Sunday, 6 December 2015

My Top 10 Games of 2015!

Wow where did that year go? It seems like yesterday I was deciding to call Shadow of Mordor my favourite game of 2014, and yet here we are in December again. Little change to my top 10 this year, I have decided to not do a worst games list, mainly because I want to maintain a positive vibe to my blog. I will however be talking about some of the games I was disappointed with in my 2015 wrap up, if that kind of thing is what you are looking for here. Now as usual, these are "my" top 10 games. That means the games here are the games that I've enjoyed this year, so games that I didn't play aren't included, regardless of how good they may or may not have been and what good things I've heard about them.

So without any further faffing about: onwards to my top 10 games of 2015!

No 10: The Sims 4

When it was released in 2014, the Sims 4 received a lot of criticism from long time fans of the series for being a step backwards from The Sims 3. I admit, I had some reservations about the changes made to the game. When you saw the list of features removed, it was large and seemed to point toward EA monetizing those things when added back into the game. However, despite the cut content, I really enjoyed my time early this year playing The Sims 4. The removal of the neighborhood "worlds" system had such a positive impact on both game performance and loading times that I don't even miss it any more. It still suffers from the same issue as The Sims 3 of having expensive expansion packs, meaning that you are basically paying for the game again every year. The gameplay is refined, and in my opinion, improved from the previous games. I certainly wouldn't rate it higher than 10th on this list, but it still deserves to be here.

No 9: WWE 2K15

Full disclosure: I'm a massive wrestling fan, and WWE 2K15's pc version could have literally been a nugget of poop in a game box and I'd still think it was the best thing since Shadow of Mordor. Luckily, the game is reasonably solid mechanically and very stable. It suffers a little from the "movie tie in" syndrome of relying a little too much on quick time events, there are physics bugs, the career mode's ending reeks of being rushed. Despite all of that, it's a wrestling game on PC! It can be modded! It even still has CM Punk in the game! Similar to how the Sims 4 can't be higher on the list, neither can WWE 2K15 because the only thing that puts it here is the fact that I'm a massive wrestling fan willing to overlook the games flaws to focus on the positives.

No 8: Prison Architect

Finally out of early access, Prison Architect is exactly what it sounds like: a game where you build a prison. A simulation lite game, the basic gameplay of Prison Architect is simple enough that building a basic prison is easy. Every prisoner has needs that have to be met, such as hunger, sleep and cleanliness. Being a prison, security is of course a concern with guards, dogs, and metal detectors being just some of the ways you can try to maintain the peace of your prison. Digging deeper into the game reveals systems that allow for reformation of prisoners, segregation of high, medium and low security risk prisoners, and even workshops to help make your prison some money. It's a great little game, and the time spent in early access has been well used to both refine the core concepts of the game, and also expand on them in ways that make sense.

No 7: Cities: Skylines

Cites: Skylines is what the 2013 SimCity should have been. Starting out on a plot of land about the same size as the plots in SimCity, C:S allows you to expand your area up to 8 times in the base game, and mods are out there that allow you to use all 25 available plots on each map to build a giant city. There's no need to focus your cities to one specific task like SimCity, as you have the room to build everything your city might need. I honestly haven't spent as much time with Cities: Skylines as I'd like to have spent, but there are pictures of some truly amazing cites out there and what I have played, I've really enjoyed. Worth a try if you like city building games.

No 6: Grand Theft Auto V

Two years. That's how long PC gamers had to wait for GTA5 to come to their platform of choice. Released on the Xbox 360 and PS3 in 2013, and then again on the Xbox One and PS4 in 2014, the long awaited PC port of the game was released in April 2015, and boy was it worth the wait. GTA5 is really, really fun when you have a group of friends all playing together, just playing around in the open world that Rockstar has created. Driving and flying is much better than the previous games, and combat is improved by the addition of a true first person mode to the PC version of the game. As I had already played the through the story on my 360, I went into GTA5 purely for the multiplayer, and when you are messing about in the world, it's a lot of fun. However, the big thing Rockstar advertised with GTA5 was heists, and I can't help but feel a bit let down by them. Essentially multi mission campaigns, heists have some crazy rewards, but were released buggy and in some cases were unable to be completed at all. All of the online lobbies are buggy and have crazy load time to get into the games. Eventually, my group of mates who were playing GTA5 gave up and moved back to other games. If the lobbies were more stable, I think GTA5 would be a brilliant release. That said, the single player is great and just driving around in the game is a lot of fun if you are into that kind of thing.

No 5: Blood Bowl 2

Blood Bowl is Warhammer Fantasy crossed with chess and american football. Teams of fantasy races such as orcs, elves and dwarves all play in a league to see just which race is the best at football. A turn based strategy game, Blood Bowl 2 takes the tabletop game, animates it and puts all the teams in your control. Being a tabletop game at heart, a lot of the game is based on random dice rolls, and Blood Bowl 2 takes a lot of the guess work out of the chance you have to succeed at a given roll, telling you the exact percentage you have to succeed at what you want to do. Being a game based around american football, the goal of each match is to score as many points as you can by running a player with the ball to the end zone. Being a Warhammer game, you can stop the other team from scoring by placing them in "tackle zones" or just beating them up. Most races are either agile, and good at passing and running the ball to the end zone, or strong and good at bashing up the other team until nothing can stop them getting to the end zone. The game is very easy to pick up, with the single player acting as an extended tutorial. Each match adds in more complex mechanics until you are playing proper Blood Bowl. I really enjoy Blood Bowl 2, and think it's well worth the buy, especially if you like turn based strategy games.

No 4: Rocket League

I wrote a review about Rocket League back in August, and since then the game has changed a lot, and all of it in good ways. First, they've been releasing small DLC packs that add in new vehicles and customizations. There has also been some new maps added for free, including the first of many "non-standard" maps, answering my only criticism of the game. Psyonix's approach to DLC has been refreshing, with each DLC patch only locking the vehicles and cosmetics behind the paywall, but allowing everyone to enjoy the new maps. Even without the DLC, the game is well worth the money they are asking. There's not a great deal to add to my review, so I'll finish this the same way. Rocket League is beautiful in how simple it is, yet how complex it can be. I highly recommend it!

No 3: Fallout 4

Another game that I reviewed recently, Fallout 4 is still the game that's eating up most of my spare gaming time at the moment. Having spent another 30 hours on the game, I've installed some mods to fix some issues that I've found (for example the radio station used to alert you if a settlement needs help has some obnoxious music that loops continually, and that's gone now). I've also beaten two of the possible endings for the game, and while I can see why some people have an issue with the "twist", I personally enjoyed the story. I'm still really enjoying the exploration of the world, meeting some new companions and factions out there in the wasteland. I've also come to realization about Fallout 4: it's in no way an RPG any more. It is however, a rock solid open world action game with RPG elements. The only thing holding it back from being higher in the list is the buggy state of the game at release. Yes it's a Bethesda game and bugs are expected, but I personally can't rate it any higher because of those bugs.

No 2: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

In my review of the Witcher 3, I flat out stated that it's my favorite RPG. I stand by that 100 percent. The world that you experience as the witcher Geralt feels so lived in. You can find notes that lead you to quests without ever talking to someone who sends you on them. The combat makes you feel like a fast moving, superhuman mutant who could take down dragons and wyverns. And as I stated in my review, the story telling is brilliant, with characters who aren't black and white "good" or "evil" characters, but rather shades of grey with flawed characters who have redeeming qualities that almost force you to overlook the bad ones. It's a brilliant world, and I love it. Fully deserving of the top spot on this list, it's only trumped by one thing: the sheer amount of enjoyment I got from my number one game.

No 1: Kerbal Space Program

Last year was the first time I'd ever done one of these top 10 lists, the first time I'd ever sat down to work out what I enjoyed the most and why. Last year, the choice was easy. Shadow of Mordor was hands down my favourite game of 2014. This year however, was a lot harder to decide. When I sat down to write the list, I thought the choice had been made ages ago during my review for The Witcher 3 where I called it my new favourite RPG. Fallout 4 during its honeymoon period had me convinced that I was going to name it the game of the year. But the more I think about it, Kerbal Space Program truly deserves the top spot in my list. On sheer playtime alone it was definitely my favourite game, but even more than that, I can't stop talking about it with other people.

Kerbal Space Program was the first game I ever wrote a review for back when I started up this blog in 2013. I had no intention of writing reviews at the time, and this blog was supposed to be more about current events in gaming and my thoughts on them. But then I was so excited by KSP that I had to write a short review of it. It's poorly written, very short and a prime example of how I feel my focus has changed for this blog. When it was fully released earlier this year, I was still playing KSP on the odd occasion, but the release got me focused on it again and I wrote another, more lengthy review of the game.

I can't help but feel that KSP is aimed at people, who just like me, built spaceships out of Lego instead of houses. Those of us who have always been interested in how mankind has been able to take metal, plastic and some fuel, combine those things into a rocket to send people to the moon or probes deep into space. It's a game that captures that sense of wonder and awe about space that I had at 10 years old, and allows me to feel it again at 26. And clearly I'm not alone in this, because KSP has one of the most passionate communities, one that is welcoming and friendly, willing to help out and teach you the ropes and even set you challenges to try and help you learn. I've said this in every review, but KSP even makes failure fun, and that it's not just because of the explosions, but also because you learn something. You learn that this design needs work, or even completely redone from the ground up.

And that's the point of the game: Kerbal Space Program makes learning about spaceflight fun. I've learnt more about spaceflight in 2 years of playing KSP than I ever did from watching documentaries, reading news articles or browsing Wikipedia. Concepts like delta-v, Hohmann transfers, aerobraking, lithobraking and all of the maneuvers required to efficiently fly in space are things I and many others would never have fully understood without playing this little indie game about green men trying to get into space. I could talk for hours about the many different missions I ran, the goals I set for myself and how I achieved them (or failed them in a blaze of glory), and I have done this with real life friends, who I'm sure won't be surprised by this choice when they read this. Kerbal Space Program will forever be in my top 10 games of all time, not just the top 10 of 2015.

So there it is, my top 10 games for 2015. Stay tuned to this blog for a big announcement regarding a little project that I'm working on that will be taking place right here! Consider this the announcement of the announcement. It's been a great year for gaming this year, and I'll be talking about that more in my 2015 Wrap Up coming soon. Until then, and as always,


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