It is safe to say that 2014 has been a good year for games. It’s not just that we’ve seen spectacular blockbusters released almost from the start of the year, across all game consoles; 2014 has been a spectacular year for game creativity as we’ve seen indies and arthouse titles find real success courtesy of download platforms.
Our awards this year have been the most popular that we’ve ever seen on the site, with well over 1,000 people voting for their favourite games across 16 categories. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be listing the two highly commendeds (second and third place) and winner of each category, one per day.
Sony has had a good time of it with the Playstation 3 and 4 this year, with a steady stream of great games to both consoles through the year. That has, of course, made it very difficult to start picking favourites in what was arguably the toughest category of all.
Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns
This is perhaps the most controversial Final Fantasy game ever released, with plenty of fans, and also plenty of people who can’t stand it (it was also the most divisive game in terms of votes across all of our categories this year). But for our mind Lightning Returns is easily one of the most intelligent games Square Enix has ever developed, with an intense, dense narrative and some interesting approaches to the core gameplay thanks to the addition of the timer. Sure it’s different when compared to other Final Fantasy games, but this is a game that is different in the right ways, even if the message it was trying to pass on was a little too obtuse for some.
I think it’s a statement to the sheer longevity of the PlayStation 3 that, even as the Xbox 360 fades away and the PlayStation 4 develops an ever-stronger library, Sony’s previous console has continued to get wonderful releases through the year. Tales of Xillia 2 is the perfect example of that. It’s by no means a revolutionary JRPG, but it absolutely nails what the fans want, and offers a beefy, entertaining conclusion to what was one of the most popular Tales games ever released.
Koei Tecmo’s Samurai Warriors franchise goes from strength to strength with the release of a game that is effortlessly the finest Warriors game to date. It looks great, for a start, with some lovely remixes to classic character designs, but what is most impressive about the game is the way it strikes a stunning balance between maintaining a sense of historical authenticity, and abstracting history to the point of making for a fun game. Loaded with content and very replayable, Samurai Warriors 4 has rarely been far from our disc drives since it was released.
– Matt S.
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