2014 has come to a close, and it is time to reflect back upon the great games that graced our systems. In a year that many will recall as relatively tame and slow as far as blockbuster games go, a few games stood out as diamonds in the rough this year. These games were not only incredibly addictive and rewarding to play, but gave video game players a glimpse of the power and promise that next generation consoles and PCs can bring.
Without further ado, here are the 2014 honorable mentions, and the 2014 Pixxelpress Game of the Year!
Honorable Mention: Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, Xbox One)
While re releases are often an exiting thing for many gamers, not many reboots go above and beyond like this years new and improved version of GTA V for PS4 and Xbox One. Boasting flashy new graphics and a franchise first “First-Person Mode”, the GTA V re-release changes were so fantastic that it earned a spot on this list just a year after releasing on the PS3 and Xbox 360. The new perspective in game allows for a new perspective about Grand Theft Auto itself, often making the violence more gritty and the choices players make on their feet more impactful than ever.
Honorable Mention: Dark Souls II (PS4, Xbox One)
After the huge success of Dark Souls I, and the tight-knit community its online and lore-based play created, many were clamoring to get their hands on Dark Souls II. Thanks to the game being offered for the PC and Xbox as well as PlayStation, more people got to enjoy the dark, twisted, and punishing gameplay. While it couldn’t fit the shoes left behind by its predecessor, Dark Souls II was a delightful albeit torturous return to the dark and mysterious universe. While the challenge wasn’t usually on par to Dark Souls I, and the lore and story was much less effective than its previous title, improved online, some interesting tweaks (permanent health loss?!), and some of the best DLC we have ever seen made this a refreshing and beautiful adventure.
Honorable Mention: Mario Cart 8 (Wii U)
What isn’t to like about Mario Cart 8? Though we had to wait a while, our wait and prayers were answered by a beautifully new yet refreshingly similar return to the imaginative race tracks of Mario Cart 8. Hands down the best party game created thus far for next gen consoles (with Super Smash Bros. for Wii U right behind), Mario Cart 8 was one of the main reasons that the Wii U began to turn its slow sales around. From the insanely new and well-balanced tracks, to the touched up and improved old tracks, Mario Cart 8 is a great mix between challenge and nostalgia. Details like facial expressions, carefully crafted item effects, and cart customization make this the best Mario Cart of all time.
Honorable Mention: Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition (PS4)
Diablo III had a tumultuous beginning, to say the least. Bugs, a horribly broken auction house, DRM drama, and what many felt like limited content marred what might have been a beautiful game at launch. Taking the constructive criticism (ok it was rude shouting and demands) of its fan base, Blizzard fixed the entire game and not only gave us more content, but made the entire thing damn near perfect. This careful reconstruction was noticed the most on the console iteration, dubbed the “Ultimate Evil Edition”, which gave gamers the entirety of Diablo III and the Reaper of Souls expansion for an almost overly-generous $60. Not only did the give us a nice bundle, but they completely remapped the button scheme and added features like roll to make the game more playable and accessible on consoles. Blizzard’s hard work paid off, and all debts have been forgiven… Though I won’t get back the countless hours I’ve sunk into it to date.
Honorable Mention: Nidhogg (PC, PSVita)
There is a good chance that some of you don’t even know this game exists. Well it does, and it’s possibly the most fun I’ve had with my friends in all of 2014. Nidhogg is an incredibly simple game, from its graphics to its gameplay. You can jump, crouch, raise and lower your sword, and throw your sword. When you are disarmed, you can punch. When you kill your opponent, you are allowed to run right until your opponent manages to kill you – then he gets to run left until you stop him. It goes like this until one of you reaches the final stage, and is consumed by the Nidhogg, a giant mystical flying earthworm with a unicorn horn. You may be confused; well so am I after hours and hours of this game, but when you play it just makes sense. The shear joy of fencing back and forth across the wildly varying levels has very few parallels this year, and the quick nature of the game makes it perfect to play between classes, before bed, or what have you.
Game of the Year:
Dragon Age Inquisition (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
In a fantastic rebound from the largely disappointing Dragon Age II, Dragon Age: Inquisition took everything that made Origins and Awakening so magnificent, and built upon it. A wildly inventive and talented supporting cast and a relatively exciting plot helped close the rift (see what we did there) of intensely addictive AAA games we were so desperatly lacking. Hours upon hours can be spent within the world BioWare has created, and absolutely nothing can be accomplished – but it still manages to feel incredibly rewarding and exciting. With a juicily long plot line that pretty much quadruples in length if you care even a hoot about exploration, lore, and collectibles, Inquisition was definitely the biggest bang for your buck in 2014. Deep character customization, impactful decision making, and enough potential party members to justify several playthroughs makes this one of the most replayable games offered on next-gen consoles. My favorite moment of 2014 was watching a dragon fight a giant, and realizing that despite the hours and hours that I had spent molding my party and perfecting my mage, I wasn’t even close to beating the game. Kudos, BioWare.
Did we miss a game? Do you agree? Totally disagree? Let us know below, and thanks for making 2014 a great year for Pixxelpress!