It's a new year, but we have one order of business to square away from 2015, and it's a doozy: we must tally up the votes and declare one game the top pick in the Gameplanet Players' Choice Game of the Year Awards 2015!
There may only be one champion, but the titles voted on represent the very best efforts made by legions of talented individuals, solely designed to provide players with the maximum amount of entertainment.
The Gameplanet Players’ Choice Awards are the largest video game awards in New Zealand, determined by the votes of thousands of dedicated Kiwi gamers. Here are the winners from past years:
5th – StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
4th – Battlefield: Bad Company 2
3rd – Call of Duty: Black Ops
2nd – Mass Effect 2
1st – Red Dead Redemption
5th – Tomb Raider
4th – Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
3rd – BioShock Infinite
2nd – The Last of Us
1st – Grand Theft Auto V
5th – South Park: The Stick of Truth
4th – Destiny
3rd – Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
2nd – Far Cry 4
1st – Dragon Age: Inquisition
3rd – Rise of the Tomb Raider
2nd – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
1st – Fallout 4
And now, 2016:
Last month, we conducted an extensive preliminary round in which you shared with us your favourite games of 2016. The top 12 nominees, as selected by New Zealand's gaming community and listed here in alphabetical order, were:
Next, we invited you to vote for these games to determine the winner. Voting has now closed, and today we reveal the top three finalists and your overall Players' Choice Game of the Year. Here are the top five:
5th (tie) – The Witcher 3: Blood & Wine
13.16 percent of the final votes
We said: 9.5/10 – "The final adventure of Geralt of Rivia takes place in the gorgeous lands of Toussaint, a picturesque nation of rolling hills, lakes, vineyards, castles, and sprawling palatial grounds taken straight from the pages of your favourite childhood fairy-tale. And as it was in those stories, the beauty here is often merely a façade. There are things dark and sinister lurking just below the surface, and if you dig just a little deeper, who knows what horrors you’ll find.
"Blood and Wine is nothing short of a triumph – a stunning conclusion to one of the best RPG series ever made. While I am sad to see Geralt go, I could not have asked for a better or more fitting swansong. The finale of the main quest gives the player closure through one of the most spectacular game sequences I have ever seen." (Read More)
5th (tie) – Final Fantasy XV
13.16 percent of the final votes
We said: 6/10 – "Combat is just one of the many ways that Final Fantasy XV leaves the fixtures of the series past behind, and it's clear that with XV, Square Enix clearly wants to keep the franchise moving forward. Some, including myself, see this as a necessary step to keep the series relevant. However, fans may see the game's lack of homage to the past as a step in the wrong direction.
Overall, Final Fantasy XV is a game that is not afraid to step away from the series roots and take risks in order to keep the series moving forward. However, the execution of these new ideas is so often sloppy or ill-conceived, that despite the developer’s best intentions, the game never lives up to its potential. That potential is clear in the special story that XV tells of four friends, but it is too often torpedoed by technical troubles or odd design decisions." (Read More)
4th – Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
21.05 percent of the final votes
We said: 10/10 – "The fact that this is the most emotionally involved story yet could perhaps be attributed to the influence of Druckmann and Straley coming off the back of the hard-hitting The Last of Us. I did find that there was not as much of the light-hearted humour present, and that the game as a whole had a darker tone. However, the end result is a blend of film and game that surpasses anything I’ve played thus far in the genre.
"Uncharted 4 is the best game in the franchise and – dare I say it – the best game on PS4. Whether you’ve been part of the series since day one or never played any of them before, it matters not – this one is absolutely worth taking the time out to sit down and enjoy." (Read More)
3rd – Battlefield 1
22.37 percent of the final votes
We said: 8/10 – "the multiplayer package being served up is the cream of the crop. And perhaps more importantly, it’s actually working exactly as intended, as I had very few hiccups at all in the week I had to play the game. There’s never any difficulty getting a match with a plethora of Oceania servers, and I didn’t have a single crash or disconnect. Compared to the nightmare that was Battlefield 4’s launch, this has been an uneventful start in the best way possible.
"Scoring this game was difficult, as the single player campaign was mediocre with no reason to do more than a single playthrough, if that. In contrast, the razor sharp multiplayer easily matches the franchise’s gold standards for team-based carnage on a grand scale. In the end, most people will likely be opening up their wallet for the latter, and so while it’s disappointing that it’s not a complete package, the pros do handily outweigh the cons." (Read More)
2nd – Doom
30.26 percent of the final votes
We said: 9/10 – "2016’s Doom can reasonably be described as a triumph. Somehow the game evades plenty of potential traps to emerge as one of the most flat-out-fun releases of recent times...
"Put it all together and you get the typical new Doom firefight; an experience of intense and exhilarating chaos. You’ll leap around blazing away, head for the high ground, abandon it, switch automatically to another weapon when you run out of ammo, get close to death, and save yourself by ripping a zombie’s arm off and smashing its head in with it. Don’t take five yet though – more demons are surely coming." (Read More)
1st – Overwatch
31.58 percent of the final votes
We said: 9/10 – "But at a base level, the most apparent thing to any player will be just how good the combat feels. Every match is filled to the brim with moments which will have you whooping like a lunatic on your couch. And that provides the impetus for coming back to Overwatch, because the game offers little other incentive. There are no progression systems – which is great for balancing – but little to work towards as a result.
"What’s incredible about Overwatch is how every single aspect of the game presented holds the same remarkably high level of detail and polish, and though the lack of progression systems and small selection of game modes may limit the experience for some in the long term, in the short to medium term, this game is nothing short of amazing." (Read More)
Our very warmest congratulations to everyone at Naughty Dog, CD Projekt Red, Square Enix, DICE, Bethesda, Blizzard from the team at Gameplanet.