If we were to include last-gen remasters in these lists, then GTA V and TLOU would certainly be in the mix here, but there was new quality to be found in the action genre from fresh (and some familiar) faces. Twists on familiar franchises gave us some spectacular titles, as did letting studios constrained by previous partners run free with their creative ideas. And then there was Nintendo again, stepping in to revive a franchise that no-one wanted, and ultimately delivering what might yet be Game of the Year.
Assassin's Creed: Rogue
What we said: Assassin's Creed: Rogue is much better than Unity. But then it would be, what with it being an Arctic-set sequel to Black Flag that has you romping about the northern seas as a swagalicious Templar. Simply marvellous.
What we said: Bayonetta 2 is mechanically perfect, yet it is also a game that is stuffed with personality and wit and charm and an abundance of ideas and imagery and symbolism that its poor story cannot hope to make sense of or contain. But that's okay -- it is the finest game Platinum have ever made, and the best thing to grace the Wii U thus far.
What we said: In many ways, inFamous: Second Son is a lot like its sales rival Titanfall -- it doesn't do much that's new, but rather refines and polishes and balances everything that came before in expert fashion, providing new little twists and expanding in areas that had the scope for it to deliver a blockbuster experience that rarely lets you down. And that's pretty damn awesome.
What we said: A fantastic start for what we hope will become a fresh Tolkien franchise. There are some solid (if not borrowed) foundations and the Nemesis surpasses our expectations by providing a fresh experience to enemy design. Improvements next time should see a little more variety added to the combat brawls, but you’re going to love taking advantage of an enemy’s weaknesses from afar with the rich range of underhanded subterfuge tactics. Well played, Monolith.
What we said: Sunset Overdrive brings the fun. Though Insomniac's inexperience with open-world games leads to inconsistent mission design and a few oversights, its infectious energy, breathtaking traversal, silly weapons and violently colourful playground make for a brilliant way to blow off steam.
What we said: Watch Dogs has its moments. Interconnected future Chicago is a hacker's playground. You'll infiltrate heavily guarded compounds without even setting foot in the building, leaping between CCTV cameras like a digital ghost. You'll turn car chases into carnage as you detonate sub-street steam pipes and raise bridges, speeding away from pile-ups that would make Elwood Blues doff his fedora.
Winner: Bayonetta 2
We laughed until we cried when we first heard that Bayonetta 2 would be a Wii U exclusive. Here was an undeniably niche game -- an excellent game, but quite possibly the very definition of a niche game -- tethering itself to a rather niche console, it seemed. It's an enormously unlikely sequel in many ways, that now finds itself tethered to the last console we would have chosen for it; but Bayonetta was ever a game that went beyond our wildest dreams and imaginings with its outlandish,outrageous design , and the Best Combat System Ever Made. Ever.
Bayonetta 2 is better.
I've played it through three times already, and I want to play it again right now. I want to summon a giant, demonic unicorn with my hair while dressed as Samus, before rolling around the corpse of my felled, headless nemesis in a Morphball. I want to surf the tunnel of the tsunami that destroyed a city, before flying around the hovering body of the angelic leviathan that summoned it, and poking out the angel's eyes with stilettos bearing giant swords. Again! I want the feeling of fighting that Masked Lumen again, on a higher difficulty level, with different weapons, pitching Bayonetta against an enemy that is more than her equal. And I want to win. Again and again and again -- faster, harder, better. There is no other action game that can elicit the pure joy that comes from such an expertly balanced set of systems set against such a bonkers backdrop.
That's what these past months with Bayonetta 2 have been: pure joy.