By Quentin H. / January 12th, 2016
Another question was posed to the staff at Operation Rainfall recently:
“What were your favorite video games of 2015?”
Unfortunately, two of my favorite games that I played this year, Pokemon White for the Nintendo DS and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII for the PlayStation 3, came out in 2011 and 2014 (respectively) and were therefore not eligible.
(I seriously love this game, no matter what Tom [another Operation Rainfall contributor] says about it.)
However, there were other quite fantastic titles released in 2015 as well:
Wii U; Released May 29th, 2015
This was my sleeper hit of the year. When I saw first saw this game announced at E3 2014, I scoffed. It looked like a poor man’s Team Fortress 2 that somehow involved a squid and I was not going to have any of it.
That was until the Global Testfire that took place on May 8th, 9th, and 23rd.
Suddenly, I was thrusted into a three-minute match where the objective is to cover the ground with paint. The goal was not to kill a bunch of players in a row without dying in order to call in an R.A.P.S., followed by a Care Package, and then a Rolling Thunder (a/k/a scorestreaks that I couldn’t ever hope to achieve because I sucked hardcore at Call Of Duty: Black Ops 3).
When I picked up the game at release a few days later, it became clear that there was no harm in dying both early and often in Splatoon. That single fact placed everyone who plays shooting games casually (like me) on more or less an even playing field with people who are hardcore experts in the genre. And even if the match does become rather lopsided, it is over in three minutes and you can jump into a new group to go quickly again afterwards.
The graphics were classically Nintendo (just look how whimsical the characters are), the weapons actually play pretty differently from each other, and most of all…it is just FUN (Even if there is no voice chat capability allowed…I’m still rather sour on that point.)
The Order: 1886
PlayStation 4; Released February 20th, 2015
I am going to preface this choice by saying that the game was incredibly short. I finished it in three days (and I achieved a Platinum trophy along the way). The only reason it took that long was because I went through just the prologue the first night. The game play itself is nothing special, but is instead very much a by-the-numbers third-person action/shooting game.
What the game lacked in length, it made up for in world building.
This game is set during an alternate 1886 inside a Victorian steampunk London. The Knights Of The Round Table (yes, those knights), are given immortality and are charged with keeping half-breed monsters from overrunning England. The story and the world Sir Galahad (you character) inhabits is fantastic and amazing, even if the game play itself does not live up to those expectations.
I cannot recommend this game enough, especially with how cheap it tends to be these days, as a quick weekend play.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3D
New 3DS; Released April 10th, 2015
This game was originally part of the Rainfall Trilogy that spurred the creation of this site when it was originally announced for release in Japan and Europe, but not in North America. Thanks to a concentrated campaign by JRPG and Nintendo fans, the game was released for the Wii here in North America in April 2012.
This year, Nintendo re-released this formerly Gamestop-exclusive title for their new handheld, the New 3DS. Xenoblade Chronicles 3D still contains all the revolutionary JRPG mechanics and music from the original Wii version, but this time lets you carry it around in your pocket.
If you are reading this article on oprainfall, then chances are that you know exactly what Xenoblade Chronicles is and why you need to pick it up in the portable version. But, if for some reason you don’t, then a quick overview: This is an action-oriented combat system and you have a party of three characters, two of which are running on decent AI while you control the third character and decide upon group tactics. The game takes place in an open world and has an amazing soundtrack that is always perfectly on point with invoking the right emotion for wherever you are.
Speaking of wherever you are…The entire game takes place on the bodies of two defunct mechs that were once locked into combat with each other.
Yeah, its a mixture of sci-fi and fantasy and pure awesomeness.
And its totally worth it.
Final Fantasy XI: Rhapsodies of Vana’diel
PC/PlayStation 2/Xbox 360; Released through game updates in May/August/November 2015
Instead of an entire game, this was the swan song expansion storyline for the most profitable (and most meaningful to me) Final Fantasy game ever.
Ever since Final Fantasy XI was launched in 2002, there have been five full expansions (Rise Of The Zilart, Chains Of Promathia, Treasures of Aht Urhgan, Wings Of The Goddess, and Seekers of Adoulin), three add-on story scenarios (A Crystalline Prophecy: Ode Of Life Bestowing, A Moogle Kupo d’Etat: Evil In Small Doses, and A Shantotto Ascension: The Legend Torn, Her Empire Reborn), and three add-on battlefields scenarios (Vision Of Abyssea, Scars Of Abyssea, and Heroes Of Abyssea). Additionally, the Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy concert tour was named after the title song from the Chains Of Promathia expansion.
In short, there is a LOT of lore and characters in this MMORPG world.
For Rhapsodies of Vana’diel, Square Enix took all the main characters from the prior major expansions and brought them back for an encore that places the fate of the world of Vana’diel into dire jeopardy…and your playable character is in the thick of it.
While I played through it, there were few things weirder than seeing Nashmeira (Treasures of Aht Urghan) and Prishe (Chains Of Promathia) in Norg with Gilgamesh (Rise Of The Zilart). But, that sequence was just one of many examples that brought numerous crossovers between expansions, that were just inconceivable before, and revived characters that I had not seen in game for years.
In other words, this was an honest-to-Altana chance to see all of my favorite characters (Prishe [Chains Of Promathia] and Arciela [Seekers Of Adoulin] in particular) one more time before Square Enix discontinues Xbox 360/PlayStation 2 support in 2016, leaving only the PC version online.
On a personal note, this game has been a part of my life ever since two days after I graduated high school (my start date was June 5th, 2004), and no matter whatever else was going on in my life, I could always return to Vana’diel. For me, this game is simply different from everything I have played previously up to that point in my life. And, for now at least, I do not see that changing anytime soon.
Therefore, I close this article with one of my favorite quotes from Final Fantasy XI (which sums up why, I am so attached to this game, and why Rhapsodies of Vana’diel was so bittersweet to me to play through):
“Though we are all weak, we become stronger to protect those we love.” ~ Arciela, Seekers Of Adoulin
Do you agree with my choices? Hate my choices? Can you manage to get a Mothership scorestreak in a Call Of Duty: Black Ops 3 team deathmatch game? Let me know in the comments below!
(Credit for the featured image goes to fellow staff member Brandon Rose.)
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3Chains Of PromathiaFFXIFinal Fantasy XILightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIIINew 3DSNintendo New 3DSPlaystation 2PlayStation 3PlayStation 4Pokemon WhiteRhapsodies Of Vana'dielRise Of The ZilartSeekers Of AdoulinSplatoonThe Order: 1886Treasures of Aht UrghanWii UWIngs Of The GoddessXbox 360Xenoblade ChroniclesXenoblade Chronicles 3D