GOTY 2014

Not exactly a vintage year, but there were nonetheless a few absolute gems.

List items

  • A DLC with slightly better design, slightly better writing, slightly better pacing, and slightly better character progression than the first game.

    All the minor niggles of Shadowrun Returns are addressed in this separate DLC story. Harebrained schemes have really tapped a rich vein of potential with these games and I really hope that they keep making them. I'll keep buying them if they do.

  • The scope and ambition of this game stands out in a year that has seen so many hamstrung, rushed, and half-baked releases. This game is genuinely enormous and absolutely addresses all the concerns of scale and repetition leveled at its predecessor.

    The Bioware soul of the game is still there. Dialogue and characters are of a very high standard. All the personality and lore of the series is respected and built upon. Game systems have been streamlined and diversified.

    In terms of size and duration this is the first Bioware RPG that actually competes with a Bethesda game world in terms of scale and world-building. Granted, DA: Inqisition is still zoned rather than true open world but it is still a pretty big deal and is worthy of note that they have managed to pull it off so well.

    There are some minor niggles and bugs in the game but none limit the overall experience. This has been the best RPG on consoles this year.

  • This plays exceptionally well and there's a lot of depth and challenge to it. Mastery takes time and is hugely rewarding once achieved.

    Really well made cricket simulation games are super-rare so I'm impressed.

    There's genuine skill required to get good at this game with bowling being slightly easier than batting... this is best cricket game I've ever played.

  • Another extremely satisfying 'souls' game. This time many of the rougher edges have been smoothed and a mixture of the design structure of Demon's and Dark have given rise to a more accessible hybrid that also never loses the harsh-but-fair difficulty that defines the series.

  • Looks beautiful. Like Shadowrun Returns and Divinity Original Sin before it, Wasteland 2 is another great top down isometric RPG in 2014. Of the three, Shadowrun Returns Dragonfall probably edges Wasteland 2 as my favorite, mostly because the characterisation and writing was the strongest overall. That isn't to diminish Wasteland 2 on that front though because this game is very well written. Gameplay is enjoyable in a Fallout Tactics meets XCOM Enemy Unknown kind of way and there is enough variety and combat options to encourage genuine strategy.

    In summary, Wasteland 2 feels like a modern day version of the early Fallout games... and that is more than OK by me as those games continue to rank among some of the finest that I've ever played to this day.

    It is however, a very long game with an incredible amount of content... It could well take the average player over 75hrs to complete this game.

    a final thought on this game is that it could have been edited down a bit in terms of overall length and to improve focus.... perhaps...?

  • Look, the single player is short, sweet, and probably the best one since MW2. The story and characters are light years ahead of MW3 and Ghosts and the gameplay is excellent. I very nearly want to give this 5 stars (and may yet do so after playing the multiplayer... which as of yet I haven't touched). Great game.

  • Holy Shit. This game... this fucking game. Playing it shot my nerves to pieces and tested my patience to the maximum but finishing it felt satisfying... When I got to the end, I felt both accomplishment and a degree of relief that the ordeal was over.

    This game is astonishingly true to the atmosphere and ambiance of the 1979 film. In fact, I don't think you could make a better video game experience that stays true to the feelings of dread and being hunted that the original Ridley Scott film evoked. It feels, perhaps, a little long but this is my only criticism. Otherwise, this is a quite unique game experience that is very compelling once you progress far enough into it (after 3-4 hours). It doesn't have the stickyness of a truly 5 star game as there are some moments that feel unreasonably frustrating. The Alien appears too frequently to sustain feelings of horror but there is never a time when the alien can be taken lightly. There could have been a little bit more in the way of NPC development, but really these are minor quibbles. Alien: Isolation should be celebrated as a genuine achievement, albeit a slightly flawed one. Overall I couldn't in good conscience give this a 5 star score because there are just too many inherent (perhaps inevitable?) frustrations but even though I give this game 4 stars, there *are* 5-star moments in this game...

  • The core mechanics of this game feel good. As plenty of others have said, this is batman meets open world, meets lord of the rings. The new thing is the nemesis system. It works nicely and I want it to be used in other, more interesting game worlds... perhaps with a bit more nuance. Overall this is a fairly fresh experience and does stand out as being a very good game.

  • The visuals are mind-boggling and the experience is brief but fairly intriguing.

    In short, this is worthwhile without being genuinely exceptional (except graphically where it might be the best looking games released this year).

  • A last minute entry that I wasn't expecting anything from but turned out to be thoroughly engaging and well worth my time.