By: Quinn Potter
TOP 10 GAMES OF 2014
10) Left Behind – This prequel to The Last of Us showed us that a zombie apocalypse can be more than just a zombie apocalypse. Games like this continue to show that a strong narrative voice is a great feature. Developing the narrative in games will continue to develop the depth of gaming, as a whole, and will expand the appeal of gaming to all kinds of players.
9) Pro Evolution Soccer 15 – I’m not a big soccer fan, but I had to put this on the list for those who are. This was a welcome addition and a return to form for Konami with promises of more to come. The online matchup, fantasy leagues, high quality graphics, and roar of the stadium brought the player into the game in on the of the most authentic ways to date.
8)This War of Mine – Here’s a twist. You’re not a fighter in a war, but a civilian survivor faced with the ugly narrative of war; there are few, if any choices and none of them are good. Your goal is to pick your way through the senselessness of war to survive. Here’s a game that shows us how tapping into emotions and psychology can be just as exhausting as physical challenges. Good luck.
7) Assassin’s Creed Unity – The series takes on the French Revolution in all kinds of glorious detail. Richly detailed costumes and setting. This release certainly had its share of controversy – poor historical accuracy, too easy on the evil-doers, not enough diversity in avatars. Of course, any two people who study history will have two entirely different viewpoints, but there’s hope that some of these issues will be resolved for the next release (supposedly Victorian, London in fall 2015).
6) Project Spark – An open-ended sandbox game that blew Minecraft away. Forget the pixels and start building your new gaming world, today. This brought the fun and exploration back to gaming and gives even the youngest of gamers a solid introduction to concepts of programming. Create a new world in a palette of colors that’s uniquely yours. This is gaming of the future, folks. Highly individualized, easily accessible and available to all on a massive virtual scale.
5) Halo Master Chief Collection – What’s left to say? Combine the best of the best and you get something even better. This is a time where the package was more than the sum of its parts. A great price-point made this collection accessible to a wider audience than ever. Well played, Xbox.
4) D4 – Here’s another game that was a winner, not so much for the narrative (intriguing) and graphics (unique), but for pushing the envelope in gaming. Walk through a space to touch objects and read their backstory. Discover clues, solve a mind-bending mystery. Decide who to trust (or not). It’s like stepping into an episode of CSI. You are the detective, you are the interviewer, you are running a forensic analysis on the evidence. But you are also a broken man, lost, wandering, possibly hallucinating, maybe an addict (or recovering one), and are entirely, utterly human. This game breaks the rules and runs forward, full speed ahead, to give us a glimpse of future gamers in their virtual worlds.
3) Goat Simulator – First, let’s start with the disclaimer: “Goat Simulator is a small, broken and stupid game. It was made in a couple of weeks so don’t expect a game in the size and scope of GTA with goats. In fact, you’re better off not expecting anything at all actually. To be completely honest, it would be best if you’d spend your $10 on a hula hoop, a pile of bricks, or maybe a real-life goat.” Moment of truth: I have two real-life goats and they are funny, but nowhere near as much fun to watch or play with as this game. Sleeper of the year. This game needs to be recognized for tapping into some truly inane comedy. Demonic goats. Space Goats. Truly unique. Dumbly funny.
2) Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – A long-anticipated, much enjoyed installment of a well-known series. New setting, new characters, new time period, new weapons,and an exo-suit all added to the many hours spent planning and playing campaigns both on- and off-line.
1) Destiny – Not strong on narrative, but its randomness is actually really good. What I mean is that decoding an engram could reward you with something small and awesome or something big and awesome. Sharp sound effects and an awesome soundtrack added to the enjoyment for me.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF 2014
As a whole system, the Kinect has left something to be desired. Few new titles have been released, and it seems like few designers have figured out what to do with this kind of immersive environment. Like the Wii before it, Kinect seems to have become an abandoned novelty. If gamers are going to move to virtual reality, expanding the lineup of motion-sensitive games could only be a positive, as it would build a market of players for the future.
MOST ANTICIPATED GAMES OF 2015
3) Evolve — A group of monster hunters in the future are hunting beasts. Some of the hunters are robots, some are not. Here’s the deal – you can play as the hunters or the monsters. Gamers rarely get to turn the tables and play each side of the action. This game has bounced around a few different studios and has been in the process of (ahem) evolving for a long time. It looks like the time has been well-spent.
2) The Order 1886 — Not-quite-human knights. Special healing powers of Black Water. …. Oh, yeah, and it’s Steampunk. The beginning or inevitable decline of a passion for changing the past into a much cooler Jules-Verne-inspired parallel universe? Not sure I really care. Steampunk is cook. It’s fun. And the game looks very, very intriguing.
1) Halo 5 — The next-gen debut of the Master Chief. Need I say more?
Xbox Game of the Year : Destiny
Downloadable Game of the Year: Goat Simulator
Best DLC: Left Behind
Best Story: D4