Number Five: Civilization Revolution 2 (iOS)
Back in 2008 Civilization Revolution on the Xbox 360 served as my introduction to the wonderful strategy series that’s been around since 1991. The gameplay was incredibly addicting and winning battles was wonderfully satisfying again and again. One night browsing the app store in my hotel room in Hawaii I stumbled across a pleasant surprise when I saw Civilization Revolution 2 for sale. I bought it immediately and spent countless hours trying to dominate the world rather than sleeping. Revolution 2 plays great on the iPad and offers hundreds of hours of enjoyment for longtime Civ fans or newcomers alike. I’ll be enjoying Civilization Revolution 2 well into 2015 and beyond, and it certainly deserves recognition as one of the best games released in 2014.
Number Four: The Wolf Among Us
Telltale Games’ The Wolf Among Us took me by surprise this summer. I was never blown away by the Walking Dead games but decided to give The Wolf Among Us a try. I downloaded the entire season on the iPad this summer and dove right in. I was immediately blown away by the unique, dark world and the amazing characters within. The music and scenery during the introduction following the preface absolutely blew my mind and ranks as one of the most awe inspiring sequences in a video game I’ve ever experienced.
The mystery Bigbee gets wrapped up in kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire experience and every twist and turn made it so hard to put my iPad down. I burned through the episodes as quickly as I could and loved every minute of it.
Number Three: Hearthstone
Hearthstone is an incredibly well made, free card battle game. Blizzard took a chance and hit a grand slam with Hearthstone. The game features great artwork, animation and sounds along with easy to pick up, hard to put down gameplay that provides countless hours of entertainment. I feel like Hearthstone is quite easy to understand and get the hang of compared to other card battle games like Magic the Gathering, but there’s still plenty there for more seasoned players. Hearthstone is so hard to put down because no matter how badly you’re being beaten you’re never quite out of it. I’ve been on the edge of defeat and have gotten the right cards at the final moments and have battled back from that edge and onto an incredibly satisfying victory. There’s hardly anything more rewarding than experiences like that!
Number Two: Tales from the Borderlands (episode one)
Telltale games have had a big year this year. The Wolf Among Us came to a wonderful conclusion this summer and then this winter saw the start of two new adventures with Game of Thrones and Tales from The Borderlands. The latter has not only been my favorite Telltale game to date, but also one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had with a video game ever! The first episode is upbeat, colorful, energetic and absolutely hilarious from start to finish. I’ve never laughed so much while playing a game. I had a smile on my face from start to finish as I made my way through the exciting chapters of the first episode. There was never a dull moment and the conclusion to the episode had me dying for more. I can’t wait to experience the rest of the story! Tales from the Borderlands confidently lands at number two on my list because it was a refreshing experience with some incredible writing in a great world. I highly recommend it!
Game of the Year: Halo: The Master Chief Collection
This is sure to be a controversial pick for a variety of reasons. First of all, this is technically a re-release of games spanning from 2001 to 2013. Secondly, the game had an incredibly rocky launch, and was not ready to be released upon the salivating masses in November. It’s true, for the first three weeks I owned the game I was only able to play around 15 matches which is entirely unacceptable. That said, now that the game has been more or less working as intended for the last week or so it’s easily been my most enjoyable gaming experience of 2014.
Being able to jump into matches across four different Halo games with my friends from around the world with whom I’ve played the games with in the past. It’s amazing to see how much Halo has grown all in one package. We used to throw our cumbersome CRT TV’s in our cars and drive miles to a central meeting place, lug our TV’s downstairs, order pizza and play Halo for hours on end. To be able to jump into a game of Halo Combat Evolved or Halo 2 with the push of a button is awesome. To be able to play a match of Halo 3, 2, and CE in quick succession is equally awesome. The Halo 2 Anniversary remake is a stunningly beautiful way to relive both a great campaign and a great multiplayer experience.
I will easily spend hundreds of hours over the next year and beyond enjoying the Master Chief Collection. The last week of fun alone has already made up for the three weeks I was barely able to play the game I invested $60 in. From the start the Master Chief Collection was a bargain for $60. They could have easily charged $60 alone for the Halo 2 Anniversary edition, but instead they threw in three more games and gave us an unimaginable value. For that, Halo: The Master Chief Collection is crowned A Video Game Life’s Game of the Year! Congratulations 343!