Today I want to bring you my favourite games that have been released in 2015, I will say now though that this list may change slightly, I haven't played Just Cause 3 or Fallout 4 yet, either of which may well be on this list, but due to their late releases may be featured in next years list. So here we go, the best of the best games that have been released in 2015(that I have played). There will be games on this list, and I will count them down in descending order, starting with.....
Assassin's Creed Syndicate takes the number 7 spot on my GOTY Awards, Syndicate is a very good game, with superb characters and amazing visuals and the missions are designed perfectly. You will be taken from the mud filled workhouses to places of much greater affluency, which will remain nameless due to spoilers. The reason this game has only reached 7th place is two fold, firstly the franchise needs to take a break, let me explain, while this is a very good Assassin's game, the formula that governs this game, is still far too close to the last entry, Unity. The second reason is that the free running still hasn't been fine tuned, this would be acceptable on the first or second, even the third entry, but on the ninth, it is unacceptable that one of the core mechanics of the series still hasn't been improved enough with each passing year. There were still many occasions when I wanted to go somewhere, or climb something, but my character would either get stuck mere inches from the top, or simply refuse to climb it. Combine this with section(though few are still present) when you need to chase and catch an enemy, as you may be able to imagine, this often does not turn out well! Those are the reasons Assassin's Creed Syndicate got number 7 on my GOTY list, onto number 6!
Borderlands The Handsome Collection packages together Borderlands 2 and The Pre-Sequel along with all the DLC that has been released for both games. While The Pre-Sequel is a somewhat lacklustre game, Borderlands 2 is one of my favourite games of all time. So to have the opportunity to play it again, with all of the DLC I never picked up on the PS3 was a chance I couldn't pass up. There are 4 Campaign based DLCs for Borderlands 2 and 1 for The Pre-Sequel, along with a large collection of smaller bit of DLC, which can be just as good as the high standard set from the main DLCs. Tiny Tina's Assault of Dragon Keep(the final Campaign DLC released for Borderlands 2) is the second best DLC I've ever played, beaten only by The Last of Us Left Behind, it is a 5-7 hour campaign that all Borderlands fans should take the time to play! All in all Borderlands The Handsome Collection has taken many, many hours from me, and it still a joy to go back to every now and then. With a diverse range of classes, and more guns that any single person could count, Borderlands is a fantastic game, even under the scrutiny of time!
Call of Duty Black Ops 3, this years franchise entry from Treyarch, and it is easily my favourite Call of Duty since Black Op 2, and it could well surpass that! With is subtle tweaks on the movement system, there to help with traversal but not used as frequently in fire fights as Advanced Warfare. There is quite frankly superb weapon balance; I have always thought that the tell of a well balanced game, is when you can Google what the most powerful weapon is, and come up with tens of ideas on what it is. I personally have gravitated towards a few of them, but I know I could do just as well if I wanted to spread out and use other weapons. I will admit that I haven't even touch the campaign yet, but I have sunk a decent amount of time into Shadows of Evil, the new Zombies map, which it perhaps too complicated to want to get into on a very regular basis, but has enough hidden secrets that it still brings me back to it from time to time. There is also the Free Run mode, which I dismissed as a tiny tag on, and while it is very small(I completed all the tracks in around 25 minutes) it has continued to bring me back to beat my previous best times. Looking at the bigger picture of Black Ops 3, it is the complete package, with a superb multiplayer and enough other activities to keep you going even if and when you get bored of the multiplayer. Black Ops 3 has definitely earned 4th place in my best Games of the Year.
Coming into the podium positions, we have the Dark Knight himself Batman Arkham Knight. The Arkham Trilogy is one of my favourite series, and Rocksteady finished it of with style and poise. While I am aware that many people correctly guessed and were disappointed with the identity of the Arkham Knight, I was blissfully aware until the moment of reveal. I think this game gets an unnecessary amount bad press because of the quite frankly atrocious version of the game on PC, but because of this I think many people don't give this game the credit it deserves. This game wraps up the Batman games with what is in my opinion the best story to date, set it the best and most detailed world yet. One controversial addition to the game was the Batmobile, I think for 90% of the time it fits in very well, but it is that remaining 10% that causes people varying levels of grief.
Other that the occasionally sloppy use of the Batmobile Arkham Knight is a game that should be celebrated and played, in previous years this game might have topped my list, but it was beaten out by some tough competition!
Now we come to a truly stunning game, and one that has taken the number 2 spot in my heart this year; Witcher 3 Wild Hunt. Unlike some of the people playing Witcher 3, I hadn't played any of the previous games, so I was a little daunted when I first started playing, but I soon got to grips with the story and mechanics. This isn't a perfect game, in fact there are some level balance issues which really annoy me, but when this game does something right, it blows you away. Whether it be the best Quests I have ever played, or the vistas that just make you want to put your controller down and enjoy. Witcher 3 is one of those games that pulls you back in from time to time and reminds you how a game should be made. Although it isn't my favourite game ever made, I have no hesitation in saying that it is my favourite Fantasy game, even topping the spectacular Skyrim! High praise indeed!
Was there ever any doubt? The game that I have put the most hours into, thought about or played every day since launch, and the driving force of content since release on this website. Destiny The Taken King is my favourite game released in 2015. You might argue that it is a DLC and not a game, but it changed the whole game, and in my opinion was how the game should have launched last year, so yes it is a game, and a fantastic one at that. I could write about Destiny until I wear my keyboard down, but let me just run you through some of the things that make this game so amazing. The campaign, although far shorter than I was expecting, was filled with more details of the characters I had grown to love over the last year, and all of it was paced superbly, it actually feels like you are fighting a war against the Taken. There is also the Raid, Kings Fall in hands down the greatest single experience I've ever had in a game, I have played all of the previous Raids many times, but Kings Fall seems a more developed experience. From the platforming to the mechanics, it is a fluid and fantastic experience, and something that should be commended.
So there you go guys, my favourite games that have been released in 2015, I truly think that has been an amazing year for gaming, and one that we will look back on in future years and marvel at. Now you know what my favourite games are, I want to know yours, let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter!This won't be the last you hear of me in 2015, but I'm already planning some exciting things for 2016, I hope you are as excited as I am!
Thanks for reading,
Assassin's Creed in the latest in a long line of open world sandbox games, how does this live up to its predecessors? I'm going to break this review down into sections, so it is easier for you to read the specific points you want to, we will have: The Open World, The Characters, The Combat, The Graphics and Performance, The Quality and Quantity of Content, then we will round out with The Verdict. So if you want a short synopsis of whether the game is good or not, check out the very last section. I would also like to say that there are no campaign spoilers in this review, however some of the concepts discussed and pictures below talk about some of the mechanics in the game.
The Open World
So first we will look at the open world that serves as our playground, and Victorian London is the backdrop to our adventures. This isn't what could be classed as an enormous map at our disposal, nor are the six available boroughs truly unique, with there being little noticeable difference between them. However the immersion of the map is very possibly the best in the series. When strolling, climbing or speeding my way through London, I feel like the whole City is industrial, like I can almost smell the pollution, feel the poverty or catch the trains.
Traversal through the City has been sped up due to carriages, trains and the new grapple hook, though sadly despite what I said in my initial impressions, that the free running had changed little from previous games. The more time I have spent with the game, the more I have come to the conclusion that your character goes where you don't want them too, or gets stuck on ledges, with a greater frequency than previous games. In my opinion this is something that critics and gamers alike have been complaining about for years, and not only has it not got better, now it feels to be getting worse! Many a time has my character frozen while climbing up a building, seemingly refusing to climb and further, until I let go of the analogue stick, press back up on the stick, and off the character goes. I am also sure this is not the game freezing as the rest of the world continues to carry on progressing in the back ground. My last comment on the open world, is that the architecture is very similar throughout the game world, I would have liked to seen greater diversity between the housing and warehouses, alas there is little change.
Despite the previous section being a mixed bag of good and bad points, the characters in Syndicate are really, really good. Now with two protagonists in place of one, Evie and Jacob Frye take up the mantle left from previous games and they run with it. There is a clear, close relationship between the twins, and sometimes there is love and agreements, while other times there is irritation, however no matter the banter between the two of them, it is always a pleasure to see both of them on screen together. There is a reasonably good supporting cast as well, with the highlight being Alexander Graham Bell, he takes the traditional character, as with previous games, of the inventor for the twins. There are other famous faces sprinkled through out the game, but for the sake of a spoiler free review, I shall leave them unmentioned. Both Evie and Jacob have seperate skill trees, which must have skill points put into each one, though sadly both skill trees are identical, and already I have filled 75% of both their trees. While none of the perks totally change the way you will play as a character, they do finesse their individual play styles. There is also a sperate skill tree(which I won't name for spoilers but it is apparent once you gain access to it), which unlocks perks for both characters. There is one in particular which is a necessity, it is called Notoriety, and will make your visit in London, much more pleasant.
The combat of Assassin's Creed has always been a factor of the game which has been good, but not amazing, this view of combat hasn't changed in Syndicate. Now there is a combo meter in the bottom left corner, and truly highlights how long combat can take. For example, there is a trophy for getting a 40x combo, I earned this on day 1, just from fighting a singular(though higher level than me) enemy, to put that another way, I had to press Square over 40 times, just to take down one enemy! I can't quite put my finger on what has changed, but I think it could be summed up as easily as the enemies have far too much health. I would like to say that you will come across enemies with that much health on very rare occasions, however it is not rare to see a foe that will increase your combo by 8-10 times. I feel like the combo meter has highlighted how much of the combat comes down to mashing buttons. Most of your time will be spend with your finger on the square button, with the semi-frequent press of circle to counter, X to break the foes defence, and occasionally triangle to dodge a bullet. Also customisation of combat(as with nearly all customisatoion) has left the franchise with Syndicate, unlike previous games, you can't buy unique weapons that make you have to play differently in battle, now there is a notable difference between Evie and Jacob, but little way to change the weapons of the individuals. For example Jacob will only be able to use knuckle dusters or daggers, while Evie can use her dagger cane or a dagger. Gone are the options to have swords, or halberds(the long axes), and I feel like this has lessened the variety of combat further!
The Graphics and Performance
The graphical prowess of this game is undeniable everywhere you go, there are amazing particle effects flowing from the rooftop chimneys, stunning shadows that can be seen in great detail from great distances, awesome character animations(most of the time), the list goes on. This is a truly beautiful game that rewards plaudits just for how it looks alone! The performance of the game doesn't let it down either, with a rock solid 30fps, which to my eye has never slowed down, I'm sure it has wavered a little, but I've never noticed it with my eye! All in all, this section is a huge success for Assassin's Creed Syndicate, and I can't wait to see what else Ubisoft can create on the Anvil engine!
The Quality and Quantity of Content
This is a tricky topic for Syndicate, on the one hand if you look at your map after even a few hours in the open world, you will see at least parts of it(you are lead to more areas as you progress) are absolutely littered with icons of things to do and see. However under closer inspection you will see that Ubisoft has stepped up their collectables game this year, with many of the icons being such. To some degree these are useful, with pressed flowers unlocking new colours for your characters, and music boxes which are said to unlock a mysterious crypt once all 30 are collected. I personally get the feeling that there are a few side quests that they have hidden behind the collection of many collectables, which I personally don't like. You can't go round a corner in Syndicate without running into another collectable, I find this "filling" quite annoying, as it makes the map look much more alive than it in actual fact is! In terms of the story missions, so far I haven't come across anything to break the bank, for the most part they are good, well designed missions. For the most part our old, most hated missions which usually involve following someone from afar, have stayed out of Syndicate, though I have come across one in a side mission. There seem to be a good number of side missions, and they form into more of a chain than in previous games. So your map won't be flooded with side quests, rather a small number of quests that are like mini campaigns. I like this move a lot as it feels like you are progressing even in the side content.
In terms of wandering around the world, there are a nice number of mini missions all over the place, these usually involve you weakening the Templars hold on that area, and can be taken on either with stealth in mind, or a guns blazing approach. If I had one criticism of the main campaign, is that it feel like the task of removing the Templars from London is a massive job, not in the nice way of "ohh look at all these activities to complete", more in the sense of "right let's go and kill this local leader, just like the previous half dozen".
I summary, there is plenty of content to keep you busy, most of it is to a good standard, though nothing tears the rule book to shreds, then there are some missions that feel like they are copy and pasted across the City to give you more things to have to do. So if you want to play the Campaign, you will have a good time, if you stray of the beaten track into the world, you may find yourself questioning if you have done this before, many times.
Okay guys, we have reached the precipice of this review! So in summary Assassin's Creed Syndicate is a very good game, but one which if it had received as little as 6 months more polish and refining, could have been a game to go down in history. As it is, Assassin's Creed Syndicate is a game you should pick up straight away, if you have played previous Assassin's games, and have liked them. If not, there isn't enough new here to warrant you picking it up. Which brings me to my numerical score of:
Thank you very much for reading,
This morning I received a review copy of Assassin's Creed Syndicate, and have so far played between 3 and 4 hours, but I wanted to bring you all my first impressions before the shops sell it at midnight and tomorrow! We know take to the streets of Victorian London, and helm not one but two new protagonists in our fight to rid the Templars off our cherished streets. We will be able to foster gangs, ascend the landmarks, take our crusade to rid Templar crime from the beating heart of Britain. So at the beginning of my first impressions, it seems only right to start at the opening of the game, which I must say is probably one of, if not quite possibly the best openings of all the Assassin's Creed games. I naturally won't spoil the slightest thing, but rest assured, the opening 45 minutes or so, are stunning, with one or two very memorable events.
Possibly the first thing you will notice in Syndicate is the graphical prowess this games puts forth, even a step up from the aesthetic masterpiece that was Unity, Syndicate truly does let us loose on the streets of a real, breathing City. However, this is where I come across a problem with the 8th instalment of the Assassin's Creed franchise, although these games are known for having massive open worlds with a plethora of free running opportunities, Ubisoft have never quite managed to make the traversal feel organic. If you pick up any of the previous games, you will notice rather quickly that on unfortunately frequent occasions your character doesn't go where you want them to, rather bizarrely sticking to another object, and then refusing to climb to where you want them too. While this problem hasn't worsened in Syndicate, neither has it been fixed, which after so long, I find equal parts unacceptable and saddening. However that is one of the few problems with the game I have after my time with it, so we shall move onto the sections of this game which truly shine.
Let's take a look now, at the two protagonists of this Assassination filled outing, Evie and Jacob Frye. The new twins to helm the game are both very different, but also similar to each other. In an act that could very easily be classed as gender stereotyping from Ubisoft, Evie is level headed and wants to take the reasonable, direct approach. While Jacob wants to foster a new gang to rival the Templars gang, The Blighters. They both handle very differently from each other, as Evie has a more fast paced approach to combat, while Jacob opts more for slow but brute force, with his fists being a large aspect of his fighting style. I am pleased to say that there doesn't seem to be a share animation between them, with both characters acting, looking and playing with a suitable difference. Also I was overjoyed to see that the feature to switch characters at any point while in the open world(not missions). Simply go into the pause menu and press R3 and you will be taken back to the game as the other character. It is a snappy shift as well, with there being a hiatus from action for no more that 15 seconds as you change characters. Also you are spawned into the new character in the exact same place, so you should have no worries that you will have to get to a specific location to change characters. All in all, I think Ubisoft have done a marvellous job of implementing multiple playable characters, though I would like them to commit to a shift in character and give us a solo, strong willed woman in the next game.
Assassin's Creed games are now synonymous with being stealthy in at least some ways, and I am very glad to see that these mechanics have been broadened and improved in Syndicate. Now with the ability to enter "sneak" mode, simply by pressing X(on PS4), and your character of choice will remove their hat, and don their hood. While they are sneaking they are more agile and harder to detect, they also have different animations, such as hiding behind a stack of wood, or maybe peering round a corner. Also while sneaking, your character is surrounded by a white ring, which shows near audio spikes near you, this basically means that you don't have to go around with Eagle Vision(which is now unlimited) active just to be fully aware of your surroundings. There is also the ability to move the bodies of unconscious or slain enemies, so in theory you can avoid detection longer. However even if you try to pick a body up while sneaking you stand up, and go through an animation that lasts a good few seconds, very soon after being told about this feature, I was detected by another enemy, due to standing up and picking the body up. So I have since taken to leaving the slumbering bodies on the floor, and continuing with the silent breach of the building in question.
One of the other new features(or at least in a more advanced way) in Syndicate are environmental kills, these come in the form of precariously balanced objects, which when hit with either a bullet or a throwing knife collapse, and kill any unwitting enemies who happened to be walking or standing beneath! This normally would be very satisfying, and to some extent they are, but I was left with the distinct impression that foes had specifically places there, just to be the victims of an "accident". Thankfully such precipices of danger are few and far between, as they do take away some what from the immersion that is other wise amazing in Syndicate.
Finally, I would like to say that the music in this game is exceptional so far, with the score seeming to change and crescendo in exactly the right places to synergies with with the action on screen. For example, while I was climbing one of London's most famous landmarks, a rousing orchestral number was played, which suitably reached it's peak when I was near the summit. Looking next at one of my fights in a sinister looking building, which dramatic drum music was being played, at moments the music could be operatic, and a few minutes later it might feel like the very essence of industrial London is being portrayed via the soundtrack. Simply stunning, the music of Assassin's Creed Syndicate is something to behold, and a standard other games should aspire too!
That will do it for me, all in all I am have a lot of fun with Assassin's Creed Syndicate, and I would recommend you pick up this stunning portrayal of industrial London. It is released world wide on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in a few short hours from when this is first being released, let me know in the comments below or on Twitter if you will be picking it up!
Thank you very much for reading,
I know content on my site has been very E3 based recently, so I hope you aren't getting fed up with it, I know I'm not! Today I thought that I would take a bit more of a subjective look at E3 2015. Specifically the games that we will see and if I am looking forward to seeing new content from them!
This is a game from Gearbox(the legends behind Borderlands), and it first came on my radar a few months ago, when I wanted to find out what they were working on next. At the time the look of the game impressed me, but in the last week a new trailer has been released which shows off the game very nicely, which you can check out below! This game looks incredibly exciting, with a new take on the standard FPS. There are over 20 different classes to chose from(26 I believe but don't quote me!) each of which appears to have incredibly different combat talents. Any game from the makers of Borderlands will have my full attention, but this game does more than that. It genuinely has my whole hearted attention, I expect this to be my personal game of E3 2015.
Battleborn is scheduled for release in "Winter 2015".
Up next we have Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain. This is one of very few games that we will doubtlessly see at E3 this year that I am not excited about. Or at least its appearance at E3 would need to do a lot to get my interested in the game, I have never played a Metal Gear game before(apart from Ground Zeroes which I don't understand). Thus my interest in this game in minimal, I need to be convinced that despite the fact that I haven't played previous MGS games, I will still understand Phantom Pain. Plus the fact that I only like stealth games in theory, in practice I just get bored and go for a more outlandish approach to the issue! The only part of this game which does interest me is the online side of it, though we don't have many details for this side of the game!
Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain will be available September 1st worldwide!
Fallout 4; one of the most famous games for never being released or announced... Was recently announced, Bethesda(makers of Elder Scrolls, Fallout and more) released the new trailer below to 90,000 via Twitch, I was amongst those people, and I fell in love with it straight away. Similarly to the Metal Gear series, I have never played a previous Fallout game, but unlike MGS this Fallout 4 trailer felt open to anyone. Despite the fact that there wasn't any actual gameplay show, Bethesda are hosting their own E3 conference this year for the first time ever, and have already promised more details about this game. There have already been leaks(including from Bethesda's website) which indicate Fallout 4 will be released later this very year! There are few things Bethesda could announce during their conference that would surprise me, but a 2015 release date would do just that!
Fallout 4 doesn't have a release date confirmed yet, but late 2015 is rumoured!
Assassin's Creed Syndicate, the next instalment in the unfortunately annualised series. I would like to say at this stage that the Assassin's Creed series is one of my favourite of all time, and I have played all major instalments(apart from Rogue). However Syndicate holds no interest for me, the additions to the series don't interest me, and the gameplay that was released seemed to me to reek of... Assassin's Creed, I know that may sound stupid, but the series needs to take a few years off, and come back with an amazing game. Syndicate boasts the new bear knuckle fighting, which seems like a waste of time when we are used to the fast fights with swords or guns, the new grapple hook seems to me to detract from the beauty of the world of AC. I have always loved the unique traversal methods that AC games boast, but the grapple seems to take this away. It goes without saying that Assassin's Creed Syndiate will be making a sizeable appearance during Ubisoft's conference, and probably one of the two console conferences!
Assassin's Creed Syndicate will be released worldwide October 23rd
Destiny. A very controversial game, some people love it and play it for hundreds of hours, and some people can't stand it. Think of it as the Marmite of the gaming world! I don't know which of those groups I reside in, but that is a post for another day. Bungie have been teasing that people will want to tune in to their appearance at E3 this year. This would tally with a major leak the occurred earlier in the year, which said that Bungie would be releasing a major expansion for Destiny later this year, at the time it was codenamed Comet. Fast forward a few months and Destiny The Taken King was trademarked by Bungie, along with a logo. It would appear that Comet has grown its wings and transformed into The Taken King. It is said that this expansion will nearly be as big as the base game, apparently having nearly as many new strikes as the original game and many new story missions to work though. Apparently there will be new areas to explore as well, it is unclear whether these will be new planets or tag on locations to the existing planets. Either way, Bungie should be a developer to keep your eye on during E3 this year!
The Taken King hasn't even been announced yet, but if rumours are to be believed a September of October release date should be expected!
That is me guys, I hope you have enjoyed reading my thoughts on some of the games that will doubtlessly headline this E3. Don't forget that E3 is so special because it brings the unknown, some previous announcements have turned out to be some of the best gaming experiences out there. So keep an open mind to new and possibly indie games announced at E3, and most importantly enjoy it, E3 is a once a year event, where gamers come together and celebrate gaming, no matter their console preference.
The spotlight is on gaming, I know we will be impressed, do you?
Thanks for reading as always,
Friends of The Games Critic:
My name is Ed, I write everything here, covering all kinds of games, but I only play them on the PS4!