Secretcode's 2014 GOTY Top 10

2014 was a bizarre year for video games thanks to the transitional shift from one generation to the next, an unusual amount of delays/cancellations, as well as a massive sweeping plague of broken games making their way to the market. But as the dust slowly settled, the diamonds in the rough made their appearance known. Welcome to my personal Game of the Year list for 2014. This is in no way a ranking of the definitive games of 2014 in the slightest, but more so personal opinion on the stuff I've enjoyed this year, even if the things in question broken as hell.

10: Hitman Go

How do you take a franchise that is so completely entrenched with stealth-based puzzle-style gameplay and successfully cram it down into a sequel that is based entirely on the abilities and interface of mobile touch devices? By simply turning the Hitman franchise into a complicated and outright frustrating-yet-rewarding board game, Square-Enix has provided an innovative and fulfilling challenge. While not as open-ended as other entries in the franchise, Hitman: Go proves that simplicity can be king, as long as the core concepts are strong enough to stand on their own.

9: Far Cry 4

I... look, man. Did you like the gameplay in Far Cry 3? Did you wish it had annoying birds? How about hallucinations featuring friendly ghost tigers? Rideable elephants? Rabid rhinos? A villain that's disturbingly endearing and likable? Look no further than Far Cry 4.

While Ubisoft continually fell flat on their face again and again this year, nothing made me happier than discovering for myself that Far Cry 4 was the lone diamond in the rough. And while the grand expanses of the Himalayas may be more limiting than the tropical islands of Far Cry 3, the sheer variety of missions and addictive gameplay assures that I'll be returning to the nation of Kyrat again and again.

8: Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Shadow of Mordor is a game that for all intents and purposes should be something I absolutely despise, given the similarities with Assassin's Creed and it's being a licensed game based on the Lord of the Rings franchise. But thanks to an incredibly in-depth system of revenge and personality that heavily supports the enemy cast, as well as solid combat design that's ripped straight out of Rocksteady's Batman Arkham games, Shadow of Mordor rises from the mediocrity I expected and became one of the best games of the year.

7: Forza Horizon 2

If you know me, then you know that I really adore racing games, regardless of style. As Playground Games' second attempt at the Forza franchise, Forza Horizon 2 is a perfect blend of simulation and arcade styles combined together with a fantastic and beautiful Southern European setting, expansive customization options and a solid blend of track and rally style racing, all in an open world. Don't let the mistakes of Forza Motorspot 5 sour you on experiencing this game: If you're a racing fan of any sort, do yourself a favor and put Forza Horizon 2 on your radar.

6: Grand Theft Auto V

I'll be honest: I never had the chance to play Grand Theft Auto V when it initially came out last year on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. And sure, normally I would argue that remakes and ports shouldn't be allowed on a Top 10 list regardless of how much I love the game, but normally a port to another system is never given the same amount of work and effort that Rockstar put towards GTAV. The sheer number of graphical and gameplay enhancements combined with the already fantastic world makes the argument toward remakes and ports much stronger in my eyes... If only other companies would put forth this much effort to making sure everything was perfect.

5: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

Ever since the first Black Ops, the Call of Duty franchise turned into a beast that I kept hoping would find it's next big improvement.. the next big thing to help turn the gameplay past the tried-and-true Left Trigger/Right Trigger that the franchise has kept pushing forward since Call of Duty 2 hit the Xbox 360 during it's initial launch. While Call of Duty: Ghosts may have irreparably damaged perception of the franchise for many, it was good to see that Sledgehammer Games was able to pick the franchise back up off the ground and dust itself off and pull through, and to a degree they were successful.

While the wind from their sails may have been taken out earlier this year after EA's Titanfall released, Advanced Warfare proved to be the Gears of War to Titanfall's Kill.Switch. The new found push in increased traversal and movement capabilities compounded with the player abilities thanks to the new ExoSuit gimmick is a welcome change to the usual Call of Duty gameplay, and thanks to a stellar yet incredibly dumb single player campaign, Advanced Warfare has set the stage for where I hope first person shooters try to aim and improve upon as the generation continues.

4: Sunset Overdrive

You could go back in time to September and take a look at my opinions and thoughts toward Sunset Overdrive, and you would have seen general disgust and apathy toward Sunset Overdrive's tone and style of gameplay. Fast-forward a few days and you would have seen that apathy slowly replaced by immediate curiosity, followed by me eventually throwing in the towel while screaming as reviews and gameplay footage of the game began to spread.

Ultimately Sunset Overdrive KNOWS that it is a video game, and while the style may be incredibly risky and a turn-off for many, the game ends up taking that knowledge and truly improving on itself as time goes on. While the first hour or so of the game starts off with jarring humor and questionable generic fetch-quest gameplay, Sunset Overdrive slowly begins to pick up some steam and before you know it the Tony Hawk + Jet Set Radio + Ratchet and Clank styled gameplay had me deep in it's claws, grinding rails, shooting down giant screaming balloon mascots and plunging swords into nuclear power plants until the apocalypse comes.

3: Super Smash Brothers for Nintendo Wii U/Super Smash Brothers for Nintendo 3DS

There hasn't been a game in a long time that I have been excited for as much as I have been for the fourth (and fifth?) entries in the Super Smash Brothers franchise, and Nintendo/Sora/Namco have hit all of my expectations out of the park with the game that I can honestly say is the best entry in the franchise yet.

Regardless of some roster woes, and some disappointments in the variety of stages in the Wii U versions, Super Smash Brothers for the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS hits the right note of speed, complexity and overall nostalgia that I could possibly want from a Smash Brothers game, and while they are not necessary for the gameplay, the addition of the Amiibo figures brings about a new, fresh way for players to experience and experiment with the series. With smooth gameplay, an insanely high replay factor, and a massive variety of game modes and customization, Super Smash Brothers earns an incredibly high spot on my personal list.

2: Destiny

Alright look. Destiny is a flawed-ass game with a bunch of issues regarding the amount of content for your money, balance, characters, and the overall lack of story. Destiny may or may not have been a bait and switch to some depending on how one took all of Bungie's vague pseudo-answers as to what exactly the game was as well as the lofty claims they made about how game changing Destiny would be. But you know what? I like it. Regardless of all of my complaints about balancing, mission structure and more, I continue to come back to Destiny again and again and again, and after nearly 300 hours worth of playing Destiny and grinding for loot and materials, I guarantee that I will continue to go back over and over and over and play the game for another 300, 400 or maybe even more.

1: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Retro Studios' work on Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze has let forth some of the most challenging and rewarding gameplay I've played all year, even if a lot of the content comes as no surprise to anyone who has played any of the other four games in the series. The amount of variety in the levels both in scale and gameplay, the sheer number of hidden details and collectibles, and the amount of variety in how you approach the various boss fights is something that absolutely needs to be experienced. Tropical Freeze has a surprising level of challenge that it throws at you, and there's never a disappointing moment among the hours upon hours of gameplay.

Other Awards:

Best Broken Game That Is Pretty Great When It Actually Works: Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Best Level, Mission or Sequence: The Vault of Glass

Best Looking Game: Infamous: Second Son

Best New Character: Fizzie

Best Original Soundtrack: Super Smash Brothers for Wii U/3DS

Best Remake or Re-release: Grand Theft Auto V

Best Trend: Increased Movement and Traversal Abilities

Biggest Disappointment: Watch_Dogs

Worst Game: Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric