I’ve made the decision that I would definitely like the start writing a top ten games list each year, maybe even a few reviews periodically. Sure, very few (if any) people will read it, but I think it’d be a fun little thing to do, so lets kick it off with my top ten games of 2014!
2014 was a weird year for video games, well, not so much weird as it was just plain bad. I feel like this list might turn into more of a “Top Ten Games I Didn’t Hate in 2014” list. The PS4 was a huge slouch, very few platform exclusive games came out on it. The only three that come to mind right now are Little Big Planet 3, Infamous: Second Son, and DriveClub. That is not a good thing. I do really hope 2015 is better for that platform.
Before I get on with this list, I really should add a caveat: I didn’t play many new games this year. I was busy with a mixture of school, work, and running. That coupled with the fact that this year was pretty stagnant in terms of new games, I mostly stuck with old games. I still have a huge backlog of smaller games from this year, but really I primarily played games from 2013 and earlier, for that reason I decided to pick an old game of the year too.
Top Old Game: Dark Souls
It’s hard to think that I put this game off for so long. I briefly tried it on PS3 around the time of release and was instantly put off by the difficulty and overall lack of direction. After getting the Prepare to Die edition last winter I promised myself I would give this game a shot, and boy am I glad I did. When you pay attention to the breadcrumbs and small nuances Dark Souls has littered throughout, it really leaves you with a strong and intricate story. Combine the gorgeous environments, rewarding combat, and creative storytelling and you have a beautiful experience.
I don’t think I’ve ever been engrossed in a game as much as I was (and still am) in Dark Souls. I feel that I know everything there is to know about the world, but I just want to keep going. Dark Souls is easily my favorite old game that I’ve played this year, and quite possible one of my all time favorite games.
Runner Up: Shadows of the Damned
Surprisingly, I beat this game just before writing this post, and wow, what an amazing experience it was. Shinji Mikami creates some of the most off the walls absurd games I’ve ever seen, and Shadows of the Damned is no different, everything from feeding strawberries to babies, to shooting people in the face with your “big boner.”
Super Smash Bros. WiiU is certainly a great game and I’m impressed with how it turned out. It seems to appeal to the more competitive nature of Melee, while still being welcoming to newcomers. The roster is strong, and I’ve found myself thoroughly enjoying Greninja, which I would have never expected. I’m really not sure how to accurately describe the reasons Smash Bros. is on my top ten list other than that it is just insanely fun. Nintendo managed to push out fantastic visuals on (comparatively) old hardware, and maintain a solid 60 fps. It is definitely my favorite Smash Bros. adaptation to date, and has easily made my top ten games of 2014.
I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of Insomniac’s games. That may be because I didn’t really get into Sony games until the PSP, or just because their style never really did it for me. Regardless of that, they’ve done something right with Sunset Overdrive. Everything about this game is just mindless fun. The story is creative and has some of the most diverse weapons I’ve ever seen in a game. A gun that launches exploding teddy bears? Sure! Mix those weapons with a colorful environment and ridiculous missions and you have one hell of an open-world experience.
8. Gang Beasts
Gang Beasts may not be what many people consider game of the year material, but get a bunch of people together and tell me it isn’t one hell of a good time. There isn’t a lot I can say about this game, it is simply pure multiplayer chaos. If you yearn for the days of couch multiplayer then you want Gang Beasts, it’s as simple as that.
I was incredibly excited for Titanfall, shooters have gone stale over the years and I’m anxious for something different, I hoped Titanfall would be that something. Unfortunately it didn’t shake up the genre like I had hoped. But, what we got from Titanfall is still a blast. The titans are an exciting addition and change the game to make you feel indestructible…until you get blown up. Each matchup is chaotic and fun. I have yet to have a boring time playing this game, regardless of the poor reception it has easily earned a spot on my list.
Open world sandboxes have never really been my thing, but Shadow of Mordor brings a refreshing change to the genre, making me genuinely enjoy it. The nemesis system is a magnificent (and much needed) change to the concept. The changing rankings, names, and variety of ways to conquer a single task made this game an interesting experience. This game would easily be number one on my list if the rest of it were on the same level as the nemesis system. Aside from Ratbag the characters are generally bland and forgettable, and the story is overall generic. That being said, combat, stealth, and nemesis system are more than enough to make this game one of the best of the year.
Sumo Digital has done a great job carrying on the work Media Molecule started, adding Hugh Laurie to the cast made for an even more entertaining and engaging story mode and the various multiplayer options really give this game a long tail. I’m really looking forward to playing even more LittleBigPlanet 3 and I am excited to see what Sumo Digital can do with the game in the future.I’m starting to get the feeling that I’m the only person who enjoyed this game. LittleBigPlanet 1 and 2 were easily my favorite games on the PS3, and LittleBigPlanet 3 is certainly no slouch. While I know lots of people have reported bugs and a variety of issues with this game, my playthroughs have been relatively error free, so I couldn’t fault it for issues I haven’t seen! The addition of Swoop, Oddsock, and Toggle have added a lot of variety that the game was missing. Had this release been a rehash of 1 and 2, then it likely wouldn’t have made it onto my list, but thankfully Sumo Digital made fun changes. The added backwards compatibility with the previous games meant I instantly had all of my goodies from my old playthroughs!
Okay, I’m sure this list isn’t turning out the way people expected. Gang Beasts? JazzPunk? What must I be smoking? JazzPunk is easily the most ridiculous and hilarious experience I’ve had with a game this year. I bought it simply because it was on sale, not expecting much. I was met with one of the most ridiculous art styles I have ever seen, and a game that is littered with small references to both pop culture and whatever the opposite of pop culture is. On top of that, you have a game that has you perform some of the strangest tasks you’ll ever have to do in a game. Phreak a phone with a captain crunch whistle? Yep. Wipe the crumbs off of someones face? That’s in there too. I really don’t know how else to express how much fun this game is to play, just go play it right now. It’s worth it.
I’ve always had a thing for fighting games, but this year I finally succumbed to the call and built a bunch of fight sticks, went to Evo, and fell in love with Street Fighter even more than before. Sure, Ultra is probably more of the same to most people but I love it regardless. The beautiful art style continues to pull me in every time I play a match and the recently added Omega mode, while not as fun as Rainbow Edition, is a blast.
Like with Gang Beasts I don’t really have a ton to say about Mount Your Friends. It is one hell of fun game. This year really has been fantastic for couch multiplayer games, but Mount Your Friends takes the cake. The biggest strength with Mount Your Friends is that you only need one controller. The insanely low barrier to entry is what makes it even more appealing, you get simple, mindless fun that never seems to end. So far Mount Your Friends has been my go to when a group of friends needs something to play, and I don’t see that stopping any time soon.
I never would have guessed Wolfenstein would have been my favorite game of 2014. Hell, I didn’t even know the game existed until I saw it at PAX in March. But wow, did Machine Games ever hit this game out of the park. It is not only my favorite game this year, it is one of the best shooters I’ve ever played. Everything in The New Order works together so incredibly well that you never feel you’re doing anything wrong. The stealth sections so well done that I almost want to classify the game as a stealth game alongside being a WWII shooter.
The story is so absurd that it could only exist in a video game, making it all the more entertaining. Even the moon level works well and doesn’t feel out of place. I have no idea how it happened, but Machine Games made one hell of a great game.
Honorable Mention: FRACT OSC
FRACT OSC is a beautiful experience, and while it was beat out on my top ten, I wanted to list it on here anyway (I guess it’s really a top eleven list). I was pretty excited for FRACT after playing it at PAX, and it really did live up to everything I had hoped. The visuals and audio are simply stunning, and the level design manages to guide in the right direction without feeling forced.
There are a lot of games I didn’t have a chance to play this year, based on my preferences I expect Dark Souls II would have made it onto my list somewhere, but unfortunately I didn’t discover Dark Souls until the end of the year, so maybe we’ll see the sequel in my top ten next year.
Games I would have probably liked if I had played them:
and of course…Dark Souls II