Matt's Favourite Games of 2014

It kinda doesn't need pointing out that it's been a weird year for games.

A year into the new generation of consoles and the PS4 and Xbox One's lineup of games for the year are completely peppered with remakes, rereleases of games only 12 months old and ports. Even the best indie releases for the year did very little to spark my interest. But that's not to say there wasn't gems to be found. I thought I'd struggle with my top ten and I did. But for all the right reasons. I nailed my top 5 very fast and they were locked in. But numbers six to ten could have been swapped with any number of other games from this year. Massive honourable mentions go to Luftrausers, Smash Bros, The Fall, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, D4, Sunset Overdrive, Driveclub, Wolfenstein: The New Order, Shovel Knight and loads of others.

It goes without saying that my list doesn't include the aforementioned ports, remakes etc from this year. They aren't 2014 games and, mostly, they've already had their dues in previous years. After all, Ghostbusters isn't on anyone's list for best movie of 2014 because it got a 1080p Blu-ray release this year, is it? So sorry GTAV, Diablo 3, The Last of Us, Metro 2033, Halo 2, Towerfall, Tomb Raider, The Binding of Isaac, etc etc etc etc.

On with the list!


List items

  • Holy crap. My favourite game of the year is a free-to-play game that I predominantly played on the iPad (it's also available on PC/Mac). What's more, it's a CCG (Collectible Card Game - yawn) and it's set in the World of Warcraft universe. HAVE I GONE MAD? Nope, Hearthstone is absolutely, without a doubt the best thing I've played this year. It's an astonishing game that has had me hooked for nine months with no sign of stopping. It features incredible tutorials to get you up to speed if your CCG experience is low, it has one of the best F2P implementations that I've ever seen. It's addictive (in a fun way!) and accessible but with incredible depth. I honestly can't give this game enough praise. I would recommend it to anyone. Join me.

  • I feel like I'll never stop playing Titanfall. I'm currently sitting at around 80 hours played and I'm desperate to play more. I still feel like I'm learning new skills with the various load-outs and I still surprise myself every time with a new ridiculous parkour run that takes me leaping across a map within seconds. Respawn bought a lot of fresh ideas to the genre with Titanfall and the way they all come together is an absolute triumph. The AI grunts wouldn't be such a vital addition if it wasn't for the Titan cooldowns that they influence once killed. The Titans wouldn't be so fun if it weren't for the insane and natural parkour gameplay that makes reaching them/escaping such a doddle. The game has also seen consistent updates with new multiplayer modes, new ranking systems/unlockables, new maps and a FANTASTIC new co-op horde mode throughout the year. I genuinely wouldn't be surprised if Titanfall remains one of my most played games throughout 2015, never mind 2014.

  • I kinda fell off of the Mario Kart train a few iterations ago. I felt like the series didn't progress and had gotten stale. But, with the release of Mario Kart 8, I think I was wrong. MK8 doesn't bring a lot of new ideas to the table. You know what you're getting. But it's maybe the best playing Mario Kart game ever made. What's clear is that Mario Kart doesn't NEED gimmicks or innovation. It doesn't need two racers in one kart or motion controls or whatever. MK8 is the best Mario Kart game ever because the tracks are fun, the karts are varied and interesting and, most importantly, it plays well. It's fast, smooth and easy to pick up and play, with just enough interesting mechanics for players that want a little extra in their racing. I've always said that everyone's first Mario Kart is their favourite and that's always been the case for me. But, sorry Super Mario Kart, I'm putting away the SNES. MK8 is great!

  • To call Shadow of Mordor 'Assassin's Creed meets Arkham Asylum' is to undersell it. It'll give you a good idea about the parkour traversal and the Batman-like combat system but completely ignores the game's biggest strength; the nemesis system. Never before have I hated a villain as much as in this game. Never mind the fact that my villain/s were randomly generated characters that evolved based on battles we'd fought and won or lost. It's a revolutionary system that I hope is stolen by every open world game. Without the nemesis system, Shadow of Mordor is a great action game with dodgy, one dimensional characters and a dubious Gollum inclusion. With it, it's truly one of the year's greatest action games.

  • I somehow completely missed the first Horizon game, released in 2012. Don't mistake these games for simulation racers like their sister games in the Forza Motorsport series. Forza Horizon is all about open-world arcade racing and belting across vineyards and dodging trees in a Ferrari. Horizon 2 echoes feelings of Burnout Paradise (one of my favourite games of last gen!) but replaces American cities with the fields and towns of Southern Europe, specifically France and Italy. The visuals are drop dead gorgeous, the soundtrack is incredible and there's a ton of variety to the game, with some races taking you off-road, some taking you on laps of French towns and some pitting you against trains or airplanes! The online component is masterful, putting you in the open world map with eleven others and throwing you into a bunch of game modes like King of the Hill, Infection and, of course, racing. It all comes together in a wonderful package. Truly, honestly, one of the best.

  • Bayonetta 2 is a lot of people's game of 2015. And they're not wrong - it's an incredible piece of entertainment. Fighting against my cynical expectations, the game meets and probably surpasses the first game. It's got one of videogame's all time greatest combat systems. Witch time (essentially bullet-time) allows the player to ignore the complicated combo system IF THEY WISH by dodging an attack at the last possible second, launching the world into a few seconds of slow motion, allowing the player to whale on the enemy with whatever button mashing made-up combo they like. It was brilliant in the first Bayonetta game and it still shines in the sequel. The game is gorgeous and runs amazingly smoothly. The boss and enemy design continues to be some of the best in modern games. Only the gross gender representation and laughable anime plot/cutscenes keep me away from recommended this game to everyone. I barely managed to look past the egregious crotch shots and questionable costume choices (manage to pull off a massive combo and the game 'rewards' you by effectively stripping Bayonetta of her clothes. Because her powers are her clothes! Which are actually hair! And they come off to attack enemies! What!?) but a bunch of anime bullshit wasn't QUITE enough for me to boycott what is, undoubtedly, one of the year's best games.

  • Or, specifically, Johann Sebastian Joust. Probably the freshest, and definitely one of the funnest experiences I've had with a 2014 game. Sure, the investment and space needed to play JSJ means that most people will never get to play this but it's worth it if you can... Play it on PS4 (with 4 players) or, even better, on PS3 (with a whopping 7!). Get friends together with Move controllers and pillow fight the night away.

    JSJ is a late addition to my list. I've played it for a few short hours. But I played Gone Home for around three hours and that was my number one game of 2013 so I DON'T CARE.

  • The original Dragon Age game, Origins, is without a doubt in my top 3 games of last gen (Dark Souls, Red Dead Redemption and Dragon Age Origins for your information...) so I was probably going to love this. PROBABLY being important because I didn't like Dragon Age 2. At all. But Bioware totally nailed it with Inquisition. It's truly Mass Effect with dragons and, if that doesn't sell you on it, then I don't know what to say. The choices in the game are meaty and a lot less binary than in the Mass Effect games. They're not black and white and you always risk pissing someone off or gaining 'affection' with another member of your team. The character design and plot lines are wonderful and some of the new characters introduced in this game are GREAT. Iron Bull and Sera take my vote. Combat is vastly improved upon the previous titles, multiplayer is shoe-horned in but is a totally seperate mode that can be fully ignored (even more so than in Mass Effect 3). It's a huge game that could take you upwards of 80 hours to play through. It's no surprise that I haven't finished the game yet but STILL am very happy putting this on my list. I could stop now, without resolution, and still be confident that DA:I is one of the best experiences I've had in a game this year.

  • After demoing Alien: Isolation at EGX this year, I wasn't sure if I was going to love the game. It was released to review scores ranging from bad to VERY VERY GOOD and I was still vastly unsure. I'm a huge Alien fan, and I knew that the game could frustrate me if it 'did Alien wrong'. But I'm also a huge horror game fan and the good reviews seemed to echo my feelings on the genre. I'M SO GLAD I GOT IT. Alien: Isolation is absolutely terrifying and it's not only the most faithful Alien/s game I've ever played, it's one of my favourite games to be based on a movie license. The atmosphere is superb, the Alien (just one! It can't be killed!) is SO SCARY and the game just seeps with love and respect for the franchise. It's very long and probably outstays it's welcome, but if you've got love for Alien, it's more than worth checking Alien: Isolation out.

  • Video games don't do comedy well. Until Jazzpunk. This game is legitimately hilarious and to explain too much about it is to give it away. It's full of weirdness and bizarre parody. It's a spy thriller with robots and gravy and wedding cakes that are actually first person shooters... It's totally amazing and you should play it.