Monday, 11 January 2016

The 2015 Completed List

Somewhat delayed but this is the list of games I've managed to complete last year (2015). I would have liked to have finished a lot more but it never seems to work out that way does it? After the list I'll pick out the five that I enjoyed the most. Oh and games marked with a * are the kind of games that you can never truly consider "finished" but in any case, I've spent a lot of time with them; enough time for me to say that I've certainly had my full enjoyment. Not included are all the games that I've given up on, no matter how many hours I committed to them. So without further ado, here's the list...

Double Dragon Neon (PS3)
Conan (PS2)
Toejam & Earl III (Xbox)
God of War II (PS2)
Project Gotham 2 (Xbox)
Anarchy Reigns (PS3)
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax (PS3)*
Valkyria Chronicles II (PSP)
Ghost Squad (Wii)*
Madworld (Wii)
Vanquish (PS3)
Mario Kart 8 (Wii-U)*
Shadow of Memories (PS2)
Smash Bros. (Wii-U)*
Haunting Ground (PS2)
Valkyria Chronicles III (PSP)
Yoshi's Woolly World (Wii-U)
Onechanbara Z Kagura with NoNoNo! (PS3)
Streets of Rage II 3D (3DS)*
Secret Files Tunguska (Wii)
Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day (PS3)
Luminous Arc 2 (DS)
House of the Dead Overkill Extended Cut (PS3)*
Rule of Rose (PS2)
Spyro the Dragon (PS1)
Time & Eternity (PS3)

...and now my top five from 2015:

1. Vanquish (PS3)


I was very late to the party with this game but last year, I made the effort to play and complete the Platinum-developed titles that I owned. Madworld and Anarchy Reigns introduced me to the unique styles employed by a studio I now consider one of my favourites but Vanquish really turned everything up to 11. The only way I can describe this game is as a "rollercoaster ride". That description is often overused these days but it genuinely sums up my experience with this incredible third-person shooter. It's horrifying to consider that Vanquish was considered a sales flop by Sega and that copies are now changing hands for only a few pounds! 2016 should see the Platinum love continue as I intend to pick-up Metal Gear Rising but more importantly, the Bayonetta double-pack for Wii-U is sitting on my shelf...

2. Valkyria Chronicles III (PSP)


There are a lot of bad things I can say about this game. I could comment on how by this point, the series had descended into the disappointing realm of anime cliches. I could also bemoan the fact that Valkyria Chronicles has never been further away from the stunning vision that was realised in the original game with regards to the tone and characters. One thing I can't say however is that I didn't enjoy the third installment of one of modern gaming's best SRPG series'. While VCIII certainly doesn't capture the bottled lightning of the original PS3 game, it definitely improves on the divisive second game. Gone is the tedious grinding and annoying levelling-up system and in comes a less arduous playing experience that encourages experimentation with unit types. 90% of the characters are certainly cliched and less than realistic but the story is enjoyable and the gameplay still unlike anything else. As this was a Japanese-exclusive title, I had to delve into the world of custom firmware and fan translation patches to get my copy of the game working in a language I could understand. It was worth it though.

3. Super Smash Bros. for Wii-U (Wii-U)


2015 saw me purchase a Wii-U at last. Partly because there were now enough games that I was itching to play and partly because my Wii was on its last legs and I needed a machine capable of playing the games. Smash Bros. was of course a priority purchase since Melee and Brawl were two of my most played games from the past. I didn't expect the Wii-U version to be on the same level as those predecessors and at first I was extremely "meh" towards the game. I kept playing though and now I would struggle not to put it up there at the top with Melee. The character roster is simply superb and caters for almost everybody while new stages and music from the latest Nintendo games (since Brawl was released) only add to the celebration of all things Nintendo that the Smash series has always been about. The DLC has been unbelievably good as well. I've been eager for Nintendo to bring back Roy and Mewtwo ever since they were dropped for Brawl and to actually have both characters returned to active service was something I genuinely didn't see coming. Street Fighter's Ryu joining the cast was a further shock but then the motherload was dropped when Nintendo announced that Cloud Strife would be the next DLC character. Apparently I will still be playing SSB well into 2016 then!

4. Project Gotham Racing 2 (Xbox)


I'm always debating whether I should get rid of the original Xbox. It's a huge slab of plastic that I don't own that many games for but then I play something like Project Gotham 2 and I ask myself "how can I not be able to play this again?". Simply put, I keep the Xbox for games like this. The most impressive thing about PGR2 is that it still looks and plays so good that you might not believe how old it is at this point in time. It puts a lot of 360 and PS3 games to shame in my opinion. As a big car nut, PGR2 pushes all the right buttons for me and it quickly became one of my favourite racing games of all-time.

5. Time & Eternity (PS3)


Here's a game that got critically slated but I enjoyed a lot more than I thought I would. Initially I was nearly bored to sleep by the characters and tedious dialogue BUT the game gradually grew on me. I clung in there and in time, I wasn't clinging on but actually eager to fire the PS3 up and continue playing Time & Eternity. I somehow came to like the characters and care about them (which I still don't fully understand!) and without divulging the plot, there was a genuinely difficult player decision right at the end of the game that surprised me - I wasn't expecting to find it so tough to choose. The game prides itself on being 'fully animated' and while that isn't strictly true (it's almost like the backgrounds are moving independently to your character...it's hard to explain), there is the vague sensation of interacting with an anime movie. It's not convincing enough but I had to admire what the developers had attempted and in fairness, it definitely doesn't look silly. After being frustrated by a number of Nippon Ichi-published RPG's in my collection, this one turned out to be a surprising revelation and it deserves its place here in my top five for that alone.

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