Playing video-games this year was like riding a roller coaster. Every up was followed by a down, giving gamers whiplash and frustration (hopefully no vomiting). After countless trailers and demos, many games looked like fresh, mouth-watering donuts, sitting in the bakery display case, but turned out to be day-old bricks that shatter your teeth upon eating. Glitches and broken games was an unpleasant trend for this year. *Cough* “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” *Cough*.
But for every disappointment, there were titles that delivered, whether or not they had any hype.
These are the 10 best of 2014:
10. Watch Dogs
“Watch Dogs” was one of those games that came into the year with tons of hype. After impressive showings at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in 2012 and 2013, many people were excited to hack their way through the streets of Chicago. “Watch Dogs” was a breath of fresh air of an open-world game that could have easily been a cheap clone of “Grand Theft Auto.” The story is sometimes cliché but says a lot about the real world outside of the game—dealing with NSA spying and constant online connectivity. In a year full of over-hyped games, “Watch Dogs” was one of the few to deliver.
9. Octodad: Dadliest Catch
Who would have thought playing as an octopus would be so fun? “Octodad” follows an octopus masquerading as a human, living life with his wife and two kids. Yes, an octopus is married with kids and they have no idea he’s not human. But the goal is to prevent the world from discovering his true identity. The game is as absurd as it gets; packed full of slapstick comedy because of the controls. Each of his appendages are controlled with separate buttons, making movement its own joke, made funnier with every piece of the environment able to be knocked over or destroyed. “Octodad” gave a lot of laughs and heart in 2014.
8. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Blizzard Entertainment is known to many gamers as the creators of “World of Warcraft,” “StarCraft” and “Diablo,” so it was a surprise when the studio released a card-based strategy game. “Hearthstone” is full of many strategies during a match, but is one of the most accessible games there is. Anyone can understand the game after playing the tutorial. It consumes many hours. Each victory adds new cards to your deck, providing an edge to continue playing. But after hundreds of battles, the game is still just as satisfying. I can’t wait to spend more time playing this game when it comes to phones in 2015.
7. Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition.
“Guacamelee” was originally released last year only for PlayStation 3 and PS Vita but was re-released this year for next-gen systems with additional content. “Guacamelee” is a side-scrolling game where characters jump from platform to platform, similar to “Metroid” and “Castlevania” and focuses on a Mexican luchadore who can travel between the world of the living and dead to save the one he loves. The game has easy, wrestling based controls but is full of puzzles and bosses, making it a throwback to those similar games. No other game lets you give a chupacabra a pile driver.
6. Far Cry 4
“Far Cry 4” is the follow-up to one of the best games of 2012. It follows the formula of its predecessor by creating a gigantic, open and detailed world for players to explore. Instead of the islands of “Far Cry 3,” the fourth travels to the fictional Himalayan nation of Kyrat. Protagonist Arjay Ghale travels to the mountainous tundra to spread the ashes of his dead mother, who founded a revolution in the country, only to find the place in need of another. Kyrat’s terrain adds diversity to each mission. Players can storm through an outpost guns blazing or entice the native animals to enter and ravage the place. The diversity creates a unique experience for each player.
“Titanfall” is the best multiplayer shooter of the year, hands down. Featuring fully traversable environments and giant mechanical robots, “Titanfall” is a diamond in the rough of first-person shooters. Sprinting across rooftops, free-running along a billboard and then hijacking an enemy’s titan is one of the most satisfying experiences in a game. Even though there is no campaign, “Titanfall” is just as exhilarating since its release in March.
4. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
“Super Smash” cracks in as the most recent member of the countdown, launching on Nov. 21 for Wii U, aside from the version for the 3DS. The new eight-player battles of “Smash” make you re-evaluate your seating options, because you will only use the edge. Each fight is different from the last, even if classic characters like Mario, Yoshi and Donkey Kong are still present. Nintendo had a great 2014, as another one of their games will appear later.
3. South Park: The Stick of Truth
Most games licensed from movies or shows suck with just a few exceptions. One of those being “South Park: The Stick of Truth.” The game was delayed a full year from its March 2013 release date, worrying gamers and fans of the show. But because of the involvement of “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the game is designed just like an episode of the show. It is funny, gross and borderline offensive, but fans of the show will be pleased to know “Stick of Truth” brings the Colorado mountain town to life.
2. Mario Kart 8
Here it is, Nintendo’s next entry on the list. It was a close decision to pick between “Smash” and “Mario Kart” for the No. 2 spot, but I have a nostalgic affinity for the racing game. “Mario Kart 8” may be the eighth installment in the series, but it feels like a debut release. The track design is the best of the series, and the addition of antigravity portions create a new challenge for experienced racers. “Mario Kart 8” looks gorgeous but is more than just a pretty face. The game is the perfect mix of refinement and new ideas to the 22-year-old franchise.
1. Sunset Overdrive
The nine other games on this list are all very fun, but “Sunset Overdrive” beats them all in that category. “Sunset” was able to create inventive gameplay and combine it with a world that is just as fun. Players are given the reigns to the vibrant and colorful Sunset City with only two suggestions: don’t touch the ground and have fun. Everyone has played “the floor is lava” as a kid, and Sunset is that with more attitude and less rug burn. I used “fun” now five times in this short review because that is only word needed to describe “Sunset Overdrive.”