2014 has been a hard year to conjure Game of the Year nominations for, but not due to an overwhelming number of options, a problem I wouldn’t mind having right now. The year had some interesting releases sprinkled throughout, yet the dread of all the disappointments brought (shockingly) by the major developers has left me preferring not to look back on the year that regrettably was, but here are some highlights.
Battleblock Theater was re-issued for PC, and Abe’s Oddyssey returned as Oddworld: New N Tasty for PS4. Octodad: The Dadliest Catch and The Swapper proved several barrels-worth of enjoyment for too few hours, while Ubisoft’s South Park: The Stick of Truth and Valiant Hearts both managed to exceed my high expectations. It doesn’t seem so bad when I describe it that way, so I guess I’d better stop there.
My vote for GotY goes to a game that offered some strain of innovation without forcing me to consider reading the returns policy, a sad rarity for 2014.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is a repetitive game, and the game-world quickly feels almost claustrophobic considering how ridiculously fast you can traverse it. The story is a trite continuation of lore we’ve heard before, with Lord of the Rings quotes shoe-horned amongst regular dialogue clichés in an effort to establish rapport with long-term fans. Fans that would probably scoff at this newcomer to Middle-earth, but hey, they made an effort, so that’s good…?
That just about summarises my every beef with M-e:SoM (I hope to hell that no one actually uses that acronym). It’s safe to assume then that yes, the rest of the game is fantastic. The fighting mechanics meet the standard for open-world third-person RPG games, outdoing the half-assed efforts of a particular bogged series everyone seems to be infatuated with. It is clear when and how you should counter enemies’ attacks, and it feels good to kill the bad guys, which means Shadow of Mordor wins.
The Nemesis system is awesome and incomprehensible, inexplicable fun, and I urge any and all to play this title just to experience it. Just do it, seriously. Mainly because I doubt we’ll see many more developers willing to work on such a system any time soon. Innovation is a privilege it seems; experience it when the opportunity arises.
And now I’m all angry, this is why I don’t like to think about 2014. I’m going back to Apotheon, screw you guys.