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Gaming highs and lows of 2014

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2014 has to be one of the strangest years I’ve seen, over my career in the games industry.  It was the first year of the next generation consoles, so it should have been all about the positive. Alas, a vocal minority ensured it wasn’t to be. Despite some crashing lows, there were some high points to celebrate. Read on and I’ll give you a rip-roaring overview of the gaming year that was 2014.

The Lows:

Watch Dogs

Watch Dogs had been on my most anticipated list for what seemed like years. But the longer it took to come out, the less convinced I

Watchdogs
If in doubt, commando roll over cars and shoot everyone in sight

was that it would deliver. Sadly, I was right. In a post Edward Snowden era, Watch Dogs’ open world hackathon  could have said some interesting things about the digital communications age. Instead, it dished up some fun distractions, an all too familiar stubbly, male protagonist and an essentially shallow experience.

Assassin’s Creed: Unity

There may have been a good game in there somewhere, but it was hard to see past the glitches. Unity was a technical mess, in a year

Assassin's Creed: Unity bugs
It was going so well, until she opened her eyes

that dished up more than its fair share of glitchy games (Driveclub and Halo: The Master Chief Collection – I’m looking at you). This was a truly inauspicious start to next gen gaming, for Ubisoft. Once upon a time, Ubisoft could do no wrong, but when it came to AAA titles, in 2014, this was not its year.

Gamergate

Sorry to bring it up, but this was the year when the gamergate

no girls allowed
Gamergate attacks women in games in a scary toys out of pram moment

hashtag would not go away. Attacks on women in the industry reached ridiculous levels, in 2014. The perpetrators of the gamergate attacks hid behind an apparent crusade against failing ethics in the games press, feeling this legitimised their threats of rape and killing people’s families. Sadly, we all know gamergate wasn’t about ethics. Hopefully, 2015 will bring more positive action from the industry and gamers alike.

But that’s enough doom and gloom.  With no more delay, it’s time for…

…the Highs

Child of Light

After the disappointment of Watchdogs, Ubisoft redeemed itself with Child of Light. This was a gorgeous piece of water colour

Child of Light gameplay
A beautiful, playable and gentle J-RPG style game

whimsy, with a girl at the centre of the story and the action. Added to this, the game featured a delicately balanced combat system, plus it was all written in ballad form. It’s not often you get games and poetry together. This was a triumph for Ubisoft.

Valiant Hearts

This was another stunner from Ubisoft. Valiant Hearts took the First

Valiant Hearts
Beautiful sepia scenes that bring the story to life

World War as its setting and told the heartbreaking stories of a small band of heroes trying to survive. The artwork was truly gorgeous and sat a step or two above the gameplay. However, it was still a highlight and well worth playing. Valiant Hearts tells the human (and animal) story of war, rather than just being a good excuse for a romp with a gun. This game is a fitting nod to the WWI centenary.

Monument Valley

I have to thank the joyless wonders who gave this game one-star on the apple store. Monument Valley had been on my to-play list for a

Monument Valley
Monument Valley is a gorgeous and magical, Arabian nights puzzler

while, but jumped to the top, when it hit the headlines. This iOS and Android game is a stunning Escher-inspired perspective puzzler and my favourite game of the year. Every level is an absolute joy to behold. I love it. It’s the perfect touchscreen gaming experience. If you haven’t played it yet, do it now.

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