- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 23 March 2016
- Written by JOHN MORANO | STAFF WRITER
Metal Gear Solid: V, Bloodbourne, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Destiny: The Taken King, Final Fantasy: Type 0, Fallout 4… Games like these make it clear that 2015 was a very good year for video games. If you’re at all like me, you’re disappointed that you didn’t have time to play them all. However, when one stops to think about it, this attitude makes no sense; there are a number of advantages when you’ve waited to play a game. For one, the hype dies down; it’s now easier to tell the must-play titles from the duds. More information is available on them, so if you get stuck at some point, there’s sure to be a solution posted online. On top of all that, they’re considerably cheaper, and games that were $60 last year can now be found for under $20. With all this in mind, I’m going to be rounding up and recommending some of my favorite games of the year.
Fallout 4, a first-person roleplaying game (RPG), was one of the most high-profile releases last year, but it received a surprisingly lukewarm reception. Fallout 4 was anticipated to be a major game of the year contender, yet none of the major critical video game outlets awarded it the overall prize. I personally rated it 10/10; this doesn’t mean it’s flawless, just that it’s outstanding. Despite my enjoyment of it, Fallout 4 has a number of faults, chief among them being graphically outdated character models, underwhelming melee weapons, and the new dialogue wheel, which some felt restricted conversational choices (I myself personally feel its effects are minor).
Having just read through its faults, you may be asking yourself why I consider Fallout 4 one of the best games of 2015. Simply, Bethesda (Fallout 4’s renowned developer/publisher) has a virtual monopoly on the Fallout/Elder Scrolls archetype of game. There are no other games that provide their level of freedom, in both gameplay and narrative, and have such good gameplay mechanics. Personally, I feel that critics have come to expect so much from Bethesda since Skyrim that many are being overly critical of their newest title (Skyrim, although an excellent game, has been deified to an unrealistic degree since its release). As someone who’s played the last five games of this archetype extensively, I can vouch that none of them were perfect and they shouldn’t be remembered as such. At the end of the day, Fallout 4 is a Bethesda RPG; in many ways it’s an improvement over previous ones, despite the flaws.
Next is Bloodbourne, an action RPG and a spinoff of the immensely popular Dark Souls series. For those unfamiliar with Dark Souls, it is hailed as one of the most difficult action RPGs. If you play a Dark Souls game, you are expecting to die, again and again. The action in Bloodbourne is similar to what you get in a core Dark Souls game, except with less blocking and more evasion (combat is less tactical, more brutally fast-paced and frantic).
The weapons you use in-game are also quite interesting, each having two shapes which it can switch between; unfortunately, firearms feel underwhelming when compared to magic found in other Dark Souls titles. Many consider the plot in Bloodbourne an improvement over previous more lore-based stories. I also consider the new Dracula-inspired Victorian setting to be phenomenally immersive, and the themes of horror pull one even further in. Fair warning, I wasn’t able to finish Bloodbourne, as was the case with most people who tried it; the difficulty just made the hours necessary to complete it unrealistic. It may be both difficult and frustrating, but perhaps most importantly it’s fair, and apparently there’s a lot of people who look for just that in a game.
Final Fantasy Type-0, another action RPG, is a personal favorite, one that didn’t make a lot of critic’s lists. To be fair, there was good reason for this game to get the cold shoulder, including outdated graphics (despite it being called the HD edition) a disorienting camera, and a narrative which, at first glance, might seem clichéd. Final Fantasy Type-0 has a number of serious flaws, but it’s still one of the best games of the year in my mind, simply due to the story. As the first Final Fantasy title to get an M (18+) rating, Type-0’s story is marvelously dark.
Type-0 uses contrast brilliantly, taking what would normally be a clichéd school setting and using it to highlight the horrors of war. It borrows much from the successful Persona series, such as social links and a strong sense of time to carry the narrative, although it’s dark narrative sets it apart from the most recent Persona title and its spinoffs. Type-0’s story is best described as a tragedy; it reminds me of some darker anime/manga, like Death Note or Code Geass. Due to this, it certainly won’t be for everyone; however if you’re looking for a deep, original plot, Final Fantasy Type-0 gets my highest recommendation. Although I won’t say its story was the best of the year (that one goes to the next title on this list), I would say Type-0 had my favorite story.
Last and certainly not least is The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. If I had to name one game “Game of the Year” as many critics do, this one would be it. The Witcher 3 is yet another action RPG (if you haven’t guessed it by now, this is a very popular genre). Its graphics and sound are debatably the best of any game ever, and the narrative is as high-quality a story as I have ever seen in a game. The Witcher 2, which had a choice-driven plot, was criticized for being overly linear like its competition, Dragon Age. Dragon Age’s developers made excuses, claiming that one can have a plot with either a high-quality storyline or profoundly impactful choices, but not both. They then delivered Dragon Age: Inquisition, which had immersive choices, but an extremely disappointing story.
CD Project Red, The Witcher 3’s developers, didn’t make excuses; they made The Witcher 3, a masterpiece which proved that a game can have both an excellent story and choices. Indeed, this game was outstanding in every regard, I’ve never seen a game more well-received by critics. The only warning that I have about this game is that it’s a very dark fiction, on par with Game of Thrones. If you’re not into Game of Thrones due to its dark, mature plot, then you’ll probably want to avoid The Witcher 3. The consensus of video game critics seems to be that The Witcher 3 is the overall Game of 2015 (and as I said earlier, 2015 was a good year for games).
IMAGE TAKEN from gameskinny.com