10. Mario Kart 8
(Wii U, Nintendo/Nintendo)
Mario Kart 8 is the kind of racer I like. It’s not serious or about trying to simulate an actual racing experience. No, Mario Kart 8 is about having fun on some imaginative courses throwing bananas at your friends. If there’s one game to define Nintendo in 2014 then that game should be Mario Kart 8. Not only is it fun, but it also proved to me that Nintendo has what it takes to survive in this-generation. Containing some fantastic online multiplayer, DLC that’s actually worthwhile, and a wealth of content, Mario Kart 8 is Nintendo’s most forward-thinking game yet.
9. inFamous: Second Son
(PS4, Sucker Punch/Sony)
2014 was a great year for PS4 saleswise, but there really haven’t been a whole library of exclusive games. It’s a good thing then that inFamous: Second Son is a good game. Not a great game likes its predecessors, but a good one. It’s the attention to detail, the level of destruction your powers cause to both the environment and human beings that make inFamous: Second Son a fun game. The third-person shooting and platforming mechanics hold up well, and the Dualshock 4’s touchpad is put to good use. inFamous: Second Son isn’t the best the franchise has to offer in terms of story and characters, but it’s fun and represents a new direction for the franchise.
8. LittleBigPlanet 3
(PS4, Sumo Digital/SCEA)
LittleBigPlanet 3 manages to put a smile on my face every time I play it. While Sumo Digital didn’t stray too far from the LittleBigPlanet formula, they did manage to deliver a solid game. New characters Toggle, Swoop, and Oddsock shake up the traditional formula. The game’s large selection of creative tools return, alongside every custom level ever created. Sackboy may not have the same prestige and name recognition as Mario, but he sure can deliver a good platforming experience.
7) Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
(PS4/Xbox One/PC/PS3/Xbox 360, Sledgehammer Games/Activision)
Activision and Sledgehammer Games needed to bring something new and fresh to the table in 2014 to keep Call of Duty relevant, and they did. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare isn’t a huge step forward that the franchise needs, but it’s a solid game and easily the best multiplayer game of 2014. Jetpacks, exo-skeletons and grappling hooks make for great online fun. You’re not going to find a more satisfying multiplayer shooter this year.
6. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
(PS4/Xbox One/PC/PS3/Xbox 360, Monolith Productions/Warner Bros.)
Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is a terrible Lord of the Rings game disregarding franchise canon. However, it’s an amazing game. Shadow of Mordor’s strength lies in its gameplay, a combination of the Batman Arkham and Assassin’s Creed franchise. You’ll climb, jump, and murder orcs as Talion and Celebrimbor across Mordor in the name of vengeance. While simple at first look, Shadow of Mordor is deeply complex and a difficult game to master. Satisfying in all the right ways, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor rightly claims a spot as one of 2014’s best games. It also helps the game worked on day one, something that couldn’t be said of other similar games.
5. Dragon Age: Inquisition
(PS4/Xbox One/PC/PS3/Xbox 360, BioWare/EA)
Dragon Age: Inquisition is proof that BioWare is the king of RPGs. They have crafted a game so deep, so thought-provoking that it pains me to put it at #5. The amount of time and effort poured into crafting this game’s branching story is frightening to think about. However, the end result is the most immersive game of 2014. With gorgeous environments, impeccable writing and brutal gameplay, Dragon Age: Inquisition grounds you in its world. This is truly a fantastic RPG worthy of much praise, but there are two other RPGs I found a tad better in 2014.
4. Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire
(3DS, Game Freak/Nintendo)
Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald are my favorite entries in the entire franchise, so getting to revisit Hoenn was a big deal for me. You know what? Game Freak and Nintendo did a fantastic job remaking this game, and adding a ton of new content. New areas, new characters, new abilities, and even a whole new storyline once you beat the game. Unlike a few companies content with releasing old games as simple ‘remasters,’ Nintendo and Game Freak went out of their way to deliver what is essentially a brand new game. There’s a lot of love and care put into this game, and it’s Pokémon. Of course, the game is fun and completely addicting.
3. South Park: The Stick of Truth
(PS3/Xbox 360/PC, Obsidian Entertainment/Ubisoft)
I loved Dragon Age: Inquisition, but I loved South Park: The Stick of Truth even more. Obsidian Entertainment has faithfully recreated Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s world, and given us control over it. What really puts South Park ahead of Dragon Age is the masterfully written script, and the voice cast. South Park: The Stick of Truth is funny, yet clever. Matt and Trey return to voice the characters, and the results are authentic. You feel like you’re playing an episode of South Park, and the combat is pretty good as well. South Park: The Stick of Truth is the perfect merger of two mediums.
2. Far Cry 4
(PS4/Xbox One/PC/PS3/Xbox 360, Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft)
Let’s ignore for a second that Far Cry 4 is basically Far Cry 3 with a weaker story and a new setting. Let’s ignore that a number of missions are copy-and-pasted straight from Far Cry 3. We need to ignore this because, despite it being just more Far Cry 3, Far Cry 4 is freaking awesome. Storytelling isn’t this game’s strength, and protagonist Ajay is as much a character as a Call of Duty protagonist is, but man is Far Cry 4 fun. Traversing the varied environments of Kryat with a bow, machine fun, and rocket launcher rarely gets old. Far Cry 4 is a living playground, and there’s always something to do. Pagan Min is also a pretty cool guy, but, like Vaas, he isn’t in the game a lot. It blows, because Far Cry 4’s story and characters needed a lot of work, which keeps it from making the top spot.
1. Wolfenstein: The New Order
(PS4/Xbox One/PC/PS3/Xbox 360, MachineGames/Bethesda Softworks)
I have to admit: I expected nothing out of Wolfenstein: The New Order. I’d seen it before at media events, but nothing about it screamed ‘great’ or even ‘good.’ I could not have been more wrong. Wolfenstein: The New Order represents the best of current FPS conventions mixed with past conventions. The game focuses on William “B.J.” Blazkowicz who wakes up from a coma to discover that the Nazis won World War II thanks to advanced weaponry. BJ joins an underground resistance of fighters looking topple the Nazi order. The New Order delivers a compelling story with deep, complex characters. The gunplay, a mix of modern ADS and the past’s running-and-gunning, is intense and satisfying. Wolfenstein: The New Order is, above all else, a breath of fresh air. In a year filled with buggy launches and disappointing sequels, it feels so good to have a game willing to take some risks.