Christian’s Top 10 Games of 2014

When it comes to games, 2014 was a year of hype and heatbreak, as we saw many of the games that had a lot of buzz behind them either fall flat or fall apart. Granted, this year was a fairly busy one, so it kind of worked out in the end. I did, however, find time to play a fair amount of the games 2014 had to offer. Here are the 10 I enjoyed the most:


10. Strider

This game released earlier this year on PSN, and I went back and forth as to whether or not I should play it. By the time I did, it became a Playstation Plus freebie. So when it did, I downloaded it as soon as possible. And man, I’m glad I did. Not only is the gameplay fast-paced, especially for a “Metroidvania” style game, but this game doesn’t miss a step when played via Remote Play. The story is very mediocre, as it’s just a “defeat this bad guy and his henchmen” type story, but as the game steadily ramps in difficulty, with challenging boss fights (and there are plenty of them), the story matters less and your primary focus becomes strategizing on how to defeat the big bad in-front of you.


9. Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

Another smaller game, that released through PSN this year, Binding of Isaac tells no story. A remake of 2011’s Binding of Isaac, this 2d-dungeon crawler manages to constantly keep things interesting, with randomly generated levels, crawling (literally crawling) with enemies, ranging from spiders to zombie clones of you. The gameplay is much like that of a twin-stick shooter, limiting you to fire in four directions. The game comes on multiple platforms, but the one that was able to hold my attention the most was the Vita, fueling the console’s resurgence as the portable indie game machine of choice. It’s the perfect game to play in small sessions or if you just need a quick fix.  If I’d played this before Hotline Miami, there’s no doubt it’d be higher on this list, as they were both indie games that, on Vita, ate up a lot of my time this past year.


8. Threes!

Yeah, it’s a phone game, but a game is a game. When it comes to games that took up a lot of my time, I don’t think any of them could compete with Threes! This sliding-numerical-tile game doesn’t require a lot of time to play, but if you plan on doing well, it might just eat up some time. If a lot of you aren’t familiar with Threes!, I’m sure you’re at least familiar with the multiple games in the same vein as Threes! that sprung up around the same time (2048, 4096). A lot of people complain about spending money on phone games, but Threes! is a game in which I can safely say that I got my 2 bucks worth.


7. Destiny

Yes, there is little to no story in Destiny and yes, the game could stand to have a little more variety. But I haven’t been hooked on a first-person shooter like this since Halo 3. See a pattern here? They were both created by Bungie, and as a result they both have rock solid game mechanics, and by that I mean I can’t even think of a game where the gunplay was just so solid and so damn fun to shoot. Not to mention, that this game has turned me into a loot-focused player, including elements from the MMORPG genre. When I shot an enemy and a blue orb pops out, it was one of the most satisfying feelings I’ve gotten form a game in a long time. Another thing that has enveloped me into another Bungie-crafted universe would have to be the spectacular art direction in the game. Everything from the environments to the enemy design. You can tell what happens when you let Bungie’s artists just cut loose and allow them to stray away from military inspired weapon and armor designs. Sure, Destiny isn’t the game that a lot of people, including myself, wanted it to be, but in time, I don’t doubt that it can grow into the expansive universe a lot of us thought it would become.


6. Hotline Miami

Hotline Miami may have come out a couple of years ago, but I didn’t get round to it until late last year on Vita, which is how I got my hands on it. This was one of the most fun, frustrating, time-consuming gaming experiences of the past year. When this game is spoken of, it’s described as “Drive: The Game,” and the people who call it that aren’t wrong. It’s a hyper-violent, modern 80’s, pixelated game that hooks you in with it’s soundtrack as much as it does its gameplay. When you’ve been agonizing over how to tackle a room with dogs, gunners, and heavies, sometimes you just have to toss strategy out of the window and say, “screw it” before you just run in blindly shooting. And sometimes…that’s all you need.


5. P.T.

When this game was announced, I dismissed it on every level. “A new Silent Hill? Pfft. Whatever” “A teaser trailer? Double whatever.” I couldn’t have cared less about it, but once I saw it for myself, I was sold. The feeling of helplessness and claustrophobia, as you walked through that narrow hall, awaiting for the horrors ahead of you…or following you was a feeling I hadn’t gotten from a horror game in a long time. Not only that, but afterwards, P.T. was something I was left thinking about after it ended – for better or worse. P.T. was truly an experience that came out of nowhere, and it impressed me more that a lot of the stuff that came out this year. That in itself has earned it this high of a spot on my list. After it was all said and done, one question was on my mind: “Can Silent Hills top this?” And that’s an answer we most likely won’t get until 2016 or 2017 (let’s not forget, this is Kojima and he still has to finish MGS 5).


4. Infamous: Second Son

Infamous: Second Son was, if you asked me, a game that was exactly what was expected of it. It was a fun game in the inFamous franchise. Granted, the story that was told made the world more interesting than the protagonist, Delsin, which was kind of a bummer, because I wanted to like Delsin based on the trailers that we saw prior to the game’s release. While the story was on the weak side, I thought the way every other character was written was well done. Not only was the writing well done, but I thought the animations – both facial and body – really helped to bring the characters to life. The game’s use of powers, which let the character’s move a lot faster than those of previous inFamous games, was the most enjoyable in the series. Second Son, while being an open world game, was one that didn’t suffer from a lack of too much side content, as I was able to clear everything out within the span of  few hours. In a year of disappointments, Second Son may have not done much new or taken any risks, but it was what I wanted it to be: a fun inFamous game on the newer generation of hardware.


3. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

One of Nintendo’s most important franchises returned this year in the form of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. I haven’t played a Smash Bros. game as much as this one in years, as Brawl left myself and a lot of other people fairly disappointed. This newer iteration, though, appeals to those of us who were huge fans of Melee. And if you were one of the 5 people who were able to find a Gamecube controller adapter, then it should appeal to you even more so. Just hook up a couple of those for some 8 player smash, and you got yourself one hell of a time. There’s not much else to say other than to say that this is a good Smash Bros. game. Nintendo had one job and they did it very well.

2. Last of Us: Left Behind DLC

After finishing it, The Last of Us definitely felt like the last game that needed DLC of any kind. When you consider the game had Game of The Year awards as far as the eye can see, you’d think it’d be damn near dumb for Naughty Dog to mess with perfection. But, once again, Naughty Dog gave us another reason not to doubt them with Left Behind. In this narrative DLC, we see what went on between the Fall and Winter seasons in The Last of Us interspersed with some of Ellie’s past. Left Behind is a piece of content that delves more into a character that we thought we knew in very interesting and captivating ways.


1. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

It’s funny, actually. After the delay of Arkham Knight, I was bummed that I’d have to wait to play a Batman game. The free flow combat system, along with the counter system within the combat system always felt really good. Little did I know that there was a new game with that combat all along. Yup. That game is Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. Not only does Shadow of Mordor borrow elements from the Batman: Arkham series, but it’s an amalgamation of different open world games. For instance, it was almost impossible to do stealth kills or climb anything without being reminded of an Assassin’s Creed game. Not only does it successfully borrow from these games, but it successfully introduces a system of it’s own. This Nemesis System, allows orcs that have killed you to advance among the ranks or return after they’ve fled from you, ready to gain the upper hand on you. It’s a frustrating system in the beginning of the game, but once you’ve gotten enough time in with the game, the system really becomes a fun element. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if this wasn’t the last that we saw of this Nemesis System. Its story isn’t much more than a revenge story set in Mordor, but this game is still a great time.

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