The WWE video games were a bad installment away from becoming a laughing stock. Thankfully, WWE 2K16 introduced a strong new feature, as well as one of the best Showcase modes the franchise has ever seen. The MyCareer mode still needs a lot of work, but the basic premise is still one that can succeed. With the largest cast of wrestlers the franchise has ever seen, 2K and Yukes have done a solid job righting the WWE 2K ship. That being said, there is still a lot of work to be done.
To this day, I call Assassin's Creed II my favorite video game of the past generation. It was truly a masterpiece. Unfortunately, the Assassin's Creed series has become a shell of its former self. Syndicate tries hard to recreate some of the magic, and even creates some smart new features, but it ultimately falls short. If Assassin's Creed Syndicate had been in development for another year, it could have been a thrilling mid-1800's adventure. Instead, it sinks into comfortable mediocrity.
After a small misstep in NHL 15, NHL 16 feels like a huge apology letter to fans. Many removed features have returned, but that also means improvements are few and far between. EA Sports Hockey League features a nice shot in the arm, but the Be a GM mode seems to be taking a back seat. Be a Player has received some nice additions, but not being able to alter the period length seems absolutely asinine and ruins the mode. NHL 16 is a well-written apology letter that will bring fans back to the franchise, but if you are looking for monumental upgrades, look elsewhere.
The world of Mad Max is a wonderful and interesting one. It features a host of characters that can be very enjoyable to follow. They have great designs, and, in the case of some, even better character narratives. But the meat surrounding Mad Max feels derivative and tired. The mission structure constantly disappoints, and the hand-to-hand combat provides no thrills. If it were released five years ago, Mad Max could have been revolutionary. But it was released in 2015, so Mad Max will be just another open-world adventure lost in the dust.
Many people complain that sports games do not change sufficiently on a yearly basis to warrant another purchase. That is far from the case with Madden NFL 16 as EA Sports and EA Tiburon have introduced some smart, brand new features that are integrated very well. The Draft Champions mode could have easily been just another card-focused mode that the fan base shunned to the side, but it is much more than that. It is an exciting, unique experience that cannot be found in any other sports title. As the gameplay continues to improve, Madden NFL 16 is easily the best football game to have been released in many years
Rory McIlroy's PGA Tour will disappoint some, as it does not hit the levels of insanity teased during its E3 2014 trailer. But the improvements found within the gameplay mechanics help produce one of the best golfing experiences in years. The Night Club Challenge mode is a let down, as it showed quite a bit of potential. But that potential still exists, and could be reached in the future. While the extra year break did not produce the most revolutionary golf game around, it did help EA Tiburon create a solid experience that any fan of the sport will enjoy.
The Masterplan presents a very unique and welcoming vibe for all who have dreamed of robbing a building establishment. It has some solid visuals that help build a strategy as you navigate through door after door. Unfortunately, that strategy can quickly combust if the mouse-focused controls slip up on you and you find yourself frantically clicking on everything within sight. While a majority of The Masterplan is well done, the bad controls and UI dampen what could have been a true steal in the year of 2015.
Wolfenstein: The New Order established a new life into the Wolfenstein series. While that life has not been squashed with The Old Blood's release, it has taken a slight hit. Many of the key aspects that made The New Order so enjoyable have not been carried over into The Old Blood. Of course, the enjoyable combat is still available to all, and is still a blast to partake in with the new weapons being absolutely brilliant additions. But, in the end, you cannot help but think, "this could and should have been so much more."
I've never been one to buy into the concept that sports video games do not change enough from year to year. I have always felt that if you are dedicated to a series, you will notice the changes. Unfortunately for my positive mind, MLB 15: The Show broke that idea as the game I called the "king of sports franchises" last year, has put out a mostly underwhelming product. There are one or two minor additions that are enjoyable, but the Diamond Dynasty continues to bore despite its overhaul. The King's crown has fallen off with MLB 15: The Show, and only time will tell if Sony San Diego can pick it up come MLB 16: The Show's release.
Many great games struggle to release solid DLC, but Far Cry 4 has avoided that issue very well. Valley of the Yetis has a few issues, the major one being the stripping of all your hard work in the main game, but it is still a ton of fun. The tower defense-esque elements added are integrated well and do a great job of pushing forward more Far Cry 4 combat, easily one of the best parts of the game. While there are some slight rough edges that could have been sanded down, Valley of the Yetis provides a great reason to hop back into Far Cry 4.
It really is unfortunate that Tormentum's puzzles slide in short as the art and characters work together very well, which is only heightened by the solid soundtrack. While the story is mostly barren for a majority of the gameplay, the characters manage to carry your interest in the happenings around you. Ultimately, Tormentum comes close to forming a great point-and-click adventure in 2015, but the lack of variety in the puzzle design really drags down the whole experience.
Evolve is a brilliant concept that, when matched with the right players, can be a lot of fun to partake in. The many unlocks and well-balanced characters build upon that at every step. That being said, simply finding random people that know how to properly strategize is hit or miss, at best. But when you do find the players, or pair up with friends, Evolve can produce some unforgettable excitement that is unlike any other multiplayer experience out there.
Ultimately, Grow Home ends up feeling like a product you really want to love, but is unable to produce the content required to hook your attention. It presents a lovable character, but that character lacks a meaningful world to participate in. If there were better visuals or a stronger story, the strong main character would have been able to develop more and become an integral part of the game. As it is, the game is focused on sprouting vines, which is, no doubt, fun as hell. But that fun begins to fade away when you are forced to slowly make your way up a large tree, in what seems like the slowest way possible. As previously stated, Grow Home feels like a piece of a very enjoyable video game, but by itself it lacks the power to stand on its own two feet.
Excitement was high for Techland's full Dead Island team to put a new game, and for good reason. They are clearly a group of very talented individuals that know how to create some enjoyable gameplay mechanics. In Dying Light's situation, their great mechanic, the free running movement, can be overshadowed at times by climbing frustrations. It feels as if they need to take the ideas from Dead Island and Dying Light and mesh them together into a wonderful product. Dying Light features some truly serene moments as you glide from building to building, but once that serenity halts, so does the player's enjoyment.
The WWE 2K series has experienced a very rough transition to the "next generation" of consoles. After two straight years of solid releases in WWE 13 and 2K14, Yukes has hit a wall. As it is in wrestling, when you hit a wall, you have to figure out what to do next. One thing is clear, this series has taken a large step in the wrong direction. A character change may be required in order to get this series back on track.
There was heavy skepticism arising when it comes to Ubisoft Montreal being able to top Far Cry 3. Not only was Far Cry 3 a very impressive game with excellent gameplay, it was not even two years ago when it hit store shelves. Despite that, Far Cry 4 tops Far Cry 3 in every single way imaginable. While the story is still not as silly nor as intriguing as it should be, the unpredictable nature of the gameplay continues to leave it as one of the most enjoyable experiences out there. There is a certain magic to riding an elephant, a certain magic that no other game but Far Cry 4 can achieve.
Despite the disappointing online issues and insane load times, NBA 2K15 is still a very impressive video game. It does so many things correctly and builds upon pre-existing features in all the right ways. Visual Concepts has managed to make the standard MyPlayer and Association modes into something brand new, which is a task no other sports game has achieved. Because of that, the impressive visuals, and the same enjoyable gameplay, it is easy to imagine NBA 2K15 taking the Best Sports Game award at the end of the year.
While expectations may have been fairly low for Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, there was still a certain amount of hope within me that Monolith could produce an enjoyable experience. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor soared past those expectations and not only produced an enjoyable experience, but also one of the best experiences with a video game this year. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is a very well crafted adventure that will keep you hooked for hours on end.