Like last year, this post is gonna go through a ton of revisions between now and January 16. I still have a bunch of games to play through.
1. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U ; This is a rather unsurprising pick for Game of the Year for me. I am huge fanboy of this series, and it would have likely gotten my pick no matter how it turned out. With that said, I am legitimately pleased with how this one turned out. I thought that I'd get burned out from the 3DS version, but no, I've played a ton of this one, too. Honestly, I'm not sure whether or notMelee is a better Smash game than Smash for Wii U. Plus, playable Duck Hunt Dog.
2. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze ; I just said that Smash was a lock for my GOTY, but this actually made my opinion waver a bit. This is an amazing side-scroller, and that's not getting into the gorgeous visuals or the godlike David Wise soundtrack.
3. Transistor ; I liked Bastion, but more for the artwork, music, and writing than the gameplay. Transistor, however, has some fantastic strategic gameplay on top of music, art, and writing, succeeding brilliantly where Bastion stumbled. Bastion was a good game. Transistor is one of my favorite games of 2014.
4. The Wolf Among Us ; I loved Telltale's The Walking Dead, so I was eager play this one. As it turns out, I think I like The Wolf Among Us better. It has a more interesting setting and a more interesting plot. Needless to say, I've since picked up the first trade of Fables.[/b]
5. Mario Kart 8 ; Mario Kart 7 never really got that much playtime from me after unlocking all the characters, but Mario Kart 8 is a fantastic package. Some of the best courses in the series both return (Royal Raceway) or make their debut (Mount Wario). I also find the new mechanics less gimmicky than in Mario Kart 7, allowing for some really cool track design.
6. Wolfenstein: The New Order ; I haven't found myself playing much in the way of shooters lately, but Wolfenstein a definitely a good one. The mere that I can go for a stealth route and it can be fun speaks to the thought put into this game. And the final boss battle was utterly badass.
7. Jazzpunk ; This game is a playground to find as many gags and easter eggs as possible, and they are funny stuff. I'd like more games like this.
8. Legend of Grimrock 2 ; The reason I'm ranking this game so low is because I'm not far into it at all (only three hours). Just from what I've seen in those three hours, however, it clearly deserves a nod, and it would probably be near the top of my list if I had actually beaten it by now.
1. Yoshi's New Island ; New levels for one of the best games ever made, complete with some great new ideas, a nice difficulty curve and new surprisingly awesome tilt-egg-controls. Yoshi's New Island is a fantastic game and it's a shame how underrated it is.
2. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze ; Retro Studios took the middling Rare platformers, turned them into a near perfect performance-platformer and followed up on that with even more fantastic level designs. DKCTF is imaginative, varied, and all-around thoroughly planned through, one of the best 2D platformers ever made and certainly one of the best games this year.
3. Mario Kart 8 ; The fastest, craziest and most skill-based Mario Karts yet with creative track design and incredibly fine-tuned driving mechanics. It's a bit short on content for single players, but other than that it bests all other fun racers out there, easily.
4. Bayonetta 2 ; I don't like action games too much, I abhore hack & slay games like Diablo, so what were the chances I'd like Bayonetta 2? It turns out that the fighting mechanisms are so well made, that the level design is varied and that it was just all-around fun that even I, as a a genre-sceptic, was convinced: This is one outstanding game.
5. Captain Toad: Treasure Tackers ; It might not be perfect (in contrast to EAD Tokyo's last few games), but it is a lot of fun, has some neat ideas and a nice amount of content for a budget release.
6. Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney ; A great mix of those two games, replacing the rather boring investigations parts of Ace Attorney with Layton puzzles. I really liked the idea of several witnesses in stand at once and I also liked the story. Too bad the Layton puzzles were a bit too much on the easy side.
7. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair ; I liked the first game, but ultimately found the main story weak and didn't like all cases, the individual cases in DR2 are improved, the gameplay is improved and I also like the main story more. So a nice follow-up and one of my favourite Vita games.
8. Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions ; The new spheres to play on are a nice addition and the base gameplay still is fantastic, hectic, fast and fun. My Download-game of the year.
9. Shovel Knight ; Nice classic gameplay reminiscent of Ducktales, albeit much more linear. Nice boss fights and good level design made this a great experience.
10. Assassin's Creed Unity ; It's bug-ridden, it has framerate issues and annoys me a lot with its permanent reminder that you can buy better equipment, but it finally does away with the sailing, concentrates on AC's base gameplay and plays in a city with interesting climbing opportunites. Considering climbing is my favourite part of AC, this makes it one of my favourite ACs, right next to 2. Anyway, I'd so prefer a new PoP over two new ACs each year :/.
x. Gyakuten Kenji 2 / Ace Attorney Investigations 2. Just a fan translation, but a really good one. I don't even know if you can vote for it, but it's really nice and a lot better than the first one. I also prefer it over the fifth mainline game, since that one forces the solutions to everything down your throat.
1. TRANSISTOR; Best game I played this year. Pick any aspect of the game and you would be hard pressed to find a flaw, from soundtrack to story to gameplay to visuals it's just an experience Im very thankful for as a gamer. Its deep and absorbing and doesn't let up from the start to finish. Story though minimal is full off surprises and doesn't get in the way of the gameplay which shines so damn bright. Customization and experimentation is key to get as much out the game weeks after you have initially beat it. And you have a dedicated button to hum along to the soundtrack, so good.
2. PT; One hell of a ride. The game is frustrating, frightening, tense and wonderful all at the same time, and it's only a demo! Let it be known, a good demo can hype you up far a game more than a years worth of media coverage. Regardless what the actual game turns out PT is one experience that gamers wont forget for the remainder of this gen.
3. Pure Pool; Pure bliss, the next best thing to actually owning a pool table. It is the best pool game ever with fantastic mp options and sp that is packed with modes and tournaments. A game you will never tire off.
1. Civilization: Beyond Earth ; As my first foray into the Civilization series, Beyond Earth definitely managed to leave quite the impression. With nothing to compare it to, I was easily taken in by the Sci-Fi setting and the wonder that comes from building your own city. Watching my civilization develop was an enthralling experience and one that I routinely come back to. My only issue is that I don't have any friends playing the multiplayer.
2. Rogue Legacy ; There are a myriad of reasons why Rogue Legacy stands out to me. From the charming artstyle to the well balanced gameplay, everything in Rogue Legacy just works. In a sense, it's similar to Spelunky: a finely tuned game where all the mechanics just come together. But I also love what Rogue Legacy does with it's story, by taking the ideas behind the roguelike genre and incorporating them into the story (i.e. notes that question the malleable nature of the castle), Rogue Legacy's meta storytelling is one of its best elements.
3. Titanfall ; I'll admit to being skeptical about Titanfall prior to launch. While I loved the previous work of the ex-Infinity Ward team, Titanfall's open beta didn't do much to convince me that it was the next big thing. Even now I'm hesitant to call it revolutionary. But if one thing's for sure: Titanfall is fucking fun.
4. Octodad: Dadliest Catch ; I've had a lot of fun with Octodad this year, from the silly premise to the four player co-op, Octodad has stuck out as a unique experience. But what I really loved was the character of Octodad. While most likely unintentional, I felt Octodad was a relatable character, and though I am not a father, I felt as though I understood what Octodad was going through.
5. Drakengard 3 ; Taro Yoko, working with Deadly Premonition developer Access Games returns for Drakengard 3. I was hyped, but I had never played a Drakengard game before. It was because of Yoko's previous project - a little game called NIER - that Drakengard 3 had caught my attention. Though the game never reached the same emotional levels of NIER, Drakengard 3 still managed to be a compelling, unique and well written experience.
x. Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc ; This dark yet charming game kept me hooked from beginning to end. While the story could be a bit silly at times, I absolutely loved the cast and all the plot twists that came with it.
x. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare ; Sledgehammer really made their mark on the Call of Duty series. After two disappointing campaigns in Black Ops 2 and Ghosts, I was happy to play through such an engaging solo experience. It's easy to tell that the game was developed by Visceral alumni, thanks to a perfect melding of narrative and gameplay. The changes to gameplay compliment Call of Duty's fast paced nature quite well, creating a multiplayer experience that I put on par with the original Black Ops.
Not going to be much of a list this year as Sony/MS didn't do enough to get my on the PS4/XB1 train. So it's pretty much all Nintendo this time, and even then there are few titles in the backlog!
1. Shovel Knight ; The greatest indie game of all time and the clear GOTY, besting even outstanding new installments from Nintendo's evergreen franchises. SK made me momentarily forget about 25 years of gaming and took me all the way back to 1989, back when Nintendo/Capcom/Konami/Sunsoft continually tried to top each other with exciting new platformers. And who won the contest? We all did, my friends, we all did. SK is the first game since then to make me feel like I'm cracking open a new issue of Nintendo Power and reading about the next new standard in 8 bit platforming excellence. That is to say that it utilizes some of the elements of its' classic forbearers, refines them, adds in some modern touches, and polishes it all off in a joyously fun new package. DuckTales pogoing, Mega Man action platforming, wonderful 8 bit sprite design, an amazing chip tune soundtrack, and newer touches like a Dark Souls-esque loot system and Miiverse integration combine to give us a perfect retro revival. Some think that indie titles can only be polished or fun, but SK proves that they can be both.
2. Mario Kart 8 ; Exhibit A in the "art style is more important than resolution/framerate" debate. They're not mutually exclusive, of course, but the point is I don't even care about weaker hardware when the game runs and looks as good as MK8. I've loved this series since the original on SNES and this is easily the best installment yet. Excellent online, awesome courses, perfect item balance, surprisingly terrific soundtrack, and the cool new anti-gravity feature all make for a very special title. Disown anyone you know who doesn't pick Mount Wario online when given the choice.
3. Super Smash Bros for Wii U ; Repeat the same comment as MK8 above, but sub N64 for SNES and Animal Crossing stage for Mount Wario. Best thing about Smash Wii U are the awesome new characters who all play differently and are fun to get into. Villager, Mega Man, Shulk, Pac Man, Greninja, Duck Hunt. Definitely the best Smash roster that delivers fast action very well at 1080p/60fps. Smash Wii U is the system seller for the platform.
4. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Feeze ; I'm not ready to put it in the "greatest 2D platformer ever" echelon that many on here do, but hot damn is this a great platformer. I thought DKCR was a triumphant return to form, but TF trumps it at every turn. Whereas DKCR brought back a lot of classic environment from earlier DCK games, TF throws some amazingly imagined and artistic courses into the mix. My favorite is the Alpine-style village with the scalable windmills, but that's just the tip of the iceburg. What really puts TF over the top is (thank God!) return of based David Wise on the soundtrack; they literally got the band back together for this one.
5. South Park: The Stick of Truth ; makes no pretension to be the deepest or most tactical RPG. In a way, it reminds me of the Paper Mario series in that it's a highly stylized, simpler RPG that makes outstanding use of a great IP. Funniest game of the year too.
6. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker ; A whole game based around those fun one-off levels from 3DWorld and it shows that the concept can support an entire game very well. Again, outstanding art design in a first party Wii U TITLE.
1. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U ; I could have called this a year ago. It lived up to my expectations. I love both versions but since I need to put one, I'll go with Wii U. I'll leave my other spots open for other games. So, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is an absolute blast to play, a game with a wealth of content, great music, great visuals, works very well online... It's just about everything I would've wished for it to be and then some. Separating the stages across both versions is the only disappointment. I know I'll be coming back to this game for years to come, as I still played all the other Smash games regularly. And I still will play 64 and Melee. But for me, this has made Brawl obsolete. The new Smash will be the 2014 game I will put the most hours in, without a doubt.
2. Danganronpa : Trigger Happy Havoc ; This took me by surprise. Going through this game is a great ride. The atmosphere shot this game up to my number 2. The art-style is very nice and innovative. I haven't seen one like it before. 2D character models adjusting to your camera combined to slick and simple 3D environments. There are some great characters among the group too, with a few disapointing ones. The music is great and fitting. Simply put, I loved this game.
3. Danganronpa 2 : Goodbye Despair ; It's really hard to pick a favourite, but I ultimately chose the original because of its atmosphere and how it surprised me the most simply by being the first in the series. Still, this game's story, characters, music, art, etc. are all great. Its gameplay is better (being a sequel, that was too be expected as the developers obviously had more time to polish the Trial mini games and added a bunch of cool features). I'd love to be able to play both for the first time again. Glad I tried them out.
4. Persona Q ; This is a spin-off I'd only recently started keeping my eyes on. I haven't finished it yet, but I love it more than enough to put it this far up on my GOTY list. I played Persona 4 Golden for the first time this year (a 2012 game, otherwise you would've seen it duking it out with Smash at the top of my list) and discovered this series. I have since played Persona 3, the Persona Arena fighting games and now Persona Q. The dungeons are definitely the best in the series. The themes for the dungeons are Persona 4 were great, but their structure is very far from Persona Q's great dungeons. The soundtrack shines, the art-style fits the 3DS nicely and seeing more from the P3 and P4 casts is still a good thing to me, even after playing all these games this year.
5. Mario Kart 8 ; Gorgeous, fun new track designs and very fun to play with others, be it 4-players local play, going 2 players local vs others online, or playing with the rest of the NeoGAF room at launch.
6. Transistor ; Another game that came out of nowhere. What a gorgeous game. The battle system reminded me slightly of Megaman Battle Network. The soundtrack is amazing. It's a short ride but one you definitely remember.
7. InFamous Second Son ; I hadn't played an InFamous game before but I was very excited to play it. It surpassed my expectations on the visual side, matched them on the gameplay side but I was a bit disappointed in replay value and music/crowd/something to make the city feel a bit more... present. Still, very cool game, loved chasing down all the shards, cool power and very, very pretty game. First next-gen open-world visuals from my standpoint.
9. DriveClub ; When looking for a simple race, this is a good racing game. The handling is nice and the visuals are astonishing. The soundtrack could obviously have been more varied, especially for someone who's played a lot of the original Forza Horizon and PGR series. The Euro-centric collection of cars and the lack of split-screen is disappointing too. Still, I find myself booting it every now and then to race and lose myself in the awesome photo mode. The weather update has made it even more incredible.
10. Destiny ; I know, it's not all it could've been. The way the game has been handled is pretty bad. Still, I've had lots of fun getting some friends back together and discovering the vent, the dancing, the soccer ball, playing PvP and such. First played Destiny when I got an Alpha code at the Playstation E3 viewing in theatres. I loved the Alpha and the Beta. Of course, I hoped there would be much more content in the final game. I was disappointed. Still, I've enjoyed it, the PvP is cool, co-op strikes as well, an all-around nice game. I guess I didn't set my expectations too high so that I was only slightly disappointed.
x. The Last of Us: Left Behind ; I didn't think DLCs would be fine, so this is a bit of a last minute addition. I'm happy with my top-10 list so I'll just put it here. Basically, it's one of the best DLCs I've ever played. Extends the story in a great way, has fun non-combat mechanics and introduces multi-faction combat. Has games' first well done scene of a particular action (to not spoil it) in, well, forever in my opinion. x. TowerFall Ascension ; Very fun and addictive game. A blast to play co-op. Unfortunately I haven't been able to play with 3 or 4 players in a versus match, but it's a very fun game on its own still.
Some of my favourite games I played this year came out years ago (Persona 4 Golden, 999, Don't Starve) but I'm very happy with these choices.
!: Super Smash bro for Wiiu. This game is nearly gaming perfection. From the presentation to the gameplay this is easily my favorite game in the series
2. Mario kart 8. this game is the very best the karting genre has to offer.
3. Metal Gear Solid: GZ, The greatest demo ever made
4. Kirby triple deluxe, One of the best Kirby games ,and one of the best games on 3ds
5. Far cry 4, Never has riding on elephants felt so good.
Now that I have played a decent chunk of Dragon Age, I feel as though I can make my list. So, here goes:
1. Wolfenstein: The New Order ; One of the greatest FPS games I've ever played and a perfect throwback to how they used to be made. It also took me by complete surprise, as I had no hype leading up to its release.
2. Grand Theft Auto V (PS4) ; 2013's best game is still one of 2014's best games. The added details and extra polish really show that Rockstar are masters of the open world.
3. Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls (PS4) ; Digital crack. Easily my most played game of the year and one of the most addicting to boot. RoS was a game-changer (no pun intended) that took D3 from fun but flawed to nearly perfect. Kudos to Blizzard.
4. Kingdom Rush: Origins (iOS) ; Pure tower defense bliss. I have a special spot in my heart for this series, and I felt this was its most refined, albeit least challenging, entry.
5. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor ; The nemesis system is a great new mechanic that is complemented by solid combat and above average traversal. This is one I can see myself replaying in 2015.
6. Papers, Please (iOS) ; A game that shows you there can be shades of grey between a binary choice.
7. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft (iOS) ; Digital CCG done right. Addicting, challenging, and usually fair, this game can devour your time (and thoughts) like no other.
8. Shovel Knight ; A charming retro platformer done right. I can't wait to play this on PS4, as my hands were not made for the 3DS.
Spent most of the year clearing out my backlog, so very few 2014 purchases. Here's what was worth my time this year.
1. DriveClub; [PS4, Day1 Digital Purchase & Season Pass] - So good. Even with the early network issues, the single player was great due to outstanding tracks, sound, visuals, and control. Then came challenges, stable multiplayer, and godlike weather. They even added right analog gas & brake just to make me question why I still had my 360 and Forza 4. Game is excellent and worth every penny.
2. Strider; [PS4, PS+ Pickup] - I knew at its announcement that I'd love this game, but even I didn't expect it to be so engaging, smooth, and gorgeous at 1080p/60fps. I had every intention of buying it, so getting it "free" was a pleasant surprise. Most enjoyable Metroidvania I've played in quite a while and yes, I've played Guacamelee.
3. Final Fantasy VI; [iOS, Day1 Digital Purchase] - I waited 8 years for this one. I've perennially wanted a game that took the wonder of the best Final Fantasy game, upped the visuals for a big screen, and had all the extra content of the GBA version. Square delivered, I bought, and am loving my ~9th journey through Kefka's mad scheme. If you're still stuck on the new sprites, you're missing out.
4. Peggle 2; [PS4, Day1 Digital Purchase, Game & 2 Masters DLC] - It's Peggle. It has nothing to prove to you or anyone else. Sucks that it came so late to PS4 and is still lacking one more master IMO. But I love it, my family loves it, and that is priceless.
1. Dragon Age: Inquisition ; So much to do. SO MUCH. Incredible.
2. Divinity: Original Sin ; A bit flawed, but this is exactly what we need more of. A / B-Budget games are the best games.
3. Dark Soul II ; While not as great as the two prequels, it's still a very good game.
4. Wolf Among Us ; Hooked me right away. Great world and great characters. Big B is a boss.
5. South Park: Stick of Truth ; It's just fun and I enjoyed my time with it. Gameplay is a bit shallow, but the rest just works.
6. Driveclub ; Now it's a very decent racer.
7. Child of Light ; I like where they were going with it. Has also the best OST this year.
8. Lords of the Fallen ; First entry of the series fell a bit short, but it showed a lot of potential. Looking forward to the sequels.
9. Might and Magic X ; Where it not for a save game corruption, I'd have sunk even more hours into it. It's a nice throwback and shows that the genre can work even today and is not limited to dungeons only.
1. Dragon Age: Inquisition
2. Shovel Knight
3. Bayonetta 2
4. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
5. South Park: The Stick of Truth
6. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
7. Valiant Hearts: The Great War
8. Wolfenstein: The New Order
9. Mario Kart 8
x. Corpse Party: Blood Drive ; giving it an honorable mention due to its lack of localization; as solid a conclusion to the franchise as I could have hoped for
x. The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky ; not voting for Trails again as I've played it on PSP previously, but the Steam release is essential for any JRPG enthusiast to experience
I logged more gaming time with the Danganronpa titles than anything else this year and yet don't feel compelled to vote for either of them. Should I feel DESPAIR about this?
1. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze | A fantastic platformer, though flawed. Better than the first DKCR game, but Rare's trilogy still reigns supreme.
2. Shovel Knight | The best NES game that never got made. The only game to ever do 8-bit nostalgia properly.
3. Bayonetta 2 | Better than its predecessor in every way.
4. Mario Kart 8 | A phenomenal racing game held back by its unforgiving item distribution.
5. South Park: Stick of Truth | Great battle system, and one of the funniest games ever made.
6. Kirby: Triple Deluxe | One of the better Kirby games I've played thanks to very addicting keychain collecting.
7. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U | Although I was disappointed overall, you can't go wrong with a new installment in the Super Smash Bros. series.
8. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker | I couldn't wipe the smile off my face even if I tried.
9. Mario Golf: Wolf Tour | An underrated gem with robust online. Highly recommended.
10. The Evil Within | What Resident Evil should be.
This is going to be tough .... especially since Remasters are included. Have had a great time with a ton of titles
1.) Divinity Original Sin; I fought over my GOTY for a long ass time. But in the end my mind kept returning to Divinity. Amazing tactical combat system. Great storyline and great spell effects and enemies and altogether a wonderful RPG package.
2.) Velocity 2X; It has been a long time since a game actually challenged me based souly on my reflexes and ability to make split second decisions based around the movements available to me on my controller. This game does a brilliant job of slowly adding new twists to the gameplay and adding just another button combination for you to remember, and then throwing you into a level that flows through like a speeding train while you desperately hang on and try and stay alive for as long as your brain can focus on what buttons do what and when. Mixed with incredible art design and music, it is a fantastic game that I will find myself going back to for a long time.
3.) Transistor ; Along with one of the best OST's you will find this year comes one of the finest examples of a dynamic battles system you will ever see. Not only can you go into battle and fight in real time, but can also use the feature that allows you to queue up actions to fill up your Action Bar and then unleash them all in a string of coordination destruction. Thousands of attack combinations can be created by mixing various Fuctions together to give you just the right desired attack that fit your style. The story is mysterious and dark. It has a 50's night lounge feel about the art mixed with a Cyberpunk world where the corporations are silencing the influential voices of this world.
4.) Dragons Age Inquisition; Its easy to tell when you have a quality product on your hands when the opening sequence pits you up against a towering demon in the middle of a spinning hole in the sky and you tear the clouds apart as you defeat the demon and seemingly save the world before the game even really starts. Thats just par for the course for Dragons Age though. The real treat of this game is the tactical combat system that allows you to pause the game, set up your moves, and then hold R2 to move time along slowly or mimic real-time by continually holding it down. Allows you to micromanage the battle almost in real time and can also be used as a way to fight in real-time but just using a different view and not being locked behind the controlled character. Glitches aside that occur quite frequently, this game is fantastic. It is one of the only WRPG's I've ever played where it actually feels like you are a part of something. You feel like a leader, like a person of important, like a man with an army and a man with an objective that takes more then just yourself to accomplish. Its a grand undertaking but brilliantly delivered. Fantastic OST and voice acting as well
5.) DriveClub ; coming into DriveClub a few months after releases was perhaps my best decision of the year. Photo Mode was already in place, Weather had just hit, the online elements are all working as intended and boy ... what a racing game this is. Absolutely drop dead stunningly gorgeous. The minute little details throughout the courses and th cars and the hand painted trees and roads all come together so well that it sometimes is hard to believe you are really playing a game that looks this good. Not since Wipeout has a game truly captured that feel of going fast ... too fast. There are times in this game when your controller is shaking simply from going so fast down the road. Controller shaking, screen shaking, wind howling past the car and you just know the smallest little mistake is going to send you flying to god knows where. Its so good it is almost scary. And that is during the daytime on a clear day! Throw in the day/night transition during races and the dynamic weather changes and man, you have a racer where one singe track can take on a dozen different forms requiring you to change up your driving style and strategy depending on what the current conditions are. Brilliance.
6.) Binding of Isaac Rebirth; This game is all about ... unique experiences within the same procedural template. You can play 100 games in a row and truly never have the same experience twice. There are hundreds ( thousands? ) of different items you can pickup throughout the trip into Hell that change how your character fights, how he looks, how he defends, his speed, his overall size, his attack speed, etc. Mix it in with the absolutely insane story and art direction and everything and it is a truly addictive title. Trying to put together that perfect run is addictive. It is one of those games where you can say " just one more then I'm done! " for 3 straight hours.
7.) Shadow of Mordor; There is something to be said for the importance of a great combat system. And that is something SoM has. But lets forget all that, because if you have played the batman Arkham series you know how the battle system of SoM works. The real interesting thing with Shadow of Mordor is the Nemesis system. As you play, you will keep running into Captains of different squads within the Orc ranks. If you die to one of these captains, they actually gain power, gain rank, gain influence within the overall army. As you continue to fight them, their dialogue actually changes, which is a cool little detail. You really do start to develop a hatred for certain captains of squads if they end up slaying you over and over, because each time you come back they are just all the more difficult. Above I said forget the battle system, but really that is this games main plus. An amazing battle system that is just plain fun. Tearing Orcs heads off will likely never be this fun again
8.) Don't Starve; Sometimes simplicity can be the greatest thing in a game. While everyone else is trying to simulate real life down to how the wind speed changes affect the aerodynamics of your nose, some games dare to lead you into a world designed around letting the various happenings keep you coming back. Almost the complete opposite of Binding of Isaac, which uses its procedural generation to create a unique experience 100 times out of 100, Binding of Isaac uses its procedural generation to provide a unique map but keep everything else the same because well, what you do is the main draw. What do you do? Survive. Thats it. You can try and survive by chopping down an entire forest and building a vast fortress housing farms and rows of dozens of drying racks for jerky, or you can try and be a Nomad and live on the land as your needs see fit and keep moving and exploring. There really is no wrong, or right, way to play Don't Starve. In the end, it is all about surviving till you see the coming of the next day. But, as a wise man once said, " Winter is Coming "
9.) Child of Light; JRPG's are a beloved genre throughout my childhood and into my adulthood gaming years. While western RPG's revolve around the Tolkien aspect of fantasy more often then not, it seems JRPG's rely on pure imagination in the evils that you face, what controls the fate of the world and of the peoples, etc. Sometimes borrowing some from Roman mythology where the Gods were a part of a giant soap opera and had personalities and relationships with one another. Sometimes a single God of a type of creature controlling the world and wanting to destroy it. Or you know, whatever. Anyway, when Ubisoft stated they had a small team team getting together to build a product that was an homage to the old school JRPG using the Rayman Legends engine, I was beyond skeptical. But to say they pulled it off would be an understatement. They put together a whimsical and story full of fantasy and dread and wonderful imagery. They created a battle system that is right up there with some of the best in the genre. Utilizing the ATB system in such a way as I've never seen before where timing your strikes against the enemy and timing your defenses is crucial to pulling out victories. Add in the usual crafting systems and character customization, and one of the best piano OST's ever produced and you have an adventure that is tough not to love.
10.) TLOU : Remastered; It is TLOU without any framerate issues, with almost no IQ issues and a photo mode. It is the GOTG last generation. Its just the best. But not going to get high on a new top 10 list. But will still make it.
1. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair; This game features the best writing, best voice acting and best presentation of any game I played this game. DR2, along with its prequel, justify the purchase of a Vita by themselves, and anyone who passes them up is a blasted fool.
2. Bayonetta 2; I thought it'd be hard for Platinum to follow up on Metal Gear Rising, my 2013 GOTY, but they somehow pulled it off. Bayo 2 is going to go down as one of the all-time great action games for sure.
3. Pokemon Alpha Sapphire; What can I say? This is a quality entry in my favourite gaming series, and I'd be a dang fool not to recommend it. The music is top-notch too, especially coming off of RSE's omnipresent brass.
4. Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle; Basically the best fanservice game of all time. CyberConnect2 made every single frame of animation in this game a homage to a certain panel or sequence in the JJBA manga, which deserves more commendation than I can give. ASB also features my favourite OST of the year, which is no small feat.
5. D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die; Do you like Deadly Premonition? No matter what you said, you need to at least give D4 a look. It's unapologetically silly and energetic, and provided some of the greatest belly laughs of the year.
1. Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze ; Your thoughts on Game A. 2. Yoshi's New Island ; Your thoughts on Game B.
3. Shovel Knight ; Your thoughts on Game C.
4. Kirby Triple Deluxe ; Your thoughts on Game D.
5. Pushmo World ; Your thoughts on Game E.
6. Mario Kart 8 ; Your thoughts on Game F.
7. Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails ; Your thoughts on Game G.
8. Captain Toad ; Your thoughts on Game H.
9. Thomas Was Alone; Your thoughts on Game I.
10. NES Remix 2 ; Your thoughts on Game J.
1. Mario Kart 8 ; The best game in the series and the most fun I've had all year. Maybe the amazing MK-GAF community is largely to blame, but to hell with it. The tracks are the best in the series, the online is smooth as butter, and the new items, racers, and karts and just enough new to make Mario Kart 8 my favorite game of the year. Shout-outs, of course, to those that made this game so fun to play: Roo, Papercuts, JC, ffdgh, Burning Justice, Hypno, Grizzo, Gattuso (whose Merrick mii will haunt me forever), and probably more I'm forgetting. And Saint Gregory for always confusing me with Roo.
2. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U ; Nearly 50 fighters, a ton of new modes, and an insane amount of stage variety make this the most content-rich Smash Bros. to date. It's a hell of a good time.
3. Bayonetta 2 ; It's difficult to describe Bayonetta 2 without seeing it in action. Suffice it to say, the action in Bayonetta 2 reaches levels of insanity few games can top. The combat system is so polished and fun, the difficulty curve is perfect, and the weapon variety is incredible. It improves on it's predecessor in nearly every way. And there's no feeling like scoring a Pure Platinum on a difficult encounter.
4. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze ; The best 2D platformers I've played in ages. Retro somehow manages to make a spectacle out of a platformer, brimming with set-pieces, incredibly unexpected moments, sublime level design, challenging bosses and one of the most perfect difficulty curves I've ever had the joy of dying from. Then, of course, there's the impeccable soundtrack by David Wise, which just pushes it further over the edge. I do want to make a special mention of the art direction on this game, as each level has a beautifully rendered theme realized through bright colors and beautiful, layered backgrounds. It may be a deceptively simple game (move forward, jump), but the whole package comes together in an amazing way.
5. Wolfenstein: The New Order ; A throwback to shooters of old, coupled with modern storytelling, leads to one of the best games of the year. A rare game where the story and gameplay are equally exciting, and neither get in the way of each other.
6. Alien: Isolation ; The most well-realized artificial intelligence in a game I have yet played. Sure, the pacing has it's flaws and the number of menial tasks does start to get heavy, but A:I is, to me, a promise of what next-generation gaming can truly become: something completely unexpected and invigorating.
7. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes ; Extended demo for The Phantom Pain or not, the mechanics are just so solid that I couldn't help but playing it over and over again.
8. Towerfall: Ascension ; Local multiplayer the way it should be: fast, fun, and easy to pick up.
. 9. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker ; A joyful puzzle romp through the Mario universe. The puzzles are just clever enough to keep you engaged..
10. Shovel Knight ; Like an NES game, but made in 2014.
1. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U ; Other than Project M best game I played this year.
2. The Banner Saga ; Just finished this game and really enjoyed it, their are a lot of small problems I have with the game that could easily be fixed, so I'm excited for the sequel.
3. Shovel Knight ; The only other new game this year I thought was good.
4. Mario Kart 8 ; Played this at a friends house, and it was a blast. Still enjoy 64 for it battle mode a lot more, but had more fun in the races in this one.
5. Tropical Freeze; Played this at me mates crib, was ballin outrageous. Had them alphabet letters under surveillance.
1. Super Smash Bros Wii U: The great fighter improved, better looking, nice set of new fighters and modes, and still retains the enjoyment previous installments had. Online multiplayer is improved, and 8 man smash is tons of fun with lots of people.
2. Hotline Miami- Amazing game for me. Gameplay while hard was really fun. Aesthetic was amazing, music was outstanding, I can't wait for 2.
3. Smash 3DS: Eh, pretty much same as Wii U.
4. Shovel Knight: Amazing game. While feeling like an old Castlevania type game, it also provided what felt like a fresh experience.
5. The Wolf Among Us: Telltale's wonderful way of storytelling in a more vibrant, interesting environment. Characters are great, story is good and keeps you entertained for pretty much all of it.
6. Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze: As most a Wii U games recently seem to appear, this game is beautiful looking, as well as having a great soundtrack, as well as being a fun, challenging game in the first place.
7. Mario Kart 8: A similar situation to smash, a already fun concept improved with visuals, amazing music, and fun multiplayer and online.
8. Transistor: Love the Supergiant way of operating their games, the environments, etc. Music and visuals spot on as well.
9. PvZ Garden Warfare: Amazing online shooter. This was a great idea, and is a really fun title.
10. Metal Gear Solid: GZ: if I wasn't already damn excited for TPP. I saw this basically as a demo for the game with a small part of the story, which is a great idea. Works well here, short enough to be a quick play, but enough time to get in what they want. Gameplay was great, visuals good, music even. (That intro)
Kinda pissed I didn't get to play all my most anticipated games at this point.
1. Wolfenstein: The New Order ; Praised this a lot on GAF. Everything about it was brilliant. From the fresh locations to the beautiful music to the awesome weapons
2. Alien: Isolation - Surprisingly good. Really intense and atmospheric. Feels like you're in a horror movie
3. The Walking Dead: Season 2 ; More exciting and intense than S1
4. This War of Mine ; This is a new addition to my list. Sorry to kick Valkyria Chronicles off but damn this was a brilliant and unforgettable experience. So many feels
5. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare ; Really fun multiplayer. Awesome graphics too
6. Insurgency ; First multiplayer FPS I've played in a long time. Hard but intense and fun
7. The Wolf Among Us ; I preferred TWD2 but this was still a cool story with some great decisions
8. BattleBlock Theater ; Not played it much but it's very fun in multiplayer. Funny too. First game to make me laugh
9. Binding of Isaac: Rebirth ; Newest game I've played. Never got into the first one but this is really fun for some reason
10. Hearthstone ; Haven't played it in a while but it has given me hours of fun
A good year but not too many games that were unforgettable.
I really look forward to seeing the results of this.
Honorable Mention: MGR: Revengeance. Was awesome until they expected me to beat two bosses that I had already killed. One after the other. I noped out of there and deleted the game.
1. Dragon Age: Inquisition ; vast improvement over the first two games and proof that Bioware's still got it. Huge world, epic storyline.
2. Wolfenstein: The New Order ; excellent campaign, great characters, great pacing. Loved every minute of this game, and I had no real expectations of it going in.
3. Divinity: Original Sin ; one of the best Kickstarter games to date. An extremely well-made, polished CRPG in the vein of Baldur's Gate or Fallout, in an era where these kinds of games don't really exist anymore.
1. Dragon Age: Inquisition ; It's the best RPG I've played since Skyrim. Beautiful, detailed and creative world with interesting characters and quests. This is coming from someone who isn't really a Dragon Age fan at all. I didn't play the first and I pretty much loathed the second. It has it's problems undoubtedly (too many fetch quests and bugs) but I assume it's a learning curve for Bioware as it's their most ambitious game yet. Even with the fetch quests... I enjoyed every minute of the 150 hours I put in. So much lore, dialogue to sink your teeth into. I'm already aching for DLC. It's not often I say that.
2. Alien: Isolation ; Pretty much a relentless journey to hell and back. The intensity of the experience for me is unmatched. Trying to tactically outsmart the Alien and having various run ins with it really has been the highlight of the current-generation so far. Then there's the incredible aesthetics, art and sound design. It's a love letter to every Alien fan out there.
3. The Last of Us: Remastered ; Even though I didn't vote for it last year, it was most certainly my GOTY. It truly shows how strong of a title it is to appear on this years list among other many new releases. It's my favourite cinematic title ever made and the updated 60fps completely transformed it for me. I can see myself replaying the single-player for years to come and I thoroughly enjoyed the time I sunk into the multi-player aswell.
4. Battlefield 4: Final Stand DLC ; I feel DICE delivered the best and most balanced maps in the game. It's pretty much revitalised the game for me (along with the patch).
5. Velocity 2X ; It's been a while since I've had such pure unadulterated simple fun in a game. The surprise of the year for me. I heard nothing about it until it was released as a freebie on PSN+.
6. Assassin's Creed: Unity ; I had to vote for it, because bar the technically issues (especially the atrocious fps). It felt like a return to form for the franchise. I like their vision of a Paris in a French Revolution setting and I love the emphasis on stealth this time around with sandboxy-type missions such as assassinations and heists. Despite that, I really think it needed another 6 months of development time and a real cut back on the stuff that really bloat it (Paris Stories, Chests, Rifts) and subsequently ruins it.
7. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes ; I'm a little lost and uninterested when it comes to Kojima's stories nowadays but they nailed the gameplay. Wonderful movement and mobility, freedom of opportunity. It was great.
8. Destiny ; This one was a tough one for me. Honestly, it's a monumental disappointment but despite that, the core shooting mechanics are fantastic and the co-op gameplay is very fun. Possibly the only redeeming factors in a game which severely lacks content. But because I've put in over 200 hours (I've since quit), I feel like it should be here and then there's part of me that think's it doesn't because of all the stuff Bungie and Activision have pulled. What hurts is that these core mechanics are so good, it's hard to accept that they failed almost everywhere else. The art direction and Marty's score are very nice though.
x. Watch_Dogs ; I enjoyed it somewhat when I played it, nice use of stealth mechanics and online interaction but the game just felt wholly unmemorable and unremarkable. Well, the only memorable part to me is (story spoilers)
Iraq's laughable monologue
which is a combination of really bad writing and voice acting. He sounded like a petulant teenager.
1. Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze ; One of the best platformers I've played, with an excellent soundtrack by David Wise, a lot of variety and originality in terms of levels, don't miss out if you like platforming.
2. Smash Bros for Wii U ; Smash bros duh....more seriously this game is chokeful of content (trophies to collect, a huge soundtrack...) master orders/crazy orders is imo a huge single player improvement compared to the 3DS version.
3. Dragon Age Inquisition ; Loved this rpg after a disappointing DA2, a lot to do in this game and I loved the characters, the choice of different races with their own backgrounds is much appreciated.
4. Mario Kart 8 ; Never been a Mario Kart addict, but I was pleasantly surprised how good this game was.
5. Wasteland 2 ; I got this for backing Torment, a bit rough on the edges when I played, some weird design choices, but a great game all in all, like the fallouts of old.
6. Bayonetta 2 ; Much better balanced game than the first one, pretty great.
7. Shin Megami Tensei IV ; finally out in Europe, great jrpg but I wish it came out earlier.
8. Theatrythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call ; Another really really addictive game, with some of the best music from the FF series, the Medley Quest is amazing, a big improvement from the Dark Notes of the first game.
9. Kirby Triple Deluxe ; solid kirby game, best I played in years.
10. Shovel Knight ; Amazing new retro platformer, with great music to boot, what's not to like?.
1. Nidhogg ; Bringing back the fun of local multiplayer.
2. Jazzpunk ; Subtile humour is very rare in games. Jazzpunk proves it can be done.
3. The Wolf Among Us ; Telltale's proof that The Walking Dead was no one hit wonder.
4. Hohokum ; Wonderful and pure exploration with an incredible attention to detail.
5. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter ; A convincing thriller with great atmosphere and clever puzzle design.
6. Road Redemption ; What an amazing comeback for the Road Rash formula.
7. Monument Valley ; While the concept has been done before, Monument Valley puts it to New heights with superb visuals an great level design.
8. OlliOlli ; At first controls are overwhelming, but then it makes click and you have one of the best arcade experiences in recent memory.
9. Threes ; Took me by surprise. Would have thought all puzzle ideas have been done before, but Threes is fresh and addicting.
10. Fract OSC ; As a fan of electronic music this explorational adventure was a must have. Wasted potential, but still highly recommended.
1. Bayonetta 2 ; Almost perfect over the top action game. PlatinumGames improved/removed everything that was bad in the original Bayonetta. The gameplay is so good to the point it's masterfully organic once you get the hang of it. The responsivity of the controls, the impact and variety of the different combos, the perfectly just-in-time dodge that doesn't even halt the flow of the game, everything feels so damn good and you control every second of it. This game ask for your careful attention at first but it give you so much pleasure in return, it's amazing.
2. Mario Kart 8 ; Beautiful and colorful graphics, packed with fun, awesome soundtrack, great track design, good online, it would have been first if it had a real battle mode.
3. Diablo III: Reaper of Souls ; With this expansion, Blizzard transformed Diablo 3, which was already a good game, into an awesome and addictive one. It never felt so good to bash hordes of demons. Skills are fun, feel powerful, diversified, you can switch anytime and play differently on the go, every class is great. If only their story telling was that good.
4. Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc ; I got surprised by its sinister setting, great exaggerated characters and a captivating story. Excellent pacing too (save for the first chapter).
5. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze ; One of the best platformer there is. Challenging, a pleasure to explore, awesome to speedrun (and I don't like to speedrun to begin with, seriously) great soundtrack too.
6. Fantasy Life ; my guilty pleasure as I always dreamed to have a little RPG like this, I put 210h in it... in a month.
7. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U ; The best version there is.
8. Shovel Knight ; A love letter to a long past era, so many references everywhere, good gameplay, and such a wonderful soundtrack. One of the few retro looking game done right.
9. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair ; less oppressive than the first one and slightly less interesting in the four first chapters. Then there's chapter 5 and everything go crazy in a good way.
10. Divinity : Original Sin ; Beautiful, and despite its awful story, it does have one of the best combat ever made in a RPG.
Honorable mentions :
x. Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney : A curious mix that works really well. Good story and best soundtrack of the year for me. A few pacing and not so interesting puzzle issues though.
x. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker : I loved the mini-games in SM3DW and Captain Toad improved that in every aspect. This simple puzzle game is wonderful in every way.
1. Dragon Age: Inquisition ; An epic adventure. The scope of the world and the impact of your decisions are felt throughout the 50-60 hour main quest and beyond. In true Bioware fashion, your companions also prove to be a defining feature of the game, and you are given ample opportunity to get to know and learn more about them. Being technically gorgeous and having a powerful OST only add to the experience. Many games in the past have tried to deliver a meaningful experience featuring a messiah type protagonist, this is one of the few that does it right.
2. Sunset Overdrive ; Over the top. That's a phrase tossed out when discussing many games, but rarely does it do a game justice as much as it does in the case of Sunset Overdrive. Bursting with color, humor, and speed, as the hero of Sunset City, it is your job to save the remaining survivors and put an end to Fizzco's evil plan to destroy incriminating evidence. You do this with the support of an interesting and jocular cast of supporting characters, imaginative and upgradeable weapons, along with traps, explosives, amps, and other upgrades; all of which factor into the funnest traversal system I've ever had the privilege to play in a game. It's Crackdown meets Jet Set Radio meets Ratchet...and it makes for an unforgettable experience.
3. Bayonetta 2
4. Middle Earth: Shadow of Modor
5. Valiant Hearts: The Great War
6. Dark Souls 2
7. The Wolf Among Us
8. South Park: The Stick of Truth
9. Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze
10. Forza Horizon 2
I chose not to have remakes on the list, so even though games like GTA V Remastered, Last of Us Remastered, Metro Redux and Binding of Isaac: Rebirth are all good games, they won't be on my list.
1) Divinity: Original Sin
I owned the early access release, but never played it before it was released for some reason (and because of all the SteamGAF talk). I never had any expectations at all because I had never played any of the Divinity games even though I own them all. After a couple of minutes with playtime I understood this game was something special and it really was. The game is insanely fun and entertaining and there is a ton of good content. The game is simply absolutely amazing and I never expected it to stand out like it did. Original Sin has really outstood itself from all the other releases this year. The game is simply outstanding and the devs at Larian deserves every single penny and sale for this game.
2) Wolfenstein: The New Order
Just like with Divinity: Original Sin I never had any expectations for The New Order. Mosly because the FPS genre has been almost dead for me. Most FPS game has made me bored after 2-3 hours with playing like Titanfall, Far Cry 4 and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. There is something with The New Order that recreated the fun with FPS games I once had. It might be because the game is overly top notch at action with erotic weapon sounds, the amazing gameplay and the shooting is just freaking amazing. I still can't enjoy other FPS games anymore like Halo, CoD, Titanfall, Far Cry etc. But I do enjoy The New Order and I would love another The New Order-type of shooter from Machine Games. Just an excellent shooter in all aspects.
3) Shovel Knight
Ive been waiting for this game a long time before it released. I did not kickstart it (Ive never Kickstarted anything), but Shovel Knight did a really amazing job at recreating a good old retro/arcade game in this modern time. The game is super fun, very addicting, it has a ton of content and insane replayability. There has been many new releases this year which has tried to recreate a retro feeling for games. Many succedded, but Shovel Knight succedded most. Thanks, Yacht Club!
I really enjoyed it and I will absolutely do another playthough of it in the near future. I loved the story, I loved the gameplay, I loved the music, I love the graphic/art style, I love everything about Transistor. Just the game I expected from the creators of Bastion.
5) Mario Kart 8
Apart from Mario Kart games Ive played at friends houses, this is my first Mario Kart I own myself. It's fun, it's challenging, it's a perfect party game and it's beautiful. Nintendo has done a really good job with Mario Kart 8 and it's hard for me not to see it.
6) Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
Same thing goes to Smash Bros for Wii U. It is incredible fun and very addictive. With both Smash Bros and mario Kart 8 the Wii U is the perfect party console in 2014 and Smash Bros for Wii U is a fighting game you seriously won't wanna miss.
7) Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Origins was great, 2 was shit, Inquisition is amazing. Even though there are some PC control problems the game is just amazing. The environment, the story, the characters and the amount of content is just fantastic and Inquisition has in my opinion really shown that Bioware still can make good games.
8) The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.
It's more than just a walking simulator. It has lots of interactivity and puzzles to solve, but that's not the best thing with Ethan Carter. The game features amazing beautifully environments and an amazing emotional story which simply grabbed me through the entire game.
9) The Wolf Among Us.
Also a very big suprise. I have not read any of the fable comics, but The Wolf Among Us was a really great storydriven experience for me. Everything just screams high quality and Telltale did a really good job at creating the story for The Wolf Among Us and now Im just sitting here and hoping that a sequel will be made.
10) Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze
Simply a really good plattformer. I did not like the 3DS-version a lot, but whatever Nintendo changed with the Wii U-version made it incredible fun and entertaining. The bosses were great and difficulty, but everything felt top quality.
x) The Walking Dead: Season 2: A good season, but not as good as season 1 and I felt something was lacking, it was probably Lee. x) Dark Souls 2: A good Souls game, but far from as good as Dark Souls and Demon's Souls. Im just hoping Bloodborne will be better and from what Ive played from the Bloodborne alpha it seems it will.
Yes ive played Sunset Overdrive, Forza Horizon 2, Bayonetta 2, Driveclub, Shadow of Mordor, The Evil Within, Alien Isolation and more, but none of them were even good enough to hit the honorable mentions, just if people are wondering
1. Sunset Overdrive ; Sunset Overdrive is all about fun and gameplay. Insomniac delivered a great experience, and every single aspect works. The movement, of course, is the star: the traversal is perfect. I could play hours of Sunset only to feel the flow when you chain every move, grinding, air dashing and bouncing across that beautiful city. Oh, and it's a very beautiful city indeed. The visual style and the colors are a perfect match for the general tone, creating a vivid and engaging world. On top of that, lots of content and customization, great missions and some of the best side quests of the last years, good gunplay and multiplayer mode. I cant wait for more Sunset Overdrive, more insane things to do and maybe even some good stories on that world.
2. Titanfall ; The gameplay is a masterful, very polished and fun. Of course, Titanfall suffers from lack of content, and while the core game is great, a few more months could make this a groundbreaking game. As it is, still a very good game, and i loved almost every second of breathtaking action of Titanfall.
3. Forza Horizon 2 ; A beautiful game, and i really love the scope of the open world that Playground Studios made here. Best racing game i played on the last few years.
4. Dragon Age: Inquisition ; DA:I is a great flawed game. The first half of the game is fantastic, great exploration, good story and a true successor of Origins. The second half drops the ball a little, with a lot of fetch quests and a bad narrative that destroyed the main story. But even with flaws, Inquisitions is a damn good effort, a return to form that fills me with hope for whats next for Bioware and Dragon Age.
5. Diablo III: Reaper of Souls ; Speaking of return to form, Reaper of Souls is a damn good Diablo game. Still not as good as Path of Exile, but i like how Blizzard fixed a lot of D3 problems, making a exciting expansion that was a blast to play.
6. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare ;
7. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze ;
8. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft ;
9. Shovel Knight ;
10. Super Time Force ;
1. Farming Simulator 15
In a shocking & unexpected plot twist (lol), FS15 ran away with my GOTY 2014. It's no secret that I'm a big geek for the franchise, and this latest entry was my most anticipated release of the year. In spite of the hype, FS15 somehow managed to exceed my expectations. Maybe it was the revamped physics and graphic engines. Perhaps it was the addition of the entirely new logging trade. Whatever it is, there was a palpable leap in presentation & execution that you just don't see too often in a franchise & genre so steeped in un-moving parts (farming is farming is farming). The game remains my go-to Zen simulator. Its not for everyone, but man does it deliver for the target demographic.
2. The Talos Principle
After noodling my way through The Talos Principle Public Test demo (wait, this is from the Serious Sam team?!), I was inspired to dive into the retail release. I love how smart the puzzles are in TTP. I love the exotic setting and sandbox nature of the maps, making the world feel open, cohesive & real. I love the log entries in the random computer terminals you come across. The variety of their structure (science-project emails, historical notes, real/published fiction narrative) gives the game this mysterious religious/philosophical atmosphere that is entirely subtle in execution. I totally appreciate that it doesn't beat you over the head with it, but rather offer up just enough crumbs to make you think for yourself in trying to parse out what is going on. This is so difficult to pull off in the medium where we're so often held by the hand. It makes me respect the developer and their confidence in the audience. The Talos Principle is one of those games that came straight out of nowhere and just knocked my socks off. It's a masterful blend of puzzle, philosophy & place.
3. Alien: Isolation
The industry just doesn't seem get most licensed IPs, the Alien franchise being a prime example. We've had tons of Alien games over the decades, yet none have captured the sweat-drenched anxiety of the original film. Most opt to go the empowered hero route introduced in the second entry, making the player yet another super-soldier mowing down dozens of Xenomorphs in a spray of alien goo, completely missing the setup that terrified moviegoers in the first outing. It may have taken 30+ years, but we finally have an Alien game that captures the claustrophobic terror of the first film. A single omnipotent, insta-kill enemy vs. a player reduced to victory via complete avoidance. In kneecapping and withholding the player's agency from the start, the cat & mouse gameplay that follows instills a hopeless fear that is a virtual first for game adaptations. The low-fi reproduction of the 70's classic permeates every fiber of Isolation's presentation. The look, the sound, the feel of Alien is captured at a staggering level of fidelity. This is gaming Atmosphere with a capitol A and a joy (and bitter fright) to behold. The game can be tense to the point of overwhelming (I believe a big part of some middling reviews, that were rushed out the door at launch), but taken in chunks over time, it's easily one of the best productions of the year.
4. Car Mechanic Simulator 2014
Part of the Privileged 1% Club, CMS is a niche simulation title with actual gosh-darn production values, passion and polish. While not incredibly complex, the game is sophisticated in execution, offering a broad overview of vehicle systems and how they interact. There's a level of troubleshooting that makes the game feel puzzle-like in nature, along with the satisfaction that comes from intuiting the solutions. The game also sports the best one of the best licensed soundtracks I've ever heard in a simulation game.
5. South Park: The Stick of Truth
Seems like 2014 is the year of Getting It Right. As noted above, Alien is an absolute first for nailing the licensed IP's core feel and sense of place, and South Park does the same by dropping us in that familiar little Colorado town and making us feel like we're in the middle of an entirely authentic television episode. SoT sports fantastic writing/voice work with 100% spot-on visual presentation complete with crazy-wild plot twists and tons of fan service. How easy would it have been for Trey & Matt to simply phone it in? Yet against all expectations, the duo are firing on all cylinders in this outing. Add to that a beefy campaign with a fun Mario RPG battle system. Bonus props for super-clean and inviting menu system. I haven't watched South Park in years, but Stick of Truth reminded me why the series is an absolute treasure.
6. The Sims 4
A troubled launch didn't quell my curiosity about this game. Many bemoaned the missing feature sets, but I decided to take the latest Sims entry at face value. I found an incredibly polished, smart and matured entry into the series that was a ton of minute to minute fun. Love the multitasking feature and streamlined push/pull building tools. Presentation is top notch, on a game engine that shockingly runs like butter. While there certainly are missing features, what actually is there is the best the series has seen to date. And even some of those omissions are quietly coming back in free updates (pools, ghosts, etc.).
Quite simply a Hunter S. Thompson fever dream. Set in an alternate/futuristic mod-60's spy universe, Jazzpunk is an audio/visual feast for the senses with a twisted sense of humor that had me shaking my head in disbelief on a pretty regular basis. Jazzpunk sports a wildly creative presentation and world that's just fun to explore. My Purple Haze days are decades behind me, but damned if Jazzpunk doesn't take me back to those carefree, far-out times.
8. Firefighters 2014
Yeah, you know that Proud 1% mentioned above? This sim sits comfortably in the Bottom 99. Unpolished & janky, it's earned its bargain-bin reputation. But I can't stop playing it! FF14 has been rightfully lambasted (funny 2-minute review is legit), but after getting hooked on a Let's Play series, I had to try it out for myself. I was rewarded with a game that is inexplicably addictive in spite of its compromised delivery. In the end those warts developed a sort of charm that those who've watched The Elephant Man can appreciate. Against all odds, the game is fun in spite of itself. Or maybe because is such a jumbled mess. I can't quite figure it out. I guess we all need a little MST3K in our lives from time to time.
9. Crossy Road
It's been a while since I've been this addicted to an iOS game. I think it was 10000000. Anyway, Crossy Road is the perfect blend of quick, addictive gameplay & inviting presentation. It's a Frogger/endless runner mash-up, with a cute sense of humor (mainly in the variety of dozens and dozens of characters you unlock). What's weird is the game is free and the pay model is in buying new characters, but the game gives you 100 free coins every 6 hours (real time, not gameplay). Characters are unlocked for 100 coins. So I've been playing like crazy and unlocking all these characters completely free of charge. It's really strange. All that stuff aside, Crossy Road somehow manages to steal every free idle-waiting moment I've got. And I love it.
Spintires is a bit of an odd duck. At times it feels like a tech demo. You pilot vintage Russian light & heavyweight trucks over a variety of mud-bogged maps, hauling logs from excavation sites to lumber mills. The tech on display is dutifully impressive. Full land deformation and churning mud between your wheels can get you stuck in the blink of an eye. You can then winch yourself out or nab another truck to help you out. This game is a bit of a sandbox title that is fun in short bursts. The visually are staggering and the physics system is authentic as heck. It winds of feeling like a strange arcade game of sorts that you dive in and out of for quick breathers in the midst of major game rotations. And it works just fine on that level.
xx. Brutal Doom
By my latest count, I've owned Doom 1 & 2 ports on more than 6 platforms. It's been my bread & butter arcade-action/carnage franchise for years upon years. Yet...I've never tooled around with the mods. So strange. Well I guess I picked a good place to start as Brutal Doom coupled with the Doom Metal Soundtrack (v.4) has breathed new life into a franchise that was entirely rock solid to begin with. 360 Mouse-look, new weapons, improved visuals, kill animations, tons of gore...this package has had an incredible amount of TLC put into it. Yet it somehow manages to retain the liquid-vintage feel of the original games. Doom has been a constant part of my gaming diet over the years, and Brutal Doom offers a refreshing modern spin on the formula without losing an ounce of what made the originals a genre classic.
xx. Lovely Planet
Pure distilled joy in shooter form. With short, time-attack Leaderboard levels featuring insta-respawn, LP feels more like Trials HD than youd imagine. Simplistic & gloriously happy visuals combined with an equally infectious soundtrack betray an experience that is actually tough as nails. But you wont care because the whole atmosphere is so colorfully vibrant & whimsical, turning a genre so commonly grim in nature entirely on its head. Drew & Dan sell the joy.
xx. Hitman GO
It's so rare that a known IP can get a complete structural makeover and still retain the essence of the source material. In shrinking the Hitman property to the mobile platform, we didn't get a poorly-controlling console port but rather a complete re-imagining that honored the IP and managed to kick ass by playing to the platform's strengths. It's a simple slide puzzle game, but delivered with enough TLC to make it stand out as one of the year's best. Each level set is a completely unique diorama board-game location. The players pieces on the board. The game gets increasingly complex as new gameplay elements are added regularly in the form of new baddies, traps, etc. It's an exquisite game of cat & mouse that quite frankly has no business being as good as it is for a simple mobile offshoot.