THE BEST REASON TO GET A SECOND JOB AWARD
WINNER: DISNEY INFINITY 2.0: MARVEL SUPER HEROES (MULTI)
The new “toys-to-life” category that has emerged in this decade thanks to Activision’s Skylanders is not a genre to be taken lightly, and it’s even a greater force to be recokoned with now that Disney has entered the arena. We all knew that when the 1.0 edition was a success that Marvel would be just around the corner, something that came to fruition for better or worse, in 2014.
You can get by with the starter pack, that will set you back $74.99 even on the PS4/Xbox One, but in order to get absolutely everything, you’re better have been the best boy or girl on Santa’s wish list, gotten a second job, or scouted out the post-Christmas sales. The two additional playsets will set you back $40 a pop while each additional figure will cost you $15 a piece, another $135, and that’s only if you’re going for the Marvel figures. This is not counting the additional five figures that are on the way in early 2015 and the dozens of power discs that give each of your heroes additional costumes and power-ups.
Excessive? Totally, but the figures themselves are worth the cost of admission alone, even if you’re like me and felt an overall feeling of disappointment with the finished product.
THE “WE NEED TO STOP BUYING LICENSES” AWARD
Licensed games have come a long way since the days of NES, just look at things like the Lego games, the Batman “Arkham” series and late 2014 releases like Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and Alien: Isolation. All of the above mentioned games are examples of how you do licensed based games right, and the one of the major common elements among them is that neither are published by Activision.
I’ve already ragged on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 enough, but another travesty occurred later in the year when they commissioned Platinum Studios, the minds behind Bayonetta, to produce a game based upon the martial-arts heavy world of Nickelodeon’s The Legend of Korra, and then the game turned out bad. I have no idea how that happened, as the two should have melded together like peanut butter and jelly, yet the game sits at around 50% on Metacritic across all platforms it arrived on. I will admit I did very much like TMNT: Danger of the Ooze, but it was by no means perfect and it by no means made up for the two games that easily could have been sure-fire wins if Activision actually cared about anything more than lining their pockets.
I’d like to think that companies have evolved beyond the days of using a license to make a quick buck, though I am aware it still happens, but there’s just no reason for a company who popularized open-world Spider-Man games to release one of the worst ones yet, as well as destroy one the last best hope for an excellent Avatar: The Last Airbender game. Stick to Call of Duty and Skylanders and leave our cherished licenses alone, Activision.
THE WASTED POTENTIAL AWARD
WINNER: COSTUME SWAPPING IN THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2
Spider-Man has worn a lot of costumes and gone through a lot of iterations in his over fifty years of existence, as evidenced by a lot of his games where you can unlock and play in them. All of these only serve as a palette swaps or completion bonuses and have never really augmented his abilities within story until this year’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, easily one of my favorite parts about an otherwise terrible game.
Donning different outfits in TASM2 can turn the tide in your favor in a number of ways. Having trouble with the morality meter? Put on the Scarlet Spider outfit to increase your “coolness”. Need to beat that challenge room full of nothing but armed thugs? The Iron Spider is a great help for that. Unfortunately these ideas were implemented in a game that really was not ready to come out and rushed to stores to meet up with a movie that was near-universally disliked. Beenox has made some great Spider-Man games and should they continue as Activisin’s go-to Spidey development house, I really hope to see this really cool idea fully realized in a substantially better game.
THE STILL WAITING AWARD
WINNER: BATMAN: ARKHAM KNIGHT
Rocksteady and WB Games wowed the gaming world at large when they debuted the first trailer for what they’re stating is their final entry in the Batman “Arkham” series in Batman: Arkham Knight. That trailer promised that we would be seeing the game in late 2014 yet subsequent trailers painted a picture that perhaps the game would be missing that release date. After rumors from voice actor Kevin Conroy and Microsoft pegged the game at for a January/February 2015 window, the official release date was announced as June 2nd, 2015, over a half a year away from the proposed October 2014 release date.
Though it is maddening waiting for Batman: Arkham Knight to finally make its way to store shelves, I’m eternally grateful for WB Games for having the stones to delay it, especially in the face of games that came out this year before they were complete like Assassin’s Creed: Unity, the Halo: Master Chief Collection and Destiny.
BEST TRAILER AWARD
WINNER: BATMAN: ARKHAM KNIGHT DEBUT TRAILER
I was getting groceries when I received a text message from my friend that Rocksteady had officially unveiled Batman: Arkham Knight as a current generation exclusive and when I returned home to watch the game’s first trailer I had two things: 1) goosebumps and 2) a reason to pick up a PS4. While I was a huge fan of Batman: Arkham Origins, I was overcome with excitement to see what would come after the events of 2011’s Batman: Arkham City and the return of series creators Rocksteady games, doubly so when the Batmobile made its entrance. What more can I say than to see the above award.
HONORABLE MENTION: DISNEY INFINITY 2.0 DEBUT TRAILER
My wallet trembled in fear when the first Disney Infinity came out, as it knew that eventually there would be a Disney Infinity 2.0 that would separate him from the money he had come to grow attached to. In April of this year, my wallet was inconsolable. I do admit that I was of the minority who felt let down when they eventually got their hands on the second chapter of the Disney Infinity series, however my overall glee could not be calculated when I knew from a simple video that within a few months I would be able to buy Spider-Man, the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy in figure form and play with them in what was to be my first ever experience in this new genre of game.