Press Start’s GOTY Awards 2014: The Runner-ups

Welcome to Press Start’s first annual GOTY awards. We’ve decided to do things a little bit differently and ask for each member on the team to list their favourite game of the year as well as their runner up. We’ve decided to do this as our team is based all over the world and has completely different tastes in games. We felt that it’s much fairer to let everyone have their own opinion rather than choose just one game as a whole. We’ll then hand things over to you and find out our reader’s GOTY.

Valiant Hearts is a special case for me, as its qualities don’t necessarily lie in its gameplay mechanics, but at its seemingly intense look at the effects around its characters, which seem to be more focussed on the actual influence on them rather than the traditional combat scenarios in these subjects. Valiant Hearts is a game I won’t soon forget.

As a sucker for both Middle-Earth settings and strong combat mechanics, Shadow of Mordor fulfilled both criteria and then some. With a very Arkham-esque style combat (though also very different in some aspects), I found the combat to be consistently engaging, fun and satisfying. Shadow of Mordor came out of nowhere to provide a genuinely amazing experience for me this year.WolfensteinGiving the Wolfenstein IP to an unknown developer and ditching multiplayer entirely immediately pulled up two huge red flags that had me very apprehensive about the quality of the game, but The New Order provided with one of the best campaign FPS’s I’ve ever played. The story played itself very straight, but was incredibly engaging, providing genuinely interesting characters and settings. The gameplay was smooth and provided with some very fun FPS mechanics that both harkened back to the old school Wolfenstein/Doom days, while pushing the IP into 2014 and beyond. I applaud MachineGames for providing one of the best single player campaigns this year.

ShannonFar Cry 4 has had me captivated since I started the game. The game has had a lot of criticism for being too similar to Far Cry 3 however I was lucky enough to not have played it and I believe that this allowed me to enjoy Far Cry 4 to the fullest. I can’t recall any better feeling in recent gaming times than jumping onto an elephant for the first time and taking over a camp. It felt unlike any other experience and the open-world felt so immersive at all times. The story is not the best you’ll find in any videogame however it’s more than enough to keep you playing through the game. Gunplay is extremely solid and the variety of ways to go through this game is astonishing. There’s absolutely never a dull moment in this game and i’d recommend it to anybody.

Jake AThe Last Tinker, was crafted in the vein of the more glorious days of the platform genre. Taking inspiration from games such as Banjo Kazooie and Mario 64. City of Colours dives head first into a kid friendly atmosphere that tackles issues today that most people, young or old haven’t dared confront in their daily lives. Bullying and discrimination mostly but the way these issues are handled in game is marvelous and applicable to all walks of life.

TinklerIn terms of game play, it was incredibly simple making it wonderfully easy for anyone to pick up and play but for the older players it had a sense of finesse and rhythm too it. Where I feel in love with this game was in its presentation hands down. A magical world that is crafted of basic arts and crafts pieces, cardboard, crayon and crate paper for example. Combining that with an extraordinary soundtrack that captured the essence of the game to a tee.

It had one short coming in nailing its target audience but you cannot question Mimimi’s heartfelt dedication to delivering a magical game with some outstanding morals.

Telltale established themselves as a formidable new storytelling force this year with The Wolf Among Us. Following on from the success of The Walking Dead, a universe very near and dear to my heart, I was unsure as to whether or not I’d connect with the unfamiliar world of the Fable comic universe. However, the expertly paced, gritty crime drama, delivered over five episodes had me gripped an eager to play the next. It was one of very few games I consciously set aside time to play in order to complete it. Sadly, Telltale have still not weaved in enough challenging gameplay elements to satisfy me entirely, although the quick time events were greatly improved. The quality of its episodic storyline however secures its place as one of the best games of the year and therefore a worthy recipient of an honourable mention.

Tropical Freeze came as a huge surprise to me. Not only was I not looking forward to it after it was announced, but I was still bitter that Retro Studios wasn’t making yet another Metroid game. I liked Donkey Kong Country Returns, don’t get me wrong, but I thought that we’d seen everything Retro had to offer with the franchise after that game and that a sequel was really unwarranted. Man, was I wrong.

While I personally feel like these new games will never reach the atmosphere of Donkey Kong Country 2 and 3, Tropical Freeze comes pretty damn close. The boring, lifeless enemies in the original Returns were replaced with the fun and full of character Snowmads in Tropical Freeze.

DKCThe levels themselves took what Donkey Kong Country Returns gave us, only to hone their design to the point of what felt like perfection. It was and continues to be one of the tightest platforming games that I’ve ever played with a great amount of difficulty without it feeling cheap or over the top.

But it’s the way that it all comes together that makes Tropical Freeze an absolute delight to play. One of the most memorable moments in the game is where you’re running through a burning village situated in the middle of a wide open Savannah. The way the level is designed encourages you to play through it as quickly as possible and this is complimented by a fantastic soundtrack by none other than David Wise.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is easily my runner up for the year. If only because it managed to turn me from a full blown sceptic into a full blown fan and made me realise how much Donkey Kong Country Returns was missing just by playing it.

This decision came down to the wire, and ultimately it was Infamous that took second place. The third instalment of the series from Sucker Punch and the first outing on all-new hardware, Infamous: Second Son took the Conduit storyline and expanded on it, with the inclusion of all-new powers and a new character in the form of Delsin Rowe. Taking full advantage of the PS4’s new technology, the game looked absolutely amazing, especially for a near-launch game. Delsin’s journey to save his family and friends from Brooke Augustine, the head of the D.U.P and a powerful Conduit tasked with hunting down and capturing other Conduits. With fun and simple gameplay, lots to explore, and a great story, Infamous: Second Son only narrowly misses out for my choice of Game Of The Year.

inFAMOIUSOne thing Nintendo has got going for them is the fact that their remakes are always spectacular. This is evident with OR/AS; using the same engine as Pokemon X/Y, the region of Hoenn is brought to life in bigger and better ways. As the original Ruby and Sapphire were probably my favourite generation of Pokemon games, OR/AS had memories flooding back to me the moment I began playing it. Great for a nostalgia kick, but also equally great for first-time Pokemon players.

Jake B
The game did have a rocky start with server issues, glitches and more, but the idea behind the game and the community of the game is something worthwhile. I think Bungie has done a great job with producing an idea and developing on it by listening to what their gaming community wants out of the game. We’ve seen updates, system redesigns & DLC’s be released either due to what or containing the elements that gamers were asking for. I’ll admit, missions and other game modes became repetitive and the story play-through didn’t have me on the edge of my seat, but it is a fun game to play. I think this a title you need to engage with for the long haul and keep coming back to as the universe expands – which we will definitely be seeing in the years to come.

This is a bit of an oddball choice, but it’s one that I’ve put a lot of thought into. D4 takes my runner-up pick because of its engrossing story, quirky cast of characters, and excellent Kinect controls. As a fan of Deadly Premonition I found it to be everything I wanted out of director SWERY’s next game while still forging an identity of its own. The only negative here is that D4 may never receive any follow up episodes – it unfortunately did not sell very well.

I know this will be a controversial choice, with almost everyone having their own little problems with Destiny, but the amount of time I put into this game and actually had fun with it… I’d be crazy not to talk about it. Even though I’ve wondered off from the game for now, the fact that it brought all my normally PC gaming friends together on the PS4, with it’s MMO-esque elements, is amazing to me. And yes, the storytelling was almost non-existent… but being the nerd I am, I went through and read all the grimoire cards, and actually found a great wealth of interesting science fiction/fantasy ideas. Go and read the backstory for the Vex, it’s actually pretty cool!

It’s been plagued with problems, bad servers, glitches, a horrible loot system and so much more, but it was still a great game to play. Even after missions and strikes became a bit tedious and repetitive I still enjoyed playing through the endgame. It would of been my GOTY had it not been so problematic.