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Special Achievement Awards 2015

The 2015 Special Achievement Awards

Check out our list of the best games of 2015 that didn't quite make our final top 25 this year.

GameSpot's countdown of the year's 25 best games starts tomorrow, beginning from 25 and going all the way down to number one (and our Game of the Year). In a year packed with outstanding game experiences, trust us when we say that culling the list down to only 25 inclusions was a tough task. There were plenty of games that several GameSpot editors loved, but for one reason or another they didn't make the cut. So rather than just leave these great games aside, we've collated the below list to recognise these impressive performers. They may not have made our Top 25, but all of these games gave us something special in 2015.

Best Star Wars Experience Before The Force Awakens Comes Out

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Winner: Star Wars Battlefront

Star Wars Battlefront is the game you're looking for to get amped for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It may lack depth for hardcore players and can feel a little light on content, but it captures the feeling and tone of Star Wars expertly. The franchise's iconic sights and sounds--everything from the whoosh of a lightsaber to whine of a tie fighter--are represented faithfully in DICE's shooter. Pushing back those Rebel scum on the forest moon of Endor and taking down an AT-AT on icy Hoth feels great. Let's hope Disney's new film follows suit. -- Eddie Makuch

Best Game You Shouldn't Play in Front of Your Parents

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Winner: Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number

You might be wondering what games to show off to your parents (or maybe even grandparents) if you're heading home for the holidays. Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, a great game that we generally like a lot, is probably not the one you should choose. Here's why: the top-down shooter is very violent, so much so that Australia banned it from release in the country. Maybe pick something more universally palatable to play in front of your family and keep Hotline Miami 2 for when you need a break. -- Eddie Makuch

Best Monster Hunter Game You Probably Still Didn't Play

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Winner: Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

You probably ignored Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate this year, supposing that, like every previous version of the game, it would be another tedious-to-learn experience. A game that is unplayable by all but the most hardcore of the hardcore. But you'd be wrong. The latest version of Monster Hunter is not only the most approachable the series has ever been, it's also the most fun. To reach the upper echelons of Monster Hunter prowess, you need to have the same kind of resolve that empowers Dark Souls and Bloodborne players (and, as an aside, Monster Hunter is also a perfect complement to those two brutally difficult series). But for everyone who hasn't given the game a chance yet, or thinks it's just more of the same, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is waiting to surprise you. -- Justin Haywald

Best Game to Show You "Get It"

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Winner: The Beginner's Guide

The Beginner's Guide is a game about making games. The Beginner's Guide is a game that explores the intersecting lives of two game developers. The Beginner's Guide is a study of how developers interact with the audience. No matter what its actually about, one of the best things about the deeply engaging The Beginner's Guide is its willingness to be obtuse, to not spell out its intentions in clear ways. This is a game that sparks conversation, and if you're a fan of titles that make you look at "games" in a new way, then The Beginner's Guide is a must. -- Randolph Ramsay

Best Multiplatform Game That's Actually Better on Consoles

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Winner: Batman: Arkham Knight

Firing on all cylinders, Arkham Knight takes the series’ promise of letting players "become the Batman" to new euphoric heights. Its freeflow combat empowers you to effortlessly crush crowds of thugs. It challenges you to think like an apex predator striking from the shadows. It makes you become a force of nature, tearing around the city in a car loaded with gadgets so cool they’d make Xzibit jealous. In a year where the majority of PC games were either on par with or elevated above their console counterparts, Batman: Arkham Knight on PC was a tragic outlier; a game so crippled by issues that it spent much of the year unplayable and forced its publisher to offer full refunds to those who purchased it. To really be the Batman, you had to be on PS4 or Xbox One. -- Tamoor Hussain

Best Reason to Charge Your Vita

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Winner: Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines

As we mentioned in our write-up of 2015's best Vita games, this was by no means a banner year for Sony's underserved handheld. Consequently, it wasn't difficult for Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines to rise to the top of the heap. Oreshika wasn't just good by comparison, though; it was actually good in its own right. Its gorgeous implementation of traditional Japanese art makes for a memorable backdrop, and its hereditary system--which essentially allows players to breed an entire familial dynasty--cleverly tweaks the well-worn JRPG formula that too often feels, well, formulaic. As a console exclusive on a chronically neglected console, there's a good chance Oreshika never even popped up on your radar. Consider this our attempt to rescue it from obscurity. -- Scott Butterworth

Best Use of a Dash Button

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Winner: Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

The Chinese Room's narrative adventure places us in Yaughton, a quaint British town recently made devoid of its inhabitants. Over the course of Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, you explore abandoned houses, empty playgrounds, and vacant shops in an effort to make sense of the population's disappearance. The thing is, the whole process takes a while: the default walking speed in Everybody's Gone to the Rapture is painfully slow, while the sprint function--which many discovered after they had beaten the game--actually makes the pace feel normal. The Chinese Room's story is intriguing, and its characters are all convincing. But without the dash mechanic, many of us might not have had the patience to wade through it all. -- Mike Mahardy

Best Conclusion to a Gaming Trilogy

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Winner: Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void

It's been more than five years since the beginning of the Starcraft 2 trilogy, and with Legacy of the Void, Blizzard has created an extremely satisfying ending. The game's overarching story wrapped up in a surprisingly emotional (and exciting) way, while gameplay additions both big and small resulted in Legacy of the Void being the most accessible Starcraft experience in years. -- Randolph Ramsay

Best Game In Our 2015 Special Achievement List Not Actually Released in 2015

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Winner: Captain Toad Treasure Tracker

This year, we're reinstating the rule that all games from 2015 are eligible. But since we left December 2014 out of the running last year, and because Captain Toad is such a great experience, we decided to give it its due this year. Some people in the GameSpot office, those who have incredibly sophisticated tastes and a keen eye for fun gaming, might argue that Captain Toad should be somewhere in Top 10, but making it on our best-of list at all is better than than nothing. -- Justin Haywald

Best Resurrection of a Dead Trend

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Winner (tie): Guitar Hero Live/Rock Band 4

After five long years, the rock has returned! Well, at least in spirit. Neither Rock Band 4 nor Guitar Hero Live managed to blow us away with their long-awaited encores earlier this year, but each still offers some enticing reasons to pick up a plastic peripheral: Rock Band, its creative Freestyle Solos and unbeatable back catalogue, and Guitar Hero, its innovative new approach to rhythm gaming's button-matching gameplay. And new ideas aside, we're honestly just excited to have an excuse to dust off our instruments, sing along with our friends, and piss off our neighbors. -- Scott Butterworth

Best Game Made by One Person

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Winner: Axiom Verge

Indie game developers are commonplace nowadays, but Tom Happ deserves special recognition for Axiom Verge; an impressive game that he created over five years--bit-for-bit, and note-for-note--with his own hands. Beyond his commitment to a vision, Happ deserves credit for another, equally important reason: he built an original game that stands up to his renowned source material, the legendary Super Metroid. Axiom Verge's twisted story and expertly crafted challenges nullify superficial comparisons to the SNES hit, and the game as a whole stands as a model for how a developer can resurrect the spirit of a classic game without succumbing to mere imitation. -- Peter Brown