Twenty-Fifteen’s 2014 GOTY.

One of my favourite things about the Christmas period are the annual Game of the Year’ awards. Some people love ’em, others would rather see the concept of thrown into a fiery furnace for the rest of eternity. As someone who loves a good list, I embrace them. The more the merrier in My book, bring them on. My only problem with the whole thing is timing, I  think its too soon to decide on your favourite game of the previous year. I get the need to polish off the year with a conclusive ‘This is my favourite game of 20xx’, but being a 27-year-old with a job, I often find myself playing catch-up. 2014 was no different, and so halfway through 2015 I feel like I’m in a position to rate my favourite games of 2014. And here we go.

The Long-list

I made a list of all of game released in 2014 that I’ve played through (or a significant chunk of), and these are my favourite 12. The ones with the strike through the middle? Whilst I really enjoyed all of them, for whatever reason, they didn’t make the final cut. The other 5 make it through to my final round.. Exciting stuff no?

Monument Valley

Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea

The Last of Us: Remastered

Counterspy

Destiny

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

GTA V

Motorsport Manager

Bayonetta 2

Transistor 

Hitman GO

The Story of my Uncle

The Short-list

Destiny

27

Oh Bungee. What happened?

Destiny might be one of the most frustrating games released in recent years, it’s certainly one of the most divisive.  It looks, sounds and plays as well as anything else on the market, and its got a core game play loop that kept me invested for much longer than this sort of  game usually would, but behind the extravagant art and lush graphics, there are problems. For a start, Bungee for all their skill and experience forgot to make a game revolving around Loot and repetitive challenges rewarding. You might earn a super rare gun, but probably not. The story isn’t much better either, it leaves you with more questions than answers what little story they did bother to write, is hidden in a stupid mobile app.  The game charms and frustrates in equal measure, and yet, for all that frustration and disappointment; I couldn’t stop playing.

I’ve taken 9-10 months off from the game, skipped all of the expansion stuff and waited for them to fix the game, and with the release of The Taken King, I’m eagerly anticipating a change to throw myself head first into the game again. Now if only they could fix the match-making raid system.

GTA V5

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Grand Theft Auto is a series that has, for the most part, totally passed me by. I was too young to appreciate the top-down games of the PS1,  I didn’t own a PS2 to play Vice City or San Andreas and GTA 4 just didn’t interest me in the slightest. GTA 5 though is a different story. After waiting almost a year for a ‘Next-Gen Release’ my wish was granted, and I grabbed it on my PS4, and I’m glad I waited.

The game is a marvel and it kept me interested like only one other open-world game had before (Red Dead Redemption). The jump to next-gen didn’t hurt it either, it looks and sounds as good as almost anything I’ve ever played. The game itself is classic GTA, you drive, shoot and rob your way to earning larger and larger amounts of money; only with a few added twists. Three different protagonists? check. Interesting new Heist missions, Check, First Person view? Check.

Whilst I don’t believe it to be the pinnacle of gaming, it’s my favourite open-world game for some time, and bloody fun to boot.

The Last of Us Remastered

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I have a confession to make. I don’t think the Uncharted series is all that good. In fact, I think it’s all a little over-rated to be honest. The story lines are fun and all, but the game play isn’t fantastic and I find the base premise of loving a mass-murdering jewel thief to be a little…troubling. The Last of Us has a few of the same issues; Murder Rooms for one, but It earns a pass because of its story-telling. It tells a story that will with me for an awful long time. The game is chock full of some of the best story moments in games ever, from Ellie’s interaction with the Giraffes, to the harrowing scenes at the front of the film, the game paints a picture that I’ll not soon forget.

The same woes that plagued the Uncharted series for me don’t seem to annoy me as much here; darker tone perhaps? Everything feels a little more realistic. Sneaking through a series of dark halls whilst trying to avoid insta-death Clickers would be a pain in the ass in real life, why would making a shiv be as quick as pressing a button on a controller and walking through streets full of men hell-bent on murdering you? Yeah that’d probably be a pain in the ass.

Or maybe I’m being too generous? Either way I couldn’t put this game down, and I’ve got every intention of playing it again at some point with my Girlfriend sat next to me. So that she too can experience what is arguable the single greatest story in any game ever.

Counterspy

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What’s Counterspy I hear you say? Well its a small game that launched on the PS4 in 2014. You play as a Spy who’s mission is to stop the Soviets, and the US from blowing up the world. You do so by sneaking into military bases, stealthing your way through them and disarming a bomb or such. Simple no? Well yes, it’s not the most complicated game you’ll play, but the core game play loop is super-satisfying, and it’s not massively long; maybe 4-5 hours if you’re not rushing. The game also looks incredible on my large tv. It’s got this delightful Cold-War/Archer aesthetic that I hope we see a little more often. Give me a FPS in this style and I’ll give you my money for sure.

I don’t think enough people gave this game a chance. As of writing its available on iPad, PS4 and PSVita (not sure on Android), and If you can get it for less than £10 I’d fully recommend it. I’d love a sequel, but unfortunately I doubt we’ll see that any time soon, what with Sony forgetting how to make games ‘un all.

Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea

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I didn’t love Bioshock Infinite. I thought the game suffered from being a touch ‘up its own arse’; the gun-play was tedious, the storyline confusing and it got way too much credit for its so-called politics.

It’s expansion though, had me by the metaphorical balls from the word go. Maybe its a Rapture thing? Columbia is a beautiful enough locale, but it didn’t have the wonder and mystery that Rapture brings to the table, and that’s Buried At Sea’s biggest plus point. The first part was a little predictable, but it really kicks up through the gears as you enter Part II. Without giving too much away, it helps explain some of the events at the end of the main game, and does so in an interesting manner that I (for one) didn’t see coming.

It’s not perfect, but it finds its way onto my list.

And The Winner Is…..

I played over 25 years released in 2014. A good portion of them were totally forgettable, the ones that made this list aren’t that. I enjoyed all of them for one reason or another. The final 5 are games I’ll remember most fondly of all, and I’m sure I’ll revisit a few of them too (Counterspy, The Last of Us and Destiny for sure).

And so we’ve made it to the end of this totally perfunctory Game of the Year List from last year. At least I can remove this from my to-do list ( I genuinely have one with this very article on it).

Oh the winner? Read on.

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I hate myself for it, but I put an absolute tonne of time into Destiny, and for all its faults, I kept playing. It’s probably not the best game released last year, but I think I enjoyed my time with it more than any other, and for that Destiny is my 2014 Game of the Year.

Now I’m going to take a hot shower. Yuck.

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