Well, it’s that time of the year again. (< the 14,583,766th time that phrase has been used in writing) The time of reflective thinking and list making is upon us. And like any gaming site worth its salt, it’s time I made some “best of” lists of my own. For Part 1, I will be looking back on the year of 2014. Since the majority of the games I played were from various years not including 2014, these lists are going to be more personal. Think a bit more blog, and bit less review site for this. Also, they don’t follow any preferential order. If I’m considering them to be in the list, they’re already preferred.
TOP 4 GAMES I PLAYED IN 2014, PRIOR TO WEBSITE’S START As the title implies, I did play games this year prior to starting up this website. And since I don’t plan on doing full reviews for them, I figured I’d at least share my impressions on them in some way.
– Batman: Arkham Origins
I’m in the minority when it comes to the Batman games. It seems like the generally accepted truth amongst those who’ve played them is that Arkham Origins is a weaker game than Arkham City. I beg to differ. I was turned off from City for 3 reasons. For starters, the premise is absolutely ludicrous. Am I really supposed to believe that the DC doppelganger of New York seriously just portioned off a section of their city in order to make the comic book version of Escape From New York? I mean, if you’re going to rip off illogical, implausible, wouldn’t-happen-in-a-million-years ideas from 3rd graders, at least don’t be so serious about it too. Segueing to problem 2: Joker’s death. In what was probably the easiest “twist” ever written, the attempt to be edgy just ended up feeling lazy to me. Plus, we all know Joker dies in The Dark Knight Returns, so this story has already been told before anyway. Finally, and most glaringly, the Catwoman content was the first time single player content was given the Online Pass treatment. I don’t support the business practice of cutting content in order to “fight” second hand purchases. All it does is hurt the consumer and identify miserly companies. Origins didn’t have these problems, and was welcomed with open arms because of it. It also didn’t hurt that it looks and plays damn good. And, after playing Arkham Asylum again recently (review coming soon), I’m willing to say it’s the best Batman game so far. How edgy of me.
– Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
AC: Brotherhood, AKA: the last good one, was a game that I had been meaning to play for about 4 years. It was a series I was dreading jumping back into, considering how many AC sequels were beginning to pile up in my backlog. At some point though, I think it was when the word ‘assassin’ had suddenly been replaced with ‘pirate,’ that I realized this series was quickly nose-diving and resigned myself to give up on it, and instead, just play that one I had already bought the Da Vinci DLC for. So then I did, and I was pleasantly satisfied. The combat of AC2 was refined to allow more aggressive play in combat, the addition of light RPG elements in leveling up a squad of like-minded killers, and lots of worthwhile side content to keep one busy. The game could definitely look better, but the gameplay did more than make up for the technical problems. Also, the story still had intrigue back then. Now, in more recent entries, Ubisoft has pretty much all but abandoned the subplot regarding the first civilization and the future of humanity. I suspect that they’ll eventually bring that back up, but not until sales start tanking. For now, I think they’re content with cruising along with a very fluid sense of the word “assassin.”
– The Last of Us
This one is pretty much a gimme at this point. If you’ve played it, then you know why this is on my list. (It’s because homeless people are cute) I actually do plan on doing a full review of this one once I get my hands on the Remastered version on PS4. I can tell you right now that this is not a perfect game. In fact, I was kind of wondering what the hell was so special for most of the first act. But it did not fail to impress. So expect a critique of the game and its DLC in the unspecified future.
– Dead Space 2/3
Yeah, I’m aware that this is technically cheating and this is now a top 5 list, but the fact is I played these two games back-to-back and they’ve kind of blended in my memory now into one entity. The key thing to take away here is that the Dead Space games are quality horror titles. The third game catches a lot of flak for having a large portion of the game take place in open air, what with the snow planet and all. But it still had plenty of the dim, dark corridors and ambient noises you’d come to expect from the first two games. And the addition of customizable weapons was actually a well-implemented change to the framework. However, the co-op campaign left much to be desired. Overall, these games were fun and had me on the edge of my seat more than I thought they would. (Set the difficulty to the hardest possible for extreme levels of tension) Dead Space is one of the few things EA has done that I’m actually okay with. That’s saying something.
THE TOP 4 GAMES OF 2014 THAT ARE NOW IN MY BACKLOG
I’ve stated before that this year had not exactly been the best in terms of new game releases. There was a serious drought during the summer months, and many of the big name releases not attached to a company named Nintendo ended up being “meh” or worse. That doesn’t mean it was entirely barren however. These are the 4 games of 2014 I most look forward to playing.
– South Park: The Stick of Truth
It feels like anything Trey Parker and Matt Stone touch turns into comedic gold. I love the satirical, self-aware humor of the show and I have only heard good things regarding the writing in this game. Knowing that there’s stuff in this game so bad that Australia had to cut it out and have it replaced with a placid koala bear instead is just icing on the cake. Throw in the fact that I can make “Jew” my character class and consider that a copy sold. In fact, why haven’t I played this game yet? Why is this in my backlog?? Oh yeah,… money is still a thing. Damn. (If only I could get some of that precious Jew gold)
– Wolfenstein: The New Order
I’m pretty much the only person in my age demographic who has ever played the original Wolfenstein 3D. The franchise that had created the first person shooter has had a pretty rough time in recent years. The mediocre reboot, simply titled “Wolfenstein,” (because f**k continuity) was not the answer the series was looking for. The New Order had gotten positive reviews, though, and I’m genuinely glad about that. A game that doesn’t shoe horn in multiplayer and makes shooting Nazis in the head cool again is something the videogame world has been missing for a while.
– Alien: Isolation
This is probably the most polarizing game of the year. It seems as though everyone either thinks poorly or very highly of this game. And because of the debate, I’ve only felt like playing it more and more over time, just so I can finally have my own opinion on it. I want to be in that second group. I don’t generally want games to suck and I’m also a fan of the Alien franchise. (I actually liked Resurrection, too) After the s**tstorm that was Colonial Marines, I’m hoping the atmospheric, mano a xeno gameplay can deliver on the promise of a true Alien experience.
– The Evil Within
Yes, another horror game, and yes, another game that’s generated plenty of mixed feelings. I have never played through a Resident Evil game, nor do I intend to, but from what I can gather, The Evil Within is a lot like Resident Evil 4. That’s good news to me. I’ve not yet experienced a Shinji Mikami title, and like Metal Gear Solid, there’s just way too much catch-up involved for me to go back and play RE4. I’m expecting gore, horrific imagery, and stupid dialogue. As long as I get that, I think I could put up with gameplay that’ll punish me for playing stupid.