Game of the Year

GotY

Tomorrow 2015 comes to a close and it’s been a spectacular year for gaming. We’ve seen some exceptionally good titles this year, largely from sequels that have made smart choices to enhance their stories and mechanics, and whilst new IPs and new ideas are a little thin on the ground the abundance of quality titles is still excellent.

Throughout the Christmas period we’ve been revealing our top three games from a number of different categories, now we reveal the top three for our most coveted award: The TiX Game of the Year 2015.

Third Place – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is excellent. It’s hugely ambitious with sky high expectations from it ravenous fan base, and yet it still manages to surprise, even astound us with its excellence.

…its open-world design is unmatched in the action and/or stealth genre, offering extreme freedom that offers oodles of replayability, and the story is intriguing, profound and subtly spun with a focus on action rather than words.

Says Greg Giddens (me) in his review, and indeed the TiX team all agreed that The Phantom Pain’s tactical open-world was rich with adventure, action, and opportunities to make you own decisions. It’s one of the most impressive titles for scope we’ve yet seen.

Moreover, the intriguing story, excellent gunplay and oodles of content make this an experience that lasts and sticks with you. No wonder it managed to secure a spot in our top three games of the year.

Check out the review here.

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Second Place – Fallout 4

…exploration is profusely rewarding. Every nook and cranny hides ammo, medical supplies, crafting and building resources, wasteland lore, easter eggs, enemies, missions and general adventure. It’s meticulously crafted to look lived-in as well as match aesthetically with every other aspect of the title. It’s truly a delight to roam this nuclear wasteland.

Says Greg Giddens (me) in his review, and it’s this vast post-apocalyptic world and it’s abundance of adventure that kept us coming back to it time and time again.

The TiX team fell in love with Fallout 4, much like we did with The Witcher 3, causing us to jump between the two when trying to decide which one was the better game. In the end the choice really came down to whether you were in the mood for a land of fantasy or of post nuclear war, and fantasy took the top spot.

Check out the review here.

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TiX Game of the Year – The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt

With its incredible base game blowing out minds with its visuals, narrative, and vast world, and then for DLC and patches to come at a fast rate to improve it even more, it’s no surprise that The Witcher 3 grabbed our hearts and wouldn’t let go.
Richard Berry described it in his review as:

I can’t remember the last time an RPG gripped me so much, and it’s thanks to CD Projekt RED’s masterful crafting of the story and allowing me to play out some incredible adventures within the vast open world of Tamaria – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is about as close as it comes to being my ideal game.

And it really is that close to being an RPG fan’s ideal game. It’s a remarkable feat of design and we simply can’t wait for the second DLC to hit in 2016.

Congratulations to The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, you are our Game of the Year 2015.

Check out the review here.

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That’s it for another year. We can’t wait to see what 2016 brings.

Honourable mentions go to Rise of the Tomb Raider, Halo 5 Guardians, and Elite Dangerous, all of which were nominated by the TiX staff but didn’t quite make the cut.

Worst Game of the Year

Worst GotY

The year is coming to a close and so it’s time once again to take a look back at all the great games that have been released in 2015. Except for this category, where we shame the worst games we’ve played this year.

It’s far less frequent than in previous console generations, but we still see some utterly terrible games get released every year, and unfortunately this year was no exception. So let’s take a look at the Worst Game of the Year.

Third Place – Chivalry: Medieval Warfare

The PC version of Chivalry is really good, bringing medieval melee combat to the arena deathmatch sub-genre with great success. The Xbox 360 port of Chivalry is far less impressive, but its shortcomings can be understood considering the restriction of the console. The Xbox One version, however, is a slightly enhanced port of the Xbox 360 version, despite the Xbox One’s power easily allowing for something more akin to the PC original. It’s a baffling choice to port the worst version to Xbox One, and now its shortcoming are unforgivable.

Dave Moran said in his review:

It’s such a shame that this game is such a mess, there is actually a market for a title like this and instead of getting a well-polished, engaging title, we have to suffer with a lazy port looking to cash in on unsuspecting customers. Don’t waste your time on this.

And that sums up our thoughts nicely.

Check out the review here.

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Second Place – Rugby 2015

A failure to balance the complexity of its mechanics and a complete disregard for authenticity makes Rugby 2015 miserable to play, and with recent sports titles going out of their way to provide a polished and compelling facsimile of the sports they’re digitally recreating, it makes Rugby 2015’s flaws all the more obvious.

Richard Berry said in his review:

Rugby World Cup is an odd game – in its attempts to keep things fast and fluid it becomes rather awkward sinking into a boring game relying on luck rather than skill. Instead of celebrating the world cup it washes over it and I suggest you do the same!

We all agree you should heed his warning.

Check out the review here.

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Worst Game of the Year – Yasai Ninja

Yasai ninja is abysmal. The slightest sliver of adequate variety and aesthetics is completely undone by a mass of poor level design, feckless combat, atrocious checkpoints, a combative camera, noticeable slowdown and rushed storytelling. It reeks of bad design and insufficient play-testing, leading to infuriating situations where the mechanics and gameplay are at such odds that’s it’s barely playable at all.

So says Greg Giddens (me) in his review.

Poor platforming, a combative camera and awful checkpoint placement makes this title’s three hour experience extremely difficulty to enjoy, despite a good attempt at variety and friendly AI.

It had so much potential with its quirky setting but the rest of the design was so badly implemented it was barely playable.

Check out the review here.

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Be sure to check out the site again tomorrow to see our reveal for TiX’s 2015 Game of the Year.

Dishonourable mentions go to Tony Hawks Pro Skater 5, Pool Nation FX and RIDE all of which were nominated by the TiX staff but proved not quite awful enough.

Chivalry: Medieval Warfare review

2015 has been the year of the remaster, some have been brilliant, bringing back games that deserved to entertain Xbox One fans new and old. There have also been some remastered that really felt like cash-ins, unfortunately this is one of those games.

Chivalry was originally released on the PC and got a fantastic reception from fans, so naturally it seemed like a good idea to bring the game to the console market, in the end the game didn’t turn out to be a very successful port, only managing to achieve scores of 5, where the PC title pulled in scores of 8. When it came to developing an Xbox One title you would think it would make sense to bring the most popular version of the game over, not in this case! In fact what we ended up with is a sluggish, clunky, mediocre title, which rather surprisingly has quite a few people playing it.

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When you first begin the game it’s strongly recommended that you play through the tutorials, There of four classes of soldier to play as and each have their own strengths and weaknesses, and experimenting with each one before going online, will reduce the amount of time you spend waiting to respawn into battle. Archers are able to keep out of the action but remain deadly with their long range tactics, but they have little to defend themselves with. The other three soldiers,  Man-At-Arms, Vanguard and Knights, these classes are used in close quarter combat and have better amour, the Knight Is the strongest, and the most protected, with heavy armour and a two handed weapon that will cause great pain to your opponents, but the mobility is sacrificed which means you can be outnumbered quite easily, whereas the Man-at-Arms and Vanguard are able to move around more freely while having to use less powerful weapons and weaker armour.

The tutorials do a good job of explaining the controls, which is just as well as there are quite a few ways to attack the other teams, there are three different types of striking available, as well how to defend and deflect your opponent’s attacks. Once you have a grasp of what’s going on you can finally take on the world online. As I mentioned at the top of the review, I was surprised to see just how many people were actually playing the game, whether I logged on at 10pm at night on 10am in the morning I never failed to get a game, and never experienced any difficulties with the servers.

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There are six modes to play, ranging from Team Deathmatch, Free-for-all, Duels and Horde. Free-for-All and Team Deathmatch consist of up to 24 players (up from 12 on the previous console versions) and each match feels like a bunch of drunks blokes in armour swinging wildly at each other and mostly missing. The hit detection is woeful, and when you do hit your opponents you can hardly tell as weapons just seem to clip through the enemy, you’ll feel the rumble on your controller when you are hit, but it never looks like you are.

It’s quite a challenge to hit your opponents, even after you have managed to upgrade your weapons, there is no lock-on and it’s very much a game of hit and hope. You’ll find quite often that it’s your own team mates that suffer at your hands than the enemy, the game knows this too as about every 30 seconds there is an option to boot a member of your team for team killing, chances are they are having as much trouble as you.

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There is very little to shout about when it comes to presentation, despite being ‘remastered’ for the Xbox One, you wouldn’t know it. Textures are awful, players seem to float around the maps and te audio suffers from constant drop outs.

It’s such a shame that this game is such a mess, there is actually a market for a title like this and instead of getting a well polished, engaging title, we have to suffer with a lazy port looking to cash in on unsuspecting customers. Don’t waste your time on this.

Thanks to Xbox and Activision for their support

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Action Adventure Game of the Year

Action ADventure GotY

The year is coming to a close and so it’s time once again to take a look back at all the great games that have been released in 2015.

Every day up until the end of the year we’ll be revealing our top three games from a number of different categories, all the way up until the coveted Game of the Year reveal.

Next up is Action Adventure Game of the Year.

Third Place – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Greg Giddens (me) started off his review of MGSV: TPP with:

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is excellent. It’s hugely ambitious with sky high expectations from it ravenous fan base, and yet it still manages to surprise, even astound us with its excellence.

And truer world have never been said, if I do say so myself.

The Phantom Pain offers a tactical open-world to experience that is abundant in emergent gameplay opportunities. You can approach missions practically however you like, and with the huge amount of equipment you can research you can then replay these missions dozens of times and experience them completely differently.

Greg goes on to say:

…its open-world design is unmatched in the action and/or stealth genre, offering extreme freedom that offers oodles of replayability, and the story is intriguing, profound and subtly spun with a focus on action rather than words.

And indeed with such strong mechanics, such an enticing open-world, and of course the classic Metal Gear story driving the experience, it’s no wonder to see MGS V grace our list of top action adventure titles from this year.

Check out the review here.

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Second Place – Dying Light

Techland learnt their lessons from Dead Island and put them into practice with Dying Light. The result is a scary and intense action horror title that’s oodles of fun to play, alone or with friends.

Richard Berry said in his review:

Dying Light is huge, it’s loaded with challenges and collectibles with enough missions to see you easily rack up in excess of 50 hours game time. It’s certainly the most fun I’ve had in co-op since Borderlands 2. For me the dynamic day/night cycle is the stand out feature with the night cycle offering a completely different change of pace.

The terrifying night cycle, the exceptionally fun parkour movement, and the stiff but well-balanced challenge, makes Dying Light a superb action adventure game, and one that so very nearly took top spot in out awards.

Check out the review here.

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Action Adventure Game of the Year – Rise of the Tomb Raider

Crystal Dynamics have sussed out Tomb Raider. They’ve rebuilt Lara as a more human and relatable characters, created stunningly beautiful and complex environments to explore, and giving player precisely the mechanics they need to fully engage with Lara and her thirst for exploration. It’s a hugely impressive reboot of the long running franchise, and this second instalment since the reboot improves on the first in every way.

Dave Moran said in his review:

The story this time is much better than the previous game, it feels more gritty and every time I thought I was nearing the end, something else came along. The different locations are excellent, and the game looks stunning

And indeed it’s this exceptional design and ultimately hugely enjoyable experience which places Lara’s latest adventure top of your action adventure list.

Check out the review here.

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Be sure to check out the site again tomorrow to see the next category and its winner.

Honourable mentions go to Life is Strange, Elite Dangerous, King’s Quest and Mad Max, all of which were nominated by the TiX staff but didn’t quite make the cut.

Xbox One Elite Controller review

SCUF has been one heck of a success story, producing modified controllers that allow gamers to keep their thumbs on the sticks while still having full control over the face button. A paddle system configured to the A, B, X or Y is positioned underneath the controller so that your resting fingers can work them, keeping your thumbs in full control of where you are aiming. I fully expected Microsoft to partner with SCUF for the launch of the Xbox One and release an officially licensed controller. Now, finally we have that controller, although MS have stepped out on their own.

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The Elite controller is an absolute beauty, and at £119.99 it’s competitively priced against those of SCUF – but the Elite has a huge advantage – it’s completely customisable. The controller comes with a variety of options: four paddles (two short and two long), three sets of thumbsticks (short concave set, medium domed set, long concave set), a traditional d-pad, a funky disc d-pad, a braided cable for charging and a hard case to keep the controller safe. It’s one heck of a package, although MS forgot to include a rechargeable battery!

Each of the controller’s accessories magnetically snap in to place, and once they are on, they hold – no chance of slipping and no chance of falling off mid-game. The final gem in this customisable package is the option to tweak a variety of settings via an app, accessible through the Xbox One. Two different setting loadouts can be stored on the Elite at any one time and can be selected via the mode switch located in the centre of the controller – SCUF must be looking over at the Elite with a little envy, at least they have their famous trigger stops to brag about… well… MS have that covered too.

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A pair of trigger stops can be effortlessly flicked on or off, reducing the distance you need to press down on the triggers – and by using the app – you can set how they respond. Creating dead zones for a more controlled trigger press – ideal for racing games – or setting up a heightened sensitivity, which is perfect for shooters like Call of Duty. The Elite controller really does tick all the boxes, apart from that elusive battery.

Jumping in to the Elite app, which unfortunately isn’t available to snap, you can control a whole host of options. You can remap the face buttons and paddles; tweak the brightness of the guide button and the strength of the rumble motors; and adjust the sensitivity of the thumbsticks and the triggers. If it’s all a little over your head then you can select a pre-defined setup, like the ‘smooth’ control system. You can also download and use developer profiles and setup your Elite controller with one of their settings.

Like the other new Xbox controllers, the Elite has the new 3.5mm jack input and the RB/LB have been overhauled and respond no matter where you press them. What I liked most about the Elite was the thumbstick turning circle. It’s silky smooth. Since release I’ve managed to pour in around 250 hours use and the sticks feel just as smooth as the day I first used them, and they haven’t lost any of their magnetic strength needed to snap the sticks in place. The only downside to the controller was that the right trigger was ‘sticky’ when I engaged the hair-trigger lock, although this did eventually disappear after I had used the pad for around 10 hours.

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The Elite is weightier than the standard controller, its components are made from steel, it has rubberised grips and a soft matte powdered finish making it feel like a premium product. The Elite is comfortable to hold, and although you’ll need to train your fingers to use the paddles, they are so well placed that using them feels comfortable and natural. It did take some effort to think about what and where I was pressing – undoing years of muscle memory – but once the paddle location clicked and I remembered which buttons I’d set to each paddle, they were a joy to use and easily the best paddle design I’ve come across. Now the standard Xbox controller seems like a distant and archaic tool – a bit like the “Duke”.

The Elite is a beauty. Retailing at £119.99, it may seem a tad on the expensive side, but you get a lot of bang for your buck – it’s just a shame MS didn’t throw in a rechargeable battery!

We bought our Elite controller to bring you this review

Music Game of the Year

Music GotY

The year is coming to a close and so it’s time once again to take a look back at all the great games that have been released in 2015.

Every day up until the end of the year we’ll be revealing our top three games from a number of different categories, all the way up until the coveted Game of the Year reveal.

Next up is Music Game of the Year.

Third Place – Just Dance 2016

Just Dance 2016 is the most accessible version of the popular dance title so far, allowing you to use the Kinect or a smartphone to track your dance moves. It certainly made for an inclusive experience, and with excellent modes, a focus on fun, and impressive movement tracking, grooving around your living room has seldom been so fun.

Dave Moran said in his review:

Just Dance hits all the right moves again, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and doesn’t expect you too either. It’s bold, it’s bright and most importantly it’s fun

And that’s what we’re after from our rhythm games: fun.

Check out the review here.

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Second Place – Rock Band 4

This music category would have been severely limited if it wasn’t for these next two title reviving the plastic instrument strumming, and whilst Rock Band 4 doesn’t shake things up much, it does offer a hugely impressive rooster of songs to jam along with.

Phil Kowalski said in his review:

Let’s face it, the Rock Band title has oodles of playability. Even if you’ve got the rhythm of the average X-Factor contestant, you’ll find picking up a guitar and following the colours a pretty simple affair…

And this accessibility, tweaks to the career mode, and the absence of the title to make the heart grow fonder, all came together to make Rock Band 4 a Christmas number two in the charts.

Check out the review here.

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Music Game of the Year – Guitar Hero Live

An innovative and intuitive new button layout and FMV framing may not sound like enough to make a huge difference to how strumming along on a plastic guitar feels but turns out to be just what the genre needed to refresh it.

Dave Moran said in his review:

Freestyle Games have gone for a brave change to a system we were all very used to, having played every day for a week I can honestly say I’ll struggle to go back now. It feels more natural, some of the button combinations certainly feel like you are playing a real guitar.

And with GHTV adding another neat mode of constantly changing tracks to play, this latest Guitar Hero offering thrashed the competition.

Check out the review here.

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Be sure to check out the site again tomorrow to see the next category and its winner.

Gemini: Heroes Reborn coming next month

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Who’s been engrossed in the Heroes universe then? I must admit, I’ve not been into as many TV series as I probably should be. I bet I’m missing out on something. Imperative Entertainment and Universal Television have teamed up to bring the Heroes experience to Xbox One.

Immerse yourself in the powers of Cassandra as she battles her way through an enemy-filled underground facility called The Quarry. Cassandra’s friend has been abducted and she must save her and solve a family mystery.

The game will feature time-shift, telekinesis and three acts to battle through over multiple levels.

Solve the mysteries and connect the story to the Heroes TV show and the Heroes: Enigma companion app on Android and iOS.

Gemini: Heroes Reborn will be hitting the Xbox One on the 12th of January 2016.

Sports Game of the Year

Sports GotY

The year is coming to a close and so it’s time once again to take a look back at all the great games that have been released in 2015.

Every day up until the end of the year we’ll be revealing our top three games from a number of different categories, all the way up until the coveted Game of the Year reveal.

Next up is Sports Game of the Year.

Third Place – Blood Bowl 2

Visceral violence, compelling competition, gruesome gore and fantastic fantasy all come together to bring the Blood Bowl board game to life in a digital form.

Greg Giddens (me) described it in his review as:

Blood Bowl 2 is a brilliant sports title, one that brings together cerebral strategy with mindless violence in a beautiful Warhammer themed package.

and indeed it’s this combination of fantasy violence, tactical scope and all round highly enjoyable play, that earns this title a place amongst the very best sports titles of the year.

Check out the review here.

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Second Place – NHL 16

NHL 16’s enhanced movement and puck control, along with its new tutorial system, makes the sport more accessible than it has been for years, and this dedication from EA Canada to create the ultimate ice hockey title has paid off spectacularly.

Dave Moran described NHL 16 in his review as:

NHL 16 has certainly returned to form with this excellent title, players new or old will instantly feel comfortable with how the game plays and with a good selection of teams and modes to play through you’ll be well entertained this year.

Indeed NHL 16 has received precisely the kind of enhancements that it needed to once again become an ice hockey fan’s ideal digital facsimile of the real thing, allowing it to glide into second place in our Sports Game of the Year awards.

Check out the review here.

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Sports Game of the Year – FIFA 16

for me it’s all the little changes that make FIFA 16 great.

Says Dave Moran in his review of FIFA 16, and it is indeed these small enhancements that EA Canada continue to make each year to FIFA that keeps it on top.

Finally women’s teams have made an appearance, passing is more crucial than ever, the physicality and animations are smooth and accurate, and the whole experience feels that much more realistic and tactical, as Dave goes on to say:

I spend a lot of time passing the ball back to defence to restart an attack, it feels so much more realistic and tactical.

And because of the continued efforts to make the FIFA titles more realistic, and representative of the beautiful game, it’s no surprise that it take this year’s first place ribbon as TiX Sports Game of the Year.

Check out the review here.

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Be sure to check out the site again tomorrow to see the next category and its winner.

Honourable mentions go to Rory Mcilroy PGA Tour, PES 2015, Madden 16 and IDARB, all of which were nominated by the TiX team but didn’t quite make the cut.

TiX Podcast: TiXmas

Welcome to the This is Xbox Podcast.

Join Greg Giddens and Neale Jarrett for a new episode of the This is Xbox Podcast – episode 19 TiXmas – where the duo are joined by guests Richard Berry and Derek McRoberts to talk about recent games they’ve been playing, such as Fallout 4 and Dungeon of the Endless, and get nostalgic about childhood Christmases.

https://soundcloud.com/thisisxboxpodcast/tix-podcast-tixmas

If you want to send us a question or topic for the topic discussion section, or simply contact us, then shoot over an email to: podcast@thisisxbox.com

You can also follow the hosts on Twitter: @GregGiddens and @BaronVonPleb

You can also find us on iTunes, Stitcher and SoundCloud.

If you like the show and want to support it, please check out our Patreon page.

The awesome music in this episode was provided by Bangmaid and produced by James Gill. (https://www.mixcloud.com/bangmaid/)

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http://www.freesfx.co.uk/info/eula/