Saturday, January 17, 2015

Lugia's Game of the Year 2014

So to be honest, last year was a pretty slow one for me, without many options for new games. Other than some of the major Nintendo titles and a handful of indie games, not much happened. I even got Pokemon Alpha Sapphire late because of a lack of money, but there was one game in particular that stood out immensely...

I hate MMORPGs. And yet I've played quite a few free ones, which is probably why I hate them actually. So buying a subscription to one? Hah. Never. Not me... Not until last December at least. A friend had wanted me to try the free trial of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn for quite a while, and after he'd gotten another of our friends to download it, I went ahead and got it as well. I went in expecting less than nothing, but needless to say I was very surprised.

The thing that gripped me the most about Final Fantasy XIV was the world. I can't say I've ever been immersed in a game solely because of the world it presented to me and this game did a breathtaking job. Thanalan alone is enormous and filled with beautiful landmarks and natural phenomena, and that was just a piece of Eorzea. In fact, the world-induced immersion was the main reason I fell in love with this game, followed closely behind by the art style, music and oddly enough, the story. I cannot describe with words how playing this game made me feel because it was too amazing.

Even the things I expected to dread, the grinding, the combat, the quests, even those things felt amazing and not once during the early game did I feel like I was grinding at all (although switching to other classes did feel a bit tedious). Pursuing the story was exciting and I loved taking in the lore and personality of the world. I started as a thaumaturge and even after dabbling in other classes with the game's incredibly open and free class system, I still stuck with it because I loved the use of Umbral Ice and Astral Fire so much. A lot of my love for this game was because of the brilliantly implemented gamepad controls. Everything is intuitive and not once did I have to go back to the keyboard or mouse to navigate something. Playing with the keyboard on the other hand, felt very stiff and unenjoyable. I enjoyed this game so much that I actually did buy it, for better or worse.

You might be saying to yourself right now, "But Lugia Final Fantasy XIV technically didn't come out in 2014", and yeah, you'd be right. The version I played came out in late 2013, but frankly this game stood out so much more than anything else. Other contenders for me were The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (which I enjoyed nearly as much as this game), Mario Kart 8 (which didn't feel quite right as my game of the year), Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U (which I have dozens of problems with believe it or not), Shovel Knight (which I also had a lot of problems with believe it or not), and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire (which I got really late after its release and didn't have much time to play). While the PS4 version came out in 2014, the PC version didn't, but nothing else met the enjoyment I had with it.

You might also be saying to yourself, "But Lugia Final Fantasy XIV is just an MMORPG and the other games you listed are so much better!", and yeah, you might be right about that too. I can't really defend this choice for any reason. This just so happens to be the game that pulled me in, it made me feel special like I was on a real adventure unlike any game I've ever played before. It's something I don't think I'll ever forget and it topped off 2014 perfectly. Too bad I probably won't be able to subscribe again for a while...