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Baz McMahon's Top 10 Games of 2014

The Chairman of VGCW takes a moment out of his busy schedule to list off the 10 games he enjoyed most in 2014.

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The shadowy figure known as Bazza McMahon is the creator of Giant Bomb's favorite machinima-based wrestling league, Video Game Championship Wrestling. You can catch VGCW's weekly streams every Tuesday night on Bazza's Twitch channel, and follow him on Twitter.

Hi, everyone! Hi! I go by the name of Bazza McMahon and I am the creator of VGCW. South East London born and bred, I've been playing games since the first time my dad brought home an NES with Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt and I'm still playing them today. My top 10 games of 2014 list was hard to create, since I've not played many new releases this year. In fact I don't even feel that my numbers 9 and 10 even deserve to be on this list! But with only a short list of games to work with, they managed to make the cut by default. Nonetheless I hope you enjoy reading about my top 10 favourite games of 2014.

10. WWE 2K15

WWE 2K15 is the monkey's paw of the WWE series of games. While it adds a ton of great improvements over the previous games in the series, it removes just as many. There have been significant upgrades to the gameplay, graphics and mechanics, and this could almost make up for most of the features found in previous games being removed, if not for the fact that the game is extremely easy even on the hardest difficulty setting. Matches never seem to last long enough either, even with the match pace set to “slow”.

You may get more enjoyment out of this when playing with friends, but as a single player game there is no challenge and therefore nothing compelling the player to continue playing. A big shame since the game would be a lot of fun if it wasn't so easy.

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9. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

To this day Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest is still my favourite game of all time. So when Nintendo announced new Donkey Kong Country games were announced, I was really excited. However Tropical Freeze didn't live up to my expectations. The game looks absolutely beautiful and the music is great too, but something about the game felt off. The platforming mechanics don't seem to be tight enough and the controls are a bit iffy. The controls in the swimming sections felt awkward and the rocket barrel sections were very frustrating. The difficulty of the game was a bit too high for something seemingly aimed at a younger audience. Often when you get past a point in a game which has been troubling you for a while, you feel a sense of accomplishment and are eager to start on the next challenge. With Tropical Freeze it felt more like I was struggling through one stage only to be met by another needlessly difficult stage and wondering when I would get to the fun part.

The biggest disappointment for me was not being able to select a combination of characters and instead being forced to play as Donkey Kong for the whole game. I would have loved to have been able to play through as Diddy and Dixie, treating the game like it was “Diddy's Kong Quest 2”. But instead you're always playing as Donkey Kong with the other character acting more like a power up. The only time you could play as Diddy, Dixie or Cranky was if you were playing multiplayer, which means a lot of players out there never really got to experience playing the game as anyone other than Donkey Kong.

If Tropical Freeze was a bit more forgiving and let you choose your character, this could have easily been my game of the year for 2014.

8. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is very easy for anyone to pick up and play. The controls are very simple to grasp and the creepy atmosphere is done very well for a top down sprite based game. There are so many different power ups and weapons included that you could play for months and still end up finding a new weapon combo that you haven't yet come across. The randomly generated dungeons add a lot of replay value, so much that getting a game over doesn't feel like such a big deal since you'll be dropped off somewhere new and won't have to redo a stage or two that you already did.

Since the weapons and items are generated at random, you always anticipate what could be in that locked chest or secret room that you found, hoping that it will be something useful. You could get to the boss area very under-equipped, making for a suspense filled battle, or you could be lucky enough to find powerful weapons at the start, letting you blast through enemies with ease. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is great for being a game that you could open up to kill time for a few minutes while waiting to leave for work, or if you only have time for a quick gaming session for any reason, since you know you won't have to sit through dialogue or long cutscenes. With its cheap price tag, I have no qualms about recommending this one to just about anybody.

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7. Hyrule Warriors

As I imagine was the case for many people, Hyrule Warriors was the first Dynasty Warriors style game I'd ever played. Hyrule Warriors introduced a completely new genre to me, and I really enjoyed being able to battle swarms of enemies, taking on hundreds of monsters at the same time. There are a lot of flashy special attacks that send groups of enemies flying off into the distance and various different weapons per character to suit different play styles. Even with so much happening on the screen at the same time, the frame rate stays nice and high. I played through the entirety of the story mode, but I found myself only being able to play for around one or two hours at a time before getting bored. As fun as Hyrule Warriors is, it's very repetitive with barely any mission objective variation between stages. It doesn't seem to have much replay value, but I still had a lot of fun with it while it lasted.

6. Super Smash Bros. (3DS)

Smash Bros. is primarily a game that is meant to be played with friends, and when you do get together with some friends to play some Smash, you'll have the time of your life. When Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS released, I grabbed my headset, got on Skype and played some online matches against a few friends and it was without a doubt the most I have laughed and smiled whilst playing a game in a long time. Just like the past games in the series, Smash Bros. is very chaotic, unpredictable and always keeps you on your toes. The downside to Smash Bros is that while it is fun to play with friends, I couldn't enjoy it much whilst playing solo. Playing through Classic Mode or against the CPU in a VS match can be fun for a little while, but it doesn't match up to the joy of playing the game as intended, with friends laughing away at the guy who just fell into the river in the Donkey Kong jungle stage.

5. South Park: The Stick of Truth

I've been a fan of the show since I was a kid back in primary school, but even though the show is more miss than hit these days, I couldn't resist playing a game where I could create my own character and explore the town of South Park. The game looks identical to the TV show thanks to the heavy involvement of the shows creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, which makes it feel like you're playing and watching an episode of South Park at the same time. The combat system is nice and simple, very similar to the Mario & Luigi RPGs. If you're not a fan of the show, this game probably won't do anything for you, but if you are then you will love being able to explore almost every inch of South Park and being able to interact with almost every character that appeared on the show. The Stick of Truth even has a surprisingly good soundtrack and is a game that I can definitely see myself going back to play through a few more times in the future.

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4. Bravely Default

I am, or a least was, a huge Final Fantasy fan. For a long time the series has failed to interest me the way it once did. With mediocre titles in the main series released along side spin-­offs and other nonsense, it seemed that Final Fantasy was pretty much dead to me. That was until I discovered Bravely Default. Bravely Default is a fantastic turn based RPG which is extremely similar to Final Fantasy V, which I feel to be one of the best games in the Final Fantasy series.

You adventure the world with your party, fighting monsters, leveling up, discovering new villages and dungeons, all the good stuff that you expect from a Final Fantasy game. The soundtrack is one of the best I've heard in years and the game is really nice to look at. Aside from maybe one or two characters, the voice acting isn't actually that bad and in some cases I'd go as far as to call it great.

It has tons of different jobs like Black Mage, Knight, Dancer etc. and just like in FFV, you can combine jobs together in so many different ways. I've found some amazing job combinations that made my party immensely powerful. It has quite an interesting story and you become really invested in the characters.

Bravely Default could have been my game of the year for 2014, in fact it was so close. What prevented it was the incredibly annoying and shameless way that the game pads out its longevity. It becomes unforgivably repetitive after a certain point in a way that I can not describe with out spoiling the game for those who haven't played it yet. Still, I absolutely think you should play Bravely Default. It's one of the best RPGs I've played in years.

3. The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky

This game came out of nowhere. I had never heard of it before someone mentioned it was coming to Steam. I saw a few screen shots and I fell in love with the art style. The 2D sprites on 3D backgrounds worked really well and the world just looked amazing. After a friend recommended it to me, I took a chance and downloaded it from Steam and I am so glad that I did. It felt so refreshing from anything else that I had played recently and it felt like a game that I was should have played years ago when it originally released. The combat system was different to any RPG that I had played in the past. It was turn based while still letting you move your party around the battlefield grid.

The only two complaints I have about this game are that I find the main character utterly unlikable, which is quite bad since she is the one who you control for the entire game. Also the dialogue is way over the top. Lines of text appear on screen constantly, usually about trivial things that aren't advancing the story in the slightest. I've not yet finished Trails in the Sky, but from what I have played, it was an extremely enjoyable experience.

2. Mario Kart 8

For many years I had considered Mario Kart: Double Dash!! to be the pinnacle of Mario Kart games. That was until I picked up Mario Kart 8. The added anti-­gravity mechanics really adds to the experience in a way that I didn't expect and the visuals are beautiful. Just like Smash Bros, Mario Kart is at its best when you're playing with friends. Whether I was playing Mario Kart 8 online with a group of friends over Skype or sitting on the sofa playing with my girlfriend, both experiences have led to a huge mixture of emotions. The joy when you manage to take first place at the last moment, the suspense when you're gaining on someone on the last lap, the fear of being in first place knowing that the guys behind you could hit you with an item and send you to last place in an instant, and the strange mixture of devastation and giddiness when you get overtaken at the last second on the final lap. Mario Kart 8 is a game that can ignite such a wide variety of emotions in a small time frame.

Mario Kart 8 has the largest number of tracks too, thanks to the DLC packs available to purchase. Those DLC packs also come with additional characters, which brings me on to the worst part of the game, the roster.

Four versions of Mario, four versions of Peach, five baby characters and eleven different Koopas. It really feels like they could have made a better effort to make the roster more interesting. They could have had Diddy Kong, King Boo, Petey or even some new characters like Midbus, Wart or Fawful. I'd even take Nabbit! Nonetheless, despite the disappointing roster, Mario Kart 8 is still tons of fun and should be part of everyone’s Wii U collection.

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1. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

I almost didn't buy this game at all. Just like everybody else, I read up online about Ground Zeroes and found out that the main story mission only takes about 1 or 2 hours to compete, with the rest of the game being extra missions taking place on the exact same map. I wasn't ready to pay full price for a game that sounded like this, so I avoided it until I could get it for cheap.

Now after playing it, I know it was definitely worth the full price. This game is brilliant. The controls feel perfect, the environment, the atmosphere, the sense of danger, the visuals, everything about this game feels amazing. I'm not one for caring about getting an “S-­Rank” in any game, I usually just play through at my own pace and just accept whatever rank the game I'm playing at the time decides to award me with after the stage. But with Ground Zeroes I felt compelled to go back and play the same missions over an over trying different paths and tactics, trying to get through without being seen once by the guards, attempting to finish the mission with no kills. There were so many different things to do in Ground Zeroes that I couldn't put it down. I wanted to find all the hidden cassette tapes, I wanted to unlock the additional secret missions and for the first time in my life, I wanted to unlock all the trophies. I've never cared about achievements or trophies before, but Ground Zeroes was so addictive that I kept going back for more. I managed to get 95% of the Ground Zeroes trophies before I decided that the final trophy was a bit too difficult to get.

Ground Zeroes did what it was tasked to do; it got me excited for the full game, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. I can already tell from this that The Phantom Pain will very likely be my game of the year in 2015, but for this year, Ground Zeroes easily takes the award.