Ready Up’s Game of the 2014 planetary rotation Part 2


Kirsten Kearney: Dragon Age: inquisition

“So Dragon Age 2 was too limited in scope was it? Didn’t like the repetition  in the dungeons, eh? We at Bioware poured our heart and soul into that game. It was brilliant and you enjoyed it too. You even played it through twice but you still moaned about it, didn’t you?  You want something bigger? BIGGER? We’ll give you bigger alright. We’re going to fucking ruin your life. Your kidneys will pack in from having no time to go to the toilet. Your friendships, your job? GONE! We’ll show you bigger, you ungrateful brats.” And that’s how they made Dragon Age Inquisition, out of pure spite and revenge and now I’m on dialysis.

I was excited about the new generation of consoles and really hoped to see some new dimension to my gaming that I hadn’t really encountered before, some kind of genuine technical innovation that was a real leap in what I can expect from a gaming experience. Dragon Age Inquisition is the first game where that’s really happened. Logging on to The Keep and collecting up all the decisions I’ve made in the last five years in Dragon Age Origins, Awakening and Dragon Age 2 on different gaming platforms than I’m actually playing Inquisition on and then having all those decisions incorporated in to my game world creates a gaming experience with a level of substance well beyond other branching path games. It also hints at incredible possibilities  for gaming in the future. Dragon Age Inquisition is too bloody big though. I guess we deserve it though. That’ll teach us.


Susan Marmito
Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Oh there have been so many titles this year that I find it quite difficult to choose one. I would say Dragon Age Inquisition, but that game is so sublime that I have no doubt that a chunk of the team would say similar. Nintendo has also done really well this year by serving up the bundles of sheer gaming joy that are Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros… And don’t forget the insanity that was Bayonetta 2. But for the sake of being different, and perhaps also because it’s been one of the more interesting titles I’ve seen this year, I’ll go with Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. A quiet little handheld crossover title stole my heart this year and met no objections.

It was released in Japan much earlier but only made it to the UK this year and it was a title that I was immensely looking forward to, being a huge fan of the Ace Attorney series. It’s an unusual crossover title, but it works really well at bringing two different sets of characters and two different types of games together in a way that just makes absolute sense for both of them. It’s also a game that oozes with charm: lovely anime sequences and graphics are linked by an engaging narrative peppered with humour, all tied together with interesting puzzles and a beautiful soundtrack that pays delicate homage to both games in a unique and very appealing way. I could close my argument with some kind of puzzle-related pun, but I’ll leave it there.


Michael Slevin: South Park: The Stick of Truth

For years, fans of South Park have been clamouring for a good videogame adaptation of the show. While the quality of the TV offering has been exponentially growing over the years, the offerings we were lumped with paled in comparison. Let’s be honest: the N64 shooter, Chef’s Luv Shack and South Park Rally aren’t exactly remembered for being classic titles.

So when it was announced that Obsidian were making a South Park RPG, fans waited with bated breath: was this the game we’d all be waiting for or another one for the forgettable games pile?

Thankfully the former is the case. Following on from Season 17’s Black Friday trilogy, South Park: The Stick of Truth places the player-created character in the heart of the rich South Park universe on an epic quest to obtain the eponymous object, with whoever possessing it wielding unlimited power. The gameplay is ideally balanced for the different classes and blends in perfectly with the narrative: strongly following the TV production process, the world is a fantastic one to explore, with little nods and references to previous episodes over the last 17 years. The attention to detail – alongside the fact that you can finally get an idea of where everything is in the sleepy mountain town – makes it an absolute joy to wander around. The wonderfully irreverent and self-referential story ties everything together and drives you onwards.

Hilariously inventive, delightfully irreverent and audaciously hilarious, South Park: The Stick of Truth is my Game of the Year and the South Park game we fans have been waiting for.


Shaun Greenhaff: Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishment

I always thought that at this point I’d be writing about Ground Zeroes. The amount of hours I’ve put into GZ, and the sheer fun I’ve had playing in that sandbox would suggest I should be writing about Ground Zeroes here, but I’m not going to. Except this paragraph I guess.

No, instead my game of the year this year has to be Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishment. While there may be one main reason that Crimes and Punishment takes it for me, there are a few factors that push it above most of the rest.

I’ve played a few Sherlock Holmes games before, but this is the first to have six distinct cases instead of one overarching story. This means that each case can be a bite sized, self contained story that has a satisfying flow. Rather than spend several hours hunting for clues that the game would collect and connect itself, this entry saw you spending a couple of hours at most solving some very satisfying puzzles (and some occasionally wonky minigames) on your own. Each was short enough to be memorable, and the fact that it was all down to your own thought process really made everything that much more intellectually engaging.

If games were matched with days, you would have your Call of Duty Friday nights, Uncharted Saturday mornings, and Sherlock Holmes Sunday afternoons. It’s slow, thoughtful, and deeply, genuinely, satisfying.

Oh, that one main reason I mentioned earlier? You can come to the wrong conclusion, but choose to never know. Brilliant.


Sarah-Lou Costley: Two Dots

two dotsOk, so for me the game of the year isn’t found on a console, not even on the PC, but on my mobile phone. Yeah it may not be a massive shock, being that I review mobile phone games, but time to give my game of the year a shout out.

So for me, my game of the year has got to be Two Dots. I loved the original Dots game so was mega excited when its sequel came into my life. Improving on its predecessor, Two Dots gave you different challenges to complete in order to progress to the next level. You travel through different worlds with whom I assume is a dad dot and I, his daughter, through a quest of awesomeness.

Two Dots is all about connecting the same coloured dots in either a straight line or a box. Many of the levels involve you collecting a certain amount of dots, getting rid of icicles or obtaining as many anvils in a limited amount of moves. The game has 185 levels, which is just enough to keep me entertained during my underwhelming journeys to work, with a beautifully minimalist design. Also as a super cool added bonus, you are able to download the Two Dots soundtrack. I’m a sucker for gaming soundtracks so this was up my street.

A simply addictive game with a sweet ass soundtrack, what isn’t there to love about Two Dots.


Verity Hartley: Sunless Sea

Break out your thesaurus and slip into a velvet reading jacket, delicious friends, because my Game of the Year is Sunless Sea. If you haven’t found the magnificently decadent, atmospheric and verbose world of Fallen London already, then you are very much in for a treat.

In Sunless Sea you get to explore the world of the Neath, and specifically the inky black of the Unterzee, on whose shores rests the city of Fallen London. Many people don’t know this but London was actually stolen by bats in the late Victorian period and now resides deep beneath the earth.  It soon became a timeless realm inhabited by, amongst others, Clay Men, Devils, Pirates, the mummified nearly dead as well as numerous other delightful and shady characters.

The game is a text adventure wrapped in an atmospheric and fully explorable map. It is compelling due mostly to the luxurious use of language, storytelling and artwork that Failbetter Games wield so effectively to construct their gothic underworld.  The Neath first came to light in the web adventure ‘Fallen London’, which you can still play today, and Sunless Sea is a huge addition to and expansion on that canon. This time however the game allows you to explore the world first hand, by ship as fearless Zee Captain.

Whether you victoriously leave a handsome legacy to your successors or end up floating face down in the black of the Zee depends entirely on the choices you make during your adventures. Being a bit nifty with a cannon comes in handy too.

The game is still in Early Access with a full release planned early next year but is in a very playable state and receives regular updates from the developers so don’t be put off! Dive in!


Dean Bowman: Mario Kart 8

Although I was greatly tempted to write about one of the great RPGs released this year, namely Divinity: Original Sin and Dragon Age: Inquisition, or a game with a tremendously original gameplay system such as Shadow of Mordor, I couldn’t overlook the game that I’ve actually ploughed the most hours into: Mario Kart 8.

Purchasing the Wii U this year has transformed my living room. My housemate and I have been constant rivals, desperate to outdo one another, and I’ve lost track of the amount of times we’ve had friends over, racing until the small hours. Now that Smash Bros. is out this trend will likely continue, but just like Mario Kart 64 was in my childhood, Mario Kart 8 remains the ultimate catalyst for people to get together around the TV in person and play. Local multiplayer remains a delicate science that Nintendo seems to understand better than most, and it’s heartening to see the Wii U gaining some ground following its uncertain first year.

Claims of the Wii U’s technical inferiority compared to the other next gen consoles seem to pale into insignificance when you look at the shine and detail of Mario Kart 8’s sumptuous graphics. It’s a cartoony art style that Nintendo have always been capable of wringing the most out of, but seeing it realised the first time in HD – right down to small details like Mario’s moustache blowing in the breeze – is a revelation.




Simon Allen: Dark Souls 2

I finally completed Dark Souls at the start of the year, and was left with a pretty hollow sense of achievement. I’d used guides and character build tips to aid my progress through the game, and by the time I finally put the last boss to the sword, I had come up with a save file trick that meant that, on death, I didn’t need to backtrack for 15 minutes to get back to where I was. Don’t get me wrong, most of that playthrough still took some doing. For all the wealth of hints and tricks that the Souls community offers up, most of the toughest battles in the game still boil down to learning attack patterns, being patient and rolling around like a drunk toddler on a boat. You have to learn how to play the game, and then execute what you’ve learned flawlessly whenever required. To at least some extent, I’d picked up how to play a Souls game.

Nevertheless, in the run up to Dark Souls 2’s release, I was pretty tired of the whole damn escapade. Then I saw the trailers, saw the reviews, and I remembered that when Dark Souls was good, it was really good. I got hold of the sequel and loved it. It’s hard to say if it’s easier (and more palatable) than Dark Souls by design or if it’s just because I was simply better-equipped to tackle its challenges having already trudged through the first game. Regardless, I can confidently say it’s the best new game I’ve played this year.


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