Saturday, January 10, 2015

Ben's Game of the Year 2014

Well here we are again. Another year has gone by, and just as always I'm forcing myself to look back on everything I've played, and decide what one game I would consider to be my personal "game of the year." In years past this process was a bit easier for me, but this time I'm faced with quite the challenge. In 2014 so many long awaited games hit the shelves, and because of that I was kept quite busy. For awhile there almost every single week I was buying a new game or two, and by the time the year was over I had played roughly over 140 games (both a mix of old and new). Sorting through all of that, well, it was difficult. Sure not all of the games on the list were brand new ones, but a vast majority were games released in 2014, so when choosing what game I would consider to be my personal Game of the Year I really had to look at a lot of different factor. I couldn't just simply pick a game I liked, or a game I 100%ed completely--I knew that it just wouldn't work.

With a full time job and live getting in the way, I wasn't always able to sit there and play a game I loved non stop to complete it. Sure sometimes a game was short enough for me to just do everything and call it good, but other times there were games that were just so long--so packed full of content, that I just couldn't do that. At some point I would have to put the game down and move on, or maybe something would happen in life where I would have to stop playing something possibly never to return to it until this year (2015). Because of that, I have quite a lot of unfinished games, which I still did in fact enjoy and would love to go back to. Then again, there's also games which I did like, but not enough to keep on playing, so things such as this (and their reasons) played a key factor in deciding what game I'd pick as well. Was it a game I loved so much I wouldn't put down unless I had to? Or was it a game I liked at first but got tired of it in the end so I moved on? The latter I quickly removed from my list of possible choices. As for the game's content and how much I enjoyed it in general, that's something I also had to consider. There were short games I really did like, but they also weren't something I'd go back to after finishing. InFamous: Second Son was almost my choice for Game of the Year, but I ended up ruling it out. While I loved the game and gave it a good review, I'm not sure if I can call it my personal favorite for the year. Yes I played through the game on all the difficulty settings, I played through it as both a good and bad guy, I completed all side quests, I did everything required for all of the trophies and unlocked the Platinum, and I even got the PSN game "InFamous: First Light" (which is sort of a prequel/expansion) and 100% completed it as well (while gaining it's Platinum trophy in the process). It's a game I really liked and had a lot of fun playing, but it gave me no reason to keep returning to it afterwords. Not even it's story (which I liked) would make me go back. It was SO close to being my choice for this, but in the end I decided against it. So, what game did I choose? Well, before I tell you, let me mention the other runners up.

Besides InFamous, another game I was greatly considering was a game I am still playing to this day... Although I guess it would be more accurate to say it's something I never stopped playing since 2009. What is this game? None other than BlazBlue of course. Chrono Phantasma was the latest game to be released (although Continuum Shift Extend was also just released on Steam), and it's also a game I love. Although I don't play it quite as much as I used to, it's still something I return to from time to time, and it's a story I'm greatly interested in. Along with BlazBlue though, 2014 also saw the release of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, and Guilty Gear Xrd--both of which are developed by Arc System Works and are fighting games just as BlazBlue. These two are also great, and are games I keep returning to off and on, and because of this they were considered for my Game of the Year choice as well. (Of course other fighters like Super Smash Bros were in the running, but I can't say for sure where it would rank.) Other games I looked at included racers like The Crew and Forza Horizon 2, but these racers are so massive that even after playing them for 30 plus hours I'm nowhere near being done with them, and because of this I really couldn't decide how they fell into my rankings with other games. I like them, yes, but are they games I'll return to, or will I throw them aside once the next racer comes out? (I'm looking at you GT7, and Project Cars.) There's also Watch_Dogs, Destiny, Halo: Master Chief Collection, Far Cry 4, LittleBigPlanet 3, Samurai Warriors 4, Assassin's Creed: Rogue, Assassin's Creed: Unity, Tales of Xillia 2, Tales of Hearts R, Freedom Wars, Kingdom Hearts II.5 HD, The Last of Us, and a few others, but even these were taken off my list for one reason or another. Some games had glitches and issues in general (Unity), others were just enhanced versions of games released in previous years (The Last of Us, KH, Halo), or I just didn't feel like they were deserving of the title for me. So yeah, with all that being said.... I guess it's time to move on to my choice.

And the winner is....

TOMB RAIDER: DEFINITIVE EDITION! Just as Tomb Raider 2013 won in, well, 2013, The Definitive Edition is clearly my choice for Game of the Year 2014! I personally love this game, and even though I nearly completed it last year, I couldn't wait to dive back in this year. The improvements to the graphics really stood out, the new model for Lara Croft was a lot more fitting, and the game in general was just a lot of fun. Even though it is still basically the same game, it is still fun! Also having the DLC costumes in game from the start was a nice improvement, and --- Yeah... I'm kidding. As much as I love Tomb Raider, this is not my choice for game of the year.

Sunset Overdrive

This was not an easy choice for me, and truthfully I can't believe I'm writing this right now. Back when Sunset Overdrive was shown off, I had no interest in it. "Oh look, another zombie mutant game. Great." I mean it did seem somewhat interesting with it's style and what not, but just from the first trailers I thought it would be some generic shooter... Yeah, I was wrong.

Sunset Overdrive is a rare breed. This is Insomnaic at their finest, with them pulling out all of their craziness for a mature audience. The company that once used to disturb me and make me laugh as a kid while playing Spyro, is now finding new ways to do it now that I'm an adult. Sunset has the same over the top wackiness that I've come to expect from the company, and I love it. At first glance it may seem like another open world game with guns, but when you realize the guns are all crazy contraptions inline with what you expect from the Ratchet series, and that the game doesn't take itself seriously at all, it becomes quite clear that this isn't "just" another open world game with guns. You make your own character (male or female), you fly through the air, grind on rails, run on walls, slide across water, swing from everything, bounce off of objects, and pull off crazy fleets of combat all at once. This is a game where you NEVER stop moving, and a game where you are expected to do as crazy of stunts as possible all while killing everything that stands in your way. It is extremely fast paced, there's tons of customization for your weapon and character skills, the missions constantly change it up so you never really feel like you're doing the same thing more than once, and, well, the game is just flat out crazy! This is one of them games that's very hard to put into words, and it's also one that requires a lot out of you. The crazy combat is extremely fun but requires you to think insanely fast and move your hands in ways you didn't think were possible, and, well, there's just too much to even go over here! It's a game you can't fully appreciate unless you've played it for yourself. It's not easy to put into words, but it is non stop fun.

As for the story itself, well as I said above, it's a game that doesn't take itself seriously, and the game constantly reminds you of that. There are parodies left and right (helping the Breaking Bad inspired "Jess" use "science" as he yells "YEAH B****" was easily one of my favorite moments, along with the character later on using quotes such as "say my name"), the main character "player" (who admits they don't even know their own name) constantly pokes fun at overused cliches, and the storyline even makes fun of gaming in general. For example at one point there's a death scene where a character is killed by an invisible wall (and the game makes it clear it was an invisible wall). There's also moments in the story where you have to help different groups of people, and they poke fun at their own stereotype. For example the "nerds" you help because they say they can build you something, well, rather than building this "VERY SIMPLE object," they put their brains together and build an advance 3D printer (which takes hours) to print what you asked for. Sure not everyone will find all the jokes funny, but moments like this really stand out, and if you get it, you'll be laughing out loud.... (Although since I'm not over 30 I didn't understand one joke, which the character flat out told me I wouldn't understand if I wasn't over 30 years old.... Yeah....)

Anyway, Sunset Overdrive is just a game I've been having a lot of fun with. I'm still playing it to today, and there's plenty of reasons for me to return to it (the city is loaded with challenges, there's a ton of unique weapons, you can level them up, there's perks and skills to buy and unlock, etc), and I can easily see it being something I'll come back to playing as the years go on--unless they make a sequel, then I'll switch over to that. 

If you haven't checked out Sunset Overdrive yet, I strongly recommend you do so. Give it a chance, and you may love it just as much as I do.