usagi704’s GAME OF THE YEAR 2015 awards

In the early months of 2015 I really thought this would be similar the previous year in that it would be kind of a lackluster year for quality game releases because this generation has been getting off to a slower start than usual. Much to my surprise it has turned out to be a very good year for quality releases, especially in the second half. Next year looks to have the potential to be one of the all-time great years in video game history, but that’s a story for the first week of January when I cover my most anticipated games of 2016. Until then, enjoy my game of the year shenanigans for 2015 and please feel free to comment as its always highly appreciated!

THIS YEAR’S RULES FOR GAMES TO BE CONSIDERED FOR NOMINATION

(List of games eligible for this year’s awards)

– THE GAME MUST HAVE BEEN PLAYED FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS YEAR
– THE GAME DOES NOT HAVE TO HAVE BEEN ORIGINALLY RELEASED THIS YEAR

BEST MUSIC

• Gravity Rush (PSV)
• Bloodborne (PS4)
• Payday 2: Crimewave Edition (PS4)
• Guitar Hero: Metallica (PS2)
• SSX (PS3)

RUNNER-UP: Payday 2: Crimewave Edition (PS4)


The oppressively forbodding atmosphere of Bloodborne is perfectly complemented by an equally haunting operatic soundtrack that appropriately intensifies the challenging boss fights and lends that much more to the gothic feel of the game.

MOST IMPROVED FOLLOW-UP

• Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- (PS4)
• Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin (PS4)
• Crysis 2 (PS3)
• Payday 2: Crimewave Edition (PS4)
• Tomb Raider: Underworld (PS3)

RUNNER-UP: Crysis 2 (PS3)


Payday 2 succeeds at streamlining where necessary and polishing up what worked about the original Payday in ways that kept me playing this sequel for many dozens hours more than I ever spent with the first.

MOST SURPRISINGLY GOOD GAME

• Panzer Bandit (PS)
• Puyo Puyo Tetris (PSV)
• Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage (PS3)
• Splatoon (WU)
• Payday 2: Crimewave Edition (PS4)

RUNNER-UP: Splatoon (WU)


I figured this fairly pricey, heavily inspired by Guardian Heroes beat-’em-up would be pretty good, but I didn’t expect how good it really turned out to be! It’s likely my favorite of this specific type of beat-’em-up. It has all the combo based action I love with a large playable cast of twelve characters!

FAVORITE GUILTY PLEASURE

• Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage (PS3)
• Netto Real Bout Garou Densetsu Special (GB)
• Sokkou Seitokai: Sonic Council (SS)
• Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds (PSV)
• Magus (PS3)

RUNNER-UP: Magus (PS3)


In the past I have tried to get into the Musou series with Dynasty Warrior 3 and Samurai Warriors 2 Empires, but none of those took and I felt they were a boring slog and never finished them. I guess all it really took for me to like one is to center it around a license that I already have a huge fondness for. Lots of people seem to be in this camp, just look at the success of Hyrule Warriors and Dragon Quest Heroes. Omega Force took the overall Musou formula and did a fantastic job of making it work for Fist of the North Star! I’m looking forward to playing this game’s sequel for all the extra playable characters added to that one.

MOST DISAPPOINTING GAME

• Tenchi o Kurau II: Sekiheki no Tatakai (SS)
• Project × Zone (3DS)
• Cyberbots (SS)
• Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds (PSV)
• Astebreed (PS4)

RUNNER-UP: Cyberbots (SS)


Astebreed has recieved glowing praise across the board and I’m here to be the huge party pooper. Not only was I super disappointed by Astebreed, but I also don’t think it’s even a good game. Sure, it looks very pretty, but the gameplay is too chaotic and bloated with too many different attacking options. This is a very clear case of a shmup that is style over substance in every way.

WORST GAME

• Tenchi o Kurau II: Sekiheki no Tatakai (SS)
• Band Hero (PS2)
• Project × Zone (3DS)
• Gouketsuji Ichizoku 2: Chotto Dake Saikyou Densetsu (PS)
• Nettou Garou Densetsu 2: Aratanaru Densetsu (GB)

RUNNER-UP: Nettou Garou Densetsu 2: Aratanaru Densetsu (GB)


Normally with rhythm/music games I can enjoy a song even if I don’t actually like it as long as it’s fun to play within the context of playing these types of games. In the case of the over popification of Guitar Hero with Band Hero there’s almost no songs that are enjoyable to play and they’re almost all garbage songs too! It was a slog to play through and I couldn’t wait for it to finally be over.

GAME OF THE YEAR

• Panzer Bandit (PS)
• Bioshock Infinite (PS3)
• Yakuza 5 (PS3)
• Puyo Puyo Tetris (PSV)
• SSX (PS3)
• Splatoon (WU)
• Gravity Rush (PSV)
• Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin (PS4)
• Payday 2: Crimewave Edition (PS4)
• Bloodborne (PS4)

RUNNER-UP: Bloodborne (PS4)


I knew I would enjoy Yakuza 5 a lot, but I thought for sure I was still going to award Bloodborne as my Game of the Year. Yakuza 5 arrived fashionably late, crashed the party and proved it ain’t over ’til it’s over! This game is so chock full of a variety of things to do that it’s downright daunting if you’re a completionist. Thankfully, the whole series doesn’t require you to do anything outside the main story, but it will introduce you to most of the side activities. I had a much harder time than usual resisting the side content in this entry because some of it was about as compelling as the main story, whether it is taxi driving as Kiryu, hunting in the mountains near Tsukimino as Saejima, doing promotional pop idol events as Haruka, or baseball challenges as Shinada. The main story is pure Yakuza with all of the twists and turns that its machismo, melodramatic tale can muster. The biggest draws for me to this series over time have been the charming and likeable returning characters and locations, the over-the-top gangster narrative, and the brutally satisfying fisticuffs. The variety of side content is just the icing on this delicious manly cake and Yakuza 5 has more than any game in this series before it. Yakuza 5 is the definition of “bigger and better” in all the best ways possible and best is exactly what Yakuza 5 is in 2015. My, oh, my, Yakuza 5!