Check out what Shiver picked as his games of the year for 2015!
Hello, I’m an Englishman. I’m a PC gamer. Pretty much exclusively a PC gamer, and these are my top five games of the year for 2015.
I would have loved to place this game higher than fifth but compared with my other choices it doesn’t have the same kind of replay value. Having played Syndicate and Syndicate Wars back in the day though, I’ve been waiting ages for someone to do an up to date, modern version of it without trying to turn it into an FPS, and this is definitely an up to date Syndicate in so many ways. You can approach missions from multiple angles and take advantage of gear or skills your team of clones may have. Gear is unlocked by acquiring it in game as a mission reward/loot or by buying something straight off the black market, which is available as a menu in game. Once you have the gear you can then research it to unlock it and make it available to purchase for your squad of clones.
Depending on how you want to play you can approach a single objective in multiple ways and paths. You can stealth in and take the objective and sneak out like a thief in the night or go in guns blazing or even mix the two styles up on your mission. The whole game is set in one mega city split into regions so you effectively always have to be playing the game, unlike Syndicate’s go to HQ after each mission type of affair. They’ve captured a bleak yet colourful cyberpunk city that always rains; it’s very Blade Runner-esque, and for an isometric interface you can be quite immersed in the world when planning out your strategies. I’m glad to see something from the older days of gaming, modernised and released for today’s market.
When this game was first released a wide range of PC users reported a myriad of issues. However, in the months since release, patches have helped, and the DLC’s are out, though those of you that use Sli will be sad to learn they abandoned Sli support. The game itself is great as an ending to the series.
However it does suffer a bit from relying on the newly introduced and finally playable Batmobile. If you are a fan of the comics or even have a moderate amount of Bat-Knowledge then you’ll probably be able to work out the plot pretty quickly, but that doesn’t make the journey any less enjoyable. This is a bit disappointing after Rocksteady did say it involved an entirely new protagonist. Fans of the series and Batman in general will enjoy the game and get a kick out of actually feeling like you are in control of Batman. I look forward to seeing what Rocksteady are moving on to do next.
It’s Galactic Civilizations but with multiplayer and native 64 bit support! No more memory leak crashing your very late and very busy game! It’s a solid entry and doesn’t sway too much from the established formula.
You do research, you design your ships with your researched tech, colonise, diplomaticise, the whole 4x thing. The third instalment also brings with it native Steam Workshop integration, making modding a simple one click affair in most cases. This is a great feature that will help those new to modding add a massive and complex overhaul to the game or install one simple race to their games, helping to get the most out of the game for quite some time to come. Coming from GalCiv2 with all the expansions to the third wasn’t much of a step down, in fact to some it might be too familiar as they really have stuck with what’s worked in previous instalments before. It is still a great game though, and anyone who likes 4x will get a lot of game time out of it as is. There are also likely to be expansions, as well as already available DLCs adding some small tweaks to gameplay; here’s hoping and looking forward to see what the team release in 2016.
Another possibly controversial choice as on release Beyond Earth was, to some, Civilisation 5 with a different skin. Firaxis have worked on the game since its release and have made steps to make the game come into its own a bit more. Rising Tide introduced some new mechanics like building floating cities. These cities function almost exactly the same as their land counterparts but with the ability to move and expand your area of influence with it, though to be honest it’s easier and faster to just buy the area you want and move the city for tactical reasons. The spy/covert ops system was given a rehash to make it more game-like than a simple off screen dice roll. I’ve been playing the Civilization games since the first one was on the Amiga and have bought every one since, and Rising Tide is a worthy addition to the library. Firaxis will likely expand more on their systems, helping Beyond Earth stick out as a different Civ game while still keeping older players invested.
What can be said about Witcher 3 that hasn’t already been said? There is so much game here to play. The side quests are really involved and fleshed out, it’s not like a normal grind; these are small snippets of in game characters’ lives that you can affect with your decisions and outcomes in quests. As this is the last Witcher game CDProject will work on they wanted to give Geralt a big and memorable send off to fans. It certainly hits you as a bitter sweet ending to the series.
I would often load it up just to play a round or two of Gwent, which really, why this wasn’t released on mobiles I don’t know! Amazing graphics, great gameplay and a very compelling plot all mesh together in a game with literally hundreds of hours of content that really show off the RedEngine’s capabilities. It wasn’t your typical RPG with good guys and bad guys, but shades of grey to compliment the world you’re in. The Witcher series will be greatly missed but they ended their story well, and Yennefer was clearly the right choice for Geralt.
Cities Skylines is pretty much what SimCity (2013) should have been. A massive playing area, a simulation running that you can actually see working; add on top of that Steam workshop for mod and asset support and you’ve got a real PC city building game for 2015. Expansions are being worked on; the first and most recent added a night/day cycle with gameplay changes and some tweaks to traffic and how the simulation runs. Fantastic for the builders out there with idle hands.
Transformers is great game but it was over too soon and because of that I didn’t feel I could add it as a GOTY. So maybe I am a little biased on this, as Transformers are basically the best thing ever in my world! It’s a fairly simple to get into 3rd person action game. You can be Grimlock or Optimus Prime, I think there are 3 other playable characters but honestly Optimus Prime and Grimlock is enough to make any G1 fan happy! The devs decided to stick as close to the cartoon style as possible right down to the graphics in game looking like the original cartoon, the 4 year old in me was thrilled! Peter Cullen returns to voice Prime and Frank Welker as Megatron too. This is as close to playing a character and being in the cartoon as you’re going to get to date! Running around whacking Decepticreeps with melee weapons, transforming into a vehicle/dinosaur and charging at the enemy to perform a special move… it’s amazing. You are a giant cartoon transforming robot and you get to punch things … sold!
The downside to this is, it’s the price of a regular triple A game but is very limited in content, you can easily take your time and be through the game in about 7-10 hours. Sure, you can replay it and keep your loot from the last run but it does leave you, as a fan, wanting more.
Firaxis acquired the rights to the Xcom/UFO series and released a pretty good reboot of the series without reinventing the wheel in the process. There were a number of fans of the original that were left wanting more from the game as in comparison to the original the Firaxis outing is fairly linear and short. This was addressed by the devs with the release of the expansion “Enemy Within”. Xcom 2 is being made for the PC first this time around. This should hopefully mean a deeper and more complex game this time around. I’m personally hoping for something a bit darker and scarier, I miss the feeling of moving my troops slowly one by one across an unknown battlefield unsure of what I will encounter. With the addition of procedurally generated terrain for mission maps i’m hoping to recapture that feeling once more as I send my squad cautiously forward. The story has been taken in a different route to any of the past Xcom games with Earth losing The First Alien War and being occupied, with Xcom playing the part of the resistance, it should be an interesting and fresh take on the series, giving the devs some room to add new mechanics, enemies, technologies, and more. Xcom 2 is another game that supports Steam Workshop integration, which is a great decision as the first game was relatively difficult to mod. It should also mean that players and modders alike should get some extra life out of the game thanks to this decision.
Disclaimer: I feel this is something worth mentioning. At the time of writing it is unknown if Firaxis will be supporting the 21:9 aspect ratio I favour. It is my personal opinion that if the sequel suffers from the same issue that the first game had with 21:9 (the mouse cursor position was being incorrectly reported by the game making it virtually unplayable) its position on my list should be eliminated as any modern PC game should have no problem with this aspect ratio.
That's all from Shiver! Tune in next time for Dolvak's picks for games of the year!