Best of 2014, honorable mentions

If you haven’t yet seen my top 5 games of 2014, be sure to check that out. Now I’d like to throw out some honorable mentions that just didn’t quite make the cut.

A significant game that didn’t land in my top 5 is Dragon Age Inquisition. I absolutely loved the first two Dragon Age games, and I’ve enjoyed my time with Inquisition so far, but it just hasn’t grabbed my attention enough to merit making a top 5 list.

 

I’ve put maybe 18-20 hours into it so far, which overall isn’t a lot, and I’ve never really felt all that involved. It feels like the game is trying to accomplish too much, or at least more than I care to pay attention to and I never have any idea what’s going on. Also I’ve been annoyed by the insane amount of loot that appears in the game. If I want to pick up everything possible I find myself hitting ‘A’ every 20-30 seconds and picking up a bunch of items and then I have to go to the inventory screen and see if I picked up anything worth using. It’s just downright annoying, and at this point I’ve just stopped looting the enemies I kill.

Maybe I’ll start to enjoy the game more as I get further into it, but so far I feel like it’s been pretty mediocre at best.

Another game worth mentioning is Madden 15. I really wanted Madden to make my list, but I couldn’t squeeze it in alongside the other great games that made it. Madden 25 didn’t feel like much of an upgrade on the new consoles, but Madden 15 was a wonderful step forward. The game looks and feels amazing to play and is one of the best football experiences to date. I didn’t end up getting FIFA 15 this year, but I’m sure that’s just as good of an experience (I love FIFA 14 still!).

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is a refreshing take on the Call of Duty formula with the exo skeleton freshening up the online play and Kevin Spacey bringing an amazing performance to the campaign. I’d probably still be playing Advanced Warfare if I weren’t so swept up in the Master Chief Collection.

Diablo III Ultimate Evil Edition not only provides a great value by including the Reaper of Souls expansion but it also offers a revamped Diablo III experience tailored for current gen consoles. The game is a blast to play either via couch co-op or online with friends and strangers alike, and there’s more epic loot than you’ll ever be able to carry. It’s a great experience and one of the best co-op games of the year!

Forza Horizon 2 is an absolutely beautiful racing game that makes exploring the world just as fun as competing in races. The road trips that take you between each racing hub or a wonderful way to explore the world and see all the amazing scenery. The online multiplayer modes are a blast, whether you’re free roaming or playing the zombie attack mode. There are plenty of beautiful cars and a ton of road (and off road) to cover.

It’s strange to think Titanfall came out this year. It came out early in the Xbox One’s life (at least early enough so there wasn’t much else to play) and I was quite excited for it. Initially I was amazed by Titanfall and found it refreshing to play and a lot more enjoyable than the other shooter available at the time, Call of Duty Ghosts. Although I enjoyed Titanfall at the time, it quickly became lost in a sea of other releases and I haven’t given it a second thought since.

Last, but certainly not least, is GTA V. Rockstar put a lot of love into making GTA V a superb experience on current gen consoles. The world looks even more stunning than ever before, but they also added an entirely new experience with first person view. I haven’t used the view much, but it certainly changes the way things play throughout the game. I’m just in awe at how amazing the world looks and how fun it is to run around in it still.

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A Video Game Life’s top 5 and Game of the Year!

Number Five: Civilization Revolution 2 (iOS)

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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

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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

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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)

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!