Now that 2015 is up, let’s recap our very own Bonavendi’s Top 10 Video games that last year had to offer. It has been one of the best years in quite a long time and from the rain-slick streets of Gotham City, to the arid desert of Afghanistan, 2015 has transported us across the globe and to worlds beyond.
1. Batman: Arkham Knight (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
The power fantasy at the heart of Batman: Arkham Knight remains one of the most seductive in all of gaming: spend enough time brawling, blasting, and winching, and you can liberate an entire metropolis with a single tool belt and tank. (Seriously, you’re going to be doing a lot of winching.) You can spend hours soaring above Gotham’s skyline, tuning into radio dispatches from friends and foes alike. No one can touch you. If you hear a bunch of thugs wailing on a captive or daring to insult the Caped Crusader, you can swoop in and show them the cost of tempting fate. The city is your oyster.
The combo-heavy combat system that birthed a dozen action-adventure knock-offs remains fluid and physical, and the deep bench full of various Batman villains helps to liven up what would otherwise be boilerplate beat ‘em up side quests. Like its predecessors in Rocksteady’s Arkham series, Arkham Knight understands that Batman’s toughest battles are mental; there’s no villain more dangerous than the darkness looming in Bruce Wayne’s mind. Arkham Knight’s treatment of that truth is heavy-handed, but that doesn’t make it any less satisfying. (www.theverge.com). Buy it here. Sell it here.
2. Fallout 4 (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Obviously, Fallout 4 had one of the biggest launches in gaming history. The game sold millions of copies in just days, and if we had to guess, more people bought Fallout 4 than Adele’s new album. Although the game has some bugs, it’s still one of the best games of the year, with a vast wasteland for you to explore, weapons and a base to craft, and some of the best questing and storylines we’ve seen in an open world game to date. Developer Bethesda should be proud of their latest game, and we’re hoping they’re now working on the next Elder Scrolls. (www.heavy.com). Buy it here. Sell it here.
3. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt took the gaming world by surprise earlier this year. Sure, we were expecting a good game, but we weren’t expecting a great game. And, The Witcher 3 exceeded our expectations in just about every way imaginable. The world is incredibly large, dense, and beautiful, and there’s plenty to see. The quests are exciting, and there are plenty of cool ideas within so it doesn’t feel repetitive. Like Fallout 4, The Witcher 3 contains bugs, but that’s to be expected in such a large open world game, and the game has already been patched numerous times, so many of those original bugs no longer exist. Taking the time to explore the game is highly recommended, as you’ll come across glorious beasts, cool characters, and impressively designed parts of the world. The amount of gameplay alone makes it one of the best gifts for gamers this year. (www.heavy.com). Buy it here. Sell it here.
4. Life Is Strange (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Released in five episodes throughout the year, Life Is Strange is a game that isn’t really about action but decisions. You play as the teenage Maxine Caulfield, an aspiring photographer at boarding school who one day discovers that she has the power to rewind time. This slowly spirals outward into a chain of cause and effect based on the choices you make as a player — choices that really are important, since action isn’t really a part of the game as much as exploring its world and getting to know its characters.
You could fill a bucket of considerable size with the storytelling tropes Life Is Strange happily checks off, and you will, at times, wince at its writing; adding up its flaws and strengths will almost certainly, on paper, leave it wanting. Playing through it, however, is mesmerizing. It is gentle and moving and, at its best, agonizing in the choices it asks you to make. If you let it, the game will make you smile at one moment and devastate you in the next. But more important, it’s a game that will compel even non-gamers to stop and wonder if perhaps this might be for them. (www.vulture.com). Buy it here. Sell it here.
5. Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
Don’t let the frequency of the Call of Duty franchise fool you — Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 is a gem. It’s much better than Advanced Warfare, thanks to better multiplayer maps, cool guns, and a quicker pace. It’s highly polished as well, and there are very few hiccups during gameplay. No, it’s not a back to basics, no-frills Modern Warfare like we were hoping, but it’s still the best Call of Duty of the past three years. The zombie mode is the best it has ever been as well. (www.heavy.com/). Buy it here. Sell it here.
6. Bloodborne (PS4)
Bloodborne isn’t like most modern games. It doesn’t ease you into the experience, slowly teaching you the rules and giving you time to understand its complex systems. It doesn’t put you in the role of a super-powered hero capable of taking down dangerous beasts with ease. Instead, it casts you as a regular person and throws you into a gothic world of violence and despair. And then it kills you, over and over.
Bloodborne’s unforgiving nature is a large part of its appeal. The spiritual successor to the Dark Souls series, it’s a game where every victory feels hard won. The bosses are huge, grotesque monstrosities that will take every ounce of your skill to defeat, but even the standard enemies — the plague-inflicted inhabitants of Yharnam — can kill you. Bloodborne forces you to learn how it works, and then tests your knowledge in the most brutal ways possible. It’s a game where you will die a lot — but that only makes your eventual victory all the more satisfying. (www.theverge.com). Buy it here. Sell it here.
7. Super Mario Maker (Wii U)
For a bit of lighter fare, the Wii U had a couple of great games hit the shelves this year. But the best new Wii U game of 2015 is Super Mario Maker, a game that allows you to create your own Mario levels and share them with friends. You’re also able to download new levels from the community and try them out, and the creativity is always commendable. With the Wii U on its last leg, Super Mario Maker couldn’t have come at a better time. (www.heavy.com). Buy it here. Sell it here
8. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain represents the culmination of everything series creator Hideo Kojima has worked on in his almost 30-year-long career, but it’s so much more than just a bigger or better stealth game than its predecessors. It’s the evolution of the free-form chaos promised by games like Far Cry 2, where its open world isn’t simply a means to provide an empty checklist of things to do, but rather an invitation to use its surroundings to solve a never-ending set of constantly evolving situational challenges. Do you take the high road or the gulch below as you slink into the enemy’s desert fortress? Do you use the approaching sandstorm to retreat or as an opportunity to continue your assault? Do you head straight for your objective, or do you break left because you spotted a soldier with an S-Rank in R&D and you just have to have him on your team, damn the consequences? These moments feel like they’ve been placed by a guiding, directorial hand yet feel completely emergent and organic, a paradox that can only happen in a series like Metal Gear.
There are also the weird, distinctly Metal Gear moments that make it so much more than a collection of clever, intertwining systems. There’s the part where you can infiltrate a heavily-fortified base while blasting Hall & Oates from your Sony Walkman. Or the part where you can tranquilize sheep, goats, or zebras, attach balloons to them, and send them back to your burgeoning zoo back on Mother Base. Or the series of cassette tapes that let you listen to a man essentially invent the McDonald’s hamburger. Then there’s the story; an infuriating, brilliant, and completely Metal Gear send-off that simultaneously embraces three decades of built-up lore and lovingly gives it the middle finger. While other games come and go, The Phantom Pain’s Lynchian narrative will stick with you like a waking dream long after its final credit sequence plays out – a fitting end to the most enigmatic series in video game history. (www.gamesradar.com). Buy it here. Sell it here.
9. Halo 5: Guardians (Xbox One)
Halo 5: Guardians is the best Halo to date, at least when it comes to the multiplayer. There are numerous game modes, huge maps, and gameplay is as tight as it has ever been. The visuals are stunning, and it pushes the Xbox One to its limits. Most commendable about the game is its new guns, all of which are impressive. And, the Needler is the best it has ever been, as well. Master Chief vs. Master Locke doesn’t play out how we expected, but the story is great, and we’re looking forward to a Halo6. (www.heavy.com). Buy it here. Sell it here.
10. Mortal Kombat X (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Fighting games are a quiet genre where every once in a while, a long-running and much-loved franchise makes an appearance. This year, it was Mortal Kombat. Four years after successfully bringing the long-wayward series back to basics, Mortal Kombat X returned for more ludicrous and violent action. Few fighting games are so full of stuff — X has endless reasons to keep you fighting, the least of which is its insane, over-the-top story mode. (www.vulture.com). Buy it here. Sell it here.