GOTY 2014 - Tyler's Honorable Mentions
No process—even a process six years in the making—is perfect. And while our collaborative list of the top ten games each year is the result of an equal effort from each of us, there are also bound to be casualties of the debate. That's where Honorable Mentions come in, serving as a sort of Home for Wayward and Misunderstood Games. Today, we'll take a look at Tyler's list of favorite games that didn't make the cut.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Monolith Productions | September 30, 2014 | PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
New consoles can be hard purchases to justify. They're expensive, bereft of content and often buggy. Not everyone can be swayed by shiny, new hardware, and while a price drop can make it more enticing, sometimes it takes a special kind of game to sway the holdouts: the kind of game that couldn't be done on the previous generation. I'm not a game developer, so I tend to trust Monolith when they say Shadow of Mordor's Nemesis System couldn't be done on PS3 or Xbox 360. Once those last-gen versions were released and footage was made available, the difference between them and the version of the game on modern systems was clear. That either gives water to Monolith's case or could be attributed to a lack of funds provided for development on older consoles...or possibly both.
The gameplay is largely familiar. Anyone who’s played Assassin's Creed should be comfortable and the game clearly shows its roots as a Batman: Arkham game. Yet even without the Nemesis System, there is enough new to make Shadow of Mordor feel original. Random rune drops allow the player to adjust the game to their playstyle, whether they choose to remain stealthy and employ brutal kills, pick off enemies from a distance or stick to close combat. Missions usually appear to have multiple solutions.
However, the Nemesis System is the star of the show. Falling to a foe may lead to a quick respawn, but it is not without consequences: the enemy responsible will rise through the orc hierarchy and craft a vendetta with the player—ditto if the player finds a ranked orc but allows them to escape. The system compensates for the game's lack of a strong story because each player develops their own narrative through the rivalries they acquire. It's one of those changes in gaming that is hopefully makes Shadow of Mordor the tip of the iceberg of similar systems in future titles. It may not be the best game released in 2014 but it will be one of the games that define their generation.
Stick It to the Man
Zoink Games | November 20, 2013 | PlayStation 4, PS Vita, PlayStation 3, Wii U, Xbox One, PC
Most modern adventure games, or at least the ones that garner the most attention, deal with serious and heady subject matter. It doesn't get more bleak than The Walking Dead, and while The Wolf Among Us has a cast of fairytale characters it's still a murder-mystery at its core. Stick It to the Man is a comedy—a genre that's often difficult to pull off in games—and in a year that gave us South Park: The Stick of Truth and Jazzpunk, Stick It to the Man went largely unnoticed.
The game's style is similar to Paper Mario with characters and sets that appear to have been cut out with scissors (the playable character, Ray, is even pulled out of a copier at checkpoints). The art looks straight out of concept art for a Psychonauts sequel. Such touches would fall flat if the writing wasn't strong, however, and the mechanic of reading minds leads to some humorous and sometimes touching moments. Stick It to the Man is not a deep game and can be finished in a few hours but is an original game that’s absolutely worth the investment.
Futurlab | September 2, 2014 | PlayStation 4, PS Vita
Velocity 2X gives a strong feeling of deja-vu. The developer, Futurlab, has been building upon the same concept since the original Velocity, a small-scale game released as a PlayStation Mini. The concept is sound: a less twitchy, top-down space shooter with a ship capable of teleporting across the screen. 2X is the most-polished version of these games to date, including 2D animated cutscenes and sidescrolling on-foot segments. It may not satisfy the most hardcore of shmup fans but it's easy to get hooked chasing higher scores and replaying levels.