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Staff Picks 2014: Dan Hook

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As our picks for 2014 continue, video production demigod Dan Hook looks back at his top picks for last year. There’s only room for five on his list, but what a list it is.

SPOILER WARNING: We’ll try not to give too much away but, when necessary, there may be spoilers for the games below.

Here’s Dan’s top five:

5. Game of Thrones Episode 1: Iron from Ice

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I had heard much of these Telltale games, with story being at their centre, and the player making their own story-changing decisions. I love the Ice and Fire series so I decided to jump in. Man, you’d never think you’d feel so much for your characters. You do. It reminded me of Heavy Rain, where what happens to your characters is directly down to you. When something good happened, you knew you’d made a good choice… but when things turn sour a sense of regret and guilt appears. I enjoyed the fact it had been set at a time all GoT watchers would be familiar with, too, and once again I was pulled into the world of Ice and Fire.

4. OlliOlli

OO GOTY

On first look of the game I had thought, “Huh, doesn’t seem too difficult,” and oh how I was wrong. The game has brought my blood boiling many times due to the amount of skill and luck involved in completing some of the tasks it sets you. The feeling of achieving them, though, brought relief and joy, forgetting the many times I had almost thrown my controller into my screen. A simple looking game, yes, but it dragged me in for hours and kept me coming back for more. You’d get so close to finishing a trick or level, just to fall off and lose it all. “Just one last go and then I’ll give up.” If only it were that easy.

3. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

COD GOTY

It’s been a few years since I bothered picking up a Call of Duty title, but with the reviews and recommendations on this one being so positive, I thought it was about time I jumped back into it. The game looked visually impressive and the story (though predictable) was fun to play through, especially with the new exoskeleton abilities. Online was as fun as I remembered it being and probably the main reason it’s in my list. It felt fresh and new to me, though that could be the years I have had not playing the games.

2. Grand Theft Auto V (PS4)

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Okay, so yes the game wasn’t totally new to 2014, but we all know how the next-gen version of the game brought along something Rockstar had never done before: first person. The reason this sits on my list of top five games of the year is because I have experienced what seems to be almost an entirely different game with the mode. It adds more realism when playing, and is a game I come back to time after time. Rockstar’s consistent online updates keep it fresh, too, and with heists around the corner there is no doubt I’ll be playing it all through 2015. It fills my gap for a driving game too – something I was in need of due to The Crew beta being a boring experience. And Driveclub… well I’m still waiting on that one.

1. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

SOM GOTY

The reason I’ve picked this game to be my GOTY is due to my love of the Tolkien universe. The story for the most part is enjoyable and engaging, with a satisfying ability tree that enhances powers for both Talion and your wraith. The Nemesis System gives the captains and warchiefs their own look, feel and character, making them seem life-like. The fact that captains gain strength if they kill you makes dying all that more real. There’s a never-ending amount of different interactions to be had with the game, with customised dialogue and endless methods of killing uruks and orcs. The game mechanics when fighting and climbing are fluid and easy enough to get used to, overall making this game top of my list.

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