Let’s all breathe a sigh of relief: November is over. In the gaming world, it seems like in many ways the entire year is simply building up to a big November and this year was no different. While far too many end-of-the-year games were delayed, there was still a flood of quality titles within days. The month started off with a bang thanks to Advanced Warfare and didn’t slow down until Sonic Boom hit and made everybody depressed for their childhood for a few days. No worry, though, as the month got back on track with Dragon Age: Inquisition and Far Cry 4 on the same day. The month had its shares of flops, however, thanks to the crushingly disappointing Escape Dead Island and the huge comedown in Assassin’s Creed Unity. With so many quality games, though, it’s time to see what made the cut.
Persona Q: Shadow of The Labyrinth ambitiously attempts to fuse the hardcore open-ended dungeon crawling of Etrian Odyssey with the storytelling chops of the Persona Series. While it doesn’t quite deliver to the same level as either of its components, it does present an entertaining side-story featuring the characters from Persona we’ve come to know and love. The investigation squad and SEES are full of likeable characters, and they’re as well-written and voice-acted here as they’ve ever been, but it’s Theodore, Elizabeth, and Margaret, shown together for the first time in series history, that steal the show. The Velvet room siblings are great characters on their own, and this is the first time they’ve been able to bounce off of each other and the rest of the game’s cast. If you’re a fan of the series looking to have a good time, this portable RPG should keep you occupied for hours on end.
It’s crazy to think that four of the most iconic games ever are available in a single package. Experiencing Master Chief’s epic adventure as a single thirty-hour epic not only elevates the entire story, it takes players across thirteen years of mechanic refinement. The Halo series has undergone an incredible transformation over the years, so the ability to witness this in such a short timespan feels like traveling through history. Not enough can be said about the outstanding Blur cinematic cutscenes in Halo 2: Anniversary, as they set the bar for the best looking moments of this console generation. While matchmaking wasn’t particularly functional at launch, recent patches have remedied that situation quite well. Being able to play all four multiplayer segments in engine at 1080p and 60 frames-per-second makes Halo: The Master Chief Collection one of the most robust titles in recent memory. Oh, and how can we forget the incredible awesomeness that is Gungoose CTF. No game can possibly be bad if it has gungeese.
Super Smash Bros.’ triumphant return began in October on 3DS, but nobody quite understood just how much Nintendo had in store for the series’ Wii U debut. This latest iteration of the Japanese company’s chaotic multiplayer brawler brings more of the expertly tuned action and brilliantly designed stages the series is heralded for, while introducing a slew of brand new single and mulitplayer modes and refreshingly functional online play. Super Smash Bros. on Wii U takes full advantage of the system’s graphical strength, producing visuals so detailed and breathtaking that they put games on other more powerful consoles to shame. It’s loaded with content and Nintendo history, but it’s the tight, addictive and perpetually fun fighting that makes this game a winner. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U will be around for a long, long time to come, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Regardless of your thoughts about 2013’s Call of Duty: Ghosts, Advanced War propelled the franchise forward — figuratively and literally thanks to the exoskeletons. It’s clear that Sledgehammer spent countless hours researching just what makes a shooter great and then fine-tuning the experience. It’s easy to get lost in the fantastic multiplayer mode and the campaign is no slouch either thanks to tight plotting and a great performance from Kevin Spacey. Advanced Warfare was exactly what the series needed to keep it relevant for this console generation.
There’s no denying the Dragon Age II was a letdown, rushed to the market only a year and a half after its predecessor. That’s not the case with Dragon Age: Inquisition as Bioware sat down for more than three years to create something fresh and ambitious. This is a studio well known for their strong RPG elements and compelling storytelling, and they brought their A-game to the third installment. With a masterful score and a charismatic cast of characters, there’s never a dull moment in Thedas. Throw in the absolutely massively dense world to explore, and you will get lost in the overwhelming amount of content. If you have the time to invest, Dragon Age: Inquisition will have you enthralled from start to finish, and that’s why it’s one of the best games of the year.
As an added bonus, our editors named their personal favorites:
- Steve: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
- Jeremy: Super Smash Bros. For Wii U
- Matt: Dragon Age: Inquisition
- Jahanzeb: WWE 2K15
- Lee: Dragon Age: Inquisition
- Beck: Dragon Age: Inquisition
- Alex: Super Smash Bros. For Wii U
- Geoff: Dragon Age: Inquisition
- Dermot: Super Smash Bros. For Wii U
- Bradly: Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth
- Jake: Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire
- Marcus: Dragon Age: Inquisition
- Julian: World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor
- Spencer: Super Smash Bros. For Wii U
- Brandon: Dragon Age: Inquisition
- James Cunningham: The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
- James Kozanitis: Super Smash Bros. For Wii U