Community Review: The Year That Was

2015 is now officially the year that we are currently living in right now. How weird is that. With every passing year I get more and more terrified about the fact that I am living in the future, which is now the present. Goddammit. Time isn't a static thing? It's alive and continues to move forward? What the hell?

Anyway, I thought this might be as good a time as any to stop and evaluate the year that was. Was 2014 a good year for video games?

It's a difficult question to answer I think, which is why I'm keen to hear your viewpoint. Personally, I think 2014 was a terrible year for video game culture — for a number of reasons, but obviously one overwhelming reason. The game themselves? I think that's trickier. 2014 will not be remembered as a year like, say, 1998 when Half Life and Goldeneye were released. It's not a 2007 with BioShock, Call of Duty 4 and Super Mario Galaxy. It simply isn't one of those years.

It's not even a year like 2012, when well-polished 'indie' games like Journey became suddenly mainstream, important and relevant. I think 2014 will be remembered as a year when you genuinely had to search and move a little out of your comfort zone to find compelling interactive experiences. Strangely, when I think of 2014 I think of Desert Golf — a game that subverted just about every mobile gaming trope imaginable. Someone on Twitter — I can't remember who — said that Desert Golfing was "punk as fuck" and I agree with that wholeheartedly.

I'd also argue that, in its own way Alien: Isolation was "punk as fuck". It was brave and subversive in its own way, and in an environment where the stakes were way, way higher. More money, more expectation — the video game future of a billion dollar franchise was essentially at stake. The fact that a game like Alien: Isolation evolved from that figurative melting pot is a minor miracle.

But when I think of 2014 I also think of P.T. — probably the most genuinely unsettling interactive experience I've ever had in a video game. Familiar, dissociating, bewildering. P.T. was just phenomenally otherworldly in the way it messed with video game logic and messed around with the idea of a core 'loop'. Making that loop a visual space was an absolute masterstroke. I'll never forget that video game as long as I live.

2014 was the year where you had to search for those experiences. It was a year when the best games felt buried and staying in your comfort zone was not advisable. If you stuck with the staples — the Assassin's Creeds, the Call of Duties — you might have found yourself a little disappointed in 2014, but solace could be found where you least expected it.

That's how I saw it at least — how was 2014 for you?


    I agree that 2014 was pretty underwhelming for the most part. I remember the days where I would buy a game and be unable to put it down. I'd stay up all night, then wake up early to continue playing. I don't know if it's me that has changed or the games...but I find myself buying a game, playing it for a few hours and then moving on. Games don't grab me anymore...not like they used to. Am i alone?

    Last edited 05/01/15 11:09 am

      Yeah I'm having the same problem. I feel like I'm playing Dragon Age: I, just because it's supposed to be brilliant, rather than because I think it is. It's good, but it just isn't grabbing me the way Souls, Skyrim and Fallout did ... and still do...

      I suspect what I'm really waiting for is more open world RPGs to come out in the first person. 3rd person does nothing for me (Souls notwithstanding)...

      Maybe yr just getting old, and maybe games are delivering more of the same.. hard to say.
      I got back into 'fun' gaming this year, after being burned out completely for about 6 months, the Wii-U turned my gaming around.
      I do feel that the big-time-investment games don't seem to have the same ability to pull me into their worlds, the way Half-Life and Halo did, where I was a part of the story and felt I *was* the main character, rather than 'playing' a character just to see what is happening in a world that I am watching from the other side of a screen.
      Alien Isolation and P.T. delivered that "I am the character" experience for me this year, Wolfenstein did too actually, but none of the other big ones held my attention.
      I too am enjoying Dragon Age, but am not immersed in it like I was in games of yore.

      Last edited 05/01/15 11:28 am

        Definitely agree that my getting older would have a lot to do with it. I think it's a mix of having less time to immerse myself in a story and the stories either being shallow or just more of the same thing. It's hard when you find yourself with only an hour to play and just when you find yourself getting into the have to stop.
        I don't own a Wii-U but i definitely see the appeal. It seems like the sort of console that inspires games that can be picked up and played for a short session, but still feel like you had a good time.
        The AAA titles much hype, so many promises...maybe that's one of the biggest changes. In the past, you only got a small taste of what a game was about...then you picked it up and it delivered what you expected and more. Now, we find games which promise the world, have huge budgets but seriously under-deliver (Watch Dogs...I'm looking at you).
        Definitely enjoyed Wolfenstein...I think to my point above wasn't hyped, in fact it was sledged before anyone knew anything...then it blew most people away.

        Maybe it's not the games that are the let down...maybe its the marketing and puffery.

        I think there is a couple of things here. First as you get older you have less time. Compounding this is that somewhere in teh last 10 years the time to complete became a measure of how 'good' the game was. It isn't worth buying short game.
        Halo was a 10 hour game, half-life only another couple more. Now there is push back if a game isn't at least 20-25 hours long so you get half a game of padding.

    2104 was great for me, Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart8, Bayonetta 2, Captain Toad, Alien Isolation, Wolfenstein, Valiant Hearts, P.T. , Dragon Age, Shovel Knight, Last of Us DLC, Shadow of Mordor, and some other stuff I played but can't think of right now.
    I had more games this year than I could play.
    If you didn't own a Wii-U then the year had a lot less to offer I guess.

    Downside of 2014, broken games, I returned my XB1 and Halo MCC and it was my biggest disappointment of the year, quite possibly will be giving the XB1 a miss now for this gen.

    Nintendo delivered a solid showing in the latter half of the year and introduced the world to its latest collectathon cash cow in the form of amiiboe.

    I've been either thoroughly impressed by, or pleasantly surprised by things like bayonetta, hyrule warriors (did not expect that to work), mk8, and smash. In a year when other devs failed to deliver what they had "hyped" to, or struggled with basic functionality, Nintendo's titles were characteristically polished.

    They even produced decent DLC and released a solid free update to Pikmin 3!

    Last edited 05/01/15 11:42 am

    Games that I was meant to be ecstatic for haven't engrossed me like they used to.
    Watch Dogs, Assassins Creed Unity, Dragon Age Inquisition haven't caught like I thought they would.
    The game I had the most fun with this year was FFX, my Wii U and my 3DS

    The years are pretty much irrelevant to me now. My back catalogue is so big, I'm rarely playing anything 'current'. For example, at the moment I am playing through Disgaea 4, which apparently is from 2011.

    I never had a shortage of games to play in 2014 though looking back, the games I played were either those on my backlog, the relatively niche titles or games that had smaller audiences. Although I played mainstream things like Destiny and Borderlands, they were very ordinary and felt more like the games industry was just trying to perfect mediocrity rather than push forward to the next level of innovation.

    Even with the new generation of consoles in full swing, no one seemed to be doing anything interesting. If they were though, it seemed like it was a case of the increased technical capabilites simply meaning more could go wrong as companies tried to apply old design principles to new and somewhat incompatible technologies. This year has some very exciting titles and ideas coming up but they can go very wrong very quickly if people don't realise that more technological freedom requires even more discipline and focus.

    2014 was for me the year of Dark Souls (one) so it was really good!

      Just checked, and it was for me too! Did not realise it was only last year. Loved it so much. Achievements say that it basically consumed me from 3/2/14 to 1/4/14. I think I went a little hollow with how little sleep I obtained over that period.

      Edit: You can actually see the three distinct attempts I took at playing it via achievements. First stuttering attempt on 31/8/2012, then managed to beat the gargoyles on 26/7/2013, and finally surrendered myself to the glory on 3/2/14. Epitomises the type of game that you have to work hard to "get", and then it's totally worthwhile when you do.

      Last edited 05/01/15 11:55 am

    2014 was okay for someone who only plays a few big games per year. I do kind of wish Far Cry 4 and Dragon Age hadn't been released at more or less the same time, as I haven't even had a chance to play DA:I yet.

    This was Nintendo's year overall, I'd say. MK8, Smash and Amiibo's were all great.

    It wasn't too bad a year for me. I had fun with Alien: Isolation, Wolfenstein: TNO, Mario Kart 8 and Far Cry 4. Watch_Dogs wasn't a bad game, mostly underwhelming, i am more disappointed that i let myself waste $150 on the ded_sec edition.

    Disappointed that GTA V PC didn't get released with current-gen versions but not too long to go barring any late delays.

    2014: the year of Diablo and Destiny!

    Also my daughter (and second child) was born.

    I agree - 2014 was quite underwhelming on the video game front. I've generally been downscaling my gaming year on year, but the last 12 months was crazy. There really haven't been any major highlights for me.

    I remember after i got Destiny, i invited a couple mates over to check it out. Our collective reaction was: "Meh". And that's astounding given Destiny was one of the most hyped games of the year - one that was supposed to deliver so much and be a massive highlight and even game of the year contender. Instead, it barely even registered on our radar.

    And that's basically 2014 in a nutshell. Hopefully the next 12 months will be better.

    The Banner Saga
    Broken Age (act 1)
    Wolf Among Us 2-5
    South Park: Stick of Truth
    Dark Souls 2
    Far Cry 4
    Walking Dead Season 2
    Infamous: Second Son
    Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls
    Mercenary Kings
    Child of Light
    Wolfenstein: The New Order
    Divinity: Original Sin
    Valiant Hearts
    Wasteland 2
    The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
    Pier Solar HD
    Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
    Alien: Isolation
    Costume Quest 2
    Civilization: Beyond Earth
    Lords of the Fallen
    Valkyria Chronicles on PC
    WoW: Warlords of Draenor
    This War of Mine
    Dragon Age: Inquisition
    GTA5 next-gen
    Tales from the Borderlands.
    Tales of Symphonia
    Some Professor Layton games
    Bravely Default
    Goat Simulator
    Drakengard 3
    Watch Dogs
    Mario Kart 8
    Murdered: Soul Suspect
    Shovel Knight
    Gods Will Be Watching
    Disgaea 4
    Risen 3
    Borderlands Pre-Sequel
    Ryse PC
    Dreamfall Chapters
    Sunset Overdrive
    Halo: MCC
    Persona Q
    Super Smash Bros
    Captain Toad
    Phoenix Wright
    Elite: Dangerous
    Dead Rising 3

    Yeah. Totally a terrible year for games, who would want any of that crap? Like… nothing good came out last year!

    (Seriously. People either have ridiculously short memories or no taste.)

    Last edited 05/01/15 12:01 pm

      You say 'no taste', but there's a lot of games in there that are objectively bad or at least mediocre. Otherwise, I agree - I had a pretty good there.

        Bad? Tell 'im he's dreamin'. Well. A few of those I haven't actually played.
        Broadly speaking about half of the list is some of the best gaming in recent memory for me, and the other half (mostly the Nintendo/handheld titles) is stuff people simply would not shut up about and obviously need to be reminded of.

    Pretty awful year for the gaming industry and games in general (between the gamergate crap, hacks and broken games).

    Did manage to play through the following though:

    Infamous Second Son (PS4)
    Titanfall (PC)
    The Elder Scrolls Online (PC)
    South Park: The Stick of Truth (PS3)
    Dark Souls 2 (PS3)
    Tomb Raider: DE (PS4)
    Wolfenstein: The New Order (PS4)
    Kirby Triple Deluxe (3DS)
    Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)
    The Last of Us (PS4)
    The Evil Within (PS4)
    Destiny (PS4)
    Shadow Warrior (PS4)
    Grand Theft Auto V (PS4)
    Far Cry 4 (PS4)
    Shovel Knight (3DS)
    Pokemon Alpha Sapphire (3DS)
    Super Smash Bros (Wii U)

    Also picked up a Vita for Persona 4 and played 120 hours of BF4 on PS4.

    Last edited 05/01/15 12:08 pm

    Not only did games suck ass this year but publishes have shown new high levels of contempt for us gamers with all the games that were released broken this year. We're all Oliver Twists, asking for more served up crud, and most gamers, either mildly criticise or shrug their shoulders while slurping the drool.

    The worst example - in a long term view - this year for myself, are those who say that Destiny has good combat. One of the most ludicrous opinions ever proposed for a sub standard game. You only have to directly compare the recently released Master Chiefs Collection to any of Halo 1st,2nd or 3rd games combat, and that lie of " good combat " in Destiny, is simply an internalisation delusional lie, used to cover the self contradiction with everything else that is so wrong with Destiny for why so many keep playing it. Iv'e actually heard Destiny detractors say it has good combat!!!! Just compare the core to Halo please. Or even the only above average Wolfenstein, or even Rage from a few years ago.

    New levels of friendship bias hit their Peak with Destiny too. Fun with friends is legit of course, but near total denial of a games core play understanding,is losing out to friendship bias. If you want a another good recent example, check our Lara Croft and the temple of Osiris. Another poor game that is deliberately undercooked and underdeveloped, because publishers KNOW that friendship bias will get that game a pass. Publishers like Activision had planned for and predicted all this......And I'm afraid according to the mostly non-reaction out there in gamer land, they won.

    Last edited 05/01/15 12:18 pm

    '14 was a year of dichotomy for me.

    Disappointments from games that promised so much (Watch_Dogs, AC Unity, Destiny, even though I'm still playing it??!) and utter joy and surprise from games that were seemingly doomed to wallow in their own imminent mediocrity (Shadow Of Mordor, Wolfenstein).

    Personally for me as well, it was a pretty up and down year. With now under a year to go in my Game Design course, thinking about what was going to happen once I became and adult with a piece of paper that said I could do stuff, was harrowing. After PAX though, where through whether sheer luck, drunken charm or other forces, managed to make some great connections and even lock in some work experience with a great local company.

    I even met a wild Serrels.

    Overall, I'd give 2014 a 7.34/10. Would probably do again.

    Last edited 05/01/15 12:46 pm

    It was pretty ordinary for me. I didn't even buy 10 new releases in total last year and normally I'd end up buying that many around the xmas period and having to schedule when I can play what.

    I probably could have not bought a PS4 yet. My current disc collection stands at 3 games (Infamous Second Son, Infamous First Light, Diablo 3 - After trading in Killzone and Knack after not even completing them)

    The WiiU I got DK Tropical Freeze and Mario Kart 8.

    PC I got Dark Souls 2, Lego Batman 3 and Arkham Origins Blackgate

    3DS I don't think I even bought a new game apart from VC titles.

    So either the year was a little sucky for new releases or my tastes are just changing. I'm enjoying a retro run at the moment with Banjo Tooie.

    A year when the smaller games were great (Shovel Knight, Child of Light, apparently Grimrock 2), there were some nice surprises (Shadow of Mordor, Alien Isolation) and Nintendo had plenty of great games, but for the most part, it was full of disappointments, broken games and promises (AC Unity, Watch_Dogs, countless other over hyped releases and flops).

    Not a good year by any stretch of the word, but had some nice releases.

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