Monday, December 15, 2014

Best of 2014: Part Two

Welcome back to my countdown of my "20 Favourite Games of 2014 (That Maybe Weren't Released in 2014 At All)".

No, I change my mind: "Best of 2014" is still a better title.

Missed any entries, or want to skip ahead? Check out the whole list here:


And now on with the show! List. Whatever.

18. The Banner Saga (Stoic)
A big part of the game is maintaining supplies for your caravan.
If 2014 will be known for one milestone in gaming history, it will be that it held concrete proof that crowd-funding a game can be successful. Now developers have options other than going to publishers or releasing games on their own dime; instead, they can now go directly to the consumer, pitch them an idea and ask for funding to make it happen. And The Banner Saga is the poster child of this movement.

Though the Kickstarter campaign for The Banner Saga wrapped up in March of 2012, it was finally released in January of 2014. Featuring stunning art inspired by the classic cel-animation style of early Disney films (primarily Sleeping Beauty) and themes drawn from Norse mythology, the game is an RPG that jumps between different groups of people trying to survive in a frozen world invaded by a warlike race known as the Dredge. Together, survivors band together in a large caravan that traverses the world in an attempt to find and defeat the Bellower, the leader of the Dredge.

The combat is interesting and tactical, with all manner of
classes to bring with you in battle.
The game has all the staples of a fantastic RPG: likable and relatable characters; meaningful decisions in the plot; excellent tactical gameplay. The combat, which is on a grid, can be most closely compared to Final Fantasy Tactics: each character has a certain number of action points they can spend per turn, and each of their places in initiative is based on their stats. Combat abilities depend on what sort of weapon the character fights with and you must be extremely strategic in your choices, as the game is fairly difficult and will punish you for poor decisions.

If nothing else, The Banner Saga would have been an important milestone as the realisation of the crowd-funding dream, but it managed to exceed that already lofty perch to bring a solid gaming experience that is truly unique and really quite wonderful. In short, The Banner Saga is a truly excellent game -- and one that I need to return to! Time to add more cloth to my clan’s banner and save the world from the Dredge!

17. Titanfall (Respawn Entertainment) 
I call this: Carnage.
You remember earlier how I mentioned that, because of the whole Call of Duty legal thing in 2009, I had put aside money for the first game to be developed by the studio that formed from the remains of Infinity Ward? That game was Titanfall -- and man, what a game.

While Call of Duty thrived on the strength of its multiplayer, it eventually got to the point where the singleplayer content started feeling tacked on instead of its own feature. Much to their credit, Titanfall avoided that controversy entirely by eschewing the separation of those two halves and combined them into a single whole, all the while delivering one of the most solid shooters I've played in a long time.

Being inside a Titan is a lot like being on foot, except
the guns you have are bigger than a person. No big deal.
Now let me be honest: the accolades this game received pre-launch concerned me greatly. It was named Best of Show for E3 2013, a fact that provoked me into writing a big rant on the problems inherent with rewarding a multiplayer-only game in the face of other narrative-driven experiences -- and I stand by that stance. But what I didn't understand at the time was how well Titanfall would be able to embrace a hybrid model of gaming, melding a narrative with multiplayer action. I also didn't understand just how damn fun Titanfall is.

Dynamic action and freedom of movement is the bread and butter of Titanfall; wall-running, jetpacks, tightly designed maps and the eponymous Titans make this a shooter that rises above the others. Advanced Warfare tried to follow their lead but Respawn has set the bar for shooters higher than ever -- as they did with the evolution of Call of Duty before them. I am more than excited to see what Respawn does with a sequel for Titanfall, especially because they have already stated they intend to include a dedicated singleplayer mode. What little we have seen of the world is intriguing and compelling, so to extrapolate on that and allow us to explore it? I cannot wait.

(Way back I did a video commentary on my first match in Titanfall. Check it out!)

Part Two
Part Two is complete! Part Three will land on Wednesday and with it comes two games that couldn't be more different. Come on back to see what I'm talking about!

Enjoying the list so far? Think I'm completely off my rocker because of how low some of these games are? Drop a comment! Berate me into submission! I'm open to all sorts of conversation so don't be shy! I only bite when I'm hungry, promise.

...anyone have a granola bar...?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Have something to say? Do so below!