Best of 2014 – Day One: PS3, 360, PSV, 3DS

Over the next ten days, Hardcore Gamer will be revealing its Best of 2014 Awards leading up to our Game of the Year. Today we present you with the Best of Xbox 360, PS3, PS Vita and 3DS:

Best Xbox 360 Game: Dark Souls II

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Microsoft’s sophomore console didn’t have the post-new-gen support that the PS3 had in 2014, so the stream of content wasn’t as large, but when you have games like Dark Souls II, I think you can settle for the good ol’ 360. Dark Souls II still marks a breakthrough for the 360 audience. Action RPG’s aren’t too unusual for the system, with games like Fable, but Dark Souls II wants you to press forward through clenched teeth. It’s still a fantastic example of pushing the threshold of difficulty and backing it up with ample reward. This is an action RPG with that black-toothed grin that makes any difficult game hypnotic and inescapable. You may die hundreds of times in Dark Souls II, but you’ll get back up every single time. Sweet, delicious masochism at its finest.

Runner-Ups
TitanfallPersona 4 Arena: UltimaxSouth Park: The Stick of TruthNaruto: Shippūden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution

Best PS3 Game: Dark Souls II

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Like the PS2, the Playstation 3 is likely to travel alongside its successor for a good, long while, and with games like Dark Souls II occupying the library, it’s clear that current-gen’s demise is greatly exaggerated. With Dark Souls II, From Software further solidified their place as commanders of the hardcore. They didn’t cave and make the game more “accessible.” Like any devious mastermind, they dug in and cranked up the difficulty, making Dark Souls II a massive test in gaming dexterity. But this urge to intimidate wasn’t for nothing. Dark Souls II is gripping, white-knuckle action role-playing for the modern age. It further defines the game design that pushed its predecessors into the great halls of gaming. With Dark Souls II, From Software only makes their place in the history books all the clearer. Praise the sun.

Runner-Ups
Tales of Xillia 2Persona 4 Arena: UltimaxSouth Park: The Stick of TruthHatsune Miku: Project DIVA F 2nd

Best PS Vita Game: Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair

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In the eyes of Hardcore Gamer, 2014 will forever be known as the Year of Monokuma (take that, Luigi!). North America received two Danganronpa titles this year, with the second being the superior offering. Gone are the walls of Hope’s Peak Academy and all of the logic that needs to be contained within them. After the thrilling conclusion of the first title, a new and improved cast of characters is set off to outwit each other on a series of mysterious islands. The result is an over-the-top narrative that never ceases to shock those willing to see it through to the end. On top of everything, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair’s gameplay is vastly superior to its predecessor, as it eliminates nearly all of the frustrations seen in the first title. The combination improved gameplay experience, a superb story and a lovable collection of characters makes for the best game on Sony’s flagship handheld in 2014.

Runner-Ups
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy HavocDisgaea 4: A Promise RevistedVelocity 2XTxK

Best 3DS Game: Bravely Default

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Bravely Default will be remembered, maybe not in the same way that Final Fantasy VII was, but with similar passion, as it really is a benchmark by which all other JRPGs will be measured going forward. Its expert attention to character-building helps immerse players in a world that feels, not only fleshed out, but alive; its storytelling is a combination of philosophies, blending more traditional means with those not as immersed in ’90s RPG ideology. This rich universe is further rounded out by gameplay systems that are, too, a fusion of age-old mechanics and newfangled concepts. The turn-based combat, for instance, will serve well in evoking memories of the JRPGs of yesteryear, with its deliberate pacing yet its small additions, like the Brave/Default setup, that help carry the more customary principles into the modern day. Certainly with JRPGs in the year 2014, it almost seems impossible to create a new “classic,” and yet that is perhaps the word best used to summarize Square Enix’s humble roleplaying game. In essence, Bravely Default feels like the Final Fantasy game we’ve been waiting for since the PS2 days. Thus, to deliver in such a way clearly demonstrates that Square has a potential flagship series on their hands. Here’s hoping that the game’s sequel gets localized, and this is but the start to franchise that has many installments ahead of it.

Runner-Ups
Persona Q: Shadow of the LabyrinthPokémon Omega Ruby/Alpha SapphireMario Golf World TourShantae and the Pirate’s Curse

Continue to Day 2 →