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Best of 2015: Games | reviews, news & interviews

Best of 2015: Games

Best of 2015: Games

Action replay! We select the top titles from a vintage year in games

Just Cause 3: On a wing and a prayer

When a discussion about ‘What was the best game of 2015?" stretches through a whole evening in the pub you know that: (a) you need to stop socialising with games journalists, and (b) 2015 has been a corker of a year in videogames.

Crystal balls make great paperweights, as the saying goes, and while just a year ago many games critics were lamenting the lack of original titles in the 2015 release list, few could have predicted the breadth of quality that has punctuated the calendar. It has been a year filled with high-achieving, ambitious games alongside shoestring indie gems. And the good news has been spread across all platforms; from PCs to mobiles, consoles to tablets, there has been an abundance of quality to cheer about.

In 2015 it wasn’t a case of boundaries being pushed, but rather erased entirely as the free-roaming, open-world genre really came into its own. In no particular order let’s show a nod of appreciation to Fallout 4, Just Cause 3, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Mad Max, Batman: Arkham Knight, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. All open-world games and all very good indeed, even outstanding. The bar for that genre has now been set as high as one of the clifftop vantage points in Just Cause 3.

Lego DimensionsLego Dimensions, Lego’s take on the "toys to life" genre, where players place figurines on a console-connected "portal" with the characters then appearing on-screen, successfully bridged the divide between toys and games. Not least because you build both the characters and the portal out of Lego, so no matter what happens on-screen, you never lose a physical connection with the little bricks. The umbrella Lego licence means you can create all sorts of unusual character mash-ups like Gandalf driving the Batmobile around Springfield – it was a genius combination and Lego Dimensions rightfully earns the mantle of best in class for parent-and-child gaming.

Over on the indie side of the fence, creative innovation has been in abundance. Her Story reminded gamers that full-motion video, a throwback to gaming of yesteryear, still has a place if handled as skilfully demonstrated in this masterclass of interactive storytelling. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture delivers the same type of story-unravelling gameplay but dresses it in a beautifully depicted, haunting gameworld that is both chilling and intriguing at the same time.  

SOMA, a sci-fi horror game with a well-crafted story, looked like it was produced with the kind of budget reserved for major mainstream development studios, such were the high-end production values of the smart and scary journey into an underwater research facility. And then we have the indie phenomenon that is Rocket League, a game about playing football in cars, with minimal gravity has been downloaded more than eight million times with both a movie and TV show on the cards. Easy to pick up, tricky to master and impossible to put down, it’s the biggest indie success story of the year – and well deserved too.

The Witcher 3: Wild HuntBut for me at least, the game of the year is The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, a title that sits firmly in the fantasy open-world genre, benefitting from one of the best scripts every written for a videogame, beautiful visuals, satisfying combat and a cavernous depth of content. It’s a game that just keeps on giving and giving – and you can’t ask for more than that. Unless you’re in a London pub, three pints down and someone dares to disagree with your point of view.

Read other gaming reviews on theartsdesk

In 2015 it wasn’t a case of boundaries being pushed, but rather erased entirely as the free-roaming, open world genre really came into its own

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Hi, Steve! Nice list!I'd like also to add "Rise of Tomb Raider". Absolutely agree with the Witcher rank. Great game!

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