We know what you’re thinking. Where did the last 12 months go? Yep, another year has passed, which means we’ve seen 365 days of video games – some awesome, some mediocre and some completely forgettable. There were a lot of amazing games in 2014, but here are our five favorites.
5. 'The Last of Us: Remastered'
We know this is technically cheating, since Naughty Dog’s “The Last of Us” reached the PlayStation 3 in June of 2013. Still, the remastered, PlayStation 4 version of the critically acclaimed survival horror game makes the already awesome title just a little bit better. “The Last of Us” tells the story of Joel and Ellie, survivors navigating a postapocalyptic United States in 2033. Players control Joel, whose objective is to escort Ellie, a 14 year-old orphan, across a desolate landscape full of infected citizens. His goal is to reach a resistance group that believes Ellie may be the key to stopping the zombie plague that has taken over the world. The duo battle ravenous enemies and hostile humans while using firearms and stealth. Shown from a third-person perspective, the game involves both gunplay and melee combat while also allowing players to control Ellie during the second half.
Praised for its voice acting, art direction, sound design and writing, the action-adventure title makes survival horror pretty freakin’ fun, allowing gamers to be drawn into the plot, the characters, the goals and the storyline. Oh, and the remastered version, which reached the PlayStation 4 in July, has better visuals, 1080p display at 60 frames per second, director commentary and bonus DLC.
4. 'Dragon Age: Inquisition'
There’s so much to like about “Dragon Age: Inquisition.” We like the billions of character combinations. We also like the ability to control the leader of the Inquisition, which allows us to choose quests that affect in-game play. But what we like most about BioWare’s action role-playing game is the array of dragons – massive, lumbering, destructive creatures modeled after the real-life movements of giant, predatory cats. There are 10 dragons in the game, with players sometimes taking on more than one at a time. Besides that, the game is beautiful, with luscious green plant life and majestic scenery.
3. 'Mario Kart 8'
“Mario Kart 8” isn’t the type of game that will consume your life, but the racing title can be enjoyed by everyone -- and it’s superfun to play with friends or at a party. “Mario Kart 8” is the eighth main installment in the popular Nintendo franchise, and playing it is like riding a bike, as in you never forget how to careen around winding courses at what feels like lightning speed. Learning the techniques in “Mario Kart 8” is as simple as learning how to race in the original Super Nintendo “Mario Kart.”
Sure, the graphics are much better, there’s a variety of bikes, wheels, parachutes and characters to choose from, and the racing courses are updated, but the old-school racing feel is there, making “Mario Kart 8” one of the best racing games of 2014. Also, the Luigi Death Stare was one of the best memes of the year.
Some games are forgotten a month or two after their release, but “Destiny” has been out for more than three months, and we’re still loving it. The first-person shooter was developed by Bungie and launched on Sept. 9 for the Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. Within 24 hours of its arrival, Activision announced that the game was the most successful franchise introduction of all time, with "Destiny" shipping more than $500 million worth of games to retail stores internationally.
The game currently has 9.5 million registered players. The graphics in “Destiny” are beautiful, and players can choose from three major classes as well as three races – titan, warlock and hunter.
1. 'Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor'
If you’re obsessed with the “Lord of the Rings” universe like we are, “Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor” is a must-have game. The action role-playing title reached the PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in October, with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions launching in November. It’s a bit darker than the PG-13 rated films, and it takes place between the events of author J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and the first installment of “The Lord of the Rings.”
As in the films and books, Sauron has created an Orc army that is wreaking havoc on Middle-earth. Players control a ranger named Talion, who has wraith-like abilities. Talion is customizable and, as the game progresses, can accrue enemies. Maybe an Orc a player harms in the first part of the game will want revenge later. This is one of the best parts of the game, as is the landscape. Being able to explore Mordor in a game setting is awesome, and elements and characters from the books make it into the game as well.