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Lucas' Top Three Games of 2014

3. Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo Wii U

Since I’ve never owned a Nintendo system that housed a Super Smash Bros. title, I’ve never been a huge fan of the series. Thanks to a few friends with Wii Us however I quickly became a raving fan of Smash Bros. after its release last month.

The enormous roster guarantees that I’ll have new ways to play for months to come as I haven’t even tried every character yet. 8-player smash is the most hectic multiplayer mode I’ve played since ground war in Call of Duty 4, and makes for some chaotically competitive matches.

What makes Smash Bros. stand out to me though is the simple fact that it excels at an area that so few games do nowadays: same-screen multiplayer. I will never play the game by myself, but as long as I have at least one friend to play with, Smash Bros. can provide endless entertainment.

2. Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare

Even though it was released back in February, Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare didn’t come to my attention until EA recently offered the PlayStation 4 version for free. During a year filled with serious-toned shooters set in modern military conflicts and sci fi space adventures, Garden Warfare stands out from the competition with its goofy characters and light-hearted atmosphere.

For a series that is rooted in the tower defense genre, Garden Warfare does a surprisingly great job at executing the finer points of a competitive third person shooter. Character classes are well-balanced, the game modes are diverse, and every map is configured to offer advantages to both teams.

Underneath the kid-friendly aesthetics though is the best competitive shooter of this year. The class-based multiplayer offers an unexpectedly large amount of diversity. The dozens of characters available to unlock, along with the loads of customization options ensure that there are plenty of goodies to get for hours on end.

With so many offerings in this non-traditional multiplayer shooter, Garden Warfare manages to stand above the competition and provide a more quality experience than even the biggest AAA shooters of this fall.

1. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

With its intricate nemesis system and finely tuned combat, I’ve been playing Shadow of Mordor regularly since it was released. When compared to all the titles released in the last year, it stands out as the vanguard title for new generation systems.

Even though I feel as if I’ve nearly mastered the game’s combat, there are still instances where I become overrun by orcs and their captains manage to kill me. The challenge provided by this never-ending supply of deadly captains, along with the Trials of War, adds a type of replayability that I’ve never experienced before.

The story of Talion fell short of capturing my attention, but after hours of hacking and slashing my way through the ranks of the armies of Mordor I couldn’t really care less. The seamless blend of stealth, archery, and sword combat makes for one of the best third-person action games I’ve ever played, and Shadow of Mordor is without a doubt my game of the year.
Lucas Schmidt is the Assistant Editor in Chief for BYTE