Bayonetta 2, Wii U
Exclusive to Wii U, and therefore only available to a small minority of players, Bayonetta 2’s surreal tale of demon-busting is played out in a series of almost indescribably stylish battles involving guns, swords and magic-infused martial arts, rewarding tactics and timing over button-mashing.
Mario Kart 8, Wii U
It has pristine cartoon looks and family-friendly gore-free weaponry, but Mario Kart is one of those games that produces streams of foul-mouthed invective; its races are always incredibly close and prone to heroic reversals of fortune just before the finishing line.
Best driving game
Forza Horizon 2, Xbox One & Xbox 360
Tearing through southern Europe in ludicrously overpowered sports cars is fun, but Forza 2 removes the limitation of roads, letting you plough across country in a game that steadfastly refuses to punish you for anything, instead encouraging greater heights of foolishness.
Alien: Isolation, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3 & PC
Taking its cues from the tense and atmospheric original Alien film rather than its more ammunition-intensive sequels, Isolation puts you on a decaying space station with crazed survivors, calmly murderous androids and a single unutterably deadly alien. A wonderful and terrifying experience.
Best for children
Sago Mini Friends, Android & iOS
Cat, dog, bird, rabbit and friends need your help in a series of familiar scenarios. Ring on a friendly animal’s door and feed them some snacks, help them assemble a model train, dress up or build a nesting box. Charming, text-free joy for under-fives.
Best puzzle game
Monument Valley, Android & iOS
The wordless journey of a small hat-wearing figure through impossible landscapes and architecture, Monument Valley is like an interactive MC Escher drawing, confounding your expectations about perspective as you solve its artfully constructed spacial reasoning puzzles.
Best first-person shoot ’em up
Far Cry 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3 & PC
Hunting wild animals and wily humans through the invented Himalayan kingdom of Kyrat involves discrete skirmishes, which range from interventions to save a couple of rebels from a rabid honey badger to invasions of entire enemy fortresses. Light on innovation but replete with awesome.
Wolfenstein: The New Order, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3 & PC
As well as catering for both stealthy and Rambo-inspired approaches to its meaty, violent face-offs, Wolfenstein: The New Order also blended absurdly over-muscled cartoon characters with a curiously moving, emotionally honest plot. A disarming combination and a great game.
Boom Beach, Android & iOS
The dreaded “freemium” game (which involves paying to unlock additional content) doesn’t have to be a soulless assault on your wallet. Boom Beach, with its honed mix of tower defence and real-time strategy, manages to retain its attraction and fine sense of balance while enthusiastically eating weeks of your life.
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