Friday, December 26, 2014

2014 Games of the Year

It's the end of the year, which means time to look back on what our favorite games this year have been. Here at Nerds of a Feather, we are doing things a bit different. Recognizing that coming to a consensus is painful and often unnecessary, instead of a canonical top 10, we've each provided our top three. This way, we can highlight what we found to be the best games we played this year without creating some Frankenstein's monster that represents the tastes of none of us entirely. Also, recognizing that we're adults who don't get around to every game each year, we've expanded the scope to include games that were not necessarily released in 2014. After all, a good game is good no matter what year it came out. With that said, here are our individual 2014 Games of the Year!


Mikey

Mario Kart 8 - Nintendo has the best exclusives of any console hands down.  Mario Kart 8 is an amazing update to this classic franchise.  The courses are a throwback to the classic tracks I used to race in college.  I haven't played online much, but this was a feature that was sorely needed and done well.  Nintendo knows fun better than anyone else and this is the most fun I've had on the Wii U.

Skylanders Trap Team - I will admit to being underwhelmed with the upgrades to this game since it originally dropped.  Giants was fun, Swap Force was kind of neat, but the ability to trap and use villains opens up another level of gameplay that refreshed this series.  All of the games have been good, but none have felt as magical as this one.  From the video of the character getting beamed into the trap to the noises that are emitted from the speaker in the portal, this game makes me feel like a kid.  

MLB The Show - I have been pleased with my PS4 and feel it has provided a decent graphics upgrade from the PS3.  I thought it was only decent until I popped this title in.  On multiple occasions I have had people watch me play for over five minutes before realizing that it is a video game.  MLB The Show is pure eye candy and it remains as the premier baseball video game on any system.

Brad

1. Destiny - I know the story sucked, but I just can't stop playing this. It's the first time I've enjoyed grinding!

2. Forza Horizon 2 - Easily the most fun I've had playing a racing game, and the simulation is still top notch despite the move to an open-world style.
 
3. Valiant Hearts: The Great War - Gameplay was serviceable and story was phenomenal. Actually made me cry once. Seriously.

Honorable Mention: Contrast - Although a bit too short, it's completely unique gameplay and intimations about multiple universes made the whole thing like watching one of those movies that, once finished, you realize you are going to have to see it again in order to understand what just happened.

The G

For fun's sake, or just to be different, I'm ranking my top 3 games according to Olympic medal-granting conventions.

Gold - Out There (iOS/Android)

It feels strange to pick a touch/tablet game, rather than console or PC, as my Game of the Year—but Out There was far and away the best thing I played in 2014. It’s a roguelike with roots in 4x titles like Master of Orion. It has an elegant design, a compelling story, boatloads of atmosphere, addictive gameplay and—notably—does not rely on violence to move the narrative forward.

Silver - Shadowrun Returns (PC/Mac/iOS/Android)

Disclaimer: this game is from 2013 not 2014, but if we look past the superlative Out There, this was the next best game I played in 2014. A kickstarter-funded reboot of the video game franchise/return to the cyberpunk+fantasy universe originally popularized in tabletop gaming, Shadowrun Returns neatly captures all the fun and retro style of 1990s RPGs.  

Bronze – Destiny (Xbox One/PS4)

Nothing on consoles really knocked it out of the park for me, so I guess Destiny wins bronze by default. The game looks gorgeous and plays like Halo updated for the new generation, and that’s a good thing. Plus I appreciate that Bungie are trying to do something different with how they’ve structured the game and narrative. Unfortunately, the gameplay is too repetitive and the narrative feels half-baked, so in the end I didn’t like it as much as Brad did.

brian

Wolfenstein: The New Order - I am a big fan of the Wolfenstein series, but I didn't have high expectations for The New Order. I mean, certainly I have a lot of fond memories of Wolfenstein 3D, but Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Wolfenstein were good games, but not great games. Wolfenstein: The New Order is a great game.  It's probably one of the best first-person shooters of all time. The story, the pacing, the gameplay, the graphics, the sounds, and the whole package is top-notch. It flew under a lot of people's radars, but it should be played by every first-person shooter fan.

Alien: Isolation - In another big victory for first-person games in 2014, Alien: Isolation does this movie series justice. You can read my review here, but the long and the short of it is that it's a well-made game that accurately emulates the atmosphere of the first Alien movie. 

Transistor - Supergiant Games really nailed it with Bastion, and they did it again with Transistor. It has a unique setting, interesting story and characters, and a deep gameplay loop. It's not as straightforward as Bastion, but it's amazing nonetheless.

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POSTED BY: brian, sci-fi/fantasy/video game dork and contributor since 2014

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