The votes are in and counted. With 2014 being a pretty good year for video gamers, the choices for the GiN Game of the Year contest were hard to make. But make them you did. GiN is one of the only publications that lets the readers decide what games are worthy of the Game of the Year crown. Here they are, your choices. Congratulations to all the developers and publishers of these fine choices.
Adventure Game of the Year: Far Cry 4
This could almost be called the year of Far Cry, as the fourth entry in the series won the most categories. As an adventure game, Far Cry 4 has a lot going for it. With a totally open world, oodles of side quests and lots to see and do just by wandering around within the HUGE game world, it’s no wonder that many people spent hours on end just out there, you know, adventuring. When following the main plot there were plenty of moral choices too, and a good story about the struggle for the heart and soul of a nation. Plus there were tigers. Did we mention the tigers?
Role-Playing Game of the Year: Dragon Age: Inquisition
Interestingly enough, the new Dragon Age game did a lot to bring in new players, and alienated some of its biggest fans at the same time. But the former far outweighed the latter and easily pushed Dragon Age: Inquisition over the top for best RPG of the year. The world is typical BioWare in that everything is falling apart just as the player arrives to try the monumental task of putting it all back together again. Along the way, in the midst of lots and lots of combat, you will decide who lives and who dies, how to best fight the war, how to equip your fighters, how to level up your character, what stained glass windows your castle will use, which missions to undertake, the type of bed you want to sleep in, who to romance and just about everything else you can think of to make for a great role-playing experience.
Family Game of the Year: Mario Kart 8
Nintendo had an amazing year in 2014, and Mario Kart 8 was one of the highlights. It was one of those rare gems where both children and adults could play, zooming around on all the colorful landscapes and environments with favorite characters from the past in the driver’s seat. And both kids and adults could have a great time with it. Plus, it makes for an amazing experience for kids and their parents to be able to play together with both having a blast. And that’s not something we see too often.
Shooter Game of the Year: Far Cry 4
Far Cry 4 picks up its second win in the shooter category, edging out Call of Duty by just a hair. As a pure shooter, Far Cry 4 is just as good as when it’s being looked at as a pure adventure game. With tons of guns, varied enemies that include both man and beasts, and an arena where you can just go wild and perfect your shooting skills in deadly combat, Far Cry 4 has plenty of action to keep your adrenaline pumping. When playing online with other people, things get totally crazy with insane kills right and left. Far Cry 4 takes it shot, and hits the bull’s-eye for Shooter of the Year.
Sports Game of the Year: FIFA 15
The FIFA franchise has become an anomaly in the gaming world. Year after year, the development team at EA Canada comes up with a game that could, understandably, become a repetitive rehashing of the prior year’s version. Yet since the reinvention of the series that started with FIFA 08, the developers have delivered an improved experience yearly, taking advantage of subtle improvements in things like ball control and defender AI to keep themselves on top of the soccer heap. FIFA 15 follows that trend, and kicks its way into the hearts and minds of its fanatical fans, beating out every other sports game to win Game of the Year in its category.
Strategy Game of the Year: Supreme Ruler Ultimate
We’ve seem lots of sandbox type World War II games this year. However, Supreme Ruler Ultimate takes that a step further. It lets players take control of any nation and lead them starting in the World War II era, through modern day and on into the future. The future scenarios present a realistic world view shaped by actual events, but without any preconceived notions or restrictions for the player. In terms of strategy titles, it doesn’t get much more advanced than that. In a year when there were many very good strategy titles, Supreme Ruler Ultimate fought its way to the top – and won.
Puzzle Game of the Year: Atlantic Quest
Pure puzzle games made a giant comeback in 2014, and Atlantic Quest had the presentation and gameplay to set it apart from the pack. Taking on an environmental theme, four fish friends must play through 120 levels to save their underwater home from a wrecked ship that is leaking deadly oil. Players help clever clownfish, powerful shark, explosive crab and serious octopus return the ocean to its clear blue brilliance in 12 underwater locations. There are even three variants on the standard match three gameplay, and plenty of mini-games to round out the experience, making it tops for puzzle titles this year.
Simulation Game of the Year: Pure Chess
Pure Chess is one of the best-looking chess games ever created. In fact, many of the amazing sets shown in the game would likely cost hundreds of dollars or more in real life. All the pieces move smoothly, even going so far as to make slight scraping noises as they travel, adding even more realism to the simulation. Chess is a game of both tactics and strategy but the tactile part seldom got much attention before Pure Chess. Looking right above a black and white board, your pieces within arm’s reach, the opponent’s pieces encroaching on the little squares of territory gives the player a visceral response to a two dimensional battlefield. For a realistic thrill, as well as a solid strategy game, Pure Chess is pure joy, and the best simulation of 2014.
Best Game Environment: Watch Dogs
In terms of raw atmosphere, you would be hard pressed to find a game with a better, more unique environment than Watch Dogs in 2014. Here is a game that captured the zeitgeist of our modern times. Set in a not-to-futuristic Chicago, it mirrors our modern world and shows us a future that could very well come to pass, where computers run the show and make a “smart city.” The game touches on themes such as privacy in the digital age, and asks questions such as what happens if that smart city falls under the control of an outside group or hacker. Watch Dogs was dripping in atmosphere, giving us a unique environment that will not soon be forgotten.
Best Story: This War of Mine
Without question, no game was more poignant in 2014 than This War of Mine. Nothing even really comes close to telling the all-too-realistic tale of ordinary people stuck in a warzone that have to do whatever it takes to try and survive. But survival is more than just collecting canned goods or trying to brew alcohol, more than even fortifying their makeshift home to keep the looters at bay. Surviving in This War of Mine requires making hard choices, sometimes forcing good people to do very bad things – and then living with the consequences. Suicide is a real danger in the game if you, the all-knowing player, try to push your characters too far. The moral of This War of Mine is that war is bad, especially on all the little people who are often not considered when nations decide to come to blows. But it tells its story in a subtle way that is unlike anything most people have experienced before. That is why this groundbreaking title earns a Game of the Year for having the best story of the year.
Best Original Soundtrack: Destiny
Destiny made a lot of firsts in 2014, including a successful marriage of shooters and MMOs, something that was never tried before much on consoles, and certainly not on next-generation machines. But Destiny also had a lot of other things going for it, including an amazing original soundtrack that included music from none-other than Sir Paul McCartney. Having a former Beatle record an original song for a video game not only helped promote Destiny, but also raised the credibility of video games in general. Beyond just that one song, Destiny has lots of great music that plays while people are exploring. It rises up in intensity at the right moments too, so that most firefights are accompanied by something akin to a symphony orchestra, yet is so well blended with the game as to be nearly unnoticeable. Destiny is a game that can be appreciated on many different levels, but it wins here for its amazing original soundtrack.
Best Male Game Character: Trevor Philips from Grand Theft Auto V (remastered)
He’s baaaaaaaaack! The one, the only, Trevor Philips makes a return to Game of the Year glory this year, having won last year when Grand Theft Auto V came out for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Now he’s back with the game remastered for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. In terms of memorable characters, there really isn’t anyone who can hold a candle to him. Let’s face it, sometimes male characters in video games can come off a little two dimensional, like they are only there to hold a gun. But Trevor’s over-the-top, insane attitudes and actions make him seem both realistic and frightening at the same time. Whether he’s having a dangerous liaison with a teddy bear, kicking in the brains of a local biker or making flailing attempts to be friendly to a more “normal” person, we just roll our eyes and know that despite his insanity, there is a good person in there somewhere, deep, deep inside him. That may be what gives Trevor his lasting appeal. Despite all the bad things he does, he’s probably the most moral character in the whole game.
Best Female Character: Bayonetta (Cereza) from Bayonetta 2
In a lot of ways, Bayonetta (real name Cereza) is a lot like a female Trevor Philips, only much better looking, more intelligent and she likely smells better too. But Bayonetta rises to the top of the female characters this year because she’s also an incredibly powerful female character without a weak bone in her body. Unafraid to conquer either towering demons or typical female stereotypes, Bayonetta uses both her combat prowess and her over-the-top sexuality to conquer her enemies and player’s hearts. Bayonetta 2 is an amazing game and a real triumph for Nintendo and the Wii U this year, and much of that success comes right from Bayonetta being such a unique and wonderful female lead that few could ever hope to try and follow.
PlayStation 3 Game of the Year: Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls
Diablo 3 showed how to do an action RPG right. What flaws there were in the core game from its release on the PC were squashed when it made the move to consoles, especially once the Reaper of Souls DLC was added into the mix. Reaper was a total conversion for the game as well as a huge graphical uptick, visually making the PlayStation 3 game look and perform like a next-generation title. The additional content that Reaper brought to the picture was just icing on an already delicious cake.
Xbox 360 Game of the Year: Wolfenstein: The New Order
We did Nazi this one coming. Yet another Wolfenstein remake you say? Yes, but this time the geniuses over at Bethesda Softworks had a hand in it. The result: a gritty and powerful homage to the original game that played like butter on consoles like the Xbox 360. The game even flirted with an open world construction, giving players a main map to fight on with branches out to individual missions. Being inside a Nazi-occupied city is intense, even if your character is the famed BJ Blazkowicz. Adding in an occult presence and Nazi superweapons, sometimes just roaming the streets, and you have one heck of a powerfully addictive shooter that honors the original while blazing its own magnificent trail.
PlayStation 4 Game of the Year: Far Cry 4
PlayStation 4 gamers gave Far Cry 4 yet another victory here for Game of the Year, making it the most loved title on that console in 2014. And why not? Everything that makes the Far Cry series so amazing is front and center on the PlayStation 4. The game really takes advantage of the console’s hardware, easily controlling wildlife as well as friendly and enemy AI in pitched battles without a hint of slowdown. Even the draw distances are insane, as is evidenced when you take a gyrocopter all the way up to its flight ceiling and gaze at the beautiful world’s jungle, rivers and towns sprawled out all around. A beautiful environment paired with a great storyline and fun action-packed gameplay kept PlayStation 4 gamers happy all year, and earned Far Cry 4 another Game of the Year victory.
Xbox One Game of the Year: Titanfall
One of the first huge games released for the Xbox One also turned out to be one of the most loved, with a staying power that is rarely seen for videogames. Titanfall was exclusively released for the Xbox platform in a true victory for Microsoft. While the game looks great on the PC and plays well enough on the Xbox 360, on the Xbox One is where it really shines. Titanfall was one of the first games to offer multiplayer that was both action packed and accessible to anyone. With a level playing field and competitive matches, Titanfall was able to capture a huge audience of loyal players and hold onto them despite a weak storyline and limited single player modes. Titanfall is all about multiplayer combat, with players eventually being able to control huge towering mechs in each level. Piloting them is combat is a rush that is second to none. Titanfall towers over the competition to earn the Xbox One Game of the Year.
Wii U Game of the Year: Super Smash Bros.
The year 2014 was a good one for Nintendo. One could perhaps argue that it was the year of Nintendo given all the amazing games that came out for the Wii U console. That made picking just one of them a difficult task for Wii U voters this year. But in the end, it was Super Smash Bros. that came out on top. And for good reason. Super Smash Bros. is pure joy to play. Getting up to eight of your friends together locally in front of the TV, giving them control of some of the most iconic Nintendo characters ever created, and then having everyone bash the stuffing out of each other is one wild party. Incredible graphics and smooth action just compliment what is one of those rare experiences in video games these days where people can get together and have a fun group activity regardless of their age or experience. Super Smash Bros. will make you smile even as you are being punched in the teeth by friends and family.
Overall Game of the Year: Far Cry 4
The overall Game of the Year for 2014, as decided by thousands of player votes, is Far Cry 4. This is the fourth win this year for Far Cry 4, which also picked up wins in the Adventure, Shooter and PlayStation 4 categories. That alone speaks to the quality of this title. Far Cry 4 offers players an interesting and engaging storyline about a, shall we say, nontraditional family, coupled with a true open world and nearly limitless gameplay. And that open world is packed with so much crazy stuff to do that one only need wander a few yards in almost any direction to find something cool to accomplish. Hunting, racing, fighting imperial mercenaries, driving a boat, skydiving, piloting a gyrocopter, riding an elephant into combat, making drug-like potions, searching for hidden secrets and treasures, finding and modifying a huge collection of real-world weapons, saving people from animal attacks and going on the game’s many story and side missions are just a few of the many things that are possible in the beautiful world that has been created for Far Cry 4 players. And that is before even taking the multiplayer aspects into account, which are also well-done and fun. By any measure, Far Cry 4 is a great game. We now declare it the best game of 2014 as it takes the coveted overall Game of the Year crown. All hail Far Cry 4, the new king of games!