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, starting today, with each writers top 5 counting down through successive entries.
5) Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
Even with the controversy of the title and its release model, it’s hard to argue against the quality of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. The graphics are some of the best ever seen, and serve handily as a showcase for the power of the new console generation. Moreover, the gameplay offers a staggering amount of depth, with literally dozens of ways to achieve the directives of your mission. While the plot can undoubtedly be a little self-serious, it does take the Metal Gear Solid mythos in a shocking new direction, and as an appetizer for next years Phantom Pain, Ground Zeroes serves as an engaging and enthralling precursor. (Mike Worby)
5) inFamous: Second Son
There is no doubt that a large chunk of Second Son’s success came from the fact there wasn’t a whole lot else to play on PS4 upon release (and if Dark Souls hadn’t kept this writer occupied for so much of this year, it likely wouldn’t even be on this list), so it’s hard to unequivocally recommend Sucker Punch’s next-gen debut. It can even be summed up in a single sentence: Infamous 2, but shinier. Although that’s not to say it isn’t a whole load of fun.
Introducing newcomer Delsin Rowe, players run, climb and fly across a pretty decent-sized Seattle, freeing districts from the control of enemy forces and gaining new powers as he goes. Movement – so important in open world superhero games such as this – is fast and fluid, with the focus on continually moving forward. Smoke abilities fire players up vents from ground level before shooting them out into the sky, and video powers (no, really) give Delsin virtual wings to soar above the buildings.
It’s nothing players haven’t seen before, but awkward choose-your-own-morality moments aside, it never feels too recycled. The steady trickle of powers, and the knowledge that the next ability is just a few collectible shards away, helps to keep things fresh. Plus, it’s bloody gorgeous too (at night the city comes to life, with neon signs reflecting off of puddles). For PS4 owners dismayed at Arkham Knight‘s delay, Second Son may fill that gap for the time being. (Tariq Ashkanani)
5) Never Alone
Never Alone’s strength lies in its atmospheric landscape. Players are sure to get lost in the beauty game as they trek through the snow, and many will find that standing still to listen to the soundscape tends to happen unconsciously. Folklore plays a large role in the Iñupiaq community and Never Alone captures the essence of oral history beautifully by asking a member of the Iñupiaq tribe to narrate the game in his native tongue, using animated pictographs meant to replicate ancient carvings where stories were recorded, and an adventure that is larger than life. Never Alone is a memorable experience, and one that I am glad I was able to participate in. (Elizabeth Rico)
5) inFamous: Second Son
In a year of big budget disappointments, inFamous: Second Son was probably the least disappointing among them. It wasn’t a revolution for the series or the genre, but then it wasn’t really hyped as such, and so more of the same meant that if you liked inFamous before, you’d probably like it now. Slightly repetitive gameplay and a laughably redundant moral choice system held it back from greatness, but flashy next-gen graphics and some genuinely fun superhero abilities made it worth the price of admission. Zipping around Seattle using neon-based superpowers is still one of the gaming highlights of 2014. (John Cal McCormick)
5) Five Nights at Freddy’s
Scott Cawthon delivers a riveting work that also breaks considerable new ground. Radically fresh and every bit as frightening, Five Nights at Freddy’s has a very simple setup: and somehow that simple premise turns it into an effective delivery mechanism for sparse, economic horror. The peculiar title plunges gamers into the nightmarish hellscape of a children’s entertainment center similar to Chuck E. Cheese’s, where animatronic animals entertain children during the daytime, and at night, come to life to terrorize their night security guard.
As the game progresses, it becomes unbearably tense. The tension just builds and never lets up, not even for a second. It doesn’t take long before an immense feeling of paranoia begins to slowly creep up and all you can do is literally wait. And that is what makes this game such a huge success: Five Nights at Freddy’s features some of the best jump scares of any other horror game or film to date, but it isn’t just a steady stream of jump scares. Freddy’s is a survival horror like no other. It has a different and unique way of bringing the thrills. You are completely immobile and defenseless, and so you can’t help but feel helpless in knowing something terrible can and will happen. Freddy’s is gripping, unsettling and truly horrific, and so much more than the gimmick that I initially feared. Even worse, the game is addictive because it’s so easy to play yet so hard to finish. It’s a heart-pounding trip through something that really shouldn’t work all that well. (Ricky D)