The wave of new video game launches is behind us, and it’s left a painful scar in its wake — to gamers’ bank accounts, anyway. So many awesome games released in 2014 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U and Nintendo 3DS (even the last-gen consoles — the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii — got in the mix) that it’s hard to keep track of them all, let alone purchase each one and play them all to completion. But that’s what the holidays are for, right? Steep discounts and Black Friday sales will allow you to grab those games you haven’t made time for on the cheap and play to your heart’s content as Christmas and the holidays roll around.
But which ones are worth paying attention to? A ton of great titles may have released this year, but surely you haven’t played them all. Fortunately, we’ve got the goods on the best-selling games that released in 2014. Read on to see which ones you’ve missed.
1. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Surprisingly, the PS4 version of Shadow of Mordor is currently at the top of the Amazon best-sellers list, but anyone who’s played the game will know why. 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: $48.51 (19 percent off MSRP)
- Nemesis system
- Satisfying combat
- Lore, lore and more lore
- Somewhat easy
- Disappointing ending
- Repetitive locales
- Herb collecting
2. 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
3. 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
- Kicked from online if you target an individual player
- No cross-system play
- Cheap Final Smashes
4. Just Dance 2015
If you’re looking for a good party game, look no further than Just Dance 2015. Everyone’s favorite get-up-and-move social game is back, bringing more songs and dance moves for you, your family and your friends to get down to. New modes make an appearance to spice up an otherwise staling affair, adding just enough umph to make picking the game up worth it. If you have a Wii, chances are you’re into casual, family-oriented games already, so Just Dance 2015 should definitely be in your library.
Price: $35.85 (10 percent off MSRP)
- New dance moves
- New game modes
- More than 40 popular songs
- Get a workout and game simultaneously
- Easy to cheat
- Feels like an expansion to past games
- New modes are hit or miss
- Some tracking issues
5. Madden NFL 15
If you’re a diehard football fan, there’s a good chance a dream of yours would be to play for your favorite team in the NFL. There’s a bad chance that’s ever going to happen — a very bad chance, actually. But that doesn’t mean you can’t live out your fantasy virtually. Madden NFL 15 is one of the better football sims to drop in recent years. It’s lifelike graphics and excellent play-calling make the game feel realistic. If the occasional glitch and some boring real-time commentary don’t bother you, Madden NFL 15 is a great game for any fan of the sport.
Price: $39.99 (33 percent off MSRP)
- Realistic graphics
- Improved plays
- Good defense is important
- Better than last year’s Madden 25
- Lackluster commentary
- Moderate glitches and bugs
- It’s not the same as playing yourself
- It’s not NFL Blitz
For those who’ve been living in a cave (or, perhaps more appropriately, a mine) for the past few years, Minecraft is an indie game that became an international best-seller due to its unique and addicting gameplay. Players are dropped into a randomized world of textured cubes and told to survive. Monsters come out at night, so it’s the player’s job to scavenge for resources, construct a shelter and basically build whatever they can think up in what amounts to a world of digital Lego bricks. While the original PC edition of the game dominates, the Xbox One version game is the next-best way to experience Minecraft‘s huge worlds, multiplayer co-op and limitless possibilities.
Price: $17.16 (14 percent off MSRP)
- Endless exploration
- Limited only by imagination
- Simplified menu navigation
- Bigger worlds than last-gen counterparts
- No mods
- Updates come slower to Xbox One
- Still not as robust as PC version
- Sneaky creepers
7. 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: $59.00 (2 percent off MSRP)
- Futuristic weapons and gadgets
- DLC drops first on Xbox
- Zombie mode is back
- Kevin Spacey
- $50 season pass
- Average campaign
- Set pieces everywhere
- Same ol’ Call of Duty formula
8. Grand Theft Auto V
Rockstar Games knows how to make a living, breathing world. The Grand Theft Auto series is known for giving players absolute freedom in violent, crime-ridden cities parodying America’s most famous locales. In Grand Theft Auto V, Rockstar Games allows for players to switch seamlessly between three protagonists: a rich family man struggling with maintaining relationships, a bonafide gangster and a psychotic hillbilly. Heists are a new addition that mimic the famous bank robbery mission everybody loves from Grand Theft Auto IV. All the other stuff people adore about GTA is there: guns, strip clubs, sweet rides and a solid story tying it all together. There’s a reason Grand Theft Auto V is sitting pretty at a 97 on Metacritic.
- Breathing world
- Three playable characters
- Excellent voice acting and story
- Multiplayer doesn’t live up to the hype
- Needs more heists
- Online play is somewhat broken
9. Mario Kart 8
If you like arcade-y kart racers, you’ve played the Mario Karo series. The franchise reigns supreme when it comes to high-octane fun with friends and family alike. For those who aren’t familiar, Mario Kart allows you and up to three others on the same TV to play as your favorite Nintendo characters, customize karts and race around colorful and beautiful tracks that even take you upside-down thanks to the new antigravity feature. The items you can pick up keep the game fair and balanced, which allows even the worst of racers to have a good time. If you have a Wii U, you need Mario Kart 8.
Price: $48.15 (20 percent off MSRP)
- Fantastic presentation
- Interesting tracks
- Upside-down racing
- Items are more fair
- Online features not all there
- Blue shells
- Luigi’s terrifying death stare
10. 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: $50.98 (15 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