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John "Cowboy" Bellomy's Top 10 Games of 2014

Our favorite Naughty Dog programmer rides his steel horse into Old Giant Bomb Town to deliver his favorite 10 games of the year.

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Cowboy is a programmer at Naughty Dog. He is not a cowboy. We've been over this before, we know, but we just wanted to reiterate for anyone who might not have heard. Follow Cowboy on Twitter.

Thanks to a dryer catching the apartment on fire, a large part of my year was spent away from my traditional gaming sources. Fortunately everything is mostly back in order with a suite of new consoles and a new PC. However, this meant that more than ever I spent a disproportionate amount of time with smaller games and mobile titles. A lot of the heavy hitters such as Divinity, Dragon Age, and Alien: Isolation, games I was (am) looking forward to with much anticipation, are now relegated to backlog status for when the dry season inevitably returns. I was sure this would be the year when I couldn’t even get a complete 10, but even handicapped I still had to make some hard cuts. Honorable mentions include Danganronpa, Shovel Knight, and thanks to Dan and Drew I ended up playing all of MGS2 for the first time, so I guess I’m a fan of Metal Gear now? That doesn’t sound right.

10. Wolfenstein: The New Order

In some alternate universe we never got FPS fatigue and its design evolution continued naturally to eventually produce Wolfenstein. I found a lot of satisfaction in stealthy knife-in-the-throat approach as well as the kicking doors down with akimbo machine guns. Balancing those mechanics and supporting it all with good layout is no small feat, so kudos to MachineGames. Easily the most surprising game this year for me I went in with actively low expectations and came out smiling.

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9. Crossy Road

Beautiful to look at and responsible for some of my most tense gaming moments, I find a lot of elegant simplicity in Crossy Road. Clearly tailoring to the platform’s strengths, it is one of those easy to pick up but hard to master designs (a rarer sight on mobile). Plus I just love walking right over my friends’ high scores.

8. Octodad: Dadliest Catch

The first PS4 game I ever played at its inaugural showing at E3, I was immediately charmed by the premise, tone and mechanics. On the surface it’s a goofball comedy game but hiding just beneath are themes of social anxiety, family, and identity. Plus by the end I was able to get a pretty sweet octo-pimp walk going.


Adventure awaits you in the Siberian wilderness. Brave unforgiving terrain in brawny soviet hardware. Get yourself hopelessly stuck and proceed to mount a rescue operation. So many wonderful small stories emerged from my time with this game; most if it playing co-op where we were as likely to hinder each other as help. Hone your trucking mettle and test it in the icey forge.

6. Diablo III: Reaper of Souls / Ultimate Evil Edition

As long as Blizzard keeps putting out new SKUs of this I’ll keep putting it on my top 10, seeing as they continue to deliver on my favorite loot game. I enjoyed the new maps in Act 5, and I got heavy into the end game and rifting on higher torments playing with the Giant Bomb clan (plus I completed my leapquake barb set!). The PS4 version delivered some of the best co-op action I’ve seen when we did a four player game for a Childs Play stream. So happy I was able to transfers my PS3 characterss, now I just need some legendary gems...

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5. South Park: The Stick of Truth

Finally we get the South Park game we’ve been waiting for. From the art style to the writing, all the elements came together nicely to convince you that you were actually playing out an episode of the show. Then it’s backed up by a really solid RPG foundation to boot. There’s a lot here for fans of the show including some balls out amazing set pieces.

4. Nidhogg

Do you and your friends get along too well? Are you tired of them constantly lording over you how much they’re not stabbed in the face? Nidhogg is another one of those fantastic clarity of purpose games, and that purpose is the pixelated evisceration of friendships at the altar of the mighty worm. Online play is fine and all, but if you have the means I highly recommend the couch combat experience.

3. Threes!

180,735. Send help.

2. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

My first steps into Mordor had me beset by four different captains almost all at once. I did what I could, but was eventually felled. Naturally I had my first target, but it took me another hour or so of playing before I realized this wasn’t a scripted introduction but a natural manifestation of the Nemesis system. While the entire team should be commended for a game that top-to-bottom feels tight and fun to play--with solid player controls and satisfying combat--it is the Nemesis system that makes it all more than the sum of its parts. I found myself immersed and engaged in this world like no other game in a long while, and I’m not even a fan of Lord of the Rings.

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1. Forza Horizon 2

I love cars. I love the way they look, the way they feel, and all the amazing artistry and engineering talent that goes into them. I also love spinning brodies in a vineyard. The makers of Forza Horizon 2 love cars the same way I love cars and it shows. It’s a big, beautiful amalgam of highly technical and goofy irreverence, populated with enough varied events so I can spend my time living out my own episode of Top Gear.