GOTY 2014 - Biggest Improvement

This year, we're rolling out a new set of awards that recognize achievements (and some dubious honors) in specific areas of game development. There are ten awards in all, with two new ones being awarded every day this week. Keep checking back for more winners! Don't miss out on any of our Game of the Year coverage. Check out our full schedule here, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for instant updates.

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Biggest Improvement - Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

Sora Ltd. & Bandai Namco Games | November 21, 2014 | Wii U

Nintendo are not known for learning from their mistakes, but they've finally started showing some changes in their methodology. Nowhere is this more evident than in the latest entries in the Super Smash Bros. series – and in particular, the version for Wii U.

It's time that we be honest with ourselves: Super Smash Bros. Brawl was not a great game. In fact, compared to its direct predecessor, Melee, I don't think I'd even call it a good game. Sure, it was polished to a mirror-shine, and presented with all the bombastic fanfare of any major Nintendo franchise, but where Melee was an accidentally excellent fighting game, Brawl ended up being more pomp than substance. Fans even took it upon themselves to make Brawl more like its immediate ancestor through a complex package of modifications – there's no plainer illustration of how much folks lovedBrawl, and at the same time, just how little they liked it.

Thankfully, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U improves on its predecessor in every regard. It controls like a responsive, precise fighting game on every input method I've tried (from Wii Remote to a linked 3DS). Its roster is mammoth, as is its collection of playable stages. What's more, there's tons to do: modes range from competitive 1v1 matches (with drastically improved online support), to the chaotic charm of 8-player Smash (sure to delight a couch full of friends). It also doesn't hurt that Smashis one of the best-looking games on the Wii U.

Whenever I purchase a Smash Bros. game I view it as an investment, or something to be continuously played at parties and expos – indeed, even the underwhelming Brawl was brought out in my household to entertain guests. But the latest release is paying real dividends. Pick up a copy and battle without hesitation, because Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is the total package. – Spencer Tordoff

Runners-up: Call of Duty: Advanced WarfareDiablo III: Reaper of Souls