2014 has been ripe with fantastic gaming opportunities already. We've already given a nod to some of the best games of the year thus far, but here are a few of our standout gaming moments and personal happenings of note that we've enjoyed in the first six months of 2014.
Jonathan Lester -- This One Time In Titanfall...
... I'd failed to kill the flag carrier during the very last break point of the match. Desperate to regain my pride, I leapt into my mechanised pal, charged across the other side of the map (Runoff), voluntarily ejected, landed atop their base and then killed the offending wannabe hero with a well-placed satchel charge, diving to ground-level to return the flag and dying a split-second later in a hail of chaingun fire and sour grapes. Worth it.
... I single-handedly held a hardpoint location for an entire perfect game, glommed to a wall and laughing as the same irate attackers continually breached into the room expecting me to be waiting in the same location. All they succeeded in doing was bringing me a fresh stash of weapons to use, and earning me an Autopistol challenge or two to bulk up my Gen Rank.
... I destroyed a Titan via a rodeo attack and squashed its vengeful pilot with my own, hurtling down from orbit and turning his grimacing face into a pile of slag.
...Profsaurus joined us in a Game Night and laid down his virtual life so Matt, Carl and I could extract safely. We salute you.
... a thousand other brilliant and embarrassing things happened. Typically involving epic parkour and massive robots.
Titanfall may have fallen from grace (ugh) in recent weeks due to its increasingly quirky matchmaking and tedious wait times, but its gameplay is evergreen.
Matt Gardner -- Giving MMOs another chance, and inviting the internet along for the ride
Given that we only started playing Supraball this month, I can't really cheat and say it's that. Soon...
One of the most striking moments of the year had to be the unveiling of Grim Fandango at Sony's press conference. I have been praying daily for a re-release of Tim Schafer's masterpiece; who knew it would finally find a modern home on the PS4?
But ultimately, I've got to go with returning to a genre I'd written off massively a decade ago. Some cajoling from Carl, coupled with being given a incredibly generous amount of game access by Carbine and NCsoft, has meant that MMOs are back in my life once again (sorry wallet) and it's all thanks to WildStar. On a personal and professional level, WildStar has given me an enormous amount of joy this year. It's been our most popular subject of coverage for our fledgling YouTube channel, and it's been my gateway back into massively multiplayer online gaming. Well, that and Planetside 2.
Doing The Noob series during the beta was an utter joy, and the fact that it was so well received only hlped that feeling. I got to fall in love with a game in a genre I'd long since fled from, and people were there alongside me for the ride, dispensing advice, laughing heartily at my lack of skills, and asking when the next episode would be. It works for me as a whole package, with the frontier setting proving a perfect staging point for an MMO, it's systems not overly convoluted, but still brimming with depth. I can't say that I'll necessarily still be playing it come the end of the year, but it's certainly been the game that's dominated the previous six months for me, both in terms of the beta and now the full release.
Carl Phillips -- Titanfall with a Joystick
Missing out on being my favourite moment of the year so far was the dominance of the Dealspwn Grifball team (still undefeated in 2014) but in the end there was only one moment that truly stood out.
You see, I enjoyed Titanfall when it came out, stomping around in my Titan and jetpacking around like a high-tech ninja, but the long-term appeal just wasn’t there for me. It might have been the progression system lacking a sense of achievement, or it most likely might have been the lack of dedicated servers (and those damn lobby wait times) but after the first few weeks I hardly booted it up, if at all.
And then I was challenged to play it with a Joystick, and all of a sudden my enjoyment levels went through the roof.
Maybe it was the feeling of actually piloting a mech, or perhaps it was the need to learn how to play the game again, but all of a sudden I had new sense of purpose playing Titanfall, and more importantly I was having fun. Each defeat was all the more crushing, and every victory – especially the one where I completed the challenge by getting into the top half of the leaderboard – tasted sweeter than I could have imagined.
Brendan Griffiths -- Rediscovering Final Fantasy X
The most pleasant surprise this year was just how damn good the HD remaster of Final Fantasy X was. Sure, I enjoyed the original PS2 game all those years ago, but in the face of Square Enix’s consistently terrible Final Fantasy XIII trilogy on PS3, I realised that they really don’t make them like they used to. Not even close.
FFX’s story is one of the best in the series and I find I don’t want to punch Tidus anywhere near as much as I did on PS2 – probably because FFXIII’s Hope is so much worse. Playing through on expert mode for the first time has really allowed me to open up the Sphere Grid and tailor characters in my own way too, and notably leave a few of the duff ones to one side to really beef up my favourites.
The HD makeover is beautifully handled too with those awkward jaggies all smoothed out, meaning I don’t have to go through the awkwardness blurriness of putting a scart lead into my HD TV to play the originals.
The best part of rediscovering the game though is undoubtedly playing it on the Vita. While the PS3 version may be slightly smoother to look at, the Vita’s sleep mode proves to be an incredible win. On the PS3, save points can be few and far between, meaning you have to settle in for lengthy sessions. However, on the handheld version, just pop it into sleep mode whenever you like and resume from exactly where you left off, meaning you’re able to sneak in five minutes here and there during ad breaks or on a short commute. Now, if Square could just release an upgrade for FFXII, we can start to forgive them for the XIII series.