This list isn’t about games that came out in 2015, but games I’ve played within the calendar year. Let’s kick this off!
- Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
See? I’m kicking this off with a game released in 2002 on the Gamecube. Quite early in 2015 I manged to snag myself one of the original Nintendo Wii units. The one with the Gamecube controller support. The backwards compatibility at such a cheap price was well worth it. Wind Waker had eluded me since I had returned a rented copy to Blockbuster in late ’03. I know, bad gamer. You should see my Pile of Shame… Less pile, more mountain.
What is outstanding is despite the uproar from the Zelda community over the graphical style, it brought two key things to the table. The first being an exaggerated sense of facial expressions. The cartoon style lends itself very well to being able to convey emotions better than the subtle nuances of a more realistic art style. The second thing is that Wind Waker has aged extremely well.
While I was interested in the HD Remaster of Wind Waker on Wii U, I have no current interest in owning a Wii U. (Mario Kart and Mario Maker are making me sway a tad, but not enough.) The original version is just as good, if less streamlined than the remaster.
The story intertwining with Ocarina of Time was also a neat touch. Gohma, the opening boss was quite immense in comparison to tiny Link. The sheer joy of knocking the seven shades of shit out of the Helmaroc King was second to none and the frantic fight against Molgera was something to behold.
- The Witcher
No, not The Witcher 3. Witcher 1. I’m going through both Witcher 1 and 2 before I tackle 3. Foolhardy, maybe but I feel like I’m missing out on some good gameplay. However, it took a little bit of time to get into due to confusing controls. The trials of Geralt of Rivia have to start somewhere and I’m not one to jump in, in the middle of a story.
What I have played so far is really quite good. It poses a very important question early on. “Do you regret your choices?”. I’m sure at some point I will, but right now my story is happening the way I want it to go. The emphasis on choice is one that can liven up any game, as long as it actually has a consequence to it. Witcher has that.
Based on the strength of this game, I’m looking forward to continuing the adventures of Geralt.
- WWE 2K16
Naturally a pro-wrestling game would appear somewhere in this list. I’m a fan of the WWE franchise, and while for the past few years things have stagnated gameplay wise, the jump to PS4/XB1 has breathed new life into the game. While I still have issues (MyCareer, I’m looking at you, and will address you later) this has to be one of the most enjoyable wrestling titles in years.
Shortly after penning my review, a No Mercy fanboy took to his soapbox to decry the current generation of wrestling games. But evidently, he is living in the past. WWE hasn’t been about backstage brawls for years. Video games have also moved on from the days of animations being created by hand and been replaced by actual motion capturing.
WWE 2K16 is getting closer and closer to simulating what you see on TV. This is what a wrestling game is nowadays. It’s doing its job.
- Wolfenstein: The New Order
It has been a while since I’ve sat down and seriously played a military based shooter. Call of Duty doesn’t appeal to me. Battlefield doesn’t appeal to me, even if Hardline came pretty close, but ended up screwing the pooch anyway.
Wolfenstein is different though. It’s fresh. It’s exciting. It doesn’t feel as tawdry and overdone as both CoD and Battlefield. It’s obviously familiar Wolfenstein territory, shooting Nazis. (Every time I play, I have to recite the words of Aldo Raine “THE ONLY GOOD NATZEE IS A DEAD NATZEE! YOU OWE ME A DEBT OF ONE HUNDRED NATZEE SCALPS, TAKEN FROM THE HEADS OF ONE HUNDRED DEAD NATZEES! AND I WANT MAH SCALPS!”)
Obviously some liberties have been taken in this alternate timeline where the Nazis were victorious in World War 2. They didn’t have giant mechs stomping around, or dogs in robot armor. But everything in this game feels fresh, feels more intense and visceral than in any of the yearly war titles being cranked out by Activision and EA. I mean, the last time anything from Call of Duty struck me as “Holy shit, that’s brutal!” was in Modern Warfare 2… Now let me stop you there. I’m not going to say ‘No Russian’. While controversial, that wasn’t anything compared to the section near the end where you rappel down a wall and stab a soldier in the heart, while he looks right at you. That was more harrowing to me than ‘No Russian’.
- Batman: Arkham Knight
I have always been a fan of the Rocksteady produced Batman games. While this title hasn’t had the smoothest of releases (I’m looking at you PC version) and the best additions (I’m looking at you, totally-shoehorned-in Batmobile), I did really enjoy this game for its story.
The Joker returning was unexpected, yet not unwelcome. Especially since it was Mark Hamill resuming the role after his “last” role in Arkham City.
I did totally hate the Batmobile sections though. Despite the fact that Rocksteady said they would implement the iconic vehicle in a way that wasn’t forced, yet that is exactly how it came across. The vehicular battle between the Dark Knight and the titular Arkham Knight was annoying as all hell. The fact that the showdown between Deathstroke and Batman was ALSO a damn tank battle was a mistake.