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2014 in Review

Posted by: Cooper | Filed Under GRU News, News, Opinions, Other, Weekly Articles | No comments 
Jan 22


A lot of games came out in 2014. Some were good, some were meh, and some were flat out broken, but honestly 2014 was a good year to be a gamer. Sure, there were a lot of duds, but the games that worked shined brighter than a lot of games from the past few years. Here I am going to give a brief review of the biggest games of the year for me. Keep in mind that I only have a gaming PC and an Xbox One, so I may have missed some games that you would like to see like The Last of Us Remastered and other PS4 or WiiU games. These games also aren’t in any particular order, just in what order I wrote them.

South Park: Stick of Truth


The last game from last-gen consoles that I got my hands on before completely switching over, Stick of Truth definitely gave me a grand farewell. As a huge fan of the show, I found it absolutely hilarious from start to finish, and the game is full of enough fan service to make even the most jaded “classic” South Park fan chuckle. Unfortunately, there isn’t much here for non-fans or people who don’t enjoy crass humor. The game can be repetitive and doesn’t really innovate in any way. The gameplay is very familiar, and functions well, but doesn’t do enough to draw in people who aren’t fans of the show. With that said the game’s presentation is perfect and feels as though you are actually controlling an episode of the show. Definitely one of my favorites from 2014 and one of the funniest games I’ve ever played.


Especially for fans of the show


Wolfenstein: The New Order


I get so excited talking about Wolfenstein. Similar to Stick of Truth, it doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. The gameplay is very reminiscent of old school first person shooters, but it brings in enough new aspects to make it feel fresh. It doesn’t pull a Duke Nukem and isn’t scared to show its old school roots by allowing you to carry crazy amounts of weapons and armor shards to succeed. The best part of Wolfenstein, though, is that it completely surprised me in how well it was written and paced. The main campaign is as deep and full of interesting characters as a Tarantino film. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it isn’t afraid to make you get a good case of the feels. Wolfenstein is my game of the year for 2014, and if you have ever played an FPS, you owe it to yourself to at least try it out.


Game of the Year!




Oh man, poor Watch_Dogs. I actually really liked the gameplay from the game. I thought it was fun and new enough to keep me interested through the whole campaign. Everything else, though, is a mess. The story is awful with a completely boring protagonist. The graphics, while not terrible, were not what we hoped from gameplay shown years prior. The reason I will never play Watch_Dogs again, though, is the shear annoyance it became getting all of the achievements. By the time I got the last bit of Gamerscore, I was ready to tear my eyes out. I shudder and thinking about playing again just to get the DLC achievements. Ultimately, Watch_Dogs is worth a rent, and reminds me of the first Assassins Creed in that I’m sure Ubisoft will take what worked and make a great sequel.


Requires patience…



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I don’t understand where all the hate towards Titanfall came from. Immediately after its release, it was seen as one of the big “disappointments” of the year. Yes, the campaign was laughable and essentially non-existant. Yes, the multiplayer had less guns and customization options that what its competition offered. But Titanfall did everything else right. The gameplay is top notch, making me think of an Italian pizza chef kissing his fingers with a big smooch to show just how perfect it is. The game also had a pretty smooth launch when compared to other multiplayer focused games last year, which is worth noting. At the end of the day, Titanfall is just non-stop fun that can last hours as long as you don’t need flashy customization options to distract you. It’s just great gameplay, and I love that.




Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeros


I never played a Metal Gear game before diving into this one, and let me tell you, I was damn confused. I watched a YouTube video to catch me up on the story, and that only made me more confused. But what this game lacks in story or cohesiveness, it makes up for it completely open-ended gameplay. The game is really fun to play, especially for stealth fans. The game only limits you with your imagination and, unfortunately, time. This game is hella-short. I got about 12 hours out of it. Honestly, I could’ve gotten more if I wanted the achievements, but that would have been pushing it. Ground Zeros is a fun game that is unfortunately too short for too much money, and you’re better off waiting until the Phantom Pain to jump in.


For super-fans only!


Dragon Age: Inquisition


Dragon Age: Inquisition is all about making you feel powerful, from the decisions you make to the abilities you earn, your inquisitor will be an absolute decision making god by the end of the game. Unfortunately, the story and characters didn’t grab me as much as other Bioware games usually do, mostly due to the awkward layout of the main hub, and the gameplay quickly became too easy for its own good. About a quarter of the way through, I had already evolved to demi-god status, and no one could even come close to stopping me. The game also has a multiplayer mode that is very similar to Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer, but with very few maps and a rough grind to level up it becomes repetitive quickly. The game is full of content though, my 120 hours can attest to that, and it is definitely a well thought out and fun experience. It just may not be for everyone.


But just barely…



2D Boxshot Wizard v1.1

Similarly to Watch_Dogs, I enjoyed Destiny a lot when it first came out. The gameplay was incredibly polished and reiterated Bungie’s expertise at creating console shooters. Each weapon and ability feels impactful and makes you feel powerful, no matter what level you are. Especially when leveling up took just the right amount of time and each of the shops ingame enticed me with high level gear that I could someday have for myself. What I wasn’t aware of at the beginning, though, was the incredibly unnecessarily grindy and random nature of Destiny’s endgame. So you got to level 20 huh? Well now the real game begins! And that real game includes playing the same 6 strikes over and over as well as campaign missions! That sound fun? No?! Well then how does a nearly impossible raid that takes AT LEAST five people to even make a dent in and requires hours of grinding? Is it fun yet? IS IT FUN YET?! I don’t look back at Destiny as fondly as I would hope. I had a lot of good memories and moments from the game, but it ended up just becoming a mindless grindfest with no clear goal other than grinding.


Better off waiting a year for more content.


Valiant Hearts


I wanted to take a little time away from the big releases of the year to mention Valiant Hearts. This was Ubisoft’s gamble (much like Child of Light, which I unfortunately didn’t get to play) that showed that big name publishers and developers can still make a worthwhile, story driven experience. It’s fairly short, but its small price tag makes up for what was one of the most surprising games this year for me. If you have extra cash or see it on a steam sale, I would absolutely recommend Valiant Hearts to anyone who enjoys 2D puzzle games and good stories.


Hidden gem of 2014


Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare


Another “Budget” title like Ground Zeros, Garden Warfare offers a really fun class-based multiplayer experience for only about $40. The difference, though, is that the amount of content you could get out of Garden Warfare extends past most full priced games. The main draw to this game is its unique style and gameplay. The controls are tight and never hold you back, and the game world is incredibly bright and colorful, or dark and menacing, depending on which team you are on. The game feels surprisingly fun for a tower defense spin-off, and fits in well among other third person shooters. If you don’t like the usual Call of Duty experience or have at least grown tired of the typical multiplayer grind, Garden Warfare is definitely for you.


For surprisingly strategic multiplayer fans


Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare


You may remember from my last review of a Call of Duty game that Activision needs to do a lot in order to win me over. The next year, they came out with Ghosts. That is when I swore off of the games entirely. But, and this is a large, ultra-hypocritical but, Advanced Warfare intrigued me with one single detail: it was being developed by someone else, and had a 3 year development time. This is EXACTLY what I asked for in my reviews, and so I thought I would humor them and give it a try. I am happy to report that Advanced Warfare is my favorite Call of Duty since Modern Warfare 2. The campaign is crazy, sure, but not nearly as crazy as the mess MW3 turned into. The real draw here is how the game improves the typical Call of Duty multiplayer by making it fast and fresh. Definitely not as fast and fresh as Titanfall, but it is a good start. Some of you may have decided, like me, to swear off of Call of Duty entirely after Ghosts. But if you give Advanced Warfare a chance and let it grow on you, you might just enjoy it.


If you’ve given up on CoD before…


Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor


This is the game that I continually forget about but as soon as I remember it a smile comes to my face. Not too often does a game come out that creates such unique experiences for each person that plays it. Thanks to the Nemesis System in the game, my friends and I continually had different stories to tell each other about the trails of Mordor and what happened between us and our Warchiefs. That may be the nerdiest sentence I have ever written, but it still stands that this game is incredibly unique and incredibly fun. It does start to wind down towards the end, unfortunately, and the final boss fight falls flat. But it is a good game to lose time to and you’ll get a lot of good stories from it in the end.


Unless you hate killing things…


Halo: The Master Chief Collection


This one saddens me. I was so pumped for the Master Chief Collection that I stayed up until midnight with my friends, had a few drinks, and was ready to “destroy” multiplayer as soon as midnight struck. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite work out that way and the servers couldn’t take the load of launch night. Whatever, we thought, there’s always tomorrow when everything dies down. Except it didn’t. The matchmaking TO THIS DAY still doesn’t work 100% of the time, and even when it does it will put you in a half-full game where teams or woefully unbalanced. “But what about the campaigns?” You ask? Well they work for the most part, and playing through each game at 1080p 60fps is nice. Halo 2 Anniversary looks especially great in this collection. But the nostalgia could only take me so far. I have only put about 5 hours into the MCC, and that says a lot about how far nostalgia can carry a lackluster product. 343 is still hard at work making this game work, but in the meantime you’re better off staying far away.




Diablo III: Reaper of Souls


Man, did I miss a shit storm or what? I didn’t play Diablo III at launch, and I only briefly played it after it launched on the 360 a couple years ago. I played it at the end of 2014, after all of the fixes were added, and I have to say I love it. There is just enough of a grind to make you have the “just-one-more” mentality throughout the campaign. The loot is satisfying and so is the combat, which are the two things Diablo III NEEDED to get right. I may have missed a lot, but damn is this game fun to play, especially with friends. If you’re into top-down RPGs then you’ve already probably beaten Diablo III to death, but if you aren’t too fond of them you may want to try this one out, it may change your mind.


For western RPG fans


Worms Battlegrounds

Boxshot Wizard file used for creating global boxshots

Worms is the perfect game to play on the couch with three other friends. Thankfully, Battleground succeeds in making that aspect of the game work. The game is still fun to play with a few other friends in the room. Other than that, though, the game has literally nothing new to offer and does little to prove its honestly high price tag. The campaign is boring and playing by yourself is a drag. Some of you probably picked it up when it was free on Xbox Live last month, but if you didn’t, there are better party game options on this list.


Unless you’ve never played and can’t play it anywhere else.


Fibbage/Jackbox Party Pack


This is the game I was mentioning above as a superior party game to Worms. In fact, Fibbage was one of my favorite games of the year OVERALL, even with its incredibly low price. Fibbage is best summed up by a google search, because other than that the best way to learn how to play is by playing. It is essentially a trivia game with a little bit of mad libs and cards against humanity thrown into the mix. I have had countless hours of fun with family and friends playing this game. Some of the question repeat, which takes some of the fun away, but it takes a while to reach a point where you have seen every question the game has to offer. Since it is only about $8 on its own, I highly recommend Fibbage. I even recommend the Jackbox Party Pack which includes a bunch more games and more Fibbage questions for a slightly higher price. This is the perfect game to play at parties, the only thing missing is an online lobby function.




Honorable mentions:

Some games either come out in the midst of other big releases, or are released on consoles at a later date than others. These are the games that either didn’t come out in 2014 originally or I didn’t finish before the year ended. I may end up doing a full review for some of these, but in the meantime, take this as my final verdict for these games. Once again, they aren’t in any specific order.


This was the first game in the “run and hide” genre that I have played, and I feel like I started with the best. It originally came out in 2013 on the PC, but I didn’t finish it until last year. The game’s atmosphere and tone are perfect and it has an interesting story to boot. I would recommend it and its DLC Whistleblower to anyone who is interested or likes the genre.

Forza Horizon 2

Many sites like IGN call Horizon 2 the best racing game of the year, so we are just going to have to take their word for it. It’s not that I didn’t like Horizon 2, I guess I just prefer track racing to open-world racing. The game is still enjoyable, double so if you play with friends, and the abundant amount of cars is definitely welcome. But I found myself putting the game down and not wanting to come back. Maybe I will finish it this year, who knows.


Warframe is on this list because it is the best free-to-play game on the Xbox One in my opinion. The game has a steep difficulty curve and a large grind to it, but the gameplay is incredibly satisfying. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the loot system in the game, which like many other aspects of Warframe is a confusing mess. It’s too bad that the game has been out for this long and yet still lacks a proper tutorial to teach new comers. If you can struggle through the first few hours, there is a lot of honest, free content here. You just have to make it through the unforgiving and confusing beginning section first.

Project Spark

Project Spark is another “free”-to-play game that I thoroughly enjoyed in 2014. The game gives you a lot of tools to create whatever game you could possibly want… sort of. Unfortunately the game is also plagued with mine fields of microtransactions that can scare away novices and annoy veterans. The base game offers a lot to build with, but some key features like world linking are locked behind paywalls. The game also has a campaign and story component, but that too is locked behind paywalls. If you are willing to shell out about $40, you could get a great experience with Project Spark. Otherwise, you’re better off using other free options on PC.

Grand Theft Auto V

What could you possibly not know about GTAV by now? I’ll keep it short and sweet: Grand Theft Auto V is a masterpiece and a perfect showcase of video games as an entertainment art form. If you haven’t played it yet, you are either underage or can’t stand violence. In which case, I understand. But for the rest of us, we get to enjoy one of the best games to come out in the past decade. Don’t let the rocky-ness of GTA Online scare you away, because the single player portion is worth the full price alone.

Alien Isolation

After having so much fun with Outlast, I couldn’t wait to get into Alien Isolation. Unfortunately it came out at a time where money was already tight and I had to wait until a sale came around to jump in. That happened right at the end of the year, so I am still playing through it at the moment. What I will say is so far the atmosphere is perfect, especially when compared to the original Alien film. The alien itself is incredibly terrifying and feels as though it is actually thinking and moving, hunting me down. It’s definitely scary, which is why it may take me longer to go through (like Outlast), but I can’t wait to see it through.


I feel like you guys missed out. When DayZ went into Early Access at the end of 2013, I was ecstatic. I loved the mod and I couldn’t wait to play the standalone, no matter what state it was in. I spent a large portion of the first half of 2014 playing this unfinished game both alone and with friends. Unfortunately, every time I logged on the excitement for the final product lessened more and more. A whole year and exactly 115 hours later, I am immensely disappointed with what the game has become. Unfortunately the developers spend more time adding their favorite weapons and useless tools to the game rather than making the damn thing work properly. It’s fun if you can play it with a friend, but if you haven’t jumped in now there is seriously no reason to until its full release however many years from now.

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