Best Games of 2014
It's been another incredibly busy year for video games. With the latest consoles now a few months deeper into their respective libraries, we've got even more games coming out at higher frequency, and it's often hard to keep up with what's new and good. Lucky for you, we're keeping tabs on the Best Games of 2014 all year long. Too often, titles released earlier in the year get forgotten when the new shinies come out, but we'll be here making sure you remember all the great games that arrived throughout 2014 with this continually updating list of the top games of year.
The tower defense genre will likely outlive us all, but that's okay as long as games like Defense Grid 2 keep getting made. With new twists on familiar mechanics, DG2 managed to invigorate our forgotten adoration of the genre. Coupled with its cooperative and competitive modes, as well as all those cool weapons, there was little that could pull us away from trying to set another high score. It's the perfect game to play when you need to unwind, or when you just feel like proving you've got a keener eye for strategy than a friend.
Whether you thought Destiny lived up to the hype or not, one thing is undenialbe--people can't stop playing. The story wasn't the greatest. The missions weren't incredibly memorable. The grind was intense, and the competitive multiplayer was eerily reminiscent of previous Bungie games. For some reason though, we keep playing in spite of all its flaws. So do so many others. It's because of that, we found it hard to deny Destiny a spot on our Best Games of 2014 list.
As the follow-up to one of 2012's most talked-about games, The Walking Dead, Season 2 had the unenviable job of living up to impossible standards. While a bit more uneven than the first season, Clementine's story was a dark journey for any person to take, let alone a young child. However, she (and we) persevered, living to tell the story of another day. For just how long remains to be seen, but we hope this was not the last we'll hear of Clementine trying to endure the zombie apocalypse.
When Square Enix announced it was bringing Hitman to mobile devices, no one expected the final product to resemble a pseud-board game about assassination. Hitman Go not only showed there was life for Agent 47 beyond the standard formula, but it also showed just how creative the team of developers behind the franchise could be given the right platform. Hitman Go is one of the most enjoyable Hitman games in a long time, not just because it plays well, but because it's so different from the norm.
For years, Civilization players had been stuck on Earth, reliving the evolution of society with the same old humans. This year, Firaxis shook things up, and took those same old humans to space, where they weren't so same and old any more. New strategies, new enemies, new technologies, new win conditions, and more importantly, new worlds to explore made Beyond Earth one of 2014's most addictive and interesting games. If you can pull yourself away from taking just one more turn, you're a better person than us. And a liar.
Respawn's first title out of the gate was meant to redefine shooters for the new generation of consoles, and to a degree, Titanfall did do just that in 2014. While some of the basic FPS caveats still applied, there were plenty of fresh ideas in Titanfall to make the Xbox One and PC exclusive a memorable affair. The action was fast. The shooting was sharp. And the mutiplayer? Well, that's all there is to do, so you better believe it delivers.
Supergiant Games' previously won plenty of gamers over with the stylish and addictive trappings of Bastion. When Transistor arrived earlier this year, the developer showed once again just how talented it was at creating not just exciting games, but memorable characters and worlds, too. It helps that the soundtrack is absolutely dynamite, but if the strategic action at the core of Transistor wasn't so strong, all that style would have went to waste.
How do you follow up the crazy success and popularity of Persona 3 and Persona 4? Why you combine the two in a dungeon crawler that brings out the best of both games. The wait for Persona 5 is made much more tolerable with the mash-up of characters previously resigned to mere fan-fiction. As expected, this Persona adventure won't be easy, but it's well worth the time and effort it will take to overcome all the monsters waiting for you in the dark.
Media Molecule may not have had a hand in LittleBigPlanet 3, but somehow, the quality of the series didn't falter one bit under Sumo Digital's hand. In fact, there are some that might say LBP 3 is the most complete game in the series, relying just as much on actual platforming and level design as any of the creative tools Media Molecule developed all those years ago. With new Sackpeople joining Sackboy, LittleBigPlanet 3 gave players more options than ever before, all while being completely compatible with everything that came before. It's a delight.
Threes may have been outshined in popularity by clones that simplified the genius of the number puzzler, but it certainly wasn't outmatched in quality or enjoyment at all. Still as addictive today as it was the day it dropped on iOS, Threes continues to be one of the most impressive mobile games we've played. The UI is spectacularly simple and gorgeous, and the "just one more game" factor for beating your (and your friends') top scores keeps us coming back time and again.
The big, bad witch is back, and this time she's got a brand new do. Along with her shortened hair came an even crazier game that was so chock full of smooth combat, remarkable graphics, and more outlandish monsters than you thought possible. Platinum Games delivered on everything fans had be hoping for in a sequel, and showed once again just why the developer has so man devout followers. If this is the last we see of Bayonetta, at least she went out on a high note.
For the first time in a few years, Call of Duty felt fresh and new, and Advanced Warfare reminded us of the franchise's best years. Though this entry isn't quite Modern Warfare 2, Sledgehammer's first solo act was action-packed, but more importantly, actually brought a slew of new elements to the fold. That's not even mentioning the multiplayer, which, in addition to being addictive, offers a wealth of changes and customization fans had been waiting to see for years.
No, you're not seeing double. Well, actually, you are. Super Smash Bros. was the game so nice, it made this countdown twice. However, there's a catch, as Nintendo released two versions of its popular fighter in 2014, and somehow, the portable version nearly lived up to the console version in every aspect. Though there are fewer stages and songs, the roster is just as complete and the fighting is just as deep.
Filled with more of the tried and true puzzling gameplay the series has been known for, Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy gave players one last hurrah with the smartest man in the world. It's tough to find fault in Layton's games, as each has provided a plethora of challenging new brain teasers that kept players on their toes. Even though The Azran Legacy will be Professor Layton's last solo adventure, we're glad the character got to go out on a high note.
Many developers have tried to craft a competent game based on the 'Alien' license, but few have been as successful as Creative Assembly. Capturing the look and feel of the original film was an incredible undertaking, but you factor in a Xenomorph with its own intelligence and easy to understand why Creative's efforts have been so celebrated. As terror-inducing as the material its based on, Alien: Isolation finally gave us the immersive nightmare we always wanted... right up until the Xeno caught us.
Even if you never read a Fables comic in your life, Telltale's The Wolf Among Us was still perfectly accessible. That's part of what made is such a strong game. The other parts? Well, we could start with the art direction, which invoked some serious new wave style, and then move to the story, which was a straight up pulp detective tale, with players caught smack in the middle. Top notch plotting, excellent cliffhangers, and terrific voice acting tie the whole package up. As one of Telltale's best, it's a sure fit amongst the rest of these stellar games.
When Wolfenstein: The New Order was announced, we wondered if the franchise had anything left to offer. Machine Games not only proved there was still life left in the series, but created arguably the best Wolfenstein game since the original arrived decades ago. Fast-paced, well-written, and a joy on the eyes, Machine Games' Wolfenstein is proof that in the right hands, even aged heroes are still awesome.
Say what you will about Nintendo's Wii U, a majority of the first-party titles have been spectacular fun so far. That's especially the case with Mario Kart 8. If the non-stop eye candy isn't enough to keep you invested, than the deep (for a Mario Kart) customization options will keep you hooked for hours. New versions of old courses make everything feel fresh again, and the added incentive of saving replays to show those amazing victories and crushing defeats is more than enough reason to fire up Mario Kart 8 with friends and family on the regular.
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc came out of nowhere to become one of 2014's best games. The murder mystery/'Survivor'/'Battle Royale'/horror/sci-fi mash-up works amazingly well, and the interactive trials and investigations at the core of Danganronpa are fun to play. Sure, it's quirky. Sure, it's very different from the average game. But those qualities are what make it so appealing. That it's also a good game is just icing on the cake.
Simple, beautiful and charming, Monument Valley combines the architecture of M.C. Escher with modern sensibilities and a fantasy realm. The puzzles aren't meant to make you scratch your head, but just look at the world through slightly different eyes. There are still a few, "Got it!" moments, which is good for a game so basic. Even the sad satisfaction of finishing off one location leads to the wonder of visiting another of Monument Valley's magnificent realms.
BioWare came back in a big way this year, and Dragon Age: Inquisition delivered in almost every way fans of the series could have hoped. The threat was greater and the companions were stronger. Epic doesn't begin to convey just how massive this fantasy RPG really is, and with a world bursting with activities and people to meet along your journey, you may never want to leave. That's the kind of game that earns commendation on our "Best of" list.
Capturing the challenge and enjoyment of an old school platformer, Shovel Knight was one of 2014's best retro-inspired games. The Metroidvania genre has seen many entries over the years, but few have had the wherewithal to actually take a trip back in time to recreate the look of a bygone era so masterfully. It certainly doesn't hurt that Shovel Knight is damn fun to play, either at home or on the go.
What happens when Blizzard adapts its addictive MMO World of Warcraft into an even more addictive collectible card game? You get Hearthstone, a free-to-play title that isn't just fun to play, it's necessary to play in order to live. Hearthstone is just that damn infectious. Easy-to-learn, hard-to-master, yadda yadda. Hearthstone is the digital CCG we've all been waiting for.
Missing the PlayStation 4 launch was probably the best thing that could have happened to Infamous: Second Son. Instead of being buried amongst a litany of end of the year releases, Second Son was allowed to shine on its own when it released in March. Brilliantly rendered, with great powers and solid character work, Second Son brought the franchise into the next generation terrifically. Sucker Punch's continued support has only made it an even more impressive package, and an easy front-runner for one of the Best Games of 2014.
After years of waiting for a proper sequel, Smash Bros. fans were treated to the most complete Smash Bros. experience Nintendo created to date. With a robust roster, deep game modes, more stages and music than ever before, and a larger, more reliable multiplayer component, there was not only something for everyone, but finally something for Wii U fans who've been desperate for quality games to enjoy to be excited about. It's easy to learn, it's fun with friends, and there's a shocking amount of depth to the combat for those willing to invest in it. Super Smash Bros. is just a darn good game.