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Arts in Review

Top video games of 2014

Top 10 best video games of 2014 rated by contributors and staff.

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Print Edition: January 21, 2015

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Never before has the concept of revenge-killing been so well-executed and addictive. This game offered the first real “next-gen” experience with the Nemesis System. Every encounter was unique and every reward was different. This system created a terribly addictive “one more thing” element that was a constant bonus to this game. With the combat mechanics of the Batman Arkham games and a souped-up version of Assassin’s Creed-style traversing, Shadow of Mordor creates a brutal and addictive experience. — JH


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Dragon Age: Inquisition is a fantasy RPG for everyone. The Mage-Templar War is still ongoing from the second Dragon Age, along with over 100 hours of new subplots. Inquisition provides a beautiful, bigger map and smooth gameplay, and focuses on character development and a well-crafted storyline over pure button-mashing. You control your journey and face many different consequences for your choices. Despite the second game being a disappointment, Inquisition takes the Dragon Age franchise to a whole other level, and some might even say it’s better than the first. — CS


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It’s always inspiring to see a Kickstarter game succeed far beyond expectations and continue to provide more new content for free in response to all the support it received. Shovel Knight was not only a great game but it also provided one of the best game soundtracks of the year. The game featured fast-paced but thought-provoking side-scroller gameplay along with some great puzzle situations. Its presence might not be as well-known as other titles in 2014, but it still should not be overlooked in any way. — JH


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The Banner Saga

With one of the most intuitive and beautiful art styles of this year, The Banner Saga was a game that went beyond expectations, and delivered a fun and compelling experience. The Banner Saga was most notable for its ‘80s cartoon-nostalgia look, but it also contained exciting and challenging strategic gameplay. The Banner Saga also provides a multi-layered story, with many characters and locations. In this fantasy world where almost every battle decision mattered towards the story, The Banner Saga was both a technical achievement as well as a great game. — JH


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Dark Souls 2

Dark Souls 2 was guaranteed to make this list because to make it to the game’s finale,  you have to have died at least 100 times. Dark Souls 2 improved on every aspect of the first game and added even more. Amazing visuals and creative boss battles aside, this game provided some of the most frustrating gaming moments of 2014, and yet players were more than happy to play through them over and over again. — JH


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Super Smash Bros Wii U

After a disastrous financial year in 2013, Nintendo desperately needed a jump to get the company moving again. They did that and more with a stellar list of game releases, including Super Smash Bros for the Wii U. Besides making the console finally fun to enjoy, Smash Bros provided loads of extra content beneath an already well-tuned game. Harkening to the days of Melee while still providing new mechanics and features, Smash Bros Wii U is just the beginning for Nintendo’s return to the top. — JH


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Hearthstone

With a constantly engaging user interface and a plethora of different strategies and combinations, Hearthstone came out swinging as one of the best card game style video games in years. The visual animations for each card are unique and polished. Though only released this year, it already has one of the biggest communities on Twitch, and for good reason. Combining simplistic card attributes with complex layers of strategy, along with perfect balancing options, Hearthstone was one of the most enthralling games of the year despite its simplicity on the surface. — JH


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This War of Mine

Rarely do games really capture the idea of trying to survive the way This War of Mine does. This War of Mine mirrored the events similar to that of the Bosnian War, creating a bleak, desperate and engaging experience. Its survival components and ever-changing scenarios keep you on edge as you merely try to survive another day. This War of Mine was an entertaining game, but at the same time, it evoked an emotional element that was rare for games this year. — JH


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South Park: The Stick of Truth

Licensed games have been known to be lifeless shells of the source material and nothing more than a quick cash-grab. That couldn’t be further from the truth with The Stick of Truth. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, along with some great game design from Obsidian Entertainment, have made the best-licensed game ever made for the previous-generation consoles. It didn’t just emulate the show; it was the show. With outrageous humour, ingenious tie-ins to past episodes, and great customization, The Stick of Truth was just as fun to watch as it was to play. — JH


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One Finger Death Punch

One Finger Death Punch was one of the most fun games of the year, and it only consisted of hitting two mouse buttons. This game is a nod to the kung-fu movies of old as well as the guilty-pleasure violent stick-figure games of yesteryear. Despite a simplistic premise, this game offered hours upon hours of different levels and challenges. The combat itself was always changing, with some fantastic visuals, destructible environments, and hilarious kung-fu noises. And with an insane survival mode, this game was extremely addictive, guaranteed to put adrenaline in your veins. — JH

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