Alan MacMillan’s Game of the Year List
1. The Last of Us
Hands down the greatest game this year and perhaps this console generation. The Last of Us pushed the boundaries of story-telling and characterisation. There was just something about Joel and Ellie’s interaction, the little things that they said that went a long way. The game felt perfectly paced with it’s three different gameplay sections (scavenging and exploration, hunters, infected). At times it was intense survival horror, at others carefully planned stealth action. At many points I was left wondering about the back-stories of other survivors, their last moments left scrawled on notes in long abandoned buildings. I felt pain for the children holed up in the dam, I felt for Joel and of course Ellie, I felt a lot of things during that game and that’s why it takes game of the year. Not only was it a great game to play but it invoked a lot of emotion. Sometimes subtly and sometimes blatantly. The soundtrack was haunting and the voice acting superb. I could listen to Joel and Ellie natter all day!
2. Ni No Kuni
In a console generation where JRPG’s were relatively forgotten it was great to see something as bright and wonderful as a Studio Ghibli game come shining out of the rough. I never did finish it (more my flaw as a gamer these days than anything else) but the 40 hours I put into it were filled with joy and wonder as I explored one of the most beautiful game worlds I’ve ever seen. It looks and feels like you are manipulating a Ghibli movie. The art and character design is bang on, the themes feel the same and Joe Hisashi provides a familiar yet original score.
3. Hotline Miami
Now I have to confess to not having played an awful lot of new games this year so my next entries are going to cheat ever so slightly. Hotline Miami makes the list due to it’s release on the Vita. But here’s the thing, it’s better than the PC version. Why you may ask? Surely the master race is a better platform! Well I have to say I prefer the Vita thumbstick controls. They feel more intuitive than the mouse and keys. They are by no means easier of course but they feel more natural and for me the intuitive nature of controls and the whole nature of input and feedback is something I value greatly. The controls on the PC felt…off. The Vita feels right. Add to that the up close and personal nature of playing on handheld with bonus of probably already playing with headphones, it’s a match made in heaven.
4. Civ 5 Brave New World
DLC game of the year! After having played so much of it lately I can’t really leave this little number off the list. Brave New World adds so much to the game it is almost a new game in itself. It’s one of those ones where if you’ve played with the new add ons then you can’t really go back to playing without them. Trade routes feel too much a part of it now to take them away!
5. League of Legends: All for One
Yeahhhh so this one is really bending the criteria as it’s just a new game mode that got introduced for a few weeks before being taken back offline, but what the hey. Like I said I’m really struggling for new games played that have been outstanding. There’s undoubtedly tons out there, I just haven’t played them!
So All for One was a helluva lot of fun. So much fun I simply had to include it. Normally in League of Legends two teams of 5 pick different champions. Depending on game mode you can sometimes have the same champion as the enemy team but mostly it’s one champion allowed in the game. All for One let you all play as the same champion! So that meant 5 Lux’s all shooting laser ults at the same time or 5 Blitz grabs chained together or 5 Shyvanna’s launching dragon form into your face! The possibilities for amazing plays were endless but mostly it was just chaotic good fun. Sometimes people took it too seriously (personally I blame map choice for this) but mostly it was just hilarious seeing 5 of the same champ milling about causing absolute chaos. Lux, Heimerdinger and Ziggs were popular picks in this but personally I preferred less obvious but highly effective picks like Shyvanna, Leona and Ryze. I hope they bring it back because I don’t think I’ve laughed quite so much in a long time! Definitely a gaming highlight of the year.