There were many good games released in 2014, from LittleBigPlanet 3 and Far Cry 4, to The Wolf Among Us and Infamous: Second Son. Good games, yes – but when thinking about my game of the year, nothing immediately jumped out. There were no huge, game-changing releases like Uncharted, The Last of Us or Tomb Raider (unnecessary remasters aside).
Games like Destiny and Watch Dogs came close in some respects, but seemed to underwhelm in certain aspects and fell short of being stand-out releases.
Therefore, I have chosen a game that gripped me from start to finish. One that I played for many hours a day to not only complete, but to 100%. That game comes from Obsidian Entertainment and was released back in March 2014 on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. That game is South Park: The Stick of Truth.
Game of the Year: South Park The Stick of Truth
The Stick of Truth was highly anticipated by fans of the hit show, though like many I had that niggling doubt in the back of my mind that it would just be yet another poor TV tie-in. This was not the case, though, and the game delivered above and beyond what gamers could have expected.
The game was inspired (or set up) by the Black Friday trilogy of episodes from season 17 of the show. You join our tenth-grade friends in the middle of a war between Cartman’s humans and Kyle’s elves where you eventually choose a side to fight with. It has a rather basic RPG element to it, but it is one that works really well for what it is. Battling your foes is done in a turn-based, Pokemon-like style, and ranges from fighting gingers to a giant Nazi zombie foetus, and pretty much everything in between.
If you like the TV show, then you’ll enjoy the game. If not, then there’s not really anything for you here. The Stick of Truth does a fantastic job of making you feel like you’re playing an episode from the series – from its art style to the voice acting, and the rather crude and offensive jokes that will have you laughing (or insulted) from start to finish.
The story naturally ends up very over-the-top as most episodes do on TV, starting out innocently enough. There’s no accounting for the imaginations of young children, though, and events keep on getting more and more crazy, until you find yourself shrunk down by gnomes and crawling through the insides of Mr Slave to pull a snuke out of his back door.
If I could add anything to The Stick of Truth, it would be some kind of multiplayer element. Even if you couldn’t interact with other players, it would have been very cool to see other tenth-graders running around South Park to add a bit more life to its open-world environment. The world was largely accurate to its TV counterpart, but AI characters were always stood in the same place doing the same thing.
Ultimately, South Park: The Stick of Truth was not only a very fun game, but it gripped me like no game had since Uncharted 3. That’s why it is my pick for game of the year, over titles such as Shadow of Mordor and Destiny, which were very good but ended up gathering dust, uncompleted as they failed to keep my attention for an extended period of time.
Would South Park have won my GOTY had any of the aforementioned ‘big games’ come out in the same year? It’s tough to say, but it’s undoubtedly worth a try for any fans of the series out there that are yet to pick it up.
Honorable Mention: The Jackbox Party Pack
Now, this is a selection coming out of left field, but I felt it needed to be mentioned nonetheless. The Jackbox Party Pack hasn’t been released in the UK (yet), but I did manage to get it from the US PlayStation store.
Fellow PUG co-founder Chris Mawson and I absolutely loved the irreverent trivia game, You Don’t Know Jack, back in the day when it came out for PS3. It was such a laugh when we got together with friends, and managed to keep us entertained for hours. The Jackbox, released on the PS4, contains an updated, 2015 version of YDKJ as well as four other party games, including Fibbage, a brilliant bluffing game that has now taken our time up more than Jack himself.
Fibbage has a simple premise. It involves a statement with a word removed. Every player, playing on their phones, tablets and laptops, must make up a lie for the blank space to fool the other players. All the lies, as well as the truth, are then revealed and players must pick the correct answer. It’s the wrong answers where the fun lies, as everybody has that friend or two who will throw subtlety out the window and put comedic answers in that will have you all laughing hysterically for hours.
Be sure to check Power Up Gaming in the weeks ahead for videos and content of this hilarious game, as I look for an excuse to keep playing it.