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Games of the Year 2014

I have created a text file every year since 2010 that lists every game I played that year and the order in which I enjoyed them. Now that my blog is operational and I started the #GamesOfTheYear tag in 2017 I felt it was time to look back at those text files and record them here for posterity.

I am going to attempt to not write too much about each game because otherwise it will take me weeks if not months to transcribe all of these text files. My goal is to write a simple one or two line description of the game and what I think I felt about it back when it was first played.

1. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

I keep my finger on the pulse of the video games industry so it is very rare for a game to surprise me as much as Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor did. I thought it would be a throwaway sandbox action game with a Lord of the Rings veneer but it is so much more than that. The Batman: Arkham style combat, the fluid movement and forgiving stealth mechanics, the story and voice acting, the varied side quests: they all add up to an incredibly solid game.

Add on top of that the ground breaking Nemesis system and you have the best game of 2014 and one of the best games of the last decade. Honestly, I'm amazed that in the almost four years since its release no one has attempted to copy it.

2. Dark Souls II

What can I say about Dark Souls II that hasn't already been said? If you like the gameplay of the Souls series then you will enjoy this game but if you don't like being repeatedly kicked in the nether regions you should probably play something else. I apparently loved being on the receiving end.

3. Titanfall

Titanfall is one of the most underrated shooters of the past decade. I think its gunplay is better than both Battlefield and Call of Duty and Respawn's push towards a faster paced, more mobile shooter moved the genre forward. Look at the FPS games that came out after it and you can all see them trying to steal some of Respawn's secret sauce.

4. Mario Kart 8

This is the 8th game in the Mario Kart franchise. What else can I say other than if you like kart racers and you liked the previous games you'll like this one. I especially enjoyed that you could play with your friends over the Internet. The first thing that came to mind when I realized I had to write about Mario Kart 8 were these two amazing videos (bullet holes, Bomb Baby Park) from playing with my friends.

5. Destiny

My gut reaction to seeing Destiny on this list was "how the hell did I rank this game so high?". While it is a mindless grindfest with absolutely no story and completely forgetful quests I do remember it being a ton of fun to play with friends. It was almost the video game equivalent of going to the bar after work. I have so many fond memories of running raids with the Twitch clan or the Nightfalls with friends who are back in Toronto. Destiny is an incredibly flawed game but at its core was something special.

6. Pokémon Alpha Sapphire

I will break my tradition of not remembering the Pokémon game I play this year because Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire is a remake of one of my favourite games of all-time, Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. There really isn't much to say beyond that unfortunately but sometimes being a faithful remake is all you need. The wheel doesn't always need to be reinvented.

7. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

Man this really was the year of sequels in large franchises wasn't it? Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is the fourth game in the venerable franchise and, I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but there really isn't much to say. It's a Smash Bros. game for fucks sake! Either you love it or hate it at this point.

8. Civilization: Beyond Earth

I have no idea why Civilization: Beyond Earth is this high up on the list. I remember playing one game that lasted for five hours and I couldn't figure out how to win. What the hell was I thinking?

9. Hearthstone

Hearthstone was one of the games I fell off the hardest in 2014. I started out thinking it was an incredibly fun collectible card game but then I started to encounter the pay-to-win decks and it slowly killed all interest I had. I considered throwing money at the problem to get some legendaries of my own but luckily I realized there was no end to this and I would be paying for packs forever.

This is why I am fan of living card games like Android: Netrunner because you're buying explicit cards not a chance to get the card you want.

10. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

I absolutely loved the single-player of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and I seemed to be the minority. The story was futuristic but so grounded in reality that it didn't feel comically over the top like most Call of Duty games. I completely bought Kevin Spacey's performance and even sympathized with him as the villain. Combine this with the standard Call of Duty gunplay, the varied exo suit abilities, amazing level design and you get a single-player campaign that had me totally hooked.

The most negative thing I could say would be that I played a single multiplayer match and then stopped playing altogether. It's funny to see how Call of Duty was the game I bought for the multiplayer every year and now that has completely stopped.

11. Transistor

Transistor is Supergiant Games' follow-up to Bastion which was my sleeper hit of 2011. I praised Bastion for the simplicity of its combat because you only had access to two weapons at a time. There was however a surprising amount of depth because of how the weapons could be upgraded to compliment one another.

In Transistor I feel the combat became needlessly complicated. The sheer number of combinations of your skills was intriguing to start but the majority of them were ultimately useless. I found myself experimenting with so many different builds but became frustrated because the majority of them were pointless. It felt like the game wanted you to be changing and experimenting with builds constantly but I don't think the developers really considered how players would feel when that happened so often.

Transistor also committed the cardinal sin of boss battles by introducing a completely new mechanic during it that rendered your playstyle absolutely moot. I had to stop and spend so much time experimenting with builds that were only useful for a specific boss and nowhere else in the entire game. The final boss is a worst offender of this where the rules of the game actually change during the battle.

When you combine all of these combat flaws with a sub-par story you get what I consider to be a disappointing sophomore effort from Supergiant.

12. World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor was my attempt to get Elsie into World of Warcraft. A couple of hours in a quest bugged out on her such that she couldn't complete it so we put the game down and never played it again.

13. Diablo III: Reaper of Souls

I was incredibly down on the original Diablo III and only gave the Reaper of Souls expansion a shot because Elsie wanted to play through it co-op. It is a serviceable dungeon crawler and the removal of the real money auction house from the original game did improve it greatly but I barely remember playing this expansion. I'm sure the loot drops gave me the dopamine spikes I was looking for while I played the game but the second we beat the final boss I had no urge to continue.

14. Dragon Age: Inquisition

What I remember most about Dragon Age: Inquisition was that I played the game for over a dozen hours and only visited two locations which both felt very bland. It was like I was playing a MMO that didn't yet have enough content to be interesting. I was wandering around these areas looking for juicy parts of the story and was getting pathetic fetch quests like get five pieces of meat for a butcher.

In an attempt to jog my memory about this game I started googling and found this article on how you need to get out of the Hinterlands (the second area of the game) as soon as possible because it is "the antithesis to everything that makes Inquisition great". Then why the fuck is it the second area of the game?!

It is sad to see how far Bioware has fallen from Dragon Age: Origins.

15. Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Halo: The Master Chief Collection is an absolutely great idea for a game that was marred by the technical execution. I have heard that in the 3+ years since its release it has been fixed so if you are looking to replay all of the games in the Halo series you should start here.

16. Bravely Default

The only thing I remember about Bravely Default was the the story of the game was being given out at a snails pace that one day I put my 3DS down and never picked it up again. Which is sad because I also remember really anticipating this game.

17. Octodad: Dadliest Catch

I am genuinely surprised that Octodad: Dadliest Catch was my worst game of 2014. I have fond memories of playing through the entire game with Elsie. I suspect the final level had some incredibly finicky puzzles that didn't play well with the controls of the game and I came out of it with a sour taste in my mouth.

2018 Reid would highly recommend Octodad: Dadliest Catch as a great co-op game for anyone.