While the whole editorial staff contributed to our 2014 awards, we wanted to allow everybody the opportunity to publicly name their personal top 10 games of the year. While many did play the majority of releases in 2014, please remember that unlike our main awards, the editors are not naming the *best* games, but their personal favorites out of the selection they played.
10. Magnetic By Nature
The OUYA’s best game of 2014 is a magnetic platformer that uses positive and negative charges to create a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Navigating the game’s many stages tests your platforming skills, while the art deco design pleases the eyes. The use of red and blue charges evokes Ikaruga’s gameplay, but with a platforming twist. Magnetic By Nature is a tough game to master, but a rewarding one as well.
9. Assassin’s Creed Rogue
2014 was a rough year for the Assassin’s Creed franchise, but Rogue snuck up and delivered a satisfying experience. As Shay, you’ll go through an all-new and very compelling storyline through time. The pirate ship-heavy combat of IV is revived and feels fresh with a new cast to enjoy it with. Rogue doesn’t break much new ground, but instead chooses to reinforce the established gameplay in a new setting. It’s a really fun game and well-worth checking out if you’re actively using a last-gen system.
8.Sixty Second Shooter Prime
(Xbox One/Happion Laboratories)
The Xbox family has become known for twin-stick shooters over the years. Geometry Wars got the ball rolling on the genre’s revival on the original Xbox, while Retro Evolved gave early Xbox 360 owners a game to be proud of. Before Geometry Wars 3 hit the scene, Xbox One owners had Sixty Second Shooter Prime to enjoy. This game gives you a one minute time limit to survive waves of enemies and does so with a trippier visual style than a Geometry Wars game. It keeps the same pulse-pounding music style and twin-stick action, but still manages to put its own stamp on the genre with a faster pace than most. If you want something to keep your adrenaline pumping, check it out.
7. Sunset Overdrive
(Xbox One, Microsoft Game Studios, Insomniac Games)
Sunset Overdrive was one of Microsoft’s most-hyped releases at E3 2013. Insomniac’s trademark humor and fast-paced gameplay were in full effect alongside a Jet Set Radio-esque grinding mechanic. The end result lived up to expectations, and delivered a frantic game that blended shooting and grinding with tower defense. While it’s an odd combination in theory, it excels in execution. The shooting mechanics are easy to use even with the fast pace and the game’s sense of humor will have you laughing your ass off. Fizzie may not like you, but you’ll like the game and laugh at his antics.
6. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare
(PC/PS3/PS4/360/Xbox One, EA)
Plants vs. Zombies has been a huge hit, and the initial announcement of it being turned into a shooter was met with shock. It didn’t seem to really fit the franchise in theory, but the class-based setup wound up being a perfect fit. No matter what platform you play it on, you can look forward to a really fun shooter that can turn into a time sink quite easily. It’s one of the most accessible shooters on the market, so even if online shooters aren’t your usual genre of choice, try it out. It controls marvelously and looks good even on last-gen platforms.
(PS4/PC, Supergiant Games)
Transistor follows up on Bastion perfectly. It gives you a different kind of experience, but still delivers characters you’ll wind up caring out. Here, you’re controlling the former singer Red who has had her voice taken from her during an attack that also left a man dead. Her voice has been sealed inside the giant sword known as the Transistor, and to attempt to get to the bottom of things, you’ll have to engine in some XCOM-esque turn-based combat. Strategy gamers will love the easy to use interface, while those new to the genre will be eased in with thorough tutorials. Red’s brilliant singing voice is hinted at with beautiful humming, that alone drives home the tragedy of the attack. Transistor is a moving game that should be experienced by anyone with a love for mature storytelling in gaming that doesn’t hold your hand.
4. Forza Horizon 2
(Xbox One, Playground Games, Microsoft Game Studios)
Forza Horizon 2 takes everything that made the original great and adds to it. All too often, we get sequels that add some things while removing others. Here, it’s all steady improvements. The rock-solid racing is back with the best-looking graphics you’ll find in a racing game. The open world takes your breath away at times thanks tot he scenic views of Europe, and you have more racing types than ever before to challenge yourself with. Gimmick races return along with the debut of the bucket list to provide you with a single objective that will test your skills right away. Discount and XP boards return along with a new wheel spinning system that combines slot machines with the ability to earn cars and tons of credits. After the micro-transactions in Forza 5, a generous car-giving option is welcomed and a sign that this is the kind of thing the mainline Forza series would greatly benefit from.
3. EA Sports UFC
(PS4/Xbox One, EA)
EA Sports UFC had an incredibly rough launch. The pre-release demo was poorly-received due to a frantic pace and high difficulty. The steep learning curve for an entirely new MMA engine didn’t help matters. After a few months of updates, the gameplay was refined to such a degree that it’s almost jarring to go back and play Yuke’s UFC efforts. While they’re still good, they aren’t as fluid as this game is now. Thanks to those updates alongside over a dozen new fighters being added to the roster completely free of charge, including big names like Brock Lesnar and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, this is an easy top-tier game for 2014.
2. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
(Wii U, Nintendo, Sora Ltd.)
The Wii U was an unsung hero in gaming for most of 2014. The latter half of the year saw the system really deliver the goods. Super Smash Bros. has a sterling reputation in the industry, and the Wii U entry continues that trend. The roster is incredible, and the mode selection is unmatched. While some may miss the subspace emissary, the new board game mode combines Mario Party and Smash Bros. so well that I won’t miss it. New challenge modes pit you against Master and Crazy Hand after engaging in prior combat and dole out rewards depending on the risks taken before the boss fights. Fighter creation is new and allows you to bring yourself into the game, while Amiibo support gives figure-owners some fun with a virtual pet-like mode to build up skills. Online play hasn’t quite been optimized, but other than that, this is a must-have game for anyone with a Wii U in their possession.
1. Mario Kart 8
(Wii U, Nintendo)
Mario Kart 8 is my most beloved release for 2014. Why? Because it rekindled my love for Mario Kart. I grew up loving the original game on the SNES and then followed that up with the N64 game. My younger uncle and I spent countless hours playing each, and after years of just not digging the GameCube and Wii entries, this game came along and reminded me of why I loved it so much to begin with. While battle mode is a dud here, everything else is top-shelf stuff. The action is still quick, but the shift to multiple kinds of racing surfaces really keeps you on your toes. Seeing classic tracks with some new modern-day wrinkles provides a new experience, while the DLC model is easily the best one Nintendo’s offered up to date. I’m not much of a DLC guy, but this game’s discounted combo pack made me a believer that Nintendo really wants to use DLC to enhance a game and not just nick and dime people to death. The moment you hop into Link’s Epona-clad kart and collect rupees in Hyrule, you’ll be transported to a simpler time and be reminded of just why you love gaming. Mario Kart 8 is a magical experience that all gamers should enjoy and is well-worth buying a Wii U for.