Game of the Year 2014: Part 3
Another year is coming to a close, and we at Press Play TV are ready to choose our favorite video games from the past 12 months. We’re so excited to jump back into the heated arguments about some of our favorite titles, because that just means there were a whole bunch of great games this year to talk about! Our lists for 2014 are filled with titles large and small, and it’s actually been pretty surprising which major categories have had two indies beat out everything else to face each other for the top spot. Our awards this year are a testament to how blurred the line between ‘independent’ and ‘AAA’ has become; we truly believe that decades from now everyone who played games in 2014 will be able to say ‘we were there’ when the industry had its renaissance. Without further ado, enjoy the next batch of categories for Press Play TV’s Game of the Year 2014 Awards!
We will be releasing five lists over the course of this week, each covering genres or facets of the games scene that we think are important to our industry, culminating with the final “Game of the Year” decision. With each ultimate choice, you can also see the individual choices of our three judges: Senior Producer Nick Hawryluk, and guest judges Chris Nagy and Peter Kendall from How Do I Jump. We’ve tried to be as fair as possible, but we don’t make any claims to have played every game that came out this year- we even have a category for the best ones we missed from last year’s awards! Plus, in the interest of transparency, you can also listen to our entire deliberations process in the embedded podcast below.Jump to another part of our Game of the Year 2014 series: Part 1 • Part 2 • Part 3 • Part 4 • Part 5
Shovel Knight truly is a masterpiece of modern platformer design. Able to evoke several old-school favorites without relying on them as crutches, this one was free to carve out its own special place with the best of ’em as an equal- not an eager little brother. The titular shovel played an interesting role in the game’s platforming as well: players were able to dig out spaces of dirt to find hidden challenge areas, break checkpoints for more difficulty, and Scrooge McDuck their way to victory by bouncing off enemies’ heads. We loved the discipline in this one’s design, with an introduction that allowed us to learn by doing, the way the best games taught their players before the rise of the tutorial pop-up screen. Because it made us feel like all the fading genre paradigms we knew and loved never went away, Shovel Knight is our Best Platformer of 2014!EDITORS’ PICKS: Chris: Shovel Knight Pete: Shovel Knight Nick: Titanfall
Look at the above image- is there anything else you really need to know about why David Young is amazing? The lovably deadpan hero of D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die emanated all the qualities we’d want in a SWERY65 character: he had an endearingly over-the-top Boston accent, he got really invested in the ritual of drinking his coffee and opening fortune cookies (pictured above), and he endured freaky supernatural events like they were the most normal things in the world. Arguments could be made for several of D4’s characters being the best of this year, but because we spent so much time in his head, we chose David Young as our Best New Character of 2014!EDITORS’ PICKS: Chris: David Young (D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die) Pete: Rhys & Fiona (Tales from the Borderlands) Nick: Fergus Reid (Wolfenstein: The New Order)
It’s no secret that Bioware tells a mean story. Dragon Age: Inquisition continued the developer’s tradition of keeping us engaged in their game’s world and characters in a big way, while expanding the universe in directions we didn’t expect to see. The plot in this one took the series’ scope to new heights, tasking players with controlling military and diplomatic missions on a macro scale, while still carrying out the typical solo questing in the wide world. The game started with a bang and, while it did take a considerable amount of time to complete, we never found ourselves bored of the rich tapestry it weaved. Dragon Age: Inquisition wins our award for Best Story of 2014!EDITORS’ PICKS: Chris: Dragon Age: Inquisition Pete: Five Nights at Freddy’s Nick: Wolfenstein: The New Order
Created as part of a seven-day first-person shooter game jam, GAME OF THE YEAR: 420BLAZEIT vs. xxXilluminatiXxx [wow/10 #rekt edition] Montage Parody The Game was a whirlwind from start to finish. This ten minute satirical romp had more hilarious and amazing stuff within any 30-second chunk of its gameplay than most games have in their entire campaigns. Equipped with your standard issue ‘Mountain Dew Ghetto Blasta,’ the objective in this game was to take out the Illuminati (enemies with 2D cutouts on their face) while consuming as much Mountain Dew and Doritos as possible. Each enemy would go down extremely easily when shot, and every time our hero gained a kill a random image or sound would start playing. Once he’d start on a spree, the images and sounds would just play on top of each other in a glorious cacophony of internet and video game culture. Because we don’t think there was a single second during GAME OF THE YEAR: 420BLAZEIT that we weren’t laughing, it’s our Funniest Game of 2014!EDITORS’ PICKS: Chris: Destiny Pete: South Park: The Stick of Truth Nick: GAME OF THE YEAR: 420BLAZEIT vs. xxXilluminatiXxx [wow/10 #rekt edition] Montage Parody The Game
With its incredibly complex ‘Nemesis System,’ Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was one of the best arguments for next-gen systems we’d ever seen. When the game released on PS4, Xbox One and PC, there had always been very quiet talks of last-gen versions. Though the public had been assured that these would be released, we had never seen images or videos of those mysterious incarnations. It eventually released to minimal fanfare, and to this day there is still almost no coverage of the Xbox 360 and PS3 editions. This game legitimately surprised me when Pete mentioned it on the deliberations podcast, and for that Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor for 360/PS3 wins our Wait… This Game Came Out? Award for 2014.EDITORS’ PICKS: Chris: Five Nights at Freddy’s 2 Pete: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (360/PS3) Nick: The Wolf Among Us Season 1
It takes a lot to get us into a real-time strategy game these days. There was just something about Planetary Annihilation that begged to be played. Maybe it was the ability to zoom all the way out from a ground-level view to a planet view to an entire galaxy-level view, or that there was no population cap so your army could grow to ungodly sizes. Maybe it was the fact that you could attach rockets to a planet and crash it into another planet. Yeah, you know what, it was probably that. In addition to some of the extremely impressive technical achievements and ridiculous set pieces though, this was an RTS that could hold its own with the big boys. Developed by industry veterans who worked on favorites like Total Annihilation and Supreme Commander, this one took micro and macro-managing to a whole new level. Suddenly, players had to worry about armies across planets, rushing to establish a galaxy-wide economy in as large a scale as possible. Everything about this game encouraged going big, and this made the battles absolutely epic. Because it’s an RTS on steroids in just about every way, Planetary Annihilation is our Best Strategy Game of 2014!EDITORS’ PICKS: Chris: Wasteland 2 Pete: This War of Mine Nick: Planetary Annihilation
GAME OF THE YEAR: 420BLAZEIT made several very loud statements about video games- ones that we’re glad to see the medium itself addressing. Among the slew of topics it tackled were livestreaming, the drop in video game difficulty, co-marketing deals, player choice, video game reviews, esports, and of course, montage videos. On the surface, this game did an amazing job actually putting you into one of those “360 no-scope” videos, where a bunch of obnoxious music and video effects would occur as soon as someone is killed in a spectacular way. We found it so interesting to continue peeling back the onion to find all its other little secrets hiding beneath the surface of this one. Because GAME OF THE YEAR: 420BLAZEIT put a mirror to our industry and made us laugh while doing it, it’s our Best Web Game of 2014!EDITORS’ PICKS: Chris: n/a Pete: n/a Nick: GAME OF THE YEAR: 420BLAZEIT vs. xxXilluminatiXxx [wow/10 #rekt edition] Montage Parody The Game
Since the rise of digital distribution, a troubling trend has grown in video games. Because it’s now so easy to simply issue a fix post-release, more and more games have been launching with major issues only to be patched later. Last year, Battlefield 4 and the new SimCity had rather embarrassing showings out of the gate, and then several of the most anticipated titles of 2014 had glaring problems with functionality- this epidemic shows no signs of slowing down! Assassin’s Creed Unity is a standout, with its horrifying “skeleton face” glitch (pictured above), in which characters would suddenly lose their head model and transform into a set of teeth and eyes. Halo: The Master Chief Collection, as of this article’s release, is still having huge issues with matchmaking functionality- almost nobody can connect to a game, and those who can have an experience hampered by strange glitches. The PlayStation 4’s flagship racer Driveclub, a game centered around online social hooks, launched with the online functionality completely unusable for most people! It really hurts us to see our industry showing such an ‘eh, we’ll fix it later’ mentality- all we want for Christmas this year is for developers to stop releasing broken games!EDITORS’ PICKS: Chris: Stop releasing broken games! Pete: Stop releasing broken games! Nick: Stop releasing broken games!
The Game of the Year 2014 Awards were judged by Press Play TV Senior Producer Nick Hawryluk with guests Chris Nagy and Peter Kendall from How Do I Jump. Don’t think we made the right choices in a category? Let us know what you think should have won in the comments below!Trophy from The Noun Project