The top 10 video games of 2014:
1. “Dragon Age: Inquisition” (BioWare, for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC): BioWare’s overstuffed role-playing epic has everything you could want in a fantasy saga: war, magic, exploration, romance and, yes, dragons. I’ve spent 200 hours in its lush, frightening world and there are still huge areas I’ve barely visited. I can’t wait to get back.
2. “Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft” (Blizzard Entertainment, for PC, iOS and Android): Blizzard Entertainment, masters of massively multiplayer online worlds, scaled down with this delightful collectible card game. It’s simple enough for any newcomer to enjoy, but you’ll want to spend hours tinkering with your deck. Each card is so beautifully detailed that you can almost see the monsters within coming to life.
3. “Valiant Hearts: The Great War” (Ubisoft Montpellier, for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, iOS and Android): This stirring war drama tells the story of a European family torn apart by World War I and the brave dog that helps them. There are no rah-rah heroics, just the humble efforts of some ordinary people trying to survive a horrific calamity. The ending is one of the most heartrending moments in game history.
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4. “South Park: The Stick of Truth” (Obsidian Entertainment, for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC): From the sublime to the ridiculous, as Cartman and friends defend their town from aliens, Nazi zombies and Al Gore, “Stick of Truth” goes way beyond your typical licensed-game fan service, delivering a terrific role-playing game that doubles as a savvy parody of the genre’s cliches.
5. “Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor” (Monolith Productions, for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC): In Monolith Productions’ brilliant take on J.R.R. Tolkien, you must challenge a series of orc warlords before going toe-to-toe with their evil boss. The result rewards a smart strategic approach as much as skillful swordplay, and it’s utterly unique.
6. “Monument Valley” (Ustwo, for iOS and Android): Each of the three-dimensional landscapes here looks like an M.C. Escher drawing, with paths and staircases that seem impossible to traverse. To find the exit, you need to change perspective and rotate parts of the structure. A haunting soundtrack hints at mysteries that may never be solved.
7. “Wolfenstein: The New Order” (MachineGames, for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC): We got a bunch of new first-person shooters in 2014, but the freshest was this revival from Sweden’s MachineGames. Set in an alternate Europe where the Nazis won, it’s an expertly paced thriller with a cast of resistance fighters that I found myself caring about.
8. “Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker” (Nintendo, for Wii U): Nintendo’s Wii U console finally found its mojo with several big multiplayer games, but I preferred this low-profile puzzler starring one of the company’s most endearing bench players. Its 3D mazes are first-rate, and you’ll want to spend hours exploring every nook and cranny.
9. “Far Cry 4” (Ubisoft Montreal, for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC): Ubisoft has become the king of sprawling, open-world action games. “Far Cry 4” is the best of this year’s batch. The new Himalayan setting offers not just breathtaking scenery but also the opportunity for all kinds of high-altitude high jinks. The chance to mow down your enemies while riding a rampaging elephant is worth the price of admission.
10. “Threes!” (Sirvo, for iOS, Android and Xbox One): A small studio named Sirvo launched this elegant $3 math game early this year – and then promptly got ripped off by a wave of free copycats. Fork over the cash for the original, whose smart design turns a simple premise into an enthralling, infuriating instant classic.