Console Monster’s Games of 2014
Another year ends and before we look ahead to what is coming up in 2015 for us gamers, a bunch of us Monsters thought it would be good to look back over the past year and talk about each of our own favourite games in 2014, our Game of the Year if you will. So sit back, put the fire on, grab a beverage and let us indulge you with the finest games of 2014. Enjoy!
David W:Sunset Overdrive
I’m ashamed to admit that I very rarely finish games. My collection is full of titles in which I have only partly completed the campaign, so it takes something special to maintain my interest; something special like Sunset Overdrive.
Prior to its release, I had no interest in the open world third-person shooter. The trailers hadn’t done enough to convince me and I didn’t see the appeal. However, that all changed in November.
As part of Microsoft’s promotion to commemorate the anniversary of the Xbox One’s release, Sunset Overdrive was available to play in its entirety for 24 hours. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse and it wasn’t long before I was hooked.
The combination of the game’s humour, unique weaponry and explosive gameplay play makes for an intense and entertaining package. After all, there aren’t many games in which you can run along the side of a building whilst firing TNT teddy bears at monsters formed from energy drink.
However, it’s the game’s online mode, which provides the biggest thrills and spills. Chaos Squad (as it is known) consists of up to eight players, who are tasked with completing a series of objectives before killing off waves of enemies in an epic finale. It’s the best kind of mayhem.
Marty G:Forza Horizon 2
2014 wasn’t a classic year for video games; there have been quite a number of high profile broken games releases disappointing fans along the way, such as the Master Chief Collection, DriveClub and Assassin’s Creed Unity. However, there have still been the gems hidden in the mass of mud and these are my favourites.
Alien: Isolation is not a game I play with the lights turned off. It is a game with a very foreboding atmosphere, enhanced greatly by the fantastic mixture of sound effects and haunting music that perfectly pulls those feelings of fear and anxiety to the fore. Above all it was an Alien franchise game worth playing.
Games where the single player aspect is the focus seem to have taken a back seat recently, which is why Wolfenstein: The New Order was a welcome release. It had no multiplayer component at all, deciding instead to focus on the story of an alternate end to WWII where the Axis was victorious. This FPS also has great gun play and doesn’t pull punches on the difficulty settings.
The most enjoyable title of 2014 for me has been Forza Horizon 2, an open world driving game set across a small part of France and Italy with plenty of shiny, sleek and fast cars to drive at insane speeds on narrow roads simply to post up the top speed past all the road safety cameras you can find. There are over three hundred roads to drive on, over a hundred and sixty different championships to complete. It runs well despite being thirty FPS (let’s not go there). It was simply an enjoyable driving game that doesn’t meander down the grind for cash for cars path.
It’s taken a while for the new generation consoles to find their feet and there is still a way to go yet. For 2015 there are some promising games on the horizon. There is a glut of Nintendo WiiU releases breathing some much required life into the machine, such as the new Zelda game. PS4 will see No Man’s Sky which will either be gloriously spectacular or a huge let down and on Xbox One there will be Halo 5, which is already looking promising from the multiplayer beta. Fingers crossed for less buggy releases this year.
Justin O:Dark Souls II
Sadly, 2014 was a pretty bland year for gaming I must say. While it did have it’s fair share of great releases, such as Wolfenstein, The Evil Within, and Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, I have to say if one game shined a bit brighter than all the others, it would have to be Dark Souls II.
A game that brings with its insane difficulty, an enormous sense of accomplishment. I haven’t felt so satisfied with overcoming a challenge in a video game in years. I had some of the best times this year running through he dark halls of the game with a friend in co-op.
Dark Souls is a video game at it’s purest, and it doesn’t try to be anything more. That formula has created one of the most beloved franchises in recent memory. I must say, after playing for less than an hour I went from slightly interested, to full-blown addiction.
I can’t stress how excited I am for Bloodbourne next year, and of course Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has me drooling as well. Let’s hope 2015 packs more greatness and less disappointment.
Anthony B:Far Cry 4
With a new generation of consoles only just having their first birthday in 2014, we’re in the early stages where developers are still learning how to walk with the new hardware. Add to this the transition period where titles are restricted to last-generation technology and we have a year where it has been a bit of a mixed bag for us gamers.
Much to my surprise, it was a reboot of an old classic franchise that was my surprise of the year. Wolfenstein: The New Order stayed firmly in the single player camp, and it oozed the old classic FPS appeal. Although it wasn’t a classic of Half-Life proportions, it ticked many boxes that made it an enjoyable game throughout, and it just shows you don’t need multiplayer in your game.
It was going to be the last few months before I was able to play my Game of the Year in 2014. Far Cry 4 has clocked over 40 hours worth of my time and still counting, the game’s main story has only just been completed, much to my disappointment with the ending, yet I am still compelled to revisit the nooks and crannies of Kyrat in clearing the game’s map to OCD-like levels.
Like its previous release, Far Cry 4 just keeps on giving. It’s vast open world with variable terrain keeps the game looking and playing fresh. The Outpost events create a living puzzle, if you wish to take each down quietly, and taking to the skies in the tiny chopper just adds an additional layer of fun and exploration.
It is going to be interesting to see where the team takes the franchise next. I’d love to see a mix of urban and apocalyptic/Mad Max world. But then that is basically iD’s RAGE. Maybe in another two years we will find out soon enough.
2015 brings some really good looking games on my radar. Tom Clancy’s The Division is at the forefront of my attention, as is No Man’s Sky. Project Cars will have it’s release this year, finally, and we’ll see more (and hopefully the release) of Star Wars Battlefront too. Exciting times ahead!
Craig G:Forza Horizon 2
Off the bat I want to say that this year has been a great year for games and it has been a tough decision for my Game of the Year, notable titles like Murdered: Soul Suspect, Wolfenstein and Titanfall were some of my highlights and add the remastered titles of GTA V, Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Metro Redux gave me a headache in my choice, but in the end my Game of the Year goes to Forza Horizon 2. Just last week I reviewed the DLC of Storm Island, which I praised, and while I joined the Console Monster team in November I missed the opportunity to review the main game. I felt that above all the titles released in 2014, this game had all the ingredients for fun, longevity and long lasting online play that anyone can enjoy.
Forza Motorsport 5 was a good launch title for the Xbox One and when Forza Horizon 2 was announced around E3 I knew after thoroughly enjoying the original back in 2012 that PlayGround Games would make this game a hit, fantastic visuals alongside the simplicity of gameplay that doesn’t restrict you to playing a certain class of car in a championship. From the outset Microsoft released a demo a few weeks before launch which in all honesty was enough for quite a lot of people to buy into the game’s premise. A few of my friends only bought an Xbox One just because of Forza Horzion 2, and bundling the game with the Xbox One as a free title was genius. The game has over 150 championship events spanning over a huge European map with plenty of options to pick different classes, working your way to the Forza Horizon finale while on the way earning skill points to help boost XP which unlocks new Wristbands to unlock even more content. Spoiled for choice is an understatement, special one-off races where you go up against a train, hot air balloons and a fast plane and while I was playing I found I only just beat the train by a quarter of a second – plenty of adrenaline and that is not even playing online!
Online is quite fun, it is easy to join random events, race in plenty of road trips and you can get lost for hours and hours playing it. The only gripe I have with Forza Horizon 2 is the lack of respect while online. Destruction derby is a polite way of describing it. I advise turning off realistic damage, otherwise you will get hit and be stuck at the back of the pack. Much like Forza 5 the Drivatar returns and you get to race against your friends even when you are offline and the AI generated cars feature the driving style of your friends and for those that race against mine you will find out that winning comes at any cost. Aside from the racing the game has social elements to compare and encourage competition, when you go through a speed camera instantly your speed is tracked against your friends and that is a cool feature for me. XP boards, Travel Discount boards you can find around the map that help to make fast traveling cheaper. EVEN MORE content like the Bucket List pits you off in challenges to win a limited edition car that cannot be bought and Barn Finds contain some exclusive cars too.
A wealth of content for a racing game and no other racing title this year comes close to beating Forza Horizon 2 in my opinion. Pick this title up now, I assure you that it is a purchase well made.
I didn’t join the next-gen console club – one exists right? – until the start of December last year, so I didn’t think I’d be in a good position to judge a Game of the Year. However, having now bought an Xbox One, and had a month to play it, I’m very excited for the future of gaming. But before we jump to the future and using my month’s knowledge of current-gen gaming, here’s my 2014 Game of the Year.
Destiny! What a game. I loved Halo and there’s signs of Halo throughout Destiny yet it’s still different. I love the story structure and the way that it promotes online play even though it’s the main campaign of the game. Some levels definitely require assistance too, which I love as I prefer playing with friends online rather than alone within the AI. The levelling up system and the amount of customisable options are also enjoyable and allow every guardian to have their own unique look and feel. To top it off the multiplayer isn’t half bad either. In fact I prefer the multiplayer over Call of Duty’s multiplayer, albeit the latter hasn’t been the same since Modern Warfare. So there you have it, Destiny is my 2014 Game of the Year. Bring on 2015.
Sam F:Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
A year on, beyond the generation shift, and things have begun to resettle on the console gaming front. This generation has only ever truly had two characters in contention for the top spot and as Christmas loomed, Sony’s console war lead over Microsoft dwindled in the face of aggressive seasonal price cuts and varied cross promotion with particularly hyped titles.
There’s been controversy aplenty in 2014, what with the bloated, rotten cyber stench that was #gamergate refusing to find a corner of the internet dark and seedy enough to swallow it whole, never to return, not to mention some very cynical launch review goings on from Ubisoft and Warner Bros. It’s been a year to throw the games industry and the journalism that follows it into somewhat questionable standing, but it’d be a shame to let that fact distract from a year which also, particularly towards its climax, brought some wholly worthy titles to a console market that has long been wanting.
Alien Isolation deserves a mention, an absolutely splendid survival horror experience which both revitalised a sorely neglected IP and celebrated the soiling of underwear with utter aplomb. The sense of vulnerability, the frailty of our race in the face of the great unknown was underlined definitively and faith was restored for those bemoaning a triple-A industry beginning to look far too obsessed with big guns.
It was a stealthy, unassuming contender that really nailed its delivery, however.Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordorleapt into the fray with a relatively conservative dose of pomp and circumstance, delivering a stealth/combat action adventure deserved of the loudest of fanfares. A lore-rich dive into the appendices of J.R.R. Tolkien’s vast and all-consuming legendarium,Shadow of Mordor sketches an original tale that remains faithful to the source material whilst weaving a basket to carrythe best Middle-Earth based game I’ve yet played.
Distilling the finer points ofAssassin’s Creed style open-world adventuring and freerunning, together with the combat of theBatman Arkham games,Shadow of Mordor is a homage to both, as much as a challenge. The systems it offers are not new in and of themselves, and yet the way they are applied possesses an art all of its own, and has much to teach the two series from which it so clearly draws influence. Building these around the game’s innovative and somewhat groundbreaking Nemesis system, which governs a dynamic social hierarchy shaping the course of your Uruk-slaying, Monolith have wrought a work of genius here.
Full disclosure: I’m a sucker for anything even partly Tolkien-esque, so perhaps my GOTY was a given from the get go, but what’s on offer here is a hugely engaging, addictive romp through a rarely-playable game environment, a fantastic game to any gamer, as well as a fantastic adventure in Middle-Earth for fans of the fantasy master.
So that wraps up our pick of the games of 2014. Why not let us know what your game of the year 2014 is by leaving us yours in the comments below! Happy New Year to all our fellow Monsters! Thanks for sticking with us through 2014 and here is to another fine year in gaming.