2014. It has come and gone, leaving me wondering, “what were the best games that I played this year?” To be honest, there are a ton of titles that I feel are deserving of someone’s Game of The Year award. In the interest of honoring Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo - the companies who build these wonderful consoles - I thought I’d share the one game from each of their consoles and handhelds that brought me the most enjoyment in 2014. I hope you enjoy!
Sunset Overdrive - Xbox One
This one was a big surprise to me. When I heard that Insomniac games - the creator of PlayStation titles like the Resistance trilogy and Ratchet Clank - was developing a game for the Xbox One, I couldn’t believe it. That was a huge move and I eagerly awaited the release of this new title. That game is Sunset Overdrive, a high-octane, open world, 3rd person shooter that isn’t afraid to break the 4th wall and make fun of itself. It’s the year 2027, and a new energy drink has turned most of the citizens of Sunset City into vicious mutants. The game refers to it as the “Awesomepocalypse,” and I must say, this game is “awesome” in every sense of the word. Sunset Overdrive had me wall-running, zip-lining, grinding rails, and bouncing my way across Sunset City. I can sufficiently say that this is one of the best open-world traversal experiences I’ve had in a video game. Upgrading ridiculously powerful weapons and working together with other characters never felt like a chore. In fact, there isn’t an inch of this game that wasn’t fun and didn’t have me smiling.
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor - PS4
It’s always risky to combine the mechanics of two different games - especially popular ones. The fine folks at Monolith Productions, who are more well know for making 1st-person experiences like the F.E.A.R. games and the Condemned series, took it upon themselves to combine the world traversal mechanics of Assassin’s Creed and the combat mechanics of the Batman: Arkham series into one solid experience. On top of that, this whole thing was taking place in the world of J.R.R. Tolkein’s Middle Earth - a universe that is beloved my many and guarded by extremely passionate fans. I was pleased to find that the combination worked and worked splendidly, for that matter. The combination was one that felt familiar and inviting, but still maintained a fresh feel. Yet, it’s important to point out that what truly makes this game unique is its Nemesis system. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing your hard work having positive results. In this case, those results come in the form of shaping the balance of power in Mordor by killing orcs or bending them to your will and your side. When I look back at 2014, I can’t think of a better PS4 title than Shadow of Mordor. Now, let’s hunt some orc!
Mario Kart 8 - Wii U
Since I started playing MK8 in May, I’ve played it nearly every other day since. I seriously cannot get enough of this game. Where most Mario Kart games have been about leveling the playing field with blue turtle shells, Bullet Bills, and lightning bolts, this title is built for competition. Even Luigi’s infamous Death Stare perfectly sums up Nintendo’s intentions with MK8. This game forced me to fine-tune my driving skills, and examine what character, kart, wheels, and glider best suited a specific cup. On top of that, MK8 boasted one of the best online multiplayer experiences this year. It was smooth, easy-to-use, and fast. Recently, Nintendo made purchasable DLC available that gave us new tracks and characters to race as, with Legend of Zelda’s Link making his first Mario Kart appearance. With new DLC slated to released in the spring (I’ve already pre-ordered it, of course) I can’t wait to see what is around the corner for this title. The future of the Wii U hinged upon this title’s success, and Nintendo can celebrate a victory lap with MK8’s success.
Bravely Default - 3DS
My favorite JRPG game is Final Fantasy 6 for the SNES. It was a revolutionary moment in my life in which I realized that games can tell deep and intellectual stories matched with stellar gameplay. Whereas that used to be a consistent trend with titles like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 7, in present time, the JRPG formula has begun to grow a bit stale. But this year, one game changed my mind and my hopes for where the genre can go. Bravely Default introduced me to a world that felt familiar, but played out in fresh, new way. Whether it was the hand-drawn towns and villages or the bright and complex characters, this game was the epitome of charm. Still, it wasn’t all charm. It boasted a new combat system in which I was faced with the difficult choice of choosing “Brave” - an opportunity to take up to 3 extra turns - or to choose “Default - to skip a turn and bolster my defense. Going big and brave comes with a risk, though. 3 extra turns means missing 3 turns afterward. Few things are more terrifying than taking 3 shots at an enemy, not defeating them with said attacks, and realizing that you are about to get pounded for 3 consecutive turns. The world of Bravely Default and its refreshing, new combat system had me glued to my 3DS for quite some time. Commissioner Gordon approves of your effort, Square Enix.
Child of Light - PS Vita
Have you ever looked at a painting and wanted to go inside of it to explore the world within the canvas? That’s exactly what Child of Light felt like. This unique merge of side-scrolling-platformer and RPG, from the brilliant minds at Ubisoft Montreal, totally blew me away. As Aurora - a young girl in late 1800’s Austria who suddenly dies from a sudden illness - I traversed the beautiful and mythical land of Lemuria, in order to reunite with my grieving father. The dialogue is presented in an endearing iambic pentameter - really giving it a fairytale feel. I felt as though I was reliving an old childhood bedtime story and was truly gripped by the sentimentality that had permeated every inch of this game. I have played many games that were fun, but only a handful have left an imprint. Child of Light has definitely left an imprint upon me that left me with the warmth of nighttime tales that lulled me to sleep, long ago.
These games serve as a snapshot of what I enjoyed on PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, 3DS, and PS Vita, this year. I’m curious to know, what were your favorite titles this year? Leave a comment and let us know!