MONG’s Best of 2014 Award Winners – Part One

2014 was certainly a wild year for gaming.

The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One both set record sales for a console’s first year on the market, reassuring gamers and “analysts” everywhere that console gaming is here to stay.  Microsoft decided to release a Kinect-less Xbox One bundle after saying it would never happen.  The PlayStation 4 failed to release any major blockbuster first party games during the holiday season, while the Xbox One released a hit new IP in Sunset Overdrive.

We saw the rise and fall of mobile games like Flappy Bird.  Games like Titanfall, Watch Dogs, and Destiny were all finally released only to be ripped apart by gamers with too much hype.  While less hyped games like Wolfenstein: The New Order, Valiant Hearts: The Great War, and The Evil Within managed to blow everyone away.  We were flooded with “HD remakes” of games – some that we have wanted for a long time, and some that were just released a year ago on last generation consoles.

All of that combined to make this years Best of 2014 Awards a really fun one. So, without further ado, here are the first set of winners:


Best Developer

Winner: Nintendo

Nominees: BioWare, Bungie, Insomniac Games, Monolith Productions, Telltale Games

Despite a year of remakes and broken games, there has been one developer that stood head and shoulders above the others, both in polish and consistency: Nintendo.

Celebrating their 125th anniversary, the Big N developed and co-developed some of the finest games last year. Starting out strong with Donkey Kong Country Returns: Tropical Freeze and ending with a bang (i.e., Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker), a lot of 2014’s best titles came straight from the Kyoto-based powerhouse. While other games like Tomodachi Life and Yoshi’s New Island stand by the wayside, Mario Kart 8, Mario Golf, and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U have all made it to MONG’s Game of the Year list.

There is no doubt that Nintendo deserves best developer of 2014.

Written by: Lou Contaldi


Best Publisher

Winner: Nintendo

Nominees: Bandai Namco, Curve Digital, Microsoft, Sony, Ubisoft

This year Nintendo was one of the only publishers who knew the meaning of quality control; every game they released worked and earned the “official Nintendo seal of quality”. Nintendo also managed to publish a great selection of fun AAA and eShop exclusive games across Wii U and 3DS. Achieving quality and quantity.

Furthermore, Nintendo helped bring many Japanese games to the West, e.g. Fantasy Life, Hyrule Warriors and Phoenix Wright Vs. Ace Attorney. As well as funding and publishing the excellent Bayonetta 2 and allowing Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja to use their precious The Legend of Zelda IP to create Hyrule Warriors.

Hopefully this is just the beginning of Nintendo outreaching to developers to help support promising projects, which is why Nintendo won MONG’s best publisher award for 2014.

Written by: Lucy Pallent


Best Story

Winner: The Wolf Among Us

Nominees: Sunset Overdrive, The Last Of Us: Left Behind, The Walking Dead: Season 2, Valiant Hearts: The Great War, Wolfenstein: The New Order

Murder. Mystery. Intrigue. These are a few things that make for a great story, and The Wolf Among Us has all of that and so much more.

For starters, the premise of the game is based off the long-running comic Fables, where fairytale creatures are forced to leave their homelands and migrate to New York City. They must wear disguises called glamours that make them look like normal humans.

Playing as Bigby Wolf, sheriff of Fabletown, players are taken through an unbelievable and twisted story about the shady side of the Fabletown community. However, what might be seen as the right thing to do for some isn’t always so. There’s two sides to every story, and Telltale Games’ The Wolf Among Us did a great job of making players question their choices and seeing the consequences of those choices.

This is why The Wolf Among Us stands above the rest as Middle of Nowhere Gaming’s Best Story of 2014! Needless to say, we can’t wait for season two.

Written by: Matt Middleton


Best Soundtrack

Winner: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

Nominees: Destiny, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, inFAMOUS: Second Son, Transistor

The Smash Bros. games have always had excellent soundtracks. Both original and remixed songs have accompanied fights in the numerous Nintendo universes we grew up with, but Super Smash Bros. for Wii U takes it to another level. According to Smash Boards, there are 437 songs in the game. Let that sink in for a moment. 437 songs. There are radio stations with shorter playlists than that.

And it’s not just the quantity that makes it impressive. There are classic tracks from Mario, Zelda, and F-Zero, new remixes from Pac-Man, Yoshi’s Island, and Star Fox, and a host of songs from nearly every franchise in Nintendo’s history. Even the menu songs from Melee and Brawl make a return. While not every song is an A+, there are so many good songs (you can customize which ones are played) that there is plenty of music for anyone to enjoy.

That is why Super Smash Bros. for Wii U wins Middle of Nowhere Gaming’s award for Best Soundtrack of 2014.

Written by: Benjamin Luthi


Best Innovation

Winner: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis System

Nominees: Amiibo NFC Support, Destiny’s MMO-like Shooter, PlayStation 4’s SharePlay, Titanfall’s Online Only Gameplay

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis System is a game changer. Monolith Productions has created a lush ecosystem for your enemies; Orcs fail, thrive, grow, and hold grudges all based upon your actions.

This creates a real sense of ownership for your personal journey in the game. Defeat enemies and watch chaos sewn amongst the ranks, let an enemy defeat you and watch them grow stronger, making the way forward even more difficult. It really raises the stakes when it comes to the strategies you use and the decisions you make.

The Nemesis System is something that is going to be iterated on in the future by many developers, and will impact the way player/enemy relationships will be handled by video games in the future. This is why Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis System stands above the rest as Middle of Nowhere Gaming’s Best Innovation of 2014!

Written by: Adam Leonard


Best Graphics

Winner: inFAMOUS: Second Son

Nominees: Destiny, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Mario Kart 8, P.T., Sunset Overdrive

The dawning of a new gaming generation always has a few standout titles that prove how much the hardware has advanced, and promises where it will lead. inFAMOUS: Second Son is one such title. As one of the first games to be exclusively developed for the current console generation, many gamers used it to assess the power of the newest tech. Long story short? It did not fall short of expectations.

Watching the game’s protagonist, Delsin Rowe, scale the vibrant recreation of Seattle and fluidly take down the nearest baddy sometimes felt more cinematic than a part of gameplay. Cutscenes were beautifully dynamic, capturing the setting and characters’ faces with uncanny precision. When the game would revert back to player control, it was sometimes unbelievable how it remained so beautiful, and we’re not just talking about Troy Baker’s pretty face.

The product of Sucker Punch Productions’ work set the standard for the future of a new generation. inFAMOUS: Second Son heartily deserves our award for Best Graphics of 2014.

Written by: Jordan Loeffler


Best Male Performance

Winner: Adam Harrington – Bigby Wolf – The Wolf Among Us

Nominees: Brian Bloom – BJ Blaskowics – Wolfenstein: The New Order, Elijah Wood – Shay Volta – Broken Age: Act 1, Logan Cunningham – The Transistor – Transistor, Travis Willingham – Reggie Rowe – inFAMOUS Second Son, Troy Baker – Talion – Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

The Wolf Among Us was a creative success for TellTale Games. From the stylish graphics, to the nitty gritty storyline, and down to the naturalistic characters’ voices, The Wolf Among Us truly allowed players to believe that beloved fairy tale characters could be capable of very real, and very evil deeds.

Adam Harrington’s performance as the game’s protagonist, Bigby Wolf (aka “The Big Bad Wolf”), was astonishing throughout the entirety of the game’s first season. Harrington’s grainy voice is a great asset to encapsulate the wolf-turned-man tones of Bigby; allowing him to  put on a snide growl to match Bigby’s dark and sarcastic personality.

Harrington’s voice and his ability to capture both the human and animalistic qualities make him a commodity to any game and is why he has been chosen as the winner for Best Male Performance of 2014 by Middle of Nowhere Gaming!

Written by: Audrey Lips


Best Female Performance

Winner: Ashley Johnson – Ellie – The Last of Us: Left Behind

Nominees: Corinne Kempa – Leliana – Dragon Age: Inquisition, Erin Yvetta – Snow White – The Wolf Among Us, Laura Bailey – Abigail “Fetch” Walker – Infamous First Light, Melissa Hutchison – Clementine – The Walking Dead Season 2, Yaani King – Riley Abel – The Last of Us: Left Behind

It takes a lot to move an entire audience with a single performance, but Ashley Johnson managed to do just that as Ellie in The Last of Us: Left Behind.  She brings a certain lighthearted quirkiness to the dark story prequel that steals away the players attention so much, they forget they already knew the ending.

Because of her remarkably diverse acting, she managed to portray a strong and independent, yet innocent and frightened young girl in a way that is not only relatable, but also believable.

It was obvious that she took the time to understand the emotional trauma and roller coaster of a life Ellie’s character endured. Such passion and effort leaves nothing to be desired!

Ashley Johnson certainly sets the bar high for future voice actors, which is why she has earned Middle of Nowhere Gaming’s award for Best Female Performance of 2014.

Written by: Erika Maness


Best Male Character

Winner: Luigi (Death Stare) – Mario Kart 8

Nominees: Bigby Wolf – The Wolf Among Us, BJ Blaskowics – Wolfenstein: The New Order, Handsome Jack – Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, Iron Bull – Dragon Age: Inquisition, Pagan Min – Far Cry 4

This year in gaming, the eyes of one man express one of the greatest stories of all time. Luigi has always been lost in the shadow of his brother Mario, but when he hits the track, he leaves the inferiority complex in the dust with his competitors.

The man not only dominated Mario Kart, he dominated the entire internet too, becoming one of the biggest memes of the year with the use of his powerful death stare.  He may not have the pizzazz or dialogue of the other nominees, but he doesn’t need to, because when he unleashes his deadly gaze, those eyes say it all. Anguish, determination, hardship, and revenge.

That’s why Mario Kart’s Luigi is MONG’s Best Male Character of 2014.

Written by: Matt Batson


Best Female Character

Winner: Ellie – The Last of Us: Left Behind

Nominees: Abigail “Fetch” Walker – Infamous: First Light, Aurora – Child of Light, Bayonetta – Bayonetta 2, Clementine – The Walking Dead Season 2, Red – Transistor

Good writing is what brings characters to life.  Despite the fantastical elements that appear in fiction, a player, viewer, or reader should still be able to connect with a character.

Even though Joel was at the helm in The Last of Us, Ellie was the driving force.  Players were able to connect with, sympathize for, and admire her.  Left Behind did an excellent job of putting Ellie front and center.

The world Naughty Dog created is a bleak one, but at its core Left Behind is ultimately about two friends going to a mall and having fun.  The best parts of the DLC aren’t even the combat segments, but the instances where you get to goof off with Riley.

The player really gets to see Ellie as a kid rather than a survivor, and that makes her one of the best characters two years in a row, and why she deserves our Best Female Character award.

Written by: Jake Dekker


What about the rest of MONG’s Best of 2014 Awards? They will be announced on:

Thursday, January 8th

  • Best Independent Game:
  • Best Remaster:
  • Best Online Experience:
  • Best Shooter:
  • Best Action/Adventure Game:
  • Best Action Game:
  • Best Role Playing Game:
  • Best Survival Horror Game:
  • Best Casual Game:
  • Best Sports Game:
  • Best Platformer:

Friday, January 9th

  • Best 3DS Game:
  • Best Vita Game:
  • Best Wii U Game:
  • Best Xbox One Game:
  • Best PlayStation 4 Game:
  • Best PC Game:
  • Biggest Disappointment:
  • Biggest Surprise:
  • Best Console:
  • Most Anticipated 2015 Game:
  • Overall Game of the Year:

 

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