Having spent 11 of 2013’s 12 months getting excited about next-gen games more than actually playing them, it’s a relief that 2014 has brought with it a bunch of bona fide belters.
The PS3 and Xbox 360 have done OK for new games, too, while the Wii U hasn’t been completely ignored either.
So which game is the best of 2014? This is what you have deemed worthy of endless sessions.
It’s been 13 long years since the last good Alien game (which isn’t bad when you consider it’s been 28 years since the last good film in the series) but we finally have a new one to be excited about. Following on from – and inspired by – the first and creepiest film, Alien: Isolation is a true survival horror of pant-wetting proportions. Wimps and impatient players need not apply.
Dark Souls II
Games are too easy these days. They’re full of hand-holding tutorials, stories that explain every single thing, and waypoints for every objective. Dark Souls II has none of those things, so you spend much of your time with the game confused and lost. And that’s when you’re not dead, because this is a seriously tough game even once you know how to fight. If you’re confused as to why any of this makes it brilliant, you just don’t understand.
Combine the super-tight shooter thrills of Halo with the super-addictive loot and levelling of something like Diablo and place it in a massively multiplayer setting and you’ve got a recipe for many players’ idea of gaming bliss. And this is just the start for Destiny - Bungie says it has a ten-year plan to expand its new universe, beginning with The Dark Below in December.
Forza Horizon 2
Forza Motorsport’s open-world spin-off gets the Xbox One treatment in awesome style: stunning Mediterranean scenery, dynamic weather and the most exotic cars in the world, all recreated in sizzling 1080p. New off-road point-to-point races are a particular highlight. Most importantly, Forza Horizon 2 captures the feeling of driving very fast better than any other game.
Mario Kart 8
Wii U owners haven’t had a great deal to shout about this year, but when the one big release is a new Mario Kart game you’re entitled to shout really, really loud. That’s doubly true because Mario Kart 8 is the best game in the series in years - a sort of greatest hits of tracks and features, all with glistening new graphics and the ultra-fun, ultra-competitive multiplayer racing we all remember so fondly.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
No-one predicted that South Park: The Stick Of Truth would actually be good, but it is and then some. That’s mostly because it distils the show’s humour so darn well, from the art and animation to the utterly offensive humour and constant fart gags. It’s like playing an episode of the TV show, albeit with an RPG-style battle system that shouldn’t fit but somehow does. Even a little touch of censorship for the EU version can’t dampen the juvenile enjoyment.
Is there anything that can’t be spiced up with the addition of giant robots? Line dancing, maybe. Actually, now we think of it line dancing with giant robots sounds utterly brilliant. But the point is that Call Of Duty definitely could be improved with giant robots, as evidenced by Xbox One exclusive Titanfall. If super-fast-paced multiplayer shooting and stomping are your thing, Titanfall is your game.
With it’s open-world city setting, big budget cinematic storytelling and almost endless side-missions, Watch_Dogs has a great deal in common with Assassin’s Creed. But here the horses and pirate ships are replaced by motorbikes and cars, blowpipes by assault rifles, and Eagle Vision by the ability to hack anything. Spy on people, hack their phones and cause crashes by changing traffic lights at your whim. POWER!
Wolfenstein: The New Order
We expected this reimagining to be all about shooting cyborg nazis with two machine guns at once, which is sort of is, but Wolfenstein: The New Order is also all about the futility of war, the horror of living life under a repressive regime and the relationships that blossom in those terrible conditions. All sound a bit sincere? Just get back to the action then - there’s loads of it, it’s vastly OTT and it’s a great deal of fun, too.