By Gemma @JuicyGameReviews
It has been a fantastic year for video game releases at least in my humble opinion. The Xbox One and Playstation 4 camps hosted a plethora of games to keep us busy well in to 2016 and beyond. I've been particularly impressed with Polish developers. It seems fitting to discuss some of the cream of the crop as 2015 draws to an end so let's take a look at my top five as well as my honourable mentions. Pausing slightly, I created a Youtube Video on this topic but figured this blog would run nicely alongside it.
5 - Dying Light
Dying Light was released on Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC and Linux in January 2015. Techland, the Polish development team behind Dying Light dropped us right in to the thick of a zombie apocalypse in the fictional city of Harran. Our main protagonist, Kyle Crane, is sent out to Harran to source a political figure who went AWOL. Kyle's priorities soon change as he quickly finds himself learning the art of Parkour in a bid to tackle the undead and save survivors. Straight of the bat it seems like the classic Zombie Apocalypse storyline: One man on a mission against the undead but it worked incredibly well. The open world, Harran looked stunning and felt so vast in both day and night. Day and night were a pivotal aspect of the game dynamics. During the day it seemed a whole lot easier to meander around Harran without receiving too much damage. I never felt at threat during the day. Dying Light felt manageable. As soon as night arrived the vibe changed. Monsters as well as zombies became the predator. Monsters had a stark agility that made me feel as though I was always being hunted. I enjoyed the way I connected with Dying Light at night as I felt the Physiological change in me (sweaty palms, increased heart rate). Naturally, this increased the games difficulty which in turn, altered the fluidity of Dying Light's experience. Consider it as, The Opposite of Monotony. That's right, I started to witness the many layers of Dying Light.
Amidst the day to night transition, we were able to craft new weapons, mods, abilities and more. As with any zombie game I would expect this so I don't have too much to say about it. Dead Island had a similar feature but it didn't feel as appealing. I found Dead Island's upgrades to be too accessible at times whereas I preferred the increased difficulty in Dying Light. After all, evasion is the biggest weapon we have right? Fight or flight? Dying Light gave me these options whereas Dead Island seemed more about fighting.
4 - Until Dawn
Until Dawn is a Playstation 4 Exclusive and was released in August 2015. Critics slammed Until Dawn just after release for being too short but with a multitude of endings Until Dawn can keep you entertained well in to 2016. Until Dawn does a lot of things very well which completely eclipses the short story campaign. Eight friends find themselves trapped on a frosty mountain and seek shelter in any log cabin they can find. There are the typical cliche´ personalities that weave in to the hide and seek horror storyline which would typically make me cringe. Nonetheless, the overly eccentric, Frat and Sorority personalities work beautifully.
Until Dawn was developed by Supermassive Games. The gameplay seems to borrow vastly from Heavy Rain in that choice is everything. Every choice we make will affect the ending. You can see the many different endings here. Who survives is up to you and even then Until Dawn is likely to shock you. Emily pissed me off so badly that she had to go! (SPOILER ALERT). Emily in fact survived the fall in to the cavern and proceeded to frustrate me for a few more hours. Joking aside, Supermassive Games did a phenomenal job allowing the story to evolve with plenty of plot twists. The script is excellent and voice acting is high end stuff. My only gripe is that the camera angles are fixed. Upon reflection I believe this adds to the sense of helplessness and fear. There's a lack of control with fixed camera angles in Until Dawn so whilst it's a minor offset it's an advantage too. If you having played Until Dawn then I highly recommend you pick up a copy. I'm looking forward to seeing other titles from Supermassive Games.
3 - Destiny The Taken King
Destiny The Taken King was released in September 2015 and is impressive piece of DLC for Bungie's current generation masterpiece, Destiny. When I initially put the video out for this topic commenters indicated that The Taken King didn't apply as "it's DLC so it doesn't count". I disagree. I genuinely struggled to fit in to Destiny before I played The Taken King. Admittedly I hadn't played the previous two pieces of DLC, House of Wolves and The Dark Below but the Taken King really changed the way Destiny felt for me. The Taken King offers players a chance to level up to level 40, offers new enemies, a fresh campaign and more. Here's what Bungie had to say about The Taken King:
Destiny: The Taken King, the next great adventure in the first person shooter Destiny universe, introduces a new story campaign and quests, new enemies to fight, new locations to explore, new Strikes and Crucible maps, a new Raid that will put players to the ultimate test, and more. To stand up to the challenge, players will have access to three new devastating Guardian subclasses, and a massive arsenal of weapons, armor, and gear.
In answering those comments about The Taken King not being allowed I ask you to re-think your thoughts. It's clear to me that The Taken King offers a lot more than the previous two pieces of DLC and takes the campaign to a whole new level. I've never felt so powerful in other first person shooter games. The entire universe connects with players on a level like no other. Thank you Bungie! Erm, Halo what?!
2 - Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was released in May 2015 by CD Projekt RED. I remember unboxing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a fine addition to the Role Playing Game family alongside Skyrim, Fallout 3 and Oblivion. What separates The Witcher 3 (aside from it being a next generation video game) is that the world is so much more fulfilling. I wrote a comparison between Skyrim and The Witcher 3 and here's what I had to say about the open world in Wild Hunt:
The world in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt looks absolutely stunning. CD Projekt RED made the transition from day and night very smooth to the point where dusk and dawn are very noticeable by the colour changes. I noticed a lot of burnt orange coming through at sunset in The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt, which made the transition to night a little more realistic and tasteful. Skyrim’s world is not as aesthetic. Before I played The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt I wouldn’t have noticed at just how drab Skyrim’s world feels. The colour palette leans more towards colder colours like blues and greys. Now I’m fine with this but it’s important to recognise at just how bright, rich, warm and alive The Witcher 3 feels in comparison.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt starts out with a fully comprehensive tutorial mode. Prior to stepping out in to my first mission I felt fully equipped for the challenge. What flawed me was how impressive the start was in terms of storyline, graphics, character interaction, suspense and richness of the world. If first impressions last then The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt left a bruise on my face! For more of an in-depth dissection on The Witcher 3 check out my blog here.
1 - Fallout 4
Fallout 4 was released in November 2015 much to the delight of fans across the world. I don't think I've ever been so excited for a gaming release and it's fair to say that we waited a long time for Fallout 4 to be announced by the mighty Bethesda.
Fallout 4 has already been pegged to be Game of the Year 2015 so it's no surprise that it's at my number one. Exploring the Wasteland never felt so good. The vast barron, post apocalyptic wasteland of Boston is jammed packed full of wonder that encourages player's to venture. And venture we do! I've barely scratched the surface of the main campaign and I'm over thirty hours in. I'm continually tempted to side track in to the depths of the extras on offer. I believe I've tackled more side missions compared to the main story but that's okay. Who needs to fine Shaun, our tiny little bundle of joy, anyway right?! Fallout 4, or any Fallout game, is about exploration. The thrill is not knowing what is over the next hill, not knowing what lays behind the locked door or chest, not knowing what loot you're going to find on the Radroach is all a part of the majestic lure of Fallout 4.
Fallout 4's storyline stems around revenge. In the beginning we are lured in to Vault 111 only to be frozen alongside our spouse and baby. Unfortunately, we are the only one to leave 111 hundreds of years after entering. Where's Shaun? becomes a common question of our main protagonist and who took him? drives the main story across the wasteland. Speaking of, we are quickly greeted with out canine friend, Dogmeat. He is a great addition to Fallout 4 for company, battle and carrying items when we are over-encumbered. I'm sure we all know by now that Dogmeat was modelled from the lead level designer's real life dog, River. Check out this video to go behind the scenes with Dogmeat:
Fallout 4 is near perfection for me. I totally lose myself from the stresses of daily life. I'm eager to hear about your thoughts on what games take your pick from 2015. Honourable mentions are at the end of my video below.
2016 is pegged to be a strong year for video game releases. Drop me a comment and let me know what you're looking forward to. In the meantime you can check out these videos from my youtube channel:
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We're well in to the Playstation 4 and Xbox One and more recently the Nintendo Switch eras of gaming. Graphics had never looked so smooth and gameplay had never flowed so fluently. Let's not forget the triumphant last Generation of gaming with the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii; all of which I have a lot of time for.
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