(Originally written in 2015)
End of the year means more GOTY lists and more Honorable Mentions. These are five games I really liked or appriciated this year that were just off from being on my top ten games of the year list.
Remember how they don’t make F-zero or WipEout games anymore? Well Shin’en decided to just make one anyway. Fast Racing Neo is a sequel to the Wii ware title Fast Racing but is just an all around bigger, better and faster game. First off the game looks and runs great for a Wii U title and while the resolution might be lower than you’d hope, it really doesn’t matter all that much when travelling at 200 miles an hour. The game has a cool dual colour system where you switch between orange and blue in order to use speed boosts and jump pads spread around the track and adds a nice layer of timing and aditional reactions to the speedy racing. The ships in the game are also really well designed and much in the vein of the WipEout school of design being based on fictional futuristic corporations. A great game and a must play for those feeling the futuristic racing itch.
After Platinum Games’ The Legend of Korra it would be easy to write off their next licensed tie in game with Activision as some low budget cash in on a beloved IP and while you can defnitnely see the lack of development time and budget in the games lack of environments and how the game reuses what is basically two big levels throughout its story mode the fighting is polished, fluid and fun and very reminiscent of Bayonetta with the inclusion of a witch time like effect on a close dodge. The challenge rooms and sheer amount of characters and weapon types also offer a pretty big amount of replayability. The game also captures the cartoons look masterfully with some amazing cartoon shading and the music is high octane and rocking, it’s just a shame there is no Stan Bush on the soundtrack.
Ori and the Blind Forest is a truly beautiful metroidvania style game. The art is all hand drawn and the music is beautifully orchestrated and the story of the game could melt the coldest of hearts. Ori could well be the prettiest 2D game I have ever played, it’s use of colour and layering is staggering and the game offers up some great challenge too. Plus that owl is super scary.
Rock Band 4 does almost nothing new for the Rock Band formula. I think the freestyle solos are new but I don’t like them so turn them off. I just use this game as a way to play my Rock Band library on my Xbox One and I’m perfectly happy with the package. I doesn’t fit on my end of year GOTY list but definitely deserves to be called out as an honorable mention.
It was a close toss up between this and Tales From The Borderlands going on my list and in the end I just liked Tales From The Borderlands more, it was more of a surprise. Telltale’s Game of Thrones has you playing as a lesser house from Winterfel so almost anything can happen to your characters and not matter to the books or TV show. That fact doesn’t end up taking away from the more shocking moments in the game though and even though you know you’ll never be able to kill Ramsey or free Tririon there plenty of cool moments with the other new characters created for this game. It does suffer from the usual Telltale weakness of choices not really mattering in the end, stuff like a character dying no matter what you say or do, but I feel that in these games as long it feels like your choices matter then that is fine for a single playthrough of the story. The game captures the essence of Game of Thrones and really, that is all I could ask for.