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Too soon for GoTY?

November 26, 2014

imageThere’s been quite a few titles that have only just rolled in near the tail end of 2014. There was a huge drought of titles from April until late August. I’m only going to limit my selection on the Xbox One since that’s the only current-gen system that the majority of us own.  The one caveat is that the game must be released in 2014, so launch games such as Ryse, Dead Rising 3, Forza 5, and Battlefield 4 don’t qualify.

We saw the likes of XB1 exclusive titles such as Titanfall, Sunset Overdrive, Disney Fantasia, Forza Horizon 2, and Halo: Master Chief Collection (more on that later). I seriously doubt that many of you would select the latter because it’s mired with matchmaking problems, bugs, game crashes, etc. Multi platform games such as Alien Isolation, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, FIFA 15, NHL 15, Watchdogs, Sniper Elite 3, Destiny, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Dragon Age: Inquisition, & Far Cry 4 have all occupied our time. Even remastered or ported titles such as Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition, and GTA 5 have shared some considerable time in our ever expanding game libraries.  Then there are the FUBAR games such as Assassin’s Creed: Unity and Halo: MCC. Those last two titles may have permanently damaged not on their respective franchises, but their publishers’ reputation as well. As in regards to the Halo: MCC situation, this couldn’t have come at a worse time due to the big holiday push since the franchise is synonymous with Xbox.

My pick for game of the year has to be PvZ: GW followed by Titanfall. The whimsical nature of PvZ was absolutely spectacular. There were times when I laughed until my sides hurt. The humor, character customization, and game modes all seem to work well to make PvZ a very well-rounded game. The support that EA/Pop Cap gave to that game was far more than what I had expected considering EA’s greed. Titanfall is my second choice because it did live up to the hype for about a month. Yep, a month. 😦 For me, the game’s character and mech designs were what drew me in. I absolutely love the TF-universe. The fresh take on FPS was truly exciting and the fluidity of its fast paced gameplay turned heads. However, due to the limited amount of game mode options, customization, weapons/gear, etc., the game seemed bare bones. If TF released with all of the content that it now has, it would have sustained the attention of the gaming community. Statistics show that when gamers move on, they don’t come back. Respawn really did themselves a disservice by releasing too early. It’s such a missed opportunity and a true shame. They had unparalleled support from MS with the use of the Azure Cloud servers, but lack of a single player campaign or component really made Respawn’s strategic decision inexcusable. In their haste to meet EA’s deadline, they shot themselves in the foot. This is evidenced by the PC community essentially rejecting the game even at $5 on Origin, and brand new retail & digital copies for the consoles can be had for $20 (physical disc/$12.49 (XBL digital game + Season Pass). Let me remind you that the game released mid-March of this year! Coming back to Titanfall just to play the Frontier Defense has really elevated the game in my eyes. It’s nice to have another game back in my rotation.

My sleeper hit would have to be Sunset Overdrive followed closely by Shadow of Mordor.  I really didn’t expect to like the game as much as I did. That game needs to be played in order to appreciate it because simply watching it may give the impression that it’s too fast paced for some, but in reality it’s not. The humor is more hit than miss, and the open world gameplay is lively.  So I ask, what’s your GoTY?

  1. November 27, 2014 9:10 am

    1) Battlefield 4 – Very ambitious. Massive. Lots of variety. Lots of maps. Playable most of the time. Patches have improved it quite a bit. Still not perfect, but pretty close actually.
    2) Titanfall – It loses something over time because it is a lot of rinse and repeat, but the gameplay is stellar, it is innovative, and fun. Going to get the digital version on BlackFriday for $18. Win!!!
    3) PvZ – I didn’t have as many “moments” as you guys, but I do love this game.
    4) Halo MCC – It will get fixed. A must have even if I don’t or won’t play it much.
    5) Destiny. Haven’t really played it much, so INC…. Solid game. I’m just not very intrigued with the universe or the fragmented story. And as far as MP goes, because I’m a low level, I get burned by all the pros with their little tricks, weapons and abilities that I don’t understand…

    Must have games for Xbox One:
    Gears (of any kind. Please)
    The Division

  2. November 27, 2014 8:33 pm

    Kenny, I am surprised (and pleased) by your choice of PvZ:GW over Diablo3. Perhaps because it is truly an original IP released in 2014? Anyway, I agree wholeheartedly.

    GoTY: PvZ:GW, The characters/controls/movement are so unique, it was a barrier to immediate adoption. However, as with the special infected from L4D (or classical music) the complexity and uniqueness make you love it once you get used to it. The production values are sky high, and as you said, the game has been supported way beyond what is normal for any game on any platform these days. I am still hoping that PopCap will release some more GvG maps, even for a price. I would pay without thinking.

    Titanfall is better than the love it is getting. For the PC version, people hate EA and their Origin service, so that is the first huge obstacle to its popularity on that platform.

    For the One, TF was just too bare-bones, as you say. To get into the MP of a game, people need more narrative behind the characters, mechs, and locations. For comparison, consider each and every Gears One character and map. ‘Nuff said about that. I will just add this, I feel like their art design is more analogous to the hardware/software design choices Microsoft makes as compared to Apple. More practical, less wow.

    But, the game is far better than the love and sales would suggest. The current state especially. It deserves a close runner up for me. Gonna buy the Season’s Pass next time it goes on sale (this Friday?!).

    Raspberry of the Year goes to Halo:MCC. I’m glad that Johann was able to get a refund. Need someone to slap that shit down and send a message that this kind of release is completely unacceptable.

    DLC of the Year: Zen Studios South Park Pinball Tables. The colorful art design, like that of PvZ, is an awesome change from that of all other games, but where the game shines is in the soundbytes. In fact, that reminds me. Gotta write Zen and congratulate them and tell them “I want more!”.

    Next year, with tempered expectations, I look forward to Evolve, and games I don’t even know about. It is the surprises this year, TF and PvZ that won my heart, as did Gears1, L4D, and BF:BC2 back in the day. They were all way better than I thought they would be. Man, I don’t think I even want to know about a game until I am blown away as I play it. As for The Division, after Ubisoft’s eff up with Unity, I am very worried about it, especially if it makes a 2015 deadline. I am genuinely weary of “broken”.

  3. FrenkoFrenik permalink
    November 27, 2014 8:50 pm

    Destiny hands down for me is the GOTY. It had its rough spots and at one point I even considered quitting it all together but the end game is far superior than anything else I have played this year. Getting there is the real struggle, as you can’t really see the end game until you reach level 28 and are able to do the Nightfall missions and the Raid. But once you are there, once you invest all the time it pays off in spades.

    The Raid and Nightfall are some of the most challenging co-op ever in a game. It rewards teamwork like no other co-op I have ever played. You can have a high level character and the best fully upgraded weapons, but if people do not work together it’s game over very quickly in Nightfall, and it could be hours of fail in the Raid.

    The story is just a prologue to future events, like I said before is just a glorified tutorial. It becomes totally different once you have to replay them at level 28 for ascendant materials.

    The Multiplayer is much better as well once you are higher level, you have a much better selection of weapons, and hopefully a better grasp of the game mechanics. For me that’s the best thing, because it has so many things to do on a daily basis it keeps you sharp, so whenever you get in on the MP, it is easier to have a good game. Advanced Warfare in comparison is harder to get into because there co-op is horrible, and the campaign uses different abilities, and have less reasons to play it daily, so staying sharp forces you to grind MP daily.

    Runner Ups:

    GTA V/Diablo 3: Prior to the “Titanfall” distraction, and after, the two games that occupied my time were these two. It was just a good combo to play. Diablo for the co-op, and GTA for the SP and the MP. GTA has been something of a let down in the re-release, the rooms don’t fill up to 30, for whatever reason that may be, and well I played it a lot throughout the year so grinding for the DLC vehicles doesn’t make sense on the busy holiday season. It will be worth it if they bring the Heists DLC. However much praise for 2K/Rockstar for bringing free DLC on a AAA game. I happily payed $60 again because they gave us everything for free throughout the year. Activision/Blizzard was the total opposite, charging me $60 for just one act and one character was just ridiculous. I only grabbed the next-gen version when they put it on sale.

    CoD: Advanced Warfare- If only they had real co-op, it would have been more accessible. More on this on Titanfall.

    Titanfall – It was the game that made me go next-gen. It had a fresh blend of Mech with FPS. The last mech game I played was Chromehounds, which didn’t have the tight controls or great graphics. However Titanfall at the beginning was very shallow experience. It had fewer playlists, no co-op, and a Campaign story played through MP, that was only useful to noob farm.

    It has evolved a bit since. I thought it was the most overrated game of the year until they added more content, it still a bit overrated but it’s accessible now. Too bad it’s empty.

    Most Overrated GOTY: Halo Master Chief Collection. They could have sold Halo: CE and Halo 2 and made it MP functional and sell it for $30-40, and it would had been the homerun of the year. But no, they had to cram all games, rush the MP portions of everything, and make gimp versions of Halo 3-4 where you can’t forge everything exactly the same as the 360 versions, and not even release the Halo 4 co-op or feature it’s matchmaking progression or lobby system.

    Regardless any of this, even if it all works some day. Halo MP feels like when you are a level 1 with no double jump, no supers, and vanilla weapons on Destiny. It has lost all it flair and it feels very dated.

    Basically they really brought back 2005 Halo, problems and all. Hands down the winner of the Refund of the Year.

    Sleeper hit of the year: Forza Horizon 2. It has been the game that has stolen the most time away from Destiny. It’s a game that knows what it is, it’s no the AAA version of Forza 5 with big races, hardcore AI, and 60FPS gameplay. However it’s a game that is based on fun driving, not competitive racing. So with that focus is easy to pick up and play at any time. The world is big, the cars are very fun to drive in this open world. The multiplayer is very laid back, and the best part is the sense of progression does not require you to play the SP races at all. I have maxed out my Perks or Ability tree simply by racing just for fun. That’s what makes it standout IMO, in a sea of games that more and more require you to put some serious time in any game in order to unlock everything, this game just let’s you just play for fun and progress without many requirements.

    Games I am looking forward to play later on:

    Dragon Age: I – Not ready to invest time in Dragon Age yet, I am putting time in Destiny to upgrade weapons before the DLC hits, and Titanfall has been eating away time with the Co-op. This was an impulse purchase just to fill the void that MCC left after the refund. However it will payoff like COD, once everything else slows down. I am not sold on the co-op yet. Seems like a very slow gameplay expirience, so it’s hard to dive in while used to the fast pace of Destiny, Titanfall, etc.

    Sunset Overdrive – The free weekend sold me on the game, prior to it I had no interest whatsoever on the game. It was good laidback fun. Still not a draw to pull me away from other games, but when the time and price is right, it should be a great purchase.

    Best Dev: Bungie. Even though many times they go quiet with updates, they do keep the weekly updates. They have fixed all the major flaws in their game. They were patching, hot fixing, and server side upgrading almost every week since the game came out. Compared to all the other devs that had problem releases, they look like studs now.

    Best part is their game has a content update system like other MMOs, so they are perfectly capable of adding content to the game without having to go through the patch system, like they did with the Loot Cave easter egg, and how they changed the weekly events (Iron Banner, etc.)

    Bungie is notorious for dragging their feet at the beginning, I remember Halo 3 and Reach took a long time before all the playlist favorites saw the light of day, but if they follow tradition, once all the DLC is pushed out of the way, they dedicate plenty of time to fine tune the game and hopefully in Destiny’s case, bring plenty of free content. That, along with all the exclusives expiring in fall 2015, means we should have plenty to play for a full year.

    Worst Dev/Publisher: Ubisoft. They cannibalize their IPs, they almost seem like carbon copies of themselves. They cut corners in development to steal those inital sales out of their biggest fans. All of that for then their best games end up in the discount bin anyways, because the yearly release schedule. It’s almost like they are converting everything to a “sports game” level. They make Activision/EA look good.

    Overall 2014 it was a good year in gaming, it wasn’t as good for next-gen, as the releases didn’t release smoothly. It’s understandable since they have more platforms to release on, but given the gaps of releases we already had because of that and the massive amount of games that were delayed and moved to 2015, it should have been much much better.

    Problem is that 2015 doesn’t look to be any different. Many of the future releases could have the same problems. Expect the hype machine to go in full force to secure strong initial sales for delayed games( The Division, Evolve, etc. I am looking right at you) and it’s still a publishers market in the next gen, even with a somewhat strong fall lineup there will be plenty of room for many of these devs to score big because of lack of games.

  4. FrenkoFrenik permalink
    December 1, 2014 3:25 am

    Bought Shadow of Mordor. It is fun, although is hard to set it aside from Batman and AC. The other thing is watching my son play for hours is how generic the baddies become.

    I think they missed a big opportunity in not putting Co-Op. The AC wolf pack mode although highly generic is very very fun and it would have added more playtime to this game.

    Even more since Unity mess happened.

    But yeah I think this is another one of those highly rated games that take an early trip to the discount bin. Very much like Batman in that sense.

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