By GunstarRed 17 Comments
So, 2014 happened. There was definitely games that came out, I know this for certain as I played a bunch of them. I don't think it was necessarily a bad year as we got some real gems, but there was definitely a huge chunk of the year I questioned whether or not I'd be able to compile a top 10 list of my favourite games. Thankfully the last few months have seen not only some of the best games of the year release, but some of the best games I have ever played.
There's a couple of games I'd like to briefly mention...
South Park: The Stick of Truth, a game that I enjoyed a bunch. I'm not the biggest fan of the combat, but the humour is very similar to the past few seasons of the show in that it's generally pretty amusing, but when it's on point it can be one of the funniest things around. (Special mention to the audio logs joke)
Strider was fun and was as Stridery as a Strider game can get. The game doesn't really have all that much of a personality though, which is a real shame. Hitting the attack button really fast works as intended. Thankfully it didn't bum be out as much as Lords of Shadow 2.
I backed and played Shovel Knight which I enjoyed. It's a good Mega Man/Ducktales-esque game, but I find it crazy that anyone would say it's as good as Mega Man 2, 3 or even Duck Tales. I've seen people praise the soundtrack, but I'm not a fan. I absolutely love about 99% of the stuff Jake Kaufman puts out, but outside of a couple of tracks it really doesn't do a whole lot for me.
I nearly included Zer0 Sum, the first Tales from the Borderlands episode on this list, but I feel like that's more of a 2015 kinda thing.
I liked the gameplay in Watch Dogs despite having a protagonist devoid of any kind of personality. Wolfenstein was a fun throwback, but it was a little too much of a throwback in places with an incredible industrial/electronic/rock soundtrack. Mario Kart is probably the prettiest game of the year. Hyrule Warriors is like the best game ever... And also the worst game ever. That Rambo game totally happened.
Onto the top 10 type stuff!
Here is a list so you don't have to read any of the words I have written below.
10 Dark Souls 2 - I like this game.
9 Lococycle - I like this game.
8 Kirby Triple Deluxe - I like this game.
7 Velocity 2X - I like this game.
6 Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call - I like this game.
5 The Evil Within - I like this game.
4 Bayonetta 2 - I like this game.
3 Sunset Overdrive - I like this game.
2 The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth - I like this game.
1 Titanfall - I like this game.
I like Dark Souls II a bunch. It's a hard game for me to talk about because I'm not really its intended audience. Nearly anything with high fantasy featuring goblins, skeletons and dragons has a high chance of getting ignored by me. When it comes to this I am full of contradictions. I absolutely adore 70's/80's metal album covers with dragons n' shit all over them, and I am a big fan of movies like Willow and watch shows like Game of Thrones.
I have definitely opened up to this stuff more recently. I played Dragon's Dogma a couple of years back and enjoyed it immensely despite being able to see its many flaws, and I have every intention of playing through The Witcher 2 at some point before the third game is released. Dark Souls on paper is everything I should shrug at, and yet it has this odd, hypnotic power drawing me in.
I'm definitely not as enamoured by the game as most, and its difficulty was not what was driving me away. It's the way it explains nothing to you. And to be honest I still don't really like that about it. I went in pretty blind to the game, which was the only way I ever wanted to experience what seems to be adored by everyone these days. I've picked up snippets through osmosis, but for the most part and a little help from Yummylee in upgrading my Sir Raptorbutt, I did things my way without scanning forums or walkthroughs. At times it was pretty trying. I hit a roadblock with an early boss, nearly forcing me to abandon my experiment, but once I scraped by I managed to get into a real flow.
There were times I'd beat three bosses in one sitting only to come up against unfair battles like a giant, laser spewing spider. Every single time I found something I loved I was quickly reminded about something I hated. To the games credit though, I kept on returning over and over for fifty plus hours, and every time I told myself I was done I'd find myself sitting, playing it for another couple of hours.
I'm not convinced the game always plays fair despite one of the few things I'd picked up over the years is that these games were very tough, but always fair. It's full of things I'd rather not experience ever again, usually involving acid damage, but I powered my way through, and for all the things I find to be faults that I know are cherished by others, it is most definitely a game I have randomly thought about fondly since finishing it. I couldn't say that about most of the games I played this year.
Yep, this totally came out on the 360/Steam this year, and NO! I haven't made a horrible mistake.
Look, I get it, everyone hated this game, mostly people that didn't play it, but it definitely struck a chord with me. Twisted Pixel games have always been full of references to action movies like Total Recall and The Predator which is part of the reason I'm willing to forgive some of their lesser gameplay, but any game that's as in love with an all time favourite of mine - Big Trouble in Little China - is probably going to get a thumbs up from me.
This game made me laugh consistently for five hours. I'm not ashamed of that. I get the joke, I feel like the joke was made for me, and I am perfectly fine with that. The game has heart, it works better than something like the one note joke of Roundabout and it's ok that that it's not for you. To be honest, it's kinda a shame that a lot of people will probably never get to see the 2D stage where two motorbikes are fighting like in Street Fighter. It's a spectacularly silly sequence that lets you use special moves like lightning kicks and hadoukens for a throwaway, five minute joke.
Robert Patrick is the perfect bad guy along with Guardians of the Galaxy's director James Gunn, often appearing in FMV talking about Twilight decals being pasted onto futuristic planes and phone conversations to AI bikes while surrounded by women. The FMV is as bonkers as anything TP have done in the past, like a ridiculous scrolling end sequence where a bike disarms a bomb on a rocket and an utterly crazy video featuring grilled cheese sandwiches and bikers.
I'm super happy this game exists, and its QTE heavy gameplay seems appropriate. It's a 90's styled arcade action game that's in love with 80's/90's action movies. I personally enjoyed the 3D Sonic/ Arkham-esque mashup they went for. The FMV is incredible, but the vast bulk of the funny writing is within the levels themselves. It's not as funny as Comic Jumper, but if the humour clicks this is a pretty incredible experience, and one of the funniest games I have ever played.
Kirby is a piece of shit. He's a deceptively cute ball of pink roundyness. He's always got that big old smile on his face, but when he's not trying to charm the hell out of you with his bouncy, jolliness, he's messing up other people's lives by eating everything in sight. Kirby eats birds, kirby eats people, kirby eats trees, bugs, homes even ghosts... KIRBY EATS GHOSTS.
He's that one Nintendo character that only ever gets to hang with the A-listers when there's a new Smash Bros. Nintendo keep pumping his games out every couple of years, but nobody talks about them like a new Mario, or a new Zelda. Did you know this came out this year? No, of course you didn't. I know it's not unusual for GB to Quick Look all the 3DS games, but they didn't look at this. It seems like Nintendo put all of their 3DS advertising budget for the year into that Yoshi game everyone seemed indifferent about.
Kirby: Triple Deluxe might not be the hardest game in the world, but it sure is the most
fucked up charming game I played all year. It's a real shame that it hasn't been talked about all that much as it has some incredible visuals, with some of the best 3D on the system. Having the action on two planes means they can do some cool stuff with hazards coming into the foreground and hiding secrets behind scenery in the foreground.
It has the same kinda structure as most of the newer Mario games with you completing levels with relatively little fuss, but having the meat of the content in collecting some deviously hidden sunstones. (like Mario's stars) Some of the puzzles require some tricky tilting of the console or hitting switches in the right order. Every so often you'll need a very specific power and it's fun to finally figure out what you need to do.
It's just an incredibly well crafted 2D platformer, and I don't really understand why Nintendo don't care more about telling people this exists. It has some really incredible boss fights with numerous pattern changes and a ton of creativity. They might look like simplistic evil clouds or ghosts trapped in paintings, but they're far and away more interesting than anything you'll find in most of Mario's newer games.
I adore this game, it always puts a smile on my face, and there's a billion things to see, find and collect. More people should go and play Kirby, if only to see that KIRBY EATS GHOSTS!
This is an odd one. I vaguely remember playing the first game when it was given away for free as a Playstation mini. It was an enjoyable evenings worth of entertainment, but the kind of thing you'd have a hard time remembering a week after playing it. I didn't even know Velocity 2X existed until the Quick Look, and it was great to find out that it was one of the free PS Plus games on release.
There seems to be a level of polish in 2X that was missing from the first game. There's some cool looking characters and a silly story that ties things together, but it's the gameplay that's the star of the show here. The ability to warp forward through scenery, combined with the button to speed up the rate at which the screen scrolls gives the player all the tools to zip through the game as fast or as slow as they want. As soon as you're comfortable with the controls you'll be shooting, dodging and weaving through the levels feeling like some kind of professional speed runner.
That's the thing I love about this game, the speed at which everything flies by. The game often gives you twenty minutes to finish a stage, but has a high score time of under three. Getting the best times, saving pods and collecting crystals for experience, which in turn unlocks levels really incentivises revisiting stages and trying to do better.
The other standout is the 2D platforming sections of the levels that have you running around, teleporting through walls and exploding glass for precious crystals. The game can get really tricky in the last third and requires some precision teleporting and wall-dashing. If you're playing the game the way it has obviously been designed to be played you will never stop moving. Speed is always the key. I'm a sucker for a good fast paced 2D action game, and this was a real surprise and a hell of a good time.
I don't have a lot to say about this game other than it's a more refined version of an already incredible music rhythm game. The flow of the notes you hit and swipe, combined with double the amount of songs the first game contained, along with the new quest mode making the grind for character crystals easier are great improvements.
The music is as stunning as ever, with a lot or incredible pieces coming from the newer games. I didn't even know what Mystic Quest was, but god damn is that some fine music. Obviously this couldn't have been as much of a pleasant surprise as the original was, but I look at this like you would Super Street Fighter IV - An update with so many changes and content that it's hard not to love it as much as the first game.
Super cute, better sound quality and fat chocobos, not to mention probably the greatest piece of music to have ever existed in the Final Fantasy universe... CRAZY CHOCOBO!!!!
It became quite apparent when playing through this game that Shinji Mikami has no interest in making the survival horror games of old, and is intent on forever re-creating the horror infused action movie we got in the incredible Resident Evil 4. That's not to say this isn't a horror game. It's creepy and tense when needed, and is full of twisted designs and splattery gore... The problem is that none of it feels all that scary. The thought of the horrors in the darkness are usually far more terrifying that the thing you are likely to encounter.
Entire sections of this game, like a creepy village and haunted mansions feel like something ripped straight out of a Resident Evil game, in fact I found the storytelling, (as nonsensical as it is) the pacing and the dialogue to share a lot of things in common with Mikami's other games, especially RE4. The one thing that TEW seems to do to separate itself from the newer, more action orientated Resident Evil's is a real focus on ammo conservation, and at times an almost unforgiving level of difficulty. I often found myself with next to no ammo, often after some bullet spongey bosses.
This makes every bullet count, and many encounters pretty challenging, trying to take advantage of the environment and traps scattered around the scenery as best I can. I went into this game expecting to be overwhelmed with dread and came away from it with an incredibly well crafted survival action game with possibly the most satisfying and squeltchy headshots of any game ever.
The guns boom and crack like they have some real power behind them and the crossbow is a pretty versatile weapon that can be used in a variety of interesting ways. The freedom you're given to tackle the various encounters despite the lack of ammunition made for a tense, exciting and challenging action game with the right amount of craziness in the later chapters. If this was where Mikami envisioned where Resident Evil should have gone after 4, I'm very much a fan. Dripping with atmosphere, green brain goo and blood. I'm very excited to see where this series goes next.
Oh Bayonetta, you so silly. I'm only going to briefly touch upon my slight disappointment with the game as I feel like my opinions on the game are all over the Bayonetta 2 boards. Sure, it's not as crazy, and it's a much easier game that can reward some poor timing and use of powerful items, but god damn is this a fun game.
I feel like I fall into the minority of people that think the first game is a lot better for a variety of reasons. Bayonetta 2 is a smoother playing and much tighter experience, but lacking a few things that made the first game so appealing. It's briefer but more action packed. Flashier, but not quite as over the top crazy... which in Bayonetta doesn't really mean all that much at all, and its difficulty is far more welcoming to newer players to the series/genre.
Where Bayonetta 2 really shines is in its creative visuals. This is a bright and colourful game with some incredible enemy designs. Even the music has had a overhaul with many of the jazzier tracks being replaced with big choirs chanting over big orchestral pieces. The music does a really good job of elevating the one-on-one, human-sized boss fights to an epic scale. There is hair dragons and stone angel-robot things clashing as a flurry of swords, spears and hair-fists fly about the screen and its visual noise is a lot easier to follow than you'd imagine.
The game does a much better job of giving you collectibles and new weapons meaning I felt the need to mess with them all unlike the original where I was happy with the sword as soon as I unlocked it. The crazy finger-scythes and mechanical bow are a ton of fun to use, and give you a different way of playing... I eventually settled on a whip/chainsaw sword combo. Along with all the weapons are countless costumes and secrets, at times it's almost overwhelming the amount of content Platinum has packed into the game.
Even the co-op mode is a fun distraction that lengthens the game a bunch, unfortunately it needs a little fleshing out and a bunch of unlockable characters beyond the four available as it serves as more of a grind area to be able to afford a bunch of the expensive costumes... and what costumes they are.("Mamma mia!") All of the Nintendo suits change the way Bayonetta plays, and in one incredible moment you are able to pilot an Arwing from Star Fox with bombs, barrell rolls and burbedeburbedeburring voices coming over the radio. Hideki Kamiya expressed interest in making a new Star Fox game and this is the best Star Fox sequence we have gotten in years... In a game about a hair-witch fighting dragons around skyscrapers and slicing demons from hell to death on top of a giant, flying manta-ray.
In another year this would have been my favourite game by a mile. It's almost everything I want from video games. Video gamey, video games where you cut stuff and stuff explodes while jumping and flipping around the screen. I fully understand why more people seem to be enjoying this game over the first, but it's very hard not to want a little more challenge from the game. Maybe I've lost some perspective due to the amount I played the first, but I fully recognize this is far and away one of the best... and sweariest games of the year.
As a huge fan of the Ratchet & Clank games I'm always curious to see what Insomniac are working on. I've never really found anything they have made in recent years outside of the core Ratchet games to be all that interesting. Resistance is OK, the failed Ratchet experiments aren't any fun and Fuse, while not as bad as some would have you believe, doesn't really have what I want from Insomniac.... Colourful worlds, filled with life and silly, over the top weaponry.
Thankfully Insomniac have really taken the criticism from Fuse to heart. Sunset Overdrive is just pure, video gamey fun. A game that knows it's a video game, wants you to know it's a video game and is in love with being a video game. I feel like this game is laser focussed in what it wants to be. Its tone stays consistent, and while it shares some similarities in humour with the newer Saints Row games it doesn't have that light-hearted mean streak that those games seem to be infused with running through it.
In a year where Sony put out the pretty, yet forgettable Infamous Second Son, Insomniac have made one of the most lively and "ON!" open worlds I think I have ever played. You're always seconds from the action and the constant punk rock rarely ever stops. I could see this being grating for some, but I'm one of those people that likes that the game is always at 11.
I like that the game isn't a pushover either, it does a really good job of telling you early on that if you're not bouncing around, grinding, flipping, air dashing and wall running during combat, you're gonna die pretty quickly. That said, the checkpointing is uber generous, along with the insanely huge window for the auto-aim. The shooting and the weapons, while not as clever or inventive as anything in the Ratchet games feel like Ratchet guns, Ratchet's DNA is running through the veins of this game, obviously there's a little bit of Jet Set Radio, a little bit of Saints Row, along with a few other things in there, but the Ratchety-ness is all over it like Sly Cooper in the Infamous games.
And it's a very funny game. Not all of it is super hilarious, but it has a level of wit in the writing. Not all of the jokes (like a previously mentioned series) have a punchline that is someone getting punched in the face or told to fuck off, and there's some fun stuff integrating the games UI or making fun of video game tropes. The factions are great, with the LARP'ers that roll around talking in ye olde voices accompanied by a bard being my personal favourites. "HARDCORE!"
HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE.
I knew I'd love this game before I played it, and I fell almost immediately in love with it the second I got control of my character. I feel like this is a game that should be talked about a lot more than it is, but I assume that has more to do with Microsoft's situation more than the game. It's without a doubt the best game Insomniac have put out since A Crack in Time. It's full of life and willing to make fun of the whole Fuse situation by centering a whole entire mission around focus testing robots telling you what is fun in video games. I adore Sunset overdrive, it's full of energy and feels like it's about to burst due to sugary energy drinks. Incredible mobility, satisfying shooting and some stellar voice work. I hope we see more from this series in the future.
Choo Choo Motherfucker indeed.
I felt like I was done with BoI on the PC some time late last year. I've loaded it up a couple of times throughout 2014, and had an evening consumed, but for the most part I felt satisfied with my progress. I had unlocked all of the endings and as many items and characters that I was ever going to unlock. I felt satisfied that I'd squeezed as much as I could from this initially terrible flash game that cost me a couple of pounds on Steam.
I assumed I would download this on PS+, say "Yep, that's totally more Issac" and then go about my day. But it did it again, it sucked me right back into that loop of "Just one more go" runs and bullshit rooms that zap all seven of my hearts away in a matter of seconds. There's enough new content here to make things feel fresh again, most notably bigger rooms and a heavily increased amount of new items to either feel like you've broken the game somehow or really fucked yourself over.
I know the art isn't for everyone, but I'm a huge fan of Edmund McMillen's style, as simplistic as it it. The new 16 bit(ish) art doesn't really seem all that different from the original, and theres a bunch of hideous new ways Isaac can look, with new and grotesque bosses to kill. The only real complaint about the game is that I prefer the music from the original over the moody/bass-y sounds of the remake/update. Whatever changes made, this is still one of the best games I have ever played. As someone that downloaded and ignored the original game at release, only to fall in love with it a year or so later, it's nice to get another chance to put this on an end of year list.
Be advised! This is my favourite game of the year.
I feel like I have a million things to say about this game, but I don't want this to just be me defending Respawn's player limits, Cannon Fodder bots or small amount of content upon release. In the case of the first two Try playing a match with six Titans all going at each other in a small alleyway and you'll fully understand why 6V6 was the right decision. The bots are an incredible idea as it makes the game feel a lot more welcoming to people that are not so hot at competitive games. Everyone can contribute to their team regardless of their skill level.
Titanfall feels like a game that had everyone incredibly excited during its short beta, but left a bunch of them feeling lukewarm about the whole experience a couple of weeks after the full game had been in everyone's hands. Even I expected to play the game for a couple of weeks, have my fun and then move on. But something unexpected happened. Even the exhaustive amount of videos the staff put out for Titanfall around release didn't really convey the excitement of calling down your Titan for the very first time. Hearing that voice tell you to stand by for Titanfall, followed by those five seconds of hearing a large metal beast hurtle through space, then crashing into the ground felt like the video game equivalent of Christmas. It still gets me every single time. From that very first drop I had fallen head over heels in love.
My love didn't stop there though. The longer I played it, the more the comparisons to Call of Duty felt ridiculous. (Now, in a post CoD-jetpack world they're still very different games.) CoD had never let me wall run across a wall and kill two people below me, CoD had never let me have a gunfight with another player a mile high in the air after ejecting out of an exploding mech, and CoD had never ever let me manually destroy three robots in a row by shooting at their brains and then hopping from one to another.
Never stop moving, never be afraid of Titans and always use the environment to your advantage. The biggest problem with having the PC version of the game is that I have had a million "Oh shit! Did you see that!?!?" moments without any way to record it. I have a feeling if I'd have known that I was going to adore Titanfall as much as I do I'd have considered getting an XBone before a PS4. Titanfall appeals to both my love of mechs and my appreciation of dashing. What other game is going to let me strafe around another mech and punch it so hard that I crush the pilot?
I'd consider Titanfall to be the very best competitive shooter since Call of Duty 4. (I'm never going to be a Battlefield person.) and a consistently good time regardless of the dwindling players on PC. Titanfall is everything I want from a multiplayer shooter despite its handful of easily fixed problems that will hopefully be fixed in the inevitable sequel. I have put a ridiculous amount of time into Titanfall, and never felt like I didn't get my moneys worth out of it. They even added a horde mode with unique enemy types/placements and a whole black market store with customizable Titan voices. It's an incredible game with an unmatched parkour system in the FPS arena, with incredible shooting... Oh, and huge fucking robots! Bayonetta, Sunset and Isaac come close, but this is without a doubt the game I had the most fun with in 2014.
How could I not love a game that shares the same colour scheme as Alphonse in Patlabor?
The longer the year has gone on, the more games I have enjoyed. I've had a pretty good year despite all the bad games (I am totally going to return to blogging about the Simple games... but real video games happened... not that anyone cares) I wouldn't have minded trying out Transistor, Abyss Odyssey and Far Cry, but I didn't so that's that I guess.
I shall probably add some videos and links to things later/tomorrow to hopefully balance out that nightmare-Kirby above. (and most likely fix things.)
Thanks for reading and be excellent to each other.