The Digital Fix Game of the Year Debate 2014 - Part One
In the ashes of 2014, what better time to look back on the year and reflect. It’s been a year of astronomical hype, titanic disappointment, pleasant surprises and expected disasters. We asked our writers to sum up their year in the only way that 2014 really deserves - bitingly cynical awards and one, genuine, Game of the Year each. Let us know if you agree in the comments below. Here’s part the first...
Lewis Brown, Head Honcho
5. OlliOlli (Vita)
4. Danganronpa 1 / 2 (Vita)
3. Soul Sacrifice Delta (Vita)
2. TxK (Vita)
1. Final Fantasy X / X2 (Vita)
Game of the Year: Final Fantasy X/X2 HD (Vita)
However excellent the game, it does feel a little sad giving a GOTY nod to something that originally came out over ten years ago now, but FFX was amazing then and it's amazing now. It's not quite a fine wine - Tidus will still prove to be the most annoying protagonist ever invented for many, and the game's supporting mechanics do feel as if they stumble is you aim for the 100%. But, we're talking about spending around a hundred hours to get to that point, and if you wish to simply drive through the narrative you'll be treated to a tight story set in a living world full of lore and backstory, just waiting for you to go poking around in. And, of course, FFX isn't even the entirety of the package - we got Final Fantasy X2 in the same box. Well, as a download anyway. With a re-invented combat system and plenty of new mechanics to lure you in, Spira will welcome you back and grab you once more. It doesn't matter when these games first came out - they've stood the test of time and now stand slightly fresher with a bit of sprucing.
The “So Infuriating That You Should Stop But You Just Can't” award: OlliOlli (Vita)
I hate skateboarding. It's stupid. Really very stupid. Even worse than when you get grownups on those undersized bikes 'pulling tricks' right next to total strangers. But OlliOlli is different. It's not about skateboarding, not really. It's about the hardcore past of gaming, where games didn't care for excuses. Where it didn't matter if you thought you hit the button in time, where you didn't get a second chance to go back and collect your souls and continue. BAM. Welcome to the beginning of the stage. Here's your bruised arse. Get up, brush yourself down, get ready to fail another 324 times. And, when you finally nail it and land a perfect run make sure you spend a full minute basking in your own glory before you move on to the next stage and start again.
Biggest let-down: Destiny (PS4)
It had the perfect set-up - Bungie, fresh from Halo, ready to show the rest of the console world that they weren't a one-franchise wonder. Activision, dripping in MMO experience, looking to launch a console cash-cow that could replicate the WoW success story. What could possibly go wrong? Well, as it turns out, everything except the gunplay. Empty worlds, server problems, endless grinds, the complete lack of story - in fact, in retrospect it came very close to becoming a SimCity style crash and burn. Many people have spent many hours in Destiny, chasing RNG loot drops, and slowly most of them have realised that Destiny has in fact taken the very worst elements of MMOs and riddled itself with them. Coupled with the developers falling over themselves and showing a lack of forward planning every time they release a major patch and you've got a product that you should count yourself lucky for if you managed to dodge it.
Luciano Howard, Reviews Editor
My top 5:
4. Wolfenstein: New Order
2. Dark Souls 2
1. TLOU: Left Behind
Game of the Year:: TLOU - Left Behind
Everyone knew how the game would play. It was DLC for 2013's stunner, The Last of Us. It didn't disappoint. But in the two hours or so we spent with these characters old and new, Naughty Dog delivered something perfect built within the structure laid down by the original game. The focus was on narrative, characterisation and innocent fun - away from the infected. It was gloriously fun, ever-so sweet and with a finish to top it all. Many will overlook it as it was such a brief sojourn early in the year, but nothing else can touch it in 2014. Left Behind is my game of the year.
My nearly-GOTY which misses out because it will forever be in the shadow of one of the medium's greatest: Dark Souls 2
It might not have had Miyazaki at the helm but Shibuya and Tanimura-san created a sequel which, whilst not reaching the highs of the original's wondrous masterpiece, was far and away the best game of 2014. I played it for over 100 hours over two months before finishing it. That was just my first run. It was a ginormous game. A wondrous game. A game which felt like Dark Souls and did everything you'd hope. It didn't have the geography of the first, nor quite the same level of mystique but it was everything else and more. Quite simply stunning. Dark Souls will always be the greater of the two but its successor is one of the most stunning games of 2014 in its own right.
Most Broken Game: Driveclub
Oh Evolution Studios. Oh Sony. This was your big exclusive for the PS4 in 2014. This was a chance to show you really get online gaming in the new world. This was the most broken game ever. We're nearly three months after release now; on version 1.09, and still it doesn't all work. No stats. The weather mode is here and outstanding; photo mode is more detailed than anything ever and the game has always been good. Now with challenges and clubs and everything online working, it's outstanding. It's a different game - some changes have been made to how it plays - but the fact it's still not working properly? Oh my. What confidence do we have in the nearly always online world from Sony? What of PlayStation Now? Oh dear.
The iD Award for FPS Brilliance: Wolfenstein: The New Order
Destiny was great but that's very new. Where the real FPS fun was to be had was with Wolfenstein. BJ Blazkowicz, sex, Nazis ruling over the world. All you had to do was shoot them down, enjoy the raucous ride and as a result will have experienced a wonderfully fun shooter, the likes of which hadn't been seen for quite some time.
Gareth Gallagher, AV Editor
As for my top five, it’d have to be:
5. Towerfall Ascension (If you haven't played this 4 player, you really need to make it happen)
3. Pro Evolution Soccer 2015
1. Shadow of Mordor
Digital Laxative of the Year Award: P.T.
Just when you thought it was safe to play horror games Guillermo Del Toro and Hideo Kojima delivered a truly uncomfortable and terrifying experience in P.T.. Emerging amid a shroud of mystery at Gamescom 2014, players hurried to download and play this oddity - not knowing that this was a thematic proof of concept for the new Silent Hill games. To call it unsettling is to undersell it and to call it terrifying is to explain around one tenth of the fear on display here. Turn the lights out, put your headphones on and have new pants on stand by. Prepare to be afraid of the dark again.
Actual GOTY: Shadow of Mordor
It says a lot about a game when you don’t even question it in your head that it should be your top pick of the year. It would be easy to attribute the praise for Shadow of Mordor based on the feeling that expectations were always going to be low for a Lord of the Rings game, but the truth is that Shadow of Mordor is a bucket-load of sword based fun. From the incredibly satisfying combat to the truly incredible Nemesis system, Shadow of Mordor delivers a package that not only entertains and re-invigorates the Lord of the Rings brand but it is the game for me that has made third-person games fun again. Bravo!