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Looking back – BrutalGamer’s favorite stories from 2014

And now, our obligatory look back at our favorite gaming memories and our thoughts on the biggest gaming stories of 2014.

This year has been no different than any other in the video game industry as there have been some great tales told, particularly the anticipation for some of the exclusives for both Xbox One and PS4, and there have been some unfortunate low points as well, *cough*Gamersgate*cough*.

Even so though, this year was exciting for a number of reasons, so lets have a look at the 12 month period that was 2014.

Gamergate 2014
Gamergate was coined after some rather harsh treatment toward women over the Internet. The story begins with a game developer named Zoe Quinn, and a gaming journalist named Nathan Grayson, and some… questionable behavior. Rumors started on the Internet that the two people in question had been involved romantically which presented a conflict of interest of a sort since Quinn is a game developer and Grayson a journalist.

People then started spreading rumors over the Internet and the hate spewed forth. Claims that Quinn’s game was receiving more coverage and better reviews because of her involvement with Grayson ran wild. Unfortunately though, what could have been a good and valid discussion spiraled into an ugly and vicious attack toward women in the gaming industry. Threats were made and personal information was hacked and then shared by anonymous hackers. The Internet trolls came out to feast.

Gamergate should have been a way to start the discussion of the exploitation of women in video games but instead turned into something ugly and vicious.

Industry commentator Anita Sarkeesian wrote a story about the treatment and the image of women in games shortly after as well. The point of her article was that game developers were using women in video games as objects and ways to upgrade their characters. Sarkeesian is worried that there is going to be a giant group of grown men who view women in the real world as objects and not people.  “Tropes vs. Women In Video Games” gained a lot of press, and with it a lot of commentary. At one point the talk became so bad that Sarkeesian was receiving death threats and had to cancel at a symposium speaking engagement at a college because of these threats.

It is a shame that in 2014 there is still so much hate toward working with women. I also find it absolutely appalling that so many people like to hide behind the anonymity of the Internet as they spread hate. After watching “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games” I have to say I agree with Sarkeesian. Just as it is with pornography, overly sexualizing women is going to create a fantasy for men that is just not real. Women are people with feelings and hopes and dreams and deserve to be treated equally and fairly without having to worry about being objectified. That’s my two cents anyway, thank you for listening and I will be stepping down off this soapbox.

Failed launches
Every year there are some games with rough launches. This year was no different as Sony’s Drive Club and Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Unity both experienced horrific debuts. Drive Club launched in October and is still trying to stabilize here in early January. Players had to wait a couple of weeks after the launch date for the game to even be accessible.

Ubisoft had a really big year as they released a plethora of games that should have been Game of the Year candidates. Two of those releases were the next installments in the Assassin’s Creed series, Unity and Rogue. AC: Unity was set for release on the Xbox One and PS4 and was full of bugs.

Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Unity launched with a lot of bugs, one of them being characters missing faces.

Faces of characters were disappearing. Parkouring across the beautiful backdrop of Paris was bittersweet, as Arno (the main character) would get hung up on ledges or entry ways into houses. What started off as an ambitious title really fell flat as a result.

The new multiplayer mode also had a number of problems. The servers were not properly tested, which resulted in severe delays in matchmaking as well as a lot of dropped games.

Microsoft and 343 Industries’ compilation of Halo games, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, was also a mess. The game boasted the ability to play on more than 100 different multiplayer maps- but only launched with a rather small list of playable maps as the servers did not hold up to the amount of players playing at the same time.

Having played both AC: Unity and Halo I can say the launches for these games were complete failures. Halo: TMCC has been out for more than a month and just in the past few weeks the multiplayer has finally been playable. I was rather disappointed with both titles honestly, and have only been playing them sparingly as I continue to wait for more updates and patches for continued stability.

Big releases
This year featured a lot of big games: Dragon Age: Inquisition, Destiny, Super Smash Brothers Wii U , Mario Kart 8, Far Cry 4, Halo: The Master Chief Collection. These are just a few of the major titles that were released in 2014. Some of these games were flops while others were an absolute joy to experience. This year in gaming introduced a couple of new and exciting IPs as well, such as Insomniac Games’ Sunset Overdrive, that will be sticking around with sequels and so on and so forth. Even with the debacle that was AC: Unity, Ubisoft had a huge year as they released more than 10 games and several of them were AAA titles.

Insomniac Games’ Sunset Overdrive is the awesome apocalypse. 2014 was a good year for some new IPs.

I was a little worried this year would be a kind of let down. There were a lot of games that I was looking forward to that wound up being delayed until 2015. Boy was I wrong. There have been some amazing games released that are really exciting and fun to play. I for one have been a victim of Destiny and its ability to steal many hours from my life. I was also pleasantly surprised with Sunset Overdrive and Shadow of Mordor. While there was a surprise with so many good titles this year, the bigger story might have been the amount of games experiencing a delay.

Delays of 2014
Some major titles that were supposed to be released in 2014 were delayed until 2015. The month of October was supposed to have been one of the biggest months for launches in years, but instead gamers saw games like Evolve, Batman: Arkham Knight and The Witcher 3 all delayed and pushed out of 2014.

What was once a huge month turned into a pretty mediocre month with a few decent titles. Now 2015 is looking to be a great year in gaming as there are some great games coming out. These delays were met with groans and moans but after the debacle of AC: Unity and Sony’s Drive Club, more gamers are actually welcoming delays. These delays are to make sure the games are going to be running right and preforming well.

Evolve was supposed to be released in October but was delayed. Gamers will only have to wait until February to get their hands on this anticipated title.

I was pretty bummed out when I heard the news about Batman: Arkham Knight as I have been waiting for the last installment in the Arkham series. Now I will have to wait an extra eight months, but after experiencing AC: Unity, I for one do welcome a developer to step up and make sure the game is the best version of itself.  And who knows, maybe we will see a playable demo for some of these delayed titles to hold us over.

PAX and E3
Sony and Microsoft came out swinging this year at E3.

In 2013 we saw the two big companies reveal the new generation of consoles. The Xbox One and Playstation 4 had a lot of new and exciting features and both companies decided these were the things to showcase. Information regarding launch titles was sparse. But not this year.

In 2014, both Sony and Microsoft decided to let the games do the talking. Microsoft started it off by showcasing the anticipated titles of 2014 by showing gaming clips for more than an hour. Relying heavily on exclusives, Microsoft wowed the crowd with the first look at the Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Next up was Insomniac Games’ newest IP, Sunset Overdrive.

Sony fired shots back as they began their list of exclusives that included No Man’s Sky, The Order 1886, and the next iteration in the Infamous saga. And last but not certainly least, a teaser trailer for the next Uncharted, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. These titles are just a small slice of the amount of games that would be released, mostly during 2014. There are a large number of indie games which were released to great acclaim as well, though E3 wasn’t the only electronics game show that did a great job of showcasing games this year as there was much to celebrate throughout.

So those are my picks on the biggest stories from the year that was, but here are some of my fellow BGers thoughts on the subject:

A trade show about games should be about games. Well 2014 did just that as Sony and Microsoft showed gamers a plethora of games.

Lisa’s top gaming memories of 2014 –

My top gaming memory of 2014 is attending PAX. I attended all three days and got to experience so many new games. The spectrum of gaming experience was outstanding, from big names like Nintendo and 2K to solo developers. It was also a weekend of meeting and connecting with a group of people who were just as excited and interested in games as I am. My favorite part of PAX is the indie Mega booth and this year it had to expand to a new floor due to the number of entries! It was three days of video game madness and fun.

My top video gaming memory is completing Wolf Among Us. Telltale revolutionized point-and-click adventure with The Walking Dead, but Wolf Among Us blew me away. The story was phenomenal and how it unfolded was flawless. The characters were so well-developed and their dialogue was spot on for their personalities. I haven’t even touched the beautiful aesthetics or great soundtrack. If you can’t tell, I love this game, but for all the right reasons. If you haven’t played Wolf Among Us, I suggest you make it a gaming memory for 2015.

Jason’s top gaming memories of 2014 –

When you look back, it’s pretty easy to see why this was a year worth getting excited about. The likes of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Thief, Titanfall and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 all saw release and met with good to great scores here on BG. There were also some good titles in the early Spring that launched on consoles and the PC and a bevy that were set for launch during the remainder of the year, heading into the Fall/Holiday season, that should have pushed 2014 into the stratosphere and rivaled the terrific year that was 2013. Unfortunately though, titles like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Dying Light, and Batman: Arkham Knight all slipped loose from the schedule and landed in 2015. That might bode well for these titles and for the year that’s to come in terms of a release calendar, but it sure wasn’t fun for fans and those looking to grab these games as soon as possible (me included). Further driving things into the realm of ‘meh’ were the huge letdowns that some of the blockbuster games turned out to be. Titles like Halo: The Master Chief Collection had technical issues that prevented it from capturing the time of as many gamers as probably would have indulged if everything was pulled off without a hitch.

Standing out from all of this though, is Nintendo. The company shined in 2014, with a resurgent Wii U that’s actually performing respectably at this point, and a lineup of games that surprised and delighted. There’s little doubt that anyone who has a Wii U owns a copy of the new Super Smash Bros, and they’ve probably got Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker and Bayonetta 2 sitting next to their consoles as well. Nintendo’s Amiibo toys-to-life figures are proving popular as well, which is a great boon to the publisher as it gives them yet another outlet for their phenomenally popular group of first-party characters.

Nintendo made a little headway this year with its releases of Super Smash Brothers and Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U.

I guess there’s the bright spot, should you be looking for one. Otherwise though, this past 12 months wasn’t what I’d call ‘good’. Actually, even the way it went out was awful, as the hack on Christmas Day took both Xbox Live and the PSN offline for a while. At least there’s hope for this year; the schedule looks great and we’ve not even gotten into announcement/show season yet. It seems that developers and publishers are slowly passing the ‘cross-generation’ PS3 and Xbox 360 releases by in favor of focusing on the new-gen consoles too, which is great news for gamers as that’s really held back some titles from shining as they should have in my opinion.

About Rick Brown

As a fearful proponent, I agree with out robot overlords on House Bill 10010101 - The Full Extermination of the Human Race. But until then, make sure to check out all my writings on video game stuff.

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