It’s that time of the year when every website and their dog have a top 5 list about something. Well, G33k-e has a cat! (Editor’s Note: Her name is Sherlock) 2014 provided some rather interesting surprises in the world of geeky things, so let’s talk about them in great detail.
5. Star Wars: Episode VII Teaser
It was more some of the reaction by the fans that caused this to be a shocker. A black Stormtrooper? Hate ensued! A strange light saber? Hate ensued. Some of the comments aimed at the teaser were incredibly stupid, as some “fans” stoked the flames of nerd rage with their complaints that “No, this can’t happen! For I, the ultimate Star Wars fan, hath decreed!” Some viewers were calling for alterations without even knowing what the context is behind the teaser.
The most notable example of this was when people discovered that a person of colour was playing a Stormtrooper, presumably because ALL of the empire’s evil croneys are clones. After prompting a Blazing Saddles style moment, the argument soon cooled down when people started to realize how stupid their comments were. Rational fans diffused the situation by providing explanations for what fans were seeing in the trailer.
One possibility is that the empire may have drafted people in as Stormtroopers after losing many of their clones throughout the years; or perhaps it was a disguise? Or maybe it really doesn’t matter, because this was a teaser and no one really knows anything about Episode VII except… Millennium Falcon!
4. Alien Isolation Released
By late 2014, it seemed most people had written off any future Alien games after the horrible release of Aliens: Colonial Marines. As a result, when this game was first teased, many fans adopted a cautious approach until more information came out, and then suddenly the excitement levels escalated.
Upon release of Alien Isolation, it was surprising to see a game that so closely paid homage to its origins, putting the player in a world so tense and horrific that it could be said to have changed the face of horror gaming. Unlike other games in the franchise, this game told a story that directly followed the events of the first film, with the aesthetics based around Ridley Scott’s original vision: One almost relentless Xenomorph stalking the player throughout the game rather than hordes of expendable enemies.
Survival Horror games have been pretty popular this year, and Isolation has to rank as one of the best. The game features innovative creature AI, beautiful design, and a compelling story which leaves you feeling unsettled. Poor reviews from some “top” gaming sites revealed (yet again) that the way these sites review games is flawed (Editor’s Note: Big surprise).
One site went so far as to state that the game was too hard, too scary and they hadn’t even been able to complete it. Regardless of these shoddy criticisms, the game has rightly found its audience and many people have actually rated it one of the best games of the year.
3. Nintendo at E3
The Wii U and Nintendo had been lagging behind Microsoft and Sony in the console wars for quite a while – until E3 2014. Nintendo pulled out one of the most interesting conferences ever to grace E3, really shaming both Sony and Microsoft’s offerings at the event.
They got people excited for Wii U games coming out while laughing at themselves by not taking things too seriously, using Robot Chicken skits sandwiched between discussions on real exclusive titles focused at core gamers and interesting concepts for future games.
Their video conference event provided a stark contrast to the especially lazy conference by Microsoft. That being said, time will tell whether or not the strategy will pay off, as it might have come too late in the day to effect this generation of console sales. And now… PEGGLE 2!
2. Robin Williams Passing Away
This moment in 2014 was a sad and poignant reminder about depression. We lost many talented people throughout the year, but Robin Williams’ passing highlighted the hidden suffering that many with depression face. It was an absolute shock that such a talented and genuinely nice person (by accounts of those who personally knew him) suffered so silently.
Sadly, this moment of melancholy also reflected how the media treats this illness and those who have it in a very negative manner. Perhaps the greatest shame of this all was seeing that even in 2014, depression was still being misunderstood and misrepresented in the media and our culture. Although it’s been said before, I hope that Robin can now finally rest in peace.
1. Buggy Terrible Games Genre
To end my list on a lighter note, let’s make note of a new genre in video games. Over the past year, one type of game in particular rose in popularity like a shooting star. We live in an age where Triple A games are being released with plenty of bugs, and there have been some massive buggy releases in the form of Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed Unity – each title rightfully being panned by the gaming public until fixed. Almost as if in response to these types of problems, there are now developers making games that intentionally feature a host of bugs, making them a key game play mechanic – and these games are popular.
Goat Simulator is perhaps the biggest and most well known offender when it comes to this type of game, relying heavily on the humor of broken games. Without warning, your goat might suddenly glitch 200 feet in the air; or perhaps its tongue will lash about after licking a human, causing them to clip through walls or jiggle about across the screen. Goat Simulator kick-started a flurry of other terrible simulators, all of which have bugged out mechanics or an unfunny premise, yet still they sell better than polished and more substantial games.
The popularity of the genre could also be due to the recent fad of streaming awful games on sites such as Youtube and Twitch.tv, often getting high view counts and encouraging others to create the same or similar content. In my personal opinion, I think this whole “Bad game play is funny and sells games” approach is a step backwards for gaming as a whole, but I guess it’s alright as long as people get some enjoyment out of it.