samedi 10 janvier 2015

Bara_Chat's Non-Games of the Year "Awards" 2014

For various reasons (crappy/unstable job situation and the birth of my daughter) 2014 was the worst year for me, gaming-wise, since perhaps 2005 or 2006. I had neither the money or free time to enjoy most of the titles released in the past 12 months. I was fortunate enough to try these games though :

Games actually released in 2014
  • Hearthstone - Mac
  • Destiny - PS4
  • Diablo III : Reaper of Souls - PS4/Mac
  • Plants vs Zombies : Garden Warfare - PS4
  • Transistor - PS4
  • Trials Fusion - PS4
  • NHL 15 - PS4 (tried it at a friend's for an hour or so)
  • Borderlands : The Pre-Sequel - PS3
  • South Park : The Stick of Truth - PS3
  • TxK - Vita*
  • Velocity 2X - PS4/Vita*
  • Pix the Cat - PS4*
  • Strider - PS4*
  • Luftrausers - PS3/Vita*
Ports of games released before 2014
  • Rayman Legends - PS4
  • Guacamelee : Super Turbo Championship Edition - PS4
  • Fez - PS4/Vita*
  • Towerfall : Ascension - PS4*
  • Stick It to The Man - PS4*
  • Dead Nation : Apocalypse Edition - PS4*
  • Road not Taken - PS4*
  • Don't Starve - PS4*
  • The Binding of Isaac : Rebirth - PS4/Vita*
* - Denotes a free PS+ title

Looking at this list is pretty sad. Even sadder than I anticipated. But hey, I'm not complaining! I have many consoles, many gaming options open to me. And PS+ is cheap enough that I get to get to try many games I wouldn't have money to purchase otherwise.

Also it has to be said that I bought other games this year, but they were titles released in previous years, so they don't matter here.

Anyway, let's get to the point of the post. Since I haven't played enough of the important titles of 2014, it seems rather pointless to hand out awards or nods to a game or games without much competition. Not only that, but I don't think I have even finished most of the games! Gun to my head, I think my favourite game of 2014 is South Park : The Stick of Truth even if I'm likely only halfway through the game. It's very dumb, but it's extremely funny and has true, solid RPG-elements infused with South Park silliness. For anyone with even a fleeting interest in the TV show, it's a must-buy.

Otherwise, I really liked both Destiny and Transistor, which complete - for the time being - my yearly top 3. So far I might put Transistor before Destiny, if only for the simple fact that I've finished it (I might go for a second playthrough though, it's very fun). One of them is a gigantic AAA blockbuster with a budget that would make even the biggest Hollywood studios jealous, the other an indie game developed by less than 30 people on staff (if I remember correctly). And honestly, you kinda feel it when you play those games. Transistor feels like an intimate experience with a strong personality, whereas Destiny, while sporting excellent gameplay and great customization, feels "cold".

EDIT : I completely forgot about the Diablo III expansion!! Which I have both on Mac and PS4. I don't know whether or not it should be nominated here since DIII is a 2012 game, but I figured I should at least mention it once in this whole thing.

2014's Non-Game "Awards"

Here I'll rank - and say a few words about - those elusive 2014 titles I wasn't able to buy or even try this past year. How can I rank those games, you ask? Well, I've read reviews, watched gameplay videos and listened to podcasts covering those games all year long. That does not make me an expert on any of them, sure, but I can still point out those I'm the most anxious to try and sad I couldn't play. I counted at least 35 games I feel like I missed. And 35 is quite a big number, so I have to politely disagree with those who claim that 2014 was a weak year. It clearly doesn't feel like from where I'm sitting.

35. Halo Master Chief Collection - XBox One

I loved the first Halo on the original XBox - even as I only played it at my friends' - and I liked the hour I spent with another friend on Halo Reach. I really didn't like what I played of Halo 3 though, but it has to be said I only played the campaign for about 3 hours. Those feelings don't really fit with each other, and I think this has to do with the fact that all my experiences with the franchise have been scattered over basically 14 years. Having the opportunity to play through the whole thing in one 2 or 3 weeks run would likely give me a more solid and valid opinion on Halo as a whole.

34. Madden NFL 15 - PS4
33. FIFA 15 - PS4
32. NBA 2k15 - PS4

I rarely buy the current-year version of sports games, because the prices drop so quickly and the gameplay changes so little from year to year that I usually can live with the last-year version of the game for quite a while. But I have to say all three of these are really tempting right now...

31. The Wolf Among Us - PS4
30. The Walking Dead : Season 2 - PS4

The only Telltale game I've ever played was the first season of The Walking Dead, which won my personal 2012 Game of the Year award. I loved it. I absolutely loved it. And still, a part of me doesn't want to play the second season. Two major reasons : I mostly dislike graphic depictions of violence (especially if there's even the slightest measure gore involved, which is why I still refuse to play the third God of War, because the beheading thing is beyond what I can stomach, and I thought GoW2 was too graphic...) and I kinda steer clear of very tense and stressful situations in games. 'But, ' you might wonder 'you loved the first season!'. You're right. When I was into it, there was no turning back. While playing it, I had a great time. If I had known beforehand some of the stuff that would be happening in that game, I might not have played it. I know that if I ever get into either of those games, I'll enjoy, but my "fears", for lack of a better world, keep me from doing it and keep those games from getting a lot higher on this list. I know that's irrational, but I'll play them eventually, along with Tales from the Borderlands, which I'm waiting on to finish before pulling the trigger.

29. The Banner Saga - PC

I'll be 100% honest. I don't even know what that game is or what it's about. All I know is that I've heard so many people sing its praises that I am convinced it is great. The only reason why it's not higher is because I REALLY don't know what it is...

28. Divinity : Original Sin - PC

This pick is solely based on a few Giant Bomb podcasts where one of the website's editor kept saying how amazing this game is and on 10 minutes of a Quick Look video they made about it. I know nothing of it otherwise...

27. Dark Souls II - PS3 (Soon on PS4)

Most hardcore gamers would likely tell me this game should be a lot closer to #1, but there's a reason why I still hesitated to buy this game even when the price dropped dramatically during the fall. When I played the first Dark Souls, I was extremely wary because I had heard and read 890403 times how hard this game was. And after only an hour, I stopped and never tried again. Part of me want to fight through it and really see what makes this game so great, and the other part thinks that when something is too hard and might eat up too much time, it's not worth it. Same thing with Dark Souls II, and that's why I'm still on the fence.

26. Metro Redux - PS4

I tried Metro 2033 on the 360 but never got more than an hour in before selling the system. I really enjoyed Metro : Last Light on the PS3 and I feel like it was a mistake to sell it afterwards, seeing as I wanted to replay it not long efter. This mistake has been taken care of by this remastered edition of both games. I'm quite glad I'll get to experience this thing with even better graphics once I get my hands on it.

25. Titanfall - XBox One

That game's hype was as humongous as the speed at which the gaming community seemingly forgot about it. From what I saw in various gameplay videos on Youtube, it looks very entertaining and would probably be my third must-buy game if I ever decide to get my hands on an XBox One (the two others come later).

24. LittleBigPlanet 3 - PS4

I had that game pre-ordered a month prior to its release. I had it for 50$ instead of the 69.99$ now asked for major releases in Canada. I cancelled it because I felt like 50$ was too much for ANY game at that time considering my financial situation. Seeing as it's now regularly seen at around 35$ on deals websites, I like the choice I made. I'll get it one day eventually, LBP and LBP2 were amazing party games.

23. Assassin's Creed Unity - PS4

If I hadn't watched or read any review of Unity, it would definitely be in the top 6 games of 2014 I want to play. It looked very promising ; I loved the idea of setting it during the French Revolution, I loved the idea of running around 18th-century Paris, I loved the fact they were going back to Europe after two installments in the New World (ACIII was mediocre, but ACIV is very good so far). The reviews came and declared that the game was pretty much broken and unfinished. Furthermore, I read that it would be disappointing even if not for those technical problems. I was pretty bummed out. I guess the majors bugs will be fixed by the time the game price drops enough for me to buy it.

22. Captain Toad : Treasure Tracker - Wii U

Important revelation time : I still haven't opened Super Mario 3D World for my Wii U. You might say I'm a crazy person, since that game is, according to basically every human who played it, absolutely fantastic, and you'd be right. Apparently Treasure Tracker is inspired by the Toad levels in 3D World which were considered very fun by gamers. Might have to play 3D World before though...

21. DriveClub - PS4

Yes, the launch was a mess. Yes, I couldn't try the PS+ version since it never actually existed. Yes, the reviews were less than stellar (around 7/10). But as a (admitedly less than before because of reasons) car nut, I'm still intrigued by this game. I want to play it when it will be working full capacity, so I'll wait a bit and get it cheaper.

20. The Swapper - PS4

This game was announced as the free title for PS+ in January 2015, so I'll get it then!

19. Valiant Hearts : The Great War - PS4

Inspired by World War I letter and made with the UbiArt engine. That's about all I needed to be interested.

18. Wolfenstein : The New Order - PS4

The reviews were surprisingly positive for such an old and well-trodden franchise. I'm seriously intrigued.

17. Sunset Overdrive - XBox One

Sunset Overdrive looks both bat-shit insane and extremely fun to play. It looks like inFamous (for the free-flowing open-city gameplay) with a hint of Ratchet and Clank (for the crazy weapons). The reviews looked pretty solid (pretty much on par with inFamous : Second Son, which comes a bit later in this ranking) and the gameplay vids very fun and colorful. It looks like it is, along with next game on this list, the best reason to buy an XBox One as far as I'm concerned.

16. Forza Horizon 2 - XBox One

I really liked the first Forza Horizon when I had my 360. It was perhaps the game I played the most during the short time I owned that system.

15. Kirby : Triple Deluxe - 3DS

I just love Kirby games. I adored Kirby Epic Yarn on Wii and really enjoyed Return to Dream Land on the same console. I can't think of a reason why I wouldn't love this one.

14. Far Cry 4 - PS4

Even if the story had major issues, I loved Far Cry 3. Easily one of the most enjoyable games to walk /run/drive/fly around and do random stuff in. From everything I could gather, Far Cry 4 is basically Far Cry 3, only with different clothes and much more stuff to do. A "Far Cry 3.5", if you will. That's good enough for me.

13. Grand Theft Auto V - PS4

I have some sort of mental block with the GTA franchise. On one hand I know the games are always extremely well received by critics and fans alike and that they sell better than basically everything. On the other hand, I know that these games require you to do illegal and morally ambiguous stuff, and that's not me. But man, this one got SO MUCH praise I feel like I have to give it a go. Shit, this thing scored higher than every single game released in 2014! That must mean something!

12. Child of Light - PS4

Like Valiant Hearts, this game is made with the UbiArt engine, so it looks very beautiful and unique. I haven't seen or heard much else about it, to be honest. I know the story is dished out in rhymes, I know it has RPG elements to it and I know it was inspired by Studio Ghibli. And the music is made by one of the very few Quebec (where I live) artists whose works I don't vehemently dislike. All good points in its favor!

11. Geometry Wars 3 : Dimensions - PS4

Even if I owned a 360 for a while, I never played Geometry Wars nor Geometry Wars 2. That might be a tragedy, seeing as this franchise is revered by many gamers, but I hope to try the third one and put an end to this sad sequence.

10. The Last of Us : Remastered - PS4

You'd think that a remastered version of what I consider to be the best game of the Seventh-Generation would rank higher on this list. Maybe it should, as its metacritic score is actually better than everything ahead of it and every game released in 2014 except for the remastered version of GTAV. But since both those games were released for the first time in 2013, it seemed to me a bit weird to give them higher 2014 spots.

9. Call of Duty : Advanced Warfare - PS4

I haven't been this excited for a CoD game since forever. I loved Modern Warfare (CoD4), disliked Modern Warfare 2, didn't enjoy Black Ops except for the Nazi Zombies mode and thought MW3 was exciting at times but ultimately just OK. I skipped Black Ops 2 and Ghosts altogether.

But this one. This Advanced Warfare game looks pretty good. Looks to be the best thing that happened to that franchise since Modern Warfare all the way back in 2007. That's saying something!

8. Infamous : Second Son - PS4

I loved the first inFamous. I liked the gruffiness of the protagonist and the comics-styled cutscenes. I liked the powers you could hold. I liked going around in the city doing various shit. The second inFamous was objectively better in all aspects, but I didn't enjoy it as much, for some reason. Still a pretty good game, it has to be said. Second Son goes in another direction completely with a new city, a new protagonist and new powers. This is a game I watched many videos of. It's very gorgeous and looks amazingly fun to play.

7. Shovel Knight - Wii U/3DS (soon on PS4)

For some reason, I hesitated (and still do) to go digital on Nintendo platforms. Part of me doesn't want to, as if it was a drag to have accounts to administrate on both Nintendo and Sony consoles. I'm lazy like that sometimes...

Anyway, this gem of a retro-styled platforming game is coming soon to the PS4, so I'll get it then. I've heard so much praise about it from every expert around that I was sold even before I saw what it looked like. Now that I did, I must say it looks absolutely fantastic. Is there a nostalgia factor in all of this? Maybe. But it's part of what we are as aging gamers, we love to see stuff reminding us of our childhood.

6. Rogue Legacy - PS4

I'm not the biggest fan of roguelike games. But I like Spelunky the more I play it and found Don't Starve to be quite interesting for the two hours I put in it. I don't love the idea of starting everything over each time you die, but Rogue Legacy takes some roguelike elements and adapts them to

5. Mario Kart 8 - Wii U

The name Mario Kart is enough here. Wait. It's in HD? Mario Kart in HD? Can't go wrong here.

4. Dragon Age : Inquisition - PS4

I was never able to really get into the first Dragon Age (never felt right with a controller instead of a mouse and keyboard) and I semi-rage-quit Dragon Age II because of an absolutely impossible fight with an army of... things... I don't know what they were. I remember there was a chief/king/lord of some sort of race of anthropomorphic animals within the main city and his whole entourage. I had to kill them for some reason (It's very far in my memory, sorry!) and I couldn't. I tried dozens of time, even had to lower the difficulty to easy, and still couldn't...

Anyway, this one looks great and I'll approach it without thinking much about the first two.

3. Super Smash Bros for Wii U - Wii U

I don't know how to feel about this franchise anymore. I love the idea of SSB. A brawler with Nintendo characters!? Sign me up! I loved the ones on N64 and GCN, when I had friends to play with. Now none of my friends are gamers, so as much as I love to play SSB, I can't REALLY enjoy it as much alone as I would with a group of friends. So I know I will love it, but I don't know if I will appreciate it as much as it deserves to be since I won't be able to play it with other people as often as I wish.

2. Middle-Earth : Shadow of Mordor - PS4

Ask anyone around me and they'll tell you I'm a big Tolkien fan. It all started with the first The Lord of the Rings movie, then I had to read all his other works in this fantastic, exceptional and engrossing universe he created. The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, Unfinished Tales, The Children of Hurin, etc. I even bought an Atlas of Middle-Earth (which should be named Atlas of Arda - the name of Earth in his works) and an Encyclopedia of his works.

So when I heard there was a game coming out inspired by this universe, I was both extremely pumped and very, very nervous. Pumped because of the infinite potential of this universe, nervous because we've all seen beloved licenses getting terrible, horrible games. I felt SO relieved when I saw the very positive reviews coming through and now I can't wait to get my hands on it.

1. Bayonetta 2 - Wii U

This is it. The game that I think will end up being the best thing I'll play that came out in 2014. I loved the first Bayonetta. Sure, it was completely insane and I had reserves concerning the whole "slaying angels" thing, but shit the gameplay is perfect so you can't help but love it. From what I gathered this is even better. And crazier. I don't know what else you could ask for.

This is it! The best 35 games I missed in 2014. Four of them I own by now (Jan. 10th) that I didn't own when I started to write this entry (just before Christmas). Three of them I got with the Boxing Day/Week deals (Infamous : Second Son, Super Smash Bros Wii U and Child of Light), and one is free with PS+ in January (The Swapper). I did try Smash Bros for an hour or so and had a shitload of fun with it. The others will have to wait for me to clear some of my backlog.

2015 looks to be an amazing year with new entries in the Arkham, Witcher, Zelda, Uncharted franchises as well as dozens of other great titles. Now that I'm at least 30+ games late on this new gen already because of a busier 2014, you can assume I will never be bored, gaming-wise, in the near future.

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