Tag Archives: GOTY

The Everyone Wins Game Awards

I posted my top 6 games of 2014 yesterday, but felt remiss for not at least giving mentions to all of the other great (or not so great) games I’ve played that come out this year. So here are the awards I felt best suited to each of them.

Game I expected to be much funnier than it was
Broken Age
– I expected Tim Schafer’s newest game to be hilarious, but suspiciously few laughs were had. An exception is the vomiting tree, that was funny.

Best 14th installment in a franchise
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
– The best Call of Duty I’ve ever played. The only Call of Duty I’ve ever played.

Most avant gaaaaarde
D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die
– A game designed for the Kinect and released right after MS announced it was no longer needed. It involves a cat girl, a fashion designer who is in love with a mannequin, a time travelling detective with a bullet lodged in his brain, and food. Lots and lots of food.

Most pointless gear grind
Destiny
– Honestly, I’ve got nothing amusing to say, this game is just a bore that keeps people playing for better gear despite not actually enjoying most of the time they spend doing it.

Most puzzling use of rock, paper, scissors
Divinity: Original Sin
– In D:OS you get to play as two main characters, each with their own personalities. They may not always agree on your chosen course of action and settle disputes by playing rock, paper, scissors. It’s always fun to lose to yourself in an argument. If I were being less snarky, I’d also give this best old-school rpg of the year.

Best game that I didn’t actually like for the first 20 hours
Dragon Age: Inquisition
– Okay, I’m really done talking about The Hinterlands now.

Game that excels at making people curse angrily at their computers
Hearthstone
– Making a clutch move or getting the perfect draw is great. Except when it happens to your opponent. I actually quit Hearthstone in the summer when I realized it was making me curse more than smile.

Let’s adventure like it’s 1992
Heroine’s Quest
– This game looks and plays exactly like Quest for Glory 1, except with Norse mythology and a female lead. Do you want to be a hero?

The next generation remaster that got outshone by its own DLC
The Last of Us

– TLoU was good, but Left Behind was perfect.

Best party game
Mario Kart 8
– It’s fast (or slow, if you prefer), fun, and you get to sabotage your friends with red shells. What more could you want? Oh, I know what more I could want. A new Mario Party that doesn’t use any motion controls at all!

Worst game of the year
Moebius: Empire Rising
– Horrific character animations, stupid puzzle solutions, and an insulting 50 screen maze that only exists to bloat the playing time. This is not a good game.

Most likely to turn you into a newt
Murdered: Soul Suspect
– Did I say newt? I meant ghost. The way Murdered killed you right at the start and let you solve your own murder was a pretty cool idea.

An hour of my life I want back
Only If
– In the words of Steam user Dorgarr: “By no means is this a Puzzle Game, unless you like to play puzzles in the dark, with half of the pieces from five different jigsaws mixed into one, while a drunken philosophy dropout reads Plato’s “The Allegory of the Cave” backwards, in a room slowly filling with carbon monoxide.”

Most confounding way to beat a game
PT
– Beating PT is difficult, and I give major props to the people who figured it out themselves. Walk exactly 10 steps at midnight. Stop moving completely as your controller freaks the fuck out. Talk into the microphone (Leeeeeesaaaa). Hopefully babies will laugh. Hopefully the phone will ring.

Most innovative combat system
Revolution 60
– Part DDR, part QTE, Rev60 combined timing and slick visuals to create a touch-based combat system that was fast-paced and fun.

Don’t forget the Dramamine
Sunset Overdrive
– Sunset Overdrive is like the illegitimate love child of Tony Hawk, Frank West, and a 96-pack of Crayolas that you accidentally put in the clothes dryer. It’s bright and fun, but the constant spinning, sliding, jumping, and gliding does start messing with your equilibrium after a while.

Game that made me hate Wii controllers even more
Super Smash Brothers 
– I didn’t think it was possible, but this game takes everything I dislike about each of the WiiU controllers and magnifies them.

Most satisfying hit of nostalgia
The Tesla Effect
– I love the Tex Murphy series of games and though this Kickstarted game was a bit uneven in places, that good old Tex Murphy charm, humour, and puzzle solving made me feel like a teenager again. But in a good way.

Most disappointing ultimate weapon
Tomb Raider
– Lemme get this straight… my final bow upgrade is a sighted compound bow? Sure, compounds are more powerful, but in terms of visual badassery, they miss the mark. In what world is a (cheating) sighted compound bow cooler than an awesome recurve? Not my world.

Best voices
Transistor
– Between sword boyfriend and Ashley Barret’s haunting vocals over an already exceptional soundtrack, Transistor is even more enjoyable to listen to than it is to play.

Best use of Brahms
Valiant Hearts
– The car chase sequences were a highlight of Valiant Hearts, and all the speeding and swerving were set perfectly to Hungarian Dance No. 5.

Most beautiful location
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
– The visuals in this game put most others to shame. I’d love to take a walk around Red Creek Valley (minus all the murder).

Most disappointing sequel
The Walking Dead: Season 2
– After S1, I had high expectations, and unfortunately this game fell short. Though it was fun to play as Clementine, bad writing and character development in the last episodes of the game left me cold.

Best (only?) use of a Teddy Ruxpin doll
Wasteland 2
– Wasteland 2 is full of easter eggs and inside jokes to those who grew up in the 80s. I had one of those talking Teddy Ruxpin dolls, but I could never find a Grubby that worked.

And, a couple more special awards…

Comeback genre
Isometric RPG
– Thanks in large part to Kickstarter, 2014 saw a number of great Isometric RPGs released – Divinity, Wasteland 2, Shadowrun Returns: Dragonfall. It looks like the genre will still be going strong in the next couple years as well with Pillars of Eternity and Torment: Tides of Numenera in development.

Thing that needs to go away
Game titles with colons
– If you need a 12 world title with a colon and subtitle, maybe you should just start making new games, rather than new installments of old ones.

Trope that needs a leave of absence for 2015
The dead wife/daughter/sister/family
– Let’s try some new ideas to give your protagonist emotional baggage. Many things can cause emotional trauma, I promise.

What games need more of in 2015
Diversity!
– Give me new characters, from different places, with different backgrounds. Give me stories I haven’t heard too many times before.

*For more Listmas2104, go to United We Game*

Best Games of 2014

It’s that time of year when everyone writes about the best games of the year, and thought I’d add my 2 cents. This list feels a bit disingenuous since I currently own or want a number of 2014 releases that I just haven’t had time to get to yet, but I can only play so many games in a single year!

I think 2014 has gotten a lot of flack, as many consider it a weak year for gaming. I disagree. The beginning of the year was a bit weak – the PS4 and XBox One had just come out, and there are always growing pains and a lack of games to play on brand new systems. Also, a number of games that came out this year were remasters of games that had come out over the last couple years as well. But as we got closer to the middle and end of the year, a number of real heavy hitters started getting released, and I think the year ended on a good note.

So here are my top 6 games released in 2014.

Tomb Raider

I struggled with giving a best of 2014 award to a game that actually came out in 2013 and only got a remaster in 2014, but Tomb Raider was so much fun that I just can’t resist. Crystal Dynamics rebooted the Tomb Raider franchise with aplomb. We got a Lara Croft origin story that was thrilling and Lara herself got her best makeover ever. I’ve written about all the things I felt Tomb Raider did right from a feminist perspective but, when it comes down to it, Tomb Raider takes one of the top spots because it was just so much fun to play. Set pieces and quick time events sent my heart racing. I flinched each time Lara took a blow. Gameplay was fast and smooth with super slick controls. Taking out enemies with my bow, traversing rock faces, swinging down ziplines, all felt so natural. The controls  were so impeccable they actually ruined a number of other PS4 action-adventure games for me. I just couldn’t get into AC: Black Flag and Infamous: Second Son – where the characters moved oddly in comparison. I had to fight the controls to get Edward or Delsin to do what I wanted, whereas Tomb Raider made Lara feel like an extension of myself.

Valiant Hearts: the Great War

2014 was not a great year for Ubisoft’s big releases. However, in June Ubisoft Mountpellier put out a lovely puzzle adventure about love, survival, and sacrifice during World War One. The game puts you in the shoes of four different characters whose lives have been intertwined in strange and sometimes heartbreaking ways by the war. Though the game contains no dialogue, I always knew what each character was feeling, in part due to the excellent animation and music. Games often put us into the role of soldiers, but not many do it like this. Valiant Hearts is not a power fantasy, but a history lesson and an experience that makes us question war from an emotional and philosophical standpoint. It was really refreshing to see war from from a non-American view, as the whole game takes place in the period before America joined the war effort. It did make me tear up a few times, most notably during the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

Valiant Hearts - The Great WarMechanically the game is very enjoyable as well. Gameplay is quite varied, yet still manages to fit into the context of the story. It covers everything from operating machinery to turn off chlorine gas pipes, timing-based movement to sneak between enemy patrols, rhythm based medical procedures, and car chases set to amazing orchestral music. A number of the puzzles involve Walt, a casualty dog, who can help to fetch items from tight places and find injured soldiers. And who doesn’t love games with dogs?

Valiant Hearts is one of those rare games that combine both fun gameplay and a meaningful story to give a great gaming experience.

The Last of Us: Left Behind

Left Behind is not really a game on its own, but DLC for The Last of Us. Regardless of this, it’s an amazing experience that deserves a place on game of the year lists. It was great to step into Ellie’s shoes and see her past, as well as expand upon the Winter chapter of The Last of Us. Left Behind is a perfect 2-hour gaming experience that did everything the main game did, but did it better. The pacing is perfect, the dialogue is endearing and on point. It’s not as action-heavy, but it wastes no time – every scene matters. My emotions ran the gamut while playing this, from pure joy to absolute heartache.

PT

I don’t play a lot of horror games, but PT showed me how great they can be. Though it’s really just a playable demo for the new Silent Hills game, it was one of my best gaming experiences of the year. PT created a taut, terrifying experience that delivered not just jump scares, but a truly unsettling environment and disturbing audio and visuals and wormed their way into my psyche. Perhaps it was partly the context of playing the game (I was with great company and a couple bottles of bubbly), but PT managed to keep me so engrossed and curious for more that I played it 3 times in a row. The fact that each playthrough was subtly different was just the icing on the horribly creepy cake.

PT hallwayI think PT was more successful as its own game than it was as a trailer. While PT was exceptional, I don’t have a lot of faith that a horror game can be 12 hours long with more involved gameplay and still be as compelling as this was.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

This was one of the few games whose development I followed closely before it was released, and I’m glad to say it did not disappoint. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a narrative experience that does not hold your hand, and is a refreshing take on the weird horror genre. It’s also one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever played, with photorealistic environments that put many AAA games to shame, and a gorgeous and moody soundtrack. Ethan Carter is a murder mystery that hints towards a greater darkness. It lets you explore the beautiful world and solve puzzles at your own pace, while still managing to maintain tension throughout its whole 4-5 hour playtime.

Dragon Age: INQUISITION

Four of the previous games on this list are there at least in part due to their short playtimes, which created a tight and well-paced experience. Dragon Age: Inquisition is the complete opposite of those. To be honest, the pacing of the game’s first 10-20 hours was complete shit. However, the game more than makes up for it with its huge, deep, engaging story, wonderfully written dialogue, and sheer enormity of the world. While the size of the game can be a bit overwhelming, this installment of Dragon Age had a sense of place and a real, living world like no other. Once I hit a certain part in the story (which I could have reached way earlier if I had just left the fracking Hinterlands), I was completely enthralled and immersed in the world. The characters, from those in my party, to my advisers, to the people hanging around Skyhold all felt like real people, who I wanted to talk to and learn about. The addition of the War Table made me feel like I was the actual head of an army, who had to make decisions and delegate, rather than a lone adventurer who needed to personally slay every demon and settle every petty dispute myself. I sunk a good 200 hours into this game, and besides those initial 10 or so, I loved every minute of it.


 

Those are my games of the year, what are yours?