In this day and age, it’s harder to find someone who doesn’t like video games than it is to find someone who does. Everyone games, from the middle-aged mother playing Candy Crush on her PC to the teenagers fragging noobs in Call of Duty to the hardcore hobbyists who play League of Legends more than any healthy person should. That’s why video games make such an amazing Christmas gift. If that special person in your life has a video game console, he needs games to play. Luckily for you, 2014 was ripe was tons of new video games, which means it’s easy to find a perfect gift for that person on your Christmas list.
With so many new releases in 2014, it can be daunting trying to figure out what games to buy, but that’s why we’re here to help. Here are the best video games that released this year that make for perfect holiday presents.
1. Far Cry 4
Far Cry 3 was one of the surprises of last generation for me. The slew of sandbox games gave me open world fatigue, but Far Cry 3 managed to pull me into its tribal setting with fun attractions like shark hunting, hang gliding and raiding enemy bases. Far Cry 4 does more or less the same, only the setting is changed from that of a lush jungle to a city set in the Himalayan Mountains. The protagonist finds himself caught up in a civil war led by tyrannical ruler Pagan Min (voiced by the legendary Troy Baker). The best part about Far Cry 4 is the fact that players will be able to invite friends — even ones who don’t own the game — to cooperative missions scattered across the enormous play area.
- New wildlife
- Massive open world
- Drop-in co-op
- Free limited edition with pre-order
- Unwarranted cover art controversy
- No bonuses for killing war elephants
- Not much has changed since Far Cry 3
- Server issues at launch
2. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Call of Duty is one series that has withstood the test of time, with releases spanning more than a decade and three console generations. The franchise has tackled everything from World War II-era battles to modern-day combat. The newest entry in the series, Advanced Warfare, takes place in the future, where jetpacks and hovering grenades are staples in military technology. Sure, it might look like Titanfall at a glance, but Advanced Warfare is a title all its own, and it’s bound to be a best seller just like its annually released brethren. I mean, even IGN gave it a 9.1.
Price: $57.92 (3 percent off MSRP)
- Futuristic weapons and gadgets
- DLC drops first on Xbox One
- Zombie mode is back
- Kevin Spacey
- $50 season pass
- Average campaign
- Set pieces everywhere
- Same ol’ Call of Duty formula
3. Pokémon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire
If you don’t love the Pokémon games, I question what kind of childhood you had. People like to make fun of the unconventional designs of the new Pokémon, but the truth is that weird-looking Pokémon have been around since Pokémon Red/Blue hit store shelves in the ’90s. Another thing that hasn’t changed is how fun these games are. I’ve poured close to a thousand hours into the series. There’s nothing quite like breeding, training and raising hundreds of fighting critters in a quest to be the very best. Pokémon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire bring with them new mega evolutions, the 3D graphics of Pokémon X/Y and new features to make capturing and fighting Pokémon even more fun. If you’re itching to play through the original stories of Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald, there’s no better time than now to nab Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire.
- More mega evolutions
- Primal Groudon and Primal Kyogre
- Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire remade in 3D
- New features from old games
- No new Pokémon
- Needs even more mega evolutions
- Somewhat easy
- Distracting content
4. Super Smash Bros.
Nintendo is a company revered for its amazing series. Sure, The Legend of Zelda and Metroid might be bright and cartoony compared to franchises like Gears of War and Halo, but the world needs video games like that! As long as the quality of games is excellent (and with Nintendo, it almost always is), who cares that the Wii U is geared toward younger, casual players, especially when Super Smash Bros., a game that borrows characters and elements from Nintendo’s (and others’) best video game series, is a thing? Smash Bros. has been my favorite fighting game since I was a wee lad, and now what’s possibly the best version yet is coming to the Wii U in glorious high definition, which means people like me are stoked. With a huge roster, tons of unlockables, eight player battles and endless hours of fun, what more could you ask for?
- Dozens and dozens of hours of play
- Tons of unlockables
- Eight player battles
- Can’t take it on the go like you can with the 3DS version
- Lackluster Smash Run mode
- No cross-system play
- Cheap Final Smashes
5. Dragon Age: Inquisition
BioWare is known for its ability to craft deep, intricate, personal stories. Just look at the best-selling Mass Effect series which, in this humble editor’s opinion, is the best sci-fi universe to be created in any medium ever. The original Dragon Age was a critical and commercial success, with its long and detailed campaign where choices mattered. Dragon Age II didn’t hold up as well, though it’s still a great game. With Dragon Age: Inquisition, BioWare went all out in an effort to create one of the greatest fantasy RPGs ever. The developer’s track record proves they were capable of handling the task, giving players a sprawling world to explore, a brilliant story where player choice matters and a fun combat system players can tailor to their play style.
- In-game choices matter
- Style combat your way
- Customize your party and hero
- It’s not Dragon Age II
- Say goodbye to hundreds of hours of freetime
- Story is a bit cliche
- Combat could be more strategic
6. Halo: The Master Chief Collection
In 2011, Microsoft published Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, a high-definition remake of the original Halo from Bungie. Porting the infamous first-person sci-fi shooter to the Xbox 360 proved to be a wise decision, and fans clamored for a re-release of Halo 2 in the same vein. Microsoft did them one better: Halo: The Master Chief Collection takes the four numerical Halo games and puts them in glorious HD for the Xbox One. Players are now able to seamlessly jump from one game to the next while reliving Halo‘s unforgettable campaign and unique multiplayer matches — when the matchmaking works, that is.
Price: $59 (2 percent off MSRP)
- More Master Chief than you can handle
- Remade multiplayer maps with HD graphics
- Access to the Halo 5: Guardians beta
- Four thousand Gamerscore
- Twenty gigabyte day-one patch
- No Halo: Reach
- No Halo 3: ODST
- Multiplayer matchmaking issues
7. Sunset Overdrive
What’s great about Insomniac’s latest venture is how it doesn’t take itself too seriously — or at all. Run on walls, grind on power lines and jump off buildings all while trying to destroy the mutants that run rampant after drinking FizzCo’s newest energy drink. The world is as colorful and zany as your fully customizable character, and crazy weapons and funny respawn animations keep the good times rolling whether you’re downing baddies or they’re downing you. If you’re a fan of Insomniac’s other work like the Ratchet & Clank series, you can’t go wrong here.
Price: $59.12 (1 percent off MSRP)
- Tons of customization
- Fun traversal
- Engaging combat
- Huge, stylistic world
- Repetitive missions
- Fetch quests
- Boring NPCs
No one can deny the extensive hype Titanfall received leading up to is release. Being one of the first notable exclusives for the Xbox One made everyone perk up and pay attention, and the fact that it was developed by ex-Call of Duty devs just added more to the game’s already robust credibility. Titanfall takes the traditional first-person shooter format and adds parkour and armored mechs to the mix, making for addictive and frantic online death matches.
Price: $24.71 (38 percent off MSRP)
- Frenzied FPS action
- Recently added co-op mode
- Giant mechs
- Weak campaign
- Only a few modes
- Little content
When Bungie, the creators of the original Halo trilogy, announced their new sci-fi shooter, the world couldn’t wait to explore a new universe full of aliens, robots and mysterious locations. While the final game disappointed some fans who expected something monumental, what Destiny does offer is best-in-class shooting and looting with only a subpar story and some lackluster missions holding it back. What’s unique about Destiny is its shared world experience where players interact with others during independent single-player and cooperate missions. With limitless multiplayer and a stream of content additions and updates heading its way, Destiny will only get more addicting as time goes on. Oh, and there’s also dancing.
Price: $48.05 (20 percent off MSRP)
- Awesome combat
- A shared world experience
- Tons of loot
- The best skies in any game
- Weak story
- Classes too similar
- Small mission variety
10. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Any The Lord of the Rings buff will feel right at home with Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. The game is set sometime between The Hobbit and Tolkien’s famous trilogy about Frodo’s quest to Mount Doom as Talion, a Ranger of Gondor stationed near the Black Gate leading into the evil land of Mordor, is forced to watch his family be butchered by Uruks. What follows is a classic revenge action game dripping with Tolkien lore. What sets Shadow of Mordor apart is its nemesis system, which grants military ranks to Talion’s enemies. The Uruks are constantly vying for dominance, and the player can manipulate them to his will using special powers and abilities, making each play a unique experience.
Price: $48.45 (19 percent off MSRP)
- Nemesis system
- Satisfying combat
- Lore, lore and more lore
- Somewhat easy
- Disappointing ending
- Repetitive locales
- Herb collecting