2014 is nearly over and what better time than to list off our favourite titles of the last twelve months? While this year hasn’t been a real home run, it has seen its fair share of great games both big and small on all formats. We’ll kick things off by taking a look at the first two titles on our list…
10. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
It seems so weird to put a Call of Duty game in a list of the year’s best games, especially with the series seeing a continued decline in quality as of late. However Advanced Warfare surprised me. While I expected yet another unadventurous re-tread with plenty of guns and explosions, what I actually got was a surprisingly ambitious shooter that finally moved the series forward… with plenty of guns and explosions.
It finally feels like the series has made good use of its near-future setting by integrating them not only into a gripping (if slightly cliché) story but more importantly its gameplay. Enter the exo-suit, a top of the line body attachment that grants our soldier superhuman abilities. These include story-related actions such as climbing walls with magnets and disappearing with the invisibility cloak, but also skills that improve your overall manoeuvrability. Double jumps and air dodging breathe new life into this once stagnant franchise allowing for much more freedom and options in your gunplay both online and off.
Okay so it may still be another Call of Duty, but Advanced Warfare feels like a worthwhile one thanks to its fun, new gameplay ideas, solid campaign and impressive performances from stars Kevin Spacey and Troy Baker. This might just be the entry to bring departed fans back for one more fire fight.Of course a special mention has to go to Kevin Spacey for his excellent portrayal of the game’s main antagonist. Not only does he sell the hell out of the part but the added power behind the next generation consoles result in some of the best animation seen in the series to date.
9. Outlast: Whistle-Blower
Sony kicked off the year with a bang when it came to its PlayStation Plus offering with the release of horror title Outlast. While we’d seen a resurgence of the genre thanks to smaller games like Slender and Amnesia putting the focus back on fear and not action, Outlast raised the bar even further by delivering what felt like a true AAA horror experience.
Just when I’d wiped the sweat from my brow and breathed a sigh of relief that the terror was finally over, an expansion pack was announced – The Whistle-Blower. What could have easily fallen into the trap of feeling far too similar actually managed to deliver a more refined, better paced experience that addressed a lot of the issues I had with the original game. As mentioned the downloadable content had a much more fluid stride to it with far fewer lull moments. The story too felt far more fleshed out with what I thought was a far more satisfying ending – linking nicely with events from the original Outlast. Enemy variation had also been improved with sinister new stalkers chasing you at every turn. I don’t think I’ll ever quite over the image of what a character known only as “the Groom” does in the latter part of the tortuous adventure. I don’t want to spoil anything but let’s just say the memory will stick with you long after the end credits have rolled.
Usually I’m not one to go for downloadable content. Either it’s too similar, too expensive or simply a less impressive version of the original product. Whistle-Blower took me by surprise though, delivering a better experience that may well be the most shocking, striking and downright intense three or so hours I’ve played through all year.
Be sure to check out our later parts for the remaining eight best titles of 2014.