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4:00 PM on 12.21.2014

Kyle MacGregor's sexy picks for Game of the Year 2014

And, suddenly, another year passed us by. It seems like 2014 had only just arrived, and already it's being hauled away, kicking and screaming, never to be seen or heard from ever again. It's important that we take this time t...

Kyle MacGregor


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Darren Nakamura's personal picks for Game of the Year 2014 photo
Darren Nakamura's personal picks for Game of the Year 2014
by Darren Nakamura

This has been an unusual year for me. In previous years, coming up with my favorite games has amounted to listing the ten games I played and then ranking them. In 2014 I took on many more reviews than I have in the past, so now I have some actual trimming to do. For the first time, there are games I enjoyed that did not make the cut.

A more striking aspect I noticed after building my list is that my preferred platform has shifted. Where my favorite games in previous years mostly released on major consoles, this year it is almost all PC and 3DS. Heck, I moved across the country in September, and while my PC was the first thing I set up in the new place, I still have not hooked my Xbox 360 up.

Here are my favorite games of 2014.

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Nominees for Destructoid's Overall Best Game of 2014 photo
Nominees for Destructoid's Overall Best Game of 2014
by Jonathan Holmes

[Image credit: Mike Lambert]

I've long been of the opinion that the relationship between a person and a videogame is similar to the relationship between a person and another living being. It's part of why you see people fiercely defend their favorite games, like they would their friends or family. It's undeniable -- we form two way relationships with these things. I first picked up on that back when Little Computer People launched on the Commadore 64, though the idea didn't really solidify in my mind until Nintendogs was released on the Nintendo DS. 

The idea of reviewing a videogame like it is a static, concrete product is similar to the idea of reviewing a person via some testing method or other wholly "objective" assessment tool. It can't ever be totally accurate. There will always be some subjectivity in there. More so, trying to diminish the importance of the personal relationship between two things, be they a game and person or a person and a person, causes you to bypass the most interesting stuff. We can't ever completely separate our unique perspectives from out assessment of videogames, so why not embrace them? 

That's what we did with this year's Game of the Year Awards. While we worked to do a some analysis on why the world design, multiplayer design, mechanics, and narrative design of various games were particularly impressive in 2014, the truth is we don't really understand why we love certain games, just like we don't always understand why we love certain people. We just do. They fit with our brains and make us feel right. 

Here are some of the games we loved the most in 2014. Don't forget to vote for yours

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Brett Makedonski's personal picks for Game of the Year 2014 photo
Brett Makedonski's personal picks for Game of the Year 2014
by Brett Makedonski

2014 was the most hectic twelve months of my life. Up until late September, I'm fairly certain I spent more of the year on the road than at home. I did so much travelling that I honestly considered eschewing a top five games of the year list in favor of the top five conventions.

While I definitely love the jet-set life, it unfortunately meant that I played fewer games than ever before. I previewed way more titles than I ever saw the final build of. That's why you only get five games from me, because I didn't get a chance to play all that many in 2014. Still, I believe each of the titles on this list is incredibly important in its own right.

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Jonathan's personal GOTY for best butt goes to... photo
Jonathan's personal GOTY for best butt goes to...
by Jonathan Holmes

The Captain Falcon amiibo is apparently pretty hard of get a hold of right now. Through a strange series of events, I ended up with one last night. Without getting into all the details, I'll let you know that I ended up standing beside a local Pokémon champion at nearby Target store. He influenced the clerks behind the counter to look in their backroom for Captain Falcon amiibos. The clerks were sure they didn't have any in stock. The Pokémon champion was sure that they did. Somehow, he was sure.  

Guess who was right?

To be clear, I don't entirely approve of the amiibo craze. Seeing so many people spend their time and money on all these ornamental plastic statues while they ignore great Wii U games like Stealth Inc 2, Lone Survivor, 1001 Spikes, and Thomas Was Alone makes me a little blue. That said, the Captain Falcon amiibo is a charmer worth squawking about, which is why it won my personal butt of the year award.

Thanks again to the Beastie Boys. 

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Chris Carter's personal picks for Game of the Year 2014 photo
Chris Carter's personal picks for Game of the Year 2014
by Chris Carter

Despite what people may say, I thought 2014 was an excellent year. Heck, nearly every year is great for gaming. I played over 300 titles across all platforms, a little more than last year -- but mostly that's because of my promotion to Reviews Director at Destructoid.

It took me weeks to narrow down my top selections, a process I started in earnest in November. There was so much to play this year, with offerings all across the spectrum of gaming.

Here are my top 10 picks in no particular order.

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Nominees for Destructoid's Best World Design of 2014 photo
Nominees for Destructoid's Best World Design of 2014
by Steven Hansen

[Image credit: Mike Lambert]

If we are the world, then technically this award is for all of us. Pat yourselves on the back. Only 12 games are being nominated, though, and only 1 will be winning the award. But it's an honor just to be nominated. 

Creating worlds, interactive digital spaces for us to dive into, is one of the strength of games, tying back to that good old feeling, "immersion." These nominees created coherent or otherwise arresting virtual realities. Alien tension. Sweeping scope. Hot Topic's vision of punk rock. Southern Gothic magical realism. 

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Wallet Busters: PC games winter sales arrive in force photo
Wallet Busters: PC games winter sales arrive in force
by Dealzon

For those PC gamers who aren't yet broke from all the holiday shopping, this week Steam, GMG, GameStop, and heck -- even Uplay, launched PC games winter sales to tug at your wallet.

Steam's winter sale went live Thursday at the usual 10:00 AM time slot, filled with some nice surprise such as the appearance of Microsoft Flight Simulator X Steam Edition. Over at GMG, they're attempting to price match Steam and tossing in a coupon for an additional 20% off for good measure.

GameStop's winter sale, while not as large as others, does have EA titles such as Battlefield 4 and C&C Ultimate Collection for only five bucks. Meanwhile, everyone's favorite DRM Uplay has its catalog on sale too: the excellent Valiant Hearts and Child of Light are only $6 a piece. Heck, even Steam keys of Stick of Truth are available at $13.

If you're looking for a last-minute gift on a console system, a few retailers are having some decent sales. For instance, the Xbox One Assassin's Creed Unity Bundle is $349.99 at Target with a bonus $70 Gift Card today while the 32GB Wii U Deluxe clocks in at $249.99. Not bad.

Game deals brought to by the crew at Dealzon. FYI: Sales from certain retailers help support Destructoid.

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Okay, Final Fantasy XV looks pretty damn awesome photo
Okay, Final Fantasy XV looks pretty damn awesome
by Kyle MacGregor

Jump Festa is happening today in Chiba, Japan. What does that mean for us? Well, a stunning new trailer for Final Fantasy XV for one thing. It feels good to be excited about Final Fantasy again.

The reel also gives us our first peek at Final Fantasy XV's incarnation of Cid, a recurring figure in the franchise. Actually, it's Cindy, in this case. (Or perhaps Cidney -- there seems to be some disagreement over this on account of how folks at Square Enix pronounce the name.)

She's a mechanic, of course, which fits nicely along with the road trip motif and Cids having a proclivity for engineering. Her gender is a point of distinction among characters that bear the moniker, though, as she'll be the first female Cid in the series.

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Review: Kalimba photo
Review: Kalimba
by Chris Carter

Games built around co-op have always had a place in my life. When I was younger, I had a lot of friends who were gamers, which made it easy to pick up and play multiplayer titles. As I grew up, I attended college, met more gamers, and then met my wife, who also plays games.

As such, I almost always have someone who is down to co-op. Thankfully, Kalimba not only has one of the best cooperative experiences around, but it also has a strong single-player element.

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Nominees for Destructoid's Best Game Mechanics of 2014 photo
Nominees for Destructoid's Best Game Mechanics of 2014
by Brittany Vincent

[Image credit: Mike Lambert]

You can have the greatest narrative in the world and sprinkle memorable characters and scenes throughout a game, but all of it's for naught if your mechanics can't shine through. As the great Irving Mills once wrote, "it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing."

These nominees spotlight the best of games that transcend the simple title of "functional" and instead go for the gold when it comes to making things feel absolutely solid. Pulling off combos is akin to wrapping yourself up in a silk robe. You never have to fight these games in order to complete objectives. They're all titles you'd be playing over and over even if the other aspects were lacking. They simply feel right. We all know I'm talking about Bayonetta 2, but here's a list of other games, I guess. 

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GOTY 2014: Best interpretive representation of Jeff Goldblum photo
GOTY 2014: Best interpretive representation of Jeff Goldblum
by Steven Hansen

Someone once told me I talk like Jeff Goldblum. This is not true. I also don't look like Charlie Day, Peter Frampton, Bret McKenzie, Michael Sheen, or Dikembe Mutombo. But at least I appreciated the former (tip: don't tell people who they look like; it is confusing and uncanny at best, offensive at worst). If I could channel a fraction of Goldblum's swarthy, gangly, aloof sex appeal or ability to vomit stomach acid onto his food while his shedding, greasy hair starts to look like a perm, my life would definitely be better. Especially if I had the vomit thing. 

And so it is that the third Steven Hansen's Destructoid's GOTY 2014 award is for the Best interpretive representation of Jeff Goldblum. If you missed them, here are the awards for illiteracy (Best willful misspelling in a title) and Best musical.  

Because I am being sneaky/horny and using a shirtless Goldblum to adorn this post rather than art from the winner, now it feels like I have the element of surprise on my side and I'm pussyfooting around giving the award. Juking left, juking right. Will there be a world-shattering upset? I can feel you tittering with suspense as if you were hanging on Jeff Goldblum's every word and "Look," hand gestures. 

Without further stalling, I hereby award Transistor the Steven Hansen's Destructoid's GOTY 2014 award for Best interpretive representation of Jeff Goldblum! Supergiant's sophomore effort is almost cool to a fault. It is aloof, but with a sumptuous, angular aesthetic that mirror's Goldblum's icy-hot mystery. 

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Predicting the next Telltale Games series photo
Predicting the next Telltale Games series
by Kyle MacGregor

The people at Telltale Games are wizards. There's no other explanation. They have an uncanny ability to coax money men into handing over the keys to some of the most valuable properties in the entertainment business. Then they seemingly have carte blanche to toy with things people hold dear, churning out officially sanctioned fan fiction right and left like there's no tomorrow.

They did it to Back to the Future. And Law & OrderNow they're doing it to MinecraftMinecraft!

Sometimes it turns out great. Other times Jurassic Park happens. It's wonderful. It's awful. It's everything that's right and wrong in the world. And it's going to happen again. And again...

I'm curious, though. What will they do next? Let's explore the possibilities. Let's find out.

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Toys
Toys"R"Us canceling Lucario amiibo orders
by Chris Carter

[Update: Toys"R"Us put pre-orders back up momentarily this morning, and I expect them to either be faulty or drop very soon. Try to re-pre-order if you want at your own risk!]

[Update 2: Now the retailer has taken off the listing entirely -- there's not even a "sold out" page. What a circus.]

The day the Lucario amiibo went on sale, I pre-ordered it. As in, weeks ago. Now Toys"R"Us is canceling orders, including mine. For reference, Lucario is exclusive to Toys"R"Us and you can't get it anywhere else. Huh?

I'm not alone it seems, as our own Brittany Vincent and Bill Platt have had their orders canceled too, as well as a number of readers out there who reached out last night. We are following up with both Nintendo and Toys"R"Us to see what the deal is. It's entirely possible that the latter wants people running into the store at the release date and buying add-on items. That's retail for you.

Between this, the holy trinity, and Rosalina pre-orders selling out in 30 minutes in the dead of night, this has become a total shitshow by Nintendo and the retailers involved, which chose to do exclusive amiibo in the first place. Why is it that Activision and Disney were able to sell millions of dollars worth of Skylanders and Disney Infinity toys near launch without a hitch?

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Nominees for Destructoid's Best Narrative Design of 2014 photo
Nominees for Destructoid's Best Narrative Design of 2014
by Brett Makedonski

[Image credit: Mike Lambert]

It's impossible to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes for great narrative design. It's just something you know when you see. It's more than an outstanding story (although, that's certainly a requisite). It's the melding of game mechanics with narrative to create an experience that's elevated beyond those two parts individually.

But, the thing is, there's no formula to ensure it'll work in perfect harmony. All too often, games that excel at telling a story fall somewhat flat with gameplay, or vice versa. It takes a special title to work hand-in-hand with itself to create that seamless whole.

When that happens, it's a wondrous feeling. We're left with the games that can keep us on the edge of our seat in delight, or slouched as deep in the couch as possible, gutted with despair. We're left with the games that we can't stop playing, or that we can't stop thinking about when we're not playing. We're left with the titles that cement the idea that videogames are a transcendent medium.

These are Destructoid's nominees for Best Narrative Design of 2014.

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Evolve offers a refreshingly robust and devious co-op experience photo
Evolve offers a refreshingly robust and devious co-op experience
by Alessandro Fillari

There's been a lot of buzz surrounding Evolve, the new co-op shooter from Turtle Rock Studios. Helmed by the same developers of the original Left 4 Dead, fans have certainly been chomping at the bit for more information. After a successful closed alpha, the developers took a lot of notes on how players experienced the game to make a better title.

Set on the colonized planet Shear, players take on the roles of hunters seeking to eliminate powerful alien creatures that are attacking the human colonists. If that sounds a little boring, then players can inversely control the malevolent beasts to wipe out the human invaders to reclaim the planet. Though it's often seen as a mash-up between Monster Hunter and Left 4 Dead, which is a totally fair and accurate description, Evolve certainly has unique traits of its own.

At a special press event, we got the chance to get some hands on time the game, while learning more about some of its additions.

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