Games of the Year, 2014

List items

  • #10

    I usually ignore games that feature randomly-generated levels. Sometimes it's because they end up creating ugly or unintuitive design (e.g. Invisible, Inc.) and sometimes I just feel that there's a possibility for unfairness. I likely wouldn't have played CounterSpy either, but it was released for free on Playstation Plus. However, once I tried it, I couldn't get enough. I'm already a sucker for stealth games that give you a good amount of info, and Counterspy adds a No One Lives Forever-esque soundtrack and unique visual design to the proceedings.

  • #9

    After I played Second Son, I borrowed a PS3 from a friend to play through the first two inFamous games. I love a good power fantasy, and inFamous not only gives you multiple classes of powers to work with, but features an "ultimate" type move that produces maximum devastation. I preferred inFamous over Prototype, as inFamous feels more polished and less cluttered. It required solid hit-and-run tactics to produce effective results.

  • #8

    I never liked the combat in the Banner Saga as much as that of XCOM: Enemy Unknown. I found success simply relying on the brute bulk and strength of the Varl, ignoring most of my human companions. But many situations arose outside of combat where I had the opportunity to intervene in violent or tense situations. My actions here had immediate and long-term ramifications that seemed more meaningful than those of many games I had played before. Giving food to a beggar, even if that beggar is in no way malicious, might lead others in your party to doubt your ability to care for them and their children (food is scarce). It's a tricky line to walk.

  • #7

    I played Tales from the Borderlands after hearing from a couple of friends about just how funny it is. They weren't kidding! We still find ourselves quoting the "Bro!" scene from time to time. It was nice to take a more detailed look at the personalities and world in which I'd previously spent so much time raiding vaults and grinding out loot. The universe of Borderlands was only enhanced with the creation of this game - Telltale did Gearbox a solid.

  • #6

    This game does an excellent job of putting you in Sherlock Holmes' shoes, and he is voice-acted extremely well by Kerry Shale. Although you're trying to piece together the details of different crimes, I never experienced the frustration I usually feel when playing puzzle games. Sherlock does in-depth analysis of each individual he meets, has the ability to notice details unseen by others, does outside research, and often performs experiments to test the plausibility of a hypothesis. Lastly, the game gives you the ability to choose the punishments of those you convict. This encourages reflection in the player, and consideration of the limits of justice in 1894-1895.

  • #5

    Shadow of Mordor snagged a lot of Game of the Year nods from various publications in 2014, and those folks weren't wrong. It's a very solid open-world, third-person action RPG. The emergent storytelling that is produced through the nemesis system creates a lot of player investment in the tale. The game can also be tough, requiring you to seek intel before taking on Uruks. I enjoyed the stealth, the combat system, and became quite attached to Troy Baker's Talion before I got off the ride.

  • #4

    Playing Shadowrun Returns was actually my first real exposure to the Cyberpunk genre. I was almost instantly captivated by its merger of fantasy and sci-fi tropes, and found that its corporation-dominated world mirrored our own in troubling ways. Dragonfall is an improvement in almost every area, but especially with its characters. I formed meaningful relationships with Eiger and Glory, and loved having them fight alongside me. I was motivated to get revenge for Monica's death, and I still remember some of the most powerful story beats from the tale.

  • #3

    I'm already a pretty big tower defense fan, and the best thing you can do to increase my love for a game is to add co-op. Defense Grid 2 provides separate tower spaces for each player, and therefore provides a fertile ground for strategy and specification. What type of towers are you focusing on? What type of enemies should I specialize in dealing with? Should we both use our ultimate (cooldown) ability on this wave? I liked the difficulty and strategic decision-making required to perform at a high level within the game.

  • #2

    Door Kickers is an excellent co-op tactics game. Its stop-and-go strategy and top-down view provide excellent pace and vantage for making calculated decisions. There are many ways to approach each situation, and it pays to be careful. If a civilian is being held hostage, perhaps you'll want to outfit a silenced weapon and use a spycam to look beneath the door. There are other times you'll need to take a criminal alive, and you may want to try and disorient them first with a flashbang. Door Kickers has a metric ton of content (131 online missions), and there's little that's more satisfying than coordinating a flanking attack on the criminal element.

  • #1

    Much like Lord of Destruction took Diablo II from good to great, Reaper of Souls tremendously improved the Diablo III experience. From the pre-release patch that improved the loot drops and consolidated potions to the actual features, such as the Crusader class, the Nephalem rifts, and Kanai's cube, Diablo III became a great experience. I had played the original game, but found it frustrating how difficult it was to find unique items and how similarly my Monk played to that of everyone else. Reaper of Souls made it easier to acquire the specific items you required, and Nephalem rifts allowed you to easily test that build's competency in comparison with others.