Mario Kart 8
Given its reception and many people announcing it as 'the best Mario Kart ever made' on its release, it should come as little surprise that Mario Kart 8 is one of the best titles to come along this year. Its success lies within its simplicity, too. At no point did Nintendo try and reset or change up what people expected from the series. It merely took all its best ideas, tweaked them as was necessary before unleashing it on the world. Yes, a few new additions sneaked their way in, but ultimately this is a 'best of' iteration and is all the better for it.
'Mario Golf?!' you cry, wondering why other, seemingly more important games haven't made it to this list. Tough! This isn't your list. We will, of course, read yours when you have one...
The bottom line is that Mario Golf's reemergence on the 3DS is an extremely moreish and well put together title. It never goes above and beyond what previous entries in the franchise did, but there's something so effortless and simple about it all you can't help but be sucked in. Like a fine RPG, World Tour eases you in and then paces itself wonderfully to ensure you're always progressing at an addictive rate. Admittedly you'll need some love of the sport, obviously, for it not to be completely impenetrable, but you won't find many other games as accessible or enjoyable as this.
It's more of the same, but labelling that a criticism is like saying you can only eat one meal at Nando's in your entire life. The stunt bike gameplay found in Trials has been mimicked but never equalled, so more of the same is exactly what we wanted from Trials Fusion. Competing against friends on the leaderboards makes this a game you'll come back to time and time again, and the track creation tools have already produced some unbelievable fan-made content.
Tomb Raider Definitive Edition
It's a remaster, but it's a very good one. The Tomb Raider reboot from Crystal Dynamics more or less delivered what was promised, and the visually enhanced PS4/Xbox One version is simply a prettier version of that already excellent game. This is a more open world than Lara has explored before, and beautifully sets up what should be another very successful series for Square Enix. For many people, this surprisingly violent adventure even managed to outdo Drake and co's most recent outing.
For those growing weary of the yearly offerings for Call of Duty and Battlefield, Titanfall offered a very welcome breath of fresh air. The gameplay is fast and frantic, with both Titans and Pilots offering enough variety to justify their inclusion but with a fine balance that neither feels overpowered. Titanfall is an excellent multiplayer shooter, and is just the start for Respawn.
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
A game that probably slipped under most of your radars, Danaganronpa is the best game to come to the Vita since Persona 4 Golden. A brilliant, narrative-driven murder mystery game that keeps you guessing right until the very end, Trigger Happy Havoc is well worth a punt for Vita owners desperate for something to play. This is a must-buy for fans of Virtue's Last Reward, plus the sequel is due out this year, giving you even more reason to take a look.
South Park: Stick of Truth
With such a long delay, many were worried that Stick of Truth may not live up to expectation, but it absolutely did and is hands down the funniest game of the year. Juvenile? Yes. Crude? Absolutely. True to the series? You bet, and is a game those with even a mild interest in the show will adore.
We called it "Ubisoft Open World Game: Chicago Edition." It might share significant portions of its DNA with Assassin's Creed and Far Cry 3, but that's no bad thing and Watch_Dogs is still 2014's best big, meaty action game to get properly stuck into while you're waiting for the re-release of 2013's GTA V. We're a fickle lot, us gamers.
Divinity Original Sin
RPG lovers who haven't yet delved into Larian Studios' crowdfunded masterpiece are in for a treat - Original Sin is smart, gripping, and more old-school than conkers at breaktime. It's stuffed with fresh ideas too; for example, the dual protagonist set-up is inspired, allowing you to play your hero characters against each other while they're slashing their way through hordes of orcs and the undead. This is the real deal, and it's very likely to go down in history as one of the best RPGs of the decade.