2014 has come and passed, and it was certainly an interesting year in retrospect, with some truly great games being released, and some truly embarrassing launches occurring. Regardless of what system you owned, chances are there were at least a few new games you enjoyed– I know that certainly applies to me. While I haven’t played enough of some games to give a solid opinion on them yet, I’ve had enough time with several great games (and a few not-so-great ones) to comfortably mention them in my top five games of 2014. With that said, let’s take a look at a few noteworthy games from the past twelve months.
Dishonorable Mention – Assassin’s Creed: Unity
While I want to make this list as positive as possible, I felt that there was one thing that I needed to make very clear, and that was the game that disappointed me most last year. Assassin’s Creed: Unity was one of the games I was most excited for following its great E3 showing in June. The game introduced some admittedly fun co-op play into the main Assassin’s Creed campaign, much-needed parkour control alterations that (for the most part) made climbing and descending much easier yet interactive, and perhaps most importantly, revamped the mission structure and combat system to return to the more challenging roots of the series. It even introduced us to Paris, one of the series’ most alive settings.
Unfortunately for Ubisoft, while a game’s core mechanics definitely make a big difference, they only help if the game actually works. Upon release, players were greeted by numerous issues regardless of platform, ranging from random and major performance drops in certain instances and areas, to online connectivity issues for weeks after launch, and even to randomly deleted save files– I actually ran into that last one after completing the story on PC. Assassin’s Creed is one of my favorite game series, but after how 2014’s major release wound up being, I’m much more cautious about 2015’s eventual offering, and hopefully, I’m not the only one.
5. Assassin’s Creed: Rogue
Seeing Rogue in my top five after naming Unity my most disappointing game may seem weird, but I can’t stress enough how opposite the two games are on a spectrum of good-to-bad. While Unity had – and has – some major issues, Rogue was one of the more well-polished games of the year, with its only technical setbacks arising from being exclusive to older platforms. The game is meant to be the final part of Assassin’s Creed‘s “American Saga,” and plays much like its predecessors, featuring the same combat, naval exploration, and modern-day gameplay as Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. For its story, it intends to tie up the stories seen in Assassin’s Creed III, Black Flag, and Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry. While the game’s protagonist is a new character never mentioned in other games, the game does a good job of closing gaps in other characters’ stories – including the ever-popular Haytham Kenway, Adéwalé, and Achilles – and providing an exciting lead-in to Unity. It doesn’t add too many new features on the gameplay front, but Rogue is a satisfying conclusion to the series’ second major mini-arc that any fan of more recent Assassin’s Creed games will enjoy. Just be prepared to have it ingrained into your mind for eternity that Shay makes his own luck.
4. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
While 2015 may be the most important year for Metal Gear fans since 2008’s release of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, we were offered a glimpse into the next main installment last year in the form of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. The game essentially acts as the prologue to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, featuring much of that game’s gameplay: players are dropped into the small-but-open base of Camp Omega, and given free reign over what route to travel to reach an objective. While the main story mission can take as little as seven minutes to complete, the game encourages exploration of the mission area to find new tactics and gear, and also offers several “side-ops” with unique objectives, including the ever-cool Déjà Vu and Jamais Vu missions. Ground Zeroes may feel bite-sized at first, but if you dig in and explore its world, you’ll find a surprising amount of content that is well worth the current $20 price tag.
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