Welcome to the VGEvo staff's look back at 2014. In this piece we fondly recall our favorite moments that we believe we will still be talking about years from now. We'll also revisit what we thought went wrong, and what we think has great potential for the future.
For this installment, we've got the forum mods and social media crew checking in! Beware as there may be spoilers for some games, but we will provide warning as we go!
My favorite moment from the games I played last year would probably have to be the train car scene in Wolfenstein. There are a few other games that really offer some fantastic moments (South Park immediately coming to mind) but the train car scene in Wolfenstein really stands out to me. **SPOILERS** You play the role of a strong man with a square jaw, muscled frame, and broad shoulders and run around like an unstoppable force while danger is always present, but never overwhelming. This scene really took all that away and had you at the mercy of a slim woman in her late '50s as she amused herself by terrorizing you with vague and confusing questions, to which an incorrect answer would reveal you as an impure specimen that would be immediately exterminated. A large mechanized soldier stands nearby, ready to make good on her threat while you contemplate the meaning of the tarot cards the woman lays out for you to answer each question with. Its an unnerving scene and a change of pace among the white-knuckled running and gunning that has been established at this point in the game.
My pick for biggest win would have to be Microsoft buying the Gears of War franchise from Epic Games. Gears of War has been a critical part of the Xbox brand since 2006 and to let that series fade away would be a giant waste of potential. I don't own an Xbox One yet, but when they announced the development of another Gears game for the system, I knew then and there that I would own one whenever that game comes around.
The most disappointing moment would have to be Twitch revising their policies in such a way that would result in nearly every archived broadcast being muted. The system they use to identify copyrighted audio will almost always assume that the audio it picks up from broadcasted gameplay is copyrighted, so it mutes the audio completely as a counter-measure to keep Twitch in good standing with whoever holds the rights. This may not seem that out of place among the practices taking place at YouTube or anywhere else you enjoy video, but the problem here is that a game is only half the experience without its audio component. Its one thing to identify that somebody is playing the hot new Taylor Swift track and determine that muting is necessary, but its another thing entirely to pick out the song in the background of a Street Fighter match and mute the whole thing.
My biggest game that had to wait until 2015 was easily Dragon Age: Inquisition. This was a Christmas present for me, so I waited patiently for the holidays to finally play it. I'm finding it to be quite amazing in lots of great ways and it would definitely be my pick for best game of 2014 had I managed to play it in time. However, I didn't play it last year, so I'm granting the honor of best game of 2014 to Bayonetta 2. You can read my review to get a better understanding of why I hold that game in such high regard.
Finally, my nomination for biggest head-scratching WTF moment goes to SquareEnix taking the stage at the PlayStation Experience event to announce a port of the PC version of Final Fantasy VII is coming to PlayStation 4. Fans have been asking for a remake of FFVII ever since the PS3 tech demo at E3 several years ago. Had FFVII not been a PSOne Classics release on PSN years ago, maybe this would have had more impact, but that's not the case. Announcing a port that nobody wanted or cares about is not the kind of thing you take the stage for. This event was being streamed into people's homes around the world. If you're going to fly all the way to Vegas from Japan and announce something, it had better be worth people's time. In my opinion, this was just plain baffling. I don't know who gave the approval for that allotment of time during the show's planning, but it went over like a lead balloon!
Oh, 2014. A year of bombas and bombshells for games and gamers alike. There were plenty of hot, steaming turds that were prematurely thrust onto store shelves as well as some overlooked gems that were universally admired by the few who played them. With that in mind, I’m going to list and discuss some of the games released in 2014 that I enjoyed as well as a few that let me down. First, let's talk about the
Games I Liked:
Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare
I spent the largest chuck of my Extra Life 2014 marathon playing this beautifully crafted Star Wars Battlefront-esque game. At the time of this game’s release, it was excusive to the Xbox platforms. Having only purchased an Xbox One last November, I had to hold out for a few months until it dropped on PS4. Upon release, I was hooked on the game for weeks. The sleek third person gameplay combined with the unique Team Fortress 2 style classes kept me coming back for more every night. The ranking system and the easy to earn card packs which unlocked new character attire as well as different power-ups for each class definitely helped to sustain the game’s community. Dare I call this my game of the year?
I’m a huge fan of the two Trials games on the 360; and Fusion is simply another massive dose of that. An expansive map editor coupled with 2D driving mechanics that are unforgiving and tough to master feel somehow fair to the player because when you mess up for the hundredth time on the same course, you know it’s your fault. When it released in March, I picked up Trials on PSN for a mere fifteen dollars. Last month, GameFly was having their year-end sale where I managed to score a disc copy of the base game and the expansion for a measly four dollars. I love it so much that I bought it twice. Rarely does that happen for me.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
The only last-gen game on my 2014 list, The Stick of Truth is the diamond amongst turds of licensed South Park games. It perfectly captures the tone of the television show and Obsidian’s streamlined RPG combat mechanics make for a hilarious albeit brief adventure throughout the Colorado town. Sure, the game had some performance issues on consoles; but those don’t detract from the sheer amount of joy that playing this game brought me. Any avid fan of the show will find hundreds of small nods and winks to the series all over the game world. My only wish is that there would have been some DLC for the game; because I’d really like a reason to dive back into it.
This is the reason I picked up an Xbox One. I’m sure you’ve heard many people tell you all the wonderful things there are to see and do in this game. They are so right. Think of a third person Mirror’s Edge crossed with the gunplay of a Ratchet and Clank game with some classic Tony Hawk landscape navigation style thrown in. A lot of the story missions are your typical ‘go here and kill this thing or grab these items’ type deal; but once you get past those, there’s an entire uniquely crafted city for you to explore. There’s challenged, tons of collectables snag, and a plethora of guns and powers at your disposal. World traversal in a game has never been this fun.
Far Cry 4
A late arrival in mid-November, and my only Platinum trophy of the year, Far Cry 4 was my personal surprise hit of 2014. I was never very into Far Cry 3 for whatever reason. Maybe it was because it didn’t run well on my PC, maybe it was my disdain at having to drive all over the map for quests, or maybe it was something else. Whatever the reason, it didn’t stop me from picking up FC4 based on many a friend recommendations. Much to my surprise, I was totally sucked into the liveliness of the island world and the many activities available for me to partake in. It took me a while to grasp some of the intricacies of the mechanics; such as the fact that I need to kill and skin so many of a certain animal to increase the number of guns I could carry. But after I figured all that out, it was smooth sailing. Again, I never thought I was going to platinum this game when I started. Yet, after thirty or so hours of having a blast, the impossible was achieved.
I’d like to give honorable mentions to D4, Forza Horizon 2, and LOTR: Shadow of Mordor as well. Those were all lovely too. Now, it’s time for:
Games That Disappointed Me:
Don’t believe for a second that I wasn’t incredibly hyped for this game. I adored the alpha and beta. Heck, I practically loved the game for the first week I played it. There’s no denying that Bungie’s shooting and combat mechanics are some of the best around. But, above all that, the game is wrapped in what I would call and convoluted and disappointing series of RPG mechanics. I’m not an RPG guy. That’s why Dragon Age: Inquisition wasn’t on that top list. I went into this game expecting a great shooter and nothing more. What I got was a great slice of meat enclosed in two massive buns that I’m not that fond of.
Assassin’s Creed: Unity
It can’t be that bad, right? That’s what I told myself before booting into the digital copy of the game that came included with my Xbox One. Oh, was I wrong. Firstly, the game had a 40GB patch to download before I could even start the game. I don’t even think the entire game was that large! Once that was out of the way, I attempted to start the first mission, but my progress was hampered by the sub 30fps framerate. I don’t want to sound like one of those picky videophile snobs, but Assassin’s Creed is one of those games that almost needs an adequate framerate to be optimally enjoyed. Aside from that, I ran into a number of other little glitches and bugs, which led me to agree with the majority opinion that Ubisoft took this one out of the oven a few months too early. Luckily, there was also a copy of ACIV: Black Flag included with my Xbox One; so it wasn’t all bad!
Those are the only two major disappointments for me last year. Destiny taught me that I shouldn’t go in with high expectations when it comes to video games. That’s why games like Driveclub and LittleBigPlanet 3 aren’t on this list. People definitely considered them duds; but I never expected bunch from the get go. Before I jump back into the 2015 Twittersphere, here’s a few parting words: Some people don’t like the same things that you do, nor do they share your thoughts and opinions, and that’s entirely okay. Once you come to accept that fact, the Internet will be a happier place. But man, Amiibos are SO lame.
2014 was a very interesting year for me and I consider it one of my best years ever as it allowed to do two things that I have been wanting to do for a very long time. One of those things was, I finally had the chance to attend the Midwest Gaming Classic after hearing about it ever since I joined this great site and meet our site's creator Ken and Terry, who graciously let me stay a night at his house before MGC, and many of our fellow members whom I've only known through this site and playing games online with. I had such a great time hanging out with everyone and playing games with that I want to go to MGC whenever I get the chance to.
Speaking of playing games, this year I mostly spent playing games that came out last year that I heard about and wanted to play along with some games that came out in 2014 that I picked up on the day of release and was really excited to play. Some of those games I picked up on the Steam Summer sale which I went a little crazy with as there were games that I bought that I've already played that I wanted to own on PC or buy games that I only rented on consoles.
And looking back at 2014:
My favorite moment from the games I played last year would probably have to be the bedroom scene in South Park: The Stick of Truth. There are many moment and sections in this game that I laughed at and enjoyed but the bedroom scene was one moment that stands out as my favorite because it was where I thought "Whoa! Are they really showing that in a video game?" And to take a shocking scene that happens in the background farther where that background scene then becomes part of a battle sequence is such a great moment in that game.
My pick for biggest win would have to be Microsoft back peddling on telling people that Kinect is essential when purchasing a Xbox One and selling a Kinect-less version for $100 less. Furthermore, Microsoft reducing the price during the holidays by another $50 which helped them beat Sony in hardware sales for December (which I don't actually care about) but it did give me more of a reason to buy a Xbox One which I did (the Assassin's Creed bundle) since there was a deal for 12-months of Xbox Live with the purchase of a Xbox One and I used a $100 gift card to get both for a little over $300.
The most disappointing moment would have to be all of the high profile, highly anticipated games that came out and were busted. One of them is from a well respected developer who has a huge track record of making really solid games and that is, Bungie. Another is from a franchise that I like that I have yet to play and was kind of excited to play, Assassin's Creed: Unity. Although, since I picked up the Xbox One AC bundle, I'm still going to play AC: Unity because I want to see what that game is despite everything bad that I've heard about it.
The biggest head-scratching WTF moment goes to Amazon buying Twitch. Everyone thought that Youtube was going to buy Twitch so that it has its own live streaming service but everyone was wrong. http://retroids.com/threads/googles-youtube-video-service-to-buy-twitch.23251/
Awesomeness in 2014:
Amazing Steam indie platformers!
So many great platform style games came out on Steam in 2014. Shovel Knight, You Have to Win the Game, Super Win the Game, Constant C, Amazing Princess Sarah, Xeodrifter... just to name a few. These games are all top notch releases with tight controls and good challenge. And you could get all of them for under $15 a piece, and many under $10.
Nintendo first party games hitting their stride in the latest generation!
With the release of Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros for 3DS and WiiU. You can tell Nintendo's game quality will never lower. Both of these games made many people's top 10 games of the year.
While there are far more misses than hits on mobile games. A few great ones still shine through with a good mix of challenge, but not feeling like you have to spend money to progress. Peggle Blast brings all the fun of Peggle to mobile. Family Guy: Quest for Stuff follows the Simpsons: Tapped Out formula and improves upon it in my opinion. And my favorite mobile game of all time, Trials Frontier released this year as well. A free game, which has had multiple level expansions, as well as adding multiplayer ghost battles and ladder seasons. The premium currency flows easily in this game and never feels like like you have to pay to win or advance.
The XboxOne and PS4.
After getting in within a year of launch on the Xbox360 and PS3. I've seen no killer apps for either system that make the purchase appealing, and sadly see none coming down the pipeline. Additionally, so many games are cross released for the older generations and on Steam, that it's easier for me to just pick up on Steam if I really want it.
It's everywhere, littering Steam, and clogging up mobile gaming. And with terribly not funny reviews covering Steam game pages, you can't even get a good idea about a game's quality sometimes.
So there you have it! Lots of different thoughts and feelings from the crew here. Expect the other half of this very soon where we hear from the remaining members of the staff and finish our look back at 2014.
This is the year I finally caught up with being a next gen (current gen?) completionist. I initially started out with a PS4 (2013) but in 2014 I was able to procure a Wii U and most recently an Xbox One. In addition to those consoles, I was also able to get a capable gaming laptop. Its been years since I’ve been able to actually keep up with modern PC gaming, so I look forward to increasing my PC library. Even though I don’t often buy day one releases of games, I was able to experience many good titles this past year. Some of my memorable moments from last year are below:
Favorite moments from the games I played last year — Playing Destiny with friends. Though I didn’t play as much of Destiny as I could’ve, I did enjoy the times I was able to go through Bungie’s futuristic online romp on the PS4 with people in our community. Some of my other favorite moments include my welcome surprise in a very fun FPS game withCall of Duty: Advanced Warfare. I’d all but given up on this franchise after some disappointing titles in the past. But Advanced Warfare added some amazing weapons, maps, modes and exo suit abilities. It’s now my favorite game in the series.
My biggest win would have to be having a bevy of local co-op games to play. For too many years now, people have relied solely on the online experience to get their multiplayer fix. I’ve missed the days where you could be in the same room with a person, playing the same game, trash talking and just having a good time with some friendly cooperative and competitive play. PS4 games like Nidhogg, Surgeon Simulator: Anniversary Edition, Towerfall: Ascension and Sports Friends helped make our Extra Life 2014 24-hour charity event more than tolerable. In addition to those, couch co-op on the OUYA has been a gratifying experience. Games like Bombsquad with crazy 8-player action and the stupidly simple Get on Top—complete with head-popping noise had me laughing out loud. The Wii U was no slacker either with Mario Kart 8, and the ever-popular Super Smash Bros for Wii U.
My most disappointing moments would have to be when #gamergate was all over Twitter and mainstream media got a hold of it and ran with it. I hate when gamers and my hobby are being misrepresented by a select few. Not only has there been an uphill battle for years within the gaming community to shed the negative overview of gamers in general, but this “movement,” instead of making strides to move our hobby forward, made us all take two steps back. Also, the grandfather of gaming, Ralph Baer—the creator of the Magnavox Odyssey died at the age of 92.
WTF moments -- Big franchise games that were broken upon release. Games such as Halo Anniversary: Master Chief Collection (XB1) had the online portion of its game unplayable for many weeks after release. Others included Assassin’s Creed: Unity with glitches galore, and the free Driveclub: PlayStation Plus Edition...still MIA.