Hello, how’s the New Year hangover? Seeing spots before your eyes after fixing the resolution? Should I type in a really quiet font?
While 2016’s still got that fresh year scent (smells like hope, dreams, and the charred remains of plastic novelty glasses), I thought it’d be a great time to divulge my thoughts and ruminations on the video games of 2015. Note, these are just my opinion, so of course they’re not set in stone, except anyone who disagrees will be turned into a pillar of salt and fed to all those damn deer left over from The Holly and the Ivy.
This list is also based upon games I played for the first time in 2015, so there will be old ones you guys have probably long since abandoned. What can I say, I’m slow to fall into franchises that don’t have greasy burgers.
Onward to the list!
Best Comedic Relief Who Should Have Been the Main Character: RatBag – Shadows of Mordor
I already went on a nice long rant about my issues with Talion? Falion? Pullalong? Whatever. Boring. Brooding Manpain. Same old, same old we’ve seen 1000 times before. But I’m not here to talk about the guy you’re supposed to care about. No, this space is reserved for the most interesting orc since, uh, ever.
Ratbag began as little more than a way for Talion, and the player, to begin his relentless need to wreak chaos within the orc ranks so you can something something (look, no one was really playing this for plot). He plants the idea in Talion’s head to kill the orc leaders and put someone else in charge in exchange for Ratbag getting his hands on a bit of power. Fair enough, right?
Voiced by Phil Lamar (who you may know as Hermes from Futurama, at least that’s my first go to), RatBag was the only character in this doom and gloom, everything’s-so-super-serious-glower-face world to make me chuckle. But, the devs didn’t realize the gold they had on their hands. Rather than let Ratbag grow to something amazing, they off him in the first act in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it pathetic way. Dear Ratbag, this one’s for you.
Best Yeah Yeah, Betrayal, WE KNOW!: The Loyalists – Dishonored
Oh Bethesda, how I adore taking the piss out of you but frankly, you kinda deserve it. It worries me that out of all of the Bethesda games, Dishonored is considered THE best story, because this thing was paper thin. Now, in this case, it’s the good paper you put out for guests you like, maybe even triple-ply. For those who haven’t played it, or haven’t in awhile, you are Corvo, mute bodyguard for the Empress and obvious father of her daughter Emily. During a cutscene, the Empress dies, Emily gets kidnapped, and some people calling themselves the Loyalists break you out of prison.
The first rule of video games: anyone who helps you without demanding something in exchange up front will betray you. But of course, Corvo has to go through with all their plans to kill the Empress’s killers for justice (and there’s something about the rat plague tacked on at the end). Just when it’s time to celebrate with a nice hissing mug of poison, shocker! The Loyalists turn on you because you really needed another level of you killing pretty much every single person who would have run the Dunwall government aside from a little girl. Anarchy and chaos all around!
Best Fridge Moment: Poison Ivy & Oracle – Batman: Arkham Knight
Technically, I didn’t play this game but I did watch my husband, so I know the plot. I also already elaborated upon it in depth, but I felt this needs to not be forgotten.
Thanks to Nolan (fucking Nolan), all Batman is and ever shall be is broody manpain who works ALONE! Rocksteady took that to the extreme in their final Batman game to the point that every single female character (save Harley) gets fucking kidnapped just to motivate our male protagonist.
Yeah. That old chestnut.
Scarecrow not only kidnaps Oracle, but kills her in front of Batman in the goddamn stupidest scene imaginable. I remember throwing aside whatever I was reading and yelling at the screen for a few minutes. Yes, it was a fake out, but it was such a “kids performing Hamlet in a school play” level of bad acting fake out, it slipped right into “FUCK YOU!” territory. Batman’s kinda sad for a second that Oracle died, then he just moved right on. Since you’re supposed to think she’s really dead, the fact he can’t give more than a ‘huh, that sucks’ really hammers home how much of an asshole Batman is.
Because Oracle was only killed in Batman’s mind, she wasn’t technically fridged. But that’s okay, because they still killed another woman off just for Bats. In this case, once again Batman uses Ivy for his own means, like he’s done in every single game. But this finally gets her killed, because Batman is a colossal Batdick.
Best Fanservice Moment: Trespasser DLC: Dragon Age: Inquisition
WARNING: I am a total Bioware fangirl. Fanwoman? So there may have been much screaming and running around the house in a tizzy when Trespasser was announced. Closure! Fen’Harel! New Pajamas!
It’s impossible to not forge some connection with Bioware characters, often times deep ones, which is as rare as a diamond found inside a pistachio shell for video games. And being able to catch up two years later with the people we love, hate, and love to hate was the perfect present for returning to Thedas.
After the success and love for Mass Effect‘s Citadel as well as Trespasser, I hope this is something Bioware continues. A capstone on the game before we abandon our character for the next, along with a chance to hang with our crew is a great way to end one year and head into the next.
Best Portal Game That Isn’t Valve: Portal – Lego Dimensions
Only God, the Maker, and Earl the psychic Mollusk know if we’ll ever get Portal 3, but there was the next best option released this year in the form of Lego Dimensions. Plus, you get your own little Lego Chell to play with.
Again, I went into deep dark thoughts on all of Dimensions and an in-depth analysis of Portal here, so I’ll sum up now. Chell’s back. GLaDOS is back. Wheatley is back. Even Cave Johnson is back. We got the band back together to run more puzzles in Aperture Science with turrets, repulsion gel, and the companion cube. You get to fight mantis men. MANTIS MEN!
Out of all the options and franchises in Lego Dimensions, it was the Portal level that made me want to dust off the old game and head back into Aperture. Stealing radios optional.
Best Rage Quit Game: Assassin’s Creed 3
It all began thanks to the Ezio trilogy picked up on a whim. Due to a black magic curse placed upon the disc, I fell hopelessly in love with that Renaissance assassin. He was fun, he was appropriately snarky, his brooding was kept to a minimum, and there was a wiry tininess to him that made him different from everyone else. I had great hopes for the AC franchise. Then I picked up three.
Okay, so we start off as this British guy in the tricorner hat. It’s not so bad, he’s kinda fun. Not as fun as Ezio, but that’s damn impossible anymore. God, that was a lot of cutscenes. But now I’m doing…nope, another cutscene. Wait, I’m not the British guy I’m…is this a hunk of wood that gained sentience? No, I think this is our assassin. Okay, fine. Just, let’s get this exposition over and I can…get this cutscene over and then…LET ME DO SOMETHING! Finally? All right, let’s find an eagle viewpoint and…this entire place is two stories tall. What am I supposed to climb? Why bother climbing? And who made the redcoats on a slanted roof? How many do they go through in a year?
Oh, now I’m supposed to assassinate a guy during the middle of a battle by running across the field? Well, that’s goddamn stupid. Fine, cutscene, I’ll do it. And oh look, another cutscene and…STOP DOING THAT, CONNOR! WHY WON’T THIS GAME LET ME…? AHHH!!!!! ejects disc* *chews on edge* *throws through window*
NEVER AGAIN UBISOFT! DO YOU HEAR ME?! NEVER AGAIN!
Best Batman: Lego Movie Batman – Lego Dimensions
There were three Batmen in the running this year. Batman from Arkham (K)night, who was our Nolan “I work alone and need a throat lozenge” example. Batman voiced by Troy Baker from Lego Dimensions, who was about 85% the same damn Nolan Batman as the Kevin Conroy one from Arkham Knight. For no discernible reason, he’s a total asshole to everyone, even Gandalf. No one’s an asshole to Gandalf unless you want to get a staff shoved through your gap of Rohan. And, despite having already made three Lego Batman games, Lego Dimensions had to be all about Batman. No. More. Batman!
So, by process of elimination, the best Batman of the year award goes to Will Arnett’s Batman from Lego Dimensions because he only had a blissful three or four lines. It was also worth it for his slap fight with Baker’s Batman.
Best Oh, You Tried: Relationships – Fallout 4
Bethesda, honey, just because all the other kids are putting things in their games doesn’t mean you have to as well. You can rise above that peer pressure, have some self esteem, do what you know and not what everyone else is. I mean, when it’s pretty obvious you have no interest in it, and rather prefer staying as far away from all that icky emotion stuff as possible, maybe you might want to hold off.
Now, I’ll give you that it’s better than Skyrim‘s “Hey, is that a necklace of Mara on your neck or are you just happy to see me?” but two flirt options, one charisma check, and boom, you’re suddenly hopelessly in love is not how this works. No one giving a shit if you have your own little harem by dating the robot(s), a ghoul, a reporter, a merc, a Cait, and a piece of wood seems rather short-sided all around. Add on your decision that this is the game where your spouse is gunned down and your baby stolen in front of you, I have to wonder what you were thinking. Have you never felt any real human emotion before? It’s okay if you’re a synth, I know a few people who can help get you out of the Commonwealth.
Maybe you should head back to the drawing board. Talk to people. Get a feel for what a real relationship is like. Work on emotional reactions that normal humans would have, then come back to it. I’m sure, after a few more years, you’ll get a tiny bit better at it. Oh, and you can take a sucker, coffee cup, and hot plate on your way out.
Best Game I Wanted Nothing To Do With: The Witcher 3
Maybe it’s because I’m in my 30s and of the lady type variety, but I’m sick and tired of playing as a white guy. I really, really don’t want to play as a dude suffering from a midlife crisis where one of the selling points of the game is “You get to bang hot chicks half your age on the back of a unicorn.”
I don’t care how expansive the world is or how great the mechanics are, you lost me at unicorn sex and grizzled old white guy is the only hero. I recently saw through the grapevine that fans took the time to mod it so you can play as a woman, but why the hell didn’t the devs just do that from the get go?
Please don’t tell me why, I already know. The game developers are just doing what the people want. I mean, it’s not like women outnumber men as gamers. Oh wait.
And those are my thoughts on the games I discovered and prodded for 2015. That brings us to the future, and what better way to cap this article than with the game I most look forward to in 2016?
Most Anticipated Game of 2016: Dishonored 2