Well, that's just about it from us here at Giant Bomb. Enjoy what's left of your 2014, check out today's mammoth podcast and the conclusion to our video documentary, and we'll be back at you with fresh faces, fresh places, and fresh... spaces? For 2015? OK, that doesn't really make any sense. Hey, just have a good time and stay safe out there. Thanks for checking out our awards!
Best Horror Game
While big-budget video games forgot about horror for a few years, independent developers picked up the slack. Amnesia: The Dark Descent remains worthy of horror's crown, but P.T. reminded us what happens when unlimited resources are thrown at a horror experience. P.T. simply asks players to walk down the most detailed hallway ever created for a video game and see what happens. Teaser, demo, whatever--it was the scariest thing made in 2014.
The Silent Hills connection makes it even more fascinating; no one's given a damn about Silent Hill in years. Konami hasn't treated the seminal horror series very well, but it hasn't stopped it from making new games every so often. For whatever reason, perhaps out of desperation to do something new, Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima decided to take Silent Hill under his wing, and unleashed P.T. on us this year.
Every time you walk down the hallway, something changes. Or maybe it doesn't? A closed door is now open. Some floorboards creak in the distance. A baby wails around the corner. Shadowy figures watch from the floor above. A bloody casket, wired to the ceiling, bangs back and forth. P.T.'s repetition lulls players into lowered expectations, and finds terrifying success over and over. It uses surprise to terrify.
P.T. literally stands for Playable Teaser, and it's a nightmarish glimpse into what Kojima and filmmaker Guillermo del Toro are crafting for Silent Hills, a game that's most likely years off. Even if Silent Hills doesn't pan out and the series remains in creative limbo, we'll always have P.T. That hallway will never go away, beckoning the daring to make one more trip through. Who knows what's waiting this time?
Runners-up: Neverending Nightmares, Alien: Isolation
Shipping Broke-Ass Games
Look, we could get into some exhaustive list of messed-up games and break down why broken games ship and how that's still not OK, but let's just be blunt. We're all aware of the issues faced by many different games this year. It's unacceptable. Stop shipping broke-ass games, you idiots, you're messing it up for everyone.
Runners-Up: Sonic the Fucking Hedgehog, Ubisoft's Standardized Open-World Template
As we scoured Steam for games to Quick Look, we came across a reminder that it wasn’t just big-budget triple-A games that were busted this year. Ghostship: Aftermath tries to ape the spooky space vibe of Alien and Event Horizon, but instead offers up the glitchiest, most tedious experience of the year.
Every element of the game reeks of low-budget slapdashery, from the laughable voice-over work to the unlicensed use of actual Coke and Pepsi logos. It tries to keep the action fresh as the entire ship is randomly generated between deaths, but this means having to listen to the same unskippable cutscenes time and time again. If you can survive long enough to get to the actual shooting, keep an eye out for the manic, walking butts that randomly clip through every part of the environment.
Runners-up: Rambo: The Video Game, Enforcer: Police. Crime. Action.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Ah, 2014. What a long, strange year it's been. This was the first full calendar year on the books after the launch of all the new consoles, the year we expected those new machines to truly come into their own with a healthy slate of impressive software that said "this is what next-gen video games look like." Then a ton of those games got delayed into 2015.
There were still plenty of eminently worthwhile games that did release this year, though, and choosing our consensus favorite was perhaps easier than it's ever been. Whittling down a list of the best games of the year until we find the one game everyone can agree on, the one game everyone is happiest with, is usually grueling and results in someone feeling bitter or shortchanged. Not this year. There was scarcely a person on staff who didn't feel good about Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, what it brought to its respective genre, and how much fun it was to play.
Coming out of E3, Mordor went from a game nobody was talking about to one we cautiously hoped would bring something genuinely new to the open-world genre, and the game didn't just meet those expectations, it surpassed them. The Nemesis system that populates Mordor with dozens of uniquely characterized enemies gave the game's open world a feeling of dynamism and unpredictability that's not quite like anything we've seen in this genre. While it's a little trite to say that we hope every open-world game has a Nemesis equivalent going forward, this does feel like a small inflection point for action games, where ingenuity in game design meets more advanced AI, simulation, and computing power to generate video game worlds that feel just a little less faceless and a little more real than they used to.
Even setting Nemesis aside, Mordor's fundamental gameplay was entertaining as hell for hours and hours. Climbing around on ancient ruins and stabbing bad guys in the back has never been this much fun, and we hope other such franchises take a long look at everything Shadow of Mordor does right before they move on to their next installments.
Runners-up: Bayonetta 2, Far Cry 4, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, South Park: The Stick of Truth, Jazzpunk, Shovel Knight, Mario Kart 8, Destiny