It has been a busy year in gaming with next gen consoles building momentum and some absolute gems released on older systems the staff at OXCGN rate their best and worst of 2014.
Best of 2014
Bayonetta 2 (WiiU)
The original Bayonetta was a fantastic game when it was released for the Xbox 360 and PS3 back in 2010 (despite the poor porting effort for the PS3 version). When Nintendo decided to publish Bayonetta 2 people were worried that it would be far more toned down that the original.
Boy, they could not have been more wrong.
Not only is Bayonetta 2 a blast to play but also it is just as outlandish and crazy as it predecessor.
The biggest shame about Bayonetta 2 is how its WiiU exclusivity will keep many from playing it.
South Park: The Stick of Truth (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
I almost forgot about this game, since it came out so early this year. But picking it up again has reminded me of how fantastic of a job they did making it look, feel and sound like South Park.
Playing it, you really notice the love and care that was put into the game; this is probably one of the best licensed TV show games ever made
Super Smash Bros. (WiiU)
The WiiU version of Smash oozes with polish; the huge roster of characters, the large selection of stages and the introduction of the Amiibos as a means to deliver additional characters on top of standard DLC has elevated Smash from the best fighting game on the WiiU to one of the best fighting games available..
Worst of 2014
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric (WiiU)
Sega delivers yet another terrible Sonic game. Plagued with constant glitches, disappearing characters, baron world hubs and constantly dropping frame rates; Sonic Boom was Sonic Doomed.
From the get go Sonic Boom’s future looked bleak. With the project given to a small developer Big Red Button Entertainment, (which I originally had high hopes for), staffed by some former Naughty Dog employees, the Sonic Boom games (along with the TV show) was just another way to sell toys.
Rambo: The Video Game (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
Why was this released? I didn’t think there was any demand for an on-rails shooter recap of some of the highlights of the Rambo movies. The developers didn’t even bring in Stallone to record new dialogue all the dialogue is ripped directly from the films.
There are bad licensed games, then there’s Rambo: The Video Game.
Biggest Letdowns of 2014
Watch Dogs – Press X to Hack.
Hold on a second, don’t get all worked up. I actually loved Watch Dogs and tried to finish it as fast as I could. The problem with Watch Dogs was the hype – there was just too much. Comparing yourself to Grand Theft Auto V is never a smart move and neither is delivering a game that is drastically different to the E3 demos shown the year before; not to mention the lacklustre “press X to hack” feature.
Watch Dogs was less like an open world hacking game and more of a QTE game.
Titanfall – Stand By For Titanfail.
Boy did this game arrive with a bang and then fizzle out very quickly.
For a game with so much potential it didn’t really go anywhere on top of that there was no excuse for the lack of any sort of single player campaign.
Titanfall lost its appeal very quickly and everyone moved on.
Destiny – Uh oh.
Destiny’s development history is troubled and we may never truly know the details but one thing is for certain what ever was originally envisioned for Destiny certainly did not come to fruition.
With a very short unexplained story, the ‘light’ levelling system and a heavy emphasis on selling a season pass before the game was even released Destiny looked more like a cash grab than an exercise in story telling.
1. Transistor (PS4)
2. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (PS4)
3.Pokemon: Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire (3DS)
4. Strider (PS4)
5. Heroes of the Storm (Alpha) (PC/MAC)
Best Game of 2014
Transistor (PS4, PC)
Every once in a while I play something that reminds me of why I dedicate so much time to gaming. Transistor grabbed me immediately with impeccable style, incredible music, deep gameplay and a story that treats you like an adult – you won’t have every answer by the end of the game, and that’s fine by me. You play as Red, a lounge singer and the newest wielder of the Transistor (a strange, sword shaped device of unknown origin) who is being hunted through the city of Cloudbank by a mysterious set of creatures known only as the Process, all whilst searching for the people who killed your lover and stole your voice.
Transistor’s gameplay is like a mix between developer SuperGiant Games’ previous title Bastion and a Real Time Strategy RPG. You have an action meter which allows you to use your attacks, but each one drains a different amount from the bar, leaving you open and vulnerable to the repercussions of bad planning. This system is unbelievably flexible, giving you several skills, which can be equipped in 3 different ways, allowing heaps of combinations to be created over the course of your game.
Transistor came to me in a time when I was getting fed up with overblown sequels and within the 15+ hours I played it became not only my game of the year, but one of the better titles I’ve ever played.
Destiny (PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3)
Honestly I didn’t have a particularly bad time with Destiny. I spent several hours playing through the story and had a great time, but once I saw the end game content I felt no compulsion to continue. When the loot cave was discovered, I chose to play the game normally and I felt as though I was unfairly rewarded every time I finished a mission. Further seeing other players much better gear did nothing but push me away.
For a game that wants players to invest hundreds of hours I couldn’t justify the effort when everyone else was reaping the benefits of a broken system. When you based the attraction of your game on compelling loot make sure the system isn’t broken; all it does it drive dedicated players away.
Sorry Bungie the gameplay was great, but I can’t shoot at a cave when there’s so much else to play!
Best Game of 2014
When I think about gaming in 2014 I find it very difficult to name my favourite game of the year. There were plenty of letdowns (Watchdogs, Destiny, too many re-releases…) and the next-gen launch offered nothing to quench my gaming thirst. I mostly found joy in the smaller games that offered interesting stories and beautiful worlds. Every episode of The Wolf Among Us sucked me in with tense twists whilst Child of Light entranced me with its stunning art style but the game that took my heart was Valiant Hearts: The Great War.
Valiant Hearts was a masterpiece with its engaging characters that made me cry with barely any dialogue. I learnt an array of things about a war I’d never even heard of, I refused to use hints and complete each puzzle by myself and I enjoyed the stunning art style and music. It’s amazing how such a simple game can make the biggest impact.
Biggest Letdown of 2014
There was only one game that I truly detested this year. Every gamer made it sound like a must play, with many rising up levels within a couple of days after launch. It was supposed to be a new MMO shooter experience in a interesting sci-fi world but it completely fell flat.
This game was Destiny.
Sure Destiny had great shooting mechanics that surpassed many first-person-shooters but apart from that, Destiny had nothing else going for it. It has a boring story which basically had you gunning your way from waypoint A to waypoint B. You began each level on a planet at the same spot every time meaning you were forced to plough through the same old enemies who spawned at the exact same spot just to reach a slightly different looking area who most likely had the same enemies again and again.
The thing that annoyed me most about Destiny was how it forced you to grind in order to continue the story. It was common to be thrown into missions aimed at your exact character’s level until all of a sudden the next mission jumped up its difficulty drastically. Perhaps if each map weren’t so recycled I would’ve enjoyed leveling up and forgiven Bungie but no. This game promised big things but never actually achieved them.
Underrated But Dank Game
With the hype over Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. sadly my favourite Nintendo game this year was forgotten and it was Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze. This game had some of the best level design for a platformer in a living and breathing cartoonish world. There were many frustrating moments, especially in those boss battles, but the difficulty of Tropical Freeze just kept you coming back for more especially whilst enjoying the flawless co-op. The art, four playable characters, backdrops, levels and music all fit together perfectly in one of the top platformers you can every play.
Best Game of 2014
Middle Earth: Shadow of Modor (PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, PS3)
Quite possibly the only game to truly utilise the next gen persona. The Nemesis system is amazing for continually changing the hierarchy of orc captains and adapting their looks and attributes throughout the game.
The further you progress the harder it gets and with satisfying combat like the Arkham franchise, it definitely was a great game. It’s best to level up and upgrade your character as early as possible as the game does like to be quite brutal in many circumstances.
Biggest Letdown of 2014
Destiny (PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3)
Sure the game is addictive to a certain degree, but the final product is nothing compared to what Bungie had envisioned. With high profile members of Bungie leaving well before the games’ release, doubts began to emerge about what would actual ship to players. These doubts where realised when the launch of Destiny came with an extremely short campaign, an overall lack of content and broken RNG.
Best Game of 2014
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (PC)
I have never felt so drawn to a game the way Ethan Carter made me. The loneliness and melancholy was palpable, the hopelessness at times utterly tangible.
As someone who simply loves good story telling, this game got me hard. There is something quite powerful in watching a story unfold before your eyes and ultimately, despite all your actions and interactions, be nothing but a bystander to a greater tale that you have no power to change.
Unlike other on-rails games – this game is not only beautiful and haunting, from the graphics to the music – but compelling and very deep.
I make this game sound like its terribly sad, and in a way, you are left with a sense of wistful sadness by the end of it that is actually really refreshing to feel in a game.
I want more games like this, games that elicit emotions that don’t run on strategy or adrenaline, but in empathy, curiosity and even love.
Worst game of 2014
Apparently, Assassin’s Creed: Unity (Xbox One, Ps4, PC)
From what I hear hurr hurr – that Assassins Creed: Unity has really put its proverbial foot in it. From not being capable of programming female characters into it all the way to not being able to program anything functional into it. Hoo boy.
Look, sometimes, mistakes are made and Ubisoft is a fabulous company that does great work. Perhaps there were internal pressures, office politics and general asshattery that occurs in any large corporation. I mean, we dished out so much pain on EA last year (and the year before) so I guess the criticisms had to go find a new place to roost.
But really, releasing what is technically an incomplete game? because enough Beta testing would have caught these bugs, these weren’t little oopsies, they’re signs of good work gone sloppy. You don’t order a BLT sandwich, get just the bread and then be happy to wait for the pig to get cooked, the lettuce chopped and the tomato grown.
So – while I’ll be honest, I haven’t played it yet – I would say that the fact that the DLC to fix the bugs was essentially the size of the actual game makes it the worst.
Biggest letdown of 2014 – Gamergate.
Seriously, guys… that was all unwarranted. All of it.
Best Cook: Lara Croft
Yeah, survivalist cooking! If I ever invited Lara for tea, I am guaranteed some decent Deer Jerky. Possibly even Wolf Jerky (I’m sure it tastes papery, like bark [eh?! eh?!]).
Worst Cook: Geralt of Rivia
Man, that guy drinks poison. Never let him buy you drinks at a bar, or worse, never let him behind it to mix a few cocktails…
Best Games of 2014
InFamous Second Son (PS4)
When I was deciding to jump to next gen this game was a compelling reason to take the leap. I had loved the 2 previous Infamous games and really looked forward to what a next gen treatment of the franchise would bring to the table. Sucker Punch really delivered on this one, although it isn’t as long as previous titles and the array of powers whilst being very different aren’t as fleshed out as when we were playing at Cole the overall experience is pretty great.
The powers are all different enough that you feel the need to swap between them and whilst the storyline is rather simple and could probably have benefitted from a few more twists and turns the change in setting and direction provide enough difference from the previous 2 games that you never feel like you are retreading Cole’s story. I hope they make more games in this series and I hope they continue to explore other characters and settings within the extending Infamous universe.
Hearthstone (PC, iOS, Android)
I have never played competitive card games and I was a little apprehensive to jump into something with such dedicated fans. I was terrified of being beaten again and again by players who had more time and who had invested more money into Hearthstone that I could ever hope to. What I found when I started playing on my iPad was a wonderful game that was easy to learn but supremely difficult to master, I would whittle away hours trying to figure out the best deck combinations and trying to master combos that dealt extreme amounts of damage.
I am still pretty terrible at the game but that hasn’t pushed me away, every battle is a new learning experience and on the rare occasions that I do win the sense of accomplishment is so great that I am hooked again for a few more hours. Did I mention the base game is free!
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (PSVita)
One thing I will always love about the PSVita is the bizarre games that come out of Japan. Danganronpa came out in 2010 but was rereleased for the Vita this year. Part Ace Attorney, part Virtues Last Reward and always bizarre, the high school murder drama even uses elements from rhythm games just to keep things interesting. The murders are gruesome; the trials require quick thinking and the characters are so fantastically ridiculous that the whole thing is just utterly compelling.
I really recommend this game to anyone who wants to get weird but also wants to use their brain, nothing is as it seems at Hope’s Peak Academy just ask Monokuma!