Looking back on the previous year, we had a lot of great games to play. Sometimes it was difficult keeping up. In my book, that is a good problem to have. While there were many wonderful titles released over the last year, only 5 (plus an extra one) could make my “favorites of 2014” list. No game is perfect, and every game has its faults, but these are the games I had the most fun playing this past year.
1) inFAMOUS: Second Son
Continuing a tradition established in both the original inFAMOUS and the excellent inFAMOUS 2 on PS3, inFAMOUS: Second Son has a lot going for it. The story is good and the characters are interesting. Delsin Rowe may not be the most dynamic of protagonists, but his ability to absorb multiple powers, and the potential strategy behind swapping between them, adds a lot of flavor to the gameplay. The city of Seattle works well as the setting for the game, and it looks amazing. Even after playing through the game twice for both endings — and getting the platinum trophy (take that, Ben and Brent) — I still wanted more. Here's hoping we get it sooner rather than later.
The mere fact that Destiny is one of my favorite games of the year is significant, because I've never been a big fan of first-person shooters. I was initially drawn to Destiny because of its MMO-like features and Science Fiction theme, but the game has kept my interest with its great controls, fast-paced action, and immersive game world that Bungie has created. Say what you will about Destiny's story (or lack thereof), voice acting, or any number of other complaints we've heard about the game as of late, the fact remains that Destiny is just plain fun. Out of all the games I've played this year, Destiny is the game I keep coming back to, again and again. If Bungie continues updating this game with interesting and fun content, then I'll keep coming back for more, well into 2015 and beyond.
3) Super Smash Bros. Wii U
Perhaps the most highly anticipated Wii U game this year, the latest iteration of Nintendo’s critically acclaimed fighting series, Super Smash Bros., had some big shoes to fill. And for most people, it met or surpassed their expectations. The game has an impressive amount of content. The character roster is not only the biggest yet, but the most diverse overall. New fighters like Shulk (my favorite), Little Mac, Bowser Jr., and the often-requested Mega Man enter the fray with vastly different move sets, ready to suit any play style. The game’s inclusion on this list does come with a caveat, though; I have, at times, experienced some serious lag issues with online play. Other than that, the game delivers exactly what you'd expect from a Smash Bros. game, and more.
4) Mario Kart 8
As the newest installment of a beloved game franchise, I had high hopes for Mario Kart 8, and it did not disappoint. This iteration takes the best bits of previous Mario Kart games, and turns them upside down — quite literally! The addition of the anti-gravity mechanic makes for unique and well-designed tracks, and even makes the included retro tracks feel new again. The character roster leaves something to be desired (where are Diddy Kong and Dry Bones?), but the kart customization options allow you to create the perfect vehicle for your play style. The game looks beautiful in HD, running at 60 frames per second, and it plays smoothly whether you're playing local multiplayer or racing online (but don't bother with Battle Mode, because they ruined it). After playing the first-ever DLC pack, which included The Legend of Zelda's Link as a new racer, I have even higher hopes for what the future will bring to the Mario Kart universe.
5) Shovel Knight
Few indie games have been as highly praised as Shovel Knight, and for good reason; it's a retro gamer's dream come true. If I didn't know better, I could easily be convinced that Shovel Knight was a long-lost game from the 8-bit era that was recently discovered. Taking its cues from classic NES games that we all know and love — right down to its amazing soundtrack — Shovel Knight delivers fantastic gameplay, a significant challenge, and a healthy dose of humor. I look forward to seeing what developer Yacht Club Games does next!
See what we thought of Shovel Knight here!
Honorable Mention - South Park: The Stick of Truth
Licensed games have a rocky history, ranging from terrible to terrific. The Stick of Truth belongs in the terrific camp. The game exudes all of the brilliance, hilarity, and shock value that we have come to expect from South Park, and it feels like you are playing an actual episode of the show. The gameplay is reminiscent of classic turn-based fantasy RPGs, and, although the battle system isn't exceptionally deep, it was fun and interesting enough to keep me playing. The Stick of Truth is a must-play for any South Park fan.
Do you agree with my choices? What games are in your top five? Let us know in the comments, and stay tuned to Short Pause for more gaming news, reviews, podcasts, and more!
Ben Holt is the latest member of the Short Pause empire, a guitarist and amateur songwriter, and an all-around swell guy.