MONG’s Best of 2014 Award Winners – Part Two

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.

If you missed out on yesterday’s awards, go here! But, with the first set of awards out of the way, here comes the second set!


Best Independent Game

Winner: Shovel Knight

Nominees: Broken Age: Act 1, Rogue Legacy, Transistor, Velocity 2X

Most 8-bit games have aged poorly with their pixelated graphics, poor controls and harsh gameplay. However, by combining ideas from many classic NES games and utilising the power of hindsight, Yacht Club Games has not only created one of the best NES games ever, but a game that truly will stand the test of time.

Shovel Knight is all about gameplay. You won’t play it for the delightful chip chune soundtrack or the animated sprites, and you certainly won’t play it for the simple story. Nevertheless, you will play it for the tough but extremely rewarding gameplay of jumping, down stabbing and digging. The game is very hard, but dying only ever penalizes you by losing some money, which you can recollect in your next attempt at the level.

Furthermore, because of the excellent level design, the game never feels cheap; when you die, and you will, it’s always your fault. Shovel Knight is tough, fair and incredibly satisfying as well as a reminder of why we all started gaming in the first place. Which is why we have proudly awarded it the Best Independent Game of 2014.

Written by: Lucy Pallent


Best Shooter

Winner: Far Cry 4

Nominees: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Destiny, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Sunset Overdrive

You are out in the middle of the wilderness. A group of crooked soldiers have ambushed you and started opening fire. You stumble backwards as you try to reload your gun and draw a bead on them. Things are not looking good and death is imminent when all of a sudden the soldiers are run over by a rhino that has been spooked by the ensuing fire fight. Welcome to Kyrat. Welcome to Far Cry 4.

Admittedly, I’m not the most avid shooter fan, but the universal high praise for the Far Cry franchise lured me in. From the moment I endured Pagan Min’s opening slaughter scene that faded into the guitar riffs of The Clash, I was hooked.

Unlike more traditional shooters, Far Cry 4 provides a huge open world with ton of things to do. Whether you are saving hostages, delivering supplies, overtaking enemy bases, or even creating ammo pouches out of Honey Badgers (they are vicious little bastards) you will be having a blast.

This is why Far Cry 4 stands above the rest as Middle of Nowhere Gaming’s Best Shooter of 2014!

Written by: Adam Leonard


Best Action Adventure Game

Winner: inFAMOUS: Second Son

Nominees: Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Bayonetta 2, Freedom Wars, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Shovel Knight

inFAMOUS: Second Son is a video game where you explore an open world Seattle that has overgone a concrete makeover. With four different powers at protagonist/antagonist Delsin Rowe’s disposal, it not only gives you unique ways to defeat enemies and complete objectives, but it also provides different ways of exploring the city.

From cops, to protesters, to developer easter eggs, to everything in between, there is much to see and discover. The sprawling mission structure, along with the morality system carried over from the previous inFAMOUS games, allows players to have more of a choice on how Delsin’s story unfolds.

It helps that Seattle is gorgeous to explore, with Delsin’s powers adding the extra flair to keep it interesting. It truly is next-gen. Keep doing what you do, Sucker Punch. We love it.

Written by: Shawn Richards


Best Action Game

Winner: Sunset Overdrive

Nominees: Hyrule Warriors, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Transistor, Watch_Dogs

Sunset Overdrive is not just a quirky shooter with crazy and imaginative weapons. It is a fast-paced rollercoaster ride around Sunset City with weapons for anything that may stand in your way. Imagine using a gun that shoots a stuffed kitty so a robotic dog can chase it, only for the robo-pup to release an explosion if anything stands between it and its toy.

Not only is the story over-the-top, but the characters are insane, each taking on a stereotype and cranking it up to 11. It also doesn’t hurt that the game has charm galore and looks breathtaking, like you would want to live there (pre-Overdrive, of course). With rails to grind, almost everything to bounce on, water to glide across, amps to create and style to build, the pace never slows down.

Sunset Overdrive stands out from just another third-person shooter as an ultra-satisfying action thrill ride that didn’t put breaks in on purpose.

Written by: Shawn Richards


Best Role Playing Game

Winner: Dragon Age: Inquisition

Nominees: Bravely Default, Child of Light, Fantasy Life, South Park: The Stick of Truth

Gamers who gravitate towards role-playing games tend to do so for a variety of reasons. Many do it to enjoy a good story, while some like character customization and deep combat tactics. Others just want to get lost in a character’s head for a little while.

Making a RPG is to ask for a high degree of criticism, but Dragon Age developer, BioWare, has made a name for itself for being one of the best, and Dragon Age: Inquisition feels like the culmination of their 20 years experience. The game wastes no time forwarding the plot. Selecting “new game” from the splash-screen immediately thrusts the player into events that will affect the entire world. Importing a world-state from previous installments also helps to make Thedas feel like your world.

If you’re not a veteran of the series, BioWare made ample room for players to learn and explore the game’s lore and its more significant history. Plus, the game features a fancy, improved tactical camera to aid in trickier battles, a detailed ability tree and crafting system, and enthralling characters to keep you invested.

There’s plenty to do in a single playthrough, which some players have clocked in at 200 hours. Out of all of the previous games, Inquisition makes the most of Dragon Age‘s diverse environments and cultures. It delves deeply into a fascinating world and what constitutes an exceptional RPG.

Written by: Jordan Loeffler


Best Survival Horror Game

Winner: P.T.

Nominees: Alien: Isolation, The Evil Within, Outlast

P.T., or Playable Teaser, is a game that no one knew what to expect from while playing for the first time. It had been released after PlayStation’s Gamescom conference with little fanfare and there had been no news of it before hand or during the event. This did not deter many gamers however.

Driven by curiosity, P.T. quickly became one of the most downloaded games on PSN as players charged directly into the unknown. While it is true that the game is only a demo for a bigger Silent Hills game in the future, this short demo was surprisingly superior to many of the full-sized Survival Horror games that came out this year.

From its pacing, to the unadulterated jump scares and creepy atmosphere, P.T. outshines the competition in every aspect. That is why P.T. is Middle of Nowhere Gaming’s Best Survival Horror Game of 2014.

Written by: Tyler Bartlemus


Best Casual Game and Best Racing Game

Casual Game Winner: Mario Kart 8

Casual Game Nominees: Clash of Clans, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Project Spark, Threes

Ever since the first iteration appeared on the Super Nintendo, the Mario Kart franchise has been a staple of social situations. Whether it’s dorm rooms, parties, or even family night, you don’t have to look far to find Mario Kart.

With Mario Kart 8, Nintendo has upped its game. Sporting the prettiest graphics in the franchise, rock solid controls, innovative new levels and the integration of additional Nintendo franchises, Mario Kart 8 stands as their greatest racer yet.

But what makes Mario Kart 8 truly special is its accessibility. It’s chaotic tracks, diverse item system, and intuitive learning curve all make it a game that doesn’t just favor the hardcore.  It’s a game that anyone can pick up and be competitive in a short amount of time.

For these reasons, Mario Kart 8 races to the finish as Middle of Nowhere Gaming’s Best Casual Game of 2014.

Written by: Adam Leonard


Racing Game Winner: Mario Kart 8

Racing Game Nominees: Driveclub, Forza Horizon 2

We saw a lot of racing games in 2014, but Mario Kart 8 stood out as the only experience that lived up to its hype.

This year, Nintendo’s internal development team once again created their traditional yet fresh racing entry, adding anti-gravity to its arsenal of track types. Unlike Driveclub and The Crew, Mario Kart 8 successfully provided detailed and attractive graphics.

Forza Horizon 2 also provided a solid experience, but Nintendo’s use of innovation and extreme attention to detail ultimately triumphed over Forza’s realistic imagery.

Written by: Darwin Leuba


Best Sports Game

Winner: Mario Golf: World Tour

Nominees: FIFA 15, Madden 15, NBA 2K15, MLB 14: The Show

Mario Golf World Tour for Nintendo 3DS could very well be the best portable golf game you can get these days. It somehow manages to keep all the solid mechanics of previous Mario Golf titles while implementing robust online gameplay. Plus, it has a ton of content, including 16 playable courses, 20 characters, and over 300 challenges. Maybe that’s why I’m still playing it after seven months.

Despite the near-infinite ways to play, Mario Golf World Tour keeps things simple. Aim your shot, press A to start your swing, and A again to hit. That’s it. It’s not too difficult as to scare away newcomers, but the courses are challenging enough to keep veterans entertained. It’s a near-perfect golf game in an already excellent golf series. Here’s hoping the Wii U gets its own entry in the near future.

Congratulations to Mario Golf World Tour, winner of Middle of Nowhere Gaming’s award for Best Sports Game of 2014.

Written by: Benjamin Luthi


Best Platformer

Winner: Shovel Knight

Nominees: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, LittleBigPlanet 3, Rogue Legacy, The Swapper

Yacht Club Games keenly lifts elements from the greatest platformers from the 8 bit generation. Shovel Knight is equal parts Mega Man and DuckTales, with a splash of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link thrown in for good measure.

What makes Shovel Knight truly special, despite its obvious sources of inspiration, it manages to stand out as its own game.The humor, wonderful score, and even the sometimes finger-breaking difficulty makes it one of the best platformers in recent memory.

Shovel Knight takes home the award for Best Platformer not by blazing new trails, but by lovingly borrowing ones from a bygone era of video games. This is why Shovel Knight stands above the rest as Middle of Nowhere Gaming’s Best Platformer of 2014!

Written by: Adam Leonard


Best Online Experience

Winner: Destiny

Nominees: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Ultimate Evil Edition, The Last of Us: Remastered, Titanfall

Whatever your qualms may be over the hyped or underwhelming Destiny release, it’s now quite obvious that Bungie developed a First-Person Shooter with solid mechanics and a community to rival many Massively Multiplayer Online games.

The game’s Tower acts as a central hub for players to meet, trade stats, and compare gear. With the release of the game’s first raid, Vault of Glass, Guardians began to coordinate and strategize in ways that made the game feel radically different. At first – and still – many players felt that it was a mistake for Bungie to exclude matchmaking for some of the game’s more difficult sections, but by forcing them to seek out other avenues of connecting, forming their own teams, a budding community began to take shape.

There are skeptics of Destiny‘s MMO title, but the game remains ever-popular, and the persistently online world continues to expand for its players to interact in surprising ways. With an already large player-base and a diverse community, Destiny easily wins MONG’s 2014 Best Online Experience.

Written by: Jordan Loeffler


Best Remaster

Winner: The Last of Us: Remastered

Nominees: Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD, Grand Theft Auto V, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD ReMIX, Pokemon: Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire

When The Last of Us was released for the PlayStation 3, many lauded it as the game of a generation. Its plot was moving and immersive; its characters, driven and expertly captured.

Apart from being a graphical tune-up of one of the most beautiful PS3 games, The Last of Us: Remastered includes DLC from the original release. The Last of Us: Left Behind follows Ellie in a non-linear prequel to the game’s main plot complimenting it gorgeously, and deepening our understanding of an already complex character. The game’s “Grounded Mode” further amps up the single-player difficulty. Sometimes it feels like a lens into the game’s grander themes.

If you’re someone who questions the recent surge in remakes, think of those who could not experience them the first time around. If not for The Last of Us: Remastered, an entire gaming generation may have missed out on a truly masterful game.

Written by: Jordan Loeffler


If you missed out on our first set of winners, go here!

Only one more day until the final batch of awards arrive! Check back on Friday, January 9th, to see who won:

  • 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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