30 December, 2014

Kyle's Top Ten Games of 2014

Having spent much of the holidays revisiting my favourite video games of the year, as well as playing some new comers, I've finally managed to wrangle them down to a list of just ten, and rank them in some kind of qualitative order. I am crazy? You tell me! 

10 Transistor (PS4)

Transistor is a game with a fantastic soundtrack, it is moody and tone setting, made all the more memorable by Ashley Barrett’s stunning vocals. Transistor doesn’t go out of its way to reveal and explain itself to you, you have to yearn to uncover its secrets, to master it’s combat and understand the world you traverse. While I wouldn’t call it hard, it certainly rewards your attention and focus. Mysterious and moody, Transistor is short but unique experience, which I absolutely endorse checking out.

Find out about the magical experience of Transistor in our review

9 Pokémon Alpha Sapphire (3DS)

There is no denying it, a significant amount of my enjoyment can be chalked up to nostalgia, Generation III was the Pokémon experience of my childhood. That said, I really enjoyed the changes and additions made in this remastering. Aside from looking and sounding great, the Alpha and Omega releases flesh out the story and added a host of new features; namely the online suite, Player Search System, as well as Mega Evolutions.

Check out Matthew’s review of Pokémon Alpha Sapphire/Omega Ruby.

8 Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PS4)

In the wake of the mess of Assassin’s Creed Unity, the triumphs of Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor stand out perhaps more than they did before. It wasn’t perfect; the story was bland and its cast little better, but the story I crafted for myself, aided by the innovative Nemesis system more than made up for it. Rivalries were crafted naturally during Talion’s rise to dominance over the denizens of Mordor, where in so many other games such confrontations feel forced and contrived. The impressive movement, combat and cinematic presentation also played no small part in securing Shadow of Mordor’s place amongst my favourite games of 2014.

We also have a review, plenty of screenshots, and video of Shadow of Mordor.

7 Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Xbox One)

Following the middling showing of 2013’s Call of Duty: Ghosts, Advanced Warfare returns the series to its place atop the pantheon of modern first person shooter. The blockbuster single player campaign is one of, if not, the best in the series, so it’s a shame it ends with the boiler plate, ‘America saves the day’ resolution, but Kevin Spacey’s stellar performance more than redeems it. I haven’t been able to play as much of the competitive multiplayer as I wanted this year, but the increase mobility and opportunities provided by the exo(skeleton) made what I did play a ton of fun.

You can read about the many ways Advanced Warfare is great in my review

6 Titanfall (PC/Xbox One)

Ordering Titanfall at number six, above this year’s Call of Duty was a difficult decision; both were great and Call of Duty has the more expansive package with a traditional campaign. However, Titanfall’s gameplay changes are far more radical than Advanced Warfare’s; the leaping, wall-running, and sliding turns Titanfall into something else entirely. Mix that with the explosive power of the Titan mechs and you have a reliable formula for awesome spontaneous moments. 

5 Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (PS4)

Ground Zeroes is a bite-sized Metal Gear Solid experience, just a couple of hours of campaign and a
few small challenge scenarios, but it was enough to hook me on the scent of Metal Gear. Ground Zeroes wasn’t as weird as some may have liked, and more chilling than some were prepared for. But thematically it cemented my interest, and let’s not sell the game short; the gameplay is fantastic, whether lighting up the camp with weapons fire or sneaking into the interrogation room, its surprisingly fun to play and looks stunning.

Ground Zeroes also won our Best Looking Game Of 2014 award, in no small part for its peerless lighting. 

4 The Last of Us Remastered (PS4)

Admittedly, this was my first time with The Last of Us, I didn’t pick it up at the time of its original release on the PlayStation 3. I believe that The Last of Us is one of the best told stories in videogames; every aspect of its gameplay, presentation and dialogue, acts in service of delivering its harrowing narrative.  On the PlayStation 3, The Last of Us was a visually impressive game, but I don’t feel the technical upgrades of the Remastered PlayStation 4 edition should be over looked, it contributes pretty significantly to selling the world and the characters, and man does it sell them.

For a deeper look at how effectively The Last Of Us conveys its emotional narrative, take a look at our review.

3 Bayonetta 2 (Wii U)

Bayonetta 2 was a blast from beginning to end, the action is tight with a greater emphases on well-timed dodging, rather the simply combos or button mashing. Bayonetta 2 is the undisputed master of colossal scale and escalation; one minute the stylish witch could be chasing a light dragon through the eye of a whirlpool as it throws church spires at you, in the next she might summon hair-daemons to drag her enemies into the pits of the inferno.

To find out why Bayonetta 2 is one of the best games of the year check out our full review

2 Hyrule Warriors (Wii U)

Hyrule Warriors is a Dynasty Warriors game, set in The Legend of Zelda universe, it fulfilled perfectly what I suspect was it’s goal; to attract players from one camp, into the other. This was my first experience with the Zelda series, while Hyrule Warriors isn’t a classic role playing game, it does introduce concepts such as, item use and huge enemy bosses with weaknesses and states, which meshed surprisingly well with the Warriors’ hack and slash gameplay. There were a lot of really good Warriors games released this year, but Hyrule is the one I keep coming back to.

Find out more about how Hyrule Warriors pulls off its merging of two quite different series’ in our review

1 Dragon Age Inquisition (Xbox One)

Dragon Age Inquisition is a videogame of a scale rarely achieved by entire series, let alone single games. The world of Dragon Age has never been so beautiful or expansive, yet it maintains the Bioware level of detail and character. You play as the Inquisitor, to some you are heretic, personally responsible for the Divine's death and the chaos that spawned from it, to others you are a saviour, an agent of holy Andraste herself. Your true identity you decide for yourself, beginning with the deep character creation system, and developing further as you meet and interact with new characters, and delve into the robust crafting system. You shape the world around you with your decisions, you can mould the Inquisition into a force for justice or your divine wrath. Dragon Age Inquisition boasts a huge scale, which is visually stunning and shocking detailed throughout, but my time with the game - which remains on going - will forever be defined by the fantastically life-like characters and writing, brought to life by great voice acting performances.

For my more fully formed opinion on Dragon Age Inquisition, and reasons why it was not only my Game Of The Year, but also the site’s, check out my review

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