GameFront’s Holiday Gift Guide 2014: Video Games

Table of Contents

The easiest gift for any gamer: Video Games. But which games? With so many titles released every year, wading through them all can be tough, especially if you don’t follow them closely. This list is some of our favorites from 2014. While it’s certainly not possible to list every game for every player, this mix of genres and styles should help please the many different people on your shopping list.


Shovel Knight


Price: $14.99
Buy It On: PC, Wii-U, 3DS
Buy It For: Children, adults with fond memories of the NES era of video games, fans of 2D platformers.
Buy It From: Steam, Nintendo E-Shop
Publisher: Yacht Club Games
Developer: Yacht Club Games
Genre: 2D Platformer
ESRB: E
Release Date: 6/26/2014
Read our Review: Shovel Knight Review
Recommended by: Mitchell Saltzman

If you have any fond memories of the NES era, then you owe it yourself to give Shovel Knight a shot. Developed by Yacht Club Games, Shovel Knight is a heartfelt love letter to the 8-bit era, with gameplay that feels like a mash up of Mega-Man, Ninja Gaiden, Kirby’s Adventure, and Duck Tales all rolled into one. It’s a 2D platformer where players take control of the titular Shovel Knight as he sets off on an adventure to save his beloved. The adventure will take you through a series of spectacularly designed levels, each punctuated by a boss fight against that level’s master, so to speak. Shovel Knight also deserves a spot on any holiday list because it’s simply a great value. At $15, Shovel Knight costs less than half the price of a full priced AAA title, and it’s a better game than most of them too.


Dark Souls 2


Price: $39.99
Buy It On: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Buy It For: Action/RPG fans, adult gamers looking for a challenge, and fans of From Software’s previous Souls games: Demon’s and Dark Souls.
Buy It From: Steam, Amazon
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: From Software
Genre: Action / RPG
ESRB: M
Release Date: 4/24/2014
Read our Review: Dark Souls Review
Recommended by: Mitchell Saltzman

I’ll be the first to admit that Dark Souls 2 isn’t for everybody. If the thought of dying repeatedly on a boss — and each time having to trek sometimes more than five minutes back to where the boss was just to get another chance — if that thought makes you want to bash your head against a hard object, or a hard object against your head, you might want to pass on Dark Souls 2. However, if you are the sort who enjoys a challenge, enjoys a deep and immensely rewarding combat system, and gets excited at thought of danger lurking around every corner, then you’d be hard pressed to find a better game to play through the holidays than Dark Souls 2. Once you’re through with the main game, which will take you around 40-50 hours by itself, consider checking out all three of the stellar DLCs which add even more challenge and greater rewards than what was found in the regular game.


Fantasia: Music Evolved


Price: $49.99
Buy It On: Xbox One, Xbox 360
Buy It For: Disney fans, music lovers, social gamers, Harmonix fans, those looking for a good game to play on Kinect
Buy It From: Amazon
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
Developer: Harmonix
Genre: Rhythm
ESRB: E10+
Release Date: 10/21/2014
Watch us Play: Mitch and Janelle Play Fantasia at SDCC 2014
Recommended by: Mitchell Saltzman

With virtually no worthwhile Xbox One titles that extensively make use of the Kinect as a core gameplay feature, it’s once again up to Harmonix to prove that the device is more than just a nifty way to log yourself in or use voice activated commands to navigate the UI. Enter Fantasia: Music Evolve, a rhythm game loosely based on the classic Disney movie from the 1940s, that challenges players to essentially become conductors and wave their arms in accordance with on-screen cues to the beat of the song. In addition to just following what the game tells you to do though, there are also opportunities to inject your own creativity into each song by switching between the original version of a song and two remixes. Imagine a classical song like Dvorak’s “Symphony No. 9: From the New World, 4th Movement” turned into a chiptune song that sounds like the most epic JRPG boss battle theme you’ve ever heard in your life. Combine that with two player competitive and coop modes as well as a party play option that unlocks all of the songs right from the start and you have a surefire holiday party hit for friends and family.


Defense Grid 2


Price: $24.99
Buy It On: PC, Xbox 360
Buy It For: Real-time strategy gamers who love everything tower defense.
Buy It From: Steam, PSN, Xbox Live
Publisher: Aspyr Media
Developer: Hidden Path Entertainment
Genre: Tower Defense
ESRB: E10+
Release Date: 9/23/2014
Read our Review: Defense Grid 2 Review
Recommended by: Janelle Bonanno

This holiday season, it’s time to get your favorite co-op buddy and you around the computer, and the reason is Defense Grid 2. At its core, Defense Grid 2 is your standard tower defense game that manages to get everything right and almost nothing wrong. It offers levels of complexity that provides gameplay value above and beyond other entries in the genre. Add to it a level editor, community map sharing and thousands of leaderboards, and you have unlimited hours of gameplay to look forward to. Defense Grid 2 is a must-have for that lover of tower defense on your holiday gift list.


Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel


Price: $24.99
Buy It On: PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360
Buy It For: People who love funny games, who like shooters, or who just want to go to the moon
Buy It From: Steam, Amazon
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: 2K Australia / Gearbox Software
Genre: FPS, RPG
ESRB: M
Release Date: 10/14/2014
Read our Review: Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Review
Recommended by: Ron Whitaker

Set between the first two games, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel features the same awesome gameplay as Borderlands 2, except that now you’re going to the moon. 2K Australia adds in low-gravity maneuvering and boost jumping, along with new cryo and laser weapons. What they didn’t do was mess with the formula, and that means that if you have a gamer on your list who was a Borderlands 2 fan, they’ll like The Pre-Sequel.

As usual, Gearbox and 2K Australia are teaming up to roll out a large amount of DLC, so even though the game launched in October, there’s plenty of new content on the horizon for The Pre-Sequel. So, if you’re picking up the game, you should throw in the Season Pass as well to give your favorite gamer all the content they can handle.


Dragon Age: Inquisition


Price: $59.99
Buy It On: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Buy It For: RPG fans, Dragon Age fans, and anyone who wants to live through Game of Thrones
Buy It From: Origin, Amazon
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Bioware
Genre: RPG
ESRB: M
Release Date: 11/18/2014
Read our Review: Dragon Age: Inquisition Review
Recommended by: Ron Whitaker

Dragon Age: Inquisition represents Bioware’s return to making a stellar RPG. It’s huge and expansive, and rewards players of all types, whether you like combat, exploration, or story. There’s a ton on offer here, with a single playthrough offering over 70 hours of content. Fans of the series will find plenty of familiar faces and places in the beautiful, well fleshed-out world. If you’ve got the PC horsepower to run it maxed out, you’ll find one of the best looking games of the year.

The tactical combat camera from Dragon Age: Origins is back, and a robust crafting system rewards your efforts with some nice gear. Additionally, there’s a co-op multiplayer mode that lets you check out Dragon Age with your friends. If there’s an RPG fan on your list, they should be playing Dragon Age: Inquisition.


Wolfenstein: The New Order


Price: $59.99
Buy It On: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Buy It For: Shooter fans, and anyone who likes shooting Nazis
Buy It From: Steam, Amazon
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Machine Games
Genre: FPS
ESRB: M
Release Date: 5/19/2014
Read our Review: Wolfenstein: The New Order Review: Best of the Old Order
Recommended by: Phil Hornshaw

Shooters have come a long way since Wolfenstein 3D first graced computer screens way back in 1992, and in revisiting the franchise this year, developer MachineGames took a lot of lessons to heart from titles of all stripes that have come between. Wolfenstein: The New Order is a shooter that gives players a lot of freedom — at its core, it’s a Nazi-shooting romp, but just how you take down a high-tech superpowered Third Reich is largely up to you. Whether you use sneaky tactics and knives to jugulars or double-fist shotguns and charge through the front door, there’s something for every shooter fan in this package. It’s also gorgeous on new-gen consoles and isn’t bogged down with any of the ubiquitous multiplayer nonsense that’s often shoehorned in with modern games — perfect for the reclusive alternate history nut and FPS buff.


Halo: The Master Chief Collection


Price: $59.99
Buy It On: Xbox One
Buy It For: Halo fans, duh; and those Xbox One owners who for some reason never played the Halo games back in the day
Buy It From: Xbox Live, Amazon
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: 343 Industries, Bungie
Genre: FPS
ESRB: M
Release Date: 11/11/2014
Check out a Video Comparison: Halo: The Master Chief Collection – Halo 2 Anniversary vs Halo 2 Cinematic Side-by-Side Comparison
Recommended by: Mitchell Saltzman

First off, let’s address the elephant in the room: There’s a big problem with Master Chief Collection right now. The matchmaking for online multiplayer is still awful, and it seems like every attempt made to fix it, just makes things worse. This recommendation comes with the assumption that 343 will eventually get their stuff together and fix the problems that are plaguing the online multiplayer portions of the game. That being said, there’s still too much value in the single player campaigns alone to just completely ignore the Master Chief Collection. $60 gets you the entirety of Halo’s 1 through four, with Halo 1 and 2 featuring incredible remasters that totally revamp the graphics, sound, control options, and more. Halo 2 in particular is absolutely stunning, especially the work done by the motion capture team at Blur Cinematics, who managed to take the cutscenes of a 10 year old Xbox game, and turn them into some of the most amazing cinematics of the year. Once the matchmaking is fixed, and one has to assume that it eventually will be, the value of Master Chief Collection is unparalleled, especially if you haven’t yet experienced one of the most influential console shooter franchises in gaming history.


Wii-U


Price: $349.99
Buy It For: Children, gamers who love local multiplayer, Nintendo fans, budget shoppers
Buy It From: Amazon
Release Date: 11/18/2012
Recommended by: Mitchell Saltzman

All right, ladies and gentlemen. It’s finally time. Two years after launching, it’s finally ok to buy a Wii-U and not feel like you picked the losing horse in a race. 2014 has been a huge year for the Wii-U, with several of the best games of the year releasing for Nintendo’s not-quite-next-gen console. Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze is one of the best 2D platformers you’ll play all year and it’s made even better once you add in a second play for some chaotic coop fun. Bayonetta 2 not only one of the greatest action games of all time, but it also includes Bayonetta 1 and jam packs both games with tons of awesome Nintendo costumes and other unlockables to sweeten an already amazing deal. Mario Kart 8 is a huge improvement over its immediate predecessors and is easily one of the best in the series, featuring smooth online play, a wealth of fantastic tracks both new and old, and the same beloved Mario Kart formula, but for the first time in HD and at 60 FPS. And then finally you have the console version of the ultimate four player party fighting game: Super Smash Brothers for the Wii-U. Add on to that the handful of great games that came out prior to 2014, such as Super Mario 3D World, The Wonderful 101, Pikmin 3, and New Super Mario Brothers U, and you’ve got a fairly respectable library of great games, especially if you’re a fan of local multiplayer.


Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor


Price: $49.99
Buy It On: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Buy It For: Lord of the Rings fans, anyone who liked the combat in the Batman: Arkham series
Buy It From: Steam, Amazon
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: 343 Industries, Bungie
Genre: Action / RPG
ESRB: M
Release Date: 9/30/2014
Read our Review: Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor Review
Recommended by: Ron Whitaker

If you’ve got a Lord of the Rings fan on your gift list, there’s a lot to like to Shadow of Mordor. Combat is enjoyable, the lore is interesting (and optional for those who aren’t into it), and roaming around Middle-Earth is a blast, especially when you get your hands on one of the game’s non-standard mounts. There’s just something inherently fun about riding atop a 30-foot-tall monster as it smashes orcs. Even better, once you’ve played through the entire story, you can continue to roam Mordor, dealing out death and judgment at the end of a glowing sword. The Nemesis System makes every playthrough unique, and allows you to turn Sauron’s orcs against themselves. Building an orc army is a very rewarding experience.

Shadow of Mordor may not hew exactly to Tolkien’s lore, but it’s certainly close enough for the vast majority of folks. More importantly, it’s a fun game that lets you experience The Lord of the Rings regardless of how much knowledge you have of the world coming in. Great combat and an amazing setting round out one of the best Lord of the Rings titles in years.


Wasteland 2


Price: $39.99
Buy It On: PC
Buy It For: Adult Gamers who enjoy punishingly difficult turn based tactical RPGs
Buy It From: The inXile Store, Steam
Publisher: inXile Entertainment
Developer: inXile Entertainment, Obsidian Entertainment
Genre: RPG
ESRB: M
Release Date: 9/19/2014
Read our Review: Wasteland 2 Review
Recommended by: James Heaney

Wasteland 2 is not for everyone, but if you are a fan of tactical turn based RPG’s, you won’t get more bang for your buck than here. The character creation has serious depth, allowing you to invest skill points in meaningful ways that drastically change the unfolding of the adventure in front of you. Combat is difficult but rewarding. The player has a designated amount of action points for each of their turns that may be used to move, attack, reload a weapon, or ambush. They can even save some points for their next turn. There are choices made in the campaign that have weight, changing the state of the world as you progress through it and allowing for a deep immersive feel as you fall deep into the 80+ hours of gameplay. I personally have taken this single player game and played with a friend, as we designated characters for each of us. Surprisingly, this made Wasteland 2 one of my favorite titles to sit an play with a buddy. That may sound odd, but I have had a lot of fun doing it.





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1 Comment on GameFront’s Holiday Gift Guide 2014: Video Games

zed888

On November 25, 2014 at 10:34 pm

Nice to see Wasteland 2 on the list. GOTY for me, no joke.