It’s been an odd year for gaming. On consoles we’ve had the current generation for over a year now and while we’ve had a lot of fun, there’s still the distinct sense that most of the games could have been done on last-gen hardware (and most of them have). On PC we’ve been treated to far too many games that are still under the ‘early access’ moniker and are selling for full price despite being feature incomplete. That’s not to say it’s been a bad year by any means: Nintendo are back in the game, some of the massively multiplayer features we had heard about for this generation are starting to come to fruition and e-sports is bigger and more mainstream than ever before. So without any further ado, here’s our picks for the games of 2014.
Best Single Player Game
Carrying on our tradition of separating games by the way we played them, best single player game is a greyer area than ever before. You certainly can play most of Destiny single-player, or Assassin’s Creed or Far Cry. But the multiplayer component of them is still a big part of it – games are moving further and further away from the idea of people playing alone, so what did we have the most fun with by ourselves this year??
Winner: The Wolf Among Us
Telltale have been knocking it out of the park with every game they’ve released for the last year, with the excellent Walking Dead games leading the way and the recently released Tales from the Borderlands and Game of Thrones episodes proving to be no weaker. With a Minecraft series starting up in the new year it’s amazing they can create so many quality games at once, even if they all follow the same formula. The Wolf Among Us got us interested in the (excellent) Fables series of comic books and showed that an adventure game can be adult without being patronising or too grim. It oozed style and by the end you really felt like you had shaped the character of your Bigby. As it was a prequel it’s a little difficult to see how they could make another season of this but we sincerely hope they do.
Runners Up: Bayonetta 2, Alien Isolation, Dragon Age Inquisition
Best Multiplayer Game
There’s been hundreds of multiplayer games released this year and many of them are finally trying new and exciting things. Destiny has a kind of persistent instanced world that you drop in and out of, Far Cry has drop in-drop out co-op anywhere other than the story missions, Driveclub has constant challenges to put you up against your friends list in the middle of races. Some have gone for the more traditional route with Nintendo’s Mario Kart and Smash Bros proving that local co-op isn’t dead. With so many on offer we could only pick one and it’s the one that’s brought us the most fun, even if it might be a little controversial.
Winner: Halo: The Master Chief Collection
It might be broken online, but Microsoft have made good on that by giving us all the ODST campaign for free and it’s hard to deny that there’s few other games that offer this amount of content. With Halo 1-4 (and now ODST) entirely playable in co-op and a multiplayer mode boasting over 100 of the best multiplayer maps ever created and the mechanics from each game in individual playlists as well as fully featured level editors and replay tools, The Master Chief Collection is simply amazing. We haven’t reviewed it yet because we’re not done with it, we’ve played through the first three games in co-op (although not on Legendary yet) and we’ve dabbled in the multiplayer but there’s so much to do. Even just dipping into the Halo 5 beta this weekend (included with the game) got us excited about the prospect of more Halo to come this year. Whether you’ve played these games before or not, this is a must-have for any Xbox library.
Runners up: Titanfall, Gang Beasts, Destiny
As always there’s been a lot of surprises this year with some surprising announcements and a lot of smaller games that we had no idea would envelop our lives. For us though, the biggest surprise was simply a rerelease of a game we thought we’d played to death and that the publisher wouldn’t care about for a simple port. We were so very wrong.
Winner: Grand Theft Auto V Xbox One/PS4
The port of Grand Theft Auto almost completely transforms the game. We’re not talking about the increased resolution, framerate, environmental details, traffic density or number of players online (although that is all very cool). But the simple addition of a fully featured first person mode makes the game feel like something entirely new. Everything feels more cinematic and kudos to Rockstar for spending the time to fully render the interior of every single vehicle in the game. If a character looks at you they look at your eyes, if you roll your entire view point rolls around. It’s a simple change but it’s really worth buying the whole game again just to experience it. We love it.
Runners Up: Bayonetta 2, Gang Beasts, Smash Bros 3DS, PT
Of course not every game can blow us away and there’s always going to be some that have a lot of hype built around them then never really deliver.
Loser: The Evil Within
While not the absolutely disaster that was last year’s loser, Aliens: Colonial Marines, we had high hopes for the Evil Within. Set to take the best bits from Resident Evil and Silent Hill, it ended up just falling back on the lazy design behind some of the worst bits of those two games. Enemies that were invincible until the game wanted you to kill them, heavy action sequences for no reason, unwieldy controls, an overreliance on jump scares rather than real tension and some terrible voice acting and writing. Some have managed to enjoy the game but for us it was a terrible let down after some fairly monumental hype from Bethesda.
Runners Up: Warlords of Draenor, The Elder Scrolls Online, The lack of Oculus Rift
Most Anticipated Game
So now we look forward to 2015. There’s a fair few exciting games on the horizon although we can’t help but feel we won’t see a lot of them until 2016. We’re willing to bet we won’t be seeing Crackdown 3, Zelda or Star Fox before Christmas next year so here is our pick for our most anticipated game that is actually likely to be out this coming year.
Winner: The Witcher 3
We were lucky enough to see this in action over a year ago and it looked absolutely stunning then. CD Projekt Red aren’t in the business of letting people down and we’re sure this will be one of the most exciting games of the next year. We just hope it isn’t delayed anymore, as much as we want the perfect game, we do actually want to play it. While you’re waiting for this one to come out be sure to check out the amazing comic book series that is tied into this game in the series. It’s a lot of fun!
Runners Up: The Division, Mortal Kombat X, Halo 5