DICE's long-awaited addition to the beloved Star Wars Battlefront series just about made it onto this list, because while it's not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, it lacks the wealth of content players had expected from a game they'd been waiting for since 2006.
With demo footage of Free Radical Design's canned Battlefront III project having littered the Internet over the past few years, it was clear that the now-defunct developer was planning to create the largest Battlefront yet, complete with ground-to-air space battles and a unique single-player story mode set within the Star Wars universe. This meant that when DICE cut the cord on their own Battlefront, which features just four maps on which to play the game's best mode, Walker Assault, many were left feeling as though they'd been handed a half-finished vehicle for DLC.
It's a shame, too, because Battlefront is a blast to play, with DICE having created an accessible shooter that serves as a fun distraction from the plethora of competitive FPS games available on the market. Unfortunately, it's not the feature-packed game that we were looking for, and is a very enjoyable but ultimately hollow experience.
The 2011 Mortal Kombat game significantly upped the stakes for fighting games. While Street Fighter IV was still the poster-child of the genre, Mortal Kombat 9 (as it is now known) featured a campy but genuinely engrossing story mode that neatly covered the entirety of the series' plot up until that point, before embarking upon its own path with a tale of time travel and, as you'd expect, plentiful amounts of gore. It was packed to the rafters with modes and things for the player to do/unlock outside of the main one-on-one matches, and it says an awful lot about its quality that even a woeful netcode couldn't prevent it from becoming one of the most beloved fighting games in recent years.
Excitement for its successor Mortal Kombat X was high, then, but within a few weeks of its release it seemed as though the majority had forgotten about it, despite it garnering relatively positive reviews and a favorable initial reception from its players.
Upon reflection, it's easy to point out a number of reasons as to why MKX failed to make the same kind of impact as MK9. For one, the story mode - this time based upon almost entirely new ideas as opposed to the retreading of events we witnessed in MK9 - devolved into tedium far too soon, mainly focusing upon a group of new characters who lacked the off-the-wall charm of the series' veteran members of its roster.
Add to this the same netcode issues following launch and an awful PC port, and you have a disappointing entry in a series that looked like it was going to continue moving on to brighter and better things.
Moving the Battlefield series from military warfare to the "war on crime," Battlefield: Hardline's campaign mode tackles its rather touchy subject matter with about as much subtlety as a sledgehammer to the skull, its characters addressing civil unrest with guns, guns and more guns.
Not that you'd expect anything different from an FPS story, but Hardline's proved to be exceptionally woeful, combining the dull checkpoint-to-checkpoint shooting of previous Battlefield campaigns with a plot that becomes laughable almost as soon as you load it up.
But the multiplayer is where most Battlefield fans aimed to spend the majority of their time, and while there were a few new game modes that were worthy additions to the series, there wasn't enough to court players away from the mainline entries in the franchise, and certainly not enough to constitute Hardline being considered anything other than a forgettable FPS solely intended as a stop-gap until Battlefield 5 rolls around.
Pre-release footage of Mad Max suggested that it was shaping up to be a licensed game that would do justice to its source material in a similar fashion to Rocksteady's take on Batman, but although the open-world desert environment we got to explore in the finished product was undeniably gorgeous, playing through Avalanche Studio's take on the post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland was underwhelming.
We had naturally assumed that the vehicular combat was going to be the best part of Mad Max, given the amount of weight publisher Warner Bros. Interactive put behind it as its biggest selling point, and we were right. But everything built around these often thrilling, destructive car-based chases felt shallow and not befitting of the film series it's attached to.
The game's hand-to-hand combat was derivative of the Batman: Arkham series, offering an extra layer of brutality to the formula but negating it by adding in some unresponsiveness, too, while NPCs swiftly give up on giving you entertaining objectives, forcing you to embark upon rudimentary missions throughout its mostly empty world.
Mad Max is a great deal of fun for its first few hours in which you're still getting acclimatized to its open world, but after these opening hours you've seen the vast majority of what the game has to offer, and slogging through its on-foot sections to reach the intense vehicular sections served to make it more "Mundane Max" than Mad Max.
The rhythm-action genre had been stagnant for quite a long time, before both Activision and Harmonix announced that their respective Guitar Hero and Rock Band series would be making a comeback in 2015. While we all grew out of love with plastic instruments in the late 2000's, there was a vocal audience waiting for their return, and this year both games went head-to-head in order to vie for our attention.
While Activision introduced Guitar Hero Live, with it boasting an impressive set list and a visual overhaul that incorporated live crowds over the series' typical cartoonish 3D models, Harmonix merely decided to tread water with Rock Band 4, making few innovations whilst simultaneously providing an underwhelming library of songs.
Considering Rock Band and Guitar Hero were forced to take a lengthy hiatus due to fans of both series becoming burnt out by their stagnant formula, that Harmonix decided to forego making any major improvements to its series was disappointing. Rock Band 4 is still an enjoyable game for those who are familiar with the series (and who would therefore have access to a library of songs from previous Rock Band games), but it failed to do anything other than the minimum amount required of it to warrant a new addition to the franchise.
We've had to endure Activision telling us that their latest Tony Hawk game is a return to form for the series on many occasions, and each time we almost fall for it. When Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 was announced, then, we were skeptical but optimistic - they couldn't release another awful Tony Hawk game, could they?
But they did. THPS5 was an undisputed mess and an insult to the once-great legacy of the series, with it attempting to take Pro Skater "back to its roots" by incorporating logic-defying physics and painfully ugly visuals, as if those were the features of old Tony Hawk games that we missed so dearly.
THPS5 will be regarded as one of, if not the worst major release of this year, and further insult was added to injury when it was revealed that Activision had likely released the game because it was their last shot at making a Tony Hawk game before their licensing deal expired.
How do you follow up on one of the most beloved indie games of all time? You release a sequel that focuses upon its least interesting component, according to Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number developers Dennaton Games.
The original Hotline Miami was essentially an arcade game, focused upon encouraging its players to obtain the highest possible score until they could successfully progress through its incredibly challenging levels with an almost superhuman level of accuracy. After spending only a few hours with the game, many fell in love with it by virtue of its tough-but-fair learning curve, which steadily introduced the player to the game's mechanics whilst slowly turning them into a virtual killing machine, allowing them to transform each level into a neon bloodbath by taking out enemies in a series of balletic but gruesome movements. Hotline Miami 2 did away with all that, though, and instead focused upon delving into the series' story.
While Hotline Miami's plot was interesting, this was largely due due to how it remained hidden behind a veil of intrigue. Players could search out fan theories online if they wanted to delve further into it, but for the most part, the majority didn't have a clue what was going on by the time they had completed it. Hotline Miami 2 attempted to tie up those loose ends, but in doing so lost sight of what made the original so fun to play. Gone were the compact levels which could be completed by a trained hand within a couple of minutes, with Dennaton replacing them with levels that were far too large and dense with enemies. This meant that the game's addictive gameplay eventually gave way to frustration, which was emphasized in its appalling Hawaii-based levels, which threw a spanner into the works of the game's core mechanics by introducing a character that could only pick up one weapon and was forced to replenish his ammo at every turn.
Hotline Miami 2 was full of these weird, new additions that caused it to be significantly less enjoyable than its predecessor, and it was baffling that Dennaton had decided to develop its gameplay around their convoluted story, rather than vice versa.
Evolve was one of the most heavily anticipated games of the entire year, and the first true big-hitter of 2015. An asymmetrical competitive multiplayer game developed by Left 4 Dead creators Turtle Rock Studios, all signs pointed to this being the next big IP, and the robust L4D online community couldn't wait to get their hands on it.
But then came the news of publisher 2K Games and Turtle Rock's unprecedented level of DLC for Evolve, pushing it as a conduit for siphoning more money out of players rather than a fully-fledged game in its own right. People who had been looking forward to its release were understandably disheartened, but further DLC packs, additional characters, skins and maps continued to be marketed relentlessly over content that would appear in the base game.
When Evolve was finally released, it came as little surprise that the finished product was notably lacking in content. While the base game was fun, if repetitive, it became clear that suspicions of it had seemingly been correct, and its player base swiftly dissolved leading to its premature death at the hands of a rapidly decreased community.
Heralded as Sony's next big exclusive IP, The Order: 1886 released on a tidal wave of pre-release excitement, more or less solely off the back of its jaw-dropping graphics. When the game released we were left to contend with the fact that, yes, it was the best-looking console game we had seen to date, but that the game tucked away behind its handsome face was far from beautiful.
The Order: 1886 played like a tech demo intended to showcase the PS4's performance capabilities, with every other facet of it being overlooked in the process. Unfortunately, after picking your jaw up off the floor upon seeing how fantastic it looks, no amount of realistic facial hair physics can distract you from the thoroughly mundane cover-based shooting you'll be forced to endure throughout its duration. Even the addition of werewolves can't make it any less boring.
After the Arkham series experienced a brief dip in quality when Rocksteady handed over the reins to Warner Bros. Games Montréal for Batman: Arkham Origins, many naturally assumed that their return to the series in Batman: Arkham Knight would be a surefire game of the year contender. Unfortunately, that was not to be the case, as Rocksteady jumped the shark (and unfortunately forgot to pack their Shark Repellent Bat-Spray whilst doing so) in the concluding chapter of their trilogy, releasing their weakest entry in the series.
Batman: Arkham Knight had all the components to make a great Batman game. The city of Gotham was more well-realized than ever before, perfectly emulating its dimly-lit streets and gothic landmarks in an open-world that, whilst not exactly bustling with activity, was certainly an improvement over both Arkham City and Arkham Origin's respective cracks at the whip. The combat also remained as smooth as ever, and the (spoilers) introduction of The Joker as an indicator of Batman's deteriorating mental state was a genuinely surprising twist, which saw Rocksteady refraining from sullying Arkham City's finale whilst also ensuring that the Rogue Gallery's most famous inductee wasn't entirely absent from the story.
However, there were so many glaring flaws with Arkham City presenting themselves at almost every turn that its enjoyable aspects became nullified, with Rocksteady seemingly determined to wear the player down through a series of tedious Batmobile segments, incredibly frustrating tank battles and a plot which boasted the Scarecrow as its main antagonist, yet failed to do anything meaningful with him other than in the game's final stretch.
Batman: Arkham Knight is our most disappointing game of 2015, and we hope that the next developer to take over the Batman license will learn from Rocksteady's key mistake: bigger doesn't necessarily mean better, and when fans demand Batmobile segments in their Batman game, they don't know what they're talking about.