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 411mania » Games » Columns

The 8 Ball 07.15.14: Top 8 Best Games of 2014 So Far
Posted by Marc Morrison on 07.15.2014

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball. This week, I wanted to talk about some of the better games that have come out so far. I borrowed this idea from the movies section 8 Ball column done by Jeremy Thomas, and thought it was a good one. Games do come out year round, but it's a different business from how films operate. With the games I've picked, I've played most of them (save for one), and feel pretty confident in my choices. Certain games don't make the cut like Wolf Among Us or Walking Dead: S2, simply because they first debuted in 2013. Others, I may have considered but taken off. Or have simply not played/heard of at all. So except for one game, this is just my own personal list of the top games of 2014 so far. Let's begin:

8. Strider

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I actually have been a fan of Strider back in the day, but this remake/reboot of the game was a little scary. Double Helix (up to that point), had made exactly one good game: the Killer Instinct reboot. So it was a gamble for Capcom to give the game to them. I'm glad they did though, as it turned out to be a very enjoyable Metroidvania style platformer. You progress along, beating bosses which unlock upgrades which open new areas/secrets for you to uncover, as you try to take down he baddies. I'll admit, it's not perfect, but it is enjoyable for what it tries to set out to do, which is to make some people remember the Strider series

7. Mario Kart 8

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This is the only game on this list that I haven't played – mainly because I don't have a Wii U. This is the first game that makes a Wii actually seem worthy of a purchase to me, looking fantastic (despite subpar hardware), having an internet system that largely works, and cherry picking some of the ideas from previous games (specific tracks and coins) makes Mario Kart 8 a sort of "best of", of the series. Even though the "Luigi Death Stare" has taken the internet by storm, Toad sits above him still. Toad always rules.

6. Titanfall

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Titanfall is a bit of an odd game, due to the history of the team and what they are trying to do with this game. If you discount all the baggage associated with it though, Titanfall is a fairly fun multiplayer shooter, that has a great sense of momentum and verticality with how you control your character. Plus, playing either as a pilot or in a Titan is just fun; the game wisely makes a pilot weak to a Titan overall, but if the player is smart against facing off against one, they can prevail, if they are determined enough. I think the only knock against it for me is the lack of a single player, and by that I mean a "real" single player. They can offer up as many excuses as they want, it is something I still miss from the game. Still, Titanfall has managed to become my "go to" multiplayer shooter, taking over TF2's spot, so that counts for something.

5. Transistor

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I should note that I'm currently just playing Transistor now. I'm about 4 hours into it, and have enjoyed it thoroughly. The thing about Transistor is that it does "feel" a lot like Bastion. The way you move, the way you upgrade your attacks/skills, and the surface level of how you can attack seems carried over from Bastion. However, it's really not. Transistor allows you a lot more flexibility with both combat (the turn system), and with your personal load out (active, secondary and passive skills). Even movement can be somewhat altered due to the "Jaunt" skill. Other elements come into Transistor more though, like backstories for the characters, a more structured narrative, and a deeper world to explore. I look forward to finishing up Transistor soon, and then probably re-playing like, like I did with Bastion.

4. Watch Dogs

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This game does have its share of problems: side activities are kind of shallow, it has some gnarly technical problems (especially on PC), and there are some really questionable story moments. However, I still tend to liken the game to the first Assassin's Creed game – an incredibly novel idea but a game that needs improvement later on, which came with AC2. Still, between AC1 and Watch Dogs 1(I assume a coming sequel), Watch Dogs is a far more "playable" game. I enjoyed my time with the game, warts and all, hacking was neat, it did have some exhilarating moments, and there was a lot of side activities to do, if you wanted to. I'll put it to you this way, by the time I was done with Act 1, which is nominally the "tutorial" act, I had my update tree about 80% unlocked already. I look forward to the next one, provided Ubisoft can get their heads together about good PC ports.

3. Divinity: Original Sin

 photo Divinity_zpsf4f5f9ce.jpg

This game is currently destroying people's lives whenever they boot up Steam. There is such an overwhelming density to this game, that it is almost beyond belief. I've seen people online get hung up on the character creator alone, marveling at how many classes there are, or if you want to make your own. The co-op character system is great, especially playing with a friend. It actually makes you think about what your responses would be to some of the situations there are in the game. The combat system is a really challenge but it forces you to be strategic with your characters and the environment around you, and that you can alter. Even the voice work, which was added extremely late in the development process, is pretty solid. People will be spending months on this game, especially once the eventual DLC is released for it.

2. Wolfenstein

 photo Wolfenstein_zps8fd7f4b7.jpg

If you had told me that Wolfenstein would be one of the best games of 2014 (so far), at the start of the year, I would have laughed in your face. The best thing I can say about the game, having just beat it about 5 days ago, is that it is honestly a game deserving of a better franchise than "Wolfenstein". The game manages to tell a shockingly good story that goes from brutality and all action, to moments of tense situations and forcing you to rely on your wits. The weapons are all great, especially upgrading the laser cutter over and over, the graphics/designs are superb, and the alternate universe world building is deeply interesting. It's not all perfect, there are a few sequences that are extremely frustrating, but Wolfenstein shows that a single player-only FPS game is not only viable in 2014, but is a supremely good time to be had.

1. South Park: The Stick of Truth

 photo SouthPark_zpsb9ed6f33.jpg

Along with Wolfenstein, South Park is a game that I don't think a lot of people were expecting to actually be good. The general problem with prior Obsidian games was two things: 1. Their ambition tended to outweigh their talent – meaning that they always seemed to have grand ideas for their games, but had issues with how to implement them. And 2. Technical issues tended to break their games or cause them to be screwed up some (Fallout: NV, anyone?). South Park really showed what the studio was capable of, by limiting their ideas into a laser-like focus on the property and doing right by it, and by all accounts, they succeeded. South Park: TSoT acts as one great big love letter to the South Park franchise at large, plucking jokes from the first season (anal probing satellite) and going up from there. What's more is that the game itself, is actually fun. Combat appears simple, but you need to have your timing down to be good at it, the side activities are fun, as is just collecting all the miscellaneous junk there is in the world. My favorite thing though is that they perfectly captured the look (and sound) of the game. The art in South Park looks bad, even the animators will admit that, but at this point it is also intentional. There was a lot of work and care when making the game to have the same crappy animation/art syle in the game, and they nailed it. South Park is a game that really has to be played, even if you aren't a fan of the source material.

Complainer's Corner

I didn't come up with a big secondary list for this part. 2014 has been a bit of an odd year so far, there have been some good games, but no real break out hits. Still, here are a few others I considered: Child of Light, Trials Fusion, Banner Saga, Spintires, Infamous: Second Son, Diablo 3 Reaper of Souls, and Dark Souls 2

The General Roundup

There were a shocking amount of good comments from last week, so I am impressed. Of the 37 comments the article received, only about 4 were troll-like, while others either generally agreed with my picks, or did what I suggested, and listed games they also couldn't get into. Time to talk about that a bit now: For a game with "Revelations" in the title, I'll agree with "RichardDick" with him saying that AC: Revelations is a huge waste of time. It didn't reveal anything. The cousin character in GTA 4 was supremely annoying, I know one of the endings has him dying, and I almost beat the game just to have that happen. Oddly, I've enjoyed other GTA games (VC, San Andreas, GTA 5), but just can't get into GTA 4. I think MMO's can have their place, but only generally with friends. Because then you and your group are striving toward doing something. If you're on your own, then "yeah" MMO's are usually a waste of time. I did intentionally pick "popular" games, but that was kind of the point. The idea for the topic was to talk about popular games, that I didn't like, and talk about why I couldn't get into them. Lastly, I do feel the way that "Nada" feels about Legend of Zelda. I can get into them to a certain point (till Twilight Princess broke it for me), but they are over-lauded to a certain degree. Twilight Princess, is the worst Zelda game, at least to me, in the main series of games.

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