The lights are on
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There isn’t too much more time left before we buckle up again for another twelve months of big game releases. We’ve all got our favorites picked out, and it’s only my rightful duty to display just a few of mine for the coming storm of gaming. The year of 2014’s packing its punch in another big way and see what I want to be playing away the days with.
There’s simply no way around the fact that I’ve always felt a certain dissonance with first-person shooters. Call of Duty’s never appealed to me and I’ve not once picked up a Halo or a Battlefield. While more cinematically driven titles like Uncharted or Red Dead Redemption have converted me to the 3rd person corner of the genre, I’ve yet to come across any game with as much potential as Destiny. At a glance, it could be written off as any other Halo DLC from three years ago, but for months since its E3 debut there always seemed to be something more to its simple sci-fi coating that met my eye. Whether it’s the beautiful expanses of its open-worlds or its vast opportunities for deep customization and exploration, this soon-to-be beta-tester will be quite interested in seeing how Bungie holds the line in the first chapter of its post-Microsoft history book.
It’s probably safe to say that Watch_Dogs may be one of the most potentially great 2014 releases that no one remembers. Two E3 debuts and one big delay later, Ubisoft’s hack ‘n shooter’s virtually fallen off the map amidst the hype even after demonstrating one of the best looking Chicagos and most intriguing looking conspiracy narratives since, well, the Assassin’s Creed that it most certainly borrows from. All of that was short of delivering the one thing it needed, though: a release. Intriguing may more accurately describe it than unfathomable excitement by this point, but come spring, I might just have to try out what still might be one of the best Assassin’s Creed/Grand Theft Auto hybrids that may yet triumph.
Mario Kart 8
If you look at my Wii’s statistics, Mario Kart may very well have been somewhere on my top five most played games of the system. I have no doubts that Mario Kart 8 may just be the same case for the Wii U in ways that its impressive yet inherently more limited companion of Mario Kart 7 just couldn’t. Gorgeous HD visuals and prankster-style driving included, Mario Kart may not be my game of the year, but it’s undoubtedly going to be what keeps my Wii U humming the most this spring season.
Super Smash Bros. Wii U
If you summarized my fighting game experience, I’d probably summarize it purely by mentioning Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and Super Smash Bros. In truth, nothing’s ever driven me to fight for countless hours beating leader boards or playing perfectionist with a perfect match; rather, it’s always been about the roster. Wacky characters and ridiculous move sets have always made a good fighter for me and Nintendo’s cast is more than capable of making beating the crap out of cartoonish plumbers and pocket monsters fun. With months more still to go, who knows what more fighters will get me jazzed for this $60 disc of fun.
Like Xenoblade Chronicles, describing what makes me excited about X is like describing why I like reading a book or gazing at a sunset. Both seem as equally mundane as watching paint dry and neither seem to drive the “innovation” that critics are always vouching for. All the same, both are about pure imagination. Traveling to the next page not knowing what’s around the next corner or simply appreciating the beauty and wonder of falling helplessly in love with a world is what makes games like X seem appealing to a time sink that speaks to your soul. I suppose that’s all I can really say about a game as mysteriously joyous to me as its predecessor was.
Infamous: Second Son
Between my two favorites PS3 exclusives of this last generation, I’ve always thought Infamous the lesser sibling to Uncharted, but Second Son looks like it’s endeavoring to change my mind in every way possible. If its near perfect rendering of my local Pacific NorthWest stomping grounds wasn’t enough, then its superpowers and its potentially great voice cast might just send it over the top. Its further interwoven narrative amidst superpowered action may or may not be enough to make me buy a PS4 this year, but it might make me sweat every time I see it in action.
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy
While I’d unapologetically say that Unwound Future was one of my favorite handhelds of all time for all of its moving moments, so far the Layton prequel trilogy hasn’t done nearly the same job. The Last Spectre introduced us to a younger Layton and Luke with a few new cast members fine, and The Miracle Mask hit just a few notes well enough to keep me playing. All the same, the promise of perhaps wrapping up Descole’s story and a telling revelation of Layton’s himself is all too good to pass up putting in my 3DS this year.
No Man’s Sky
Since my indie awakening with Journey in 2012, I’m always on the lookout for the next great indie adventure and No Man’s Sky looks like it could very well be it after arguably stealing the show at the VGX. It’s one of the best views at exploration and surrealist immersion and I’m utterly astounded at just how huge it all appears to be. Dialogue and Hollywood narratives absent, I’d be just as happy to gaze up at the stars.
Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes
I know, it’s not Phantom Pain, it’s not even the full extent of a numbered MGS title. Yet I can’t explain why I’m not excited about the return of one of my favorite game series of all time, Kiefer Snake or no Kiefer Snake. The visuals are stunning and the story revelations look tantalizing in the face of a cheap cliff-hanger and a short campaign. Nevertheless, playing stealth agent in even a semi-open world with the detail and equipment of a new Metal Gear game is too good for this Snake fanatic to pass up. At best it could end up being a surprisingly addictive hit like Peace Walker and at worst it could end up being another Tanker Mission for $30+. Either way, you know I’m putting this into my last-gen PS3 for at least a few hours of tranquilizer dart joy.
The Lego Movie Game
The year of 2013 was undoubtedly a great one for Lego with Lego Marvel Superheroes and Lego City: Undercover and 2014 isn’t looking to hold back. Lego games have long demonstrated a simple joy: building and tearing down. I want only to do that and lots of it for Lego’s latest movie tie-in for the film I actually anticipate far less than its own game. I may not know what plot it has and probably don’t care as long as I get the sandboxy, bricky world that its screenshots have promised me in its purer Lego-ish form. Gimme more Lego. MOAR.
A Nod of the Hat:
Not every game is on my top hits list, but there are more than a few left that have my eye in some capacity or another. I dedicate this little slice of the blog to them and everything I and you might want to check out.
Hyrule Warriors: A mash-up of Dynasty Warriors and The Legend of Zelda seems like a match made in either heaven or hell for nearly everyone you talk to, but the idea is simply too crazy for me not to give a hoot about. In a year when Nintendo’s accused of not taking more risks, Hyrule Warriors meets that in stride to be something so weird that it may just have a shot at working. With the good faith that canon and storytelling don’t have to be its centerpieces, I’m more than willing for finding a good time bashing moblins the only ways I know how: a lot. Combine that and the potential for a Shiek/Ganon/Midna multiplayer and you’ve got yourself something that’s dumb fun enough of a time.
Assassin’s Creed: Liberation: A re-release probably isn’t making too many others’ lists, but in spite of all of Assassin’s Creed III’s controversial directions, I’ve been quite interested in experiencing just a bit more of Aveline’s bayou adventures for the first time via a PS3. The idea of a female Assassin has long intrigued me and the 18th century French parish provides a nice backdrop for the series latest address of enslavement and freedom. It might just grant me to spend a nice $20 for the same fun I always derive from tossing people off rooftops and jumping off tall structures.
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII: I know, it’s crazy. The applause for a Final Fantasy XIII sequel is probably quite low. As much as I could criticize XIII-2, the one thing I’d never speak ill of is, oddly, its fetch-quests. What might be nauseating in some games still addicts me in ways I can’t help get out from under in Final Fantasy still, and if catching monsters and finding gil was just enough to keep Noel and Serah’s CW drama worthy of my attention, then XIII might just keep me hooked if the series’ gradual return to openness and freedom is as true as it looks. At least you can say that Hope and Snow have been relegated to the back-round where they belong, so it ain’t all bad, right?
The Order 1886: It’s hard to believe that The Order doesn’t have every player hooked after its headline grabbing E3 presentation, but something about it hasn’t spoken to me as a game after all this time. Maybe it’s just because I haven’t seen enough of the gameplay yet or have a real understanding of its characters. That may all change after more footage, but we’ll see about the power of the new-gen steampunk mustache winning me over.
Thief: On one hand you could say that it’s a Dishonored clone, and on the other you might be warranted to say the same thing. Indeed, Thief looks like a game that doesn’t have much new to say and the reports of its rough demo aren’t too reassuring. I’m a stickler for stealth games, however, and if Thief can give me the simple pleasures of a cross-platform Gothic jewelry heist, I’ll nab it.
The Amazing Spider-man 2: Out of all the games on this list, I truly don’t know why I’m anticipating Beenox’s tie-in to The Amazing Spider-man 2 as much as I am. Spider-man games have held a distinctly higher quality over just about every other superhero with respect to the source material and world-building. Maybe it’s the tenth anniversary of both Spider-man 2 and it’s still nostalgic movie game that makes me believe the stars are aligned to make Spidey’s webbing strike twice. Integrating Peter Parker’s life into Spider-man’s and a sort of “morality system” are too appealing not to consider and with as many high notes as Beenox hit in 2012 amidst the mediocre ones for The Amazing Spider-man, the way could be paved for the Spider-man game I’ve waited for a decade to experience again.
What are some of your most anticipated titles of 2014? Write your hopes and fears down below. It’s usually sooner than we think. Here’s to it!