GAF Games of the Year 2014 - Voting Thread [voting closed]

Status
Not open for further replies.
Feb 11, 2005
814
0
0
1. Towerfall Ascension ; Perfectly crafted blend of old school mechanics with modern gameplay touches. Excels in both co-op mode and vs multiplayer.

2. Grand Theft Auto V ; A great game made better with the power of current gen.

3. Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 ; The best football game in years.

4. Mario Kart 8 ; Beautiful, perfect.

5. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare ; So glad EA gave this away for free.

6. Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition ; I see what all the fuss is about.

7. Binding of Isaac: Rebirth ;
 
Jan 12, 2011
4,315
0
0
Prologue

For me, 2014 was a year of refinement and revision (or at least an attempt at it). The games I enjoyed playing the most traveled familiar roads all while offering adjustments and minor tweaks to tried & true formulas. In some cases, it was for the better. In other instances, particular aspects I valued/appreciated from previous installments were lost due to these alterations. Another aspect I took heavily into consideration this year was if the game provided me with an "Idle Moment". These rare moments occur when I find myself putting the controller down to reflect and think about what I have just seen/experienced on screen. It's typically some sort of cool event/scene that pushes me over the edge and it's almost 100% of the time accompanied by a killer tune. This is somewhat of a personal benchmark I created for myself over the past few years as a way to help me decide which games resonated with me the most during the year. Mid-way through the year, things weren't looking too hot in the idling-department. Fortunately, I had David Young on the case to help me dive into the past and sort out my thoughts!

Episode I: Recollections



1. D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die - Memento - ? - If I had to pick one creator and development team that deserves the most recognition this year, it would have to be SWERY (Suehiro Hidetaka) and his buds at Access Games. Not only do I feel like D4 is SWERY's best game to date, but it's also the best project to come out of his studio. While Deadly Premonition wore its inspiration on its sleeves, D4 is all original and as legit as they come. I truly feel like it's the product and culmination of everything SWERY and company has learned from films and gaming over the years. SWERY, as a director, has really come a long way too. Gone are the shoehorned open world segments and forced 3rd person combat sequences from Deadly Premonition. As fun as those segments were (in a "they're so bad it's good" sort of way), they were not the main reasons why I (and I'm assuming most fans) found the game so appealing. It was the characters, the writing, and the overarching story/narrative that created its cult status amongst the community. With that said, the cast of D4, although clearly stylized, exaggerated and over-the-top, are some of the most relatable and interesting characters I met all year. The story, while a bit more grounded and coherent than DP, still showcases that much expected/desired level of craziness/madness you'd come to expect from someone like SWERY. His overall directing capabilities have also greatly improved as scenes appear to be more professionally framed and shot. The cinematic direction at display shows much growth and the general production levels are higher than anything SWERY & Co. have produced prior to D4. SWERY also somehow managed to capture the essence of a late 90's/early 2000's TV cop-drama, complete with a perfectly executed cast-roll sequence at the start of each episode. It's quite possibly my favorite title-card/introduction scene of all time.



If we're talking refinement from a studio's perspective, Access Games has come a long way too. While the game might not be the most impressive visually, the slick, stylized, almost rotoscope-like art style (think Scanner Darkly) more than makes up for its lack of graphical prowess. It's easily their best looking game to date. The character models and facial animations are also a huge improvement over their older titles. Last, but certainly not least, is the game's incredible soundtrack, which can perfectly be summed up by the Theme of D4. Although my frame of reference is rather limited when it comes to point & click/PC-style adventure games, D4 is the most fun I've had in the visual novel space. While D4 is a highly story-driven experience (complete with some of the best QTEs I've ever experienced), there's still a lot of game-y distractions at your disposal. Whether that's in the form of examining everything and everyone in an area, taking on side missions to further learn about the game's world and characters or by collecting hidden items/medals strewn throughout the environment in order to earn points for purchasable records/costumes, there's always something relatively engaging/interesting to do in-between the core scenarios. While I haven't tried playing the game with Kinect yet, D4 apparently makes the best use of it too, so good job to Access for utilizing the device despite Microsoft sweeping the hardware under the rug.


Idle Moment I - Chilling in David's Apartment, Spinning Some Records, & Tweeting SWERY In Traffic.
Upon clearing the first episode, I decided to purchase a few in-game records. I just wanted to sit, chill and reflect on what I had just seen, as I wasn't emotionally ready to move onto the next episode. Up until that point, the game was just hitting all the right notes for me. It was exactly the kind of game that I was looking for all year. If there was ever a game that released at the "right time" for me, it was D4. So, I just sat there on my couch, spun A String on the record player, and fixed David's perspective on the window looking out to the Boston streets below. I just remember feeling so at ease with everything, watching not only the leaves fall from the tree that's outside David's window, but also outside my own house, as Autumn was fast approaching. A few weeks later, I sent SWERY a tweet while sitting in traffic, telling him something along the lines of "I could sit in David's apartment and look out his window while listening to the title screen music forever" and all he sent back to me was "Perfect". It was a cool moment, like, I got him and he got me. There's just nothing that comes close to the experience I had with D4 and it would be a shame if SWERY doesn't get to conclude this classic-in-the-making. Here's hoping for more "D" in 2015!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------



2. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze - Memento - a charred banana peel - The original Donkey Kong Country Returns was one of my favorite games on the Wii. At the time, I thought the game was nearly perfect, but I never would have expected its sequel to improve on fundamentals in the way that it did. While I was one of the few who became accustomed to the waggle & roll controls in the original (I got all of the Shiny Gold Medals with that scheme back in the day), players were now given the option to use traditional controls, which was very much appreciated. The stages are as masterfully crafted as they were before too. Enemy placement and hazards are designed/triggered in a way that funnels the player through the stage as quickly and efficiently as possible. Like the first game, the time trials are a tribute to the meticulous/deliberate design. More importantly, the stages all housed unique ideas and each stage was the perfect length. Each world also received a much needed thematic coat of paint as this was something I felt that the original game's worlds lacked. If I had to critique the game, however, I feel that the bosses were a little too long-winded and the game was almost a bit too clean. This may sound like a ridiculous observation/complaint, but throw me in the camp that kind of prefers the aesthetic/look of Rare's DK games. The darker, grittier, more rough-around-the-edges-feel of the original trilogy just resonates more with me. Lastly, I can't not talk about the return of David Wise, and with that, we're brought to my second idle moment of the year.


Idle Moment II - Scorched Earth: Ape's Exodus

One of the main reasons why I loved the original DK games as a kid was because of how serious/dramatic their soundtracks could be. Despite being platform games geared towards children, there was always this somewhat dark, almost unsettling undertow at play (also see Kirby). The original DK trilogy had this dirtier/grittier look/feel compared to its contemporaries and David Wise certainly knew how to channel those vibes/aesthetics into his music. Before Tropical Freeze launched, I can recall reading an interview where Wise claimed that he wanted to stray away from those darker tones/sounds that the older games were known for. Well, if this statement was true, he didn't do a very good job because there's some serious fucking tunes up in this shit!

I can clearly recall the night when I first heard Scorch 'N' Torch. It was about a month or so after the game released. I got home late after work, completely exhausted, but felt well enough to play a game. At the time, I was still in the middle of Tropical Freeze, so I figured I'd continue my playthrough. I was enjoying my time with the game and the music was great, but nothing jumped out at me/spoke to me more than my first encounter of stage 3-4. Scorch N' Torch is not only my favorite track in Tropical Freeze, but it could also quite possibly be my favorite Donkey Kong Country music of all time. Between the string/wind instruments at play and the Phil Collins-like drum fills, the song itself has instrumentation in spades. What made me put down my controller was when I heard the sound/sample of what sounded like monkeys in mass exodus of their burning homes. I just couldn't get the image out of my head of primates swinging from tree to tree, scampering through the thick savannah grass, looking for shelter from their blazing wilderness. I don't think I played anything else all year that invoked such wild/vivid imagery. The game could have ended in that level and I think I would have been content. I sat there thinking to myself that night, "I get it, Retro, Wise...that's all I needed to see...".

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------



3. Dark Souls II - Memento - a broken sword hilt - From Software has been one of my favorite developers since the original King's Field. They're a studio I've always felt close to/in-sync with, as far as when it comes to the types of games I wish I could create and the kinds of games that inspire me the most. Although I greatly miss the days when their portfolio was more diverse (see their PS2/GC/Xbox-catalog), they're still more or less doing what they've always been doing. In my opinion, Dark Souls II improved on many aspects of its predecessor. While the game may not be as tightly/densely designed as the original, the areas are still very much competently constructed and they most certainly provide those much sought-after "aha" moments when the player creates a shortcut or discovers a new path. While many may disagree, I found that the instant quick-travel through the use of the bonfires was also very much appreciated. The volume of humanoid enemies/bosses also provided more fun, one-on-one encounters (an area I feel like these games excel most at) as opposed to the assortment of awkwardly sized beasts/monsters found in previous installments.

As far as the combat and game difficulty/balance goes, I will say this...From Software is not an action-game developer. They're RPG-guys. They always have been and they always will be. What's frustrating to me is the fact that they attempt to incorporate action-game elements when they clearly don't know how to do them properly. Whether it's their hit boxes, i-frames on characters, or just how the general enemy AI behaves, they've got a lot to learn and they're clearly not Platinum/Capcom (see Bayonetta and Dragon's Dogma, respectively). Sure, their combat is more satisfying and rewarding than a lot of their competitors, but it's not nearly as good as it could be and it frustrates me that they're not receiving the feedback that they need. Personal differences aside, From did provide me with my third idle moment of the year, so we'll call it even for now...


Idle Moment III - Walking out of Shadow Tower and Stepping Foot onto Evergrace
It took me less than an hour to put down my controller while playing Dark Souls II. That's not because I was disappointed with the game or anything like that. It was those first steps onto Majula that did it for me. Things Betwixt, the starting/tutorial area of Dark Souls II, encapsulates the setting/vibe of the hub area from one of their earlier titles, Shadow Tower Abyss. The branch-like nexus, the weird particles floating in the air, and the disorienting sense of location screams Shadow Tower. Upon leaving this strange place, the player sets foot onto cliffs overlooking an ocean with a setting sun on the horizon. For me, I instantly thought about the location Darius and Sharline stood paying respect to someone who had just passed during the ending of Evergrace, another one of From's earlier titles. It was as if they recreated these areas from their previous works as to say "Hey, we didn't forget where we came from". While I'm sure that may have not been the case, it was my personal take-away from the game and I'd like to think in a way that they did design some of these areas as a homage to what's come before them. Regardless, it was probably the greatest moment I've had with the entire series up until this point.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------



4. Bayonetta 2 - Memento - a faded stiletto heel - Since we're on the subject of refinement and revision, what better game to talk about than Baonyetta 2. All the junk from the original game has either been removed or trimmed down. The in-arguably bad QTE-events are nowhere to be seen and the overly long mini-game segments (those parts Kamiya stubbornly puts into his games that no one honestly enjoys) have been reduced to acceptable lengths. Character/player animations look better than ever and the enemy hit-reactions have received a much appreciated update as well. The game's also been designed in a way in which funnels the player to the combat as quickly as possible, even more so than the original, which is arguably the most important aspect of a character-based action game. With that said, however, I feel like Platinum stripped away a little too much of the fat to the point that it became detrimental to my enjoyment.

Back in 2009, I remember being absolutely obsessed and mesmerized by the The Four Cardinal Virtues. I can recall standing on the edge of the cliff in the very first boss-stage, overlooking the town below, just taking in the sights while listening to that heavenly music. Behind me, Fortitudo awaited in the scorched arena, beckoning me to challenge his divine presence. It was moments like this that Bayonetta 2 completely failed to capture and it was these kind of moments that I truly valued and loved about the original. The game started strong and the chapters based around the water city of Noatun were more of what I was seeking, but the game quickly spiraled in a direction that I wasn't particularly looking for. Furthermore, while I'm all for enemy variety, the game constantly threw encounters and mini-bosses to the point where I couldn't even tell if what I was fighting was a major boss or just another regular battle. I also felt like the how they handled/approached the underworld was a missed opportunity, but that's just one of many bullet points on a laundry list of mini-disappointments.

"WOW"...seems to be the reaction most people have after playing this game. I said the same thing too while playing Bayonetta 2. Only for me, it was more like, "Wow...that's not exactly what I expected...". I was thinking this the entire time, but someone said it in the OT before I did. Bayonetta 2 is the Nightshade of the series. There's nothing really wrong with that statement either. Nightshade is a totally rad game, but it's no Shinobi. Bayonetta 2 just felt more "1.5-ish" to me than the full fledged sequel I expected/wanted it to be. While it's difficult to be so critical on a game with such a rough development history, I just can't help but feel the way I do about Bayonetta 2. Platinum still makes some of my favorite games and Bayonetta 2 is easily one of the best games I've played all year, but at the end of the day, I can't help but to feel disappointed by the whole affair. Back in 2009, Platinum proved a point by releasing one of the best character-based action games of all time; it was the full package, complete with unlockables/modes/features you'd only find through DLC if it were any other game/company. I get it. They need to go above and beyond now. Call it tough love, but I know Bayonetta and Platinum can do even better than this. Here's hoping Scalebound captures more of what I'm looking for from PG.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------



5. Shovel Knight - Memento - a shovel... - There are so few "retro/Indy/throwback" games that do it as well as Shovel Knight. This game had to have been one of the most genuine attempts/efforts in capturing what was so great about games from the golden-era. While Shovel Knight is clearly a love letter to the games that have come before it, it does things well enough on its own to standout amongst the classics. Stages are the perfect length, with new ideas seemingly present on every screen, appropriately layered and built-upon culminating with a creative and fun boss battle. The game itself feels tight and responsive and it just looked and felt the part as well. Virt's and Matsumae's contributions to the soundtrack were fucking awesome too. If I had to critique the game, however, Yacht Club Games could have made better use of the shovel, conceptually. Unless they're saving more fleshed-out ideas for its inevitable "Shovel Knight X" variant, the shovel, from a gameplay perspective, felt underutilized and unrealized. The checkpoint system and the relics could use a few adjustments too, especially the latter. At the end of the day, Shovel Knight was still some of the most legit fun I had all year. It was one of the few games I couldn't stop thinking about either as soon as I shut it off, so it must have done something right.

Next time on..."who really gives a shit?"
A little green buddy and a transformation-less heroine travel on-board an intergalactic cruiser en route to new adventures. Meanwhile, David discovers the closest thing we'll get to a Klonoa 3D and takes a flight to a somewhat questionable, but cool location in Europe in hopes of discovering his past...
 
Apr 26, 2006
19,611
0
1,050
1. Super Smash Bros. Wii U; the best in the series. The excellent feel of melee with the content of brawl

2. Bayonetta 2; excellent follow up, even more over the top amazing than the first

3. Dark Souls 2; not as good as the first two, still a game experience like no other.

4. Watch Dogs; One of my favorite open world games. Interesting new gameplay ideas with some of the best side games and mini games.

5. Shovel Knight; The best indie game, it has Mega Man’s DNA flowing through it and is a blast.

6. Dragon Age Inquisition; Too large an RPG, part masterpiece, part fetch quest filled MMO like RPG.

7. The Evil Within; One of the best horror games of recent years, almost the sequel RE4 deserved.

8. Littlebigplanet 3; issues aside it has the best new gameplay ideas and tools. Sadly short campaign and glitchy.

9. MGS Ground Zeroes; Yup, the gameplay in MGS5 is so amazing that basically a demo of it is one of the best games of this year.

10. Destiny; It has its issues but it maybe the most fun I have had mechanically from a FPS. Super addicting.
 
May 30, 2012
715
0
0
My tastes are as mainstream as they've ever been this year. I've drifted away from the PC almost completely. I bought an Xbox One. I've decided not to buy the other two consoles as I simply don't have the time anymore. I seem to be squarely in the demographic Microsoft must have originally envisioned for their Xbox One customers, in that my couch time is primarily TV watching, Netflix and the odd videogame, in that order.

Anyway, my top 5 of 2014 are as follows:

1. Titanfall - this is the best multiplayer fps I've played, to be honest. Probably as it's the only one I'm even half-decent at. The movement is so much fun, I can hardly go back to older games anymore.

2. Destiny - this game gets hated around here, it seems. But I loved it. If you play it like me (30 mins or so, a couple of times a week), it's very fun and the combat is always engaging. I can see that if you play games hardcore-style, and absolutely blitz through them, then you could well end up out of content very quickly. I haven't had that issue.

3. FIFA 15 - Great fun, I can't be arsed to get into Ultimate Team - but career mode is easily my go-to game. I barely play online too, so the complaints that are thrown at it don't really affect me. Playing the computer, or local 2 player is awesome and that's what I want out of it.

4. Forza Horizon 2 - I really like this. The car handling is great, and the graphics are lovely. Rock-solid framerate too. I'm not normally big on racing games, but this is just arcade enough to hook me in, but not too arcade to leave me behind.

5. Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition - I gotta admit, I'm not the hugest fan of Diablo-type gameplay (especially on PC). But I'm throwing this in there because (a) I didn't really play that many games last year, and (b) the two-player local co-op is great fun. And there aren't enough local two-player games anymore.
 

M76

Banned
Jan 1, 2014
64
0
0
Hu
1. Alien: Isolation; Huge surprise, out of nowhere. I expected nothing like this from CA, this game goes and does everything right. It does right by the franchise, and by the original movie, and it does right by players by being addictive, and long.
2. Dragon Age: Inquistion; The more time I spend with the game, the more I realize that it's not goty material, but still it's addictive and fun. Lots of content, and no re-hashing of dungeons, every environment is completely unique.

That's it, I haven't played any other game released in 2014 that's worthy of being on a best of list, and that tells something about the quality of games being pumped out.

And here are some dishonorable mentions:

x. Watch Dogs - Easily the greatest disappointment I ever had with any game. Sub par graphics, dull world, crap physics and fighting mechanics, all around failure in my eyes. Quality wise it feels like saint's row, but without any of the added fun.

x. Far Cry 4 - It's FarCry 3 all over again, with less content. So they're selling DLCs or expansions as full priced games now? And in the mean time they managed to frack up AMD optimalizations so badly that it's a slideshow even on dual 290x-es.

x. DriveClub. I was all poised and ready to buy my PS4, with DriveClub included, and then came the travesty of no support for most Racing Wheels. But that's only one side of the coin. The graphics in user screenshots came nowhere near the quality expected. In fact I was horrified how bad the game looked in most screenshots.

2014 was a really bad year gamig wise for me, maybe the worst year, since I'm gaming.
 
Sep 26, 2013
6,071
0
0
Fake Europe


1. Bayonetta 2 ; Platinum games showing again how action games should be made. Superb animation, great move sets, varied weapons, great encounter design, awesome boss encounters and fantastic soundtrack. Bayonetta 2 also manages to have good story that also makes story of original Bayonetta better. Just fantastic title in every way.



2. Shovel Knight ; Fantastic old school platformer with tight controls, great level design, challenging and fun boss fights and a amazing soundtrack. Difficulty ramps up steadily and it always feels just enough challenging and it does’t ever feel brutal or cheap. Writing also really good and I actually liked to talk everyone at towns.



3. The Evil Within ; This was supposed to be a game that returns to roots of survival horror. Well it wasn’t. It was fantastic action horror game with great combat and great encounter design. The atmosphere is top notch throughout the game and enemy / boss designs are great. Really great ride from start to finish with the game feeling fresh all the time due to varied locations.



4. Shin Megami Tensei IV ; After a year of US release we finally got this game to EU and the wait was worth it. SMT IV is seriously addictive and great game for 3DS. It is not as hard as its predecessors and has some problems but with really interesting setting and moral choices that aren’t so black and white (easily known which alignment points they give you though) makes this a must have for 3DS.



5. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes ; Yeah this game is really short. That doesn’t change the fact that this game looks stunning, performs really good and is just so much fun to play. Everything about this game just feels so good and makes me want to play it more and more.



6. Dark Souls II ; It is not easy to be a sequel to one of the best games ever made. First impressions about DS2 were disappointing since it wasn’t just more of original Dark Souls. However after a while I realized that it was actually a good thing that it this game was more something of its own rather than an expansion for the old game. There are lot of improvements and some stuff that needs improvement but this game still manages to be a really great Action-RPG and easily one of the better games of 2014.



7. Nidhogg ; I never thought that I would seriously enjoy a game like this as much as I do. This has to be one of the most intense ”fighting” games on the market at the moment with its one hit kills. Great fun with friends and really easy to pick up and play.



8. Mario Kart 8 ; This is first MK game that I actually have played more than few tracks and gotta say that this game is great. Controls feel good, levels are great and visually this game looks incredible. This is one of those pick up and play games that you just can’t stop playing.



9. OlliOlli ; This game could be easily described as a 2D THPS but I still think it is more unique than that with how tricks are done and how there is much more emphasis on perfect landings and grinds. Only thing this game really is missing is the option to import own music. Great title and I highly recommend it for anyone who is a fan of skateboarding games.



10. Transistor ; If I was asked to describe this game in one word my answer would be beautiful. The art style, music and the story are simply just beautiful. Also the skill system has some depth to it with being able to assign every skill to modify other skills or as buffs. Combat is also really fun and addicting after you get the hang of it.

Honorable mentions

x. Dark Souls II: The Lost Crowns ; Didn't want to waste 2 slots on this game so even though I think this DLC is better than the base game it is not on my top 10. Most problems that Dark Souls 2 had were fixed in this expansion set. Better encounter design, more interesting looking enemy design and boss fights were one of the best in the series. Also level design is absolutely amazing as it does lot of interesting things that the base game didn’t do.

x. Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign- ; Guilty Gear is back! I didn't have enough time to play this to put it on my top ten but my impressions so far have been positive. Game looks really good and plays well.

x. Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc ; Eventhough I was somewhat dissapointed with this game it fills the empty hole that is the need for ZE3. This game has lot of interesting cases but in my opinion the class trials have too much game in them. Definitely worth checking out for fans of ZE and Ace Attorney series.
 
Jan 1, 2011
27,453
1
0
hey remember that time you posted a list nocturnowl

good times
in 2013
Now now, this is partly your fault. See I was unprepared for you to seemingly tap into my brain, rob my thoughts on the likes of Mario Kart 8 and Tropical Freeze to such a degree that some of my entries would come across like the less impressive 30 FPS handheld port edition (albeit with bonus content).
Then Neiteio went and did it as well leaving me a husk, the lesson here is to not wait until the last minute to finish my list.

All that said I'm wrapping things up today.

What's up with writing such a long post if you know it's not going to be counted anyway?
He'll likely have the correctly formatted list in his second post going by past double post entries.
 
Jun 9, 2011
16,646
0
0
www.neogaf.com
Now that I have a Bone, and the lady friend really liked Deadly Premonition, I guess I'll have to check out D4. I'll keep an open mind :p

And still more proof I need to rent Tropical Freeze again and actually get into it this time.

I feel like a space cadet not having SK in my top 10 this year judging by how many people I follow around here do, but it was a straight up Honorable Mention game for me. They did a good job of capturing the feel of an NES game - just one that I probably would have forgotten about. Certainly not sorry I backed the KS.
 
Jun 23, 2009
484
5
630
1. Bayonetta 2 ; Bayonetta 2 builds upon the already strong foundation of its predecessor with some spectacular level design and enemy variety, cementing its place as my game of the year. The improved animations give the combat that extra finesse, making it all the more addictive.
2. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair ; Take the bizarre characters and convoluted plot from the original and multiply them by ten. The end result is a crazier, yet better thought out sequel that exceeds its predecessor in almost every possible way.
3. Velocity 2X ; Fast, frenetic, and tons of fun! The sense of speed and momentum from the top-down shooter carries over almost perfectly to the metroidvania-esque platforming sections, with the minor exception being the telepod throw mechanic.
4. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U ;
5. Mario Kart 8 ;
6. Forza Horizon 2 ;
7. The Last of Us: Left Behind ;
8. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor ;
9. Infamous: First Light ;
10. Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc ;

x. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze ;
x. Sunset Overdrive ;
x. Alien: Isolation ;
x. Divinity: Original Sin ;
 
Jun 3, 2014
1,830
0
0
1. Dragon Age: Inquisition ; Spent more time in this game than any other this year, because I enjoyed it. Lived up to the hype for me.
2. South Park - Stick of Truth ; I held off for a long time because I'm not a big SP fan, but surprisingly solid and enjoyable RPG. .
3. Transistor ; Beautiful, plays well, fun..Everything I like in a game.
4. Wolfenstein TNO ; Best shooter of the year, In my opinion. And I'm not really a shooter fan.
5. The Last of Us: Remaster ; Didn't play it on PS3, was waiting for PS4, glad I did..
6. Driveclub ; Launch debacle (and PS+ version being MIA) aside, probably the best racing game I've played in a while..
7. Infamous SS ; Photo Mode actually probably gets this game to #7 instead of #8 or #9 for me, Not that the game is bad, but it's short and somewhat repetitive. Powers were awesome, Faux-Seattle was entertaining. Graphics were ace. Photo mode was my "next-gen moment" though
8.Goat Simulator ; I appreciate that they took a joke, made it real, and didn't mess it up. Hilarious ragdoll physics, inside jokes, embracing bugginess, listening to the "community" about additions, free content patches...etc. Well done!
9. Diablo III: Reaper of Souls ; Totally turned off by Diablo III on it's original launch, ended up picking up the remaster and having fun now that they fixed.. well almost everything.
10. Destiny ; I actually enjoyed it for quite a while. Never finished main story - only made half a run through VOG. Still, probably put 80 hours into it.

Honorable Mentions
x. Dust: An Elysian Tale ; Had a lot of fun so far, but haven't finished the story yet.
x. P.T. ; Probably the most scared I've ever been playing a game.
 
Jan 1, 2011
27,453
1
0


1. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze ; Retro’s claim of having unfinished business in Kong Country is evident throughout Tropical Freeze which as a sequel successfully builds upon the already stellar groundwork of its predecessor taking greatness and ascending it further to platforming excellence.

The approach to world design is marvelous to behold, Tropical Freeze is rich with subtle visual storytelling in its stages be it the level progression setting up an escalating journey from the humble beginnings of a rural countryside up to the island’s ominous peak or jumping through a factories fruit harvesting and juicing process across numerous stages with said processes making up each stages respective gimmicks. The levels themselves have a fantastic way of grounding all their platforming elements so that they fit within the world itself, nothing just floats in the sky with no rhyme or reason (okay, some barrel cannons do, it’s just how they work), be it simple platforms, vines or ziplines there’s always something connecting these elements to the scenery and In no way is the level design hindered being held to Retro’s own world building rules. Every stage in Tropical Freeze stands out as its own experience with backdrops crafted solely for it and as a result of all of these elements the game feels like a full on journey culminating in a return to DK Island that pays homage to DKCR in such a strong way that I felt nostalgic for a game that only came out around three years ago.

The carefully coordinated level structure extends to housing both explorative secret scrounging play and speed running stage mastery, it’s almost like having two stages in one. Understanding DK’s eruptive roll jump expands possibilities and the realization that enemies that initially hindered progress double as stepping stones to satisfyingly spring off in order to make death defying leaps across chasms without needing to slow down is like becoming enlightened to the true path leading to platforming nirvana.
The weight of Donkey Kong’s movement meets the challenge of feeling suitably heavy yet agile and responsive. Taming DK’s movement and successfully wrestling with the momentum for the desired result is a reward in itself, throw in the almost rhythmic timed enemy bounces complete with ever so satisfying “ker-plunk” impact and you have what may well be my favourite character control in the genre as well as top tier pogo antics courtesy of Cranky Kong.
This sense of weight even extends to the swimming mechanics, it applies many of the same rules to underwater movement to those of the land making it feel wholly consistent.

Attention to detail across all Kong characters from idle easter eggs to the way they scramble on slopes grants them personality. DK and Diddy retain their previous animations with the same care applied to the newcomers, Cranky manages to look both a bit old and tired when strolling yet bursting with sudden energy when upgrading to a sprint and Dixie is just flat out adorable carrying a playful air to her more springy movements. The Snowmad foes and their world capping bosses not only leave a greater legacy than the previous Tiki rogues gallery but also put in work to step up on the underwhelming bosses of Returns, they’re tough and a bit gruelling yet treated as important as the standard stages with shifting phases and heck there’s a Viking Owl Wizard which is just the best, THE BEST.

Actually “the best” might be reserved by the other returning DKC character, composer David Wise is back with an instant classic soundtrack that elevates the action on screen further jumping between jaunty and moody when the setting demands it which I’ve already gushed about in the SotY thread (cheap plug!).
This game is anything but wasted talent, it’s a showcase of Retro’s talent that strolls into my pantheon of platformers, pulls up the throne and squeezes in alongside DKC2, I’m going to need a bigger throne.




2. Bayonetta 2 ; As the imposing emissaries of both heaven and hell go on the offensive with screen sweeping blows there’s an uncanny sense of clarity within the visual discord, no matter what the game throws at me I feel in complete control within the chaos, such is the strength of Bayonetta’s finely honed fighting mechanics and character control that makes offense and evasion flow together as one.
To the untrained eye a standard Bayonetta brawl is almost overwhelming to witness, fast paced, acrobatic and stylish as they come like watching a well choreographed fight scene yet this isn’t something you watch, you’re playing it out in real time and it feels great.

Bayonetta 2 explodes out of the gate and just doesn’t let up for the games entire duration, it can be almost exhausting in its execution with an ever expanding catalogue of new foes to both test your skills against and offer experimentation with the mix and match weapon options that help you define your own playstyle.
As a sequel Bayonetta 2 focuses very much on ironing out the creases of the original, instant death quick time events? Gone, overly long and clumsy minigame stages? Dialed down and honed into much stronger changes of pace. While this process may streamline things a touch too much in places it’s hard to argue with the result as the mirror sheen here is positively blinding.

Platinum almost make their mastery of the action genre seem effortless with their work here, it’s just so fun and fluid to play that I’ll bust out a big grin mid fight because this is a thing that is actually happening, I did indeed just explode into a swift panther form to lunge at my foes, elegantly flip out avoiding the assault whilst wielding a CLAW SYCTHE with blades that erupt into a scatter shot and then switching to a gargantuan hammer on the fly to mash an angelic mook so hard into the floor that they’re grounded within an impact crater. If that’s not empowering then I don’t know what is.
The lyrics from “tomorrow is mine” don’t lie, the fuel in its fire really wont run dry, it burns bright.




3. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U ; SSB could be viewed as a celebratory feast in honour of Nintendo, you arrive in its lavish halls almost overwhelmed by the options of which to dine upon, do you load up that first plate with a round of classic, a side of events or just gorge on the new 8 man smash? At some point you’re gonna have to walk all that off so take the time to see the sights and gaze at the showcases of trophies detailing Nintendo’s rich history. And what’s an event this grand without its guests of honour? Rub elbows with Nintendo’s mainstays and more, yeah Link’s the one surrounded by legions of adoring fans but I’d sooner kick back with the Radiant Hero Ike anyway, woah is that the Duck Hunt Dog over there? Boy I haven’t seen him in years, Mega Man?! Reports of your death were exaggerated it would seem!
Shulk’s eyes glow with a grim premonition, seconds later its clear why as Diddy Kong’s drunk arse winds up in the punch bowl lamenting why Dixie couldn’t be with him tonight (yeah, I’m disappointed to), an embarrassed Donkey Kong goes to forcibly remove his distressed nephew only to get tie tugged into the bowl, a family spat is on our hands setting off a chain reaction as Mario makes a snide remark about the year of Luigi setting off his bro’s Karting face. Greedy King Dedede inhales the entire strawberry shortcake for himself and Kirby goes from crestfallen to irate in seconds, I think it’s time to settle it in smash!

The latest instalment of Smash seeks to greater connect the respective strengths of both Melee and Brawl and thus creates an enjoyable compromise, it doesn’t pull things off perfectly but in any event you’ve got yourself a loaded disc full to the bursting point with content and more remixes of DK Island Swing than anyone actually needs. With such wealth there’s certainly a few things that can be nitpicked at though something with this much scope can’t truly please everyone so taken for what it is it’s really quite the achievement and that’s still with a bit more in the pipeline.
Most newcomers this time around can’t simply get by on name value as we approach the lesser knowns of Nintendo’s library, yet they stand out through the strength of their movesets offering something different to the established characters, some of the old guard look almost too simple by comparison now showing just how far this series has come from its humble N64 origins to the hype garnering behemoth it is today.

Meanwhile back at the banquet things are breaking down completely, the party balls exploded, A giant purple space dragon is trying (and failing) to fit through the front door to join the ruckus, Samus and Captain Falcon are competing for the Mushroom Kingdom’s bounty on the Koopalings and the only Doctor in the house is bludgeoning his dungaree doppelgänger with pills of pain, I don’t know how I got embroiled in all of this, I’m just a simple Mii after all.




4. Shovel Knight ; It would be so easy for an 8 bit throwback title like Shovel Knight to lose itself in winks and nods to the classic games that inspired it, however Shovel Knight doesn’t just dig up the past, its trusty shovel unearthed a more important treasure and that’s its own character.
From the immediately memorable knights of no quarter to its punny NPC banter the world of Shovel Knight delights and amuses in equal measure and the simple motivation that drives Shovel Knight’s quest onwards is punctuated with a few surprisingly effective scenes that have a lot of heart for all their simplicity proving that you don’t need lavish production values to get points across.

The gameplay is tight and responsive giving you precise control over Shovel Knight with an expanding arsenal of sub weapon relics to expand attacking options further as well as the ever enjoyable shovel pogo, while not a revolution in level design it delivers a strong example of carefully tuned action platforming staples invoking the strengths of past 8 bit titles while mostly steering clear of the difficulty pitfalls of the same era.

Shovel Knight is one of the more welcoming games of its kind, it’ll test your ability but it wont beat you down, it’s balanced enough to be enjoyed by those who cut their teeth on the golden oldies as well as those that would fear the more punishing past.
As it stands Shovel Knight executes the collective aspects that make up its whole with finesse, be it clashing with the numerous bosses, optional sub stages emphasizing relic usage and the authentically retro soundtrack, it does it all to a solid standard and even then I can’t help but think that there’s still room to improve further if the Knight chooses to pick up his shovel again in the future and break new ground.




5. Mario Kart 8 ; The race doesn’t truly begin until the first item patch, or perhaps that’s when the race turns into something much more than a friendly karting session. The roulette wheel of fate determines the tools of battle and in just a few seconds pandoras box springs wide open unleashing all manner of destructive weapons, the bob-ombs, shells and boomerangs fly, coins and karts tumble across the track in their wake, one racer desperately tries to make an escape from the warzone with a mushroom boost but in their panic succumbs to a simple comical banana peel. As first place barely breaks ahead and looks back in the mirror at the aftermath they let out a sigh of relief, yet deep down there’s a longing for that middle of the pack chaos, to fight against the odds and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, that is Mario Kart.

The Mario Kart formula reaches its arguably most refined state, for the first time since the DS outing the entry here feels like an event as opposed to just another Mario Kart where mechanics have been tweaked to their most satisfactory feel, where the visuals burst with bright and bold colours and music is treated with the extra care of live instrumentation. Mario Kart 8 is a wonderful looking game, the characters are expressive and environments deep with detail that make it a vivid visual feast in a way the series has never seen before. Kart control is punchier than ever always keeping the player engaged with a series of simple but effective moves such as trick hops and drifting to compliment the hectic racing action, the result is the most immediately enjoyable to play Mario Kart game of them all where I can forgive the rather sparse single player content in favour of just how enjoyable the act of karting is in general.

The new tracks deliver the right balance of spectacle and satisfying circuit design, each one is distinct and thanks to strong visuals and careful usage of track gimmicks they become memorable small worlds themselves. At times things get turned literally upside down with the bending anti gravity sections, more than just a neat visual gimmick it ever so slightly changes the game mechanics in a way that has you actively trying to collide with other racers for a burst of speed, there’s nothing quite as exhilarating as two evenly matched racers clashing with continuous collision boosts.
Where they skimped on side content and the half hearted execution of battle mode it’s clear that the time spent in the workshop here was ensuring that the racing itself was the best in the series and it shows, MK8 is a joy to play and saves the series from stagnating.




6. Dark Souls 2 ; The youngest of the Souls siblings emulates the middle child of the trio but doesn’t always grasp the lessons his big bro is trying to teach, he’s explaining the intricacies of creating an interconnected world map yet all the little dreamer wants to do is throw in everything that comes to mind. The big brother is steps away from crushing the hopes of a lava dripping steel castle in the sky with “super cool” electric samurai citing that it makes no geographical sense in its current location floating above a perilous poisonous peak but just can’t, the youngest is beaming with delight at the deathly contraptions he’s concocted and why take that away from him? this is the legacy of Dark Souls the second, he lacks the nuance of his elders but is full of surprises, it also helps having those strong souls series genetics.

So Dark Souls 2 continues the bleak and challenging lineage the series is known within another expansive world full of discovery. There’s something to be said about the vast amount of areas within Drangleic, not all of them are winners but uncovering the various paths branching off from the central hub like area of Majula is always full of intrigue, if there’s one benefit from the immediate ability to warp from bonfires it’s that you can always jump around the numerous possibilities instead of being halted by a wall of difficulty.

Perhaps one of the strongest factors of this game for me is that it presents another opportunity to swap tales of victory and loss with my friends, it’s not often that our purchasing tastes all line up and the Souls games present the opportunity to all chime in with our own experiences, not just a solid game but also an event in that respect.
There’s no denying that DS2 falls short of my expectations, even so it stands strong as one of the highlights of my 2014.




7. Freedom Planet ; This modern day dose of speedy 2D platforming doesn’t look to hide its Sonic the Hedgehog inspiration nor does it stay entirely shackled to it, a trip to this planet brings the appropriately named freedom from the blue blur that expands its scope further to feel almost like a lost Sega title of yesteryear.

Freedom Planet makes an effort to present a plot as well as building its world and goes as far to throw in voice acted cutscenes but fortunately understands that this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea especially in this genre and has the foresight to allow you to play through the game without any cinematic intrusions, it’s an interesting approach to have both and personally I find Classic Mode just flows that much better putting gameplay first.
Stages tend to shift between blazing across the multi-tiered environments and slowing down to tackle more precise platforming with a touch of exploration, it balances both angles well and on the speedy front wont punish you for simply running into stationary foes which is much appreciated

The little details give the game more charisma, for instance the characters idle animation replaced by dancing when under the disco ball of Fortune Night’s interior and a few interactive background elements in the same stage be it a simple bench to sit on or entering a men’s restroom door that shot me straight back out, touches like this could be easily missed yet I love stumbling across them.

Speaking of characters you have a choice of three here each with their own style of play, the game seems much more geared around Lilac to me with Carol not quite as well implemented and Milla as a further divergent style of play serving more as a nice bonus, while this can highlight a few issues in the level design and some bosses at points it’s neat that each character stands out as wholly unique adding to the replay value.
Of all the games in this list this was the one that came closest to flying under my radar, I knew of it but didn’t give it a chance until very late, if you’re a fan of fast and fluid action platformers then by all means get this on your radar and let it direct you to Freedom Planet.



(this is how I write my lists)

8. Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney ; Layton and Wright working together makes a winning combination, actually it makes the whole “versus” angle in the title seem out of place. That is until I solved the puzzle using Wright style out of the box thinking (no hint coins needed!), the series VS clash here is not between the lead characters but their respective styles of plot twist.
Layton’s far out lunacy makes Ace Attorney’s convoluted murder schemes seem down to earth, while the world of Labyrynthia is a new and strange place for both leads it’s definitely Wright who finds himself in more unfamiliar territory and you know what? That suits him just fine. Layton still seems to actually know all the solutions and keeps them under his top hat until the time is right while Wright still fumbles through the dark eventually grasping onto the truth and yanking it dramatically out into the light, it’s true to both characters and even if it makes me think the Professor is being a bit of a smug git behind his gentlemanly smile and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Gameplay is also true to both series with the different styles of puzzling getting equal footing and meshing together well, while the plot goes predictably mad under the Layton influence it never fails to engage through its enjoyable writing that makes the characters shine. As a fan of both series and their protagonists in particular seeing Wright and Layton solve mysteries side by side is actually enough to send me into fanboyish glee, Link in Mario Kart? Smash bros crossover madness? Never mind that, Layton just shouted objection! The more novel pairing in place here makes it my most enjoyed crossover of recent franchise mash ups, it just feels so right.
Also the Storyteller is my kind of guy, Owl emblems and imagery everywhere in his kingdom.




9. Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc ; Having hope snatched away leaving despair in its place, not unfamiliar in my 2014 but I guess it could always be substantially worse, like the harrowing situation the students in Hopes Peak Academy find themselves in.

Danganronpa juggles a grim oppressive murder mystery angle while letting you simultaneously build relationships with the other characters, this creates an interesting dynamic where the character you recently chose to hang out with could be the victim of a brutal murder or even the culprit. The nefarious setup that leads to trust among characters being severed despite the best efforts to work together creates a gripping experience that’s hard to put down. The Ace Attorney style Class Trials have a sense of urgency with the clock ticking down throughout, piecing together the events that transpired at the end by arranging a comic/manga panel summary serves as a visually striking final test of the players understanding of the murder. Slowly but surely the cast whittles down, each loss darkening the atmosphere further be it a loved or loathed character, the creeping influence of despair never felt so perversely enjoyable.

The sequel is just as good if not stronger at points with its later twists and turns in particular (chapter 5!) but falters slightly in other respects (“improved” hangman’s gambit my arse) so I’ve given the nod to the original here.




10. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker ; A weighty backpack alone creates a twist on an otherwise familiar 3D World, Captain Toad loses his races swift shroom properties and even the vital ability to jump under the weight of his adventuring tools, not that this ever stopped the good captain from being ready for adventure. Captain Toad is my feel good title of 2014 sneaking out right at the end to deliver a leisurely paced puzzler that enraptures me in the small details. Toad and Toadette saunter around detailed dioramas in a gleefully captivating fashion that’s fun just to watch, the croaky wailing and expressive animations give Toad such an oddly endearing character.
Nintendo EAD prove themselves smart at reusing 3D World staples in a new way to take them further, 3D World’s gimmicked platforms and the double cherry are given a different spin under Toad’s limitations while even older titles from the Mario-verse are paid tribute to such as the manic pickaxe swinging calling back to Donkey Kong’s Mallet and more notably the radish plucking of SMB2 that gave Toad his first playable role all those years ago.

Honestly the brief teasers of this game to come within 3D World did very little for me so I wasn’t quite as ready for adventure as Toad and Toadette, here the concept is expanded upon in such a way that makes Toad’s taster sessions back then look small time compared to the well honed full package, while it’s not exploding with content it does all it needs to well and wraps up nicely in an adorable package.
And if you’re not convinced it’s totally Viewtiful JC’s game of the forever, he left it off his list on account of not being fair to the other games.


Honourable Mentions
x. Towerfall Ascension; “Most Devious” is what they call me and it’s a moniker I earn with pride, as the round begins I’m the one who scopes out all the possible points where an arrow can be fired out from one side of the screen to pop out in the other for those surprise shots, still it ain’t going to do a lot of good if I get skewered by my opponents first, it’s hard to be devious when the game keeps everyone aware often bestowing me with the award on a regular basis.
The simplicity at the core of Towerfall makes it easy to grasp and helps bridge the gap between player skill levels, the fast paced and frantic shoot outs can be over in a flash or come down to a prolonged tense showdown, in either case there’s an addictive factor that ensures just another round.

x. The Evil Within ; Buzzsaw Roombas.
 
Oct 15, 2013
390
0
0
1. Bayonetta 2
2. Mario Kart 8
3. Dark Souls 2
4. Super Smash Bros Wii U
5. The Last of Us Remastered
6. Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze
7. Captain Toad
8. Wolf Among Us
9. MGS V GF
10.Driveclub
 
Aug 7, 2009
11,506
0
695
while
ok, here comes.

Divinity Original Sin



I - Divinity Original Sin ; this game is *great*. it is my goty for being great and for the fact that I couldn't stop playing when I first bought it. I actually discovered it thanks to some gaffers so I'm glad that I listened to them. it looks great, tons of quests with their lore and stories, huge maps and amazing combat system. the main story was mediocre at best but that didn't bother me too much, or didn't restrain my enjoyment. I do have some minor complaints. the co-op isn't designed for playing with random people, it's more like a local co-op done online. some might like it for that reason but I wanted/was expecting something else, I did have some fun with it though.
then the game is long, very very long. took me 70-80 hours to finish it with almost all the side-quests. the problem here is that the excitement that I had in the beginning started to vanish, some quests definitely felt too long or even boring. I still enjoyed the game until the very end but not as much as I was during the first 20-30 hours. to that you might add that the game becomes much easier after the first 10 hours or so compared to the beginning where it's pretty brutal.

Shovel Knight



II - Shovel Knight ; not much to write here, it's a great platform/action adventure game with an 8-bit retro aesthetic taking inspiration from the best games of that era. (Megaman, Castlevania etc) music is superb, top notch level design, a lot of replayability and it's great for speedruns. I haven't play it too much just because I'm waiting for patches filled with additional content to jump back in.
well done, Yacht Club Games.

Binding of Isaac Rebirth



III - Binding of Isaac Rebirth ; I like roguelike games a lot and I consider this game to be the best one of the genre, along with FTL. I wasn't a huge fan of the original BoI but this game is much much better. they made everything better and also added a lot of new items, bosses, enemies, levels etc. I couldn't really ask for a better roguelike and an expansion still has to come out - which will probably put me back in the game for at least 20-30 hours.

IV - Wasteland 2 ; here it is, another great wrpg. I played it after the first big patch and I didn't encounter any major bug or similar things. this game reminded me a lot of Fallout 1+2 (uhuh - I wonder why ) which means quality. again, great wrpg, filled with quests, choices that actually matter, an old-school world map with random encounters and much more. also I found the writing to be pretty solid and overall better than Divinity or the last wrpgs I've played. gotta love radio transmissions~
as with Divinity, this game is very long and I felt a little burned out at the end. the game also has some issues with balancing, weapons and a not so great combat system, and I was disappointed by the final bits of the game, mainly the dungeons and the bosses. it was great to have all the people that you saved or helped during the game to come and help you out in return for the final battle, though.

V - DK Tropical Freeze ; another great platform game, I should just copy-paste what I wrote for Shovel Knight. fantastic music, great levels etc. haven't played much of the DK series but I plan on recovering at least another couple of games. I also enjoyed a lot to see speedruns of this game and realize how good some people can get.

VI - Bayonetta 2 ; I have to agree with people that consider this a great action game, I do not, however, agree with who considers this better in every way than the first game. Bayonetta did a much better job with the story and the characters, I didn't find them as charismatic or intersting in this sequel. actually, the game really sucked in that regard. one huge difference is the final part of the game + the finale, in those sections Bayonetta 2 isn't even close to the greatness of the first game, that was disappointing.
I also prefer the "huge" boss battles from the first game, I found the design of those much more interesting and fun to play than the "human-sized" battles which are the majority of the bosses included in Bayonetta 2. you still have some battles with huge monsters, but not as good. Bayonetta 2 does however improve in various aspects (e.g. you don't have to deal with stupid one hit kill QTEs or horrid platforming sections), it adds a fun co-op mode and delivers a great experience that won't disappoint PG fans.

I want to point out that both of these games have a gallery mode, which shows artworks, 3D models, backgrounds, music and more. I loved checking those out and every game should have something similar.

VII - South Park: The Stick Of Truth ; are you a fan of South Park? Then you should play this game. it's basically a playable and very long South Park episode, one of the good ones. the problem I had with this game was that the rpg aspects of it, the combat system, almost the whole "videogame" parts of it weren't really as good as I hoped. and I was a little surprised since Obsidian worked on this game. but, as a big fan of South Park I really enjoyed it and it absolutely deserves a spot in this list.

VIII - Dark Souls 2 ; while this game is not as good as the other souls games, it's not a bad game by any means. it has/had (some stuff got patched, at least) various problems and there are some very forgettable locations, enemies and bosses, especially bosses since they recycled the same (bad) ones over and over again. however, they did make some improvements in comparison to other entries in the series and there are some really well designed levels in this game as well. playing pvp and co-op was great, as usual, even with balancing issues. (which all the games in the series had, then got fixed, more or less) - as a huge fan of Souls games, I wasn't disappointed.

IX - Mario Kart 8 ; this game is far from being flawless, online and the stupidity of items distribution to name some of its flaws. however I had a good time playing with people from gaf. also it's probably one of the best looking games on Wii U and again, the music is top notch.

X - Smash 4 ; the reason for this being in the last place is that I haven't played it enough (started it less than 2 weeks ago) but I think it deserved a spot. because it's fun to play with or even without friends, it can get very competitive and there is a lot of depth to the mechanichs. and the music, holy hell, they included so many (great) OSTs from a lot of different (great) games that you could take the whole weekend and listen only to those. I still have some complaints, mostly related to the online sections.
 
Jun 20, 2013
19,605
0
0
I'd be really curious to know after the fact what percentage of ballots weren't posted in the right format. I'd be surprised if it was less than 25%.

Seems like a battle between Bayo 2 and DAI for the top spot.
Dark Souls 2 is mentioned as much as bayonetta, though I'm pretty sure DAI has the top spot by a reasonable margin. Makes me kinda sad, but opinions.
 
thanks for including Captain "GOTF" Toad, owl. Almost makes me feel bad for enjoying beating up your Nocturnal breathen in TF so much(almost)

Great point about how all the parts of Tropical Freeze's level design have a natural extension of the game world. That's something that was always really cool about the DKC trilogy(especially the later two), was how they built the environments so they all seemed like logical parts of the world, less randomly floating blocks and things from the Mario handbook of platforming 101.
 
Jun 9, 2011
16,646
0
0
www.neogaf.com
Great point about how all the parts of Tropical Freeze's level design have a natural extension of the game world. That's something that was always really cool about the DKC trilogy(especially the later two), was how they built the environments so they all seemed like logical parts of the world, less randomly floating blocks and things from the Mario handbook of platforming 101.
Call me nuts, but this is one of the things I really enjoyed about Vanquish. For a game so obviously designed as a series of really fairly disparate stages, it delivered more of a sense to me of having to push from one end of a well defined place to another than most open world games ever do. I'll admit I may just be projecting, but that was my honest impression during my first playthrough.

It may just be that I find games that are more deeply engaging mechanically inherently feel more believable.
 
Jul 2, 2007
10,767
0
990
1. Sunset Overdrive ; Insomniac back to doing what they do best. Bright, action-packed, irreverent, and most of all fun.
2. Far Cry 4 ; Having played Far Cry 3 and Blood Dragon earlier this year, I figured I would be burned out. I was wrong. A fantastic refinement of the FC3 formula.
3. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor ; Would have ranked higher if not for the obvious borrowing of features from Batman and Assassin's Creed. Well worth playing for the Nemesis System and well executed gameplay.
4. Thief ; I didn't bring any baggage with me into this game and I came out loving it. A victim of unrealistic expectations, and lovers of stealth games should give it a shot.
5. Wolfenstein: The New Order ; A mix of stealth, shooting, interesting level design and story. A unique shooter in a sea of CoDs.
6. The Fall ; An intriguing mash-up of genres most notable for its hard sci-fi story and excellent voice acting.
7. Transistor ; I didn't care for Bastion's action-based gameplay. However, I loved this game's mix-and-match ability system and hybrid turn-based strategy system.
8. Bayonetta 2 ; Combo-based action games are not my thing, but Bayonetta 2 lets you play at your level and still witness all the spectacle it has to offer.
9. Valiant Hearts: The Great War ; With Never Alone, one of a pair of worthy educational games I played this year. Both were charming both in graphics and delivery, but VH, while not difficult, was more enjoyable to play.
10. Alien: Isolation ; I'm torn on exactly how much I enjoyed this game. But it's ability to put you in the Alien world deserves GOTY recognition.

Honorable Mentions
x. Never Alone ; Not the greatest game perse, but educated me on something I probably would not have known otherwise in a beautiful package.
x. Styx: Master of Shadows ; A game with a lot of problems, but deserves mention for its incredible level design and hardcore stealth gameplay.

Notable games I was unfortunately not able to play through: Dragon Age, Divinity, Wasteland, South Park and Child of Light.
 
Sep 14, 2013
1,723
0
305
1. Legend of Grimrock 2; Haven't had this much fun in an arpg about being stranded in puzzle island since Link's Awakening, and for my money, this game is almost as good as that. A masterpiece.

2. Dark Souls II; Souls is like sex. Even if it's done b-ad, it's still good.

3. Divinity: Original Sin; These madmen had the absurd notion of taking the western rpg genre and evolving it. No, not streamlining it. Not dumbing it down. I mean evolving it forward like. I still have some trouble grasping the concept, but I love it.

4. Destiny; We've heard about the bad things and they're all true. Also true: great, great shooting, very fun if limited pvp and addictive loot and pve 'grinding' that can be as laid back and social as you want it to be. Real sparks of brilliance in the raids that hint at a huge potential (that will probably never be truly realized).

5. Lords of Xulima; The game that best captured in 2014 the thrill and excitemente of an old school rpg epic.

6. Shovel Knight; Nintendo tier retro platformer. Plays like a dream (should have been a little harder). Best soundtrack of the year possibly. I'd love to see a sequel making the jump to pseudo 16 bit and a bigger scope, with interconnected world design and adventure elements. Done right Super Shovel Knight could be GOTY material.

7. The Talos Principle; Great first person puzzling. I thought the serious philosophical theme would get tiresome but I was wrong it was really well done.

8. Shadowgate; Never played the original but this is a great adventure game, so atmospheric and challenging.

9. Might & Magic X - Legacy; It has a lot of what was great about the early nineties M&M games but it falls a little short in areas like dungeon design (so tiny!) and adventuring variety. The world is big, but it feels a little sparse and not terribly mysterious, at least not for long. Great turn based combat though and a fun ride overall.

10. Forza Horizon 2; Would benefit from a challenging single player mode similar to what PGR 3 had and the travelling festival setting is very annoying, but it's still a very good game.

Honourable mentions:
X. Strider;
X. The Last of Us Remastered;
X. Titanfall;

Horrible mentions: Moebius: Empire Rising.

Games that would have probably made my top ten had I played them this year: Wasteland 2, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
 
Oct 19, 2004
32,841
0
0
Los Angeles, CA
It's funny how almost no-one has both Bayonetta 2 AND Dragon Age in their top 10.
Mine was going to have both, but I've recently started playing Divinity and Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director's Cut and I realized they have what I actually want in a RPG, and I'm starting to realize how much filler Dragon Age actually has. I still enjoy the game, I'm just not sure if it will make my top 10 or be slid down to honorable mention.
 
Jan 1, 2011
27,453
1
0
thanks for including Captain "GOTF" Toad, owl. Almost makes me feel bad for enjoying beating up your Nocturnal breathen in TF so much(almost)

Great point about how all the parts of Tropical Freeze's level design have a natural extension of the game world. That's something that was always really cool about the DKC trilogy(especially the later two), was how they built the environments so they all seemed like logical parts of the world, less randomly floating blocks and things from the Mario handbook of platforming 101.
It's almost a shame that the final three stages in Secret Seclusion deliberately take a leaf out of Mario's handbook, while it does lead to some contrasting whackiness to the rest of the game like riding a minecart through the clouds and bouncing off inexplicably levitating fish it feels so at odds with everything else that the levels fall a bit flat with me, on the other hand it helps highlight just how well designed the standard worlds are visually.
 

Adam Prime

hates soccer, is Mexican
Sep 1, 2008
10,145
0
0
Austin, TX
www.neogaf.com
It's almost a shame that the final three stages in Secret Seclusion deliberately take a leaf out of Mario's handbook, while it does lead to some contrasting whackiness to the rest of the game like riding a minecart through the clouds and bouncing off inexplicably levitating fish it feels so at odds with everything else that the levels fall a bit flat with me, on the other hand it helps highlight just how well designed the standard worlds are visually.
Those last three levels are my favorite. It's like they say "screw it" to cohesion with the rest of the game, and just give you the most wackiest challenging stuff they can think of.

They weren't too challenging though, I think some K levels took me more retries.
 
Apr 14, 2009
10,173
0
0
Germany
Finished First Light in one sitting today, I edited my list because I really liked it. Was the right amount of inFamous open world (with the best power set from what I know, haven't and probably won't play SS) for me.
(thanks PS+ for letting me sneak it in the GAF GOTY just in time :p )
 
Jun 4, 2010
4,427
0
0
1. Wasteland 2 ; Poster child of a game that is more then the sum of it parts. Individually it does nothing spectacular, but taken all together the game ends up being pretty great.

2. Shadowrun Returns: Dragonfall ; A massive improvement over Deadman's Switch in almost every way. I am in love with its mix of cyber punk and fantasy.

3. Divinity: Original Sin ; Fantastic turn-based combat that will be the bar that all other games will be judged against. If the developers can improve all the others areas in the next game then we might have a masterpiece on our hands.

4. Infamous: Second Son ; Great continuation of the Infamous franchise and probably one of the best looking games currently on the Ps4.

5. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor ; Had me at Batman Arkham series set in Middle Earth. Also helped that the Nemesis system was pretty great and am looking forward to seeing what developers can do with it in the future.

6. South Park: The Stick of Truth ; Great RPG lite with plenty of South Park humour.

7. Valkyria Chronicles ; Fantastic unique PS3 era SRPG finally port to the PC completely out of left field.

8. Xenonauts ; Great strategy game that tried is best to emulate the original XCOM games.
 
Nov 10, 2007
54,439
4
0
Call me nuts, but this is one of the things I really enjoyed about Vanquish. For a game so obviously designed as a series of really fairly disparate stages, it delivered more of a sense to me of having to push from one end of a well defined place to another than most open world games ever do. I'll admit I may just be projecting, but that was my honest impression during my first playthrough.

It may just be that I find games that are more deeply engaging mechanically inherently feel more believable.
Vanquish's world felt cohesive to me. It felt like a real war, pushing deeper and deeper into enemy territory to retake the colony. Great game.
 

Creamium

shut uuuuuuuuuuuuuuup
Mar 10, 2005
19,206
0
1,350
My number one was easy, but the order after that was not. Nevertheless, here's my list.

1. Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze ; I didn't expect Retro could improve over Returns this much, but they did. This is the most impressive platformer since the original Mario Galaxy. Incredible and diverse level design, great art with tons of attention to detail and a godlike soundtrack by David Wise. So TF gets the double, game ánd OST of the year.
2. Shovel Knight ; Sure it's heavily influenced by Mega Man and Castlevania, but Shovel Knight has enough identity to not feel like a mere homage. It has a great sense of humor (Haunted Mansion) and some neat risk/reward system in how it handles checkpoints. Like my n°1, it also has a killer soundtrack.
3. Bayonetta 2 ; I played Bayo1 right before starting the sequel and Platinum adressed most of my complaints. Bottom line: they cut the fat. No overly long motorcycle/flying sections, turret sections or other supposed pallette cleansers, just an ongoing stream of diverse combat scenarios and a bunch of fun weapons to experiment with. I plowed through the game in only a few sittings; the umbra witch had me in her grasp. My only regret is starting on 2nd climax, which is easy and not normal mode. It's a good excuse to replay the game though.
4. Wolfenstein: The New Order ; It's been a while since a fps impressed me, but TNO was the one to do it. TNO has no multiplayer, which is a good thing, because the team really put their heart and soul in the campaign. There's a great mix of shooting and stealth to be found here, which makes the encounters just a joy to play. Once you finish silently killing the group commanders, you can pull out your dual shotguns and go wild. There's no either/or scenario when it comes to stealth and shooting, most of the time they just blend perfectly. This game also has a surprisingly engaging story and characters. My biggest surprise of the year.
5. Kentucky Route Zero Act III ; Every time a new KR 0 act is released, I'm pulled into this mysterious but oh so captivating world that I could stay in forever. But it's always over too soon. I'm looking forward to replaying every act when the final piece comes out, because KR 0 is a very special and magical game. There's nothing quite like it. The most thought-provoking and interesting game on my list. KR 0 will be game of whatever year the final act is released in.
6. Dark Souls II ; It's 'just' a sequel to Dark Souls, I don't know what I expected. But somehow I expected more... Even though I had fun for the 100+ hours I wasted in Drangleic, it never came close to Demon's or Dark. The level design was a step down and didn't compare to Lordran. It's my only disappointment of the year. It's just a good sequel, nothing more. Note: I didn't play the dlc, which is supposedly great.
7. Mario Kart 8 ; MK 8 is just stunning visually, and a joy to play at 60 fps. The online mode is where it shines, especially once you join up with a friend. Tons of replayability, shame the battle mode's not that good.
8. The Last of Us Remastered ; Getting a PS4 for a remastered TLOU seemed like a dumb impulse buy at first, but 1080p and 60fps made a bigger difference than I thought. It's the perfect way to revisit one of last year's finest. Getting the dlc as a bonus, is a nice extra.
9. A Story About My Uncle ; Most unfortunate game title of the year. Story isn't the focus here, it's a first person platformer a la Mirror's Edge, with momentum jumping and a grapple hook. Read up on why you should get it if you like platformers.
10. P.T ; What an original way to tease a new release, a successful experiment on all fronts. Not only was it scary as hell, but it was fun to figure out how to properly finish it with the community. I had to include this in my list, I loved everything about P.T.

x. Strider: a fun game to blast through in one long sitting, but that's it. Nothing too memorable except for the fast pace and fun combat.

Must play list: The Evil Within, Shadow of Mordor, Alien: Isolation and Captain Toad. Really looking forward to TEW in particular.
 
Dec 5, 2008
2,686
0
0
South NJ
1. Titanfall ; Just had a ton of fun with it. Yes, it was barebones, but controls were great, movement is awesome, and using the titans is fun. I found a lot more appreciation for it after playing Advanced Warfare mp too. My most played game this year.

2. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker ; Loved the levels in 3D World and this is them and a lot more. Just a fun, mainly easy game to put a smile on my face after a long day at work.

3. Forza Horizon 2 ; Didn't play the first horizon so didn't really know what to expect, got a great game that looks and plays great. I liked just driving around trying to find all the roads while jumping, daredeviling, and drifting through traffic. Great graphics (rain at night!) only helped.

4. Bayonetta 2 ; Pure action, crazy set pieces and baddies to take on. The absurdity of it all was something else.

5. Sunset Overdrive ; Love the style and just running and grinding around the city blowing mutants up.

6. Shovel Knight ; Great platformer, nostalgic graphics.

7. Mario Kart 8 ; Still think mario kart 7 is better and too many babies and koopalings, but gameplay and graphics are still great.

8. The Golf Club ; A golf game I can play on ps4 with an unlimited amount of courses to play (even if a lot of them are garbage/annoying/broken).

9. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U ; Packed with content, plays well, great local mp.

10. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor ; Took good parts of Assassin's Creed and Arkham games to make something that was fun. I liked being able to become a god too, games seem to not want to do that anymore.
 
Finally decide to just go ahead with my GOTY list. As usual I don't play many games on the year they're released. I just wait, unless I'm very excited for them. So, I'm gonna do a top 5, because I don't think I've even played 10 games that came out this year. One of these game I only just finished a few days ago, and had to push Smash Bros off my list for.

1. Shovel Knight ; I'm not the biggest 2D platformer fan, but this did everything right. It was a lot of fun, had some genius game design and brilliant pacing.

2. Dark Souls II ; Now, whilst this is no where near as good as the original Dark Souls, it's still a great game. I've come to terms recently with how disappointing this was, then why would I put it in my top 5? Because it's still a great game, I had a lot of fun with the PvP, too.

3. Mario Kart 8 ; I love a bit of Mario Kart. This game also has the Koopa Kids, which makes it the best in the series. It looks beautiful and I had a lot of fun playing it online.

4. The Last of Us Remastered ; I only just got the chance to play this! It didn't really get to me until winter. From that point it went from an alright game to a brilliant game. It's certainly impressive, though I didn't enjoy the combat much, the world was incredible and it has a lot of really great moments.

5. South Park: The Stick of Truth ; I like South Park and I like Paper Mario, this is basically the two combined. It perfectly captures South Park as a video game. I'm unsure how they could of done it any better.
 
Mar 16, 2010
1,393
0
0
I really thought I'd have trouble coming up with even ten games I really enjoyed playing this year, but in the end, as usual I suppose, it was hard to cut it back to only ten. A good problem to have! Anyway, first off, some games I wish I'd played more of or just purchased and haven't gotten around to yet include:

Divinity: Original Sin
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
Crypt of the Necrodancer
Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky
80 Days
...and many more.

Now, the runners up - all of these I really enjoy(ed), but they just got edged out for various reasons:

x. Monument Valley ; [Android] (+Forgotten Shores) Not very challenging, fairly short, has paid DLC. Sounds seriously underwhelming, but these 18 levels offer a relaxing, abstractly interesting puzzle experience like few other games have.
x. Escape Goat 2 ; [PS4] Fun and sometimes frustrating puzzles as a goat saving the souls of sheep. Sweet.
x. Crossy Road ; [Android] Infinite frogger. Voxels. Huge cast of goofy characters. Free-to-play done right.
x. Velocity 2X ; [PS4/Vita] Stylish and frenetic shooting and flying by a female protagonist with an unfortunate name and a questionable hair-do.
x. Pix the Cat ; [Vita/PS4] Equal parts Snake, Pac-Man CEDX+, and ChuChu Rocket. Much like Spelunky, the daily map feature leads to near endless replayability. Awesome music and overall aesthetic, as well.
x. Fract OSC ; [PC] An abstract first-person exploratory puzzle game with music sequencer puzzles, and hell, just a built in sequencing mode to make cool shit.
x. Desert Golfing ; [Android] Quickly closing in on hole #1000. What am I doing.
x. Deception IV: Blood Ties ; [Vita] Basically more of Tecmo's Deception games, with some tweaks and additions, but still as fun as the older ones. I get the feeling I would have played more of it had I gotten it on PS3 instead of Vita, which I might do later on.
x. Banished ; [PC] A lovely, really slow burn city builder with no direct control over what happens, but fun and engaging nonetheless.
x. Resident Evil 4: Ultimate HD Edition ; [PC] RE4 is one of the GOATs. Looking forward to that HD texture pack!
x. Valkyria Chronicles ; [PC] Absolutely adored it on PS3, and this is a great PC port. Keep 'em coming, Sega, and I'll keep buying 'em.





10. Metrico ; [Vita] Took me a long time to get around to playing this after getting it on PS+ a few months back, and I'm glad I finally did. This game should've gotten way more love than it has. It's a puzzle platformer that makes extensive use of the Vita hardware (camera, accelerometer, front and rear touch), and basically requires you to move around a fair bit while playing (relative to almost any other game, at least) - it's a bit like Frobisher Says in this respect. The puzzles get really tricky pretty early on, and not much is explained, so I can understand how this can be a turn off - but I found it very appealing and satisfying. It's fairly short, but very clever and interesting, so definitely check this out if you're into unorthodox puzzlers.




9. P.T. ; [PS4] To me, the assertion that this is a simple demo is vastly understating the quality and effectiveness of P.T., which trounces all other horror experiences from 2014 - and many other years, as well. Not to mention that the content found here supposedly has nothing to do with the actual game being produced. It's essentially a hallway and two rooms, it costs zero dollars, and... man. If this is the sort of thing we can expect from Silent Hills, then I am so, SO in.




8. Infamous: First Light ; [PS4] Damn this game is gorgeous! I haven't played Second Son (though I will now), so at first I was a bit disappointed by First Light's crazy fast movement through the environment relative to Infamous 1 & 2, which felt somewhat more methodical and deliberate. It quickly grew on me, however, and even after the longer-than-expected (which was a good thing) story was over, I still like to just cruise around the environment and fight the gangs and D.U.P. I also like Fetch as a character, and her arc here was enjoyable. I'd play a full-fledged FetchFAMOUS.




7. Ether One ; [PC] First-person puzzle solving and atmospheric exploratory storytelling through a patient's life-long memories of a British seaside town and its surroundings. A unique and compelling game, beautiful and haunting, while maintaining a good pace and sense of intrigue. Definitely not for everyone, but if it strikes you as interesting, it's not to be missed.




6. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes ; [PC] I spent way longer than the purported 90 minutes with Ground Zeroes, completing all missions, getting most of the achievements, and generally just being in the military base environment. Looks great, plays great, sounds great. It's a familiar Metal Gear experience while making some big changes in some cool and interesting ways. It's a far cry from a full-fledged MGS game, but it's got me totally hyped for The Phantom Pain.




5. Binding of Isaac: Rebirth ; [Vita/PS4] I played the bejesus out of the original BoI, and wasn't exactly tripping over myself for this remake - mostly because I wasn't (still not, but I'm coming around) too keen on the change in art direction. Now, I've put more hours into it than anything else since it came out.




4. Shovel Knight ; [PC] I have the biggest, dumbest smile on my face every time I play Shovel Knight... most of the time. It's been a while since a game has frustrated me to into turning it off like this one did - numerous times. But every time I came back, I beat whatever it was that wrecking me, and felt fantastic about it. Special honors go to "Strike The Earth" for Music I Walk Around Humming, Thereby Getting Pumped Up For No Real Reason (the entire soundtrack is amazing, though).




3. Wolfenstein The New Order ; [PC] Second favorite FPS campaign ever, behind only Half-Life 2. Fantastic characterization, gorgeous environment, interesting and fun set pieces, tight shooting with weapons that feel great, tons of collectibles - this game is incredible. I was actually a big fan of the way they took the concept of audio logs and integrated them via the story in a relatively realistic and affecting manner. Just lots of really good decisions made in this game's design. As soon as I've played through some other things, I'll be going back and playing through the other plot branch to see all the differences, and to get back to that fantastic gunplay and mega-satisfying first-person stealth knifeplay. Machinegames (ex-Starbreeze) knocked it out of the park with a game that probably has no right to be as good as it is.




2. The Talos Principle ; [PC] I came super close to putting this at #1, but my heart can't be denied. I wish this hadn't come out at the tail end of the year. I wish that more people were buying, playing, and talking about this. Mostly, though, I wish that I could play this again for the first time. Creative and clever puzzles (some with more than one method of being solved) in gorgeous, varied environments with many relaxing and atmospheric tunes over top. That on its own would be great, but the thought-provoking philosophical story events you uncover throughout the course of the game are equally interesting and engaging - something you won't find in 99% of games. And the easter eggs, holy shit! Best rendition of
Jingle Bells
I've ever heard (
aaaaaaaaaAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH - BOOM!
)




1. Jazzpunk ; [PC] I suppose you have to be a pretty special person to truly, madly, deeply, and completely enjoy Jazzpunk. As the credits rolled in a fantastically goofy fashion, and I dried my eyes, I proclaimed that "this is the best game I will play all year." I was totally right! I laugh out loud at games a lot, but Jazzpunk had me crying with its brilliant non-sequitur set-pieces, clever references, and just flat out weird shit. I appreciate everything that it does so, so much. If a game were able to be created by an episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus with tech nerd sensibilities in the modern day, Jazzpunk would be birthed.
 
Aug 24, 2013
2,013
0
0
The Great Northwest
1. Marvel Heroes 2015 ; Truly the Pokemon of the Marvel Comics Universe. Collecting and playing as all the various heroes has been a blast. Over the past 7 months playing this game there has been constant stream of new heroes, maps, events, revisions of heroes to the point where it feels like a new experience. No 2 heroes feel like they play the same and all are enjoyable. Hats off to the fine folk at Gazillion for delivering this wonderful ARPG.
2. Wasteland 2 ; The spiritual sequel to Fallout delivers the experience I wanted, and not the one I got with Fallout 3. Surviving the post-nuclear wasteland was just the right volume of dark humor to make me cringe and grin at the same time. The only reason it is not my first pick is how the game can slow to a crawl if the player decides to meta-game or 100% complete all possible content in a single run. After breaking free of my obsessive rock turning and corner checking the experience changed from a dull chore to a delightful challenge.
3. Xenonauts ; A very well constructed spiritual sequel to the old XCOM series. The only thing more fun than fighting off an alien invasion is watching your troops die horribly in the process.
4. Dead State ; Zombie apocalypse survival RPG. It combines 2 of my favorite time wasters, killing zombies and role playing games. Although sometimes it is more satisfying to feed annoying followers to the undead horde.
5. The Wolf Among Us ; This is the game equivalent of graphic novels. It combines stunningly beautiful visuals with eargasmic voice-overs. The experience was so entertaining that I enjoyed replaying to see consequences of making different choices. Unfortunately, it did drag a bit by the end and lost momentum during the finale. My first Tell-Tale game and well worth the season sub.
6. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft ; Normally, collectable card games are not on my list of favorite genre, but hearthstone was very accessible for new players. The matches I played were challenging and fair, but forming a high quality deck is just too time consuming for someone on a tight budget, like myself. Paying a fee for the chance at random cards is not the kind of payment model I wish to support either. Just feels too much like gambling.
7.
8.
9.
10.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.