Best of 2015: Zach’s Top Ten Video Games

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2015 was a pretty great year for gaming for me personally and in general.  I finally got a PS4, attended PAX East as press and got to check out a ton of great indie games on Steam throughout the year.  After all that, here are my picks for the top 10 games of the year.

  1. Batman: Arkham Knight: Stunning both visually and gameplay wise, Arkham Knight was the reason I got a PS4 and it was well worth the purchase.  The fighting and stealth were at their best here and the addition of the Batmobile, despite it’s lubricious destructive power was a fun addition, even if there was a little bit too much focus on it.  The main story was good but the best parts for me were the Most Wanted missions, where you tracked down the various other rogues of the Batman world.  After putting their stamp on Batman, I really want to see what Rocksteady does for another superhero or superheroes, if the rumored Justice League game ever comes to pass.
  2. Tales from the Borderlands: I never got into the Borderlands series and it’s multiplayer loot gathering shooting but with Telltale entering that universe, I was fully invested in the story of bickering, reluctant partners Fiona and Rhys, who are trying to get the key to a legendary vault on the brutal alien world of Pandora.  Top notch voice acting from a rogues gallery that includes Troy Baker, Laura Bailey, Nolan North, Ashley Johnson, Patrick Warburton and Phil LaMarr makes you care about the characters and what your choices will mean for them but a lot of them are refreshingly lighter than the life or death grimness of other Telltale games like Walking Dead or Game of Thrones.
  3. Until Dawn: Letting you basically be the director/puppet master of an old school horror movie, Until Dawn was a fantastic experience that feels like your decisions are really shaping the story of a group of friends who reunite at a creepy old mountain cabin a year after a tragic event.  Depending on what you find and how you build the relationships, there are tons of ways the story can play out; you can have a lone survivor or the whole group surviving depending on your actions and it seems like you could play it again and have something completely different happen.
  4. Rocket League: Taking the world by storm, Rocket League is simple but incredibly fun as you play soccer with cars in up to 3v3 matches.  Tons of customization options lets you make your car unique and it just feels great gameplay wise and, even though the concept is simple, it feels like there’s lots of room to improve your skills the more you play and it was the best PS Plus freebie of the year.
  5. Broforce: Broforce finally officially released this year and it’s incredible how much that game has grown and improved since I jumped into the early access about a year or two ago.  It now has a fully fleshed out campaign and tons of multiplayer modes, plus player created levels, and it’s roster of action heroes has expanded to include the likes of The Rocketeer, Predator, James Bond, Connor McLeod, Raiden, Leon the Professional and more.  If you are reading this site and don’t have Broforce, go on Steam and fix this immediately.
  6. Transformers: Devastation: As bad as the Transformers movies have been, the games have been OK in recent years, like High Moon’s Cybertron series, but PlatinumGames has delivered the best Transformers game of all time with Devastation.  Looking and sounding exactly like the 80’s cartoon, the game has a story straight out of that show as Megatron finds a crashed Autobot ship and wants to use it’s cargo to takeover the Earth and Optimus and crew need to stop him.  I never thought the Transformers would be a match for the crazy combo based combat of games like Bayonetta but it works incredibly well here and it incorporation of vehicle mode into the combos is awesome.
  7. Party Hard: Party Hard is a dark, unique and very fun game that puts you in the shoes of a psychopath who hates parties and infiltrates increasingly larger events to kill everyone in attendance.  Your goal in each level is to kill all the party guests but you have to kill undetected or else the cops will arrive and arrest you.  You can just stab everyone but the real key to success is to use the various environmental elements and figure out the guests patterns to isolate them.  It gets really tough but it’s well worth checking out.
  8. Adventures of Pip: An homage to old school platformers, Adventures of Pip was unique in that you can evolve and devolve through 8-bit, 16 bit and 32 bit versions of main hero Pip and this shifting is necessary to get through environmental puzzles and to take on the various bosses.  It has a great sense of humor as well and if you want an experience like the best SNES or Genesis area platformers, this is one to look for.
  9. Game of Thrones: Telltale’s other big 2015 series, it doesn’t quite click as well as Borderlands but if you are a fan of the HBO, it’s still probably worth checking out, if only to interact with cast members like Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke and Kit Harrington in a story set between Seasons 3 and 4.  You take control of the Forrester family who are weakened due their allegiances and trying to hold onto their land and their supply of Ironwood while the Bolton backed Whitehills try to swoop in and take it.  There are some great moment to moment choices and sequences, some of which are the most brutal in Telltale history but it might have been a bit too brutal, especially the last episode.
  10. Wolfenstein: The Old Blood: Wolfenstein: The New Order was my favorite game of last year and this prequel is not quite up to the level of that games’ wonderfully crazy alternate 60’s but it’s still a solid shooter where you guide BJ Blazkowicz on the mission to find the location of Nazi scientist Deathshead’s secret base, that is raided at the beginning of The New Order.  There’s a much higher emphasis on stealth in The Old Blood and a new pipe weapon that is also used to navigate the levels by climbing but the final battle is kind of annoying and BJ’s emo monologues are a little more annoying here but if you were a fan of The New Order, this is pretty much more of the same.

Honorable Mentions

  • The Order: 1886: I would never say pay full price for this game but it’s basically the textbook definition of a perfect rental.  I played through it in a weekend and I thought it was a fun shooter that looks incredible.
  • Bloodborne: I haven’t played enough of this yet but the little bit I’ve played so far makes me see why some people are obsessed with it.

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