2014 Gaming Crests

I remembered doing this last year, I guess it means that I have to do one this year as well.

At some point it becomes more of a symbolic event that signals the end of the year than anything else. Time splits have never truly bothered me that much, except for the weather that’s literally the spinning wheel of death and utter confusion that I’m living in right now.

Enough talk. Let’s get to this thing. Once again we’ll have categories and winners. There are no nominations, since I’m but one man. There is only one rule: all the game on this list I had personally played at some capacity at some point or another. Now, of course, determining whether a game is 2014 or not can be odd at times. Things like episodic releases, re-releases, cross-platform releases, and even localisation (or better yet internationalisation) of certain games may make the eligible for this award show. Just take it and leave it.

* Best linear action game: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

This one was easy. I didn’t play Dark Souls, nor do I ever plan to, so there was really not much of a contest in this department except for Platinum’s ‘Bayonetta 2’. Problem is I also don’t own a Wii U. From things that I have actually played, Legend of Korra (the gameplay only) and Transistor stood out the most. However, in the action department neither could truly compare to MGR:R. I suppose what I’m saying is as far as 3rd-person hack and slash game is concerned, Platinum is really, really good at it.

* Best open-world action game: Middle Earth – Shadow of Mordor

Honestly speaking, this is a terrible category. The reason it’s a terrible category is because this was where most of the AAA games in the year was thrown into (at least those that actually came out on PC). Every Assassin’s Creed game was terrible. Far Cry 4 was barely even playable on release. Watch Dogs was actually so insanely bad that I could not even fathom its existence. Also, I haven’t played GTA V yet (because it’s not out on PC yet), so there you are. ME:SOM is a game with many flaws. It’s far too easy, its world is boring, and it’s a proof that Western game can never do bossfights again. However, the Nemesis system that was introduced in the game was extremely fleshed out and well done, and it actually put players in a string of a timeline that seem to have significance. It’s a fake significance, but it was a very good try.

* Best adventure game: The Wolf Among Us

I counted both The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead as 2014 release, as well as Broken Age Act 1 (since it’s apparently separated now). Frankly, a lot of the games in this category couldn’t get the recognition they deserved, but they were all actually quite nice. This was one of the closer category, but Telltale’s writing eventually won me over. The reason why I didn’t like TWD2 as much was because of how skewed the storyline became after the 3rd episode or so. I was never someone who fussed about ‘choice’ in video games or things like that, since it had to all exist under pre-determined scenarios anyway. Overall, I feel the second season was weaker than the first, but it was still a good game. Other notable games in this category include Valiant Hearts: The Great War, Murdered: Soul Suspect, and Gods Will Be Watching. They’re all good enough to warrant a recommendation at the very least.

* Best FPS: Wolfenstein – The New Order

The game was good, what can I say? Crisp movements, tight controls and great PC version meant that it’ll be really hard to press for anything more from an FPS. To my surprise, the new CoD was also rather pleasantly positive, though it wasn’t enough to make me desire any more after I’ve finished. Others like Sniper Elite 3, and that other game whose name I can’t remember, are really just too generic for me to pay particular attention to. FPS games have been trying to shoehorn a decent story in since forever, but it hasn’t been done well yet, unless it’s sacrificing mechanics to do so (Specs Ops: The Line is that one).

* Best survival horror: Alien: Isolation

Few things can beat production quality of a decent survival horror game. It’s also nice to know that it’s truly survival horror, not action games with zombies/monsters/ghosts and guns. You have to have atmosphere, presentation and the willingness to kill players. There weren’t many of that this year.

* Best MMO: This will never happen.

* Best platformer: Shovel Knight

The game was annoying, but it was fine for people who aren’t terrible at it. I sucked at it but I still wanted to play it regardless. At the end of the day it’s an old concept that’s made for people looking for the same fun, and it has a lot more depth than other more ‘experimental’ platforming games out there. It gets my vote due to solid presentation, a good sense of direction and mechanics.

* Best RPG: Dragon Age – Inquisition

Well here I am again. I hated the fact that I put DA:I on the awards list, because it’s not a good sequel still. It’s a game full of problems, padded content, neo-BioWare writing, canned animations and terrible PC interface. There weren’t a lot of competition though, at times due to sheer production value and other through personality. Divinity: Original Sin was also good, but ultimately gotten boring very quickly. Same thing with Wasteland 2, the game lacked too much character. South Park is South Park. I don’t like South Park. If you do, you’ll like the game, so check it out in that case.

* Best simulation game: The Sims 4

I could almost hear the groans from the other side of the screen. Here’s the truth: I love Sims 4. Would I pay $70 dollars for it? No way in hell. Would I pay $30 for it? Yes, and I did. I’ve been an avid fan of the Sims series for what seems like a good 12 years now. Up until earlier this year, I could be spotted playing a fully modded out Sims 2 still. This is because despite having a Gtx 770 i5-4670k computer, my rig could still not run Sims 3 with expansions at a decent framerate to save its life. Even Sims 2 suffered terrible optimisation problem, since it had too much content and was made for hardware that’s 7 years old. When I picked up Sims 4, the first thing I noticed was how seamless mods are integrated into the experience, as well as how smooth it ran. I actually loved it. Yes, there are a lot of content missing compared to the state I could buy Sims 3 in, but what’s the point of I can’t even run it at an acceptable frame rate?

* Best handheld game: Danganronpa series

Yes, I know that this game has been released for the PSP a long time ago, but this was the first year they’ve made it outside Japan, and that means something. The two games are very similar, so it’s pointless trying to separate them. Twists and turn you could find in 100+ hours of investment in both games, and honestly if you’re into this semi-grinding min-max Japanese game then this is exactly what I’d recommend. Speaking of semi-grinding min-max Japanese game, the Pokemon installations of this year (as was last year) were terribly disappointing, so that’s why they’re not here. Games like Freedom Wars, Velocity 2x, and such were nice, but none of them seemed like an experience I couldn’t get on my PC instead. Thus, Dangaronpa gets the vote.

* Best indie game: This War of Mine

Ah yes. This could also have gotten into the ‘survival games’ part but I want it to be here instead. Indie games are more often than not unrestricted. I do appreciate that. Last year we had Papers Please, and this year we have This war of mine. This is the first time I’ve seen war survival done quite like this, and for that novelty alone it’s a serious consideration. More than that the game’s being constantly updated, and it’s only $15 dollars of content. However you slice it, I suggest you give it a try.

* Best casual game: Hearthstone

I’ve seen far too much time on this game (before it became boring and inaccessible at least). To be perfectly fair I’ve not played Hearthstone in a while, but for the first half of the year where I did it was a nice experience. I enjoyed watching the budding competitive scene, tryhards, dramas, complaints of RNG and so much more. It was very fun. Not anymore, because I’ve already burnt out of the game and can’t be bothered to collect cards to keep up with the game anymore. With that said, if you’re someone who likes to play an approachable CCG and have just a little bit more money than sense, then Hearthstone is the game for you.

* Best sound & Art Direction:  Transistor

Transistor itself was a bit of a mechanical mess, plagued with unfair difficulty spikes and a generally unbalanced control schemes. However, it had a an amazingly hand-drawn world and environment, as well as a soundtrack made by Darren Korb. As such, it’s amazing, and honestly there’s very few contest. It’s not about these pieces in isolation, of course, instead how the music shaped the atmosphere and the story, as well as blending into the gameplay. There’s a lot to say, but you should just go listen to it instead. MGR:R above also has a very excellent soundtrack if you’re more into that kind of genre.

Well that’s kind of it. I don’t have to write anything more than I already have and I trust no one really cares about my opinion anyways. Thus, it’s time to say goodbye to 2014, and give a quick nod to next year.

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