Another great year needs to be followed by another set of great awards…even if everyone won't agree. 🙂

2015 was a year of more delays but thankfully, the titles we did get were pretty darn good.

Choosing the Game of the Year title was basically impossible, while other categories required a whole lot of head-scratching. I checked in with a few other people behind the scenes to get their thoughts on these awards, so no, I'm not the only one responsible for handing out the hardware this year. But you know, that didn't really make things any easier.

And why? Because you wish you could honor all the great games! Here we go:

Achievement Awards

Best Graphics


Winner: The Order: 1886

Say what you want about the game itself, but nobody is going to deny that the visual presentation in The Order: 1886 is absolutely astounding. This stellar presentation excelled in just about every area, from character design to environmental detail to animation and special effects. Believe it or not, the strongest competitor was actually Star Wars: Battlefront but as we didn't find the overall map design – which we count in the Graphics category – to be anything special, the brilliance and realism of The Order just had to be the winner.

Best Music


Winner: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

This was one of the most difficult categories in 2015. With Austin Wintory helping out on that epic and sweeping Assassin's Creed Syndicate score, the haunting greatness of Bloodborne 's music, the memorable emotion of the Everybody's Gone to the Rapture soundtrack… But in the end, the score that continued to impress in just about every way, throughout the entire adventure, was found in the excellent Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain . Outstanding from front to back and beautifully orchestrated to fit the theme and style, we simply couldn't pass it over.

Best Sound Effects


Winner: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Another difficult category but once again, we kept coming back to the brilliant sound design in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain . The authenticity, coupled with the near-flawless balancing of effects and soundtrack, is what made MGSV the perfect game for a high-line set of headphones. There's no more intense and riveting experience than infiltrating a compound swarming with security measures, and it's partly because of the amazing sound. Those who don't believe sound doesn't have a tremendous impact on player immersion just aren't paying enough attention.

Best Acting


Winner: Batman: Arkham Knight

Lots of games these days have top-flight acting, which is why it's getting harder and harder to pick a winner in this category. This year, we went with the stellar voice performances we all enjoyed in Batman: Arkham Knight . Led by an accomplished and even star-studded cast, it's not merely the quality of each performances that stands out; it's also the incredible variety . Each character is so wildly different from the next, and this is really the factor that allowed this particular cast to stand head-and-shoulders above the admittedly stiff competition.

Best Writing/Story


Winner: Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

Some fantastic stories this year but after a lot of thought, we concluded that while The Witcher 3 was great, it was only the second half that made it shine, and Life is Strange suffered from the occasional awkward scene. The game that made us think, that was so wonderfully polished from a narrative standpoint, was The Chinese Room's Everybody's Gone to the Rapture . Told incrementally, via mere glimpses of shadows, snippets of phone conversations, and ultimately surreal and highly philosophical in nature, this narrative was supremely impressive. Those with a penchant for intelligent, layered stories should appreciate it.

Best Artistry/Art Direction


Winner: Assassin's Creed Syndicate

Gotta love ingenious art direction; it just brings a virtual world alive. We saw plenty of great examples of artistic achievement in 2015 but none really wowed us like Victorian-era London, brought to gorgeous virtual reality in Assassin's Creed Syndicate . The costumes, city design, and general ambiance, with attention paid to every minute detail, was all worth lauding, which is no real surprise. This franchise has been a bastion of creative and imaginative achievement since its inception; this is how you create a historical homage!

Best Character


Winner: Ciri, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Lots of top-tier characters this year and people can argue all day about their favorite. But this is more about the one character that seemed so essential to the narrative, that it's impossible to imagine the game without them, that you can't imagine what the experience would've been like without their impact.

That honor falls to the new character in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt , Ciri. She is whom Geralt would die to protect, and extremely important to the safety of the entire world…but you have no idea why for the longest time. And after being shrouded in mystery, she explodes onto the scene with a personality and style all her own, and she really steals the spotlight toward the end of the adventure.

Most Addictive


Winner: Fallout 4

You hear it everywhere you go: "I can't fu***** stop playing Fallout 4 !" It's the game that gets under your skin, makes you dream about it at night, and causes the hours to slip away like water down a drain. Hopefully, you didn't get as hooked as this poor sap but chances are, if you love Bethesda's acclaimed RPG, you've had sessions that have extended far beyond your standard play time. And that's what unbelievably addictive games do.

Most Original/Innovative


Winner: Teslagrad

If you missed it, this was the compelling (yet somewhat flawed) game that centered on the laws of magnetism and expanded on those concepts for the sake of interactive enjoyment. Aptly named, of course, and filled with intriguing puzzles and captivating gameplay, Teslagrad will remind you that really innovative ideas can – and often are – found in small packages. By the way, my objection to Rocket League was that we saw the idea in the game's 2008 predecessor, Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars .

Most Overlooked


Winner: Life is Strange

Each chapter was well-received and many praised it to high heaven. But whether it was because it was an episodic title, spread out through the course of 2015, or because it was a more niche, story-driven experience, Life is Strange just never seemed to get enough attention. It barely registered a blip in the press after the first episode rolled out earlier in the year, and only received some minor headlines when each subsequent episode arrived. Perhaps the publisher should've considered running another ad campaign once all episodes became available.

Most Underrated


Winner: The Order: 1886

It came down to The Order: 1886 and Assassin's Creed Syndicate . Frankly, the latter's greatness wasn't appreciated by far too many critics (critics either using far too much subjectivity to evaluate the game, or critics stuck in the past, thinking this AC was exactly like Revelations or something).

However, it still wasn't as bad as the backlash the PlayStation 4 exclusive received, and for no real reason beside the fact that we've become an industry that abhors linearity. And as we also tend to associate length with quality (another illogical mistake), it was a double whammy for a game that should've received far more praise.

Most Anticipated Game


Winner: The Last Guardian

For the record, several titles from 2014 are actually on the list again, due to delays ( Uncharted 4: A Thief's End and Final Fantasy XV ). And while we're always tempted to give it to Uncharted 4 , we already know what to expect, don't we? Brilliance and nothing less. However, when it comes to The Last Guardian , a game that we thought was dead but reappeared at E3 2015 , it has to top the most anticipated list.

This could be the masterpiece to end all masterpieces or it could be a disaster, kinda long the long-awaited and ill-fated Duke Nukem Forever . And yeah, it might not come out in 2016 (no one expects it to, really) but whenever it shows up, we'll all be on the edges of our seats…

Platform and Genre Awards Ahead!!!

Platform and Genre Awards

Best Vita Game


Winner: OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood

Even though we we reviewed it on PS4 , the Vita version of the Olliwood sequel is just so unbelievably fun, it's hard to even describe. Both ultra-challenging and crazy addictive, the game that has a straightforward and even simplistic concept continues to drag you back into world of pixelated skateboarding goodness. The original was solid but the sequel is bigger and more refined, and it's perfect for the handheld market. If you're looking for something to do on that long commute in, just load this up and have a blast!

Best PSN/Indie Game


Winner: Bastion

Even though it originally released back in 2011, Bastion wins this category for two reasons: 1. 2015 marks the first year it lands on a PlayStation platform, and 2. It's just that good. Featuring a fantastic narrator, tight and addictive gameplay, and an overall structure and style that is at once charming and immersive, this is an incredible achievement. People have been singing the praises of this particular gem for years and now, we've finally got the chance to add our voice to the mix. Well-deserved indeed.

Best PS4 Game


Winner: Bloodborne

In this category, we're generally looking for the best PlayStation 4 exclusive of the year, but thanks to Activision's deal with Sony, anything related to Destiny gets a nod, and Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is just too good to omit. But it doesn't really matter because this year, the winner is easy: Bloodborne . Challenging, addictive, fantastically conceived and executed, this title made a great many gamers thankful to be PS4 owners. And that's precisely what we want from the Best PS4 Game.

Best Multiplayer Game


Winner: Call of Duty: Black Ops III

It's too bad that the campaign didn't quite live up to expectations, but the game's multiplayer was never in question. Call of Duty: Black Ops III once again blew away the competition in terms of multiplayer entertainment, offering the tightest, most dynamic online matches of the year, due in large part to those wildly diverse Specialists. CoD continues to take strides in the area of competitive multiplayer, whether we hate it or not. And by the way, Battlefront 's lack of customization and depth took it out of the running, in case you're a big "Star Wars" fan.

Best Re-Release


Winner: Resident Evil HD Remaster

Uncharted has always been fantastic and DmC: Devil May Cry was great when it first launched, too. The later releases that arrived this year tweaked and improved a little, but the most drastic and impressive overhaul achievement of the year has to go to Resident Evil HD Remaster .

When you're remastering such an old game, the hurdles are many and Capcom's team did a great job updating this horror classic. It's certainly true that nostalgia must play some role in order for you to forgive lingering archaic issues, but there's still no comparison between the original and this vastly updated iteration. And that's really the point of a remaster, isn't it?

Best Sports/Racing Game


Winner: Rocket League

We actually had several great sports games this year; both FIFA and Madden really put their best foots forward (no pun intended). But strangely, everything seems to pale in comparison to the wildly popular and endlessly entertaining Rocket League .

It does have to qualify as a "sports/racing" game, I suppose, but its unique concept aside, it's one of the most inspired and competitive titles in existence. There's something about the ceaselessly flying pace, the oddly intense matches, the split-second saves, etc. It just never gets old and strictly from a sports standpoint, it's the "sport" I'd definitely tune in to watch. No, seriously.

Best Role-Playing Game


Winner: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

There are a great many who will say Fallout 4 but for our money, there's no more epic role-playing experience in 2015 than The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt . Not only was it the only RPG of the year with a story we really loved – and one that felt cohesive and fully realized, with well-defined and interesting characters – but its structure was both unique and surprisingly accessible.

Designed to be both massive yet inviting, and still offering every last ounce of depth role-players could want, CD Projekt Red's stunner is indeed the best of the best. And don't forget that it also somehow managed to appeal to more casual players, a feat most RPGs can't manage.

Best Fighting Game


Winner: Mortal Kombat X

This one was easy. We didn't see a lot of heavy hitters in the fighting category this year (still waiting on Street Fighter V and Tekken 7 !), so the winner is definitely Mortal Kombat X . It's yet another excellent installment in the now-rejuvenated franchise, as everyone from long-time franchise aficionados to newcomers appear to love the experience. And it also helps that developer NetherRealm wasn't shy about delivering a horde of extra content.

Best Shooter


Winner: Destiny: The Taken King

Black Ops III 's multiplayer was unparalleled but the campaign sort of let us down; Battlefront kinda felt like the kiddie version of a true-blue online competitive game. Evolve was great but didn't really have quite enough long-standing punch. And yet, everyone seems to love that massive expansion for Destiny .

The Taken King added an awful lot of content and got a lot of players who had previously ditched the game to take it up again. Reviews were sky-high and Bungie has been very proactive about improving the experience with every passing week, issuing more content, community events, etc. And yeah, this is a PlayStation site and it does help that we've gotten a few exclusive goodies on the PS4. 😉

Best Action/Adventure Game


Winner: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Despite the competitiveness in this category, we always knew it had to go to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain , which is another insta-classic by Kojima and Co. An updated and expanded version of the MGS we all know and love, with unbelievable characters and a plethora of gameplay possibilities, it's hard to conceive of a more technically impressive or more involving and absorbing adventure. We have no idea what Kojima will do next but we do know that this series will never be the same without him.

Best New IP


Winner: Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

This was an extremely difficult selection. Typically, we want to go with a new IP that has a good chance of becoming a fresh series, but we're not seeing much of that this year. And there are a few that are questionable; as I said before, Rocket League is very close to its 2008 predecessor and as great as Bloodborne is, it still smacks of obvious Dark Souls influence. It is different, which is why it was nominated, but the best of the new titles this year has to be Everybody's Gone to the Rapture . With an unmatched story in 2015 and an atmosphere that is just downright mesmerizing, this is precisely the kind of interactive entertainment we wish got more support (and hopefully, it won't die).

Best Non-PlayStation Game


Winner: Rise of the Tomb Raider

It's the one game we really wish had come to PlayStation 4 this year. It hurts all the more to know that it's basically a better and more refined version of the title we loved back in 2013. And obviously, there are lots of fantastic titles that never came to a PlayStation platform in 2015 and as I didn't get a chance to play all of them, I can't say for sure if Lara's new adventure is my favorite. I can say, however, that after getting a chance to play it in the past week, it's exactly what most Tomb Raider fans want and I can't wait to see the Definitive Edition – or whatever they plan to call it – when the game finally does hit PS4 later in 2016.

Special: The PSXE Favorites

Once again, there are plenty of games to play. The ones we particularly liked are listed here, whether they surprised us or simply hooked us with their quality and/or infinite replayability. There's typically a pretty diverse sampling, although I suppose those at the top of the list would be Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain , Rocket League , Everybody's Gone to the Rapture , Bastion , The Order: 1886 and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt . Sometimes, it feels like there are simply too many top-tier games to try and finish in any given year…

PSXE Community Choice for Game of the Year 2014


Winner: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

It was close both weeks but after two rounds of voting, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has earned the PSXE Community Choice for Game of the Year 2015. Both Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Bloodborne gave CD Projekt Red's title a run for its money but in the end, the majority agreed that Geralt's remarkable tale is the best of the year. Now, last year, we agreed with the community, selecting Dragon Age: Inquisition as the overall GotY. Will we agree again? Or have we gone a different direction? Will there be a surprise…? Let's find out.

Game of the Year Award Ahead!!!

Game of the Year


Winner: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt


But here's the thing: Up until a very short time ago, this award was going to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain . It seemed only right. Perhaps technically and when dissected, MGSV is the better overall game. That being said, other considerations worked their way in at the last minute.

We had some question as to whether or not The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt should win overall Game of the Year; as you can see, it only earned an 8.7 score when it launched. Every other game nominated for the award scored higher; MGSV significantly so. After all, CD Projekt Red released an unstable product, which required a half-dozen patches over the span of several months to really fix. We don't believe we should be rewarding this sort of unfortunate trend. At the same time, the counter argument is that the game is fixed, it's as solid as can be right now, and we should be evaluating the products as they stand as of December 31, 2015, and not nailing them in place when they launch.

There's good logic to that. On top of which, hindsight is always 20/20 and we started to realize that in looking back at MGSV, a lot of fans – like, a lot – were starting to say things like, "well, it was great but it just didn't feel like MGS," or, "it's an awesome game but I just couldn't finish it for some reason." There is a marked departure from previous series iterations and perhaps its biggest downfall is that for the first time in the IP's history, the story actually takes a backseat as opposed to being the headliner. This is really what irked long-time fans and in truth, it annoyed us as well. Open-world and freedom has been the bane of the great interactive story's existence in this industry.

On the flip side, The Witcher 3 delivered absolutely everything we could've hoped for. It was every bit as epic as anticipated, it had all the depth and fantastical flair most RPG lovers appreciate, and it did have a fully realized story that, despite all our wandering and the game's massive size, never really disappeared into the background. Toss in the generation's single best expansion to date and you've got a game that just plain shines. It's the RPG, in our estimation. And as for Fallout 4 , there are numerous detractors out there and while we don't agree (it's an excellent title), it just doesn't have the same impact in our eyes.

Well, that's it for this year. Here's hoping 2016 is the year to end all years!

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