MONG’s Best of 2014 Award Winners – Part Three

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.

Did you miss the awards that were announced earlier this week?  

And here are all of Part Three’s winners!

Best 3DS Game

Winner: Super Smash Bros. for 3DS

Nominees: Bravely Default, Fantasy Life, Kirby: Triple Deluxe, Shovel Knight

Playing a handheld Super Smash Bros. game has always been a dream of mine.  As you can imagine, when Nintendo announced that the latest Super Smash Bros. game would also be coming to the Nintendo 3DS I was ecstatic.  So excited that I went out and bought one the next day.  When it finally came out I was enthralled.

While it isn’t the best way to play Nintendo’s brawler it certainly does its best with what the 3DS has to offer.  Between the huge roster, tons of collectables, and multiplayer this is a tough game for a Super Smash Bros. fan to pass up.

For these reasons and many more Super Smash Bros. for 3DS wins Middle of Nowhere Gaming’s award for best 3DS Game of 2014.

Written by: Jake Dekker

Best Vita Game

Winner: Freedom Wars

Nominees: Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment, Tales of Hearts R, The Swapper, Velocity 2X

Freedom Wars is a game “For the Greater Good” of PlayStation Vita owners. Vita defenders have been asking for a AAA exclusive for a while now, but lately it seems like the portable will remain a consistent indie machine, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, Freedom Wars has people talking about the Vita in exciting ways that hasn’t happened since the console’s launch. Freedom Wars is the reward that you sinners deserve.

While the game had some tedious aspects, such as convoluted menus, and little environmental variety, these endearing oddities helped to enhance the game’s theme. Then, the deep and addictive cycle of upgrading your weapons, and shaving years off your million year life sentence emerged.

The way Freedom Wars integrates online play into its single player story is wholly original and it kept me connecting with fellow sinners out of necessity and enjoyment. I’m only a tenth of the way through my life sentence but one day I will be free. Let’s hope, sinners, that this isn’t the final AAA Vita game.

Written by: Nathan Reid

Best Wii U, Fighting, and Multiplayer Game

Winner: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

Nominees: Bayonetta 2, Mario Kart 8, Shovel Knight

The amount of childhood memories I have with the Super Smash Bros. franchise is absurd.  It’s the game that got me into video games, it’s the game that has spurred countless friendships, and it’s one of the few games that I will go back to year after year and still have a blast with.

When Super Smash Bros. for Wii U was announced, I knew it would be fantastic. After sinking dozens and dozens of hours into it already, I can say with the utmost confidence that this is not only the best Wii U game this year, but the best game on the console.  The responsive controls, dazzling high-definition graphics, and the ridiculous amount of content and fan service make this game a must have. Any Wii U owner would be crazy not own it.

These are just a few reasons as to why Super Smash Bros. for Wii U deserves Middle of Nowhere Gaming’s best Wii U Game award.

Written by: Jake Dekker

Best Xbox One Game

Winner: Sunset Overdrive

Nominees: Dragon Age: Inquisition, Far Cry 4, Forza Horizon 2, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

If we are talking big name, AAA games, there has been an obvious trend of “sequelitis.” However, Xbox nabbed the best exclusive of 2014 — Sunset Overdrive.

Insomniac Studios delivered a polished, tongue-in-cheek, high-octane adventure marrying new gameplay mechanics with invigorating customization. Whether you are looking for some bad puns, a beautiful art style, or over-the-top action, this game has it all.

Sunset Overdrive was easily Xbox One’s best game last year.

Written by: Lou Contaldi

Best PlayStation 4 Game

Winner: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

Nominees: Destiny, inFAMOUS: First Light, The Evil Within, Valiant Hearts: The Great War, Wolfenstein: The New Order

Early in the fall of 2014, Monolith Productions surprised us with Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor.  After playing and reviewing this game, it was by far one of the most rewarding games I had played in a long time.  What I liked the most from Shadow of Mordor was the introduction of the Nemesis system and how amazing it was.

Middle-earth literally comes alive on your screen with beautiful graphics and phenomenal gameplay.  From the gut wrenching opening sequence, to the non-stop mayhem that follows, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor drives it home in every category and this is why it’s MONG’s Best PlayStation 4 Game of 2014.  So do yourself a favor and take a walk into Mordor and have a good time.

Written by: Patrick Garrity

Best PC Game

Winner: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Nominees: Broken Age: Act 1, Rust, Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth, The Forest, World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

Blizzard is a developer that continues to surprise. With the new expansion for World of Warcraft increasing their subscriber base back to normal and their great dungeon crawler Diablo III’s highly successful port to consoles in the Ultimate Evil Edition, they seem to be having one hell of a year. Moreover, they expanded their grip on the PC world with Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft.

Taking their MMO and putting it into a card game format proved to be amazing. The game borrows many elements from Magic the Gathering and, with quick battles against opponents in the Arena, almost immediately becomes addictive. Hearthstone is fair in its free-to-play aspects, and its card packs are diverse, allowing players to customize their decks however they want. It’s no small wonder why this is the most streamed game on Twitch. Blizzard has done it again.

Written by: Shawn Richards

Biggest Disappointment

Winner: Broken Games

Nominees: #GamerGate, Final Fantasy VII PS4 Announcement, Toxic Communities

This Christmas I had a chance to turn on and play my almost two decade old Game Boy Color. The still near flawless gameplay once again reminded me of a time when games were reliable. Unfortunately, that’s just not a reality anymore. In 2014, the gaming industry was plagued by seemingly unfinished games like Driveclub, Assassin’s Creed Unity, and Halo: The Master Chief Collection. This has led many to proclaim 2014 as the year of broken games

There are many possibilities as to why so many games are struggling, such as new hardware, the prominence of online play, and pressure to meet a release date. The industry will be devastated if this trend continues. Pre-orders will likely decrease, and the used-game market may experience a resurgence due to many gamers’ desire to ensure a game works before they purchase it.

Maybe 2014 was a just a bump in the road. Let’s be optimistic. Perhaps the games released today will work 25 years from now.

This is why Broken Games is Middle of Nowhere’s Disappointment of 2014.

Written by: Nathan Reid

Biggest Surprise

Winner: P.T.

Nominees: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Tales from the Borderlands, Wolfenstein: The New Order, Xbox One Drops Kinect

Sony showed off a trailer for something called P.T. at Gamescom 2014, and then surprised everyone by making it available for download on the PlayStation Store that moment.

P.T., which stands for Playable Teaser, ended up surprising everyone once again later on when someone finally figured out how to beat it.  They went on to post a video on YouTube of the ending, which showed a trailer of a new Silent Hills game.

As if the Silent Hills part wasn’t good enough already, P.T. also ended up being a great standalone game. Even though it was only used as a marketing tool, it is actually a very high quality horror game.

Silent Hills is being developed by a unique new horror team: Hideo Kojima, of Metal Gear Solid fame, and Guillermo del Toro, a jack of all trades in the film industry with connections to many blockbuster hits.

That is why P.T. is Middle of Nowhere Gaming’s Biggest Surprise of 2014.

Written by: Riley Berry

Best Console

Winner: PlayStation 4

Nominees: Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Xbox One

Before its first birthday in November, Sony had already sold 13.5 million PlayStation 4 consoles, outpacing the highest-selling console (the PS2) of all time. Many obviously thought it was the best. We agreed.

It’s an upgrade in every way from the last generation of consoles. It’s powerful, but quiet. Its game library is growing in the AAA department, but the PS4 presents an abundance of quality indie titles that has been spurred along by the outstanding value of the PlayStation Plus system. On top of that, many third-party games perform better on the PS4, a departure from the Xbox 360’s advantage over the PS3.

The DualShock 4 is a gamepad design revelation. The console still looks pretty on a shelf with its angular, sleek style and its operating system has been equally pleasing since the 2.0 Masamune update, too.

I’ll never forget the joy I felt while riding the train home with the new PS4 in hand early in 2014. Since then, it’s been my main go-to for purpose-driven gaming sessions, playing with friends, wasting time or even just to get my mind away from reality for a few brief moments. It’s not perfect, but I think the majority of us can agree it deserves the title of Best Console of 2014.

Written by: Brian Hoerst

Most Anticipated 2015 Game

Winner: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Nominees: Batman: Arkham Knight, Bloodborne, Halo 5: Guardians, Quantum Break, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

What does Naughty Dog have in store for Nathan Drake in 2015?

The recent Uncharted footage illustrated that Naughty Dog could very well set a new standard in terms of graphics for the PlayStation 4. Watching Drake traverse mountains and swing into enemies looks incredible and comfortably familiar. However, this might not be the most painless adventure for Drake. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is certainly not the most optimistic title. It could indicate the end of Drake, or even the end of the Uncharted series as we know it. Perhaps Naughty Dog is taking a darker approach after the success of The Last of Us.

Whatever the outcome, both long time fans and new fans alike are extremely excited about what the future holds for Nathan Drake

This is why Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is Middle of Nowhere’s Most Anticipated Game of 2015.

Written by: Nathan Reid

Overall Game of the Year

Winner: Dragon Age: Inquisition

Nominees: Bayonetta 2, Far Cry 4, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Sunset Overdrive, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

2014 was a year where AAA games were constantly in the limelight for unexplained delays, strange review embargos, and release dates plagued with glitches that left some games unplayable or just plain unenjoyable.  Many felt that this was a sign that AAA games were in for a rough future.

In the midst of all the controversy, EA and BioWare stood tall and launched a nearly flawless game in Dragon Age: Inquisition, reassuring gamers everywhere that big name titles could still blow us away like they had so many times in the past.

It became glaringly obvious that EA knew BioWare had created a masterpiece when they confidently set Inquisition’s review embargo an entire week ahead of the game’s release.

It’s a strange but incredible feat when a game’s biggest complaint is that it almost does too many things right for its own good.  In the weeks following Dragon Age’s release, the most common topic of conversation was how everyone had trouble staying focused long enough to see tasks to completion.  Unlike other games, this wasn’t due to a lack of interesting things to do; in fact, it was quite the opposite.  Dragon Age: Inquisition had it all.

An extremely polished adventure waited around every corner, and players couldn’t help but want to discover it all, even if it meant getting sidetracked and sacrificing countless hours.  The ten explorable locales that make up the world of Thedas are not only uniquely beautiful, but are also extensive enough to be their own separate games.

It’s easy to believe that classic fantasy novelists like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis would be proud of the level of care and dedication that BioWare’s writers put into the moment to moment dialogue.  The depth of the character development and party interaction was unlike anything we’ve seen in a video game before.

BioWare could have taken the easy route and left the combat mechanics from Dragon Age II alone, but knew that wouldn’t do the game justice.  Instead, the development team took it upon themselves to learn from the franchise’s past mistakes.  The result was a perfect balance between the slow tactical battle system of Dragon Age: Origins and the more fast paced action oriented battle system of Dragon Age II.

Altogether, Dragon Age: Inquisition is more than deserving of Middle of Nowhere Gaming’s Overall Game of the Year Award.  Thank you for not letting us down.

Written by: Courtney Osborn

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