Games I Have Played In 2014

I genuinely cannot believe I've reached a point where I'm making a list documenting my sixth consecutive year of video game playing on Giant Bomb. For those of you who might be interested, you can find links to the lists for previous years below.

This list will gradually build up to include every single video game I beat between January 1st and December 31st of 2014. A game considered 'beaten' typically means that I've reached the end of its single player campaign. Games with no discernible end will still be eligible for the list if I spend a large amount of time with them over the course of the year.

Last year I beat a total of thirty-five games, my highest total since I started keeping these records back in 2009. Will I be able to equal or even surpass that in 2014? Only time will tell...

Games I Have Played In...

2009 - 2010 - 2011 - 2012 - 2013

List items

  • Platform - 3DS (eShop purchase)

    Started - January 1st 2014

    Finished - January 12th 2014

    In Brief - Link's Awakening is an expertly crafted 2D Zelda experience. I had a lot of fun exploring the huge overworld of Koholint Island and raiding its brilliantly-designed dungeons in search of the eight Instruments of the Sirens. I also greatly appreciated its built-in hint system, which saved me from ever having to refer to an online guide. The story may have been scant, but its conclusion still left me feeling a bit like I'd been punched in the gut. I have more Zelda games lined up to play in the coming months, but they're going to have to pull out all the stops to beat Link's Awakening.

  • Platform - PC (Steam)

    Started - January 12th 2014

    Finished - January 12th 2014

    In Brief - This entry specifically represents the additional DLC episode '400 Days'. It was great to return to Telltale's The Walking Dead, albeit for a very short time. I thought it told some interesting bite-sized stories, although their brevity and lack of gameplay elements compared to its parent game (which was already verging on 'non-game' territory) were a bit disappointing. As a stop-gap between seasons one and two it serves its purpose well, though, and I'm looking forward to see if and how its events tie into Season Two, which I'm hoping to get around to later this year.

  • Platform - PlayStation 3 (HD Collection)

    Started - January 13th 2014

    Finished - January 17th 2014

    In Brief - Nearly seven years after I last played it, it was a joy to return to the original God of War. Even after all this time the combat mechanics are still near-perfect - there's something about the way fighting feels in God of War that satisfies my inner gamer immensely, and no other game has ever managed to get quite as close. The exploration and puzzle-solving aspects of the game are great too, providing enough breaks between all the fighting to give the game's pacing an ebb and flow that prevents the chain-blade-whirling from ever getting old. The fresh coat of graphical paint applied to the HD remaster on PS3 makes it even harder to believe the game is almost a decade old. I plan to move straight on to God of War II now this is done, and I can't wait to see how that's held up by comparison.

  • Platform - PlayStation 3 (HD Collection)

    Started - January 18th 2014

    Finished - January 25th 2014

    In Brief - While my memory of the original God of War was pretty much intact, I remembered far less about its sequel, perhaps because I'd only ever played it through once. It's the kind of sequel that takes everything great about its predecessor and ramps it up to eleven - it looks better, it plays better, it lasts longer, and there's a ton of new mechanics in play to keep things from getting boring. The only way I felt GoWII was inferior to the original was in its story, which casts Kratos in a mood of permanent anger that never seems fully justified. Nonetheless, as a game it's vastly superior to its predecessor, and I look forward to sampling the rest of the series later in the year.

  • Platform - Xbox 360

    Started - January 7th 2014

    Finished - Beat World Tour mode February 13th 2014

    In Brief - Forza 4 feels like an incremental improvement over Forza 3 in just about every possible way. The more robust World Tour mode is a great showcase for the game's cars, tracks, and subtly addictive RPG-esque 'Driver Level' mechanic, which awards XP for races and rewards levelling up with a handful of cars to choose from. The racing gameplay that holds all this together is great, and Forza's unique take on difficulty settings means you can make the game as challenging or simple as you'd like. Unfortunately the whole thing fell apart for me with the game's pitifully small track roster, which simply doesn't boast the necessary variety to sustain a game of Forza 4's size. As a result I burned out on the game not long after finishing World Tour, and probably won't be returning to it in pursuit of the Bucket List Achievement any time soon.

  • Platform - Nintendo 3DS

    Started - March 1st 2014

    Finished - Completed main quest line March 4th 2014

    In Brief - My friend Tom bought me the 3DS version of LEGO The Lord of the Rings for my birthday. Having never played a LEGO game before, I went in not really sure what to expect, and ended up having a lot of fun with it. The simple, puzzle-oriented platform gameplay made for a nice change of pace from the kinds of games I usually play, and the huge number of treasures and characters locked away in the game has really brought out the collector in me, to the point where I continued to play the game after beating the main quest just so I could unlock more stuff. This may have been my first LEGO game, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it won't be my last.

  • Platform - PlayStation 3 (PSN purchase)

    Started - January 26th 2014

    Finished - March 26th 2014

    In Brief - I've owned Final Fantasy VIII for over a decade, but until this year I'd never finished it. I spent sixty hours with the game through most of the first quarter of 2014, and I had an absolute blast playing it. The Junction system is a lot of fun to learn, master, and ultimately exploit, and experimenting with different Junction abilities to produce new character builds was a really rewarding experience. I enjoyed the game's overarching plot, but didn't get much out of the inter-personal drama, maybe because protagonist Squall is such an unbearable arsehole for pretty much the entire game. Nonetheless, I had a lot of fun playing through FFVIII, and I'm glad I can finally cross it off the list of Final Fantasy titles I haven't finished yet.

  • Platform - Xbox 360

    Started - March 30th 2014

    Finished - April 6th 2014

    In Brief - I played through Metal Gear Rising in three sittings over the course of a week, and had a lot of fun with it. The combination of Metal Gear's world and characters with Platinum Games' penchant for crazy action gameplay probably shouldn't work on paper, but in practice it's a great pairing. I had a few issues with the game's parry mechanic, and the final boss battle took me a LOT longer than it probably should have done, but overall I had a blast cutting up fools as Raiden, and it was cool to spend a little more time in the Metal Gear universe after last year's main series marathon.

  • Platform - Xbox 360

    Started - April 13th 2014

    Finished - April 21st 2014

    In Brief - Revelations definitely had the potential to be my favourite game in the Assassin's Creed franchise, if not objectively the best. The open-world gameplay is refined to the point where it's the best the series has ever been, the story it weaves between the two established assassins Altair and Ezio is captivating, and the huge city of Constantinople is full of secrets and rewarding to explore. It's unfortunate that the whole package is significantly marred by the inclusion of a terrible tower-defence mode, and the present-day portion of the story jumping an extra-large pool filled to the brim with sharks. Given the way the ending of the game appears to set up Assassin's Creed III, this could very well be the last title in the series that I play.

  • Platform - PlayStation 3 (PS1 Classic digital release)

    Started - May 20th 2014

    Finished - May 21st 2014

    In Brief - I stormed through the entirety of the original Spyro in just two afternoons, rescuing every single dragon and collecting every single piece of treasure to the point where I earned the game's 120% completion statistic in just under six hours of play. It's evidently a much smaller game than I remembered it to be, but a big part of that is probably down to just how well I do remember the game - I played so much of this as a kid that all of its secrets have remained ingrained in my mind, despite not touching the game for almost a decade. The game is still fun, if a little simple and straightforward (Spyro's abilities remain constant throughout, so you aren't forced to miss anything on your first pass through each level). My sister, who watched the playthrough, is keen for me to start Spyro 2 soon, so it looks like I could be in for my very own 'Year of the Dragon'.

  • Platform - PlayStation 3 (HD remastered release)

    Started - May 20th 2014

    Finished - May 31st 2014

    In Brief - Having picked up copies of the HD Collections of both the Ratchet & Clank and Jak and Daxter trilogies, I wasted no time in getting stuck back into Insomniac's very first adventure starring the trigger-happy Lombax and his robotic friend. It actually holds up a lot better than I was expecting it to - I enjoyed the back-and-forth between the game's many worlds, bringing new gadgets back to old locales in order to reach previously inaccessible areas. The combat is fun, albeit slightly finicky due to the control scheme, which lacks a decent strafing option. The extra lick of paint applied to this HD remaster keeps the game looking sharp throughout, as well. I had a brilliant time revisiting Ratchet's first ever adventure, and I look forward to checking out the other games in the collection later in the year.

  • Platform - Xbox 360

    Started - April 22nd 2014

    Finished - June 3rd 2014

    In Brief - I spent about six weeks revisiting the world of Skyrim in a bid to see some of the content I missed out on the first time around. I built a new character, a stealthy, murderous assassin named Pad-Ei Xemteus, and took him through the Thieves' Guild and Dark Brotherhood quest lines. There's still a ton more content to experience, including all the DLC packs, but I've decided to take another break from the game for the time being and come back for those later.

  • (FireRed Version)

    Platform - Game Boy Advance

    Started - February 27th 2014

    Finished - June 8th 2014

    In Brief - Throughout the spring of 2014 I attempted to replay Pokémon FireRed Version with a set of self-imposed rules to make the game more challenging. First, I could only catch the first Pokémon I encountered in each area. Second, I had to nickname all of my Pokémon. Third, any Pokémon that fainted in battle was considered dead and had to be permanently boxed in the PC, never to be used again. The result was the Pokémon FireRed Nuzlocke Challenge, a series of blogs chronicling the ups and downs of my unique journey through Kanto. It was a ton of fun, and although it didn't end how I would have liked, I definitely enjoyed the experience enough to want to do it all again with another game in the series. If you're interested in checking out the Pokémon FireRed Nuzlocke Challenge series, you can do so by following this link: http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/dankempster/blog/the-pokemon-center/106287/

  • Platform - PlayStation 3 (PS1 Classic release)

    Started - May 28th 2014

    Finished - June 9th 2014

    In Brief - Spyro 2 felt like a step up from its predecessor in every conceivable way when I first played it all the way back in 1999. Fifteen years later that's definitely still the case - it combines the original's collection-based gameplay with a fun mission-based structure, making the collection feel purposeful, a means to an end, rather than being the purpose in itself. The introduction of the Moneybags character and new abilities to gate player progress also add a bit of depth to proceedings, encouraging players to revisit old worlds in search of new secrets. It feels slightly smaller due to having only three home world hubs, but on reflection it's probably about the same size as the original. All told, I had a lot of fun with Spyro 2, and on reflection, I think it might be the best of the three Insomniac Spyro games.

  • Platform - PlayStation 3 (HD remaster)

    Started - May 31st 2014

    Finished - June 14th 2014

    In Brief - It's been nearly a decade since I last played through Jak and Daxter's first adventure, and its initial impression upon my return wasn't an amazing one. Hindsight makes Jak and Daxter feel a lot like a tech demo masquerading as a game - an early showcase for what the PS2 was capable of, with gorgeous graphics and an impressive streaming gameworld with absolutely no load times. Unfortunately the gameplay feels a bit shallow alongside it, amounting to pretty basic collect-a-thon platforming. It's not a bad game by any means, and is very good at what it does. It just feels like it could have been something more.

  • Platform - PlayStation 3

    Started - June 15th 2014

    Finished - June 20th 2014

    In Brief - Heavy Rain is a fascinating piece of game design. I played through the whole thing in about five sittings, and although it was slow to start, I soon found myself caught up in the search for the Origami Killer. I really admired the way the minimalist gameplay supports the on-screen action and helps to drive the narrative forward. It looks great too, for the most part, although the clumsy walking controls and awkward accompanying animations do detract from the immersion at times. I imagine it was a big inspiration for Telltale's The Walking Dead, because I was constantly reminded of that series during my playthrough of Heavy Rain. By and large I was satisfied with the way my story concluded, although I was a bit disappointed by the outcome of Jayden's story arc.

  • Platform - PlayStation 3 (PS1 Classic release)

    Started - June 13th 2014

    Finished - June 22nd 2014

    In Brief - I've long considered Spyro 3 to be the best of the original Spyro trilogy, but after going back and replaying it to round out my back-to-back run-through of all three games, a few flaws became apparent to me that I was probably more willing to overlook in my youth. The four new characters are an interesting concept, but their presence doesn't really add anything to the game. The game also feels overly long, especially after the tightly condensed but perfectly crafted world of Avalar in Spyro 2. It's still a great collect-a-thon platformer, but I think with the benefit of hindsight, it's probably not the best of Spyro's first three outings.

  • Platform - PlayStation 3 (PS1 Classic release)

    Started - June 24th 2014

    Finished - June 28th 2014

    In Brief - Just over a year after my last playthrough of Naughty Dog's first Crash Bandicoot, I found myself revisiting the orange marsupial's PlayStation debut at the request of my sister. Everything I said last year still holds true of the game - it's a no-frills adventure with a pretty steep difficulty level, mainly due to its fiendish level design through the back end of the game. It's still an enjoyable romp, but having played through it twice in two years, I don't think I'll be returning to the first Crash game any time soon.

  • Platform - PC (Steam)

    Started - June 20th 2014

    Finished - July 17th 2014

    In Brief - I was inspired to pick up Alice: Madness Returns after going to see an amateur dramatics production of Alice in Wonderland, which left me hungering for more of Lewis Carroll's strange creation. What this sequel to American McGee's Alice delivered was more of that world, but with a deliciously twisted, Gothic bent to it. It's an absolutely gorgeous game in every aspect, from the huge variety of explorable environments right down to the subtlety of Alice's hair physics. The gameplay is no slouch either, delivering a fusion of traditional gameplay with Zelda-style combat and the occasional puzzle thrown in for good measure. It probably would have benefitted from having a little bit of its fat trimmed away, but even in its existing state I never tired of this warped incarnation of Wonderland.

  • Platform - 3DS (Virtual Console release)

    Started - July 18th 2014

    Finished - July 29th 2014

    In Brief - My new-found obsession with all things Pokémon continues to be sated in 2014, as I seek out games that diverge from the core series' mechanics. The first such game is Pokémon TCG, a video game version of the real-world trading card game that took playgrounds by storm at the end of the 90s. By and large it's a faithful conversion that has stood the test of time remarkably well. It welcomes new players into its fold with a short tutorial, but doesn't hold the player's hand, instead guiding them through structural familiarity - there are eight gym leaders and an Elite Four to battle with. The mechanics of the card game are interesting enough to hold the player's attention, and the flow of gameplay strikes a nice balance between deck-building, battling and card-collecting. As someone who collected the cards when I was back in school, its representations of cards I once owned serve to satisfy the nostalgic centres of my brain too. More than anything, it's made me really long for an updated version of the TCG to come to the 3DS. I know it's already online and coming to iPad, but come on, a guy can dream, can't he?

  • Platform - GameCube

    Started - July 29th 2014

    Finished - August 16th 2014

    In Brief - Here's another Pokémon game that deviates from the series standard to deliver a familiar experience in an exciting new way. Pokémon Colosseum is the first full-fledged Pokémon RPG for consoles, and it makes the transition brilliantly. The narrative dispenses with gym challenges and becoming Champion in favour of a more contained story, which I think works in its favour (I've been wanting to see a Pokémon game break that convention for a long time now). The story is complemented by its setting - the run-down, rust-bucket desert region of Orre matches up well with a story concerning bands of rogues and Pokémon theft. All this is supported by gameplay that feels like a challenging step up from the core series, with a focus on more tactical double battles and some remarkably intelligent trainer AI. In many respects, Pokémon Colosseum is the Pokémon game I've been longing for, and I'm mighty glad my friend Matt pushed me in its direction. If I ever manage to happen upon a reasonably-priced copy of XD: Gale of Darkness, I'll definitely be playing that too.

  • Platform - Xbox 360

    Started - August 16th 2014

    Finished - August 24th 2014

    In Brief - Earlier this year, my friend Duncan and I agreed to try and play through the entire Halo series in co-op. We began our chronological journey through the franchise with Halo: Reach, a game that I enjoyed even more the second time round with a friend along for the ride. It's a brilliantly paced campaign, if a little on the short side, with some of my favourite level design and set pieces in the whole series. I had a blast playing through it, and I'm excited to continue powering through the franchise.

  • Platform - Xbox 360 (Anniversary version)

    Started - ???

    Finished - September 13th 2014

  • Platform - PlayStation 3

    Started - September 17th 2014

    Finished - Completed 'Ground Zeroes' mission September 20th 2014

    In Brief - I was a bit apprehensive about picking up Ground Zeroes on what is now effectively 'last-gen' hardware, but I decided to bite the bullet when it went on sale on PSN, and on reflection I'm really glad that I did. Its open world design results in a much more emergent sneaking experience, one that I found both novel for the series and incredibly rewarding to experiment with. It took me about two hours to finish the main mission, but I plan to spend a lot more time with it playing through the Side Ops missions as well.

  • Platform - PC (Steam version)

    Started - September 21st 2014

    Finished - October 4th 2014

    In Brief - Coming soon...

  • (X version)

    Platform - Nintendo 3DS

    Started - September 1st 2014

    Finished - November 1st 2014

    In Brief - Coming soon...

  • (White 2 version)

    Platform - Nintendo DS

    Started - November 1st 2014

    Finished - November 20th 2014