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T-Prime's Top 10 Games of 2014
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Sat, 10 Jan 2015 10:37:46

I could ramble, but I'll be pithy here: 2014 kinda sucked. I still enjoyed a large amount of what I played this past year, but as the year wound down I couldnt help but feel that 2012 was repeating itself: I struggled to even remember 10 games good enough to put on this list that I played and finished for the first time in 2014. It wasn't quite like what I did with RE6 in 2012, but it was close in the end. Last year I remember I had to actually cut quite a few games I enjoyed to trim the list to 10! But I've been churning these out every year for a decade now, so when I'm long dead and my ancestors take a look at these they'll at least admire my persistance. Nyaa

My usual rules: if I first played a game this year, it qualifies. It was a strange year: my PC is still old and I still don't have a PS4, XB1 or Wii U, so I had to make due with my PS3 backlog and my shiny new Vita to get through the nights. I have a strange feeling that I could skip a 2015 list: the last time I fell far enough behind the generational jump in 2007, I didn't enough make a 2008 list because there were only so many PS2, GC, DS and PSP games I could muster interest in with the PS3 and 360 lighting the world on fire. I don't really see that happening this time though, mostly 'cause of my physical backlog and the excellent-to-"ok why not"-offerings on PS Plus, so it's not like the well will run dry anytime soon (Calling it now: at least two games released in 2010 on my 2015 list). But hope springs eternal: I've put Super Nintendo games on my Top 10 list before (Super Metroid!). Anyway, on with it!

10 - PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale

I didn't grow up with a PS1 and my PS2 was my tertiary system, so I don't have a large amount of nostalgia for Sony's mascots. But even with a passing knowledge and appreciation of characters like PaRappa, Sweet Tooth, Jak, Ratchet and Sir Daniel, mixing them with enough PS2 and PS3-era characters like Kratos, Cole McGrath, Nathan Drake, Big Daddy, Dante, Raiden and Nariko into a wonderful, colorful, esoteric Smash Bros. rip-off left enough of an impression that several drab, monotone and depressing games got cut from this list. Color and fun are always important, even when I slog through an arcade mode 40 times to wring all the bronze trophies I can out of two versions of the same game, both which contain excellent controls, smooth graphics and seamless online cross-play between Vita and PS3. Totally still worth playing if you can deal with a fairly anemic story for each character and you haven't been massively spoiled by the obscene level of relativly pointless collectibles to be found in each edition of SSB.

9 - The Walking Dead, Season Two

Despite last year's proclamation, I really didn't know if more Walking Dead would make it onto my list this time around. It feels like a bit of a cop-out to admit The Walking Dead: Season Two is here only because I didn't play enough more-interesting games to fill out a better list, but to the game's credit it's still incredibly strong, surpassing the first "season" at many points and showing Clementine's evolution into the the craftiest pre-teen this infested hellscape has ever seen. It doesn't feel as fractured and strung-together as the first season did; there's no obvious reboot and multiple deaths (like Episode 3 of Season One) that let the writers start over when they realized hey hated where they were going. The five episodes feel more like a cohesive arc rather than five different stories that had to be strung together into one story. But for the higher quality of the writing in Season Two, much like the first series it falls apart towards the end but makes the gut-wrenching final decision feel a bit more natural than the end of Season One. I just wonder which of the two cliffhangers from the end of Episode 5 will become the canon starting point for Season Three. WinkWink

8 - Dead Nation

DN is a fairly decent top-down isometric shooter that probably 95% of its owners didn't pay for due to it being offered as a PS+ freebie across all three platforms it's appeared on. I frankly don't know if I'd ever given enough of a damn to try it if it hadn't been free, but I'm glad I (eventually) did 'cause no bad game can give me the "one more mission-oh wow is that the time-as man I think it's almost over" feeling. I've played it multiple times on both PS3 and Vita, trying my best to rack up trophies and leaderboard rankings, and overall it's fun in an early-2000's, after-school with a PS1 time wasting sense.

7 - Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational

So many great games released on PS Vita this year, plus the PS+ freebies I've picked up: Velocity 2X, Fez, Uncharted, Gravity Rush, Spelunky, The Binding of Isaac, etc. What did I spend umpteen hours and umpteen battery charges playing? Goddamn mother-effing Hot Shots Golf. My love for video game golf started with Mario Golf on Game Boy Color, continued with further MG iterations as the years went on, and when I bought my first PSP my first game was HSG: Open Tee. Here, many years and a new handheld later, Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational kept up the excellent design I'd grown accustomed to, even though the nostaligic, golf loving part of my brain clashed violently with the trophy-hunting part of my brain when I realized that a number of trophies require insane trick shots and grinding courses dozens of times. But I played both Open Tee games for what must've been hundreds of hours, so the golf side won that fight. And I'm glad it did, 'cause World Invitaional is a great entry in a great series.

6 - The Last of Us: Left Behind

I wasn't sure if I should include this as it's own entry since I had TLoU on last year's list, but I feel somewhat validated by Gamespot giving Left Behind their 2014 PS3 GOTY ('cause really, the pickings were rather slim and any reason to put The Last of Us on a list is a good reason).

Anyway, I also wanted to put this here to acknowledge that The Last of Us was a fantastic game in 2013 and after going back to it this year to get the Platinum trophy, I felt almost sorry that I ranked it only at #4 'cause it is so phenomenal. I seriously considered retconning my 2013 list. But I've stuck to my guns before and I'll continue to do so now as I channel my amazement of TLoU into my amazement at Left Behind, what is possibly the best piece of downloadable content ever released and is the best counter-argument to anyone who grouses about publishers nickel-and-diming gamers.

(Also, maybe, spoilers.)

The fact that you know the ending to Left Behind if you'd finished The Last of Us doesn't diminish the story's impact or make it any less vital to Ellie's character. It's one thing to hear her tell Joel about Riley, it's quite another to actually control Ellie across two time periods in two shopping malls, exploring the abandoned mall in the Boston QZ before she met Joel and Tess and another mall somewhere in snowy Colorado after Joel's impailing during their escape of ECU. The contrast between the two shows just how far Ellie had come from the middle of the summer to the beginning of winter, with the utter heartache and pain of losing Riley in the former scenario influencing how far she was willing to go to save Joel in the later part. The two sections intercut very well and never drag too long in either place, and TLoU's excellent core continues to shine with nary a bug or a cheap death that I couldn't fix with maybe one more arrow to one motherlover's head. The dialogue between Ellie and Riley had me laughing and smiling most of the way through, the arcade scene was incredible (and explained how Ellie even knew what an arcade machine was in the main game), the electronics store and costume shop moreso and the final chase with Riley and Ellie might be the most intense game sequence I played all year (again, despite knowing how it had to end). That chase also contrasts perfectly with Ellie having to fend off the waves of David's men who'd found the locked storefront in which she'd stashed an unconcious Joel: she had failed the person she cared for most once, she wasn't going to let it happen again, dammit. If you cared at all about The Last of Us, play Left Behind. It's short but incredibly sweet.


Watch Dogs almost feels like it was cranked out by an advanced computer program: the controls work perfectly well, the unique selling point of hacking the world draws me in well enough, the story is fun to follow but borders on taking itself too seriously, and the open world flows seamlessly with no loading times save for when you first pop the disc in. Say what you will about Ubisoft's sandbox-game blueprint, it works.

But much like many sandbox games I've played, I found myself grinding my teeth at it just a few too many times to rank it any higher. The story missions are fantastic when they take full advantage of Aiden's hacking "skills," but by pushing myself to get the platinum in this game I probably wore it out: too many side-quests are simply ramming someone off the road and then killing them, or racing between two points at an impossible speed unless you've spent 20 hours in the world already and know the map far too well. The story also falls a few rungs by the end, having characters convieniently change personality traits to suit the story beats, but in the end I'd recommend Watch Dogs. It's only because I did play it for so many hours that I found something to complain about, and even then it sits on top of a solid structure that plays extremely well. Heck, I'll play it again when I get a PS4.

4 - Beyond: Two Souls

"Supernatural Heavy Rain" was the best I could come up with when I first saw the trailer for Beyond: Two Souls a couple of years ago, and it pretty much lived up to that billing for better and worse. Mixing third-person movement and quick-time events with a gripping if somewhat off-the-rails story of growing up with supernatural abilities and using those abilities for both good and evil lets Beyond stand out in a crowded field.

As Jodie Holmes, you've been haunted your entire life by a spirit named Aiden. Aiden is bound to Jodie, and using him in gameplay is almost like an adventure game. As Jodie, she controls like Ethan, Madison, Scott and Norman from Heavy Rain; not quite the odd tank controls but not standard third-person either. She does the walking, the talking, the choosing from the many dialogue trees and the quicktime jumps during chases. As Aiden, you "click" on numerous objects to open doors, possess susceptible people, blow up buildings and fight off evil spirits s the story jumps back and forth throughout Jodie's life, all leading to a cataclysmic event that could change the entire world and was incredible the first three of the seven or eight times I played through it in order to see all the endings! (lol)

Frankly, "Supernatural Heavy Rain" is the best way to describe Beyond: Two Souls. It's better than I thought it would be, isn't quite as good as Heavy Rain and is definitely worth a look. You may hate it; a lot of people did. But I loved it.

3 - South Park: The Stick of Truth

I've never been the hugest South Park fan. I like it, but sometimes I laugh until I can't breathe and sometimes I shake my head at how dumb it can be. There's not a whole hell of a lot to say about it after all this time other than it works and is very good, an attitude that also applies to The Stick of Truth. But I'll try a bit harder than that.

As The New Kid (nicknamed and referred to in dialogue as "Douchebag" by Cartman and numerous others) you join the boys' town-wide game of Humans vs. Elves and their battle for The Stick of Truth, a twig Cartman found in his backyard. Numerous imaginary battles lead to property destruction and eventually give way to alien abduction, zombie goo, underpants gnomes, overzealous government agents, abortion clinics, snukes and a top-down 8-bit Canada all threatening to destroy the town itself while the adults remain blissfully unaware of what the hell is happening.

The Stick of Truth is Trey Parker and Matt Stone's best-ever South Park story layered on top of a Paper Mario game, from dodging attacks with careful timing, refilling your partner's health with food items, overly powerful attacks if you press a button at the exact right moment, crazily powerful weapons and abilities and NPC abilities that help you bypass obstacles in the overworld. The South Park fan service is top-notch as well, with side-quests to help Tweek's parents cook meth, help Jimbo and Ned to hunt down mythical game, help Mr. Hankey find his lost children and even hunt down numerous Chinpokomon figures. It's densely packed while lasting just long enough to make you want more after it's all over, and I did. Well done, Obsidian. It was quite a game.

2 - Assassin's Creed Rogue (& BH & REV & III & Black Flag & Liberation)

This entry gets a little weird, because 2014 was filled with so much AC that I wasn't sure how to include it. Try to stay with me.

It started when I became a little too obsessed with my PSN completion percentage ( I don't hunt every trophy or play every game to 100%, but I like keeping track of games I've never finished in order to really get my money and time's worth out of them. One E-ranked game that I finally decided to go back to was Assassin's Creed III. I got a handful of the MP trophies and decided to keep it on my desk, going back to it between other games and playing fairly frequently.

A few weeks later, almost in a haze, I pulled Assassin's Creed Brotherhood off of my shelf and started hunting for all the Borgia flags I'd neglected to find three years earlier. Just running around Ezio's Rome collecting flags was a very relaxing experience, plus it eventually snagged me a new bronze trophy. Nyaa I eventually found a boosting group to go after all of ACB's online trophies, still obtainable but fraught with annoyance and difficulty all these years after release. Via PSN chatting and Skype, a bunch of us got our hands on what I used to think was an un-obtainable Platinum trophy. Following that, most of them migrated to AC Revelations, which I finished in 2012. I still jumped in to play a bunch, but that was the epilogue to my boosting adventure; ACR's online was healthier and its MP trophies were far easier to get. I was the only one who kept going with ACIII, eventually getting its Platinum two weeks after Brotherhood's.

Mere weeks later I bought ACIV: Black Flag, but after only one chapter I hit my limit; I was "Assassin's Creed"-ed out and put the game down. Even after I bought a Vita and AC Liberation shortly thereafter I did the same; I couldn't pick up an AC game without putting it back down right away. (I've since gone back to Liberation.) And so it went until November.

Assassin's Creed Unity was lighting the world on fire (in a bad way) and I still hadn't acquired a PS4, but Ubisoft's consideration for people like me ended up with Assassin's Creed Rogue taking up a good chunk of time in my gaming life. Rogue was a breath of fresh air, most of which I later learned was present in Black Flag; the sailing combat, the plundering of ships, the seamless transition between sea and land during which the game becomes recognizable as Assassin's Creed again. It was fun. The main character, Irishman Shay Cormac, is a less-than-great Assassin in North America at the beginning of the Seven Years' War in the 1750s. He becomes disillusioned with the Assassins after the retrieval of a First Civilization artifact causes the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. Shay is the only one who feels responsible for the tens of thousands of deaths the Piece of Eden caused so he steals an important diary from a younger Achilles (Connor's mentor from AC3) and, after being left for dead, defects to the Templars, a group he never quite felt were his sworn enemies anyway.

Rogue's most unique element is that you see the Templar-Assassin war from the other side. Lacking its own multiplayer mode, Rogue integrates several MP elements like the compass and the whispers when an enemy is close in the single player so that Shay can fight back against and actively stop numerous assassination attempts on you throughout the game. In essence, in addition to being a fun adventure I am playing as that one jerk character I could never kill during all my time playing AC multiplayer, turning the tables on the righteous assassins for my own glory.

After plowing through everything Rogue had to offer and sending it back in the mail I put Black Flag back into my PS3, and I was ironically delighted to see that Rogue was a copy-paste of it. Same fighting, same sailing, same menus, same style of Abstergo challenges, etc. This eased me greatly into AC IV until the siren song of other games, coupled with more AC burnout, became too strong to resist. I'm currently about halfway through chapter 6, but I played enough to know I really like AC IV.

Finally came Assassin's Creed Liberation. Being the trophy junkie that I am, I purchased the HD version months ago when it was on sale for very little, and much as I did with Sound Shapes and PlayStation All-Stars I began to play both Vita and PS3 versions in sync, playing a few chapters in one version and learning their quirks before jumping into the other version to breeze through them the second time. The PS3 version feels better than the Vita version simply because the Vita version does what too many DS games circa 2005 did: makes you play too much with the unique hardware at the game's detriment. Having to hold the rear touchpad to pickpocket someone and needing to point the rear camera at a light source and then rorate the Vita to decode a secret map is just dumb, as is the token "multiplayer" mode than plays more like a F2P phone game.

So in the end, even though Rogue was the highlight, all of the AC games I played this year deserve recognition for being the awesome pieces of entertainment that they are. I still think the Templars are jerks, though. Sorry Shay.

1 - Fallout 3: GOTY Edition

Uh, what? Yes, it's a good thing I skipped 2008 as mentioned up top, 'cause it let me finally enjoy the fabulous and incredibly absorbing & time-sucking Fallout 3 in 2014.

I went over this quite a bit in my mind, 'cause even with my personal rule that I can list games regardless of year of release, I've given my personal GOTY to a game that hadn't come out in that year only once. So as I wrestled between giving the #1 spot to Watch Dogs, South Park or Assassin's Creed Rogue, Fallout 3 stayed right at the forefront of my mind as the funnest experience I had all year. And after finally sitting down to make my "games finished this year" list, it mentally floated to the top and stayed there as I banged this out. Firstly, it is extremely immersive; anything that makes me toss aside my obsessive trophy-hunting to say "f**k it, I just wanna look around a whole bunch" is remarkable, because I almost never have that feeling anymore, even if it did manage to eventualy poke its head into the room. I know it's been said before by many people, but it's such a joy that once you level up enough, you can completely ignore the critical path and walk from one end of the map to the other (collapsed rubble and bullshit cliff placement notwithstanding). The richness of the side stuff that you can completely miss is higher than the main content in numerous games I've played over the years.

Secondly, it makes me feel good that I haven't become so jaded that I couldn't appreciate a fine work of art just because it wasn't cutting edge and the latest thing. Does it play well, does it do what it set out to do and does it take me out of the experience for a dumb reason? No? Then it doesn't matter if it's from 2008, 2009, 2014 or 20XX. And since I own the red-box Game of the Year Edition, getting the Platinum didn't mean I was anywhere close to done. The five add-ons vary in quality, from the out of place Mothership Zeta to the interesting world history of Operation Anchorage, the frightening Pitt and creepy Point Lookout to the excellent epilogue of Brotherhood of Steel.

And thirdly, it's just a great game to play and get lost in. I've never been a Fallout fan and western RPGs aren't usually my cup of tea, but the game is gentle in letting someone who doesn't know what they're doing make mistakes and learn how the late 23rd century plays and behaves before pushing you out into the world at large. Find a decent gun and get the right people on your side and the world is yours for the taking, slowly but surely. Fight large mutants with the help of other friendly mutants, help people who then betray you only for you to straight-up murder them, convince your best childhood friend that you aren't actually a monster, drink radioactive water as a guinea pig for an off-kilter woman's survival guide, help a mutant tree "deity" free himself from the earth's grasp and maintain a house in a city built around a nuke complete with a witty robot butler. It stands head and shoulders above the rest of the stuff I played this year, therefore Fallout 3 is my Game of the Year for 2014.


And to think, if Fallout 3 impressed me this much last year, just imagine how I'll feel at the end of this year since starting Skyrim a couple of weeks ago. WinkWink 2015's gonna be good, baby.

Edited: Sat, 10 Jan 2015 10:45:57
Country: UN
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Sat, 10 Jan 2015 11:52:31
Yeah, as you say 2014 was kinda sucky outside of a few good exclusives.

A couple of your games are older than this year or re-releases too. Good to read this, nice writeup.

Country: UN
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Sat, 10 Jan 2015 20:30:34
Well yeah fallout 3 is better than anything that came out this year. Play new Vegas, it is even better. But make sure it is patched and fixed.
Country: AU
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Sun, 11 Jan 2015 01:16:23

Paper Mario? I definitely to play The Stick of Truth.

    A father's no shield
for his child.
We are like a lot of wild
spiders crying together,
but without tears.

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Sun, 11 Jan 2015 08:57:08

A really great summary, I wish everyone could put together something as good as that (Leo gets a nod here).

Did Beoynd come out this year? Man, that may be my GOTY if that is the case. You;ve reminded me to get Left Behind and Hots Shots Vita as well.  Thanks man!

Edited: Sun, 11 Jan 2015 09:34:35

: @gameunderphil

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Sun, 11 Jan 2015 11:32:33
WTF is that??

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Mon, 12 Jan 2015 09:56:28

@gamingeek Old games are my specialty. My lists usually have a majority of games from the current year, but this was a year of personal belt-tightening and backlog burning. I can foresee maybe getting a newer PC in 2015, so we'll see what next year's list looks like.

@Dvader I own New Vegas Complete Edition. Like with my AC playing, I played it for maybe two hours before putting it down for later. I'll return to it soon, I'm sure. I liked what I saw.

@Foolz Yeah, the gameplay is shamelessly like Paper Mario. A bit less tactical due to weapon mods costing nothing. You should be a South Park fan to get anything out of it.

@aspro Thanks for the kind words. WinkWink Beyond: Two Souls was an October 2013 release. I checked my PSN time stamps: I unlocked my first trophy on January 1, 2014. So it counts for my personal list. Nyaa

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Wed, 14 Jan 2015 10:32:19
Nice read man, thanks for sharing.


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Wed, 14 Jan 2015 11:02:47

I'm glad to know that someone else played The Stick of Truth besides me.

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