Year in Review – 2015 Halfway There! – Part 1

July 22, 2015 by

It’s time to reflect on the first half of 2015. Here’s part one…

Well, we’ve passed the halfway point of 2015 and like any responsible gaming outlet, it’s time we take a look back at the year that has (so far) been 2015.

january

January proved to be stronger than usual this year with several major releases, all of which sold pretty well. We only had to wait until January 20th for two prominent games: the HD remaster of the original Resident Evil and the re-release/brand new release of Saints Row 4 and Saints Row: Gat out of Hell. Capcom’s classic survival-horror title proved that the franchise is still strong enough to resonate with modern audiences, becoming the fastest selling digital title in Capcom’s history. Sony came out to state that the remaster sold had the best first day sales of any game in PSN history. As of April, the game had sold over 1m copies.

Just a week later, gamers had even more to cheer about as the open-world zombie parkour game Dying Light released alongside the HD remaster of the Tim Schaffer classic Grim Fandango. Both games were received quite well with critics, earning a 75 and 83 respectively on MetaCritic. Dying Light proved particularly favorable with gamers, with over 1m people playing within just the first week and was debatably the first (non re-release) game to be considered a Game of the Year contender.

Other Stuff: Life is Strange, Grey Goo, Chariot

february

February started strong thanks to both Sony and Microsoft’s “free” game selections. PlayStation Plus introduced Apotheon, free with the service, while Xbox’s Games with Gold program gave us #IDARB. Both games were heralded as great additions to their respective services and scored similar high-70s on Metacritic.

The biggest game of February was Turtle Rock’s 4v1 FPS Evolve. While the game had a lot of praise leading up to its release, critics’ scores seemed to be all over the board. IGN gave the game a 9.0/10, claiming “Evolve is a deeply rewarding multiplayer experience that packs both brains and brawn.” Destructoid felt more negatively about the game stating “If you can find four people who are willing to sign a blood pact to convene for a ritual night of Evolve once or twice a week, then by all means enjoy the hunt…” Our own Johnny Ohm fell somewhere in between, giving the game a 3.5/5. Most notably though, Evolve scored particularly poorly with fans on Metacritic, landing (generally) in the low-to-mid 4’s. Do with that what you will.

Nintendo re-released The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask on the 3DS, selling remarkably well and earning overwhelming praise from critics. Currently, Majora’s Mask 3D sits at an 89 critic store on Metacritic and a staggering 9.1 from fans. Those scores secure it as the 7th highest rated game on the 3DS and the third Legend of Zelda game in the handheld’s top 10. By the end of March, the game was said to have sold over 2m copies.

The Total War franchise returned with the release of Total War: Attila on PC. Attila currently holds an 80 on MetaCritic and is considered by fans to be a step in the right direction after the disappointing Total War: Rome II. Attila earned a warm reception from GIZORAMA’s Liam Lambert (3.5/5), stating “Attila is still a worthy addition to the series, not least because it’s the first to present a completely different side to war: one of darkness, despair and destitution.”

Two major news stories hit in February: the rebranding of SOE as Daybreak Studios following it’s sale from Sony, and the closure of Joystiq. While Sony selling SOE might’ve been surprising, considering the recent success of H1Z1, most gamers were particularly saddened to hear of Joystiq’s closure.

Other Stuff: Dragon Ball Xenoverse, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, The Order 1886, Homeworld Remastered, Hand of Fate

march

March tends to be one of the busiest months of the year, and frankly we could write a long piece about March 2015 alone. So where do we start?

The biggest release of the month was the next iteration in the Battlefield series, Battlefield Hardline. Hardline took gamers out of the war-torn locales found in previous games, and replaced it with the cops and robbers style warfare. The game received a fair amount of criticism for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is that the game felt too similar to Battlefield 3 and 4. Perhaps more importantly, the game struck a nerve which had proven to be fairly sensitive in the news. With the militarization of American police becoming a hot topic of debate, alongside the questionable acts of many police officers, playing a game as a cop with access to tank-like vehicles and shooting criminals willy-nilly felt wrong in many ways. Regardless, the game sold respectively.

The second-best selling game in March was the PlayStation 4 exclusive Bloodborne. For many, Bloodborne was the tipping point for the upgrade to the newest generation of consoles. Bloodborne scored spectacularly well with critics – sitting on a 92/100 on Metacritic – and fans alike (an 8.7). For many, Bloodborne leads the pack of Game of the Year contenders.

Xbox answered back with it’s own exclusive (though still playable on PC) in March, albeit a much smaller one. Ori and the Blind Forest never sold as well as, well, many games, but won over the hearts and minds of most people who played it. Ori was heralded for it’s difficult, but fair, platforming and it’s absolutely gorgeous art-style.

The Wii U got yet another first-party exclusive in Mario Party 10. While the series has never been a critical darling, the series still manages to sell well. Mario Party 10 was the fourth highest selling game in March, despite the Wii U’s somewhat awful sales. The scores from critics and fans on Metacritic fell in line with eachother (gasp!). Mario Party 10 has a 66 from critics and a 63 from fans.

Sony gave a few indies some love with the Spring Fever promotion. The promo began in March with the release of Helldivers, and included Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, Jamestown+, Metal Slug 3, and Axiom Verge. Helldivers, Hotline Miami 2, and Axiom Verge all received high praise, while the other two were simple re-releases of games that had previously come to other platforms.

PC gamers also got several great games in March. Cities Skylines proved to be the city builder that Sim City should have been. Pillars of Eternity, the Kickstarted CRPG from Obsidian Studios, knocked everyone’s expectations out of the park and easily became a GOTY contender (and frontrunner, in this critic’s opinion). There was also the release of Sid Meier’s Starships, Assassin’s Creed: Rogue, and another Five Nights at Freddy’s to keep PC gamers busy.

Two huge news developments came out of March. Nintendo announced they had partnered with DeNA to release several mobile games. The decision was heralded as being a smart move on Nintendo’s part, as sales of the 3DS slow down, and the Wii U continues to bottom out.

Unfortunately, Electronic Arts made the difficult decision to shut down Maxis, the studio behind the legendary Sim City franchise.

Other Stuff: Codename S.T.E.A.M., DmC: Definitive Edition, Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, Forza Horizon 2 presents Fast and Furious, MLB 15: The Show, Neverwinter (XBO), White Night

Q1 Game of the Year Contenders:

Dying Light

Helldivers

Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number

Ori and the Blind Forest

Bloodborne

Pillars of Eternity

Axiom Verge

About Tyler Nope

Tyler lives in the Portland, OR area with his wife and cat. He loves pizza, comic books, and video games.