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Top 5 must-play games of 2015

December 20, 2014
              2015 was an exciting, surprising year in gaming.

While the new consoles found their footing, game creators also had to wrestle with that new hardware. It was a year of triumphs, experiments and some utter fails.

See also: The best mobile games of 2015

As the dust settles, we picked 5 games for consoles and PC worth your time and money.

Watch the video, above, or read the following list to see the titles that delighted us the most with their creativity and execution.

    1. Bayonetta 2

    Sometimes a game hits all the right notes. Great games make you feel truly powerful with each punch of a button, even when the action is moving blazingly fast. That's exactly what Bayonetta 2 achieves, all while giving us a kick-ass heroine who owns camp sexuality tropes and bends them to her will.

    The game is a gluttonous, bombastic wild ride where fighting on the back of planes or beating down angels with swords strapped to your high heels are just part of your day job. It revels in the "video gamey-ness" of the whole neon-colored affair, but without needing to slyly wink and nod to its players. Instead, it whisks you from one incredibly fun fight to the next, on a premise that skirts the ridiculous, but never loses its way -- even when it drags you to hell.

    Bayonetta 2 demands -- with riding crop and all -- that you pay attention to it, and it's finally a glorious reason for the 18 and up crowd to run out and purchase a Wii U.
   
    2. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

    The hearts of fantasy fans have been broken by many a video game adaptation, and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor could have been another notch in that quiver. However, this game creates one of the best interactive adventures Tolkien's worlds have ever seen, a game for die-hard fans and rubes alike.

    Exploring its open world as tortured wraith is fun, but it's the enemies you meet that make the game memorable. Even with the rewarding combat system, you'll come to fear every Orc that learns your name and hunts you.

    It's not so much that Shadow of Mordor broke new ground in gaming, but the fact that it seamlessly integrates so many good ideas into one experience that can't be missed.
  
    3. Far Cry 4

    While Far Cry has always been about a stranger in a strange land being hit with the worst possible outcome, its fourth iteration's tale of insurgence is the most interesting yet.

    As you help wrestle fictional Tibet-mirror Kyrat back from a deposed leader, you'll be pulled into rugged, dangerous world. But the open world will have you voyaging back to Kyrat time and time again. With plenty of tools and challenges, Far Cry 4 is a meaty meal you'll spend time savoring.

    And Far Cry 4 easily has the year's best villain, Pagan Min, and his Bond villain-level diatribes and schemes propel the game beyond generic shooter status.
   
    4. Mario Kart 8

    Somehow Nintendo managed to make games on the little Wii U sing, even if less powerful than its console brethren. Mario Kart 8 is the shining beacon of doing more with less. Not only is one of the best Wii U titles, but it's probably the best Mario Kart game in a long time.


    With winding tracks that confound and delight with each turn, and tight controls that make racing feel good, it's a game we'll be playing long into the years to come -- preferably on a couch full of friends.
   
    5. Super Smash Bros.

    Super Smash Bros. -- Nintendo's fighting game -- has been a system staple since the franchise's first release. But this Wii U iteration feels so fresh, the perfect love letter to competitive fans and casual players.

    With more than 50 characters, new gameplay options and a gorgeous graphical facelift, Super Smash Bros. shines on the Wii U. It's a game that demands to be played with others. Its pocket-sized 3DS sibling is no slouch either, and proved that Nintendo's first foray into handheld Smash Bros. was one worth taking
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