Staff Picks: Best of 2014, by Game_Brains

First up to bat is Game_Brains, resident gaming and comics expert, not to mention game designer. Following is his post, describing everything he experienced in 2014's pop culture that he loved. Take it away!



Marvel Studios

Winter Soldier gave us a modern spy thriller that touched on relevant subjects about privacy and government control while also being one of the best action movies of 2014. Guardians of the Galaxy brought back fun and light heartedness back to Sci Fi. If you don´t like this movie I don´t think I can trust you.

Then after DC announced their full slate of movies Marvel was all like “Oh that's cute” and broke the Internet by releasing the full schedule of Phase 3 (see above) movies, including a confirmation of Civil War.


And then just when you where thinking “Paint me green and call me a pickle [Editor's Note: Wolf in a Gorilla Suit cannot be held accountable for Game_Brains' weird thoughts], those Marvel folks won't surprise me again until 2015”, BLAM Marvel used Agents of Shield as a platform to introduce Inhumans, a movie that won´t come out until 2018.

So yeah, Marvel was a big thing for me in 2014, and with Avengers 2, Ant Man, Agent Carter, more Agents of Shield, Daredevil and A.K.A. Jessica Jones coming in 2015, it will sure as hell be a big part of my coming year.

Child of Light



Goddamit, this game is flat out gorgeous. A coming of age fairy tale about a princess who saves her own ass (Kudos for that), this game is not only a feast for your eyes but it is also so much fun to play. Its well-polished combat system is easy to understand, and brings something new to the tried and proved turn based JRPG combat.

Also, did I tell you every line of dialogue rhymes? In the words of the developer “The game is intended to be a playable poem”.

Board Games

I have always loved videogames, but this year I joined a local board game meetup group and oh boy had I been missing out.

The social component is a big part of enjoying board games; seating around a table with some friends, cracking jokes and enjoying a game is a great way to spend your day, but board games also offer some the most elegant game design I have ever seen.

Some of my favorites this year where: Battlestar Galactica, Ticket to Ride, Twilight Imperium, Game of Thrones and Caverna.

2014 was the year when board games became a big part of my gaming life and if you are not playing them you are seriously missing out on some amazing gaming experiences.

Flarrow

MRW Oliver Queen on Flash.
What Marvel did on the big screen the CW is trying to do on TV and I´ll be damned if they are not getting it right.

Yeah, Batman and Superman are off limits to the CW but I don't think that's a bad thing, if Marvel had the rights for X-Men, Fantastic Four or Spider Man we might have never gotten Guardians of the Galaxy.

Heroes on the DCW Universe as of now are: Green Arrow, Flash, The Atom, Black Canary, Wild Cat, Arsenal and Firestorm. I can easily see this characters forming a B-Lister Justice League on TV for a yearly mega event or something like that and really, who doesn’t get super excited by a good old fashioned hero team up?

The CW is making a great job with these characters and hopefully they will keep at it. Hey CW, if you are reading this: please green light a Suicide Squad TV Series starring Diggle.

Towerfall: Ascension


Step 1: Call some friends.
Step 1b (Optional): Get drunk
Step 2: Play Towerfall: Ascension on PS4
Step 3: HAVE THE BEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE!

Seriously though, every single time I hang around with my friends we end up playing Towerfall: Ascension, a beautifully crafted battle game exclusive to the PS4. It is so easy to learn that even someone who has never played it can come around and kick our asses.

I can easily say that we have played more than 250 matches of this game and every single one is as exciting as the first one. This is due to some amazing game balancing and super simple controls.

This one brought me and my friends countless hours of enjoyment during 2014.

The Information


This book seriously rocked my world and the way I look at it. James Gleick takes us on a tour that starts with the invention of scripts and alphabets, explains how African Drums where one of the first example of coded communication, the importance of Information Theory on Biology, Communication and basically everything we do and are, anything I can say about this book will be an understatement.

Understanding Information theory is key to try and understand the world around us and on this time and age it is also key to understand the Human Condition. The Information by James Gleick is the best way to get your toe in the water, if your have the tiniest of interest in the world around you this is a must read.

Big Hero Six

Disney Executive No. 1: “Hey, have you heard about this guy Humberto Cervera? I heard he is a pretty cool guy”
Disney Executive No. 2: “Yeah, he is probably going to win a Nobel Prize in the future, we should make a movie aimed specifically at him”
Disney Executive No. 1: “He deserves it, hire a private eye to find out his favorite things in the world and then make a movie about that”

I like to think that was the process of greenlighting Big Hero Six because goddamit this movie has EVERYTHING I love: science, nerds as heroes, super heroes, cuddly marshmallow guy, beautiful animation, dem feels, everything! This movie literally has it.

I'm convinced they based this guy 100% on me.
[Editor's Note: Can confirm]
And I think the most important thing about this movie is that in 15 years there will be thousands of Engineers graduating all around the world because this movie taught them that science is cool.

Science

On that note, holy shit science made some awesome stuff on 2014.

We landed a robot on a comet thousands of miles away, DARPA funded EXACTO, a self-guiding sniper bullet, a double amputee received two mind controlled arms, the mind of a worm was uploaded to a Lego Robot, and the U.S. Navy deployed a GODDAMN LASER WEAPON, surgeons began using suspended animation, NASA e-mailed a wrench to the ISS (or rather, the bits of INFORMATION needed to build a wrench; seriously, read that book) and technologically assisted telepathy was demonstrated in humans.

Oh, and on Skynet Related news a Hong Kong VC firm appointed VITAL to its board of directors, who is VITAL you ask? JUST YOUR REGULAR ADVANCED ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE PROGRAMMED TO MAKE MONEY. Skynet Alert No. 2: Google Self -Driving Cars

WE ARE LIVING IN THE FUTURE AND I LOVE IT.

Far Cry 4


I will be honest with you guys, I haven´t finished this game; I have only played like five campaign missions. That said I, have logged around 12 hours of gameplay, what have I been doing for that long? BEING THE GODDAMN BATMAN.

I am role-playing this game as “The Ghost of Kyrat”: Play on hard, only use arrows, throwing knifes and takedowns and no health upgrades. Basically, the moment an enemy detects you YOU ARE DEAD.

I've been liberating outposts for the past 12 hours playing like this and goddamn this is fun. Playing this game I'm feeling what I felt while playing Skyrim, the main difference is that my success depends mostly on my skill and not on the game crunching numbers on the background to define if I was successful and THAT MAKES IT WAY MORE AWESOME.

While not exactly a role playing game, Far Cry 4 gives you the possibility to play it however you want to do it, this one would be my game of the year if not for Agent Awesome which is THE BEST GAME IN THE UNIVERSE.

Batman Comics


I have always been a big Batman fan, but mostly by consuming media like the movies or the animated series and also reading character studies like Batman and Psychology, Becoming Batman, Philosophy From the Batcave and such but it wasn't until this year that I got serious about reading those comics and I was surprised by the amazing storytelling contained in them.

This year favorites are: Batman Hush, Joker by Brian Azarello, The Long Halloween, Killing Joke and Arkham Asylum.

Every one of them is also a character study, from the way they draw the characters to the stories contained on the comic books, they always taught me something new about the character and helped me get a better understanding of why I admire him so much. Batman has always been a role model for me and reading those comics surely helped me understand him in a deeper way, I´m looking forward to reading more in 2015.

That was it ladies and gentleman, to find out what I´ll be enjoying in 2015 on real time follow me on Twitter. Your friendly neighborhood Game Brains, signing off!


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About The Damn Beast

Pre-op trans-minotaur, sci-fi/fantasy/horror author, metal singer, videogame journalist, pop culture blogger. I also lift heavy things and put them down again repeatedly to occupy more space.
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