This week, the New Game Plus cast and crew reveal their favourite games of the year. Today, Matt Batten takes time out from his streams and animal videos to present his games of 2014.
Gaming copped a bad reputation for many reasons this year. There were games that never lived up to their hype, unfinished titles with multiple gigabyte patches at release and so many server outages; gamers around the world grew increasingly frustrated with what we now consider modern gaming.
As the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 struggled to find their footing, I grew fond of titles on the older systems that already had their turn in the sun. Aside from a few gems that the current generation had to offer, I found that the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita still have enough life and support to keep them in your console rotation. Here’s why.
After a long development cycle, a change in publisher and a final delay into 2014, South Park: The Stick of Truth had a lot to prove upon its release. Thank goodness these factors had little to no effect on the quality of the end product.
There was something for everyone in The Stick of Truth: Super responsive and interactive turn based combat, brilliantly cheeky dialogue penned by Trey Parker and Matt Stone themselves and artistic dedication to the source material that makes the entire game feel like an episode of the show.
Heavily inspired by games like Earthbound and the Mario RPGs, South Park: The Stick of Truth is a hilariously cynical RPG rollercoaster that just doesn’t stop.
Drakengard 3 is not for everyone. It is perhaps the most polarising game of 2014. The development team, composed of ex-Cavia members (Nier, Bullet Witch), are often known for developing games that aren’t exactly the prettiest or of the highest production values, but finding the beauty in imperfections is the first step into enjoying games like Drakengard 3.
Rich lore, incredible character design and an amazing soundtrack rife with thumping war drums and stinging strings shifted Drakengard 3 from the status of a linear arena hack-and-slash into something truly special. Hell, the combat was arguably the most well-executed in the history of the franchise, with weapon cancelling and variety each defining different roles in how you approached battles.
As I mentioned before, you’re either going to love or hate Drakengard 3; if you give it a chance, I honestly believe you’ll fall into the former.
This is going to be a tricky one. Originally released on the PSP in Japan 4 years ago but released overseas for the first time this year, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is a tale of deception and unwavering futility that provides a surprisingly deep experience once you look beyond its Persona 4-esque bubblegum exterior.
Holed up in a school with other students against your will, you find out from a menacing-yet-cuddly bear that escape is impossible…unless you kill another student and get away with it.
What resulted was a high tension visual novel with a premise reminiscent of Battle Royale. It featured ostensibly obnoxious art design (static cardboard cutout character models, excessively vibrant colours) yet it all came together. Coupled with a heavy electro soundtrack by Masafumi Takada and Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc rang true to the high standard of visual novel quality that you would expect from developer Spike Chunsoft.
The Wii U underwent a renaissance this year. Many people really got into games like Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros, but for me, Bayonetta 2 was that one Wii U game which had me smitten from start to finish.
Bayonetta 2 ran at a breakneck pace, yet it allowed you just enough time to admire the consistent frame rate, amazing Venice-inspired environmental architecture and the large-scale set pieces Platinum Games are well known for.
All in all, Bayonetta 2 was unashamedly crass, suggestive and crazy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What I find so fascinating about Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is that it can say a lot by saying very little. One main point of contention with Ground Zeroes was the apparent lack of missions; a total of seven were available to the player and all took place in the same prisoner camp. However, like many of the franchise’s predecessors, it was the complexity and metagame that made Ground Zeroes amazing.
Learning more efficient paths to complete objectives, playing around with different weapon loadouts and general exploration around the environment were just some of the many reasons why I played this game for 60+ hours; far surpassing any other game this year.
Not to mention the incredible soundscape, astonishing visual design provided by the Fox Engine and the revamped controls — these all changed the Metal Gear Solid series for the better. Assuming Ground Zeroes is indicative of the quality of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, the over-indulgent cutscenes, confusing controls and other common criticisms of Metal Gear will soon be a thing of the past.
I could go on forever about how awesome the game is and what lies in store for The Phantom Pain, but I’ll leave it as is. Just play this game and you won’t go hungry. I promise.
Come back tomorrow for more games of the year from the NG+ cast and crew, or watch New Game Plus’ Game of the Year episode