Hello there! I haven’t got the time to do a top 10 – or the heart to rank them – but here are my four favourite games of 2014. Just because.
WOLFENSTEIN: THE NEW ORDER
Wolfenstein’s an interesting one, isn’t it? It has the DNA of a big dumb shooter – and it IS silly and bombastic and ridiculous – but there’s a lot more bubbling away under the surface. Whilst still paying tribute to its heritage, it attempts something more; has a stab at character and emotion and shit and stuff. There’s so many memorable moments peppered throughout the game’s well-sized campaign, so many neat little interactions and character-driven moments. It has personality – a glorious ironic kind of personality – and it was entertaining like no shooter I’ve played in years.
Also: guns. Wolfenstein’s guns are sexy. They look sexy, and they feel sexy. As a result, the gunplay is probably the best of any shooter this year.
GEOMETRY WARS 3: DIMENSIONS
I’ve played Geo Wars 3 so much it’s broken my controller (more of a testament to the shocking build quality of the DualShock 4 than anything else, to be honest). I played it for eighteen hours without break upon its release, and it broke me, too; I couldn’t sleep properly for days, with fizzing neon shapes buzzing behind my eye-lids every time I blinked. But it was worth it.
I saw some complaints around review time that bemoaned the lack of purity; how additions to Adventure Mode took something away from the twin-stick simplicity of it’s predecessors. Poppy-cock. All Classic Modes from Retro Evolved 2 remain intact, and the new levels offer enough in the way of innovation and gameplay variation to warrant a sequel. Lucid had to do something new (3D levels, Drones, power-ups) – otherwise what was the point? Retro Evolved 2 is a near perfect game, but Dimensions is a fantastic game, and something I’ll be playing well into 2015.
THE WALKING DEAD: SEASON 2
It was tempting to put The Wolf Among Us on this list instead, but the final ep of Walking Dead: Season 2 eclipsed anything The Wolf Among Us achieved, despite being fantastic in its own right. I went into it worried, I’ll admit (as many did, I feel). What made S1 work so well was the fact you – Lee – were protecting Clem. That emotional attachment was forged out of a burning desire not to see her chomped by hungry dead people. If you played AS clem, I feared, that bond would no longer exist. Telltale managed to alleviate that worry by playing a different card, though, and jabbed at my poor heart in other ways. It’s very much an ensemble cast, and everything spins around Clem in a much different way to the first game.
Pretty much everything else I’d want to praise about season 2 is taking a big ol’ walk through spoiler territory, so I’ll wrap things up. I think I preferred it to Season 1. I know!
I’d almost forgotten what the survival horror genre was like; that crucial ‘survival’ element has been ousted from modern game design in favour of heightened action and cheap scare tactics (Resident Evil and Dead Space wave their big scary hands). Isolation welcomes it back with wide, open, loving arms, however. Creative Assembly has absolutely nailed tension and atmosphere, with an unpredictable enemy that forces an adaptive play-style. It also has some of the best environment design (and lighting) that I’ve seen in a game.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to say that Dragon Age: Inquisition is not a very good game and if it’s on YOUR GOTY list for 2014 you’re a bad person. The environments are bland and generic, the combat is insipid and un-involving, and pretty much everything outside of the characters/politics of the world is shonky as heck. That game is painfully 6/10. Spend 100 hours playing something good you nutters!
That’s all. Bye.