Sunday, February 7

High Horse Audit 2015: The Best and Worst of the Year

For a long time I thought I wouldn't write a "Game of the Year" post for 2015 because it seemed pretty redundant, given that most of my free time in 2015 was spent playing Destiny. After spending the first few weeks of a new year playing games from the last one, however, I've gained the perspective to put together a list of my favourite experiences from last year. I also had time to reflect on the worst of it.

The Janet Jackson Award: Destiny (Year One)
For the second year running, I've found it necessary to acknowledge the game that most effectively said Come Back To Me a year on from release. 

On my main character alone, I've amassed more than 21 actual days of play time in Destiny. If I took my alternate characters into account, I'm pretty sure I'd come depressingly close to a month of play time on the shooter MMO hybrid.

This hasn't been addiction, or a force of habit; throughout a year of play I became increasingly confident, and took on all the challenges that Destiny's first year had to offer. The House of Wolves expansion was pivotal in that it gave me that little bit of extra strength to take on the most intimidating activities that, in some cases, had been available not long after launch.

Without those extra four levels of experience (and gear), I wouldn't have been able to fell Crota, nor would I have been able to tackle Skolas, or Atheon on Hard mode. The raids, and higher level Prison of Elders runs made up a weekly ritual that I was anxious to complete for months on end. So rehearsed were my movements that I could even finish raids remote playing on a Vita; without a headset, no less!

I didn't make many new friends in Destiny's first year, but my word did I develop a throng of acquaintances. Some were terrible human beings, some were genuine fun to hang with for an hour or so a week. For every racist American teen decrying Obamacare, there four or five genuinely nice people who were praying just as hard as I was. Until the launch of The Taken King, RNGeezus answered almost all of my prayers too.

Destiny rewarded my loyalty with everything I wanted, except for Praedyth's Timepiece.

The Most Disappointing Game of the Year: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Metal Gear Solid V features the most fluid controls the series has ever iterated, and for the first time, it had something resembling a coherent narrative. For those reasons alone, I had next to no interest in it.

Put another way: Metal Gear Solid V is a great game, but a terrible Metal Gear Solid instalment.

Save for the first hour, gone are the ridiculously long codec conversations, paranoid political fantasies, and David Hayter. Snake's voice is noticeably absent, not because Keifer Sutherland is a feeble replacement, rather because he's an absent replacement.

It's telling that I haven't finished this game. More telling that I don't want to. The first few hours were packed with thrilling stealth and recon encounters, but following that, I found it grating how often I had to capture the same outposts, and extract the same, albeit slightly stronger combatants.

The formula that first appeared in the PSP's best game, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, doesn't work on home consoles because of the large sandbox environments. Peace Walker put you right where you needed to be, Phantom Pain made you grind from point to point. I can tell Phantom Pain was rushed to market without even having completed it.

Keep on walking, tough guy.