Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Feature: Vincent's 2014 List

2014 has been a big year for gaming, not one of its biggest but it is certainly the one with the biggest ups and downs in recent memory. Scandal, broken releases, the prevalence of DLC culture and the constant threat of rising game costs. But scratch the surface slightly and what we end up with is a strong line up for both AAA and Indie titles, and really isn't that just all what we want at the end of the year regardless of the negative?

Game of the Year - Wasteland 2

There were a few contenders for Game of the Year for me initially, but when I sat down and really thought about it I realised there has only been one game this year that filled me with the joyful glee of my childhood. That title was Wasteland 2, now obviously I have filled out quite nicely in my review for it what makes it so great but I guess that leaves me just to say why it makes ME feel great! Even with its flaws I can’t help but smile every-time I start the game, I have my squad built up and each of them have their own personalities and quirks made by me, Cassandra for example is my smartarse, no nonsense sniper who is utterly convinced she is a repair god, even though she gets electrocuted every time she tries to fix a toaster. Things like that and the huge level of customisation to do it with are what gives me a warm glow and makes me truly enjoy the deep storyline, NPC interaction and engaging (if I little tried and tested) combat. Although very much a game not to everyone’s taste, it would be unfair of me to not give it my highest praise.

Clear Second - Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor:

I would not count myself as an achievement hunter or completionist generally, I usually complete a main storyline and then see how far a game takes me after that, but Shadow of Mordor was surprisingly one title that compelled me from the off to take everything it had to offer me, I completely immersed myself in story, surrounding lore and the beautifully executed combat and stealth elements, that clearly took more than a little inspiration from Assassins Creed and the Batman Arkham franchises but still managed to feel fresh, new and almost it’s own. I relished in the surroundings which although dreary, bloody and grey by their very nature still made me often stop to just look around, and enjoyed the movie style sound-scape, all the while going out of my way to grab every collectable and to get that 100% rating, after nearly 50 hours of playtime I managed it and I will be happily doing it again in the future. This would be my Game of the Year if it wasn't for the amount that it borrows from other franchises, this worked to its benefit as a title but it puts it out of the running as higher than 2nd place in my humble opinion.

Honourable mentions!

PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate:

PixelJunk Shooter got its original PS3 release back in 2009 and it’s PC release in 2013. But I won’t lie, I mostly ignored it during this time because I didn't feel it was my kind of game, until its definitive release for Vita and PS4 in 2014. Now I cannot say with absolute certainty that I would have even picked it up had it not been the fact I was going on holiday and the Vita was my console of choice to take. But pick it up I did and literally spent the whole day on the way to holiday franticly playing and trying to save all the miners, then at least half an hour each day while on holiday (currently replaying it now on PS4) The concept is simple, you play the part of a little ship working your way deep into the ground to save miners from an accident, but the execution is sublime.

Storyline is simply done in snippets of conversation with key miners as you save them but it gives just enough information for you to work out what is going on yourself. Each level brings in a new game mechanic, be it controlling water flows to clear lava below and open a path to an upgrade allowing you to fire lava to cut through ice (in this case water becomes your enemy as it damages you instead of lava) The combat is also pretty simple but never starts to feel stale, enemy types change often enough to keep your brain actively on the task at hand. Like I said before it was originally a 2009 release but I personally feel that this definitive release has enough changes and extra content (combining both PixelJunk Shooter games into one title for example) to qualify it as an entirely new game for this year, one that I immensely enjoyed and will be keeping installed for a long time.

Battleblock Theatre:

Although technically a 2013 game, I didn’t actually come into contact with it until it’s PC release in May of this year. A wonderfully simplistic Platformer puzzler with an art style not too dissimilar to its predecessor Castle Crashers, what really sets this title apart from the sea of platformer's is its humour, it’s ridiculous, childish and way over the top humour has not failed to make me laugh, I even watch the intro from time to time when I am feeling low to cheer me up...And you should too! Battleblock Theatre Opening

That isn't to say that the game is all slapstick laughs, because under the surface it is a pretty decent platformer requiring quick reactions and enough brains to solve the puzzles put in your way to maximize rewards.

The only real downfall of this title is that if you take out the laughs, it is overshadowed by older titles such as Super Meat Boy and Fez leaving it floating in an over saturated sea of platformpuzzlers, Battleblock Theatre is worth the play mostly for the story and the fun, but if you want a real challenge then look back to the other titles.

P.S And as Always, Modded Skyrim is my game of the decade ;)

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