The 2014 musicMagpie Gaming Awards
2014 is drawing to a close, which means that it’s time to look back and reflect on the hits, misses and the plain bizarre moments of the gaming year.
It’s been a funny old year for gaming. It was the first ‘full’ year for the Xbox One and PS4, with a number of exclusives released for both consoles, yet a lot of gamers are still clinging desperately onto their Xbox 360s and PS3s. On the games front, there have been a lot of highly anticipated games released but none of them have really blown the critics away.
But it’s not been a bad year – quite the opposite, in fact. Here are our 2014 gaming awards. Share your choices in the comments!
The ‘Oh my goodness, what is THAT?!’ award for scariest game
Winner: Alien Isolation
After the absolute disaster that was Aliens: Colonial Marines in 2013, gamers were rightly cautious about Alien: Isolation.
As it turned out, they needn’t have been worried as Isolation is a ridiculously terrifying adaptation of the original Alien film.
Unlike Colonial Marines, Isolation relies almost entirely on suspense. You spend most of the game completely unarmed with a single Xenomorph, who’d love nothing more than to turn you into delicious alien food, for company.
Hiding in a locker while an Alien sniffs around is genuinely one of the most intense gaming experiences we’ve had in years, and surviving feels like a genuine achievement, which is why Isolation is our scariest game of the year.
Runner up: The Evil Within
Shinji Mikami’s return to survival horror (he was responsible for the first Resident Evil) was highly anticipated and it didn’t disappoint. Taking its cues from Japanese horror films, The Evil Within saw you running away from all kinds of horrifying nasties while trying not to scream your house down.
It’s not quite as good as the original Resident Evil or the seminal Resident Evil 4, but it’s definitely close.
The ‘Phoenix from the Flames’ award for most improved console
Winner: Wii U
2014 didn’t start well for the Wii U. Nintendo’s profits were falling after a terrible 2013 (in which at least one major retailer stopped selling the console) and there didn’t seem to be any light on the horizon. It seemed like that Wii U would be on its way out before the close of the year.
And then came Mario Kart 8. The game apparently led to a devilish 666% increase in console sales, a upward trend that has continued with the release of titles like Bayonetta 2 and Super Smash Bros. Sales of the console are now as high as they were at launch, which is remarkable considering the Wii U is now facing off against the Xbox One and PS4.
Surviving the year would have been a big enough achievement for the Wii U, but thriving as it has is a miracle.
Runner-Up: Xbox One
The Xbox One was beset by problems from launch, with the bundling of Kinect – and the accusation that it was being used to spy on gamers – a particular sticking point.
Removing the compulsory Kinect earlier this year was probably the best thing Microsoft has ever done. Not only did it make the console cheaper, but it actually improved the technical capabilities of the console too.
The lower price point, which dropped even further on Black Friday, led to the Xbox One overtaking the PS4 in sales for the first time since launch. It’s still a bit behind, but the console war is definitely hotting up.
Want to change sides? Sell your console with musicMagpie!
The ‘Meh’ award for most disappointing game
Winner: Assassin’s Creed Unity
Assassin’s Creed Unity should have been brilliant. It returns to the city-based gameplay of earlier games in the franchise and the gameplay engine is more polished than ever. Plus, how could a game in which one of the developers took two years to design a realistic version of the Notre Dame cathedral possibly fail?
Erm…by not actually being finished when it came out, that’s how. Assassin’s Creed Unity was beset by issues when it came out, including glitches which variously dropped players through the ground, trapped them in hay carts or, terrifyingly, made character’s faces disappear entirely.
Ubisoft were forced to issue an apology and are still working on fixes for the title, although they did offer gamers affected a free add-on or, if you bought the season pass, a free game.
It’s the most expensive game of all time but that didn’t stop a lot of gamers expressing their disappointment with Destiny. Among the criticisms were the lack of cohesive story, poor characters and occasionally stupid AI.
That said, the graphics and gameplay are fantastic. It’s ridiculously addictive too.
Don’t forget: you can sell the games that disappointed you this year with musicMagpie.
The ‘Yes! I finally did it!’ award for most rewarding game of the year
Winner: Dark Souls II
Dark Souls II isn’t quite as good as its predecessor (possibly because the first game set the bar so high) but it’s still an incredible game that provides an unmatchable sense of achievement. Seriously, nothing beats finally taking down a monstrous enemy after he’s killed you 8000 times before!
Runner-up: Alien Isolation
The alien in Alien Isolation was brutal; one misstep and you were more or less done for, which made finally managing to survive a section without getting that weird alien tongue-with-teeth thing jammed through your chest very, very rewarding.
The ‘Old Dog, New Tricks’ award for most improved franchise
Winner: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Call of Duty is such a popular franchise that Activision could theoretically release the same game every year and still sell millions of copies (in fact, a lot of people were accusing them of doing that already).
But they haven’t. While Advanced Warfare isn’t revolutionary, it introduced a number of neat changes (the ubiquitous double jump among them) that made the franchise feel fresh and different. The single-player campaign is as good as it’s been in years too.
Runner Up: Pro Evolution Soccer 2015
There was a time when Pro Evolution Soccer was the first name in football gaming, the purist’s choice over the thousands-of-goals-per-game arcade action of FIFA.
Unfortunately, the franchise took a significant hit when EA Sports stepped their game up and it’s been lagging behind ever since…until this year. PES 2015 is a fantastic recreation of the beautiful game, with a strong focus on tactics and patience. With FIFA seemingly heading back towards its arcade-y roots, 2015 could be the year PES steals the football crown back.
What were your favourite games of year? Disagree with any of our choices? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll share the best in a future blog post.