The very best of this year’s releases across consoles and genres
By Alex Stanton, Staff Writer
As 2015 comes to a close, I’d like to award this year’s most deserving video game releases by genre. Without further ado, here are the finest of the finest of this year’s gaming industry.
Action Game of the Year
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, PC
The Metal Gear series has been the golden standard by which all stealth action games are measured. For those of you non-gamers out there, Metal Gear is an epic espionage thriller series that tells a story chronologically beginning in 1964 and concluding in 2014. The focus of the series is purely on the plot, but this time around the gameplay has advanced greatly. One of the notable moves that puts The Phantom Pain in line with more modern action games is the presence of an open world. I’m not saying the story isn’t one of the finest in the series, but it’s the gameplay that makes this yet another award-winning title from Konami.
Role-playing Game of the Year
Xbox One, PS4, PC
Fallout 3 was the defining western role-playing experience of the previous console generation, and Fallout 4 improves on it in every way. The Fallout series takes place in an alternate timeline where the world’s superpowers ended up pushing the big red button and placing the United States in a situation of the post-apocalyptic variety. Your hero, cryogenically frozen from the day the bombs fell, wakes up in the late 23rd century in a bomb shelter in Massachusetts, roughly at about the same time that you, the player, wake up and get your mind blown by the vastness of the wasteland and the serious advancement from Fallout 3. If you’ve ever wondered how beautiful a cruel and inhospitable wasteland could be, pick this up as soon as you can. This time, war changes for the better.
Shooter of the Year
Nintendo Wii U
Splatoon achieved many notable milestones in the gaming industry, in addition to being the greatest online competitive shooting experience in 2015. First, the last time Nintendo created a new intellectual property was Pikmin, which was released in 2001 for the Gamecube. Second, it’s the very first straight up shooting game by the company, which has a family friendly reputation. Third, and most importantly, the gameplay, which involves half-squid, half-humans spraying ink at each other in unique team-based game modes, was made in a way that is easy to learn and hard to master. It’s the most accessible online multiplayer game of this generation, and easily one of the best in Nintendo’s three-decade long tenure as a software maker.
Handheld Game of the Year
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D
Rarely does a video game remake end up on a Game of the Year list, but this one deserves it. It’s the most underrated game of the Zelda series and it’s been overhauled by a second-party developer of Nintendo’s from its N64 roots, putting the gorgeous graphics and stereoscopic 3-D more in line with the games of today. I reviewed Majora’s Mask when it arrived on the 3DS this year, and I gave it a perfect score. Handheld owners, particularly those who haven’t played this masterpiece already, owe it to themselves to try out Link’s most surreal, scary, and dark adventure.
Console Game of the Year
Super Mario Maker
Nintendo Wii U
For the record, I should note that I personally got slightly more enjoyment from the aforementioned games than this one, despite Super Mario Maker winning the overall Game of the Year award. This game is just so brilliant and innovative that I have to give it credit. It’s a game in which you can construct your very own levels based on the graphics, gameplay, and characters of the 30-year-old Super Mario series. You’d think that this idea is a no-brainer and should have been made before, but the touchscreen gamepad of the Wii U makes this a perfect fit for the console. Using unique 12-digit codes, players can share their levels with other people, either by directly sharing the code or by posting it on the Miiverse, Nintendo’s answer to social media. With the ability to switch between the art style of all eras of Mario platforming, this is a game that is, quite literally, for everyone.
Another year in gaming, another set of great games. Everybody has their opinions, and some may consider mine unorthodox. But the nature of art makes it entirely subjective, no matter what the Metacritic aggregate score tells you. No matter what games you loved best, 2015 was a great year for gaming. Seeing some of the future releases, I can’t wait for 2016.