We asked some of our writers what their top 5 games of 2014 were, and have since compiled them into five parts. They will be released every two days, with each writers top 5 counting down through successive entries.
4) The Walking Dead-Season 2
While gamers could be forgiven for being a little trepidatious at the prospect of the Walking Dead series continuing without most of its main cast from the first volume, luckily those concerns turned out to be needless. The second season in Telltale’s zombie anthology focuses on Clementine, the most vulnerable of its cast of characters, and uses her vulnerability as the narrative crux of the plot. As many decisions are over her head, and some survivors view her alternatively as either a liability or something to be protected, Clementine’s point of view is a unique and engaging way to tell this story, a story that is arguably stronger than the one told in the first volume. (Mike Worby)
Originally billed as a next-gen launch title, Ubisoft’s Person of Interest- style hi-tech, sci-fi thriller finally launched nearly a year later. Leaving aside the controversy surrounding its alleged ‘dumbed down’ graphics, the finished product showed off the typical Ubisoft open-world game: big areas, lots of side-quests, even more collectibles. It was, as usual, just filled with too much to do.
But while the campaign may not have set the world alight, the multiplayer was wonderful. Borrowing elements of Demon Souls, Watch_Dogs allowed players to hack into other gamers’ worlds, tasked with various missions to carry out. Follow them, hack them, hide from them. All variations on a theme perhaps, but nothing quite beat that thrill of driving slowly behind someone who had no idea they were being followed, hacking their phone and then running off to crouch in a bush. The tension as the counter neared zero (always too slowly!) as they ran around blowing up cars and mowing down pedestrians to try and find their invader was incredible. Here’s hoping the inevitable sequel will bring some of that back into the main story. (Tariq Ashkanani)
4) South Park: The Stick of Truth
Perhaps the best video game adaptation of a television show ever, Stick of Truth is a delightful romp through South Park. There are tons of references to past episodes, Easter eggs, and of course all of our favorite characters. The whole story begins with you playing as the new kid in town. You have a mysterious power that requires your family to relocate to South Park and, after being ordered to make friends, you run into Butters and become tangled up in the age-old war between humans and elves for control of the Stick of Truth. The story is brilliant and the gameplay is amazing. If Cartman does anything right, it’s run a proper LARP. (Elizabeth Rico)
4) Far Cry 4
Far Cry 4 is from the “if it ain’t broke…” school of video game sequels; the best bits of the last game have been taken and expanded upon and many of the nagging issues have been ironed out. On the “ain’t broke” side there’s another vast open-world to navigate, another cartoonishly entertaining villain to contend with and more relentlessly vicious wildlife to watch out for. On the “fix it” side the menus have been streamlined, the graphics overhauled, and the annoying frat boy protagonists exorcised. The true star of Far Cry this time round is the mountain nation of Kyrat itself – a land filled with beautiful sights, danger around every corner, and seemingly, always something interesting happening. Firefights break out between royals and rebels, you can stumble upon hostage situations, or sometimes, an eagle will just swoop down and claw at you just to make sure you’re paying attention. An open world has rarely felt this unpredictable. (John Cal McCormick)
4) Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag– Freedom Cry
What makes some games great is not determined by quantifiable measures. Pixel density, motion capture rendering and other technological advances help immerse a player into the world of the game, but they themselves cannot be the sole aspect in which developers rest their laurels. Freedom Cry is a DLC from the highly successful Assassins Creed: Black Flag title, but what makes this game so unique is its ability to digitalize the conditions of human suffering. If games are to be taken as an expression of art, it must follow that this form of art must reflect the spectrum of human emotion. What Freedom Cry does well is that it incorporates an incentive based system of morality for player interaction with NPCs, being the paragon of virtue does lead to some upgrades but more and more I find an intrinsic sense of duty to help my fellow man from the harrowing experiences of slavery. No longer is the plot chained to the unrelatable dichotomy of Assassins and Templars, this main story connects with the average gamer by being about a simple stand against social injustice. (YZC)
4) NBA 2K14
At first NBA2k14 seemed absolutely identical to last years model, until I actually played it on a new-gen console. The graphics are amazing and the defense is better than ever, making it much more challenging both offensively and defensively. Obviously this late in the generation, the makers are focusing more on tweaking the game rather than completely rebuilding it from scratch, but those minor adjustments are significantly noticeable this time around. Sure the menus, rosters and dunks are the same, but the actual gameplay is taken to another level. The inclusion of FIBA teams, and the “LeBron James: Path of the Greatness” game mode are a big plus in what is, maybe, the best sports game ever made. Once more, the NBA basketball franchise reinvents itself. As far as sports games go, I’m not sure it can get any better than this. (Ricky D)