High Rez Gaming’s GOTY’s / 31st of December 2014
So as this year draws to a close and we all settle down to gorge ourselves with festive feasts, and games with the potential to replace the need to socialise almost entirely, we thought it would be a good idea to look back over the games we’ve each played this year and try come to some conclusion as to which is our own personal favourite. It may sound like the typical kop-out thing to do at the end of the year, but it’s not, trust me. These are all new words, we’re not just going over some old material, whilst having the chance to reflect on some of the titles that came along before we embarked on this little experiment back in July.
Ross Yeoman: Editor
My game of the year is the wonderful Wolfenstein: The New Order, which starts during a battle to protect Europe from Nazi domination towards the end of World War 2, with BJ Blazkowicz leading a frantic and chaotic push to put a stop to the Nazi’s advance across the region and turn the tables on their mighty war machine. As soon as we get started we see some interesting Nazi tech and get confronted by some quite challenging squads of Nazis to dispatch, whilst attempting to complete the game’s earliest goals. During this battle BJ Blazkowicz is severely injured, allowing the story to pick up again in 1960, after the protagonist spends a 14 year detention in a psychiatric hospital that surely wasn’t run by BUPA. During this gap in the narrative, the unstoppable Nazis have laid claim to almost the whole world after successfully taking both Europe and America. The world is pretty different now and after making more changes to life as we know it than both New Labour and Steve Jobs combined, our hero has to join the resistance to fight the future Nazis head on and attempt to erase the damage that they have done.
We are treated to an alternative dark and creepy universe, and I must say that the studio have done a great job in delivering both the great story and enjoyable gameplay throughout, and the game is both challenging and entertaining in equal measure with loads of bizarre bits of Nazi tech to fight, including robotic Nazi dogs, robots and some very weird and twisted individuals throughout the game. You can dual wield many of the weapons on offer, and picking up machine guns and tearing into large groups of Nazis never once dulled for me. However if you’re into a bit of the old stealth action, then don’t feel left out as you can plan your routes and sneak around dispatching Nazis to your heart’s content.
I feel that a lot of time and effort was put into the story and it’s nice to enjoy the cut scenes in a game for once and see some thoroughly original ideas and content, including sabotaging a bridge between Gibraltar and Africa and even sabotaging the Nazi Space program. There were loads of enigma codes to collect throughout the game (these eventually unlock additional game modes), plenty of items to loot and some fairly challenging areas to clear out.
As a fan of military history, especially World War 2, the occult, sci-fi, technology and first person shooters, Wolfenstein had a lot to live up to in my eyes, and given that it had a smidgen of each thrown into the mix, I still came away feeling that it had delivered on all fronts. Possibly the only thing that I didn’t like was the timed Quick Time Event area at the start where I died several times trying to escape my plane, and if I’m being really fussy, I didn’t get as many weird Nazi sci-tech guns to wield as I would of liked. Of course, nothing’s perfect!
Gordon Vimpany: Deputy Editor
For the vast majority of the year I was a certain nothing would top my affection for Stoic Games debut title The Banner Saga, released all the way back in January. But then I had to review a game for this very site, one which otherwise I probably wouldn’t have even bought. In fact before its release I’d written it off as being little more than a cheap copy of a series, one that I personally, was more than a little fed up with.
Yes, my very own Game of the Year award has to go to Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. Although the storyline was nothing to shout home about, its mechanics - the nemesis system in particular - came together wonderfully to produce a game with some of the most innovative and downright fun gameplay that I’ve experienced in quite some time. Whether I was indoctrinating bodyguards to spring a grand trap on an Orc Warchief, or simply hunting down Elven artefacts I was always enjoying myself. In fact even when I was being killed I didn’t mind, it gave me a chance to see the changes in the Orc hierarchy, whilst providing me with a target for some much needed revenge.
Not many single-player games can ensure you’re having a good time even when you’re losing and for that reason Monolith and Warner Brothers Games, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is for me, the best game I’ve played all year. Honourable mentions must be made for The Banner Saga, Dragon Age: Inquisition and The Evil Within.
James Paton: Associate Editor
When it came to deciding upon what would be my choice for Game of the Year, the decision was a surprisingly easy one, despite some late contenders coming in the form of Dragon Age: Inquisition, Geometry Wars 3 and Playground Games’ Forza Horizon 2. My choice was the one game that moved me above all others, a surprising blend of half-arsed poetry, endearing characters, a perfectly fitting soundtrack and sumptuous, highly stylised, watercolour visuals; it was, of course, none other than Ubisoft Montreal’s Child of Light.
Now whilst I admit that the game was flawed - it was certainly lacking in depth, at least as far as the combat system went - there is simply no denying what a mesmerizingly beautiful experience that Ubisoft Montreal created here, and there simply aren’t enough superlatives to throw at it from an artistic point of view. Rez was first released in 2001, and since then there have been so few releases that have even aspired to attain that coveted goal of “games as art”, which only serves to makes Child of Light all the more a refreshing change from the usual rigmarole of first person shooters and sports titles that are thrown at us year after year.
Surprisingly, for a videogame, it arrived without the delusions of grandeur that typically blight most releases, there was no pompous fanfare to announce its arrival, instead Ubisoft relied upon the sheer quality of the software to sell itself, and this - I hope - it did very well. As something of a Crytek fanboy, the German giant’s CryEngine to me is a mark of quality, yet with the UbiArt Framework, Ubisoft have created something rather special themselves, and following on from the excellent Valiant Hearts, I simply cannot wait to see what other imaginative excursions this delightful developer platform will take me away on next year.
Stuart Wilson: Staff Writer
How does one pick a Game of the Year, is it by how many hours are put in, how much enjoyment is garnered, is it judged by its plot, it’s music, it’s gameplay, it’s graphics or the overall package? In the end I landed somewhere in between with Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall. As well as being my Game of the Year, it’s arguably the best multiplayer game of the year, and one I’ve returned to consistently over the year to pilot my Titan and fight the IMC or Militia across the universe in this fast paced FPS.
This game is a fine mix of Halo, Call of Duty, and Battlefield, giving us something truly unique and special. Graphically it’s still pretty, it has a great soundtrack, a superb selection of weapons and perks and is one of the best balanced FPS’s that I have ever come across. It allows for superb customisation allowing players to hone their skills and play out their role within their squad. Let’s be honest what other game allows you to drop in multiple giant war machines for all out warfare as you run along walls and leap off buildings firing all manner of projectiles at enemies.
With a plethora of affordable DLC and free content this game is truly massive, and is always providing new game modes and challenges. It is the only multiplayer game where I have even seen a point in hitting ‘prestige’ or levelling through the pilot generations, I have even seen some players racking up 300+ hours on this game, reaching 10th Gen and unlocking all the achievements. Titanfall is a superb exclusive for all Xbox owners out there and I should be in everyone’s games library.
Jamie Cowey: Former Contributor
Despite the fact that it was in fact a re-release Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition still has to go down as my favourite game this year. It’s depth of content and simple repetitive, yet rewarding gameplay is ideal for someone with my limited mental capacity.
But in all seriousness it was a game that, whether playing alone or with friends (either online or utilising the couch co-op), was always enjoyable. A perfect game to waste a day with or stick on for a quick thirty minute session. And with the added content included in the re-released version it was a game I definitely got my monies worth from.
Lastly with the hindsight Activision Blizzard had, as a direct result of the controversy of the PC version and its various unpopular extra features, meant that Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition was the very best version of the game available. A more than worthy Game of the Year.
And so that’s it for another year in videogames, these were some of our own personal highlights and although we intended to come to some sort of consensus as to which game was our overall winner, unfortunately doing so proved to be too tall an order. Instead we got drunk, argued, fought, failed to come to any conclusion, and Jamie had to have his fingers stitched back on… but we’ll never speak of that. See you next year.