I’m sure when you look through this list there may be a few head scratchers here and there. When I look back on my year in gaming, I notice a lot of it is filled up with last year’s titles! It takes me a while to work through games (being a single parent and all), but that doesn’t mean I missed out on some great ones that hit this year. For me, however, I like to pick the games that “stuck” with me the most in making a top list of this sort. So my picks will be those that I found myself playing the most, having the most fun with, and enjoying overall, rather than being technically sound or even highly reviewed.
Here are my top five games of 2014 (in no particular order):
South Park: The Stick of Truth
If you had told me at the very beginning of the year that a South Park game would make my top list, I would have called you crazy. Even in my review of The Stick of Truth I made mention of the fact that I’m not a fan of South Park and didn’t go into the game with high expectations. What I found, however, was a hilarious title that combined humor with solid RPG game mechanics into something incredibly fun. While it’s short, I couldn’t put this game down and managed to finish it all within a couple days. Seriously, I DIDN’T stop. Something I can’t say about many of the games I’ve played.
The story is silly and packed with the irreverent humor fans have come to expect from the brand, but the gameplay will suck you in just as quickly. The combat is surprisingly fun, allowing for a sit back, turn-based approach, or a more active involvement in every battle. In short, there’s a lot to like about The Stick of Truth and hours of fun worth having. If you haven’t picked it up already, there’s no reason to skip out on it.
Mario Kart 8
Mario Kart is one of those incredibly popular franchises that everyone seems to love…except for me. Not that I thought any of the Mario Kart games were bad, I just didn’t care all that much about them. All of that changed, however, when Mario Kart 8 finally released this year for the Wii U, and I found myself unable to turn away from the game.
This is one of the most refined games out on the market right now, with highly polished mechanics and virtually no problems to speak of. Playing through the game is a breeze for both seasoned veterans of the franchise and newcomers. The controls are deceptively simple, allowing for quick pick and up and play access over the top of controls you can master for a deeper level of gameplay. It also doesn’t hurt that Mario Kart 8 has (and is getting more) DLC that genuinely enhances the experience and overall game.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Bioware are the developers behind some of my favorite games period, so it’s no surprise that their newest game is making this list. First and foremost, it’s a gorgeous game that looks like it harnesses the power of the next-generation. More than just pretty visuals (unless you’re on the previous generation), Inquisition throws you into a vast and expansive world filled with things to do and lore to follow. I kid you not, the first 11 hours of the game that I played, I only did ONE story mission…yet I was still having a blast.
Sure there are a lot of “fluff” missions put in there, but by and large, you’re having so much fun exploring and interacting with your party members that you don’t really care. The combat is a lot of fun as well, allowing you to alternate between hands-on fighting and control and a more strategic approach. The two styles give every encounter a level of depth to them you don’t normally have in games. As such, grinding didn’t feel so much like grinding as I was enjoying it too much to think of it as work.
Of course, the story (once I got to it) is engaging as well and populated with characters you genuinely care about and feel compelled to know better. It’s a great blend of solid, and fun, mechanics with the depth of story you hope for in these sweeping fantasy epics. It’s no surprise that Bioware is making waves with Inquisition.
Time for some honesty here: I have never really enjoyed MMOs and could not care less for first-person shooter games. Neither of those are genres I’ve enjoyed or actively look forward to…As such I never thought I would enjoy Destiny. Yet here we are, months after it’s release and I’m still on there! The melding of these two genres have worked to cancel out each other’s flaws, in my opinion. It takes the boredom out of MMOs and their combat, infusing it with the action of a FPS, while adding in the leveling and RPG elements that give the shooting parts significance and meaning.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware of the many problems Destiny has both technically and within it’s “story”. I’ve said it a few times that it’s probably the worst game I can’t stop playing. But therein lies its saving grace. You simply can’t play this game and NOT have a bunch of fun doing it. It’s highly addictive and hard to put down once you get started. This alone is why I’m putting it on the list. Despite its flaws, it’s a game I’ve sunk a lot of hours into and STILL have fun playing. I can see myself playing it well into 2015 as well and that should count for something.
inFAMOUS: Second Son
The inFAMOUS games were both amongst my favorites for the last generation in general and because of that, I was anxiously awaiting the opportunity to play Second Son. Despite not having the same character as before, it looked like a lot of fun and that it would retain the charm of the originals. While not everyone agrees, I believe, for the most part, that Second Son succeeded and is a worthy successor to the original games in just about every way.
Sure, the powers get a little repetitive (as do some of the missions), but on the whole, it’s a blast to play around the large city with all of the tools are your disposal. There were several times I caught myself just wandering around the city, in various ways, not really doing much of anything. I was just enjoying the freedom of the city and my powers.
One of the reasons I feel Second Son has stuck with me this year, is the fact that it was also the first game I got for my PlayStation 4. It was my first real experience with the next-generation and it didn’t disappoint. Even going back to play it now, it still feels “next-gen” to me and a solid showcase of the potential game developers have with the new hardware.
Sure, there are still plenty of games that have come out this year I need to get my hands on (or need more time with), but on the whole, these five games represent what I feel are some of the best offerings (The Last of Us Remastered would have been on here but I didn’t think it was fair) from 2014, any of which could make a case of game of the year.
Be sure to check out Dustin’s picks from yesterday, and stay with us the rest of the week as the Cinelinx crew breaks down their top games. Of course, we want to hear about YOUR favorites as well. Tell us in the comments what your favorite games were, whether you agree with my picks or think I’m crazy!