THE Scotsman’s Martyn McLaughlin rounds up the best computer game titles of 2015, including Metal Gear Solid’s concluding chapter and Fallout 4
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
The last hurrah of Hideo Kojima’s storied series, The Phantom Pain is the most liberating and exciting of the Metal Gear Games. The franchise has won countless plaudits for its stealth action, but the newest entry goes further: this is a game that redefines experimentation.
Infiltrating a base, for example, can be an exercise in patience and planning; you can study the guard movements from afar with your binoculars, observing their patrols and - crucially - changeovers, before taking one down with a tranquilliser dart and finding a moment to slip in. Alternatively, you can opt for explosions and chaos, distracting the troops with some strategically placed C4. Read the full review >>
Bethesda’s epic adventure series may have started out as an RPG but the sheer scale and depth of the fourth main installment means that it gleefully defies all categories. Whether you want to while away days exploring a post apocalyptic New England or engage in gruelling battles, Fallout has evolved into something entirely unique.
The game world is so packed with incident and detail that no two players will have the same experience. In a year when there have been some heavyweight open world adventure games, Fallout 4 is comfortably the best of the lot. Read the full review >>
Nintendo’s Wii U exclusive is the best family friendly game of the year. It may share the mechanics of a multiplayer shooter but its design boasts a playful innocence, rich in fizzing technicolour and charming characters. Effectively a sprawling game of paintball, players must not only try and mark their opponents, but claim territory by blasting a great big splodge of paint.
It sounds like throwaway fun, though if you play for any length of time, you will come to appreciate the need for subtle strategies. With short, punchy matches, this is the ideal shooter for people who loathe the graphic violence that dominates the genre. Read the full review >>
Batman: Arkham Knight
The concluding entry to British developer Rocksteady’s Arkham trilogy is the best yet, building on the tense, satisfying combat of Asylum and the open world ambitions of City while throwing in a welter of tricks, moves and gadgets into the mix.
This is a Batman title that allows you inhabit DC’s creation like never before, whether you are gliding from rooftops, engaged in a muscular brawl with a group of n’erdowells or cutting through the city’s dark underbelly at breakneck speed in the Batmobile. Read the full review >>
Pro Evolution Soccer 2016
After years in the wilderness, Pro Evo, once the undisputed champion of football games, regained its crown with this year’s update, which combines a perfectly judged pace and flow along with an overhauled physics system that allows the beautiful game to be played in a variety of ways.
The finesse of the control system and the AI represents arguably the biggest leap either series has made in years. Dribbling past defenders is not for the brave, but practice the array of flicks and feints at your disposal and you will find it is a legitimate, exciting option. Read the full review >>
The Witcher 3
A vast open world fantasy adventure that melds action-orientated battles with political machinations, The Witcher 3 is a rich and involving game that has hidden depths. Whereas some titles implore the player to make binary choices, a pleasing moral ambiguity surrounds the exploits of Geralt, a monster hunter tasked with searching for Ceri, an emperor’s daughter.
Developers CD Projekt Red say it takes approximately 200 hours to experience everything in its epic adventure. Nearly six months after its release, we have yet to come close to completing it. The Witcher 3 is a game epic in its ambition and achievements. Read the full review >>
Call of Duty Black Ops III
The execution of the main campaign may fall flat, but Treyarch redeem themselves with one of the best Call of Duty multiplayer modes for years, building on the expanded range of moves and abilities introduced in last year’s Advanced Warfare to add a new dimension to the familiar run and gun experience.
The most telling improvements are among the most simple. The maps are claustrophobic, exhilarating arenas which cater to all play styles, with Breach a particular highlight. Those who enjoy Zombies mode will also be entertained by the bizarre 1940s noir-infused backdrop in this year’s edition. Read the full review >>
Guitar Hero Live
The five year-long hiatus of the famous series has been time well spent by Activision and the development team, who have overseen a wholesale reinvention of the rhythm action genre. Guitar Live introduces a new way of playing based on streaming services like Spotify as well as a revised fretboard. It is a brave approach that is a qualified success and breathes new life into a franchise that once looked exhausted
In an addition to a thoughtful new fretboard design that is easy to learn but difficult to master, the biggest change is the Guitar Hero TV mode , a series of channels broadcasting music videos across a range of genres 24/7. Instead of picking a song of their choice, players can log on to streams and riff for as long as they please, in the process earning tokens that allow them to play songs of their choice. Read the full review >>
Mega Man Legacy Collection
A compilation of the 8-bit and 16-bit glory days of one of Capcom’s best loved series, the legacy collection is the best kind of exercise in nostalgia, showing how challenging games used to be. These are platformers that demand precision, timing, reflexes, memory and above all patience in order to proceed. There are no gentle introductory levels that familiarise you with the mechanics; you are thrown in at the deep end.
Some might grumble that the package could have benefited from more retrospective features for die hard fans, but the quality of the gameplay on offer is outstanding for the budget price. The titles that aged well and are standout examples of the 2D platformer genre, combining excellent level design, taut mechanics and an unflinching test that demands concentration and determination. Read the full review >>
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
The action RPG’s premise may be straightforward - the player must embark on various quests around the globe, hunting down a series of fearsome creatures - but it is a test of skill, perseverance and guile that can easily eat up hours of your time in a single sitting.
This is the most obvious attempt to date by Capcom to garner mainstream appeal for the franchise, yet it is careful not to compromise the essence of the Monster Hunter experience. Niggling, time consuming necessities such as having to constantly buy items and supplies are overhauled with a new bulk purchasing system, while western audiences finally have the option to play online multiplayer. Read the full review >>