These are the games and characters wot I enjoyed in the 2015 year.
Firstly, I’ve had a really, really hard time deciding on my game of the year for 2015. I’ve undoubtedly played more games this year than ever before, devoting more time to gaming in an attempt to really get the most out of the medium this year.
And it paid off, big time.
For my hundreds of hours put into The Witcher 3, Bloodborne and Metal Gear Solid V I was rewarded with truly unique experiences, while others such as Rise of the Tomb Raider and Fallout 4 revamped some of the great memories of gaming I’ve collected over the years.
But enough rambling, here’s a few of my personal awards for the year:
Game of the Year:
Yup, it’s the Witcher. Technically speaking, the game might be one of the greatest ever made, boasting a huge open world, a vast array of diverse characters and not one game breaking bug to boot (I know, that’s just my experience).
On top of all this, the Witcher refined the structure of open-world gaming for me, actually giving a huge meaning to side quests. Where other games have passed them off as time killers, the Witcher gives meaning to virtually every side quest, making you debate the consequences of your actions before rushing headlong into battle.
In an age where games usually prioritize either art style or graphics, the Witcher somehow managed to pull off both beautifully. There are well over one hundred characters and monster species within the game, each carrying their own unique, at times disgusting looks. On top of this, the graphics are absolutely stunning, and this becomes even more impressive when you consider the vast world and the intricate moving pieces that the game has to juggle.
Honorary mentions go to Bloodborne for being terrifyingly bone-chilling, Metal Gear Solid V for the superb Mother Base and stealth systems, Tales From the Borderlands for giving me some of the best characters I’ve interacted with in years, and Rise of the Tomb Raider for telling a super Croft story.
Favourite Character of the Year:
It could be Ciri, it could be Yennefer. Hell, it could be just about anyone from the Witcher. But I’m gonna go with Ciri, for actually giving me something to fight for throughout my hundreds of hours spent in the game.
She’s a truly immense character, boasting a fiery personality on the outside, while secretly second-guessing all of her choices on the inside. CD Projekt created a torn and tortured heroine here, who constantly acts to put those she loves before herself.
Also, in the many hours searching for Ciri, it never once felt like the rescue of a damsel in distress. CD Projekt cleverly make Ciri’s actions throughout the game earth-moving, all the while keeping the player on the back foot, picking up the pieces in the attempt to find your estranged friend.
Ciri’s fantastic character only helps give the player agency throughout the many hundreds of hours in the game, constantly pushing you forward in an attempt to reach her. For these reasons and many more, Ciri is a character to truly remember for both the past year and many more years going forward.
Honorary mentions go to Yennefer for perfectly playing off of the agency presented by Ciri’s character, Gortys from Tales From the Borderlands for being absolutely adorable, and Lara Croft for a stellar performance yet again from Camilla Luddington.
Favourite Gaming Moment of the Year:
I could go with many moments for this award, most of which would probably come from the immediate aftermath of any of Bloodborne’s bosses.
But I’ll stand by what I said immediately after completing the hospital section of Metal Gear Solid V: that this was one of my all-time favourite gaming moments.
The hospital, or prologue section of the Phantom Pain is something truly special. At the time, you could instantly see where Hideo Kojima had spent most of the immense budget for the project, as the section set up the game as quite possibly one of the most polished triple A releases ever.
The carnage begins very, very quickly here, as Cipher troops, the Floating Child and the Man on Fire storm the hospital in search of you, leaving no one alive in their brutal rampage for Big Boss.
The entire section comes down to a big cut-scene in the lobby of the hospital, as Cipher soldiers are massacred in various ways by the Man on Fire and the Floating Child (there’s even the use of helicopter blades as a weapon).
The entire section looks downright stunning and screams creativity at the player, as the game hits the ground running and barely ever looks back. Honestly, I had to stop and breath for a moment after replaying this section.
Most Disappointing Game of the Year:
Well, it couldn’t all be positive.
Halo 5: Guardians is undoubtedly my most disappointing game of the year, mostly for reasons to do with the campaign. For the vast majority of the 15 missions you play as Spartan Jameson Locke, while the Master Chief only gets three playable chapters throughout the entire game.
Such a creative decision baffled me. Why would 343 effectively throw away one of the most recognisable protagonists in modern gaming? Why would they devote the majority of the campaign to Locke? And why, oh why, oh why, would the make THAT person the villain?! (We don’t do spoilers here).
The entire campaign felt incredible off to me, almost as though 343 didn’t entirely know what they were doing most of the time. Character motivations are flimsy at best throughout, particularly with the big, dramatic reveal in the narrative.
We were left with a game that we were practically lied to about throughout the game’s marketing campaign, and a plot that took a nasty left turn away from the promised narrative far too soon. 343 really have some making up to do in the future for this bungled release.
But wait, there’s more…
If you’ve clicked on this godawful blog over the past year, or read any of my writing through any website, then thank you. You’ve propelled me into chasing what I once thought would be a stupid career in a weird industry. Whether it’ll turn out for better or worse, who can say, but if you’re reading this, then thank you for your time and support.