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The Best Video Games of 2014: Year in Review


2014 was a great year for gaming. The Playstation 4 and Xbox One each celebrated their first year of existence, the Wii U had a few strong first-party titles, and of course PC continued to prove a haven for modders and graphics junkies alike.

Ironically, the highest rated game of 2014 (per Metacritic) is actually a remastering of 2013’s consensus Game of the Year: Grand Theft Auto V. But even that came with a boatload of new features, most notably, the ability to play the entire game in first person, a true first for the franchise. So despite being a year-old game, the next-gen version was a brand new experience.

That said, we want to keep our focus on games that were new in 2014, and fortunately there are a lot to choose from, with fantastic variety to boot. Let’s jump in.

Best Action/Adventure Game: Bayonetta 2 (Wii U)

The sequel to the equally well-received Bayonetta, Bayonetta 2 earned a Metacritic score of 91 en route to earning top honors as the best action game of 2014. Bayonetta is fast-paced and features plenty of slick animations, but it’s the free-flowing combat style—allowing you set up branching combos and cancel out of attacks—that really puts this game over the top. With the speed also comes plenty of challenge, as even normal difficulty offers beefy enemies. Fortunately, thanks to some great visual cues, victory remains primarily a function of strategy and execution, not just blind luck and button mashing.

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Best First-Person Shooter: Titanfall (PC/XB1/X360)

In a category that’s been dominated by three major players: Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Halo, seeing a brand new IP was a breath of fresh air. Mixing both on-the-ground and Titan mech gameplay features while still retaining surprising balance, the game offers an exciting and enjoyable multiplayer experience. With a robust system of perks and upgrades, there are plenty of options to suit your playstyle as well. The only drawback is that the game relies on a connection to Xbox Live, and it can’t be played locally, even via a system link. With the game nearing its 1-year anniversary, the dependence on other players is a sticking point. Still, as long as you can get into matchmaking (either alone or with a party) and get a game started, there’s plenty of fun to be had. With a Metacritic score of 86, Titanfall is our best first-person shooter of 2014.

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Best Racing Game: Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)

Nintendo always makes fantastic first-party games, and Mario Kart has always been a stellar franchise. Mario Kart 8 marks the first time Nintendo’s racer has received the hi-def treatment, but to assume this game is more of the same with just a fresh coat of paint is an injustice. Sure, the fundamentals are all still there, and the #@!$ blue shells will still have you hollerin’ (unless you have a Super Horn), but MK8 switches things up when it comes to track design. No longer are racers bound by gravity, as sections of the track become zero-gravity zones where karts turn into hovercrafts. Not only does this add complexity to the track design, but bumping opponents can speed them up in zero-grav, so there’s an extra layer of skill involved as well. Mario Kart 8 fittingly earned an 88 from Metacritic, and for anyone who enjoys playing with friends, Mario Kart is a winner.

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Best Role-Playing Game: Dragon Age: Inquisition (PC/XB1/X360/PS4/PS3)

In the words of IGN’s Vince Ingenito, “Inquisition is not only one of the most expansive RPGs [he’s] ever played, but one of the few that successfully fills its gorgeous, massive world with meaningful things to do and see.” With high praise like that, it’s no surprise that DA:I claimed a Metacritic score of 89 and earned the top spot as our best RPG of 2014.

After the disappointing Dragon Age II, which attempted to oversimplify the typical RPG formula, Inquisition returns with the depth and variety that had people excited about Dragon Age after Origins. The game boasts over 90 hours of content, and you’ll likely still have side quests and plenty of exploration left to do. If you’re searching for a deep, engaging RPG, look no further than Dragon Age.

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Best Sports Game: NBA 2K15 (PC/XB1/X360/PS3/PS4)

2K Sports has been masterful with their NBA 2K series, and they’ve done it again with NBA 2K15. The game features the same solid gameplay you’ve come to expect from the series, and features sharp graphics, a deeper MyPlayer mode and some new presentation elements, including pregame analysis from Ernie Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal. The online features, however, are still plenty buggy, and PC users in particular have been frustrated. If you’re into playing at home by yourself or with friends on a next-gen console, however, NBA 2K15 is a must-get title. It scored an 87 on Metacritic.

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Best Overall Game: Super Smash Bros. Wii U (Wii U)

Last but certainly not least, Super Smash Bros. Wii U is our best overall game of 2014, with a Metacritic score of 92. A fun party brawler, SSB also has the technical depth to appeal to more seasoned fighting gamers as well. And if you’d like to work on your skills so you can open a can of whoop@#! on your friends the next time they come over, Super Smash Bros. Wii U comes with loads of minigames, challenges, and training modes. When you’re buddies come over, make sure you’ve got seven of ’em, because the game now supports 8-player multiplayer. No more waiting for a spot next round.

SSB already comes packed with 50 playable characters and 47 stages, but if you’d like to add even more stages to play on, you can even create your own. While online multiplayer gets a bit laggy, the core experience in both single and local multiplayer is so solid that Super Smash Bros. Wii U handily takes home the top spot for 2014.

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Thoughts? Comments? Disagree? Chime in below!

  • A couple other lesser known names just to toss out there: Shovel Knight (90 on Metacritic) and The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (89 on Metacritic). The latter is a remake, and so didn’t really seem applicable to this list and the former is a 3DS game, and I wasn’t really including handheld/mobile games here. But both are excellent and worth a look for sure.

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