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This week, the annual Top 5 lists.

Transcript Edit

You can't have a new year without a Top 5! So I'd better do one before the Earth halts in its orbit around the sun and plunges us all into eternal winter.

As always, only games that have been reviewed in Zero Punctuation are in the running for the Top and Bottom 5. That being the case, bear with me a moment:

Undertale Edit

Undertale is a good game...

[End credits]

...etc, etc. Right, now we've got that over with, look alive, 'cause here come the fives, Clive!

Fifth Best Edit

[Upbeat ragtime music]

Dragons are the midwife of new ideas. You get a new idea? Best to do it first with dragons so people don't get scared off. Then if that works out, you can put your new idea in whatever horrible setting your disgusting mind can conjure. Heartening to see that process in action this year, as Dark Souls begat Bloodborne - Dark Souls' gameplay in a glistening wet orgy of Lovecraftian horror: you gotta love it! And then you gotta launder your bedsheets!

Fifth Worst Edit

[Downbeat trumpet music]

Might ruffle some feathers here, 'cause this game was perfectly functional. But I feel the need to take a stand against games that think a handful of mindless multiplayer modes is worth exactly the same retail price as four full-length retro games plus the pizza afterwards. It was going to be either Evolve or Star Wars: Battlefront. And Star Wars clinched it for the slightly patronizing attitude of, "We all know you nerds will buy anything with a Wookiee in it!"

You know what? Before we move on, "good games, yay, bad games, boo" is all very well, but what about the third category? For the first time, I'd like to introduce a third Top 5 list celebrating the games that did nothing interesting, took no risks, pushed nothing forward, and which were generally to the year of gaming what Martin O'Malley was to televised debate. Without further ado, here's my fifth Blandest game of 2015! [beat] Hmm, what's that? [beat] Jim Sterling just did something like this? Well, it's a good thing everyone knows that I write these a few weeks in advance, isn't it? Otherwise, they might have accused me of ripping him off! And made complete fucking fools of themselves!

Fifth Blandest Edit

[Dial tone]

While it has its moments, Batman: Arkham Knight made its mistake when it thought, "How can we enhance our characteristic stealth-action-adventure for the last installment? Oh, I know! Let's take out some of the stealth-action-adventuring and replace it with Tonka toys being smashed together in the clumsy fists of an idiot god!"

Fourth Best Edit

While I did have some issues relating to questionably-necessary monsters (insofar as it can be said that monsters are ever not questionably necessary except on the front of a box of Sugar Puffs), there's more than enough to recommend in SOMA regardless. It may now go down in history as the second best atmospheric narrative horror game with philosophical themes set at the bottom of the ocean with an existential plot twist in it...of all time.

Fourth Worst Edit

Speaking of questionable necessity, mainstream culture has gradually been coming around to the idea that video games probably aren't all murder porn aimed at the high-school massacre demographic, but this was not intended to be taken as a fucking challenge. The game that strutted about in its big black controversy knickers dropping embarrassing turds from its leg holes conveniently named after the reaction it provokes, Hatred. Although after release, they should have renamed it Dispassionate Ridicule.

Fourth Blandest Edit

Everybody's Gone To The Rapture, or as it might as well have been called, Everybody's Gone to the Toilet on the Reasonable Assumption That They Won't Miss Anything. I'm all for doing new things with interactive story, but after you throw away traditional ideas of pacing, challenge, and coherent narrative, you are actually then supposed to replace them with something!

Third Best Edit

Over the years, AAA gaming has been trying to pummel us into accepting that we have no choice but to have graphics like Rembrandt had sex with Industrial Light & Magic, and that means we have to sacrifice the kind of in-depth detail and storytelling we used to have in our open-world RPGs. But then Witcher 3 replied, "Oh no, you don't! You just have to work until your bollocks drop off!" I for one appreciate it, CD Projekt RED. Hope the reattachment surgery goes well.

Third Worst Edit

Have you ever wanted to be a giant, all-powerful monster? What about a giant, all-powerful monster wading through knee-high runoff from the dog food factory? What about a bloke dressed as a giant, all-powerful monster attempting to navigate a discount furniture warehouse wearing really uncomfortable shoes? No? Didn't think so, but here's Godzilla anyway. May it return to its thousand-year slumber at the bottom of the ocean just in time for another BP oil spill.

Third Blandest Edit

A textbook case of a franchise in holding pattern while it figures out what to base itself around now it's taken out the funbags, Rise of the Tomb Raider. I look forward to the next installments: Beginnings of the Tomb Raider, Induction of the Tomb Raider, Tentative Steps of the Pubescence of the Tomb Raider, after which of course comes the reboot.

Second Best Edit

You know I don't ask much of games, just a good central mechanic and a game world roughly 180,000 light years in diameter. What I like about Elite: Dangerous (title drop) is that it's not insecure like some of these other jerks. It's not worried you'll piss off if you can't explode something with lasers every four nanoseconds. Kick back, fly around, be alone with your thoughts in the depths of the infinite, then when you do explode someone with lasers, it still feels special. Wouldn't you agree, Mister dissipating-remains-of-a-pirate?

Second Worst Edit

Number 2 Worst is not only a barely-playable, unfinished, horribly-designed liter of cold wee-wee, but one that got poured down the trousers of one of PC gaming's oldest franchises, soaking the knickers of its proud legacy of one, arguably two sort-of good games; Alone in the Dark: Illumination. I can only presume they made it multiplayer-focused on the principle of a problem shared being a problem halved. But even if you split the cold piss between you, you're just ruining two pairs of trousers.

Second Blandest Edit

What rundown of mediocrity would be complete without a visit to the series that must now legally credit the Microsoft Word find-and-replace tool as the lead designer? With Syndicate, Assassin's Creed has dribbled its way to a standstill like a camel with a leaky hump. And not the good kind of leaky hump.

Most Best Edit

No sense being coy, it's Undertale, the darlingest of 2015's indie darlings. Which I haven't reviewed properly, 'cause it really is best experienced from knowing as little as possible, not unlike a leaky hump. The basic appearance hides a deep narrative that manages to be funny and touching without horrifically derailing itself, as well as the kind of unique and deconstructive gameplay that actually makes an impact on the medium. Unlike the following:

Morst Worst (sic) Edit

Well, in fairness, it did have some impact, that being the impact of Sony's hand against its forehead as they muttered, "Christ, what the fuck were we thinking?" Where do you start on The Order: 1886, the werewolf game with, like, three werewolves in it, that took all the potential of its setting and fired it out of drab, tedious cover-shooter gameplay, with a plot that just sort of gave up and cut off halfway through? Well, I don't know where to start, but I know where to stop - when the hacksaw blade gets lodged in the pelvic bone!

Blandy Blandest Edit

Poor old 343 Industries, they tried so hard to make Halo 5 interesting. They played at Master Chief being hunted for crimes, and then his crime was, like, one notch below an unpaid parking ticket. They bring Cortana back to life, and that had all the impact of finding a rotting Malteser under a beanbag chair. There's only so much you can do with the material, I suppose. It's like trying to paint a masterpiece with used bathwater on a canvas of dryer lint. In a house made of bog roll. In Swindon.

Addenda (Undertale) Edit

Addenda Edit

  • Bland on the Run: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • Well done planet Earth for getting through another year without exploding, fingers crossed for at least one more
  • BE SURE TO LET ME KNOW HOW BAD I AM AT OPINIONS
Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells · Fifth Console Generation · The End is Nigh, and Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles · Pyre · Splatoon 2 · Hellblade · Agents of Mayhem · Sonic Mania · Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle · Destiny 2 · Metroid: Samus Returns
Q4 Knack 2 and SteamWorld Dig 2 · Cuphead · Hob and A Hat in Time · Middle-earth: Shadow of War · The Evil Within 2 · Super Mario Odyssey · Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus · Assassin's Creed Origins

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