Ah, May. Heat is in the air, kids are out of school, college students have gone back to their horrible real lives and adults remain sweaty and miserable. But it’s not all bad; it’s the first month of the year when we start to see blockbusters in both video games and films. This May was simply jam-packed with titles, ranging from the AAA to the -1A. Surprisingly, most of the big hitters managed not to strike out and indie games were able to weather the storm of budgets. God bless video games and air conditioning.
If killing Nazis was a business, then cousin, Wolfenstein: The New Order would be a corporate powerhouse. Thankfully, however, the only business in Wolfenstein involves dismembering bodies — and there’s no HR department to file a complaint with in that scenario. In fact, it’s is possibly the gamiest video game in years, chock-full of health kits, bullet-sponge enemies and ridiculous set pieces. But despite its oldschool styling, borrowed mechanics, and occasionally distorted story, there’s something Wolfenstein: The New Order nails that, unfortunately, most titles in the genre have long abandoned for convoluted plots and attempted realism: fun. If you’re like 100% of gamers currently in existence, there’s a strong possibility that you play games for fun. And that’s something Wolfenstein offers in spades, be it through its humor, over-the-top action or a love of watching Nazis explode.
Mario Kart 8 is pure, unobstructed fun. It combines the gloriously addictive gameplay the series is celebrated for with some of the most gorgeous graphics on any console, and creates a shockingly polished experience that is built to last. The balance and AI quibbles of games past have been all but dealt with, and the game is without a doubt a return to form for the franchise. An award-worthy soundtrack breathes life into each beautifully rendered stage, and along with the new anti-gravity segments and returning underwater and glider areas it’s easy to enter that “one more race” mentality. Mario Kart 8 is a high point for the series, and is without a doubt one of the most spectacular games released this year.
A number of words come to mind when one thinks about Transistor, but no single term encapsulates Supergiant’s latest title quite like “beautiful.” Boasting an incredibly powerful narrative and arguably the most appealing visuals of any title thus far in 2014, Transistor’s beauty is undeniable. Like the mysterious, yet attractive stranger across the room, Transistor’s enigmatic shell simply requires a bit of effort to crack. Those willing to explore the mysterious city of Cloudbank and experiment with Red’s fascinating abilities will find themselves rewarded with a phenomenally fascinating gameplay experience and an unforgettable story. More so than any other 2014 PlayStation 4 release, Transistor is an absolute must play.
Well, here we are. When Watch Dogs was first revealed, it seemed like people were already deeming it as the best game ever made. As time went on, however, expectations tempered and worry even began to sink in that it would be sub-par. In the end, however, Watch Dogs turned out to simply be a good game. Not the revolution some had hoped (and Ubisoft had heavily hinted at), but more than worth your time and one of the better non-GTA sandbox games to come along in a long time. Sure with its radio towers, strongholds and open world, it may be “Ubisoft Game #4,” but it’s a darn good formula all the same.
The puzzle-platformer genre is flawed by design, as the vast majority of its titles rarely blend its two fundamental mechanics seamlessly. These games either alternate abruptly between puzzling and platforming, or lack an acceptable amount of running and jumping altogether. Super Time Force finds a way to maintain all of the mayhem of gaming’s greatest action-platformers, while wrapping the entire game around a mind-bending rewind mechanic. Not only is Capybara’s latest offering is one of the best looking pixel-art games of all time, but it manages to run absolutely seamlessly despite its inherent chaos. Boasting one of 2014’s most hilarious plots on top of unique characters and intense gameplay, Super TIme Force is without a doubt one of the strongest titles of the year.
As an added bonus, our editors named their personal favorites:
- Steve: Watch Dogs
- Jeremy: Transistor
- Matt B: Transistor
- Nikola: Mario Kart 8
- Beck: Watch Dogs
- Lee: Wolfenstein: The New Order
- Carey: Wolfenstein: The New Order
- Kevin: Wolfenstein: The New Order
- Alex: Mario Kart 8
- Matt W: Super Time Force
- Jake: Mario Golf: World Tour
- Geoff: Super Time Force
- Bradly: Mario Kart 8
- Dermot: Mario Kart 8
- Marcus: Super Time Force
- Jesse: A Story About My Uncle
- Mike: Watch Dogs