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. Let’s continue by now moving onto games number five, four and three…
5. Jackbox Party Pack
Technically five games but since it’s bundled together we’ll count it. This PC download took me by surprise toward the tail end of the year, with its extremely fun party-style games and inventive implementation of smart phones.
Fibbage and Drawful are the clear highlights of the package, the pair both relying heavily on the imagination (and often immaturity) of its audience.
Lying to your friends by claiming there’s a post office that’s actually underwater… Or maybe that’s true? That’s the beauty of Fibbage! You can never tell!
Attempting to draw an “Invisible Car” on your phone only to have your friends think it’s a “Shiny Car” or even “No Parking”.
You Don’t Know Jack meanwhile is a hilarious quiz game where simple questions are dissected and blended together with often amusing pop culture references.
When all is said and done though, this party pack has delivered the loudest, longest and outright best laughs of the year. It’s brought family and friends together alike, gamers and those who’ve never even held a control. Quite simply it’s the best collection of non-video game… video games.
4. Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
Personally I’m no fan of the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings so you can only imagine my surprise when I found myself having a great time with Shadow of Mordor. While the actual source material did nothing for me, the gameplay itself offered some rather interesting ideas that caught my attention.
Taking the Arkham series’ combat system, injecting a little Assassin’s Creed-style stealth and throwing it all into an impressive open world setting, Shadow of Mordor would be a decent adventure had it stopped there. What really sells this entire experience however, is its fantastic Nemesis System.
Taking on endless armies is made all the more memorable thanks to the leaders that command them. Not only does each offer their own unique look, personality, weaknesses and strengths but also remember previous encounters with you and even gain promotions over the course of your adventure.
Get taken down by a Captain and they may return ranked up as a Warchief. Burn an enemy badly in battle and they might show up later in your travels complete with scorch marks on their face. The chain of command is constantly changing, even when you’re not actively interacting with enemies. It’s these little touches that help Shadow of Mordor suddenly flourish from decent action adventure to something that demands your attention.
3. Bayonetta 2
I never got the chance to play Bayonetta on the Xbox 360 or PS3 back in 2010 (although after playing its sequel I definitely will be thanks to the double bundled Wii U version) – the character action game genre has never really grabbed me, button memorisation never being a particular strength of mine. Then I sat down and played through the game’s opening chapter, battling increasingly monstrous and ridiculous enemies atop fighter jets. My entire outlook changed.
Not only is the game easily accessible (a plus especially for me) but it’s astonishing to watch. Not just from a visual standpoint but also sheer spectacle. It’s hard to think of another game that has boasted this much scale (perhaps the Uncharted series?). Combat is fast, furious and brutal yet at the same time intimate. Veterans will master the moveset, making use of every combo and attack while newcomers like myself will enjoy the ride pulling off the occasional Matrix-style dodges and hammering on buttons.
The game is constantly surprising with so many glorious “Wow!” moments it’s tough to even begin to recall them all. While many see the Wii U as “old” hardware, games like Bayonetta 2 are proving Nintendo are capable of delivering these types of gorgeous, deep games. If you thought Platinum Games’ Wonderful 101 was crazy, you ain’t seen nothing yet!
Be sure to check out our last part for our top two titles of 2014.