GameCrate's Game of the Year
2014 was a difficult year for the game industry, as delays and disappointments inflicted major blows on some of the most-anticipated titles of the year. While some of the year's problems can likely be blamed on the challenge of transitioning from one console generation to the next, that excuse can only go so far. Some games like Watch Dogs and Destiny just ended up disappointing many fans while other titles, most notably Assassin's Creed: Unity, were thoroughly broken at launch. Other titles gamers were looking to, such as Evolve and Battlefield: Hardline, slipped all the way into 2015 -- hopefully receiving the extra time and polish they need in the interim.
It wasn't all doom and gloom this year, however. There were plenty of bright spots which deserve to be celebrated. From fantastic next-gen remasters to marvelous old-school indie hits there was plenty to enjoy outside of brand-new AAA titles. And, whether you're a Nintendo fan or not, it's hard to deny that it's a good thing for the gaming industry as a whole to see the Wii U coming on strong with quality titles including Bayonetta 2 and Mario Kart 8.
And then there are the brightest spots of all: GameCrate's 2014 Game of the Year contenders.
Runner-up: Far Cry 4
Our review of Far Cry 4 praised the game for its stunning graphics and wonderful use of its exotic setting, along with the tight gameplay that has been refined and evolved from previous installments of the Far Cry series. The challenge of digging shrapnel out of your arm while under fire to regain health is as tense as ever, and the wild and open world is full of things to do and people to kill. Throw in some fantastic animal-centered combat options and variables, and you have the best single-player shooter experience of the year -- and the multiplayer is no slouch either.
The brightest spot in a troubled year for Ubisoft, Far Cry 4 was also one of the very best games of 2014.
Though it lacks a single-player option, Titanfall offers tons of fun for fans of multiplayer shooters, and included some innovative tweaks and tricks that made it stand out in a crowded FPS field. The Titans work exactly as intended and just how the developers likely hoped, throwing big-league variables into the standard shooter experience and allowing for fresh and new experiences.
Along with the incredible freedom of movement offered by the game and the wise inclusion of AI bots to fill out the teams (which allow even new players to score some kills and help their side prevail), Titanfall all comes together as a fun and totally satisfying multiplayer FPS.
Runner-up: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Shadow of Mordor was probably the biggest surprise hit of the year, as there weren't gamers who were expecting what seemed to be a random Lord of the Rings game to be particularly great. However, as our full review explained, the game turned out to be a near masterpiece. It features gameplay which borrows some of the best elements of the Arkham Batman titles and the Assassin's Creed franchise and an open world which is truly dynamic and alive thanks to the brilliant enemy-generating Nemesis system. Shadow of Mordor is such a well-executed action experience that the game's story and the Tolkien fan-service it includes feel like pure bonuses.
Runner-up: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
A giant roster, tight gameplay, and a robust online mode are just a few of the elements which went into making Super Smash Bros. such a huge hit on the Wii U this year. Just about everything you loved in previous versions of the franchise is better than ever in 2014's Smash Bros., along with fascinating new features including innovative game modes and the interaction with Nintendo's amiibo figures.
Super Smash Bros. was part of the crop of great new games for the Wii U in 2014, the best fighting game of the year, and one of the most entertaining games of the year overall.
And the Golden Crate goes to...
Game of the Year: Dragon Age: Inquisition
Who could have guessed that a combination of traditional Dragon Age gameplay and the open world-style elements of a game like Skyrim would work so beautifully? As explained in our review, Inquisition is a dream come true for RPG fans, featuring satisfying tactical combat, a rich and engaging story, hundreds of hours of things to do, and some of the finest characters Bioware has ever presented.
Aside from irritating camera issues which have since been somewhat addressed by a patch, there isn't much Inquisition doesn't do well. It handles romance better than any Bioware game before it, features a surprisingly entertaining multiplayer mode, and already has us salivating over what the game's DLC might have to offer. Heck, Inquisition even has better Easter Eggs than most games!
Congratulations to Dragon Age: Inquisition, the best game of 2014!