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Tuesday, Jan 20

Community Spotlight: Dragoon's Top Games of 2014

6 comments Rory Young - 3:17pm (PST) Like (1) Share

If storytelling that captures the imagination (and the heart) is your ideal...

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As part of Neoseeker's Game of the Year celebrations for 2014, we're spotlighting several community members' lists of their favorite games from the year. These are are community-written articles and the opinions there-in do not necessarily reflect those of Neoseeker. With that said, we certainly believe they show just how diverse the tastes of the community are, as well as just how much everyone here on Neoseeker loves games -- from the writing staff through the moderators and down to the casual new members. Thanks to everyone for contributing.


Hi. I’m Shayn, Dragoon on Neoseeker, category moderator for PlayStation 4, moderator of the Doctor Who forum, and occasional wiki-person. 2014 was a host to some interesting games, with a lot of emphasis on cross-generation and not many developers placing their chips purely on one generation or the other. Big examples from the last year include Thief from Square Enix and Ubisoft releasing a game on both generations simultaneously in the form of Assassin’s Creed: Rogue (for past generation) and Assassin’s Creed: Unity (for current generation).

While the year's overall quality may have been somewhat lacking, there were some gems that cropped up during 2014. Here are some of my favourites – in no particular order.

Child of Light

Child of Light was a stand-alone game released exclusively on the PlayStation Store for PS3, PS4 and later on Vita. Developed on a brand new engine, the game was a testament to Ubisoft and really demonstrated the quality of games they are able to make, and harkens back to the golden years of Rayman. First of all, anyone who has even looked at Child of Light will tell you how beautiful the game looks. The visuals were something completely unique and a refreshing change of pace to anything else that was on the market at the time, giving it a beautiful fairy tale theme that completely worked in its favour.

While not a particularly long game, the story is brilliantly narrated, even if the rhyming couplets that comprised the speech were, at times, a little contrived and forced. The battle system takes inspiration from a classic turn-based RPG’s such as Pokemon and Final Fantasy, while granting their own unique spin by way of the time meter placed at the bottom of the screen indicated the time between moves used.

However, the truly amazing thing I found with Child of Light, and surpassed anything else, was the score. It remains one of my favourite CDs of last year, and is beautifully composed by Coer De Pirate. I’d definitely rank this as a must have for any PlayStation owner.

Tales of Xillia 2

The sequel to my favourite Tales game ever (yes, that includes Tales of Symphonia) didn’t disappoint. I did feel that some of the new game mechanics, especially the Corpse Shell, added a level of Deus Ex Machina to the story – basically, when in doubt, activate and spam as many moves as possible. But I was more invested in the continuation of the story of Reize Maxia and Elympios and how the two nations were ingratiating with each other, or not as the case could have been, anyway. The story, at least, didn’t disappoint. I felt the silent protagonist to be a little bit of a let down, not allowing us to get to know this character, and only allowing us to hear his voice upon completion of the game and opting for another run through.

The choice system was also ultimately redundant, making little to no impact on the story. At one point you can opt to finish the game slightly early, copping out of the final boss fight. However should you want to take this path you need to choose a specific set of choices and really try and aim for it – which felt a little 2-dimensional to me. Other than that though, great combat, an aspect that draws me back to Tales games year after year, and a good ensemble of new and returning characters.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

Initially skeptical of purchasing the game after the abysmal experience I had with Final Fantasy XIII, I was convinced by a few friends to make the purchase and it didn’t disappoint. The game is fantastic, simply put. The choices in character creation are diverse, the races and sub-races allow for a wide range of choices, from Hyur, to Mi’Qote, Lallafel, Elezen, and more. The story doesn’t really interest me to the point that I actively skip the cut scenes and most main scenario dialogue, but it’s the gameplay that keeps me hooked.

More often than not with RPGs once you make your decision at the start of a game as to character class, you have to stick with it *glares at other GOTY nominee Dragon Age: Inquisition*, but with A Realm Reborn you are free to change at any point in the story you deem fit. The changing nature of the class system is what keeps the game fresh. Whilst waiting for a dungeon once (anote to anyone thinking of getting the game, dungeons take ages to find teams for if you’re DPS) I decided I’d just start leveling up my character in another Discipline of War, no questions asked. This is truly one of the most appealing things about the game.

What keeps me coming back isn’t necessarily the game itself – it’s how friendly everyone is. Sure, there are a few idiots on the game, when isn’t there on a MMO game, but for the most part everyone is really welcoming, friendly, and willing to help in your time of need. Often times I’ve entered dungeons, mentioned this is a first time for me here, and they give me useful bits of advice throughout. It’s a great community, and I really could go on for ages about how wonderful this game is to play with all the different stuff to do, but honestly it would take too long. Just take it from me, and anyone else who has played the game, it’s pretty swell.

Pokemon Omega Ruby/Pokemon Alpha Sapphire

First of all, I played Omega Ruby, the superior version.

This game did the name remake a justice. Taking some of the notes of the disappointments we have from Pokemon X and Y, Game Freak and Nintendo tried their damnedest not to make those same mistakes again, and they didn’t... mostly. C’mon Nintendo, where was my Battle Frontier!? Usually liking to take the time through Pokemon games, catch and train as many as I can, altering my teams countless times before entering the Elite Four, this time I was just too addicted to finish it in any less time than 2 days. 2 days!

Hoenn was never really my favourite region for the fact I disliked most of the additions to the Pokemon roster back when Ruby and Sapphire were originally released, but the addition of the new Mega Evolutions made things a little more interesting. The story, though, is where the game really excelled. I mean, Primal Devolutions? How awesome is that? I can’t wait to see where and if they take that concept any further with future installments, but honestly I wouldn’t be too disheartened if it remained exclusive to Groudon and Kyogre.

I will also just say THANK YOU for the Delta Episode, it was far better than the Looker stuff from X & Y. Far, far better as post-game content goes. 

Dragon Age: Inquisition

My first Dragon Age title... sort of. I played a bit of Dragon Age: Origins back in the day and even re-bought it on PSN before the game was released, but nothing could have prepared me for how addicted I would become to this game. Just ask anyone who knew me at the time, I wouldn’t shut up about it. The lore, the characters, the locations, the missions, the side missions, the scenario, the villains... everything just really resonated with me, more so than most other games have done in the past.

The openness of it all really grasped me and made me feel like most of my decisions mattered. From choosing an alliance with the Mages over the Templars, to decide to make Cole more Human than a Spirit, to standing behind Leliana as she stood for Devine, to hating the guts out of of Solas until the very last freakin’ scene. I felt everything mattered, and it’s rare for a game that allows the gamer to shape the world about them through their actions, at least in my experience. Dragon Age is another game I could spend hours praising, but I simply don’t have the time or emotive language to do so. This is a game I believe you have to try for yourself just to really ‘get it’ as to how amazing it is.

There it is, my little list of not much importance. Best of luck to all the ‘"real" nominees on Neoseeker’s Game of the Year list, which looks to be a promising selection. 2015 already looks to be a good year for gaming, and I for one can’t wait to get started!


Dragoon is five-year veteran of the Neoseeker forums and currently holds the position of category moderator for PS4 Games, moderator of the Doctor Who Forum, and Wiki Super (when he's got the time). Follow him on Neoseeker @Dragoon or on Twitter @shayndickens (no e).



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Dontnod reveals Vampyr, post-WWI action-RPG pushes players to 'Take Blood, Save a Life'

0 comments Rory Young - 11:08am (PST) Like (1) Share

Please be heavily inspired, by Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, please

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Publisher Focus Home Interactive dropped a surprising announced from developer Dontnod this morning. Dontnod, for those unfamiliar, made the beautiful Remember Me and is currently working on episode one of the mysterious adventure game Life is Strange. Adding another title to their roster, let me excitedly introduce Vampyr. Vampyr is reportedly an action RPG, though the RPG seems to be stressed in early advertising. No platforms or release information has yet been revealed.

According to the thin early details that have been made available, Vampyr takes place post-World War I. While the setting isn't known, it looks to be England -- how fitting. The player takes on the role of Stefan, a doctor who is is caught up in a wave of the Spanish Flu. One of Stefan's patients takes a small bite and our unlikely hero (anti-hero?) finds himself a vampire.

Oddly enough there's very few details regarding either the action or the RPG portions of this action RPG. There do, however, seem to be some adventure elements to the game. Sefan will be faced with several "moral quandries" leading to impactful choices within the game. We've heard that before in other games, so it will be interesting to see how Dontnod implment it. Stefan will battle with his vampire nature and doctor's nurturing sensibilities in Vampyr, leading to the tagline, "Take Blood. Save a life."

Here's hoping Dontnod is aiming for something similar to Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines. Right?

Vampyr is apparently still early in development, which makes it understandable why there's no platform or release information as of yet. Expect news to begin to spread after Dontnod gets the first few episodes  of Life is Strange out and the devs get their workload well-managed. 

Categories: PC Games
 
 

Malkovich and more in star-studded Exo Zombies Havoc trailer for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

2 comments Rory Young - 10:43am (PST) Like Share

It's like a Left 4 Dead cast of famous actors in a sci-fi horror B-movie

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I seriously have no freakin' idea what's going on in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare anymore, with all of its DLC and Kevin Spacey. Today, at least, I can be confident in saying they have done something amazing. Activision has just released a trailer for the upcoming Exo Zombies mode of Advanced Warfare, part of the pending Havoc DLC pack. Havoc launches on Xbox platforms on January 27 and other platforms at a later date.

A teaser for Exo Zombie mode a month ago revealed the cast -- excuse me, the AMAZING cast. A Left 4 Dead approach to a zombie mode sees the inclusion of four superstar actors posing as B movie stand-ins in a sci-fi horror flick. I'm talking about John Malkovich, Bill Paxton, Rose McGowan, and none other than Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding's very own Jon Bernthal. Fighting zombies. With shotguns. This is all too ridiculous.

Today's trailer has a good amount of exposition featuring John Malkovich being a total badass, showing how all four of our unlikely heroes have gotten themselves involved in the zombie apocalypse. Surprisingly the story seems to fit very well within the game's cannon. Basically, the Atlas Corporation is all sorts of messed up and has toyed with things better left untouched. Good thing Malkovich is here to keep things clean. Malkovich. JOHN MALKOVICH. What even the hell, man? This is awesome.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare's Havoc DLC pack will be available starting January 17. It features the Exo Zombie game mode, four new multiplayer maps (Sideshow, Core, Drift and Urban) and a special multiplayer weapon in the AE4-Widowmaker. Oddly enough, pricing has yet to be revealed, but odds are it'll run for $14.99 as per the usual Call of Duty DLC prices.

 
 

Nintendo ending Club Nintendo rewards program, plans for "new customer loyalty program" in the works

27 comments Rory Young - 10:11am (PST) Like Share (1)

Club Nintendo was just too cool of a thing to survive this industry

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Nintendo has officially announced that their Club Nintendo rewards program is coming to a close. Don't panic just yet, Nintendo faithful, because Nintendo isn't just pressing the eject button. Club Nintendo users will be able to continue earning Coins through March and redeeming those coins through June. Additionally, new rewards will be added to the program in February. Consider this just an advance notice that maybe it's time to cash in those coins. 

Nintendo of America Sales & Marketing VP Scott Moffitt offered this very heartfelt and very prepared statement regarding the ending of Club Nintendo:

"We thank all Club Nintendo members for their dedication to Nintendo games and their ongoing love for our systems and characters. We want to make this time of transition as easy as possible for our loyal Club Nintendo members, so we are going to add dozens of new rewards and downloadable games to help members clear out their Coin balances."

No reasoning for the closure of Club Nintendo was provided. However, Nintendo did provide assurances that a new customer loyalty program was in the works and would be announced at a later date. Expect to hear news as Club Nintendo starts wrapping up. The ideal situation would of course be for one service to run directly into the next, so hopefully there's news prior to April -- when Club Nintendo stops giving out coins for purchases.

For those unfamiliar, Club Nintendo offered rewards for dedicated Nintendo gamers who registered their games, systems, and other Nintendo products through the Club Nintendo program. Folk could then use their earned coins to purchase special rewards offered directly through Nintendo. This stuff included mostly collectibles like music, statues, toys or smaller merchandise.

What comes next? Perhaps in our digital age Club Nintendo grew just a bit too large and making all of this merchandise what is basically free distribution became too much of a stress/cost. I'd expect whatever program comes next has a much more digital footprint. Or heck, maybe they'll throw in some Amiibos? Nah, they're selling out on those. I guess we'll wait and see.

That's that, Club Nintendo users. I'd wait and see if there's anything worth snagging in the February run of Club Nintendo rewards, then maybe wait to see what coins I could gather through March, and finally just cash out after that. No use in letting those coins go to waste! Fare thee well, Club Nintendo, you painfully complicated and only slightly rewarding thing, you.

Thanks to Eiche for the tip!

 
 

Borderlands: The Handsome Collection coming to PS4 and XONE on March 24

4 comments Rory Young - 9:41am (PST) Like (1) Share (1)

Is 2015 going to be full of remasters instead of new games just like 2014?

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Hey there buddy, are you so scrounged for next-generation action on your PlayStation 4 or Xbox One that you'd be willing to pay $60 (or more) to play Borderlands 2 all over again? Lucky you, because today Gearbox announced Borderlands: The Handsome Collection for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Arriving March 24 in North America, the Handsome Collection bundles Borderlands 2, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and all of the DLC currently available for both.

I mean, the only good PS4/XONE co-op is basically Destiny, right? Good god do we need some Borderlands over here. Anything but Unity, please.

There's not much else to say, really. It's not necessarily a remaster, though Borderlands: The Handsome Collection will definitely look better than its Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 predecessors. The king of town will still be PC, most certainly. Oh, and there's a bit of cross-gen cross-save functionality that allows players to bring over their old characters and loot. Also, there's 4-player co-op on the same television. Now you're thinkin' with split-screen, Gearbox!

And it wouldn't be a Gearbox product if there wasn't a special collector's edition of the game as well. The Claptrap-in-a-Box Edition of Borderlands: The Handsome Collection will feature a remote-controlled Claptrap, a steel case that is certainly not the branded Steelbook, and 12 fancy lithographs featuring character art from each of the games. There are only 5000 of these babies available worldwide, which is understandable since it costs a whopping $399. That Claptrap must be made of pure gold.

Borderlands: The Handsome Collection will be available starting March 24 in North America and March 27 internationally for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It will retail for the full retail price of $59.99.



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Monday, Jan 19



Community Spotlight: IcarusAbides' Top Games of 2014

3 comments Rory Young - 3:17pm (PST) Like (1) Share

Space, fantasy, football and the roads crossing in-between

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As part of Neoseeker's Game of the Year celebrations for 2014, we're spotlighting several community members' lists of their favorite games from the year. These are are community-written articles and the opinions there-in do not necessarily reflect those of Neoseeker. With that said, we certainly believe they show just how diverse the tastes of the community are, as well as just how much everyone here on Neoseeker loves games -- from the writing staff through the moderators and down to the casual new members. Thanks to everyone for contributing.


In the end, 2014 was quite a strange year for gaming with an absolute ton of hype and little in the way of delivery. Such is the nature of hype, I suppose, but regardless a number of big titles promised a lot and delivered little. In some cases they barely managed to deliver a functioning game, never mind live up to their promises. If ever there was a case for ending pre-order culture then it was surely Assassin’s Creed Unity

It could be easy then to become quite disillusioned with the gaming industry on a whole, but if gaming should ever aim to be anything then it should aim to be fun and so when asked to compile a list of my top games from the past year I put fun first and foremost in my mind. A number of games ended up missing out and I did enjoy my time with those titles, but not quite of the level for me to feature here -- games like Sniper Elite 3, Child of Light, Far Cry 4 and Dragon Age: Inquisition

Crossy Road

Probably not a game of the year contender for many people due to the fact it happens to be a mobile game and therefore not capable of competing with bigger releases. For me though, Crossy Road is special because it does what it does better than any other game release this year, it also happens to be brilliantly addictive and fun, which helps of course. At its heart Crossy Road is a very simple concept, it’s an endless runner inspired by Frogger, but at no point does it pretend to be more than that and at no point does it need to be thanks to developer Hipster Whale's wonderful execution. 

I’ve put countless hours into Crossy Road on both iOS and Android. I don’t even own an Apple device, but my lunch hours at work became consumed with nabbing an office iPad and just about remembering to eat at some point. Since the release on Android I find every spare minute is spent tapping away on Crossy Road. The wonderfully absorbing art style helps for sure but it’s the mechanics that stand out the most here, with a simple tap to move forward and swipe to move laterally. 

For a game of this ilk, Crossy Road doesn’t feel cheap upon death and it’s easy to chalk up the minutes and hours jumping back in over and over again to close in on that high score. In a way it kind of harkens back to some old school gaming where a simple concept executed really well can be just as entertaining and addictive as games with a wider scope and budget. In some ways it reminds me a little of feverishly playing Repton and its sequels over and over again as a child, of instantly hitting the button to attempt the level over again after a failure. A more modern comparison would be Super Meat Boy which shares the same kind of simple concept as Crossy Road, executed in a highly polished manner. 

Wolfenstein: The New Order

Shooting Nazis on the moon. What more could anyone want.

My intention with this list was to make it more of a featured list of my favourite games this year without putting them into a particular order. Still I think it’s worth mentioning that out of all the games I’ve mentioned here Wolfenstein is by far my outstanding choice for Game of the Year. Perhaps it has something to do with my own malaise with the current crop of games in the first-person shooter genre, with the likes of Call of Duty, Halo and Battlefield growing more and more stale as the years go by.

Wolfenstein brings back some of that old school shooter charm, no more regenerating health bars, no more cowering behind a box waiting for said health bar to regenerate before creeping around the edge to pop off a few rounds and then starting the process all over again. Wolfenstein simply throws the player in with a bunch of incredibly fun weapons and says, "Want some health? Go shoot some Nazis and get some." From auto-shotguns to marksman rifles, it allows players to dual wield pretty much anything and everything that shoots and there’s more than enough weapons to try out -- from the more standard SMG’s, rocket launchers and flamethrowers right through to the uniquely brilliantly named and brilliantly fun LaserKraftWerk. The onus is always on pressing forward and killing enemies to grab health, armour and more weapons which leads to some wonderful last ditch hail mary charges into enemy territory. 

Wolfenstein: The New Order certainly appeals to me personally in that manner, but it’s also a game with a very well executed story with a really well built game world to wrap around that story. Set in an alternate history the developer MachineGames really plays into that, what other game would have a German cover version of The Animals song House of the Rising Sun among a number of others to really sink you into this Nazi occupied post war world. I couldn’t get enough of this game and perhaps the moderate expectations helped to some degree but at the end of the day Wolfenstein: The New Order is a lot of fun and with the way the games industry is going at the moment it’s a shame fun no longer seems to be enough. 

Football Manager 2015

Year in, year out, without fail I spend my time throughout the year playing Football Manager. I say this because I think it’s important to point out that I’m an addict when it comes to Football Manager games and Football Manager 2015 has been no different for me. This is why with over 600 hours played since its release back in November Football Manager 2015 finds itself on this list. 

It’s a strangely hard series to expound the attraction of, a lot like the whole -- you either love it or you hate it thing with Marmite. With Football Manager I’ve found you either get it or you don’t. People either understand the attraction and the addiction of wanting to take over a lower league club and spend days and in game years to build them into a slightly better side or they just can’t see any attraction in it at all and tend to divorce you soon after. The series has actually been cited in something like 35 divorce cases. 

Football Manager really does set the bar when it comes to management simulations and for someone like myself who has been on board since with the series for over 15 years now it’s wonderful to see just how far it has come. Football Manager 2015 is just as addictive, absorbing and engaging as its predecessors. It’s the game I throw on when I get home from work every night and one of the only games that will accompany me throughout the year as I attempt to build an all-conquering side built from youth players. 

Perhaps a love of the sport of football is required to enjoy Football Manager. I don’t know, all I do know is that FM15 presents me with some of the highest highs in gaming and some of the most frustrating lows of 2014. And I can’t get enough. 

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Fantasy RPGs have been somewhat done to death by this point really. That’s not to say they seem to be any less popular, but it does make it hard to truly stand out in that market. Add in a need to stick to and not alter too much of an already established canon and the fact that movie adaptations always fail, then Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor was always going to find it tough going.

The thing is, it didn’t. It should have considering the combat system at first look was another pale imitation of the Arkham system from Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, but Shadow of Mordor went on to surprise a lot of people -- especially me. The combat actually turned out to be one of the best adaptations of that Arkham system and instead of feeling stale like Assassin’s Creed, as I had feared, it brought in a lovely fluid combat system that really suited the main character. 

The story that the game presented didn’t particularly draw me in and I’d have preferred a more Dark Souls system of telling the story through the way interaction with the world. However, the story of Shadow of Mordor was never the narrative presented, it was the story that grew out of the intriguing nemesis system that the game executed brilliantly. Not only would enemies remember and be scarred, sometimes physically, by previous encounters with the protagonist, but the buggers would be more than happy to gloat about the time they killed you the next time you meet. The game stops being the story of Talion and quickly becomes the story killing Drak the Reckless because of the successful ambush he led during an ongoing fight with other Orc’s as way of retribution for forcing his face into a fire. That kind of immersive fun is hard to script and I think Shadow of Mordor really benefits from everyone having their own unique story upon completion. 

Titanfall

Seemingly one of the forgotten games of 2014, Titanfall was another victim of the hype train that preceded a number of major releases this year. It was also for me a victim of a strange double standard. For a long time it has been said that first-person shooters with an emphasis on multiplayer really shouldn’t bother with a solo campaign and should just drop the pretense all together. Titanfall did just that and was roundly slated for it, a strange circumstance for sure.

What Titanfall brought to the table though was a nice evolution of the military shooter genre with a world in which for all intents and purposes the ground was lava. Unlike Call of Duty and Battlefield there is more to Titanfall than a maze of streets and ground floor building interiors. Speed, movement, aggression and that oft used word verticality are of paramount importance to a match in Titanfall. I’ve never had so much fun playing Capture the Flag in any game. In fact, it’s a game mode I tend to hate, but with the speed of movement in Titanfall it’s so much fun once you have a good route to wall run all the way to the enemy flag and back before they can even get to yours. 

Of course, the giant mech suits help too. 

Destiny

In truth I’m becoming increasingly ambivalent towards Destiny as time goes on due to the way in which DLC has been portioned off in the year following its launch. However, my misgivings and criticism over the upcoming expansions and their pricing, especially for UK gamers, does not detract from the genuine enjoyment the game has given me since its release. 

From its initial release Destiny has been a fairly divisive game and although I would agree it is low on content for what it is trying to achieve I do think the mechanics of Destiny are often overlooked and underrated. At its base Destiny is a very solid shooter which is hardly unexpected considering the pedigree of developers Bungie but I don’t believe being a thoroughly enjoyable shooter should ever be played down.

I’ve put a lot of hours into Destiny, with my main of three characters clocking over 12 days game time and for the most part I loved every minute of that time spent in the universe. Playing with friends certainly helped that feeling and I likely wouldn’t have put in those hours without people to play with but the world had to be there for us to enjoy in the first place and whether it was popping the helmets off Cabal in the deserts of Mars or killing Atheon in the Vault of Glass I had a lot of fun.

IcarusAbides is coming up on his tenth anniversary as a member of the Neoseeker community. He currently holds the position of category moderator for PC Games, and also moderator of the Football (Soccer) forum. Sometimes he finds the time to write and review as part of Neoseeker's editorial team, as well. Follow him on Neoseeker @IcarusAbides or on Twitter @newbouldm.



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Sid Meier's Starships announced for a spring 2015 release, Firaxis' next turn-based strategy release

2 comments Rory Young - 2:30pm (PST) Like Share

Off of the planet and out into space, we go

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It seems that instead of expanding on Civilization: Beyond Earth, Firaxis has a new direction they'd like to go in. Today the strategy game developer announced a new project, Sid Meier's Starships. As expected, it's a turn-based strategy game, but instead of taking place on a colonized planet it will bet in... SPACE. Players will control a fleet of spaceships, moving from planet to planet and meeting all obstacles head-on, ultimately building a confederation of planets.

Sid Meier mentions that he sees Starships as the natural evolution of Beyond Earth, seeing humanity take to the stars after colonizing a new planet:

"When designing Starships, I was intrigued by the idea of exploring the next chapter in the story of Civilization: Beyond Earth. What happens after we colonize our new home and eventually build starships to take to the stars? What has become of our long-lost brothers and sisters from the planet Earth? My goal was to create an experience that focuses on starship design and combat within a universe filled with interstellar adventure, diplomacy, and exploration."

There are a couple of notable things here to say after this quote. First, it's weird that Sid Meier is tying Starships to Beyond Earth, yet Starships is not a Civilization title. Yeah, I didn't notice the lack of a Civilization in front of Starships at first either, but now that I see it it's kind of confusing. Second, Starships is planned for release in early 2015. That's less than half of a year after the launch of Beyond Earth.

To extrapolate on this point a bit, there are a couple of thought I've had. Starships probably isn't going to be a game as big as Beyond Earth. That's just a matter of fact -- the team hasn't had as much development time on this project, unless they worked on it side-by-side with Beyond Earth. Perhaps we're looking at a Revolution-sized game instead. That could mean this is a more mobile-focused game, as it is announced for iPad.

Here's a bit of curiosity/speculation: does this mean we won't be seeing expansion content for Beyond Earth? If Firaxis is focused on putting out Starships, on moving out past the planetary colonization and onto building confederations of planets, it would seem to be so. I'm more surprised at this than disappointed. Beyond Earth wasn't a ground shaker, but expansions are easier to develop and Firaxis fans would be sure to pick it up.

Ready or not, Sid Meier's Starships is on its way to an "early 2015" launch on PC, Mac and iPad. 

 

Categories: PC Games Mobile Games
 
 

Friday, Jan 16



Community Spotlight: Insanity Prevails' Top Games of 2014

11 comments Rory Young - 10:10pm (PST) Like (3) Share

Insanity Prevails, but his picks are consistently great

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As part of Neoseeker's Game of the Year celebrations for 2014, we're spotlighting several community members' lists of their favorite games from the year. These are are community-written articles and the opinions there-in do not necessarily reflect those of Neoseeker. With that said, we certainly believe they show just how diverse the tastes of the community are, as well as just how much everyone here on Neoseeker loves games -- from the writing staff through the moderators and down to the casual new members. Thanks to everyone for contributing.

Back in the old days of 2002 a young pup was having a lot of fun with a Nintendo 64 game called Pokémon Snap, but was having a spot of trouble with a particular 'mon. He would eventually find his way to Neoseeker in search of an answer and somehow remains here to this day. Of course, I've long since found my way out of the Pokémon Snap forum, although gaming in general remains as a long standing passion of mine. Over the years I've worked on and developed other hobbies, some of which I can safely blame entirely on Neoseeker such as my love for anime, taking to writing and dabbling in other content creation. Much of this is reflected in the places I hang out on Neoseeker, with forums like Pokémon and Site Related being the most prominent.

2014 has proven to have had its ups and downs in gaming. It's hard to ignore some of the high profile games whose releases were swiftly followed by reports of buggy gameplay or being unplayable entirely, with companies like Ubisoft and Blizzard ending up in the firing line. The usual hype machine happily built some projects up to being something they could never live up to, fostering disappointment even in the games that turned out to be good. Several key series also found themselves without a big hitter, either releasing the previous year or being pushed into 2015. Yet other killer titles were more than happy to fill that void, creating scenarios where gamers were counting down the days until their favoured title hit the shelves. Amiibo became a thing, which is pretty much Nintendo's take on the Skylanders concept to the frustration of parent's bank accounts everywhere, but for me just being able to collect little figures of them alone was enough to garner interest. PC gaming found itself growing in strength as well as companies seem more willing to embrace this gaming market while marketplaces like Steam became more welcoming of otherwise niche titles.

This list isn't about the PC though. I'm someone with a massive back catalogue of games to play, which means that when I put in a preorder then that game has to be promising something pretty damn special to convince me to ignore that ever growing pile of games. This year the 3DS provided three such titles where my mindset switched over to an "I want it now" mentality, drawing on a combination of fond memories of older titles and an enticing drip feed of news before release. Here are my thoughts on how well that turned out.

Mario Golf: World Tour

When it comes to spin-offs no video game character can even come close to the sheer reach that Mario has achieved over the years. Not satisfied with bounding from platform to platform he has since tried his hand at role-playing, racing, matching three of a kind, mini-games and a wide variety of sports. Golf is one such sporting endeavor that I first experienced on the Nintendo 64, taking a fairly serious spot and applying the usual Mario magic to engage those who weren't looking for a serious simulation. The handheld entry on the Game Boy Advance similarly held my interest but the GameCube version wasn't quite able to deliver the same kind of experience I wanted. Nevertheless, as news seeped through on the 3DS entry I felt excitement building once again, hoping to recapture the excitement I felt from the first game with some tasty new upgrades.

When I played the demo early on I could feel that the game wanted to embrace the style applied to the rest of the series. The usual cast of characters were present giving the visuals all the extra flair it warrants, even if I did have to fork out extra to play as Rosalina (no Amiibo hoarder's going to taint my appreciation of her elegant design). The mechanics are designed in such a way to be easy to learn while offering that slight extra degree of control for players wanting to curve their shot around that tree. The courses offer a mix of standard designs to get players into the swing of things and moving onto the more eccentric options like shooting for the green underwater or navigating your ball through a minefield surrounded by lava. Then there is the local and online multiplayer component, allowing fans to take each other on both in direct matches and through various official and unofficial tournaments. Sure, I had absolutely no chance of taking the top spot in those contests, but picking up trophies for doing well was still a great experience.

The more I played though the more the experience faltered. Those crazy courses provided a lot of entertainment trying to get the ball to the green, but actually putting the ball in the hole was another matter. Perhaps it's part of my own changing tastes, but the wildly erratic slopes and dips in the greens on these kinds of courses can make scoring well very difficult if you don't happen to drop the ball right next to it on the approach. The Castle Club held potential as bringing in the highlights of the previous handheld golf entry but seems to suffer from a lack of content and was forced to pad itself out through repetition. The game also seems to forget it's on a handheld, as you simply have no option to save in the middle of a course. If you can't work around it then you're left having to put the console in sleep mode, which strikes me as very odd when the older games had no such problem offering this.

Sadly, this has resulted in it slipping onto that pile of games that sit by my computer, forever to sit in obscurity until such a time that curiosity gets the better of me and I try to figure out what they are.

Pokémon Alpha Sapphire

From one powerhouse series to another, there can be no denying just how important the Pokémon series has become to Nintendo. I've been with the games since Yellow on the classic Game Boy and, aside from one blip during the Kanto remakes, have thoroughly enjoyed each one. Remakes of the Game Boy Advance entries weren't my ideal for the follow-ups to X and Y, but I was nevertheless excited to find out just what the new mechanics could do for the region of Hoenn and seeing what new content Game Freak would work into the title.

While I held no doubt that much of the gameplay would mirror that of X and Y pretty close, I was very eager to try out the new Mega Evolutions introduced for ORAS. Yes, 6-0-ing scrubs with my Primal Groudon would be the ultimate "haha," no, of course I was looking forward to seeing the likes of Lopunny and Pidgeot find their chance to shine. Along with the return of the move tutors to greatly expand move-pools of Pokémon obtained in the 3DS titles, these helped to change up the battle scene, if not as drastically as a generational shift. Contests made a grand re-entrance as well, giving players a reason to team build with an entirely different goal in mind. How mind boggling it is to find basic moves like Tackle suddenly enticing to put onto move-sets while switching level grinding from battles to force feeding your creatures PokéBlocks.

Exploring the region as part of the story managed to get so much right but still hit some notable obstacles along the way. Certainly the beginning of the adventure is a lot of fun, showcasing many of the successful staples of the series that makes exploring regions fun. The latter parts of Hoenn though are filled with water routes, which are often very open and barren aside from the odd NPC trainer paddling about making them boring to go through. The bigger issue is the much greater need for HM moves to progress through the story, which greatly hamstrung team and move selection as players are forced to use Pokémon that can learn very specific moves and forced to keep them in the move-slots to continue onward.

Yet, it is Alpha Sapphire that I continue to play while Y barely gets to see any activity these days. For the problems I encountered in the story, I cannot deny that there is simply more to do in Hoenn that it is worth bearing those burdens. The endgame competitive and trading element is also stronger, with Mega additions and tweaks to make the experience that much more engaging.

Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS

No title on the GameCube sucked away more of my time than Super Smash Bros. Melee and for good reason. Not only did it present a playable cast from various Nintendo franchises, but dropped them into a fairly unusual game style that was just immensely fun to play. No, I couldn't wave-dash for the life of me, but I was a master at flailing around in the middle of a kerfuffle and successfully triggering a bomb that blasts everyone away. Having missed out on Brawl-ing on the Wii I was extremely excited when news broke that a fourth game was releasing and that it would hit the 3DS as well as the Wii-U. Release day could not come fast enough.

The roster for the game is very satisfying. Like anyone there were omissions that I was saddened over, but these were overruled by what characters did make the cut. Rosalina? Palutena? Robin?! Additions I was keen to play as alongside returning favourites made for an awesome battle, heightened by the attention to detail when creating the move-sets for the fighters that make reference to the source material. Old game modes return with new twists along with the stadium mini-games. Smash Run is the new kid on the block and is basically Smash's answer to City Trial mode in Kirby's Air Ride. That is to say it's an awesome mode that involves scrambling around a large stage collecting stat buffs in preparation for a random final event, hindered only by the need to customise characters ahead of time and the lack of an online option for it.

The online component is perhaps the most exciting part of Smash. Being able to just jump into battles with people all over the world and get to smashing is worlds apart from simply setting up a match against the computer. What's better is how they even seem to acknowledge the two sides of Smash - if you're here for random chaos then For Fun is happy to oblige, while For Glory is there for all your competitive needs, making battles a pure test of skill. You can play with strangers, set up battles with friends or kick back and spectate a random match if you want to take a break from making Pikachu do his best Team Rocket impression. Yes, at times the connection is iffy and causes battles to lag-spike or simply run slow which can really ruin the battle, but for the most part the experience is smooth enough to make "just one more go" far too tempting.

Playing from day one there was never really going to be any doubt. Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS is easily the best game to come out of 2014, delivering just the kind of brawling experience follow-up I've been waiting for since Melee. Now please excuse me, I need to go do something important. Ness isn't going to smash himself off the stage.

Insanity Prevails is coming up on his twelfth anniversary as a member of Neoseeker's community. He hails from England and currently moderates the Pokemon Trading forum, among others. Check out his Neoseeker profile here.



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Community Spotlight: Stitch's Top Games of 2014

7 comments Rory Young - 5:53pm (PST) Like (4) Share

The more Stitch rambles about a game, the more he loves it

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As part of Neoseeker's Game of the Year celebrations for 2014, we're spotlighting several community members' lists of their favorite games from the year. These are are community-written articles and the opinions there-in do not necessarily reflect those of Neoseeker. With that said, we certainly believe they show just how diverse the tastes of the community are, as well as just how much everyone here on Neoseeker loves games -- from the writing staff through the moderators and down to the casual new members. Thanks to everyone for contributing.

Hi, I'm Stitch! I'm a simple gamer that plays for fun and usually on easy mode -- I'm not a fan of challenges. :3 I only had a few games to look out for in 2014, so my list might be a short one. =P

Assassin's Creed Unity

Lets start with one I, like many of you, expected to be a great game. I got on the hype train only to crash and burn when the game was in fact a peice of ****. =P It was the bugs, glitches, and Ubisoft representing themselves as the next EA -- it was totally unacceptable what they released. Personally I didn't like how Arno was such a weak little **** that needed to learn skills in order to sit down on a bench and throw money. Like seriously, who thought that was worth spending skill points for? Oh, but it's easy to earn skill points! Not when you play the game offline, then those co-op skill points are basically there to taunt you.

The battle system ain't no fun, at least not for me. For some they like how they get gang banged by several guards at the same time while also getting shot at, in which case, spamming smoke bombs was the only way to get some enjoyment out of the battle system. Otherwise it's just suicide. And Snipers can instantly kill you with one single shot. Oh yeah, that's fun.

"But you need to be stealthy!" I know, but I'd rather kill them all. =3

Still, I sure love the graphics. The environmental lighting and the animations of people you see on the streets -- in that regard it's next gen. I sometimes stood still and watched what someone was doing, like two guys unloading meat off a wagon or some guy getting his shoes shined. Even though the random pedestrian shoe shine-ee I saw was wearing cloth around his feet. Seems weird he needed a shoe shine. XD

And of course watching a guillotine event in which the same person walks off the wagon onto the ramp, with different animations in how he approached the guillotine, or on the ramp, or even during the guillotine being activated. I only once saw the guillotine being activated and then they had to reset it and reactivate it again, since it seemed like something went wrong with the procedure. :3

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

This, is, the best Assassin's Creed game ever! =3 I love Pirates, I like everything pirate stuff. Well, pop culture like Pirates of the Caribbean stuff. =3 This game is awesome. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about this game, because it's awesome. Unity? No way, I have more fun commanding a pirate ship, wearing an assassin outfit with a skull on it's back, attacking and boarding ships for their booty. Yarrrr, that's the stuffff! Now that's what I want to see.

It's not from 2015, but I had more fun the with the time I played Black Flag than the time I had with Unity. You can keep that weak-ass assassin that can't fight or doesn't know how to sit, as I'd rather have an assassin that can wield two swords, fight sharks, and take over a ship on his own after a glitch prevents the crew from boarding. :3

One of my favorite games I played a ton of in 2014.

Watch Dogs

My first next gen game. :3 Oh, Ubisoft, Another game you hyped us up with, preparing ourselves with next-gen graphics with this little beauty, only to realize they toned it down for some reason. What we saw at E3, that's not what we got in the final product. =P GTA V had better graphics and that was on Current gen. :3

Gameplay was interesting, but got boring quick. It looked awesome to hack the system with a Smartphone and all, and E3 kinda look like best game ever, but in the end it didn't quite feel what we expected. But it still was enjoyable, to an extent. My only complaint would be that I hate the save corrupt bug that would delete my entire progress. :<

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

My most anticipated game of 2014, since this game was only the prologue to the full game -- Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Unfortunately that game is still under development and Konami isn't kind about announcing a release date. Ground Zeroes was a nice respite for the fans that couldn't wait any longer. I have respect for that. That's something you should do, Ubisoft

lol, anyway... there was a little trouble with Ground Zeroes and that's having to pay a large price for a small game. Since launch there has been a price cut, but even then there were people that didn't buy it because of the price. That's understandable, considering you can beat the game within the hour -- or even less then that. You might as well wait for Phantom Pain! I bought it when it was released. and it might come again with the game when you buy Phantom Pain, and I would feel like an idiot. =P

However, for a short game I was very satisfied. The story was interesting and the graphics with the new Fox Engine Kojima developed looks amazing -- both on next and last gen platforms. Gameplay was what you'd expected with such a game: you can sneak and plan your moves strategically, but you can also go in guns blazing and take a whole bunch of people out to clear a path. I really enjoy it, though it can be difficult. Snake is more vulnerable to attacks, and can get killed easily if not careful. For example if you're surrounded by guards, it'll be tough. Oddly lying in a corner, so you only have to face the front view, you can easily kill a whole bunch of groups coming at you... unless they have rocket launchers. 

People complained they removed the box and knocking-on-wall features, but apparently that's only for this prologue. Those will return in Phantom Pain. Instead, for Ground Zeroes you have unlimited ammo clips to throw for distractions or luring. Combining that with CQC is awesome. Hiding behind a wall and then take someone out is sweet. Even if a guard is near the guy, he'll be like, "WTF just happened?" and comes in to investigate, only to get his head smashed to the same wall his buddy did. *bleep* yeah. 

Ground Zeroes does have a big, random downside and that's that the voice of Snake, David Hayter, was replaced by a big Hollywood actor, Kiefer Sutherland. Not everyone is happy with that decision. Personally I didn't mind it. To me, Big Boss in his 40's would sound a bit more aged and having someone with a naturally rough voice would fit better. But they also Sutherland because of the facial motion capture. I can understand the facial motion would look weird if David stretches his mouth and all to speak the words in Snake's voice, like voice actors can tend to do.

Yet in Ground Zeroes you hardly see Snake from the front during his lines. You're almost always looking at his back. And another thing, he barely speaks at all. In Ground Zeroes the only person that talks a lot is Miller and in some cases you wish he would shut up. Perhaps Sutherland has more performances in Phantom Pain, because Ground Zeroes only makes him half likable. He's not a bad actor, he's actually doing a good performance as Snake, but we aren't shown his full potential yet.

Would it make a difference if David was involved? Personally, I don't mind either way. David and Kiefer would both do a good job as Snake, but I still want to hear more from Kiefer in the next game to see how well he really did.

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is one of my favorite games of 2014. :3

The Evil Within

Yeah, I was surprised myself that I purchased this game. I'm not a fan of horror or puzzles, but for some reason this game kept calling me. It was like it was Psycho Breaking me. =3 This game has high difficulty, like insta-kills, minimum ammo, lots of strategy, as well as traps, so running around like an idiot going call of duty style on it is not the right thing to do here, obviously. =P But I like it, even though I do hate some chapters and bits that are like total bull****.

Like Chapter 9 for instance, where you roam around a mansion looking for ways to open a big-ass door by activating some stuff in other rooms located elsewhere in the building with the occasional zombies here and there. This should be no problem, except scary villain Ruvik could randomly show up out of nowhere at anytime and when he touches you, you're dead. It's a situation in which you either save often or try to move forward fast as possible to get to the checkpoint/auto-save so you'll have some progress before you might have to start over again if you failed to avoid him. I had the pleasure of opening a door, walking a bit forward, and bam, he'd show up in front of me and before I could run or respond, he'd already killed me. That's how annoying it can get.

The game also is shown in letter-box format, which is annoying, but a narrow view of your surroundings kind of adds to the scary atmosphere, I guess. For example if you try to aim your gun at something high to activate a trap or puzzle and there's something that crawls around that can insta-kill you, then having a black bar obscuring the lower view can feel quite tense.

I managed to finish the game with several long breaks, since I really don't like horror games and the dark and scary settings are making me uncomfortable, but I made it! =3

The Evil Within is awesome, also on my favorites of 2014.

Grand Theft Auto V on PlayStation 4

I played the PlayStation 3 version of Grand Theft Auto V to death and now I have it for PlayStation 4 and it's even more awesome. It now has first-person mode, upgraded graphics, and more content, more music, more everything! Do I really need to explain how awesome this game is? I find it awesome and there're no words I can use to explain how much I love this game. =3

I just hate it that I need to pay for Grand Theft Auto online on PlayStation 4. :3 For PlayStation 3 it's free online, but with a 12GB PS3 and the space needed for all of those GTA Online patches and updates it's also not available for me, sadly. Luckily I'm an off-line gamer. 

Well, that's so far my list, I guess. :3

Told you it was short. =P

Stitch is a ten-year Neoseeker veteran hailing from the Netherlands who currently moderates the Loungin' forum, among others. Check out his Neoseeker profile here.



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Community Spotlight: Lorx's Top Games of 2014

8 comments Rory Young - 4:01pm (PST) Like (6) Share

Our first community Game of the Year list has arrived

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As part of Neoseeker's Game of the Year celebrations for 2014, we're spotlighting several community members' lists of their favorite games from the year. These are are community-written articles and the opinions there-in do not necessarily reflect those of Neoseeker. With that said, we certainly believe they show just how diverse the tastes of the community are, as well as just how much everyone here on Neoseeker loves games -- from the writing staff through the moderators and down to the casual new members. Thanks to everyone for contributing.

Hi all, I'm Lorx. I'm one of the super-moderators here on Neoseeker in-charge of the forum community and I've been asked by the editorial staff to pick out what games stood out to me in 2014. I'm mainly a PC gamer with some time on a few choice 3DS and PS3 exclusives, which will be reflected in what games I've chosen. I'll start off with a look at what the year looked like overall and then dig in to my top games.

This year was really quite wonky. There were an abnormally large amount of games that crashed and burned rather badly upon release in some way, especially among big budget companies. Assassin's Creed Unity is still widely broken on PC, Watch_Dogs an abysmal time on PC as well, and of course Sonic Boom released this year as well and that's just a whole different story. This made AAA titles that simply didn't get a sustained market like Titanfall look quite good in comparison. Many of the major powerhouses were games from years past which were continuing to pump out content and new installments of long-continuing series, like World of Warcraft, League of Legends, and Call of Duty. However, there are some standout titles which look capable of mattering into 2015 and beyond. Games like the ones I'll be shedding light on here showed us there were some great titles to be had. This upward swing in topic brings us to my top games of the year, listed in no particular order except for...

Transistor 

Getting the obvious out of the way first. It's hard to be the next title released after a major hit from a developer. It means being judged not on the merits presented within the game space itself, but also in comparison to the previous game. That Transistor managed to be a worthy title to come up alongside Supergiant's previous release of Bastion is quite astonishing. Bastion was ridiculously well received by players and critics alike, and Transistor managed to take on many of the aspects which are unique to the company's style -- while still being a fresh and new experience.

Transistor has a killer soundtrack by Daniel Korb, a really engaging story, and still has the unique art-style which the developer is making themselves known for. This is coupled with a rather deep combat experience which allows for many different kinds of play-styles to emerge, as not only is a player's skill load-out incredibly customizable, but it's also able to be played as a real time action game or as a more strategy-centric title, taking some cues from turn-based titles. Out of any game released in 2014, this is a game I would label as the standout release in most every category. If you have not played it, definitely pick it up here in the next month or so. We're in the post-holiday release lull anyway, a perfect time to look back on this game and understand why it was received with such open arms.

Dark Souls II

Going from a worthy successor to a grand title to one which has a bit of a problem fitting into it's predecessor's shoes, next up is Dark Souls II. This is a very iterative sequel, if you are at all familiar with the first Dark Souls then this game will be very familiar, which makes talking about it a little more specific as to changes made. Lets get this out of the way first: the first Dark Souls had flaws. That's not to say it's bad -- it's fantastic. Many consider it a stronger title than Dark Souls II, but it had some flaws in how it worked, which the new development team tried to find solutions for. In doing so, they made a game that is... more flawed than it's predecessor, with the largest being its change in how online matchmaking functions. So this game gets some flak from the fan-base, but it has definite strengths which make it stand well of it's own right.

At the end of the day it's a really astonishingly good game that just can't quite live up to it's predecessor, a slight damper on what is otherwise quite a strong release. Perhaps the most important strength of all in terms of what they changed would be weapon diversity. There's lots of interesting and cool items to be found, the combat definitely benefits as a result. Online play is well thought out as well, even though much of it hadn't changed since the previous title we saw the developer actually find a way around the cardinal sin for online games -- segregating players. When From Software released DLC, players who don't own it can still join in on players who do under specific circumstances, which is a solid way to get around that cardinal sin. And while From Software is not the first to use it, the implementation is very solid, and I hope we see it noticed by other developers facing similar design challenges.

Really though, most everybody knows what Dark Souls is as a series -- a hardcore action game that will punish players who don't think about what they're doing. In this way, the series still delivers true to it's word and is well worth playing. If you haven't picked it up yet, a GotY-ish edition named Dark Souls II: Scholar of the first Sin is releasing in a couple months for next-gen systems and PC, which I highly suggest picking up.

Nidhogg

A very small game, simple, not impressive from a technical standpoint in any way, but really well-crafted and the most fun I had in a LAN atmosphere the entire year. It's quite easy to pick up, and is both engaging to play against friends, as well as watch. I think what separates this game to me from other quirky small releases this year is that it's mechanically sound.

Games like Mount Your Friends, I Am Bread, and Friday Night at Freddy's -- these games all were quirky in some way and caught the attention of Youtube (in some cases this was perhaps the intention from the ground up), but Nidhogg is the one I found truly fun and engaging beyond the spectacle placed before me as the player. I've played many rounds of it's tournament mode over the year, and every time the gaming session ends in laughter and a feeling of time well spent. It's a really good game for engaging with others and being a part of a group. This game is worth playing if you ever find yourself in that kind of environment.

Valkyria Chronicles 

This game? That really niche strategy title that was released on the PS3 back in 2008? Yes, that game. I'm cheating here really, because this game was released on the PC in 2014 without major upgrades -- it's just a port. But this is a game that widely flew under the radar of a lot of people, so when I have the chance to plug it, then I will always take that chance. This game is a mix of a third-person shooter and a turn-based strategy game. Think of it like Fallout 3's VATs system combined with Fire Emblem. It's a unique gameplay experience that's fairly well-crafted. Not the most balanced thing in the world, but it is a single layer game, so that's not really a big deal.

This is a game that really shouldn't be missed if you're a fan of strategy titles, and the PC release is the perfect excuse to go back and look at it once more. On top of it's unique gameplay it has actually a surprisingly good story. It begins with what could best be described as any old anime plot, but grows into much more serious themes, touching on WWII concentration camps and racism in a way which I haven't really seen a game dare to try before. It's a foray into territory we rarely see properly represented in video games and this game does quite well. Making it unique both in gameplay and story, all under the visual aesthetic of art drawn on a canvas, courtesy of the custom graphics engine which was built for the game, aptly named Canvas. I've used this word plenty of times so far, but again, this is a very unique title, you won't find much like it elsewhere, so if it sounds interesting, definitely give it a go.

Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire

Marketing teams get paid to hype games and certainly there's something to be said after 2014 that they can perhaps oversell their product, but in this year no game had more hype with me than ORAS. I've been playing Pokemon games since their original run back with Red/Blue/Green, but Generation 3, the Hoenn region, is my quintessential childhood Pokemon game. It's the one I spent far more time with than any of the others, and my favorite region to date in almost every respect. So when Generation 4 came out, I was already looking forward to when I would see my favorite region return.

Lo and behold, many years later, it has returned spectacularly. Most of the changes are for the better as well and I found myself appreciating a lot of what was changed, especially the Eon Flute and how some areas were bought to life with new visuals. As an example, Sea Mauville specifically is a fantastic sight to behold with vivid colors and a landscape which just screams explore me! My only major gripe is the choice to auto-walk in segments of the story, for instance when completing the 5th badge you have the option to teleport to the "start" of your journey to the 6th. I find fault with this because Hoenn is designed with many shortcuts, it's a dense world with multiple paths to any given objective, and things like that only serve to 'shrink' it, not using the strength is has in it's geography. But really, this is nitpicking, and that I have to nitpick to find fault is certainly telling. ORAS is a successful new imagining of the Hoenn region and I'm glad it's finally here.

Honorable Mentions

These games didn't quite make it into the above list for one reason or another:

  • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: Already had one cheat title listed, didn't want to do two. This was ported to PC in 2014, amazing spectacle fighter and an even better soundtrack. If you like spectacle fighters or are a PC gamer who wishes they had access to Bayonetta or God of War, pick this up.
     
  • Smash Bros 4: What is perhaps most impressive is the quality of the 3DS port. It doesn't feel shoddy or lacking in any way, which is definitely not what I was expecting. Beyond that, it's a solid game and exactly what anybody would expect a SSB game to be at this point.
     
  • Alien: Isolation: I'm not a fan of the horror genre, but this is one of those rare games that stood out for remembering that suspense is scarier than stuff jumping out from a hiding place suddenly. It needs a mention as it was quite good, but simply not my cup of tea.
     
  • Shovel Knight: Actually still playing this, just picked it up the other day. Had a lot of positive feedback upon release and I'm beginning to see why, but I'm not even close to done with it, so it's not on the list.
     
  • Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes: A short but really well crafted experience. It's quite impressive how much they manage to do with a single map. Really interested to see how well The Phantom Pain does now that the first taste of the new experience has been released.

Lorx is an 8-year veteran of the Neoseeker community and currently holds the position of a  Super Moderator, the highest-ranked position granted within Neoseeker's community. Check out his Neoseeker profile here, or follow him on Twitter at @Lorx_n.

 
 
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