It might be 2016, but I’m not quite done with 2015 yet!
As promised two weeks ago, here are my special recognitions for the events of last year. Admittedly 2015 showed a lot of promise, but also a lot of disappointment. And with such it’s time to let out my praise and venom towards those responsible. It’s time for my Special Recognitions! Let’s get started.
TREND THAT NEEDS TO DIE RIGHT NOW:
During my pick of Evolve as the 4th Worst Game of the Year I mentioned that the multiplayer only game trend needed to die. However, that’s not the only thing that needs to end. The way I saw it, 2015 turned into the Year of the E-Beggar. I’m talking about all the developers that had to resort to the general public to pay for the game’s development, only to not guarantee that the game they are funding will even come out. Whether it is the constantly delayed Mighty No. 9 or the “back to the drawing board” Retro VGS console (now rebranded as the Coleco Chameleon,) we have seen the worst that e-begging has to offer. But, we all know the worst form of it that came straight from E3, which leads to what I hope to be a new annual “dishonorable mention” from me.
SELLOUT OF THE YEAR:
Be honest. When you see an E3 press briefing. What is it you want to see? Games that will be released for the upcoming holiday? A guaranteed IP? A surprise announcement that will eventually become reality (as I will mention later on?) No? How about dragging someone out to promote an e-begging, ERRRRR, Kickstarter campaign? And who else did they bring out to do this, and agreed to take part of it with, than Yu Suzuki, in order to raise $2 million to finally release Shenmue III? Even worse, there were reports that people ended up in tears knowing that he announced this campaign! I can only imagine that these tears will intensify when they find out they are funding a project that will take years to produce, might not be as great as they hope it will be, or worse, have their perks TAKEN AWAY from them, as we are now hearing about. Yuzuki-san, any respect I’ve had from you in the past is now long gone!
DEVELOPER OF THE YEAR:
I never truly played the previous two Witcher games (though I did end up getting Witcher 2 when it was available for free,) but I almost immediately fell in love with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Sure it didn’t win my Game of the Year but it came pretty darn close. Not only it is very deep, with tons of lore to experience, but CD Projekt Red did something that is considered quite rare in this era of microtransactions, they released periodic DLC for the unheard of price of FREE! And when their first paid DLC came out in the form of Hearts of Stone, it also became a whole game in itself. If only other developers would not succumb to publisher pressure and forced paid DLC in the same way CDPR did. But then again, two other WB Studios games forced paid DLC overkill with Batman: Arkham Knight and Day 1 DLC with Mortal Kombat X.
PUBLISHER OF THE YEAR:
CD Projekt Red might be my favorite developer, but still, it’s Bethesda that won me over this year in terms of publishers. Yes, there’s that whole Fallout 4 situation, and the addition of console mods to the Xbox One, but that’s not all they did to impress me this year. Their initial E3 press conference nailed it and was a start of things to come, but what also impressed me more than anything was the first gameplay unveil of the DOOM reboot. When I saw it during E3 I called it “the snuff film that I want to play badly,” and I still stand by those comments. I was also concerned about how well the game engine would run, but much to my surprise during the Closed Alpha last month that I took part in, the game ran at a constant 60 frames per second. iD Tech 666 (the new DOOM engine) was a sight to behold, and I can’t wait to see how the final product comes out. I can only see Bethesda going further up in 2016.
WORST PUBLISHER OF THE YEAR:
As Bethesda seems they can do nothing wrong, I find that Activision can do nothing right. Not only have they released the worst game of the year in Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5, a bug ridden mess that required a patch equal to the size of the original game to “fix,” but they continued a bad trend of lying to their customers, constantly saying their games are PlayStation 4 exclusives. Black Ops 3, Destiny: The Taken King, and now Guitar Hero Live are all advertised as PS4 exclusives, with no mention of any other consoles at all. Activision proved that they don’t care about the gamer unless they only own a PS4, and it’s disgusting. But if there is one thing they did right, it was the release of Transformers: Devastation, but even that was too short to enjoy thoroughly.
SMARTEST MOVE OF THE YEAR:
If there is one thing I love to see it’s when a console is given more features that add to its value, and that’s what I got this past E3 when Phil Spencer announced that the Xbox One would now be backwards compatible with the Xbox 360. Granted some of the games suffer from performance issues (I’m looking at YOU, Halo Reach) and more games will keep being added on a monthly basis, but it added another reason to purchase an Xbox One, without having to pay extra to stream the games you own, or purchase them again like you do on PS4. However, I do have one problem with the backwards compatibility: the fact that I might need to get another new hard drive for all the games I had to transfer over.
DUMBEST MOVE OF THE YEAR:
Originally I wanted to give this “dishonorable mention” to a certain “spot” reviewer who claimed that she couldn’t access the settings menu on the Xbox One via the controller. (Here’s a hint: menu button.) But there is a crime against gaming that is far more nefarious that this, and it is Konami’s treatment towards Hideo Kojima. Not only did they want to remove his name from the credits of Metal Gear Solid V: the Phantom Pain, but they went as far as preventing him from accepting an award for his hard work. Nice way to treat someone who was loyal to your company since the mid-80s. You might have just spelled doom for your company, and don’t expect any sympathy from me!
BADASS OF THE YEAR:
This was a hard choice for me this year as unlike in year’s past there was no clear cut winner. Therefore I decided to do something unusual: give two awards, one for a game character, which goes to Geralt of Rivia for being such an awesome monster hunter and witcher with a surprising sense of humor, not to mention the way he deals with his relationships with Triss or Yennefer (or both if he is daring.) But the other award would go to a real life person, and again that would go to Phil Spencer for once again listening to the gamers for what they want and finding a way to make the Xbox One even better. Because of him, it is a completely different console from what Don Mattrick wanted, and is as great a console as the PlayStation 4 is, and at other times, is actually better. If only other console heads were like this!
And finally, my take on 2015 is over. Time to move on to 2016 and see if it can actually be better (or worse.) The events at this week’s CES will be the first sign, and from what I’ve seen as far as VR is concerned, it’s not looking positive. But that’s for another day.
Currently Playing: ARK: Survival Evolved (Xbox Preview)
Waiting For: MAGFest