Just when everything was blending together into a gray/brown mess of indistinct iron sights and military people shooting terrorists, or possibly other military people, Splatoon came along with its incredible, colorful style, sense of humor, and systems that are inviting to anyone. I have never, ever stuck it out in an online shooter for any real length of time, mostly what they had come to represent. But Splatoon, with its “Ink everything!” approach, refusal to take itself seriously, and fresh style made me stick around and have fun for far longer than any shooter I“ve ever played outside of GoldenEye. And the lack of voice chat doesn“t hurt it at all, either. 3. Xenoblade Chronicles 3D A few years ago, it was questionable as to whether or not North America would ever see an official release of Xenoblade Chronicles on the Wii. And here we are in 2015, with not just a Wii release behind us, but a full-fledged port of the game on the New 3DS. Everything I love about the game is still present, from its wide, beautiful world and colorful characters to its engaging story and combat. And while the graphics aren“t as sharp as they are on the Wii, they really pop on the 3D display. The fact that the game is for a handheld makes it all the easier to recommend. Honestly, they took a game that was amazing on every level and managed to put it on a handheld without losing anything that mattered. That is absolutely incredible. 2. Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX Official GP Review Ever since its western launch in September, Project Mirai DX has rarely been removed from the game card slot in my 3DS. It“s super-cute, with dozens of catchy songs by Miku and her fellow Crypton Vocaloids, and a ton of extras on the side that make it a soothing, adorable experience. It“s very easy for me to start playing with the intent to just try a few songs for fifteen minutes, only to lose myself in it and it“s suddenly dinner time. Or bed time. Or the middle of the night. In short, it“s a fantastic little rhythm game and one of the best 3DS experiences this year. 1. Xenoblade Chronicles X Xenoblade Chronicles X is the best game I“ve played all year. Everything I like about the gameplay in the original Xenoblade Chronicles is back, but deeper and more refined, with an absolutely massive, gorgeous world to explore, and the addition of mechs to help explore it. There“s never anything not to do, and the game rewards you for just about everything you can do. And while the story isn“t as character-driven as the original“s, the game still has plenty of character in it that shines across the game“s many and numerous missions that cover everything from simply gathering materials for people in need to resolving violent racial conflicts. It“s a game teeming with life and that encourages the player“s sense of adventure and the desire to explore off the beaten path. But for as open as the game is, it“s still a Xeno-game at heart in its themes and storytelling -- one that spells a bright future for the crazy ride that producer Tetsuya Takahashi has been on since the original Xenogears. Heck, the game even has sly references to Xenogears scattered in its character creator. For me, Xenoblade Chronicles X is not just the best RPG of 2015, but the best game of 2015. And it was a very easy win.
  6. Jordan Haygood

    Thanksgiving 2015: 13 Games to be Thankful For

    God bless America! Land of the free, home of the glazed turkey that“s about to make its way into my belly on this great, fattening holiday known as Thanksgiving. But before we all go stuffing our pie holes with stuffing and pie, let“s take a moment to give thanks to all the things that make our lives worthwhile… Did I say “things?†I meant “games.†Because let“s face it, that“s all we REALLY should be thankful for, right? Or maybe I“m just an ungrateful nerd. Either way, there are certainly loads of video games to be thankful for, many of which came out this year. Whether a series you love finally got that sequel you were waiting for, a new IP was introduced that blew away your expectations, or a game is just really, really good, it“s a fine year to be a gamer. So join me as we give our thanks to these 13 games that 2015 had to offer. Note: This list is in no particular order. They“re still numbered, though, because SHUT UP AND JUST GO WITH IT. #13 Story of Seasons First up is probably the only game that has an actual Thanksgiving. Well, okay, so it“s technically a “cooking exhibition,†but it“s on the 25th of Fall and is the only cooking festival in the game, so it“s pretty obvious that it“s this game“s version of Thanksgiving. Anyway, after Natsume decided to no longer work with Marvelous to produce new entries into the Harvest Moon franchise but still hold onto the license, leading the publisher to develop the worst Harvest Moon yet, Marvelous decided to create a new series called Story of Seasons. It“s basically the developer“s way of giving fans the game they REALLY wanted. Thank you, Marvelous. You really are quite marvelous. ​ #12 Yoshi's Woolly World Read our review Do you know how long it“s been since we last got a home console game starring Yoshi? I“ll give you a hint: Yoshi“s Story was the last one, and that game came out way back in 1997. Do the math. Yeah, it“s been a while. True, there HAVE been handheld iterations of Yoshi“s Island, but it“s nice to finally get a new Yoshi game that I can play on my TV. And boy is Yoshi“s Woolly World a “new†Yoshi game. As its name implies, Yoshi“s Woolly World is…well, very woolly. Seriously, just about everything is made of yarn. And in high-definition on the Wii U, it“s just plain gorgeous. Not only that, but several other factors make this a really great game in general. Thank you, Yoshi, for bringing me so much joy this year. ​ #11 Dragon Ball XenoVerse Dragon Ball Z is undoubtedly one of the most popular anime series of all time. And if you are a DBZ fan like I certainly am, then you“d probably enjoy Dragon Ball XenoVerse quite a bit. It“s basically a love letter to fans, allowing you to create your own character and traverse the DBZ timeline as you fight all sorts of notable villains, from Raditz to Beerus and even some GT baddies, granted you go get the GT DLC. Now, in no way is Dragon Ball XenoVerse a masterpiece of a game or anything. It should be said that on its own, it“s really not a game you need to go out of your way to play. However, as a fan of Dragon Ball Z, there is plenty to love about this game. It“s wonderfully entertaining for people who like the series, and for that I am very thankful. ​ #10 Rare Replay It“s pretty much unanimous at this point that Rare – the formerly legendary developer of some of gaming“s most beloved games, such as Donkey Kong Country, Banjo-Kazooie, and the Nintendo 64 adaptation of GoldenEye 007 – has fallen from grace in recent years. And it certainly doesn“t help that most of the team responsible for such gems have since left to start their own companies, with one of those companies working on a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie, which goes by the totally different name of Yooka-Laylee. Of course, Rare certainly does realize that their best years are behind them. And as their way of celebrating their 30th anniversary, the developer has blessed us with Rare Replay. It“s an Xbox One game that combines 30 of Rare“s greatest creations (though there are a few stinkers in the mix) into one, incredibly solid compilation. It also costs a measly $30 (okay, we get it, you“re 30 years old). I“m happy buying just one of your games for $30, Rare. Giving me 30 for that price? Well, thanks for that. ​ #9 Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water When Nintendo first unveiled the Wii U back at E3 2011, anyone who was aware of the Fatal Frame series likely thought the same thing: “A Fatal Frame game would be PERFECT for this console!†And why shouldn“t people think that? If you know of the series, you know what I mean. So then it finally happens. About three years after the console“s release, we finally get that Fatal Frame game we were expecting, known in the states as Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water. Of course, considering how obvious a choice a series such as this being on a console such as the Wii U is, the fact that it was made isn“t really the surprising part of Maiden of Black Water“s release. It“s the fact that it was localized at all that was unexpected, since it“s not exactly all that popular over here. But alas, we got an English version (albeit a digital-only one), and I am quite thankful for that. ​ #8 Bloodborne Every console deserves a badass, exclusive new IP to call its home. For the PlayStation 4, that game is Bloodborne. It was originally going to be the launch title Knack, but… Meh, that game wasn“t very good. Bloodborne, however, is fantastic. Not only is it a must-have for the PS4, but I might even go so far as to say that it“s a pretty valid reason by itself to get the console. For those of you unfamiliar with Bloodborne, let“s just say that if you like any of the Souls games, then this game is right up your alley. And if you don“t, then you“ll still like it SO GO PLAY IT ALREADY. Seriously though, Bloodborne has a lot to like about it, its H.P. Lovecraft inspiration only being one of them. It“s a masterfully crafted game, and I am so very thankful that it exists. ​ #7 Xenoblade Chronicles X In case you weren“t aware, I REALLY enjoyed my time with Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii. Naturally, I was ecstatic when I first saw the reveal trailer for its sequel (known simply as “X†at the time). Xenoblade Chronicles X looks fantastic, and the more I see of it, the more excited I get for its release next month. Okay, yeah, I know, it“s not out yet so it“s not fair to have it on this list and blah blah blah. Look, as much as I like Xenoblade Chronicles, I have faith that Monolith Soft can deliver yet another awesome entry into the series. It certainly looks like it“ll be awesome, at least. Plus, this is my list, so shut up. Anyway, I still think it“s crazy that another Xenoblade was even made. But I“m not complaining. In fact, playing Xenoblade Chronicles X will probably be all I do in December. Thank you, Monolith Soft, for giving me that option. ​ #6 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Read our review To put it simply, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is one of 2015“s best games. Many people will agree with me on that. But wait, you“re saying you haven“t played the first two? Well good news! Turns out The Witcher and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings are both really good too. So, like, go play ”em. Of course, neither can quite match the awesomeness of the third game in the series, which is currently the series“ best. What makes The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt so great doesn“t narrow down to just one aspect, as it“s a fantastic package all around. Great gameplay, great music, a great story; it“s a pretty top-notch work of art. It“d be nice if the series continues, but whether it does or not, I“m thankful that I had the opportunity to play through not only The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, but the other two as well. ​ #5 Splatoon Whether you are a kid or a squid at this particular moment in time, you“ve probably heard of the inkredible shooter known as Splatoon. After all, it“s Nintendo“s newest IP. But is it any good? Will it be able to join the ranks of Nintendo“s top dogs like Mario and Zelda? Is it worth buying a Wii U over? The answer to all those questions is a resounding YES. Seriously, Splatoon is one of the most creative games I“ve played in a while, and definitely the most creative shooter I“ve ever played, which complements quite nicely with the insanely fun gameplay, both in multiplayer and single-player modes. Splatoon“s fun factor and creativity also help this game, along with the massive level of charm the game exudes, stand out as, in my opinion, the start of Nintendo“s next hit series. And I must give The Big N my thanks for letting a game like this out into the wild. ​ #4 StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void It“s been a fun ride for StarCraft fans since StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty was released five years ago. That game was definitely a worthy sequel to the original, even though you couldn“t yet play as the Zerg or Protoss. Thankfully, Blizzard didn“t stop there. In 2013, we got StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm – the second part of the StarCraft II trilogy, which gave us a Zerg campaign. And now, in 2015, we have at last been given the Protoss, thanks to the final piece of the trilogy known as StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void. Much like the base game and its Zerg expansion, Legacy of the Void is fantastic. As far as strategy games go, StarCraft II is probably among the best. And I am very thankful to Blizzard for allowing me to complete the full experience at last. #3 Super Mario Maker I have been a fan of Mario games ever since I was old enough to hold a controller and comprehend how it works. Super Mario World was my first, but I also had Super Mario All-Stars, which allowed me to play the ones that came before it without needing an NES. And growing up playing every entry into the main Mario series, I always admired the fantastic level designs. There were even times when I myself thought about how I would design levels. Enter: Super Mario Maker for the Wii U. Finally, designing Mario levels was no longer just a passing thought. Here is a game that is all about making levels. Not just one style either, but the styles of four different Mario games. And not only that, but you can even share your levels with the world, as well as play levels from other level creators. Super Mario Maker is a game I never even considered as something I would see released. But it exists, and it“s awesome. Thank you, Nintendo. ​ #2 Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain If you haven“t heard the disheartening news yet, Hideo Kojima – father of the Metal Gear series and the would-be director of the ill-fated Silent Hills (the game P.T. would have become) – was let go by Konami. It sucks like a black hole, but at least the man was able to go out with a “bang.†In fact, his last game was quite possibly his best, and not only in the Metal Gear series, but of his entire career. That game is, of course, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. And I“m not exaggerating either. Just go check out the review scores. It“s a really, really, really good game. Hideo Kojima and his team are masters of their craft, and simply put, Konami is incredibly stupid for letting such amazing people get away. You will be missed, Hideo Kojima. Thank you for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and everything else you“ve ever given us. ​ #1 Fallout 4 It“s no Half-Life 3, but Fallout 4 is one of those sequels fans were hoping to hear news about year after year following the release of Fallout 3. I mean, sure, we did get Fallout: New Vegas, but it simply wasn“t enough. I dunno, I guess there“s just something about numbers that ups the hype factor for people. Sure enough, though, we got it. And Fallout 4 is every bit as awesome as we all hoped it would be (though it could use some patches here and there). Hell, news even broke out that a certain porno site lost a lot of traffic the day the game was released. So yeah, Fallout 4 is some serious business. And I can“t thank Bethesda enough for bringing the game into my life. Now if you will all excuse me, I need to go find Shaun… ​ Do you agree with any of the games on this list? What games are you thankful for this year?
  7. If you've been stewing in misery over some of the great special editions for Nintendo games that other territories have been getting over the years, I have good news for you — Nintendo of America has been listening. Tonight at PAX Prime 2015, Nintendo announced a special edition for Xenoblade Chronicles X that is exclusive to North America. So what's in it? You'll receive the game itself, a concept art book that is more than 100 pages in length, a USB drive modeled after the game's "Lifehold Unit" which will include 10 select tracks from the game's soundtrack, and a limited edition matted 5x7 art card featuring a painting done for the game by Takashi Kojo. If you're interested in the special edition, you'll need to cough up a cool $89.99 ($30 more than the standalone version's MSRP). The good news is you can pre-order it right now, but you may want to do so soon before it runs out of stock eventually. Both versions of Xenoblade Chronicles X are slated for release on Wii U on Dec. 4. Will you be buying Xenoblade Chronicles X's special edition?
  8. Monolith Soft's X is an exclusive JRPG that Wii U owners have been looking forward to for a year and a half or more now, and in addition to a brand new story trailer, the game also now has an official title: Xenoblade Chronicles X. The trailer gives us a bit of a deeper look into the game's story, which features an interstellar war that leaves only a handful of Earth survivors trying to live in a beautiful yet deadly environment. Unfortunately, today's Nintendo Digital Event also announced that the game's release has slipped to 2015, but if the game is half as exciting as the trailers make it out to be, it may be well worth the wait. In the meantime, check out the latest trailer for the game below. Source: What do you think about Xenoblade Chronicles X? Are you disappointed that it's being delayed to 2015?
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