10. Super Mario Maker may look like the standard Mario games that we've been inundated with since the mid-eighties, but underneath that familiar exterior is a Mario game in a class of its own. In fact it's much more than just a game, it's a creation tool with which players can unleash their imagination and create their own levels and challenges featuring the iconic Italian plumber. Much like Little Big Planet, Super Mario Maker invites players to make and share their creations with others. With the levels already included on the disk and the vast building options available to create and customise your own levels there's a lot of potential game to be enjoyed here. Add to that the availability of levels made by the community and Super Mario Maker provides a widely dynamic experience and excellent value for money considering how much content you have access to.
Super Mario Maker is not only a fun game, but an important one in terms of game appreciation. The freedom on offer presents players with an insight into the creative process of game development that educates as well as entertains. Although it may seem overwhelming at first you slowly gain an understanding of level design and game mechanics and with a little imagination creating levels becomes as rewarding as playing them. The unique capabilities of the Wii U and its second touch screen are undoubtedly underused, but thankfully this is one of the few titles to truly showcase what the console can do. A fitting tribute to thirty years of gaming gold and a stand-out title in terms of depth and diversity; Super Mario Maker gets a gold star and a place in our top ten games of 2015.
9. Rather than just run through a list of features to tick off the list, it was awesome to see Treyarch come on like gangbusters with Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. Every aspect of the new COD entry shows the studio's hunger to entertain and remain credible for at least another solid year. The campaign encourages new strategies that take veteran players out of their comfort zones, pointing to seriously smart level design amid the hammy 'COD moment' set-pieces.
Above all, Treyarch shows how much it understands its highly attentive community with practical aspects to profile customisation that include tailoring your favourite weapons. Black Ops 3 almost feels like an augmented-soldier academy of excellence, where the hardest working students graduate with the greatest rewards. The scope to improve your game is vast, but the most vital ingredient is the huge sense of fun in evidence at all times across its impressive selection of modes.
8. It was to be Kojima's last game in the series, and so it was fitting that it was suitably epic and bigger in scope than anything we'd already seen from the iconic creator. The Phantom Pain was wholeheartedly teased when Konami released Ground Zeroes last year, thus we had an idea as to what to expect from the finished article - mechanically solid, tactically deep, violent, engaging - and so it proved.
There were lashings of over the top set-pieces to move the action along, and we were entertained for the majority of the time. However, for a game with this sort of profile, its depiction of women will have been troubling for some. Also our long standing criticism of Kojima remains - his storytelling could do with some extra time in the cutting room. On top of that perhaps there was a touch too much recycling towards the end. Still, these flaws aren't enough to hold Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain away from our top ten. The new open-world setting works, and Kojima's unflinching narrative dragged us kicking and screaming through the adventure. It's a flawed masterpiece, but a fitting sign off for Kojima from the series he's nurtured all these years.
7. The story of the friendship between Max and Chloe really struck a chord with us. A very well crafted and thoroughly thought out narrative that not only offered the rare perspective of a normal teenager (well, perhaps not entirely normal) and a female one at that.
Dontnod managed to balance what is largely a story-focused game with some interesting gameplay mechanics. Not just the ability to rewind time, but they also made sure there was enough small decisions and optional content there to truly ground the experience.
As we compile this end of the year list placement has less to do with frame-rate and textures and more to do with what experiences stand out as memorable, and Life is Strange certainly fits this bill. Great characters, an engaging multi-layered plot, unusual themes and some of the strongest climaxes and cliffhangers we've encountered in episodic adventures to date.
6. Expectations for Batman: Arkham Knight were high. This would be the third and final game of the Arkham trilogy created by Rocksteady Studios, and the first one created from scratch for the new generation of consoles. On top of all this, a 'cherry' on four wheels, with a rough look and a huge cannon on top. The Batmobile was the biggest new feature in Batman: Arkham Knight, allowing players to drive the iconic Dark Knight vehicle for the first time in series history.
Its introduction was fantastic, with excellent controls and several mechanics merged into the overall gaming experience... a bit too much actually. We loved driving the Batmobile in Batman: Arkham Knight, and we even enjoyed fighting the AI-controlled tanks, but Rocksteady clearly abused the use of the vehicle. This is one of the weakest points of Batman: Arkham Knight, a design choice that forced the Batmobile onto players way more then it should have been, almost ruining what was otherwise a great addition.
Luckily, Batman: Arkham Knight is not a full driving game. The gameplay and combat are more refined than ever, graphics are among the best we've seen on a console, and the script includes some delightful surprises - although the identity of Arkham Knight should be obvious to anyone that knows the background of Batman and his colleagues. Batman: Arkham Knight is not a perfect game, and it's hardly the best chapter on the series, but it is an excellent action game you should play, and that recommendation goes to both Batman enthusiasts and casual fans alike.