This year was a pretty down year for me due to college and playing lots of older games on my backlog.
1. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze ; Platformers are favorite genre, and seeing as this is in the top five 2D platformers for me ever, it only makes sense that I put this as my favorite game from last year. DK controls very uniquely in this game; he has a good weight to him while still maintaining a nice amount of finesse through the use of rolls. Level design is phenomenal with each level telling a story that is often connected with other levels to form an overarching plot in each world. Apart from this, the environments are gorgeous and actually make sense (no floating platforms over voids) which doesn't really matter that much but is still commendable considering the creativity they had to have. Finally, the OST is godlike as has been said numerous times. I have no nostalgia for the original trilogy, but David Wise outdid himself with the music. Overall, it's simply the most complete package I played this year that hit a ridiculous amount of high notes.
2. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U ; The game continues to provide extremely fun, chaotic gameplay with a ton of content that the series is known for. It's my favorite MP game to play with friends and I can see myself putting 100s of hours into it.
3. Mario Kart 8 ; Gorgeous, well-designed tracks that are a blast to play. Much like Smash, there's something about the game's controlled chaos that just works. Combine that with the electrifying soundtrack and the fun anti-grav mechanics and you've got the best game in the series.
4. Far Cry 4 ; Despite doing pretty much everything wrong last year, they managed to create an open world that just worked. First of all the world is absolutely gorgeous. The use of color while keeping things realistic looking really appealed to me. The flow between activating radio towers and liberating outposts while burying arrows in the bad guys was fantastic as well. Lastly, I think the characters in this game were vastly improved from FC3. Pagan, Yuma, Longinus, Yogi, Reggie, and more were all very memorable and really helped bring up an overall barebones story.
5. Kirby: Triple Deluxe ; It's kinda unfortunate that this game was forgot about for the most part due to its early release. The game is just fun. It definitely suffers from being too easy apart from a couple extra modes, but the mechanics and level design are just extremely well made.
6. The Last of Us: Remastered ; (I still have to play the Spring section later today, but I'm pretty confident its spot won't change considering the game has been pretty consistent.)
Easily the best cast of characters of any game I've played. Every one of them has been memorable which has made the game very emotional. As for the actual plot, it was getting a little repetitive up until the very end of fall and all of winter where things finally got interesting. That entire winter section especially was among the most compelling I've played. All that said, the actual gameplay is the reason why it's not higher on the list. The main reason is because Joel just controlled very awkwardly. Too many times he didn't do what I expected him to do, especially with melee attacks.
7. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker ; This game is so adorable. Luckily things don't end at that as the levels are very well designed and the actual gameplay is very unique. I wish it wasn't so easy, but I still very much enjoyed my time with it.
8. Shovel Knight ; I grew up way after the retro era, but I can still recognize this as a great game. The game controls very well, the stages are very unique, and the bosses are extremely fun. Some design choices brought the game down like the Propeller Knight stage, but it's a great package and the perfect Kickstarter success story.
1. Destiny ; I didn't really look forward to Destiny, never understood the hype train for the beta and I have never been a Halo fan. During the first 20 levels or so I still didn't like it, but I played most of it alone. But then something happened, that strange level system began to hook me in and suddenly I had a lot of friends around the same level and the game just grew and grew. It's not the perfect game, I could make a huge list of things that could be done better, but the whole social aspect of the game just took it to another level. My friends and I still play it every free night and will probably do so for months and months to come. Oh, and also, the two raids are just amazing and feels totally unique for consoles.
2. Infamous Second Son ; I love me some Infamous and I actually think this is the best game in the series. Delsin and the crew is so much more enjoyable than the old cast. It's the best looking game I saw all year and the Neon powers is just amazing in every single way. The side missions still sucked but the first play through was just pure fun.
3. The Last Of Us Left Behind ; Best DLC ever, it's more of the (maybe) best game ever so.. Feels kinda weird putting it in a goty list though.
4. P.T ; Kojima, god damn, I really do love you sometimes. P.T literally came out from nowhere and offered the most memorable gaming night of the year. I watched the conference with three friends, the hours after it ended we spent with P.T screaming and carefully moving forward in the most awesome horrific way. It's a good thing we weren't the first ones to finish it and reveal the secret, I would probably not have survived that. Best gaming reveal ever. Mind = blown.
5. Towerfall Ascension ; One of the greatest local MP games in years.
6. Dark Souls 2 ; Not as good as the first one no but it's still a great adventure that sucks you in for countless of hours at a time.
7. South Park The Stick of Truth ; Surprise of the year for me, didn't expect much but as a South Park fan they really nailed this one. Could be higher on the list if the PS3 version didn't suck balls.
8. Rogue Legacy ; Just lovely and so sooo addicting. Perfect game for the Vita.
9. Watch Dogs ; Yeah, it didn't live up the expectations. Everything regarding the hacking felt gimmicky and dumb. But I loved the vibe of the city and the action sequences were often handled so much better than in GTA.
10. Walking Dead Season 2 ; Not as striking as the first season but Telltale know what they are doing. The story and characters is still very engaging.
1. Fract OSC ; By far my game of the year. I loved the look, the sound, the colours, the way the music played such in integral part in the gameplay, the way the puzzles felt so satisfying, everything about it.
2. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! ; Steam says I've played 175 hours of Borderlands 2, so it's not like I hated it but the writing always felt lacking. The Pre-Sequel was a massive improvement.
3. Far Cry 4 ; After a couple of years, a re-skin of Far Cry 3 was fine by me. Some cool characters and humour and the same amazing gameplay, just a shame the main story was so dour.
4. Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure ; I had never played any of the earlier entries in the series and am not keen on adventure games, as a rule, but loved the setting and tone.
5. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter ; Took a real dive at the end when it tried to wrap up its story but had a wonderful ambience throughout and was worth the price of entry just for being so damn pretty.
6. Roundabout ; Ludicrous.
7. Lifeless Planet ; Dodgy platforming but created a beautifully moody world and told an interesting story.
8. The Talos Principle ; Puzzles pitched at a good level and a really interesting aesthetic.
9. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare ; Shooting people always feels great in Call of Duty and Kevin Spacey was superb.
10. Murdered: Soul Suspect ;
x. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes ; The first Metal Gear Solid I've enjoyed since the original. Pity it was over so quickly, got me very excited for The Phantom Pain.
x. A Bird Story ; A lovely little short, really whet my appetite for Finding Paradise.
x. Into Blue Valley ; Lacking in production values but managed to build rich environment, dripping with atmosphere.
1. Summoners War; By far my favorite game of this year. Started playing it in July and it’s been non-stop ever since. This is the first monster collection game that I have ever gotten into and there are so many good things to say about it that hard to know where to start. There is something happening every day and there are multiple events going on at the same time, with constant updates. This game is really well supported. Lot’s of contests and rewards are handed out every week that it keeps the game fresh even after months of playing. When they preview an update for the game, it doesn’t take months for the update to happen, it usually does in less than a month. New monsters, runes, locations, game modes; the game has grown a lot in content consistently in the last few months.
The Community is actually a community. The global chat channels are full of people that actually like to help and talk about monsters and strategies. I was actually shocked that it wasn’t a pain to read chat while playing. It’s a little sad there isn’t an OT for this game on GAF but there is a vibrant reddit community that is worth going to everyday for new information and talk. The game itself is addictive. You get monsters to collect and fight against pve stages or pvp against other players. The monsters themselves can be leveled up and evolved through a long but fair grind process. The way your monster stand outs against other is how well you equip your monster with runes that form an overall strategy.
It’s a lot of fun and the best part is that the game is not ‘pay to have any fun at all’. People spend lots of money on the game but free players are still able to compete so you don’t feel left out. You could spend your time on the pve side and just collect monsters for your collection or stay on the pvp side (that's my pvp screenshot I took today) and take on one player after another for some really good long term rewards. This year getting an hour or two to sit down and game specifically has been really hard to do so this game has been great in getting small bits of fun on the go.
2. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor; Surprised at how good it actually is. The gameplay, animation, and graphics really shine on this game. Taking down captains in the middle of an enemy crowd was some of the most fun I had in the year.
3. Far Cry 4; The poor-man’s open world game if you needed to get your fill in that department. Game is fun but it gets old quick when you take over so many towers or settlements and they are all the same, nothing unique about them.
4. Call of Duty: Advance Warfare; Way more fun now with all the super jumps and dashes.
x. Saints Row 4; Started playing it a few weeks ago. Fun, funny, I would put this above Far Cry 4 if I could.
I have, but didn't get to play Divinity Original Sin and Wasteland too and I would have loved to play Alien Isolation (I'll catch it at the next sale).
1. Divinity: Original Sin; The CRPG is Back! An amazing world with a first class combat system, this game kept my partner and I glued to our computers for 70 hours. Time basically stopped, the house slowly descended into ruin, my mouse hand was developing RSI and our leave from work was quickly running out, who cares! We have a world to save.
2. Alien Isolation; The third Alien sequel. Atmosphere bleeding from every vent, this game was terrifying, best survival horror in a long time. Creative Assembly have done a remarkable job, give them every horror IP you can think of, The Thing, Predator, Event Horizon etc.
3. Wolfenstein: The New Order; This is the most fun I have had with an FPS since Riddick, funny that
I haven't finished 7&8 on my list but have played enough of them to know they warrant a place in my top 10 so I figured putting them towards the bottom was the best idea.
1. Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc ; It's not often I get a new genre to enjoy but this is the first Visual Novel I've ever loved which I think is enough to put it top of my list. Can't add much more due to spoilers but I hope I can add that it was great at creating a foreboding sense of despair.
2. TxK ; Along with Lumines and another game on this list I learned that electric colours popping out of the Vita screen with similarly electronic music are what I need to get into that flow state.
You can tell it's been perfected over decades, it features my favourite soundtrack of the year (Noise Pulse!) and even manages to sneak some British humour in there.
3. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair ; Reached higher peaks than it's predecessor but sadly it also took several backwards steps.
4. Pix The Cat ; More exciting electronic excellence but this time with a nice Nostalgia mode (B&W cartoon artstyle) to calm me down afterwards which actually become my favourite part of a generous package.
6. Luftrausers ; More electronic music? Anyway this is one of the best pick up and play games in recent memory, suppose you can't go wrong with a mixture of massive combos and narrow escapes.
7. Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth ; The Persona casts are even more endearing when bantering away in a chibi form.
8. Dark Souls II
9. Rogue Legacy
10. Don't Starve: Reign of Giants
x. Sportsfriends ; Haven't laughed so much playing a game in years, but sadly that was for under an hour so doesn't seem right to include it.
This. I'm still working on mine (love making lists!), but I definitely came up with some games that I've seen in very few posts so far. This year's list has been pretty difficult to come up with, there's a lot of great games and I feel bad for leaving Alien: Isolation and Binding of Isaac in honorable mentions.
It would be an understatement to say that this was not my favorite year ever for video games, but there were still a few gems.
1. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare ; Twelve months ago I never would have believed that a team-based shooter and one that by all appearances looked like a cynical cash grab by EA would be my favorite game of the year, but here we are. Garden Warfare is the most fun Ive ever had with a third person shooter. The games beautiful family-friendly aesthetic and charming sense of humor won me over faster and harder than anything else I played this year.
2. South Park: The Stick of Truth ; A nearly perfect video game interpretation of a South Park episode, Stick of Truth really held nothing back. It was funny, well-acted, ballsy, looked great and also managed to be a really fun Mario-esque RPG. Its the only story-based game I have played in recent memory that actually left me wanting more instead of wearing out its welcome.
3. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor ; There is nothing new I could say about this game. Nemesis system, etc. etc. etc. Great stuff.
4. Binding of Isaac: Rebirth ; I played the original BoI when it released on PC a few years ago, but never delved too deep into it. Not the case with Rebirth. Its a weird, brutal, unfair piece of shit, and I play it every single night.
5. Dark Souls II ; By far my biggest disappointment of the year, but Id be dishonest if I didnt admit it was also one of my favorites. I feel like its on this list only because it managed to avoid screwing up Dark Souls too badly, not because it improved on much that the original did.
6. Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions ; I went from hating this newfangled take on Geometry Wars to falling madly in love in the span of a few days. It kept me coming back again and again until I finally beat that damn Topaz boss.
7. Defense Grid 2 ; Tower defense at its finest. The first is one of my favorite games on XBLA and this one is every bit as great.
8. Wolfenstein: The New Order ; FPSs dont really do it for me these days, so I was pleasantly surprised that this one did. Solid shooting, a surprisingly good story, and dismembered Nazis made this one easy to enjoy.
9. Threes ; This novel and addictive puzzle game has charm for days. Its a real shame about all the imitators, all of which lack the soul of Threes.
10. Spelunky ; One of the best games ever made, now on PS4.
1. Bayonetta 2 ; The definitive action game. Platinum used everything they have learned thus far and created their most polished, focused, crazy, and utterly fantastic game yet. The Masked Lumen is the best boss battle in an action game, bar none. And Bayonetta 1 thrown in for the sake of it? *swoon* One of the all time greats.
2. Super Smash Bros for Wii U ; I find the speed and physics of this to be just right for what Smash should be. Combined with the gigantic character roster this is the best Smash yet. Downsides are the over reliance on hazards in stages and the disappointing mini games.
3. Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havok ; This series really made my Vita purchase worth it. The atmosphere of Hope's Peak was phenomenal, and learning the secrets of the scenario throughout the game until the very ending climax was really great.
4. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair ; I'm actually yet to finish this one, currently about 2/3's through I'd say, but I feel this is where it belongs on my list. I think the overall cast is better in this, the first had some really annoying characters, but the setting isn't as good, and some of the mini games in the trials are horrendous.
5. Hohokum ; I had a really good time with this. The visuals are gorgeous to look at, especially in the levels where you can fly around really fast with a lot going on, the carnival is especially good. The phenomenal soundtrack is what makes it though, with every area just getting you in the mood to keep on playing.
It helps that it isn't just a shallow game with nice music and visuals though, there's some sweet levels that were a load of fun on their own right.
6. Mario Kart 8 ; This is pretty much the best Mario Kart. The graphics are fantastic, the courses are great, the gravity gimmick is loads of fun, and the DLC is adding even more greatness. Only downsides are battle mode and the weak character roster (Bowser Jr and Dry Bones where are you ;_
7. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze ; I dunno why this game didn't click with me as much as Returns did, it'd be up at number 3 if it did, I blame the crappy swimming sections. Still a fantastic game though and one of the years best. The platforming physics are spot on, the level design is ace, and the OST is beautiful.
8. Infamous: Second Son ; I had a load of fun playing around with some of the powers. Well, 90% neon but still. Neon was ace. The open world is horridly shallow though, but I expected that seeing it was in the first two games as well.
9. Hyrule Warriors ; Fan service ahoy. As a big Zelda fan I had a load of fun playing this. Having never played a Musou before probably helped, as the gameplay was really fresh for me. Best designs ever for Zelda, Ganondorf, and Impa as well.
10. Rogue Legacy ; Yet to finish this as it's a bit of a grind. But it's a really fun game to play bits and pieces of now and again. It's really well crafted with ace controls and enemy designs. You can really see yourself improving as you make it further and further and everything gets easier and easier, so it's a really rewarding game.
Having it on the go on Vita is great too, and cross buy/save is fantastic <3
x. Pokemon Alpha Sapphire ; I actually haven't put as much time into this as I would have liked, but what I have played has been quite good. Hoenn has been really faithfully recreated, and some areas look really sweet, I love the battle screen in the route covered in volcanic ash for instance. Having Wingulls on the beach and stuff is a really nice touch that adds a lot to the world too. Shame it retains all the performance issues of XY though, I would have liked to see some more engine polish.
x. Shovel Knight ; I've only played a few stages of this so it didn't make my list, but it was really well crafted and felt just as tight as they games it's inspired by.
x. Child of Light ; Yet to finish this one either. The visuals are gorgeous and the music is really nice. Battle system can be good at times, but frustrating at others. Generally depending on the amount and speed of the enemies, it can be hard to ever get to actually make an action if you're being attacked too frequently.
1. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor ; Early in my playing of this game, I had to climb a tower to reveal items on the map and enable fast travel. I had just finished Assassins Creed III, so my immediate reaction was to put down the controller and set the game aside. I was done climbing towers and finding stupid little things on the map.
But I kept playing. I dont remember why, but what I do remember is how incredible the game made you feel. On low levels, your encounters with Orcs were actually dangerous - nevermind if another captain wandered into your path and joined the fray. Certain Orcs were driving me crazy, I just couldnt take them down. As you progress and gain levels, your targets become bigger. One of my favourite moments from any game this year is when an Orc General enters the battle: the slowed camera, the booming drums, the chanting of his name.
The skills that you earn along the way, while making the game decidedly easier, make taking down Orcs more enjoyable. Eventually I mainly used stealth tactics - which surprised me, because I usually ignore stealth routes.
The story is forgettable, but the world was well-thought out. This game was a great surprise.
2. The Banner Saga ; I jumped on the Kickstarter for this one, and then promptly ignored all updates (as is my general practice with Kickstarter games that I back). When I first loaded up the game, I was met with one of the most convincing depictions of a world that I have experienced in a game. Despair saturates everything; it is inescapable. There were some incredible moments here, particularly the fight on the bridge to defend a last hold.
The combat starts off with a hint of complexity that wasnt totally fulfilled, and the spike in difficulty at the final boss was a letdown. But those things cant hold down my fondness for this incredible game.
3. Dragon Age: Inquisition ; Wow! 20 hours in, this was my game of the year. I am a sucker for world building, and Bioware has done a remarkable job in creating a world here. Each area offers something different, and quite often I ran around completing quests just for the sake of satisfying my need to explore.
But after some time, little things began to nag on me. For instance, using the war table (even navigating to the room) became a major pain. I also hated managing my inventory, and for that matter, found most of the loot underwhelming.
Yet those are complaints that arose because of how much time I sunk in. I continue to rake up my play time in spite of those complaints. Bioware excels at creating a community and then grounding it with a sense of place. The crew of the Inquisition doesnt beat out those who joined you in Mass Effect 1, but they are people whom you come to know and remember.
4. Final Fantasy X HD Remaster ; I fell in love with this game when it first came out since your party is composed of some of my favourite characters from a game. This was my first time playing the extra content found in the International Version, and I loved it. The game was made even better by playing it on my Vita. Such a perfect combination.
5. Wolfenstein: The New Order ; Despite the praise, I thought this game was standard fare when I started playing it. However, I pushed through my initial sense of meh to discover my favourite part: stealth! So much fun to use the knife.
The story is over-praised, but I didnt care. The game was great fun.
6. The Fall ; This is such an interesting game. The story is dark, the art is beautiful, and the puzzles are twisted. Worth playing for the story alone.
7. 80 Days ; This game inspires such a sense of adventure. I wouldnt have thought it possible in a mobile, text-based game, but they nail it. I love traveling the globe, scouting the next part of my route. I cant imagine a reason not to play this game.
8. Kentucky Route Zero: Act III ; The fever-dream continues in Act III. I have no idea what is going on, but I cant stop being a part of it. An incredibly unique experience that is sure to turn off some (the type who call games walking simulators), but those who get in will be rewarded with the vision of the Zero.
And there is an amazing song sequence in this Episode!
9. Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea: Episode 2 ; As I continue my list, talking about worlds, I need to say that Rapture is one of my favourite places. Episode 2 took me back, and I enjoyed the revisit. The story was a little shaky - a bow tied a bit too neat
10. Destiny ; What a weird experience. I couldnt help but groan at everything in this game during my first few hours. Sure, the shooting was superb, but everything else felt so empty and pointless.
And then the loop kicked in, and I was playing for the pure enjoyment of combat. Levelling was good, but pointless. Playing solo, some dungeons posed a genuine threat, and I blew through the last of the story missions.
Which brought me back to Whats the point? The answer I found was There is none. Maybe it is my fault: I ignored this game early on, knowing that I would play much of it solo. I thought it wouldnt be for me, for Bungies hype of their story made me think that I could enjoy it. And for some time, I did. But ultimately I felt lied to.
This game gets bonus points for the pure joy of hitting suckers with the knife. Every time I play an FPS game now, I play as if I still have a melee that will work that way. I am always disappointed that I dont.
x. Divinity: Original Sin ; Very sad that I haven't had a chance to play more of this. So far, it's a winner, but I need more time with it.
1. Sunset Overdrive; Not my favourite setting, nor style (so crazy), nor kind of game... but it is so good is deserves top spot.
I love the humor, I love the overall style. The city is great, lots of (crazy) things to look at, good variety of enemies, super-crazy weapons. I was hooked on the story, on the side-missions, I'm still hooken on the challenges. I enjoy the online, which is different and interesting, I think a competitive mode could have been crazily funny (it's Insomniac afterall, they know how to do it).
This is a game that has delivered 100% and then some. Two thumbs up for Insomniac, I got a XBone for this game and I'm happy about it. There's a thing of two I would "change", but it's really minor stuff, this game is amazing. I can't wait to see the next game they really want to do!
(And to think that I was pissed when they announced its exclusivity, live and learn I guess, they knew what they needed to go to make this happen and that's what counts).
2. Dragon Age: Inquisition; After playing Dragon Age 90h+ and skipping DA2 entirely (good for me), I'm finally playing the series again!
This is both a great and a big game. I'm 60+ hours into it and really enjoying it. After so many hours It feels both a world that I know and that I still need to explore, well-known and fresh at the same time.
The various locales are great, the world is lively, beautiful, detailed and varied. There's a couple of things I don't fully enjoy, like the stupid fauna that wants to be constantly slauthered (bears, wolves, whatevs, I'm a WWF subscriber for goodness' sake!) and would have been nice to have a seamless transition between areas (but that's something I don't mind too much). Skyhold is a bit labirintine, but I'm getting used.
I really like the cast of characters, they are all well-rounded and believable. I especially love Varric, Solas (my DA Vulcan friend), Dorian is also pretty cool, I wish Vivienne was a female Dorian so I'd romance her. Sera is really too crazy and Cole a bit creepy (are rogues supposed to be weirdos?), but I really like the variery of character, also like very much Iron Bull and his charges.
What I really like is that you really feel in charge and in control of the situation, you kind of rise to the status of hero and do your best to save your ass and the whole world in the process. The game puts you in the center of it all, in a way that makes sense.
3. Infamous: Second Son; I loved it to bits, great story, awesome world and characters. Delsin is NOT my kind of hero, but I really liked him. Excellent overall and really inspired.
I feel Second Son is absolutely the best Infamous game, they clearly made a step forward with this story and character wise.
I was really "shocked" by the introduction of Fetch, her story was hard to swallow, touching in an enraging way, but not over the top. It felt like a grown-up game, but where characters would stay true to themselves. I like the different settings and challenges.
4. Driveclub; I suck at driving, but can't stop playing this game.
A driving game with no fuss, a great feel and breathtaking graphics. I think I like how you can play 5 minutes and still have fun. You don't need to be committed to enjoy it, but you have to take your time to get good.
I can't drift for the life of me, and still drive with automatic transmission, but I won't give up.
Too bad they had such terrible launch, this game really deserves more respect.
I don't understand why using DS4 motion sensor is not a no-brainer for all driving games. It's the next best thing after a steering wheel, and so much better than the sticks (incomparable actually!)
5. Divinity: Original Sin; Great game! This managed to make me play with a mouse and keyboard!!!
Really loved the character building, so much freedom and quite deep. Very nice world, everything was really well done and I had many co-op hours of fun.
6. Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare (Ps4); I knew this would be cool, but it really delivered much more than I expected.
Really fun to play, tons of options, characters, customization. Very good maps- The amount of content and diversity is impressive and I played it for many hours.
7. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare; Didn't expect a COD to be in my top ten, but Advanced Warfare was really good. Too bad about the lack of dedicated servers, as it really ruined the online experience, otherwise I would probably still play it. Excellent work on the new mechanics and I really enjoyed the campaign.
This kind of game is probably what I wished Titanfall would be (but wasn't), it's fun to think COD stepped in its stead!
8. Destiny; Ok, in truth I wasn't sure whether to put this on the list, but honestly I've been playing it so much it doesn't seem fair not to. It lasted this long because I've played every last minute of it with my buddy. The thing is, considering the budget and development time everyone expected more.
I don't really have much to complain about when it comes to the very game, it plays great, I love the classes and subclasses but... the end game IS quite repetitive after a while. I don't understand how a game of this caliber doesn't have something like random-generated strikes, fairer rewards, etc.
I still felt the game had delivered, until they launched the DLC which is quite a joke. As in, yes, it is confirmed that this was stripped from the main game...
At this point the fun is in tricking the game, solo RAIDs for the win! Seriously, that's the most interesting and exciting part of the game, even Nightfall are boring at this point.
Little big Planet 3:
I wish I could have put this on my top ten list, but it's been a nightmare trying to play co-op. Updates also were slow and unreliable and I still have to pick up the game again.
Such a pity as I'm a huge fan of the franchise (to me is one of the reasons why I need to have a playstation) and was looking forward to playing all the different characters and their new adventures.
Halo Master Chief Collection:
as someone that has only played Halo Reach MP, I was looking forward to enjoying the whole story (and some online, why not!), haven't touched it considering the reported buggyness.
I also wanted to have a secon reason to own an X1, pity!
I know I may get some hate for this, but I think DriveClub deserves a mention. Granted, the issues at launch, the long delay, however the game is still a lot of fun and fills in that arcade type of racing game that has gone missing as of late. My other nominations is Sunset Overdrive,
I didnt play as many games as I would have liked last year, but these are mine:
1. Shadow of Mordor
Now this is very surprising, never would have expected a LoTR licensed game to be my GoTY, but the nemesis system was just too fun and the story was well written and acted at least (Although the end game and boss fights were a let down in general).
2. Infamous: Second Son
Super impressive game. Awesome visuals and enjoyable main missions. Look forward to the next game. Enjoyed the DLC as well. This impressed me more than SoM, but the nemesis system gave that game the edge.
3. Last of Us: Remastered
Played the ps3 version before, so this was never going to get the no. 1 spot, but it looks awesome now with upgraded visuals.
Really looking forward to digging into GTAV (which i never played on ps3) and Dragon Age Inquisition now!
Sadly, I'm going into this knowing that my post will be a bit weak this year. I simply didn't have the time to play everything I would have liked to play to the extent that I would have liked to play it, largely due to spending more time playing more multiplayer games with friends, pouring a lot of my time into working on a game of my own, and playing games more slowly in general due to taking them on in more difficult ways.
but whatever let's go
D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die (Xbox One) Access Games, Microsoft Studios
Very cool game. It's more charming than and at least as weird as Deadly Premonition, but the point and click format allows this game to simply stick to the good stuff (instead of boring you with garbage action scenes and cross-town driving). Season one isn't the longest, but I was really surprised at how dense it is. Tons of things to look at and read and collect, many of which are actually interesting, and even the QTEs are very well-done. Not much in the way of puzzle difficulty, but I didn't really mind. I really hope we get more of this.
Divinity: Original Sin (PC) Larian Studios, Larian Studios
This is a genre I don't have a lot of experience with, but the freedom, the well-done item randomization, and above all else the combat make this game crazy engaging. I've never seen anything quite like the way Original Sin lets you set traps and start chain reactions using the elements, and it's all very elegantly handled by the UI. My co-op game got cut short so I'll have to wait a bit before getting back into this, unfortunately.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (Wii U) Nintendo, Nintendo
Honestly, prior to this game I hadn't put more than an hour or two into the franchise, so I can't really deliver earth-shattering criticism here. It's pretty well-established that these games are great, and I don't really have any specific thoughts when it comes to this iteration versus the others. All of my friends that grew up with an N64 and knew Smash inside and out had trouble believing exactly how hard of a time I had adjusting to this, but I started to really enjoy myself once I stopped overshooting everything and was able to keep track of my character in a four-player match. The game couldn't be nicer to look at, and it's very, very satisfying to send people flying with Ike's lateral smash. I'm surprised at how well-done all the fluff modes are, too, as well as how readable the game can be during 8-player matches.
Crimzon Clover WORLD IGNITION (PC) YOTSUBANE, Adventure Planning Service
It's hard to put into exact words what makes a given shooter good (beyond "great scoring system", "great music", etc) largely because they're action games with really simple base mechanics and what makes or breaks them is often a collection of smaller design decisions the developers make across really dense levels. Blink and you'll miss them. If you spend a lot of time playing Cave games and then hop over to, say, Shienryu Explosion, you'll find that Shienryu just isn't as tight, to put it really simply. Something like Espgaluda has more enemy variety, more aesthetic variety, perfect pacing with zero slower moments. It's so totally dense. There's always something to do, be it a complicated scoring system you can mess with in the parts you're more comfortable with (maybe working toward some earlier extends), a boss pattern to learn to stop relying on bombs for, or a particularly nasty stretch of turrets you're just struggling to handle at all. Crimzon Clover is relentlessly dense in a way that so few games outside of Cave's are. I'm amazed that it lived up to the praise. The only thing bringing the overall experience down below Cave's level are the visuals, but all in all they're still servicable and skillfully making your way around a playfield still looks awesome.
Alien: Isolation (PC) The Creative Assembly, SEGA
Easily, easily the most frightening game I've played in years. I have to admit I haven't finished this yet, and I'm embarassed to say that's why. I love how uncertain I feel while playing this game. I love that you have to consciously take focus away from the radar if you want to walk around while holding it up. I love how the pistol can only really save you in certain extreme situations. And I love how I can't really ever be sure of what the Alien is going to do next, as his AI is a bit random in the best way and will kill you in ways that many other games don't. And those death animations! And those sometimes spaced-out save points! And then, as if that all wasn't enough, the game is completely playable with the Oculus Rift DK2. Suddenly it's so much more immersive when you're hiding under a desk and poking your head out to get a look at the alien, or being truly alone in the dark vents and wondering how much you can get away with using your radar. And getting grabbed by the alien is particularly nasty. I've recoiled to that in ways I've never done for any other piece of entertainment, hah. It's both the prettiest and meatiest game that supports the headset, hands-down, and if you can deal with the setup process, you're rewarded with what is easily the tensest horror-themed game I've ever played. Playing on Hard.
Dark Souls II (360, PC) FROM Software, Namco Bandai Games
While it isn't quite as strong as the original, it turns out that a slightly weaker Dark Souls is still a pretty great game. The game seems bigger overall, with more areas and probably more aesthetic variety between those areas (and the highs are probably as high as those in the original, if not higher), but they aren't as elegantly interconnected as the original and the scope is a little watered-down due to bonfire teleportation being available from the start. The bosses have lamer designs than the original, though there are still plenty of cool ones. The final boss is a cakewalk compared to the original's, which is a bummer. On the other hand, the fights with standard enemies are better across the board. Enemies are way harder to backstab, even when humanoid, and there's more variety overall in how you have to handle them. The environments are just as devious and mysterious as ever, thankfully, and had me constantly wondering if I was on the right path. And the covenants seem way more fun, too, due to things like the
slaughter parties at the belfries
. And if you throw in the DLC (and you should), the game gets even more massive than the original did with Artorias of the Abyss, and you'll be crawling through some of the best environments in the series. But why is this game less bloody? This is a game that should stay bloody.
Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- (PS4) Arc System Works, Arc System Works
From the perspective of a fighting game scrub, Guilty Gear always seemed like the coolest of the big 2D franchises. It had a million little system mechanics, a massive cast, and a seriously unique and excellent aesthetic. Xrd is the first of these games that I've been able to put more than an hour or so into, though, and the boldest claim that I feel comfortable making is that this is one of the greatest-looking games and easily the best-looking fighting game. I hear that the mechanics have been made a bit more approachable, but the game still seems plenty dense in that area: you still have a million ways to defend, a lot of ways to move around, and the characters are all still insanely mechanically unique (have you even seen bedman jesus christ). The home version treatment is great, too: the Network stuff is really interesting and feature-filled (if a bit inelegant) and there's a really nice amount of tutorial ranging from super basic to super character-specific.
Wolfenstein: The New Order (PC) MachineGames, Bethesda Softworks
Oh my god, this game is excellent. It might have the most satisfying guns, hit reactions, melee attacks, and gore in the genre. The weapons are varied and pretty much all of them have multiple firing modes and can be held akimbo (with separate firing modes in each hand), which can get pretty ludicrous. The arenas tend to be a little more Halo than Call of Duty, and the enemy types often have to be handled in distinct ways (to the point where you'll turn a corner and get legit scared at what you've run into from time to time). There's some stealth, and it's a bit lightweight, but it's appropriate given how relatively infrequent it is. And the stages are so well-paced. It strikes a great balance between insane combat, lightweight stealth, well-done but not excessive setpiece stuff, and world-building downtime. You might laugh at that last one, but the game has way more personality than I expected. Such a great setting, too. It doesn't hit the mechanical heights of Serious Sam 3, but it excels everywhere else and is the best first person shooter I've played since. Played on Uber.
Bayonetta 2 (Wii U) PlatinumGames, Nintendo
This game is wonderful. It's not a massive departure from the original or anything, but being able to start on a harder difficulty level without spoiling sooooooo much of the game on an easy playthrough makes such a huge difference, and I'm almost wanting to put this above the original Bayonetta due to that alone. But nah, even with that aside it's a better game. It has prettier and more varied settings, more of those nice change-of-pace moments of quiet where you poke around the environment, a massive cast of enemies that seems to deflect your attacks more often, more useful enemy weapon pickups, a much better end stretch, cutscenes that know when to wrap up, and extras out the wazoo. I haven't played the original game on NSIC yet, and it seems like that's where it would shine the most, but that means I can't compare the two games on their hardest difficulties. I'm hoping Bayonetta 2's version holds up, because everything else about it does and then some. 3rd Climax mode.
The Evil Within (PC) Tango Gameworks, Bethesda Softworks
Excellent. Right up there with Mikami's other great action games. It's probably most comparable to Dead Space in terms of basic movement and aiming, but the combat comes together so much better. The act of shooting the enemies in this game is as much of a pleasure as it is in RE4, where it's never too easy to get a headshot due to the gun shake and the enemies loving lateral movement, and enemy hit reactions are top-tier. Ammo is super tight, though, probably moreso than in any third-person shooter I can think of, so you'll have to resort to using environmental traps, grouping enemies together to light them on fire, stealth killing them (often not an option), running and swerving (not an option you can abuse), or even hiding Clock Tower style, in some cases. Damage is high (and often brutally animated in the case of the game's one-hit kills) and checkpoints are well-placed. Combine it with how oppressive and trap-heavy the settings can get and things are almost always super tense. It's all generally well-paced, too, with the game constantly throwing unique situations at you, but there are a couple notable lesser chapters. I like that the tone is substantially more serious than something like RE4, and I like the main character's backstory as told through little journal bits, but the characters are dull and not voiced very well and the existential plot is pretty messy. At least it takes you through a lot of Cool Horror Scenarios. PC version, Survival difficulty, using a gamepad.
Honorable Mentions (a few other good games in no meaningful order)
Armored Hunter GUNHOUND EX (PC) Dracue, Playism
I love the movement in Assault Suits Valken. I love the weight of the mech when you land, the slow-ass jump jets, the rotational aiming, holding your aim, and probably most of all, the sliding back and forth. This game has all of that, only everything's faster. You're faster, the enemies are faster, and you definitely die faster. It's awesome. The presentation is a little rough in some spots, and not really as good as Leynos 2, but it looks a whole tier above GIGANTIC ARMY. There's even some likable voice acting! And the challenge is probably just right. The only beef I have is that some of the dialogue is unskippable, making one credit clear attempts a little more bloated than they need to be.
Far Cry 4 (PC) Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft
I really liked Far Cry 3. This isn't a huge leap over it, but it is a solid improvement. There's a lot more variety in the side-missions, and they're mostly all enjoyable (a pretty rare thing to say about free-roaming games). Sneaking around, getting caught, losing the enemies, and then circling around and getting the jump on them is as fun as it was last time. Surprisingly good plot, too, though I did get the absolute worst ending. Shame the co-op is buggy.
Titanfall (PC) Respawn Entertainment, Electronic Arts
The double-jumping, the ledge grabbing, the wall running (and gaining speed for doing so), the zipline stuff, and riding on top of Titans make playing as a pilot in this game hella satisfying and not like any other first person shooter out there. The Titans are cool, too, but not as cool as the pilots. The grunts and spectors are a cool twist on paper and add a lot of aesthetic flare to what would otherwise be your typical empty FPS maps, too, especially in Attrition where you're often mowing them down four at a time.
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PC) Monolith, Warner Bros.
The way the dynamic armies work and tie into stealth/combat is legitimately great and I'd love to see further revisions of it. There's undeniable appeal in slaughtering countless Uruks and seeing all the ways you can affect their army. It kind of gave me a Shinobido vibe. The combat itself is straight out of the Batman games, with maybe a little bit more of a bite to it given how large and endless some of the fights can be, so it's awesome-looking but a bit too easy to master. I don't know how you'd fix that without throwing the system out. I liked this overall.
Quake II VR (PC) id Software (original) and dghost (VR port), id Software
Oddly enough I played a lot of this as a kid, but it was mostly multiplayer and dicking around with mods. I never played through the campaign. It's definitely a weaker game than Quake, Doom, Doom 2, and even Doom 3, largely due to having pretty bland maps that the player has to backtrack a bit through and a bit less weapon variety than those games, but it's still pretty good. Nice and fast with varied gross enemies and rockin' music. The Rift support was magic, though. It uses a deadzone-based control scheme and actually works incredibly well. After adjusting to it I found myself doing the usual mouse and keyboard shit, jumping 180 shots and stuff. And these maps are so massive when you're actually in them! I want to play many more first person shooters like this. I can't wait to do so. It's so ridiculously immersive that it made Quake II feel like the future. This isn't a 2014 game, obviously, but this was such a huge experience for me and the hardware and engine modifications that made it possible were released this year, so I wanted to make an honorable mention of it. Assuming that's okay!
Video games rule. Same time next year.
For the tally:
1. The Evil Within ; Among Mikami's very best games.
2. Bayonetta 2 ;
3. Wolfenstein: The New Order ;
4. Guilty Gear Xrd ;
5. Dark Souls II ;
6. Alien Isolation ;
7. Crimzon Clover WORLD IGNITION ;
8. Super Smash Bros. For Wii U ;
9. Divinity: Original Sin ;
10. D4 ;
x. Gunhound EX ;
x. Far Cry 4 ;
x. Titanfall ;
x. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor ;
xx. Quake II VR ;
1. P.T. ; I've never been into horror games until this one. It was the biggest surprise of the year for me. I had so much fun playing through P.T. with friends his year.
2. Infamous: Second Son
3. Minecraft ; I never thought I'd understand why people play this game. I remember my ex and his friends playing it years ago before it had a console release. It looked pointless. I finally gave it a chance when it came out on PS4 and had a total blast. It's really opened my mind to the idea of games without objectives, virtual sandboxes.
4. Destiny ; This would have been my game of the year if there weren't so many flaws. The core of the game is AMAZING, but there's so little content that they've had to implement a massive grind. I have spent more time with it than any other game this year, so it would be unfair to not have it in my top 10.
5. TowerFall Ascension
6. South Park: The Stick of Truth
7. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
8. Forza Horizon 2
9. Hitman Go
10. Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition
1. The Evil Within ; Basically RE 4.5 for me. I recognize some jankiness in the gameplay. the framerate dips are pretty bad, especially in the early chapters. but the game just really clicked for me. I loved the atmosphere in most of the chapters and the level design. The story was kind of all over the place, but when it was working well (ie. chapter 9) it kept me interested. I feel like with some extra polish, more consistent frame-rate, etc. this would be universally liked.
2. MGSV: Ground Zeroes ; Amazing open level design among a sea of games that are either too linear, or hollow open-world collection fests. It has a very GTA-ish feel to it in terms of experimenting with different game tactics and messing around in the world, but the mission design is more compelling to me than a GTA. I hope the level design can be as tight with larger levels and even more gameplay options.
3. The Last of Us: Left Behind ; Perfect story DLC. Though I do wish it was longer. The Length:Cost disparity is greater with this piece of DLC vs. something like GZ even (I put over 30 hours into that). One of the main critisims i've seen for this DLC is that the non-riley sections are bad. I completely disagree. I love the level design, and I love the stealth in TLoU, and LB just continues that and allows for a couple of really interesting infected and human combined scenarios that you can play around with. would have been nice if they could have integrated a couple of those into the main game for the remastered release.
4. Far Cry 4; Random amazing moments. Tight shooting mechanics. Decent stealth for an FPS. Basically more Far Cry 3, but with a much better story.
5. Oddworld: New 'n Tasty!; Amazing remake of a personal favorite and PS1 classic. I was so impressed at how well the game worked with continuous side-scrolling and without separate "panels." I want Exoddus so bad.
6. Spelunky; I've never been into many rogue-likes or similar games, but this hooked me and I could not put it down until I beat Olmec, and yes I understand the game has just begun
7. The Swapper; Great puzzler with incredible atmosphere. A great example of a smaller indie experience that didn't rely on retro visuals for appeal.
8. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor; Loved the nemesis system and had a great time with the game. Felt like the Batman-ish combat was good, but made far too easy by the ability to counter at anytime no matter what. And I wasn't terribly impressed with the level design of middle earth itself. would have liked to see small towns or villages with npcs. and the story sucked.
9. Infamous: Second Son ; A huge step back for me from Infamous 2, but still a very enjoyable experience in what was ultimately a pretty weak year for games. the combat was as tight as ever, and it look gorgeous.
10. Luftrausers; Excellent arcade-like experience. Great soundtrack.
x. The Last of Us: Remastered; Deserves a mention and should be recognized for how great the MP was and the game as a whole at 60FPS. but it was GOTY last year. If it were a new experience, it probably would have been this year as well
x. P.T.; More of a reward for how original the idea is of having a small gameplay experience with puzzles serve as a teaser and an announcement of a game. it's genius and i hope other devs copy the idea in the future.
1. Divinity: Original Sin ; Best turn based combat in a RPG I’ve ever played. The story was forgettable but the combat, world interactivity, and elemental combinations made this by far the standout game of 2014 for me. 2. Might & Magic X: Legacy ; A great old school PC RPG experience. The combat was fun and the exploration was a blast. Hope this game did well enough to allow Ubisoft to do more of these types of games. 3. 80 Days ; Fantastic writing. The game systems are just present enough to keep me engaged while allowing me to experience all these heroic/funny/tragic moments that always lead to a larger and satisfying story of my travels. 4. Hearthstone ; Blizzard made a card game enjoyable enough for me to overlook it’s more shitty F2P aspects. I only really came to love this game once I managed to craft/buy enough cards to build a variety of viable decks, but man is it now fun to play. 5. Shadowrun: Dragonfall ; Another great RPG with a fantastic story. Bit a surprise after the decent but very forgettable Dead Man’s Switch, but Harebrained stepped up and improved pretty much every area of the game to create something wonderful. 6. Dark Souls 2 ; A sequel to one of my favourite games in the past few years. It didn’t grab me as much as the first, maybe it was the setting or disconnected feeling of the world, but I still had plenty of fun with it and can recognize some clear improvements. 7. Valiant Hearts: The Great War ; loved the setting, and its attempt to teach history. 8. Legend of Grimrock 2 ; I’m a sucker for first person dungeon stuff. Let me look for hidden switches in walls and I’m happy. 9. South Park: The Stick of Truth ; Short and very easy, but fun enough. 10. The Banner Saga ; A game I wish I spent more time with. Absolutely beautiful.
1. DRIVECLUB ; Easily the most underrated game of 2014 and the game I've had by far the most fun with. Despite a rocky start with an unreliable online infrastructure, the core game does so many things incredibly well, that it's just relentlessly addictive and rewarding.
In terms of overall racing thrill, sense of speed, atmosphere, immersion, graphical realism, sound design, rewarding challenge, vehicle and track quality and overall attention to detail, Driveclub is peerless right now, peerless in so many of these things that are fundamentals to the racing genre. This is a game that does indeed go back to an old school system of game design, throwing away the need for any unnecessary fluff or fanfare, and instead makes the cars and the thrill of racing itself all the fanfare and focus. This is a pure skill, lean, and somewhat stripped back racer, but mostly by design, not by failure.
Yes it is a track based racer, but features some of the best tracks in any racing game out there. Yes it's menu's are super simple, but are very quick to navigate and load insanely fast. Yes there are no upgrades or tuning options, so everyone is always on a level playing field, and it's all about pure skill. Yes there are perhaps fewer cars than in many racers, but there's still a solid number of them, they're insanely detailed, and have more unique quality and personality between them than in most racers. Yes there are no difficulty options in the tour, racing lines or rewind options, but this harkens back to the pure skill, no nonsense, limited hand holding nature of the game. Yes there is no narrative, narration and little fanfare, but as mentioned, the vehicles and racing are the fanfare.
Whilst the game is not without it's faults, the overall racing thrill that DC brings to the genre is unmatched. It will have your heart thumping, and your palms sweating, more than any racer you've played. It consistently offers truly edge of your seat and exhilarating experiences, and the Tours, Challenges, Hot Laps, Face Offs etc, all offer copious amounts of content and challenge to fine tune one's skills. The game is just solid in what it sets out to do.
Since it's launch there's also been a barrage of new tracks, vehicles, tours, liveries and packs added, along with weather and photo mode, and it's made the game a far more accomplished overall package.
Buy it. Put on your headphones. Completely turn off the HUD. Switch to Dash cam or Cockpit view. Enjoy.
2. Dragon Age: Inquisition ; This is another game that somewhat surprised me. Not being too much of a fan of the second instalment in the franchise, and finding Skyrim rather unexciting only a short while in to the game, I expected a similar experience with DAI, however my expectations could not have been father from the truth.
Everything about the game is an improvement over it's last iteration. The world, the narrative, your sense of place, progress and accomplishment. The quality of the writing and characters, the overall mission and story pacing, the rich and artistically beautiful numerous worlds and locations within it. Everything is just more poignant, more rewarding and more entertaining. As the narrative progresses, and your characters prominence is built up and made more intrinsic to the world around you, you feel rewarded for your time investment, and in turn feel more motivation to explore and delve in to the world Bioware has created.
The missions and objectives are on the whole less mundane than in other similar open world games, and there is a constant stream of loot, rewards and upgrades that keep you engaged and interested. The game throws just enough alternative or deviating design aspects to mix things up, from the focus on crafting, to the war room, random decision making, material collecting, hunting, taverns, upgrades, skill tree's and so on.
The combat itself whilst still somewhat lacking in complexity, is aided by the diversity in skill and talent options, along with the ability to switch attacks and specials, change characters on the fly, or switch to the top down strategic combat mode, things that all offer additional tactical variety and fun factor. The game rights so many of the wrongs of it's previous iteration, and comes together to be a far more engrossing and interesting affair.
3. Transistor ; A mesmerisingly beautiful experience, that consistently exudes a rich sense of style and uniqueness. It's captivating and also extremely rewarding. The combat is layered, quirky and fun, allowing for a variety of engagement options and tactics that are surprisingly deep, which together with the stupendously atmospheric art, audio design, and the very subtle delivery of narrative and plot, completely drew me in.
4. InFamous: Second Son ; To me the game's strongest quality was it's liberating, exciting, and dramatic traversal options. The use of these weird, wonderful and outrageously over the top powers, and the immense mobility and dynamism they offered, coupled with a city drenched in atmosphere and beauty, made for an at times exhilarating experience. It also offered me one of my first true next gen wow moments, when I first obtained the Neon power and blitzed my way around the dark night of the city, endlessly just for the thrill, illuminating everything within my path along the way. It was both gorgeous and breathtaking.
This is a game that at times makes you feel like a child, giving you these super powers and a playground to explore them within. Whilst the missions themselves could become somewhat monotonous, there was just enough variety in them, coupled with the main plot, characters, the upgrades system, the different powers, and the change of pacing with the story and abilities, to keep me engaged and entertained.
I never really tired of using the Smoke power to boost off chimney and ventilation shafts, chaining them together to boost from one building to the next. Or from Neon running around and up buildings. Flying with my video wings. Blowing up vehicles and structures en masse with my grenade and rocket type attacks, or using the crazy over the top final abilities.
5. Child of Light ; Brimming with beauty, imagination and allure, this game was captivating, despite it's somewhat simple nature. It's an RPG that harkens back to an old school design formula, but with one especially wonderful creative touch, that for me revitalised it's combat, and to a lesser degree, general exploration, and that is in the use of Aurora's firefly friend Igniculus. This little addition, used to selectively slow down time, heal or light your path, adds a surprising degree of tactical after thought, and can completely change the dynamics of the turn based combat.
Coupled with the wonderfully charming hand drawn and painted art, the world, it's unusual characters, even the delivery of its narrative, as the characters speak in rhyme, it all comes together to make for a simple, lovely and distinctive RPG experience.
6. Destiny ; I've actually edited this in after doing the rest of my list, debating with myself subconsciously over and over on whether this should be included. For all it's flaws and issues, and there are many, for all the horrible design decisions Bungie made, for all their attempts to rinse out the grind and take full advantage of their players, the harsh reality is that ultimately this game was and still is incredibly fun.
I probably played it more than any other game this year, and truth be told, I had an absolute killer time. Going on with my friends every day, collecting new gear, upgrading new stuff, dominating in both Crucible and PvP, finding new ways to exploit this most exploitative game, doing the epic missions and even more grand Raid's, learning them so well we became masters at besting them, boosting around these gorgeous expansive locales on a speeder, double boost jumping around for tactical superiority and advantage, using our supers to devastating effect, head shotting enemies en masse over and over as a result of the unbelievably rewarding gunplay, and so on.
For all it's faults, and despite it's horrifically limited content given the outrageous necessity for the grind (made worse recently), the game is still bold, brave and insanely fun. And the reality is we play games for fun, and in that regard Destiny delivered, and delivered big. I still had a great time with it, and for that reason, despite everything else, it only just made it in to this list.
How strange. I know I already voted in this thread, but I can't find my post anywhere. Maybe I was having connection issues when I was originally sent my post. Damn.
Well, here's a truncated version of what I had before. Nintendo and Square Enix ruled gaming for me this year. Nintendo especially had an amazing year.
1. Shovel Knight ; No other game in 2014 absolutely floored me and kept me coming back like Shovel Knight did... not even Smash! With their first game, Yacht Club Games has shown they have a thorough understanding of and total grasp on what made the classic platformers of yesteryear so damn great and replayable. But Shovel Knight doesn't just emulate those games and coast on nostalgia alone; it adds its own unique elements and twists and stands out all the more because of it. With an incredible amount of polish, exellent pixel animation, the best soundtrack of the year (courtesy of Jake Kaufman), and a surprisingly engaging and poignant story, Shovel Knight easily stands as my overall game of the year.
2. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U ; With a legendary character roster that includes the three most iconic third-party video game characters of all time and by far the best, most balanced gameplay and mechanics in the series (thankfully fixing Brawl's only real misstep, tripping), Smash Wii U is a resounding success. Add to that an impossibly great ensemble soundtrack, gorgeous HD visuals, and the strongest stage roster since the original Smash and it's easy to see why this is both the best Smash yet and one of the very best games of the year.
3. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call ; This game is the very definition of taking a great game and improving upon it in every way to make an excellent sequel. Various gameplay improvements and tweaks (achieving high scores and using abilities/items are no longer mutually exclusive), a cleaner interface, and fun, stable (though sadly unpopulated) online gameplay help Curtain Call stand out over its predecessor, but it's the content where this sequel really shines. The original game had around 80 songs from only the mainline FFs; this one starts you off with over 200, including all the original game's DLC! Even better, the mainline series plus various spin-offs and sequels like XIII-2, Mystic Quest, and Tactics are all represented, and the game has been and is STILL receiving tons of DLC from non-FF games like Chrono Trigger and Bravely Default. All in all, an excellent rhythm game with so much content that it feels like it shouldn't all be able to fit on one little 3DS card.
4. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze ; Retro has proven once again with Tropical Freeze that they can stand toe-to-toe with Rare's classic DKCs. Tropical Freeze is the closest the series has come to once again reaching DKC 2's lofty, lofty heights, and the return of series composer David Wise brings it all together and makes Tropical Freeze shine ever brighter. Bringing back the lovable Dixie was another winning move, and while playable Cranky ultimately felt unnecessary and too DuckTales-y to me, neither did he bring the game down. An exemplary 2D platformer in a year stuffed full of them, but it can't quite touch Shovel Knight in my opinion.
5. Mario Kart 8 ; Mario Kart 8 isn't the best Mario Kart ever - that honor goes to Mario Kart DS, IMO - but it's the best one since that game and I continue to go back to it thanks to some excellent DLC and strong track designs, not to mention the stunning visuals and awesome, jazzy (and for the first time, performed live!) soundtrack. The item balance is still kind of crappy and the character roster + amiibo functionality are lacking, but the whole package is still great overall.
6. Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster ; Final Fantasy X is my favorite game in the series, so to have it in HD with an excellently-remastered soundtrack and the International content at long last is awesome, and Square Enix did a first-rate job on the presentation. I also like Final Fantasy X-2 a lot, and to finally have all of its International content as well as Last Mission localized is really nice.
7. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker ; Captain Toad and Toadette proved to be two of 2014's most purely likable protagonists, and they did it in a game with stupidly clever level designs, real pick-up-and-play appeal, and more content than you might have expected at first. Just a great, well-rounded game overall. My only real complaint is the camera, which is often difficult to deal with.
8. Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX ; This is an amazing package: the two (IMO) best games in the series with gorgeous HD visuals, a remastered soundtrack for KH II, and all of both games' Final Mix content, previously exclusive to Japan! The Re;coded movie is just okay (like the 358/2 Days movie in KH 1.5), but it's a nice bonus and some scenes really do stand out as being great when rendered in cinematic 3D and voice-acted. I can't wait for the inevitable Kingdom Hearts HD 3D ReMIX (3HD? HD 3D? Who knows what they'll call it) prior to Kingdom Hearts III.
9. Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F 2nd ; I love Japanese rhythm games and I love Miku games, so of course I have a lot of love for this. I don't think the songs in Project DIVA F 2nd are *quite* as strong as those in the first Project DIVA F, but there are still a lot of great tunes here. The gameplay is just really strong and enjoyable, it's accessible to all skill levels, and there's ton of content packed into this game. A great package overall.
10. Hyrule Warriors ; Now here's a game I didn't expect to enjoy as much as I have! I've never been a fan of Musou games, and I thought I'd only enjoy Hyrule Warriors on a superficial, "as a Zelda fan" level. But no; I've gotten really into the crowd-clearing special attacks, material collecting/grinding, character improving... all of it. The story is fun and full of Zelda fan service too, and the music - which I expected to be nothing more than Zelda songs run through a Musou grunge rock/metal filter - is surprisingly great.
Kirby: Triple Deluxe ; Just a good, fun, pure Kirby game, and I adore Kirby. It's better than Return to Dream Land and could easily have made it into my top 10 if not for the fact that there so many even better games released by Nintendo this year.
The Last of Us Remastered ; It was great on PS3, it's even better (and looks incredible) on PS4. Not too much else to say here; to use a JRPG reference, it's just a great game reaching its ultimate form.
Wish I had more time to flesh this out- hopefully I'll get back to it this weekend.
1. Bayonetta 2 ; Not just a game of the year, but certainly one of the games of the generation. If we could have a single title take up more than one spot, this would probably be 1-8 for me. If you want to know what makes this such a great videogame, look no further.
2. Shovel Knight ; Shovel Knight doesn't just harken back to the days of 8-bit platform adventure games, it lives it. Where other indy developers and kickstarters have attempted to accede the retro platformer throne by simply aping NES visuals and throwing in some memes, Shovel Knight throroughly understands what made these games great, and executes on it better than anything since Mega Man 9.
3. Super Smash Bros Wii U ; For me, a slightly disappointing Smash Bros., but even a slightly disappointing Smash Bros is still easily in the top games of the year. If the roster was a little more interesting, the single player a little more substantial, and Lucas was a little less cut, this game would be a spot or two higher.
4. Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze ; DKC is a series that has always been garbage. This is truthfact. Leave it to Retro to refine a franchise into a 10/10 game that's wholly new, while keeping all of the essential elements that made it so beloved.
5. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call ; I'm a complete sucker for rhythm games, but only a marginal sucker for final fantasy. The amount of content here is staggering, and grinding for loot never actually feels like you're grinding, as you're always improving your performance on songs. Great game in a year that didn't see any other standout rhythm titles.
6. Captain Toad Treasure Tracker ; Like many, I loved the Captain Toad sections in Super Mario 3D world, and half-heartedly mused "Wouldn't an entire game built on this be awesome? Maybe someday." Someday came much sooner than I was expecting, and yes, 2013 leroidys, it is awesome.
7. Bayonetta (Wii U) ; ... it's Bayonetta on Wii U with Nintendo stuff.
8. Mario Kart 8 ; Mario Kart has been around for a while. Eight games now, in fact. While this is more of an iterative improvement gameplay wise, it is an absolute stunner on the Wii U, and though the base game wasn't light on content (IMO), the fantastic DLC really pushes it over the top.
9. Ace Attorney Trilogy ; A series I've been hearing is a must play for the better part of a decade, I finally tucked into it and found out what I've been missing all this time- mainly 2004 1337 speak.
10. Strider (PS3) ; This game really flew under the radar on release, which is a shame. The art direction is a little bland (which is odd, considering they got the original artist on board for this one), but the combat is awesome and the game never lets up. Running while slicing in 8 directions and dodge scores of enemies feels amazing, but required a slight learning curve many weren't willing to overcome. If you have any interest in this game or actiony metroidvanias, I highly encourage you to pick this up.
I wouldn't put the platform in the game title and to be absolute sure change "Super Smash Bros Wii U" to "Super Smash Bros for Wii U".
(Edit: Just checked the gdocs document and SSB seems fine after all.)
1. Alien Isolation ; What an incredible experience. While the game has its fair share of faults (it's a tad too long, and it drags a bit in the middle), very few games have had me on the edge of my seat for almost 20 hours. It's tense and terrifying in equal measure, looks and runs like a dream on PC, and is tough without ever being too frustrating. Oh, and the sound design is out of the world. Brilliant stuff from Creative Assembly. More, please.
2. Dark Souls 2 ; Y'know, I was debating whether or not to put this lower on my list. After all, it's not a patch on the original. Inferior level design, inferior bosses, inferior combat, inferior lore, the list goes on. Then again, being inferior to one of the best games ever is hardly a bad thing, right? This game still managed to hold my attention for over 100 hours, which was enough for me to finish the game three times. And not once during those 100 hours was I bored or yearning to play something else. That can only be a good thing, right? And I've still not played the DLC! More joy still to come!
3. Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc ; This was was a very late entry on my list. In fact, I only finished it a few days. But, man, I've not been glued to handheld like this since the original Ace Attorney trilogy. While some of the story beats were somewhat predictable, and some of the character were incredibly annoying (I'm looking at you, Yasuhiro), I was hooked from start to finish. Unfortunately, I have yet to play the sequel, but I guarantee it will be my LTTP GOTY this year.
4. Wolfenstein: The New Order ; An excellent first person shooter, with a great story, and a wonderful cast of characters. I would say it was a surprise, but then I'd be lying. I didn't expect anything less from ex-Starbreeze developers.
5. Shovel Knight ; A glorious 8-bit throwback with a soundtrack that gets stuck in your head. Seriously, I'm humming 'Strike the Earth' as I type this. As someone who never played the old Mega Man games (How can I call myself a gamer?), I can say that nostalgia did not cloud my judgement. It's simply a very, very impressive title.
6. South Park: The Stick of Truth ; How could any South Park fan not love this game? Unless that fan was expecting a deep, complex RPG, I can't think of a single reason. The combat mechanics are simple but fun, it has all of your favourite characters from the show, and it's bloody hilarious from start to finish.
7. Kentucky Route Zero: Act Three ; Think of this as David Lynch meets Boyhood; it's weird as fuck, and it will take the developers 12 years to finish it. As for the game itself...I still have no idea what is going on. All I know is that it is an incredibly surreal and extraordinary adventure game, with some of my favourite gaming moments of the year, despite me not knowing what any of it actually means. Can't wait to play act 4 in six years.
8. Bayonetta 2 ; Unfortunately, I never got around to finishing it. I reached chapter 13, but I never found the time to go back and complete it. The game is a marked improvement over the original, removing a lot of the bizarre design decisions (those intrusive QTEs...) and filler. The combat system is spectacular, the boss fights are some of the best ever, and the OST was one of my favourites of the year. Ahhh, I really wish I finished it. Once I do, I will retroactively change this list, even though it won't mean shit.
9. Jazzpunk ; You can spray cheese on Jim Sterling. Enough said.
10. Valiant Hearts: The Great War ; As I was making my list, I almost forgot about this little gem. While the puzzles are a little simple, and the tone is a little off at times, it is still a heartfelt adventure with an ending that punches you in the gut. Once again, Ubisoft Montreal proves that they are currently the best Ubisoft studio.
x. The Evil Within ; Hmm, kind of a mixed bag this one. Some of the chapters are seriously great (9 & 10), while others are seriously awful (11 &12). The shooting mechanics are great, and the enemy design is varied, but I didn't really care for the bosses and the pacing wasn't particularly good. The game seemed to jump from area to area with no rhyme or reason, so it doesn't flow as well as, say, Resident Evil 4 (Yeah, I know it makes sense in context with the story, but the story and characters were so uninteresting that I couldn't care less). One of Mikami's weaker titles overall, but still a good game for action horror fans. Also, where were the one-liners? The game took itself way too seriously.
x. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor ; That fucking ending. That goddamn terrible, piece of shit ending. Why? WHY? Everything was going so well until then. The combat was fast, fluid, and fun, and nemesis system lived up to the hype. But then the game shit the bed. Badly. With repetitiveness beginning to sink in around the halfway point, the game needed to pull some tricks out of the bag. Instead, I reached in and pulled out nuggets of poo instead. A top ten spot was beckoning, but it has to settle for an honourable mention instead.
1. Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. Full Boost ; Giant robots punching each other arena fighting game. Licensed Gundam series only.
It’s a console port of the arcade update to Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. primarily with some ballance, system changes and a roster expansion. It’s still more of the same. There really isn’t that much to say outside of the fact that its a great arena based fighting game. The mechanics are simple and forgiving, the team based nature of the game makes it easier for newer players to get in and creates for complex team dynamics at higher skill levels. There is also a ton of fanservice for the fans of the Gundam franchises. The competitive aspect of this game is very solid and more people should give it a shot.
2. 3rd Super Robot Wars Z ; Giant robots punching each other sRPG. Features a wide variety of licensed shows from 60s to present.
It’s a crossover game about a whole bunch of giant robots fist bumping through 60 stages. It would be anyway if Dancouga made it in, real shame it didn’t. Either way this franchise is pretty much just fanfiction by fans for the fans of the games and the anime shows they are based on. The new one doesn’t have the production values of the previous entry in the series and there are a few rough edges here and there. It still gets the number two spot anyway because I love these games and am excited for the next one four months from now.
3. South Park: The Stick of Truth ; There is a Mazinger Z reference in this game.
I am not a huge fan of the show so I might be wrong about a lot of things due to lack of familiarity, please forgive me. This is a great example of a well done licensed game. The art style, plot, presentation all seem to scream South Park. The gameplay mechanics are simple and unobtrusive so they never get in the way of the player experiencing the content in the game. The game delivers some of the best spectacle this year and is extremely entertaining and funny.
4. Bayonetta 2 ; You get a whole level to play with a super cool mecha.
This is a straight sequel to Bayonetta 2. It improves on the game mechanics, the plot references and expands on the events from the previous games, the structure, flow, style, and presentation all mirror that of Bayonetta 1. It smooths out the more annoying and rough parts of the previous game like button mashing and insta death QTEs
except for the one at the start of the game.
I think the level design and challenges have also been simplified to make them more approachable. Overall it feels like platinum went to great lengths to make sure that players don’t get frustrated with this game on their first time through and enjoy it as much as possible. It’s pretty much more of what Bayonetta 1 was praised for. My only complaint is that the Bayo 2 might not peak or reach as high of a Climax as the first one did.
5. Wolfenstein: The New Order ; Shoot Nazi robots, robot dogs, spacemen.
This game bet it all on a good single player experience and I loved it for that. The story tries to be a bit more serious and complex than what you would expect from standard FPS. It doesn’t quite succeed but it tries to do something other than follow the standard story beats and comes out better for it. The overall game mechanics are fun too, shooting is nice, there is an ok amount of level exploration and some character progression/persistence with upgrades. This games greatest strength is overcoming low expectations and producing something genuinely good in the year where most games failed to meet high expectations and usually turned out bad.
6. Titanfall ; The Devs said these aren’t mechs. These are totally mechs though.
A great competitive FPS game that expands its gameplay mechanics to be more than just point and click. The movement options in this game provide a great new layer of gameplay to interact with. The speed boost you get when double jumping and running on walls provide excellent feedback that make you want to wallrun all the time and sprinting anywhere feels like a waste of time or a mistake. The titan aspect of the gameplay gets compared to Halo often but it is honestly the closest comparison at the moment that a modern gamer would get. Titans dramatically change the flow of the game and demand more team synergy and a tactical approach. The new dynamics that the Titans and wall run/jump add to the game more than makeup for whatever progression and unlocks it might be lacking compared to the standard COD multiplayer model.
7. Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- ; This game is pretty anime, there have to mecha references all over the place I just can’t think of any at the moment.
Visually stunning, very well made tutorial, multiple modes to help people learn how to play fighting games. I honestly didn’t put enough time in this game to really talk in depth about it, so I am kind of embarassed to even put it on here. Still I’d like to play this game more, it seems really fun.
8. Middle Earth: Shadow of of Mordor ; Ah cool batman ripoff game I guess, can’t think of any mecha references. Nemesis system is great.
The combat in Arkham games is amazing, it is pretty much the best example of Assassin’s Creed style combat from the past generation. It is the peak of western 3rd person action design. Shadows of Mordor copies it completely with a few minor tweaks. Counters can now cancel some specific animations like takedowns, thus making the game easier and less frustrating. The game also throws way more enemies at you than Batman games due to how overpowered your character gets late game. The nemesis system is extremely well designed. It’s extremely fun to see the consequences of your actions when killing off captains or mucking around with certain events. Clearly a lot of of effort went into making the nemesis system extremely in depth, giving the player multiple tools to interact with it, and coming up with numerous ways to provide feedback including specially recorded voice over lines. Ultimately though the combat and the nemesis system are the only worthwhile things in the game. The plot is a waste of time, the collectibles are boring and tedious, the combat itself also lacks the refinement and polish of the Rocksteady games.
I’ll actually get into my criticisms for the combat a bit. Everything is supposed to be bigger and easier in mordor but it never reaches the same highs as Arkham City for example. Batman games actually have a difficulty level and on Hard the enemies get extremely aggressive. It turns the combat into an almost rhythm like experience where you jump between attack and counter on a very consistent beat with short pauses for combat takedowns. Lowering the overall difficulty level and making things easier in mordor loses that rhythm like feel and ultimately devalues some of the mechanics. It’s probably more fun for newer players but it never reaches the same highs for me. Still enjoyed the game howeve.
9. Gundam Breaker 2 ; Plastic toys, based on giant robots from Gundam shows/comics, punching each other third person musou style game.
Musou style 3rd person action game game based on plastic model kits for the Gundam franchise. The best part about the game is the inclusion of a wider variety of model kits and the giant robots they represent along with being slavishly accurate as to how those giant robots were in their respective source material. You can play out far too many fantasy what if scenarios with this game and it will suck a ton of time if you are fan of Gundam.
10. Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed ; You can stand outside the Gundam Cafe.
The combat is kinda stupid and simple. The difficulty balance is somewhat questionable and seems to mainly rely on getting really high level gear or upgrading. It’s passable at best. The story is cliche and rather forgettable. The areas are somewhat small and cut up by a bunch of level load/transitions. The best thing about this game is walking around a virtual rendition of Akibahara. It kind of hits the same spot as Yakuza games do by replicating a small Japanese landmark and populating with sights and sounds you see there. Akiba’Strip does that very well by just having commercials and trailers for anime games playing in the background all the time along with general crowd murmur and noise.
x. Destiny ;This was supposed to be game of the year. Unfortunately things don’t always turn out how they should. Whatever development troubles have hit Bungie, they left the game as a great set of mechanics with a thin layer of shit on top. The excellent gunplay clearly shows that Bungie didn’t lose their magic touch but besides that there is nothing else positive to say about this game. The missions in this game are generally mediocre to awful, the story is an incoherent mess with no real climax or resolution. The game also lacks basic social features so committed players have to use external tools to progress through the game. Overall the whole thing is pretty shit
x. Dragon Age Inquisition ; Way too long and bloated. Combat mechanics are awful, the controls terrible, pacing and direction nonexistent. The interaction with companions is nice, the war room decision making is fun even if inconsequential.
x.danganronpa: trigger-happy havoc; I enjoyed it but I don't feel compelled to put it on my list.
If anyone remembers that I complained about last year being kinda meh for games? Holy shit was I wrong huh. Wow, this year, this year is just abysmal. Sure its my fault for mainly playing AAA trash instead of checking out smaller indy titles that have gotten so much attention in this thread. Well there is only so much time, and I guess that's just how things happen sometime.
1. Sunset Overdrive ; I'm very surprised how much I loved this game. It looked like a game I'd enjoy messing around with for a few hours until some of the big holiday games came along, but everything about it completely grabbed me. The traversal mechanics provided some of the most enjoyable gaming experiences I have ever had. Fast travel is unthinkable when it is so much fun to quickly zip around with the many different tools that have been provided. The city design is marvelous with so many nice little touches that make it clear they really put a lot of thought into everything. The game is so colorful and the soundtrack matches the tone perfectly. A couple of the jokes were a little bit forced, but I thought the humor was more hit than miss. I thought the female voice actress was outstanding and mostly played with her. I gobbled up the main story and optional missions, got all the collectibles and just need to finish off a few of the gold challenges from the DLC. It is clear how much love Insomniac put into this game and I can't wait for a sequel.
2. Forza Horizon 2 ; At the beginning of the year, I never would have thought I would have two XBone games at the top of my list, but MS really knocked it out of the park this Fall with Sunset and Forza Horizon 2 releasing in close proximity. I loved FH1 and expected to like the sequel, but they really took it to another level with this game. The additional focus on the open-world off-road racing was such a great addition. The racing (of all varieties) is an absolute blast and the wide selection of cars and customization options really keeps things fresh. The showcase events were some of the most fun game moments of the year for me. Racing dat train! The presentation and music are top of the class. Love everything about it.
3. Divinity: Original Sin ; How great was it to get an old-school CRPG with a huge scope like Divinity: Original Sin?!! The combat system was so great and provided the player with so many options. I loved the world that they built and enjoyed the dialogue and characters. A lot of funny little jokes and inside-humor. Spent so much time on this game.
4. Might & Magic X Legacy ; M&M 6-8 are some of my favorite RPGs of all time, so I wasn't sure how I would like this Grimrock-like take on the universe, but I really, really enjoyed it. I probably bit off more than I could chew and was a bit overconfident playing on warrior difficulty, but finally worked my way through to the end. Very satisfying!
5. Titanfall ; My most enjoyable game from the first half of the year and still play it for a few hours a week. Double-dipped on both XBone and PC and enjoyed it on both. Nothing more satisfying than nailing those wall runs and getting the drop on your opponents. The DLC changes and maps they added throughout the year really kept the game fresh. Great start to the franchise.
6. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor ; Very enjoyable game. Got it at the same time as my GTX980 and the game really sparkled. The nemesis system is as great as everyone said and the combat, though a bit easy, was very satisfying. The only complaint is a lack of enemy variety, but even then the different War Chief immunities and henchmen at least made you have to think a bit on how to chip away at the crowd before moving in for the kill.
7. Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare ; Got this via EA Access and spent a great 3 weeks playing it. So much variety with the different classes so I have just scratched the surface. I'll keep going back to this one.
8. Diablo 3: The Reaper of Souls Ultimate Evil Edition ; I wasn't a hater of the Diablo 3 in it's initial release form. I played it obsessively for a few months before putting it away. When Reaper of Souls was released, I jumped back in and got just as hooked. Loved the Crusader class and the new adventure mode added a great new way to play the game. Will probably pick up on one of the consoles this year when it has dropped to 15 bucks. Great expansion!
9. Wasteland 2 ; I think this might have been higher on my list if I had played it more, but there has been so much competition for game time the last few months of the year that I only have about 10 hours in Wasteland 2. So far I am really loving what I have played.
10. Halo: The Master Chief Collection ; Alas, things haven't been so great with the Chief. Online has just been a mess for the most part, though getting better. Still, I'm not as hardcore a Halo multiplayer guy as some, so it hasn't killed my experience. I am really enjoying replaying all the games in the series (both single and co-op) and the H2 remaster is great. I'll probably dig into the multiplayer more in 2015.
nib95, I think you need to start your comments on the same line as the game title with a semicolon
I wouldn't put the platform in the game title and to be absolute sure change "Super Smash Bros Wii U" to "Super Smash Bros for Wii U".
(Edit: Just checked the gdocs document and SSB seems fine after all.)
I think I end up complaining about these games more than I sing their praises. Oops!
1. Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc ; VitaGAFs fawning over this title is much deserved. I probably wouldnt have noticed it otherwise, but the constant lauding of this strange visual novel convinced me to seek it out. As someone whos generally a fan of murder mysteries and whodunnits, Danganronpa very much scratches an itch. But more than that, it takes its disturbing premise and goes the distance with it in what is probably one of the most deeply unsettling and asphyxiating games Ive had the pleasure(?) of playing, with a dose of pitch-black humour added for good measure. The game does a terrific job of building this toxic, claustrophobic, off-kilter atmosphere, where every window has a sheet of metal bolted over it and every cast member is a potential killer striving to escape. It delivers on the visual novel front, with a fascinating gaggle of schoolmates to swap reams of dialogue with, but the main draw is the class trial aspect. When a murder does eventually occur, theres an immense amount of intrigue involved with gathering clues and eventually putting the pieces together until you single out the culprit. It never really gets tiresome, even as the cast dwindles in numbers and the next murderer becomes easier to predict. The pacing is consistent, which is more than can be said for the sequel, the plot unravels in unexpected ways, and while several questions remain unanswered, the end trial pays off in a big way. And so Danganronpa, I award you the best game of 2014.
2. Transistor ; I was hardly enamoured with Transistor to begin with. I felt like it was an experience designed to keep me at arms length at all times. I didnt know what the hell was going on or what I was doing. I felt out of my element and lost and cursing a game that was needlessly opaque and one that I wish held my hand a great deal more than it would. And then one day it all just clicked, and I got it. What was once a chore suddenly became an exercise in exhausting a game of all its possible content. And still, by the end I was left wanting more. The narrative never really feels like it shifts into full-throttle, but the cyberpunk-meets-art-deco visuals and the finest musical score of the year do more than just compliment a hugely customisable, strategic and above all fun combat system.
3. Tales of Hearts R ; A somewhat unremarkable and unambitious JRPG that trots out the usual tropes associated with the genre. And yet, theres an unmistakable charm to Tales of Hearts R, a quaintness, an easy-going nature that makes it stand out from the pack. Its the sort of game that lives or dies by its cast, and in this particular case it soars. The characters that make up the main party are an endearing bunch, their relationships keep you invested in the plot, and their interactions with each other provide a constant source of laughs, with the giant paintbrush wielding Beryl a clear standout. Its the video game equivalent of curling up under a warm blanket with a mug of hot chocolate. Everything about it feels safe, but its comforting, and sometimes thats all you need. Brownie points for including the excellent Japanese voice-overs.
4. The Evil Within ; There are a myriad of ways you can mock The Evil Within. The risible acting, every line of hokey dialogue that escapes the mouth of its numbskull protagonist, the shoddy technical performance, the complete absence of anything resembling an actual scare and the fact that theres not a story so much as a series of random surreal events with barely a hint of narrative to tie it all together.
And yet its so good. Because for all its mishaps, its clearly a product made by people who still understand what survival-horror is. Its a tough game, often punishingly so, but every victory feels earned, every ammo pack found is its own treasure, every syringe rationed a small measure of comfort. Its all about the fulfilment savoured in preparing against another onslaught of gruesome beasties by managing resources, making sure you have plentiful firepower, observing the environment to ensure youre not caught out and taking advantage of any traps in the vicinity. Its slow-paced, dependant on exploration, and requires the player to be smart about how they progress through the next area. Its a much-needed breath of fresh air.
5. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair ; A damn good sequel that I couldnt help but feel stood in the shadow of its predecessor. There were pacing issues, with some chapters plodding on longer than they should have, some new mini-game segments introduced to the class trials that were zero fun to play, and chapter 4 which was just a horrible, boring, vapid, overly-long, tension-devoid stain on the rest of the game. But, the murders were more twisted and inventive than before, the twists more mind-bending, and chapter 5. Oh lawwwd, chapter 5.
So swings and roundabouts really.
6. Watch_Dogs ; The whipping boy of 2014 in video game format. Downgrades, out-of-control pre-order bonuses and charmless protagonist be damned; for a game so mired in controversy I was astounded by how much I enjoyed Watch_Dogs. Plagued by inconsistencies though it may be, the gunplay and combat scenarios are the best Ive encountered in a sandbox game. The open-ended nature of approaching an enemy hive and choosing whether to rush in with guns blazing or opting to make use of your hacking skills as a means of being stealthier never grew old for me. It was tactical, it was exciting, it was mechanically-refined. GTA never controlled this good.
7. Infamous: Second Son ; Not the high-water mark of the series I was expecting (that title still goes to 2), but Second Son was a damn good ride while it lasted. The plot was Saturday-morning-cartoon dreck and the side-content was too bare-bones and repetitive to be considered worthwhile, but the core missions brought out the best in the game. It was wholly satisfying to control, the vast array of powers at your disposal always made traversal through the world a delight, and the graphical prowess it displays through an abundance of particle effects and superior mo-cap animation screamed next-gen to me.
8. Driveclub ; I bought this on a whim sometime after it came out, and Im glad I did. Fortunate enough to bypass all the negative press that surrounded the launch, I dove straight into a game complete with added weather patches and functional online components, and I havent looked back since. Driveclub attempts to straddle the line between arcade and simulator, and finds a cosy niche between the two in the process with a handling style that controls like a dream. Its a game that feels tight, responsive, satisfying, but its not some mindless racer that lets you drift around any sharp corner with the tap of the brake trigger. There is some degree of planning and restraint involved, and its that balance that makes it a joy to play, but bloody hard to master.
It also happens to look good. Like really good. Jaw-droppingly good at times. Especially when its raining.
9. Child of Light ; The rhyming couplet style that the dialogue adheres to from beginning to end does more harm than good to this otherwise enchanting RPG. The characters and story might get thrown under a bus as a result of the awkward poetic lingo, but everything else thrives, from the exemplary presentation that succeeds in bringing a fairy tale world to life to the old-school turn-based battle system thats as finely-tuned as it is dependable. And the delicate yet powerful soundtrack speaks more than those words ever could.
10. Dragon Age: Inquisition ; With its wide-open yet detail-void environments and an excess of errand quests, the dreaded presence of the MMO genre was too close to comfort for me at times. But nonetheless, Bioware have crafted a compelling world to get lost in here, steeped in lore, populated by engaging characters and packed full of an array of activities to do. Its easy to become so absorbed that I end up wiling away hours at a time during a single session.
x. The Walking Dead: Season 2 ; I enjoyed this more than the first season. The illusion of choice didnt bother me so much because my expectations were set in place this time around, so I just went along with it, knowing that whatever choices I went with were never going to have much impact on the outcome. The one returning character whose name shall not be spoken provided the games emotional center. Without him it wouldnt have been nearly as effective.
x. Joe Danger ; An absolute perfect fit on the Vita. Let down by a port that suffers some heavy lag in later levels.
x. P.T. ; I cannot in good conscience allow a playable teaser to be included in my top ten. As demos go though, this will linger on in my mind. It brought out a visceral reaction in me that no form of horror has managed before. I screamed. Like a little girl. And then I turned the PS4 off and never played it again.
x. SteamWorld Dig ; Another indie thats pure crack from start to finish. There is an undeniable pleasure in digging to the core of a world and grabbing as many resources to spend on upgrades in the process.
x. Luftrausers ; I spent longer than is considered healthy sitting on the crapper glued to playing this on my Vita. Very addictive.
x. The Wolf Among Us ; Really entertaining on a storytelling level, but too lacking in interactivity to make as strong an impact as it should have. I wish it played more like a traditional point & click adventure game.
x. Hohokum ; Sometimes frustrating, sometimes hypnotizing, often bewildering. It could have done with having a bit more direction in the gameplay stakes, but the fleeting moments of pure euphoria encountered make it worth playing.
x. Wolfenstein: The New Order ; Brilliant to begin with, but it couldnt hold my attention all the way to the end. Its wildly inconsistent tone was its undoing in some ways. It takes itself very seriously at times and dives head first into madcap silliness at others.
x. Velocity 2X ; I think the platforming sections became a blight on the game the harder they got. Not as responsive as I wouldve liked, and some mechanics were to fiddly and killed the momentum of speed-running a level. All the shoot em up was just as glorious as before.
Disappointment of the year LittleBigPlanet 3. A bug-ridden shambles of a game. Just a mess. Netcode so bad that I havent been able to join a single co-op session. Theres a recurring glitch that prevents me from progressing in story mode every time I beat a boss. I love LBP, so it hurts to see the series reduced to this state.
1. Fantasy Life ; Pure distilled JRPG bliss. There is so much content packed into this game, I'm approaching 200 hours and I'm still not done. And the way all the different classes are linked to together is immensely satisfying. A true wonder.
2. DanganRonpa 2: Goodbye Despair ; An engrossing and outrageously surreal story starring a cast of characters so lovable and diverse, that almost every on-screen death feels like a stab to your own heart. This game provides masterful suspense and morbidly addiciting despair in abundance.
3. Coming Out On Top ; The English market's first commercially developed western gay dating sim is bursting full of life. Featuring characters so fresh they leap off the screen, and a storyline that's equal parts touching, hilarious and sexy, COOT is treat to experience from start to finish. Developers take note!
4. DanganRonpa: Trigger Happy Havoc ; While not quite as dastardly as its sequel, the first DanganRonpa game packs enough punch to stay with you long after the final puhuhu.
5. Shovel Knight ; A retro "revival" done right! Shovel Knight shows that just slapping on a pixel art veneer isn't enough to truly encapsulate gaming of days gone by. You gotta have the heart and soul to back it up, and this game delivers that in shades. (Heh.)
6. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U ; A huge step over the fumblings of the past Smash Bros. installment, the Wii U entry is packed with content, color, and care. (Though I'll take my Ice Climbers back any day now please Sakurai.)
7. Akiba's Trip: Undead and Undressed ; Sadly overlooked, this goofy gem is non-stop frivolity stuffed inside a slightly janky, but still extremely enjoyable package. The addition of actual "packages" is really nice to see too. :3
8. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy ; Three must play VNs in one beautiful bundle. If you don't already have these games, run, don't walk, to your nearest eShop compatible portable device.
9. Tales of Xillia 2 ; A solid sequel to a slightly underbaked but still pleasant Tales experience. Thankfully, part 2 improves upon its predecessor in almost every way.
10. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call ; Rhythm game bliss with a heavy & heady dose of nostalgia. All FF/Music fans please apply.
1. Bayonetta 2 ; THE QUEEN of character action games has returned to us and my what a comeback it is. This game is miraculous in every sense of the word from it's near flawless combat, it's magnificent boss fights, beautifully designed and challenging enemies and it's stunning and varied set pieces. Every punch, kick, gunshot, sword swipe, whiplash, arrow strike, chainsaw grind, freeze blast, flamethrower shot, hammer pound (Yeah this game has A TON of fucking weapons) feels powerful, responsive and satisfying! This game is a such dream to play. During my time with this game every time I said, "Man, that was incredible!" (And trust me, I said this ALOT) this game was always quick to respond, "Oh trust me sweetheart, it gets even better!" Not to mention the absolutely ridiculous amount of content, from Bayo's extra costumes, including some wonderful Nintendo themed ones, a surprisingly great online co-op mode and not to mention that this game comes with an enhanced version of Bayonetta 1 which is a beast of a game all on it's own. This is easily one of the best values in gaming available today.
When I said that this game was miraculous, I truly meant it. Bayonetta 2's very existence is something that wasn't going to happen, something that wasn't supposed to happen, but somehow, someway it fucking did! This game is a miracle burned onto an optical disc and one that I will always treasure. Thank you Nintendo for seeing the potential in this game, and thank you Platinum Games for not only meeting that potential, but surpassing it with each and every single joy filled second I had and will continue to have with this game.
2. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze ; I can say with absolute confidence that this is without a doubt, one of the greatest 2D platformers I've ever had the pleasure of playing. Perhaps tied with Donkey Kong Country 2 as one of my all time favorites. Retro Studios has crafted here one of the best controlling platformers ever. DK has all the weight you'd expect from a 800 pound gorilla yet somehow manages to move and control with such ease and dare I say, grace. The worlds in this game wondrous to behold. Every level feels like it's own little place, a land waiting for DK and his friends to explore, a small piece of an even bigger world. Each with it's own purpose and story to tell, each dripping with lovingly placed details and each accompanied by a superb piece of music from what is probably ONEOFTHEGREATESTSOUNDTRACKSFORAVIDEOGAMEOFALLTIME!
David Wise was bought back to compose the soundtrack for this game for one reason and one reason. Because it's
And might I just add, that he knocked it out of the goddamn park!
Retro Studios has proven time and time again why they are one of the absolute bests in the industry it's no different here. With Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, they have created 2D platforming perfection.
3. The Evil Within ; This is pretty much exactly what I wanted the instant I heard Shinji Mikami was making a new horror game. Tons of variety, tight shooting mechanics, fantastic pacing, excellent boss fights and amazing creature, environmental and sound design. This game truly feels like the spiritual successor to RE4 that I've always wanted. And when I say the pacing is good, the pacing is GOOD! The fact that it manages to maintain that pacing through what is roughly a 15 hour campaign is nothing short of stunning for me. It's not often we get a game like this. Not mention how goddamn well this game is balanced. There were a lot of moments in this game where my supplies began to run low, but the game always manages to give you just enough to scrape by. Like my buddy Neiteio put it "The Evil Within asks a lot of the player, but is always fair". It manages to do what a lot of horror games with guns fail at, it gives you just what you need without making you feel like a you're a walking death machine.
I absolutely adored the shifting environments in this game, and honestly I don't think I can muster up a single horror game with as much variety in it's locales as The Evil Within. And the enemies, oh god the enemies. The first night I played this game was with my brother at my side, we didn't keep up with most trailers or gameplay footage for TEW and man I'm glad we didn't. Our first encounter with Laura aka Spider Lady made us both pretty much shit our pants. It was AWESOME! I swear Laura has one of the creepiest designs I've seen for a humanoid monster in anything and definitely manages to take the "long black hair ghost girl" trope to a whole other level that I don't think will be surpassed for quite some time.
4. Shovel Knight ; I'm gonna be honest here, I'm was never really much of an NES nut. I was born in 1991 and sure the NES was definitely my first console and Super Mario Bros was the first game I ever played, but I didn't really own a ton of NES games, in fact the only other NES game I owned was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game. Yes, THAT Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game.
SERIOUSLY, FUCK THAT DAM LEVEL!
Anyhow, NES nostalgia was never really a thing for me so Shovel Knight didn't immediately jump out at me. But after hearing nothing but endless praise for the game I decided to give it a shot and man oh man GAF, you have my thanks for this one. This is one of the most beautifully crafted love letters to gaming's past that I've ever experienced. Everything about this game feels just tight, responsive and wonderfully designed. I can't think of a single moment in this game where I couldn't get SK to do what I wanted him to do, every single time I died in this game I only had myself to blame.
I can guarantee that if Shovel Knight were released back on the NES, I'd probably be maining him in Smash Bros today, speaking of which...
5. Super Smash Bros for Wii U ; This is the most fun I've had with other people in my living room this year. Sure, despite all the tweaks and refinements this is the Smash we all know and love. But now it's in 1080p and I can play with up to 8 players! Every single character is so well animated and so freaking expressive, from King Dedede's almost psychotic expression as he charges his hammer attack to Shulk's lovingly recreated falling animation straight out of Xenoblade Chronicles. Speaking of the characters, I'm absolutely in love with all the new additions to the cast, the aforementioned Shulk (the main character from one of my favorite games of last generation) is a character I never expected to see in Smash, but here he is and it's really wonderful to see Nintendo represent this series like this. Duck Hunt Dog is another unexpected but extremely welcome new addition, along with Robin, the player's avatar character from Fire Emblem: Awakening and Little Mac from the Punch Out series.
This is already my favorite entry in the series and yet, I've barely even scratched the surface in terms collectables. Gonna be playing this one throughout all of 2015 and beyond.
Also the hypetrain GAF has had going for this game since all the way back in 2013 was beyond amazing and one of the my favorite things on GAF ever!
6. Mario Kart 8; The other game I've had the most fun with people in my living room this year, and racing(and losing) to GAF online. This is the game I just found myself coming back to again and again this year and I'm sure I would've had way more playtime logged in had my Wii U not decided to suddenly stop working back in July.
This is the best Mario Kart yet, the racing has never felt better, the tracks are the best in series history and thanks to it's (Fantastically priced) DLC this game will have the most tracks ever in a Mario Kart game. Not to mention, what's easily the best online experience in the series. Losing to GAF over and over has never been more smooth
Also, did I mention that this is probably one of the most beautiful games I've ever played. Sure it's 720p and sure it lacks anti-aliasing but I'm sorry, I kind of tend to not notice those things much when I'm racing on a rainbow suspended in the sky over a night-lit city with a freaking steam train flying beside me and fireworks bursting into shapes of Mario and co. with the moon shining in the distance. All at a silky smooth 60fps by the way. Not only are the tracks beautifully designed and gorgeously lit, but your racers are wonderfully animated showing expressions never seen in a MK game before (One character's in particular leading to the creation of one of the biggest memes of the year).
7. Alien Isolation ; I haven't had a lot of time to play this game and I doubt I'm even halfway through but from what I've played, HOLY FUCKING SHIT!!! I haven't felt this tense while playing a game in a long time. It's so nice to see when a licensed game is given to a developer with a genuine love for that IP as they've absolutely nailed the retro sci-fi look and feel of the original Alien movie.
So far the Alien is proving to be one of the most relentless stalkers I've ever had to endure in a game, and it can be genuinely terrifying encountering him when you least expect it. I can't wait to dive even further into this game but what I've played already makes it worthy of a spot on this list.
Well that's it for my list. 2014 was pretty much a backlog year for me. I know this year was disappointing to quite a few of you and I can definitely see where you're coming from. As for myself, I got one of the greatest character action games I've ever played, one of the greatest 2D platformers I've ever played, a triumphant return to the horror genre from Shinji Mikami, a lovingly crafted and brilliant NES style platformer that belongs right up there with the very classics it was inspired by, the best entry in the Smash Bros series yet, the best Mario Kart yet and a game that finally does the Alien IP justice. I think I got off pretty okay
And you guys' fantastically put together and well written lists are constant reminders of great games I missed out on this year such as Shadow of Mordor and Danganronpa.
Also I have to give a shout out to my boy Neiteio's GOTY write up. Read this dude's list and tell me you don't want to rush out and buy every single game there right now. Also he has all of his choices are on my list and he does them far more justice than I ever could so be sure to give his a look if you get a chance. It's a fantastic read. http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=146109303&postcount=1263
Im going to say that 2014 is probably one of the worst years in gaming since I can remember. Personally, it was also one of the worse years in my life I got hired at a job, only to be unceremoniously let go in August, and then hired (and still employed) in October somewhere else. So my perceptions of the year are a little frazzled to say the least.
The software as a service model that many publishers insist upon using came to a halt and the seams were shown. Most of the year, I spent chasing trophies on games that were losing multiplayer support rather than being spent actually playing new games and beating them. The games that are on my list I dont feel I have done as much justice as I would have loved to in years past. If I had an infinite amount of time and no responsibilities, I would have played more. Therefore, my list isnt as good as I would like, but its a product of its time. I would read horror stories about games that were out now DriveClub and its multiplayer seemingly not functioning correctly, Halo: MCC only playing Halo 2 multiplayer for weeks, Destiny having an excessive amount of grind for actually good content, AC Unity having every issue for its single player, among others. My top games of the year is the least bad games of this year from the time I spent with them.
01) Plants Vs. Zombies Garden Warfare ; By default, this is my GOTY. Its not really that different from other online shooters out there. Its basically a kids version of Battlefield. But yet, I found enjoyment in every round. It tapped that trophy hunter itch while at the same time actually being fun to play. 02) Dark Souls II ; Not the best Dark Souls, but FROM Softwares worst game at this point is better than some companies best game. I havent beaten the game yet, but Im surprised at the nooks and crannies this game presents every time I play it. The bosses arent quite as memorable (I had a conversation today about Ornstein & Smough with a co-worker who played both. He couldnt remember a boss from Dark Souls II at all and hes playing it now). 03) Goat Simulator ; Headbutt gas station. Things explode. Run into a car and fly halfway across the map. Pure gaming id. This is pretty much what Tony Hawks Pro Skater should be. I havent beaten it nor do I want to. When having an extremely stressful day, I end up devoting a few hours to this. 04) TxK ; I bought this game day 1 and love its simplistic, old school charms. It may be too hard for me and the highest level I got to was probably level 20 (?). Still, a great game altogether. 05) Destiny ; I dont believe its really fair to include Destiny in any best of list. If your expectations are that you would be rewarded for your efforts, play something else. Playing Destiny is like being a low level person at a nameless, faceless corporation that rewards other people for tooting their horn the loudest and longest. You heard more about DeeJs responses to people being upset about Destiny, you heard more about Bungie trying to address players concerns and making promises to fix the Cryptarch, and you heard how every gear you get has a story (and which Jeff Gerstmann eloquently dissected). Its your story your story of being a cod in a marketing machine. No one will notice your contributions nor do they care. No one cares how long you slaved away doing the same thing day in day out with the hope of a modicum of praise (you also went on a cigarette break with the other guys near a secret cave that gives you engrams!) an exciting piece of gear, a great weapon, an exotic weapon. Instead, Destiny ends up on my list as an example of how NOT to do games in 2014 (and beyond). The only game I know of that I sold to Gamestop a few weeks after release, only to buy it again later at less than $40.
1. Dragon Age: Inquisition; Bioware's biggest and possibly best game. The sheer amount of things to do in a vast world that just begs you to explore every last inch of it made be want to spend as much time in it as possible. The writing is the best the series has seen and the characters are just as strong as Bioware's reputation implies. A wonderful experience through and through with something new and interesting to see every few steps.
2. Wolfenstein: The New Order; Machine Games' debut solidified them as my favorite FPS developer these days. A perfect balance of pulp, grit, and gore combined with well executed pacing and a surprisingly great cast this game is the FPS I've always wanted someone to make. Combat is over the top, old school fun that also freely allows the player to engage in some light modern stealth if they want. I was expecting to love blowing up Nazis in this game, but I wasn't expecting to be invested in BJ and his crew.
3. Destiny; Despite the repetitiveness, despite the lack of content, and despite not being happy with many of the changes Bungie has made post launch, Destiny still manages to be something of a dream game of mine. Polished shooting mechanics in one of the most artistically striking sci-fi settings in gaming are all I've ever wanted and Destiny delivers that in spades. Even though the narrative is practically nonexistent, whenever I leave on patrol the story of my Guardian is crafted in my head. From waking up in that rusted out car to watching the meteor showers on Venus to the shattering Atheon, I'll remember almost every second of my time with Destiny.
4. inFamous: Second Son; Sucker Punch has again proven that they make the most fun open world games out there. Instead of adding too much fluff and filler, they made a tightly designed reimagining of Seattle that emphasizes traversal and providing a playground for your powers. The new cast is far more likeable than the likes of Cole and Zeke and the combat is the best the series has ever had. Combine that with the street art vibe and non-conventional powers and you have the best exclusive on the PS4 thus far.
5. Alien: Isolation; This is the most well executed adaptation of a film I'm ever seen in gaming. The reverence for the source material pours out of every surface. From art design, to story, to mechanics you can tell this was made by a team that wasn't just making a video game based on Alien but wanted to create something worthy of the franchise's legacy. Gorgeous, endlessly tense, and smart enough to leave the player vulnerable at all times.
That sure was a weird year, but I think it had some real bright spots. One of the things that makes me happiest is having a bunch of real wonderful local multiplayer games on my list this year. Getting to introduce these to people who don't typically play games and getting them to enjoy them immensely was one of my favorite things of last year.
1. Bayonetta 2; The first time I played through Bayonetta 2 I played on the normal difficulty: second climax. It was fun. I certainly performed a lot of attack and tried out the different weapons, but I didnt really learn any combos. Most of my finishers were just the mashing on punch or kick one for whatever weapon I had equipped. It was fun, and the crazy set pieces of the story kept me going. When I beat the final boss I was happy, but felt a little let down by the game. Id played it like Id played most character action games of that type, not really pushing myself. Also, after playing the first game and other games full of crazy nonsense (Asuras Wrath most notably) I was a little numb to that aspect of the game. Over the last few weeks I went back and tried playing through it on 3rd Climax. This required me to significantly up my game and, consequently, greatly deepened my appreciation for everything Bayonetta 2 does. I still havent mastered stuff like dodge offset, but now I notice when the game is expecting you to use it. I know different combos and juggles that work against different enemies and can clear rooms in much more efficient ways. The variety presented by the different enemies feels much more important when they actually significantly challenge you. I think it is really amazing that the combat in Bayonetta 2 can feel great when youre only engaging with it on a surface level, but also has an absolutely amazing amount of depth if you decide to really focus on it. As a pure gameplay experience this year nothing felt better.
2. Dark Souls 2; Dark Souls 2 has many issues. The world isnt built as cohesively as Dark Souls 1. The bosses arent quite as memorable. Those poison dart statues are horrible nuisance that shouldnt be in the game or in any game. Seriously, theyre the worst. I loved it despite all this, because a Dark Souls game with issues is still a truly wonderful experience. I think one of the biggest strengths of Dark Souls 2 is that it manages to stay rather consistently strong instead of having some sections of crappy zones like the first game did. Near the start it has strong areas like Dead Mans Wharf (a real standout, I think) and the Lost Bastille. The middle is held up by challenging zones like Iron Keep, The Gutter and Drangleic Castle and it closes out with the visually impressive Dragon Aerie. There wasnt ever a point where I didnt really want to go to any of the places that were currently on my plate. Well except for the horrifying spider cave, but that was just the game being effective. I really appreciate that there arent really any gimmick zones likes the Tomb of Giants in DS1. The thing that really pushed Dark Souls 2 up to the top for me was the phenomenal trilogy of DLCs. Each one provides a zone that is wonderfully different than the areas in the main game and has a number of new gameplay mechanics. The one bummer is a couple rehash bosses, but I was okay with that since it also gave great challenging fights like the Fume Knight, Sir Alonne, and Sinh. And the final boss is a wonderful finale to the game as whole.
3. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U; It wouldve been tough for them to screw this one up. Since I have the capability to get 4 people together at my place it was nearly impossible for me not to love a new Smash. Despite this, they blew away my expectations by including a ton of great options. The Gamecube adapter was huge! I wouldnt have to explain to people how to use wiimote or pro controller controls. Eight players! Oh man. This turns the game into a whole new variety of nonsense and it is just lovely. Best of all, it lets everyone in a large group of varying skill levels have a great time because the inherent chaos of eight fighters is a great balancing mechanism. One big problem is that I was a little disappointed in the online options. It runs well and is generally lage free, but in the majority matchmaking hoppers they decided that timed matches was the way to go instead of stock. I cant enjoy timed matches in Smash. So that meant I could really only enjoy the 1 on 1 For Glory matches. Which was fine, but still felt really limiting. This game also managed to perfectly pick a bunch of the characters I wanted to be in the game. Lucina, Robin and Shulk were some of my dream additions. So that was pretty awesome.
4. Sportsfriends; This is kind of a weird one because Ive been playing these games in various alpha/beta states for more than two years. But theyre finally officially out now and I have to give them credit. This collection of four local multiplayer games has given my friends and I some of my favorite gaming experiences of the last couple years. Johann Sebastian Joust is by far the best of the pack. I picked up 6 otherwise almost entirely useless Playstation Move controllers for it and it was entirely worth it. My favorite part is teaching it to someone new. You hold up a lit controller, say you dont want yours to move to fast and demonstrate how one loses with a sharp motion that is accompanied by a crash sound and a harsh red light. Then you just hand out the controllers and a voice says Get ready to Joust! GO! and some classical music starts playing. The new player looks on quizzically as the experienced players hunch down and start stalking around the playfield, looking for the perfect moment to strike out. It becomes this odd dance of people attacking and defending all to the tempo of the music. Anyone watching it needs to see it for about 30 seconds and then gets it entirely. It is barely a video game and you dont even look at the screen but it has incorporates the best parts of games. The simple mechanic of try and hit their controller gives way to a ton of emergent strategies. You learn about the footwork involved and try to tie up your opponents legs so they cant escape. You realize you can get someone out just by pulling them when they dont expect it. People start to attempt projectiles attacks with shoes and pillows. Nothing is really against the rules so anything you can come up with works. It is a wonderful, accessible, and tactile experience. I absolutely adore it, even if it is tough to get all the pieces together needed to make it work. Hokra, BaraBariBall and Super Pole Riders, are pretty rad too.
5. Towerfall Ascension; Towerfall was our go-to local brawler before Smash came out. It offers a lot of the same joys as Smash but also has its own charm. The one hit nature of the combat makes things enjoyably hectic and pushes your arrow dodging abilities to the limit. This game was the source of the most loud exclamations of disbelief from my friends and I at the insane exchange that had just happened on the screen.
6. Dragon Age: Inquisition; I adore the world of Dragon Age and the way that your character fits into it. I really appreciate how different it feels for my character to be an Elf Mage. As far as I know this hasnt led to any amazingly different gameplay moments or new quests, but it has vastly changed her outlook on the world and the ways I can decide to roleplay her. She can embrace her outsider status and denounce the mantle of messiah that is placed on her. Or she can turn her back on her people and embrace her nature as a mage and support the freedom of others like her. She can even embrace the politics of Orlais and Ferelden and support the systems that oppressed so many of her own people. I dont actually care that these (as far as I have been in the game) choices have merely been dialogue options that change the tone of a conversation or cause a characters approval rating to rise or fall a bit. It makes the character feel so much more a part of her world than the simple Renegade or Paragon decisions of a Mass Effect game. All this being bolted onto a pretty fun RPG with an expansive world (that is probably too expansive and filled with filler) adds up to a pretty sweet package overall that Ive enjoyed a ton so far.
7. Nidhogg; Every game of Nidhogg is filled with wonderful moments. The yellow player flings their sword at the orange player who is guarding the door. Orange raises their sword to block the projectile. Yellow cartwheels to grabs another sword off the ground, closes the distance and strikes out with a low lunge. Orange gets their sword into the low position just in time and blocks. They poke back and forth a few times. Orange feels an advantage and moves out from the door a bit. Yellow uses the opportunity and additional space to jump in the air to try and divekick over Oranges head and make for the door, but Orange sees it coming, spins around, and stabs Yellow in the back. Now it is their turn to move forward and make their way to another duel as Yellow respawns. Unless Orange just rolls through Yellows legs, comically, and continues on his merry way.
8. Hearthstone; I love card games and I love the way Hearthstone has set up a template for card games being successful on a tablet. The Arena is a genius method of asynchronous limited play and provides a nice path for building your collection without paying much money while still providing the opportunity to play games where budget doesnt matter. I hope and fear the day we can get a Magic game like this. Then Id just never stop. Knowing Wizards of the Coast it probably wont ever happen.
9. Destiny; Damnit. Destiny should have been number one. It had everything going for it and a ton of things I love. The shooting is great. The design of the characters and weapons is wonderful. I honestly didnt even mind the end game when I was grinding Strikes with some buddies. It was fun to chat and make some heads explode. The Hunter arcblade is probably my favorite way to kill things this year. If it hadnt walled its only truly interesting encounters and fights in a difficult to access raid that required six people, had more content and wasnt filled with a bunch of baffling design decisions (Legendaries for other classes? are you fucking kidding me?) it would be much higher up this list.
10. The Jackbox Party Pack; Three of the games in this pack (Fibbage, Drawful and You Dont Know Jack) are really awesome. They provide funny moments and are great for busting out at a party. The real reason I think the Jackbox deserves to be on this list is the control method. Every one of these games is controlled from a smartphone. It is absolutely genius. My mother would balk at being held a controller, but on Christmas Eve I got her and a bunch of family and friends to play a hilarious digital pictionary game because its just on your phone is an incredibly powerful mechanism for getting people into games.
1. Dark Souls II; Not as good as Souls 1 in some ways but doesnt get enough credit for all the things it does better.
2. The Last of Us: Left Behind; My favorite game of 2013 was followed up by my favorite DLC of 2014.
3. The Last of Us Remastered; Even after three playthroughs of the original ,the remastered was still amazing.
4. Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor; Borrows a lot from Batman and AC but better than both in many ways.
5. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII; Ive loved all the FFXIIIs and this one was no different.
6. Sunset Overdrive; As a huge R&C fan it was great to see Insomniac get back to what they do best.
7. Lords of the Fallen; Nowhere near as good as Souls but an entertaining 30 hour campaign nevertheless.
8. Dungeon of the Endless; Ridiculously addictive - I started playing on a Saturday afternoon and by Sunday evening I had over 20 hours logged.
Nothing else that I played this year stands out enough to make it on a best of list so Ill stick with just 8 games.
Somehow Sakurai always manages to reach out to the nooks and crannies of Nintendo's history to represent them here, either as fighters, assist characters or trophies. The wealth of content is only marred by the lack of a proper single player mode. Subspace Emissary was far too long but I wish there was an Adventure Mode from Melee. That the online gameplay is near perfect is amazing and makes sure that I will play this game for years to come and the 8 player battle mode while frantic is added fun for parties.
2. Bayonetta 2 ;
Platinum Games delivers once again, following up on last year's surprise hit Wonderful 101, everyone's favorite witch is back and better than every. The combat is fast, fluid and even more satisfying than before. Everything is taken up a notch from the first game and the addition of it 'remastered' at no additional cost makes this a no-brainer for any hardcore Wii U collection.
3. Shovel Knight ;
The first video game Kickstarter I whipped out my credit card for is my best purchase off the crowdfunding site. What I thought was a novel concept turned into a beloved trip that rode nostalgia without relying on it, taking the best of many different NES series yet still remaining its own identity. Yacht Club Games' labor of love for video games is evident by every aspect of the product, from the graphics to the charming story and characters and the fantastic soundtrack. With more bonus content coming along the way, Shovel Knight was truly groundbreaking for the indie scene.
4. Mario Kart 8 ;
The first HD Mario Kart is an awesome iteration of the series and the transformation with anti-gravity opens up some really cool and clever course designs. Everything is just so damn pretty to look at and the online communities are really cool. DLC also done right.
5. Bravely Default ;
Wonderful JRPG that throws back to the golden era of its time. Middle segment kind of loses some steam due to the big 'twist' but still a fantastic title all around and I eagerly anticipate the sequel.
6. Hyrule Warriors ;
Sleeper hit of the year for me. I haven't played a Musou game since the first Gundam one came out but this one just hit all the right areas. A good combination of visuals, music, fanservice came together with a massive amount of content in the game that just seemed to keep on giving with reasonably priced DLC, it really makes me want a Fire Emblem Warriors game even more!
7. Hearthstone ;
I guess I shouldn't have laughed last year when this was revealed at PAX East. Kudos to Blizzard for shaking up the digital card game scene with something that just works for both competitive players and casual ones alike with a business model that satisfies both. Despite my grievances with the lack of interaction between players when it's not your turn I respect and admire everything the game has done.
8. Kirby Triple Deluxe ;
Fun little Kirby game with clever 3D techniques.
9. Wolf Among Us ;
Great story although the last two chapters kind of fell apart. Will be there for the next season though.
10. Theatrhythm Curtain Call ;
So much music. Fun game play. Glad I held out for this version.
1. Marvel Heroes 2015 ; Marvel characters and Diablo, what a combo. This game seems to get better and better. Sometimes it feels like there are promotions going on in this game every week. Lootsplosions everywhere and love the pace of leveling for a game in the MMO genre.
2. Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition ; Couch co-op with the best version of Diablo 3 on new systems. Who doesn't love rolling around with a friend on local play?
3. Sunset Overdrive ; One of the reasons why I wanted an Xbox One and it didn't disappoint. Very colorful and the gameplay was solid.
4. Zelda Hyrule Warriors ; Not a huge fan of the Zelda series, but love Dynasty Warriors. Had a blast and I still have a lot to unlock.
5. Minecraft ; Got into it because of family and I finally understand why this is such a big hit. Kids love it and building stuff and letting your imagination go reminds me of playing with LEGOs as a kid. Glad I got to experience this.
6. South Park: The Stick of Truth ; Fun little RPG with a some funny moments.
7. The Wolf Among Us: Episodes 2-5 ; Enjoyable story.
8. Infamous: Second Son ; Didn't like the previous versions, but this was a solid launch title. Gameplay felt more free than the previous versions and was visually impressive.
9. MLB 14: The Show ; Another solid and enjoyable year from The Show.
10. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare ; Enjoyable campaign and a great performance by Kevin Spacey.
x. Dragon Age: Inquisition ; Game is buggy and kind of dampened the experience. When it just locks up during cutscenes and it skips the entire scene there is a problem. Despite all this, the game is still fun, just not game of the year worthy.
10. Fantasy Life ; A neat little simulation/RPG with mild shades of Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon. Absolutely everything from the music to the art style is super charming. While combat is simple and some things do get tedious, it's not hard to fall in love with the whimsical world of Reveria.
9. The Walking Dead: Season Two ; A good sequel to a good adventure game. I'm going to be the outlier and say I actually enjoyed season two more with its more interesting setting, arguably higher stakes, and an absolutely intense and heart-wrenching climax with an interesting split of opinions regarding certain character actions (at least if a recent thread is anything to go by).
8. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call ; Despite essentially being an expansion pack, Theathrythm Curtain Call is a fun follow-up to 2012's Final Fantasy rhythm spin-off. Plus, it has Fisherman's Horizon, which alone is enough to make it list-worthy.
7. Tales of Xillia 2 ; The newest entry in the popular Tales series gives us a good sequel to a pretty alright game. With a tight battle system utilizing a cool weapon system, fights have a decent amount of variety. On top of that, the story explores some interesting themes even if the presentation rarely rises above what is typical for the series. Like its predecessor, some actual heavy and meaningful scenes are present, culminating in a rather poignant ending reliant on choice. Makes me hyped for Zestiria's release later in the year.
6. Bravely Default ; It's been a while since we got a real traditional JRPG along the lines of older Final Fantasy games, and when we finally do, it's a super solid one. The Brave and Default functions are welcome additions that opens up a new array of strategies without completely abandoning the core functions of the genre like so many similar games have done. While the second half is a bit harder to defend, this is still the Final Fantasy I wanted since finished 10 all those years ago.
5. South Park: The Stick of Truth ; For the first time ever, we're blessed with a solid South Park game that perfectly captures its vulgar sense of humor. With series creators Parker and Stone involved, it's essentially an interactive season of the show, albeit less censored. On top of all that, the Paper Mario-inspired combat ain't bad either.
4. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U ; Nintendo's wacky cross-over returns to consoles! With a sizable roster and a solid combat system, this is every bit a worthwhile entry as any other. While I can't hold back my disappointment from the game being confirmed gimped due to the 3DS version, as well as the lack of any kind of story/adventure mode, it's still a Smash game through and through.
3. Mario Kart 8 ; Another fantastic entry in Nintendo's premiere racer. Even if you could argue it's merely a cosmetic change, the warped gravity is a wonderful addition that really adds to the atmosphere. The gimped battle mode is an unfortunate disappointment, but the races are as good as ever, making this a great follow-up to the similarly impressive Mario Kart 7.
2. Bayonetta 2 ; The good folk over at Platinum did it again. In their strive for excellence, they managed to create another character action game that can stand at the pinnacle of the genre. There's really not much else to say other than PLAY THIS GAME.
1. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair ; When I played it last year, Danganronpa redefined what I look for in a visual novel. It's fast-paced, genre-blending trials left me more immersed in the story than any game before it. A year later, that amazing and intense experience has been dethroned. Danganronpa 2 uses the first game as a blueprint for excellence, rendinger me an emotional mess at some parts and an adrenaline-fueled madman at others. This is the first visual novel to enter my overall top 10, a list that hasn't been changed in many years. Not 999, not Phoenix Wright, not Virtue's Last Reward, not Saya no Uta; NONE can compare. Spike Chunsoft have created a special beast and I hope they never let it die.
x. Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc ; The only reason this is not in my top 10 is because I played it in 2013 and I'd feel guilty putting it up there. If it was, it would probably be either 2 or 3. You can read my thoughts on the game here. x. Super Smash Bros. For 3DS ;
I'm glad I didn't miss the deadline for this and I hope I've done a better job explaining how much fun I had playing these games than last year. 2014 was an incredible year and had any of my top four been released in another year they'd all be on top.
1. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U ; One of my favorite series of all time. Being able to play as some of my favorite characters has been a dream come true. The newcomers were all brilliantly selected and every character was tweaked enough to create a pretty balanced roaster. I love how colorful everything is and how smooth the action is despite all the chaos a match always brings. The stage selection is pretty decent even if some of the hazards are too intrusive. Online has been pretty good so far and I'm so grateful for that.
2. Mario Kart 8 ; This might be the game I've played the most in 2014. Everything in this game is so gorgeous and full of character. The new tracks are full of amazing ideas and having more coming as DLC makes this the definite Mario Kart experience. It might not have a good variety of modes or even a decent battle mode but what it does well it does it spectacularly.
3. Bayonetta 2 ; The Wonderful 101 introduced me to the amazing, crazy world of Platinum but Bayonetta 2 is everything that I loved about it without the sections I hated. I loved the W101 but I definitely enjoyed Bayo more since the action was closer you could easily tell where every enemy was. It also helped that there's fewer and shorter non fighting sections which makes replaying chapters a less frustrating experience. And since there's enough variation in weapons and enemy types I'll certainly be coming back frequently to this game.
4. Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze ; It's really nice to have David Weiss and Dixie Kong back in the series. His music brings to life the levels in a way the soundtrack of the previous entry never could. I love how it changes depending on your progress like in the Brigt Savannah level. The level design is spectacular giving you a fair challenge and a nice sense of progression.
5. Captain Toad Treasure Trackers ; I'm glad they expanded upon the concept introduced in 3D World with more unique levels. The game looks phenomenal since there's a lot of nice little details spread out through it. I love the little sounds the captain does and how adorable he's been animated when underwater or left in a bed.
This was a hard list to put together this year as I played through a lot of great games, but also missed a lot of potentially great ones as well. Also delved quite a bit into my backlog thanks to acquiring a Vita this year which took up a lot of my time from playing newer releases.
So this is the list I put together based on how much of a smile was put on my face during my course of the play through:
1. Shovel Knight ; Inspired by the NES greats by making a game that takes from the best but doesn't limit itself down to NES limitations. The result is a game that looks and feels like how we wish to remember a lot of those 8bit games. Tight controls, solid level designs, many different ways to play, fun characters, charming story, great 8bit art direction, and lots of replayability. Even though it borrows its elements from other games, it does have its own unique ideas (breaking checkpoints/how specials are gained/etc). Out of all the games I've played this year this one gave me the most warm fuzzies of fun.
2. Bayonetta 2 ; Another solid and purely fun experience. Just because it's more of the same but with extra polish, doesn't mean that more of the same makes it less fun!
3. Blackwell series ; The longtime adventure game series concluded last year. Great characters with an intriguing story and well executed style shot this high on my list as a being a very memorable experience.
4. Binding of Isaac Rebirth ; Near infinite replayablilty. This is a game that needs to be looked at and ripped off and reiterated upon for years to come. So much potential for future Action Rogue-likes.
5. Super Smash Bros for Wii U ; Best entry in the series and finally with an online mode that let's me play with anybody at any time.
6. Time Rifters ; Out of all the made for VR games I've played so far in 2014 this was the most solid experience. Runs like butter and has a nice, clean looking aesthetic. Gameplay has a unique mix of FPS, tower defense, and a play on repeating time over and over.
7. Banished ; A very impressive accomplishment of being a village building sim made by one person. On top of that adding rogue-like elements to the list and a fantastic, easy to grasp UI made this a very fun and replayable experience for me.
8. Might and Magic X ; In a year of UbiSoft's big games becoming big misses, their smaller games like Child of Light, Valiant Hearts, and M&MX were much bigger successes from a gamer standpoint. M&MX was a fantastic, back to the basics entry in the series that should be a lesson to UbiSoft that sometimes less is more.
9. Shantae and the Pirate's Curse ; Finally Shantae has a game that I feel lives up to the pedigree it has. While I felt the original game had pacing issues, and the second game was on the short side, Pirate's Curse finally found a great balance while also adding more variety to its gameplay. This year has been especially kind to "Side Scrolling Adventure Game" lovers as Shantae, Shovel Knight, and Elliot's Quest are all must plays in the genre!
10. Nidhoog ; Lastly, Nidhoog shows that a concept so basic and simply made can still provide loads of fun. It's one of those games that provides just enough for me to be frothing at the mouth for MORE!
Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):
X- Elliot's Quest; A fantastic Zelda 2 type game with lots of charm and love put into it.
X- Persona Q
X- South Park: Stick of Truth
X- Five Night at Freddy's 1 & 2
X- Ultra Street Fighter IV
X- Mario Kart 8