While this year didn’t have the consistency in releases as last year had, with the new generation PS4 and Xbox One still being in their infancy, there were some fantastic titles in there, which we’ve celebrated over the last few weeks in their individual genres.
We’ve pooled all of the games together and the TSA staff have cast their votes, collectively choosing our Game of the Year as well as runners-up. The result comes as a bit of a surprise, to say the least.
In third (or fourth, technically) place, we have Bioware’s choice-driven RPG Dragon Age: Inquisition. It fixes many of the issues people had with its predecessor and also took the title of our Role Playing Game of the Year by quite a large margin. It’s an impressively deep game, with hundreds of hours of content and a great cast of characters which are all handled well.
We actually have two games which managed to take second place: an indie and a brand new AAA release. First up is Transistor, a beautifully crafted game with an intriguing plot and a great central mechanic, allowing you to plan your sword attacks before taking your shot, upgrading and tailoring these in quite a unique way. With some fantastic visuals and a great sense of style, reflected in the game’s impressive soundtrack, it’s a superb game worth of our runner-up spot.
Let’s not forget about our other second place game, either. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was a surprisingly great spin-off of a popular franchise, and while it stuck to rather standard open-world mechanics for the most part, the tactical Nemesis system – in which you faced procedurally generated Orc rivals – was one of the stand-out game features of 2014. Fighting your way through the ranks, defeating a warlord’s guards, before taking out the big bosses themselves proved extremely fun throughout, adding a personal touch to something we wouldn’t usually think twice about in a game.
To say Mario Kart 8 as TSA’s overall choice for Game of the Year is a massive shock isn’t quite right: we can’t think of a better, more pure and fun game in the last twelve months, and isn’t that what it’s all about in the end? With over double the votes of its runners-up, it’s quite a smooth victory for the racer, with no blue shells in sight.
From the gorgeous visuals, running at 60fps and bringing an unrivaled sense of speed to the series, to the extremely fun multiplayer gameplay, or even just the host of single player championships, Mario Kart 8 is a resounding success. To put it simply, it goes above and beyond what we’d expect from a sequel, and turns the excellent-at-the-time Mario Kart Wii into something you’d never want to see or play again.
The game also features some incredible track design which truly takes the series to the next level, with anti-gravity allowing for three dimensional tracks rather than flat raceways. Remakes of old tracks go above and beyond what you’d expect to see and some of the new ones are ingenious too, from the downhill slalom of Mount Wario to the colossal golem as the centrepiece of Bowser’s castle. All-in-all, it’s a superbly crafted package, showing that the Wii U should not be forgotten about.
Mario Kart 8 is TheSixthAxis’ Game of the Year 2014.