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T-Prime's Top 10 Games of 2015
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Fri, 15 Jan 2016 06:32:08

Welcome to my little self-indulgent corner of the internet. Shall we begin?

It was a strange year. My geek fandom has largely switched to buying comic books each week, but even then my gaming love was never far behind. The 12-issue prequel to Batman: Arkham Knight just wrapped, Tomb Raider's comic sequel had an 18-issue run go on a planned hiatus earlier this year, Mirror's Edge and Black Ops III both have prequel miniseries ready to conclude and the Angry Birds books are silly and always a welcome pick in my pull bag.

That being said, I still love video games and knew I would want to keep playing them. So despite the fact that the Canadian dollar has had an atrocious year I finally bought a PS4. They were on sale for $369.99 for the last two weeks of December and I knew it wouldn't be better for probably a year. So why wait? I knew I'd want one soon and the Canadian dollar shows no real sign of forthwith massive recovery, so I finally dove in, grabbed the Nathan Drake Collection / Last of Us Remastered bundle and was at last able to download some the PS+ freebies I'd been diligently "buying" on the online store for over a year. One thing I noticed that I'm sure you all have as well? MAN those games are big. Every game has to install its entire self AND DLC is massive. I'm glad I have a good internet plan, and I'm also glad I haven't dived into Rock Band 4 yet, 'cause I'd be out of disc space in a week.

And I called it last year: two games from 2010 on my 2015 list! Let's get to it:

Special mention: Resident Evil 6

I still like turning E and F ranks in A and S ranks, so finally returning to Resident Evil 6 always seemed inevitable, and yet I put it off for two years. Once I returned, however, I'd found that I'd sold it way short in my memory. Combine overcoming my disappointment with the fact that Capcom had fixed some of the initial problems I'd had and what I ended up with was a game I wanted to play for six hours straight every night and was reluctant to put down. I was VERY close to breaking precedent and putting RE6 on this year's list despite having it on my list in 2012 because it was vastly improved, but in the end I'll settle for mentioning its redemption here instead.

Special mention: PS+ Games (Mutant Mudds, Castle of Illusion, The Swapper, Thomas Was Alone, Mousecraft)

I love games, I love trophies and I love free stuff, so Playstation Plus is absolutely perfect for me sometimes. These are tiny games that have been on other platform for years, but they're just right. In a way I'm "tasting" the free in these games, but they all work: Mutant Mudds' very precise yet not-difficulty platforming, The Swapper's fiendish puzzles and haunting atmosphere, Micky Mouse's saccharine (sp?) yet very enjoyable run though a magic castle, geometric shapes' narrated escape from an evil computer and directing mice through various mazes don't make my list on their own. But together? They warrant some deserved attention. WinkWink

10 - Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

I've always felt like giving CoD props but never really felt like they were fully deserved. I've always been a story campaign CoD player, so never being good at the multiplayer made me feel like it wasn't worth it. Well, Exo Survival mode turned that all around. I was determined to hit Wave 50 in order to get all the MP trophies, but something happened along the way: I had a lot of fun. All the time I'd been into the well-designed story campaign bore more fruit than usual, and AW became my first CoD platinum trophy.

9 - Far Cry 4

It's both a pro and a con that Far Cry 4 is essentially a game-length expansion/re-skin of Far Cry 3. Ubisoft can't get away with doing this again, but the foundation is so solid, and I really did have a good time with it that I can't stay mad.

8 - Wolfenstein: The New Order

The thought that the Nazis could've won the war is outright chilling if you truly sit down and think about it. The New Order manages to walk the very fine line between gritty war-is-hell and total silliness with magic Nazi wizards, brainwashed zombie cyborgs and moon bases and somehow contains the best of both worlds while keeping a straight face. The shooting works well, the characters are fleshed out, and aside from one bad underground / sewer level the game never lets up. It's a type of fun that makes you think.

7 - Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse

Two words: flash sale. It was a great year for cheap games on PSN, and after not buying the previous Sam & Max bundle 'cause I didn't want to put more money in my PS wallet and regretting it immediately, I leaped at the chance to play The Devil's Playhouse. My knowledge of Sam & Max came from the '90s cartoon so I was blown away at how much funnier and cruder the game versions of them really are. As for the game itself, it's Telltale. Not much I can really say that anyone doesn't already know. The puzzles work, the dialogue is funny, the characters are three-dimensional and the final episode always had slowdown issues. But the characters and comedy make this game a winner. WinkWink

6 - Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

I still love Borderlands wholly, and The Pre-Sequel is worthy of carrying the name. It's a bit too much like Batman Arkham Origins in that it pretty much looks exactly like its predecessor down to the UI, but they make up for that with crazier weapons, crazier settings, crazier characters and a time-tested gameplay that can't be beat. It CAN wear on you if you're crazy like me, though, which is why it only comes in at no. 6. But like I said, I'm crazy. I KNOW it will take dozens of grinding hours to pop out the worst bronze trophy ever, so it's not the game's fault when I start to hate myself. TPS is fun. Play it.

5 - Hotline Miami

Hotline Miami is an odd case. Not since Mirror's Edge had I been so frustrated by and then pleasantly surprised by and then came to love and adore a game I'd heard good things about. I actually first played it a couple of years ago because "it's supposed to be good," but it didn't hook me and I let it languish. A few months ago, inspired by my aforementioned desire to hunt trophies and "get my money's worth" out of games I went back to it, but this time on Vita rather than PS3 and that was the kick I needed.

On Vita it simply controls better and the touch-the-screen-to-look-around as opposed to forgetting what button that is on a DualShock cannot be overstated as the defining factor of my "new dawn," so to speak. Once there, the stylized 16-bit hyper-violence became the most refreshing thing I'd played in some time, and that music is just amazing. I had a lot of "FUCKYOUWHATTHEFUCKWASTHATAAAAHHHHHH" moments, but that just made them sweeter to get past and complete.

4 - Tales From the Borderlands

Inspired by Yahtzee's cheating his own rules in order to name Undertale his 2015 GOTY by making a 10-second video about it, I was only finally got to Tales From the Borderlands the first week of January, but it stuck with me so well that I've decided to give it its dues on this list rather than wait an entire year and maybe let it get buried.

Borderlands is quite funny but the series has always been about the shooting at its core, yet Telltale managed to make a game set on Pandora in which Rhys and Fiona talk their way out of most situations without losing any of Gearbox's Borderlands flavour. If you've never cared about Borderlands' story then don’t bother with Tales. If names and words like Handsome Jack, Athena, Hyperion, Scooter, Janey Springs, Atlas and Old Haven have ever meant anything to you, play Tales From the Borderlands. You won't regret it.

3 - Fallout: New Vegas

I knew I'd love New Vegas once I got into it. I played the opening mission over a year ago before putting it down, deciding I'd come back later. By the time I came back I'd forgotten my reasons for playing, but instead up starting over I just continued, because all I could remember is that I'm supposed to have amnesia (ironically), and I enjoyed myself immensely.

What more can I say? Obsidian followed Fallout 3's blueprint exactly and Fallout: New Vegas was an experience five years in the making and one I'm so happy I had.

2 - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

I'd never played an Elder Scrolls game before, and it took me a while to stop treating it like "medieval Fallout," unwittingly pressing the wrong shortcut buttons or expecting VATS to trigger. Now, aside from still picking up too much vendor trash, Skyrim has totally come into its own for me. I'd heard all the accolades for Skyrim over the years, but once I finally let myself get lost in its world a few months ago I never wanted to leave, much like New Vegas. I've put so many hours into Skyrim without advancing the main story that I honestly can't even remember who the "good guys" are anymore. Only in Skyrim can I get distracted for six hours in a city that has nothing to do with the main quest and feel like I've played an entire other game's worth of quests and fighting, and still I come out of all of these tangents ready and raring for more! Going to all these cities, seeing the good and bad of both main sides, talking to the "regular folk" make me realize that Empire or Stormcloak; Skyrim is one hell of a place. I know which faction I'll eventually choose for the sake of moving things along, but the lack of black-and-white good-and-evil (amongst the humanoid factions, anyway) is something I don't see a ton of. Every side has good and evil. It's not as simple as the Fireflies vs. the Hunters or the NCR vs. Caesar's Legion.

This game is fabulous and I'll be playing it well into 2016.

1 - Life Is Strange

Full disclosure: I was a tester on Life Is Strange. Every so often I'll answer an Eidos or Ubisoft email asking for play testers, and on a fateful day last February I was asked to play LIS episode 2, mere days after episode 1 had been released publicly. Being an adventure game in the Telltale vein I had to play episode 1 before 2, so the day was split between the two: morning, meet 18-year-old Max Caulfield, her classmates at renowned photography school Blackwell Academy and discover her Prince-of-Persia-esque ability to rewind time. Afternoon, continue her strange week, have her reunite properly with her childhood best friend Chloe Price and go through a harrowing climax that literally had me on the edge of my seat and screaming "Yes! Yes!" to myself.

I fell in love with Max, with Chloe, with Kate, with Warren, I came to loathe Nathan and Victoria before the latter somewhat redeemed herself, I became completely invested in Max and Chloe's rekindled friendship and the mystery that they were investigating. I swallowed the whole thing and let it wash over me despite some issues I've heard about, namely the believability of the dialogue. But I didn't care. It just felt good to experience. (SPOILERS) I felt good and was white-knuckled when I stopped Kate from jumping off the dorm roof. I was horrified when Max changed the past and Chloe became a quadriplegic. I didn't feel all that bad when the maze of choices I made lead to Chloe shooting Frank dead. I was heartbroken when Chloe and Max found Rachel's body and Chloe wailed in sorrow. I was screaming at my TV when the murderer was shown to be Mr. Jefferson, and I got dizzy from all the temporal zigzagging that Max goes through in the final episode. (END SPOILERS) The scene before episode 5's final choice actually had me welling up and crying. I guess, for all its silliness, Life is Strange just struck the exact right chords with me. I'd never experienced anything quite like it before and may never do so again, and so I hereby declare Life Is Strange to be my 2015 Game of the Year. Great way to follow up Remember Me, Dontnod. WinkWink

Edited: Fri, 15 Jan 2016 06:46:55
Country: AU
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Fri, 15 Jan 2016 11:09:55

Great choice for GOTY. Happy

    A father's no shield
for his child.
We are like a lot of wild
spiders crying together,
but without tears.

Country: US
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Fri, 15 Jan 2016 11:22:18

Nice list man. Looks like you had a fun year.


Country: UN
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Fri, 15 Jan 2016 22:39:18

Great stuff. Bethesda games are amazing, I really dislike the stupid hate they have been getting lately. they make incredible games that no one even attempts.

Country: AU
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Sat, 16 Jan 2016 08:25:26
That's cool that you were able to play test LIS. Nice #1 choice. Also, New Vegas was a worthy choice too.

Far Cry 4 I never really got into, but will get back to.

: @gameunderphil

Country: CA
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Sat, 16 Jan 2016 18:36:36

Thanks everyone. I'd pretty much decided that LIS would be my GOTY when I first touched it, but I had to let the rest of the year play out. Skyrim came oh-so-close, but in the end my first instinct was right. Bethesda nearly had my GOTY two years running. Grinning

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Fri, 29 Jan 2016 00:53:42
Bought Life is Strange after reading this blog a week or two ago. Such high praise requires a bit more examination!
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Fri, 29 Jan 2016 01:07:31

Me, too!  I had extra PSN money so what the hell?!

The VG Press

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Tue, 02 Feb 2016 02:35:56

@phantom_leo @travo I hope it's working out for you two! I realize I was fawning a bit, but I dig it so much. I also realize LIS isn't a game for everyone, but if my words could convince you to at least pick it up I hope you'll continue with it. You'd be well-served to read Patrick Klepek's entries about it on Kotaku. I'm about to finish it for the third time. Nyaa

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