by Matthew Thompson
Unlike last year, I don’t have a clear cut game of the year, so for 2014 I will be presenting my games of the rear in a top ten countdown like I did with TV shows. I will still hand out some extra year-end awards in a separate blog, but this top ten will allow me to cover a number of the games that just narrowly missed out on the top honor for 2014. Here are numbers ten through six.
10. LittleBigPlanet 3
I had difficulty settling on a tenth game this year. As much as I loved LittleBigPlanet 3‘s story mode (the new hubworlds, characters and power-ups make it the most fun I’ve had with the series) it was over far too soon. It wasn’t until I dove into some of the community’s offerings that I finally decided to give this game the final spot on my list. It reminded me just how impressive the editing tools here are and the kind of creativity that can come out of them. Seeing users put all LBP3‘s clever new mechanics to work once again left me in awe. The series debut on the PS4 is a little rough around the edges, but it achieves some amazing things as well.
9. Watch Dogs
There is no denying that Watch Dogs visuals didn’t live up to the initial reveal and the game definitely follows a very similar formula to other Ubisoft open-world titles, but I found myself having a blast with the game anyway. The hacking mechanic really adds a nice twist to typical sandbox shootouts and car chases. It even makes things like tailing missions a bit more interesting through the use of security cameras. They really nailed the controls for both shooting and stealth which makes for a game that plays extremely well. Throw in a bustling Chicago that feels alive and a nice variety of side missions (I really appreciated some of the puzzle-focused ones as a change of pace) and you have a really good first stab at a new open-world IP. If Ubisoft can improve on it with a sequel the way it did with fellow sandbox series Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry, we could be in for a real treat with Watch Dogs 2.
8. Infamous First Light
I enjoyed Infamous: Second Son quite a bit, but this standalone downloadable follow-up manages to top it. It does so by focusing on Second Son’s best power set (Neon) and making it even better. Never before has movement in Infamous been as much of a joy as zooming around with Fetch’s suped up Neon abilities. The new arena battles are also a great addition to the series, one I hope sticks around if the series continues. Short but sweet, First Light is the high point in the Infamous series for me.
Threes! really hits all the right notes to make it the perfect mobile puzzle game. The simple swipe mechanics are a great fit for today’s smart phones and it acts as a nice timekiller on the go. It also packs a good amount of strategy into its addictive gameplay that help make it a superb puzzle experience. Laid over all of this is some catchy music that will be stuck in your head for days and a cute artstyle that makes getting to new numbers rewarding (I mean who wouldn’t want to see the next fun character you’ll unlock or hear their adorable sound effects). It comes together to create a nice little package, one you can tell the developers put a lot of love and care into.
6. Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris
I just love what Crystal Dynamics has done with this spinoff series. It takes a lot of the core elements of classic Tomb Raider and delivers them in a completely different way with some of the most clever cooperative play out there. Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris doesn’t make a huge step forward from Guardian of Light, but it gave me more of what I loved about that game with some nice new ideas thrown in the mix. The hubworld is fun to explore, the staff and torches make for some amazing puzzles, and four-player co-op allows for a couple more friends to join in on the fun. I’m a sucker for the Egyptian setting too which doesn’t hurt. Temple of Osiris is a great follow-up to GoL and a good way to tide you ever until Miss Croft’s next big-budget outing.
That will do it for Part 1 of my countdown of the top ten games of 2014. Be on the lookout for Part 2 soon. Thanks for reading!