The PSGamer Game Of The Year Awards 2014

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2014 has been a fascinating year for gamers and the gaming industry. In a year when a new generation of gaming consoles has started to get in to its stride, we have had the pleasure of playing a plethora of new and unique experiences from AAA mega-studios to bedroom developers. It has been a year when graphical prowess has been matched by story telling and design ingenuity to produce some of the best looking, most engrossing, most enjoyable and awe inspiring games ever made. There has been hardly a week go by that there has not been a newly formed and often genre defying or defining experience to delve into.

It is a testament to the game developers who released a game in 2014 as to how hard it was to decide on a short list of games for each of the PSGamer Game of The Year Award categories and how incredibly difficult it was to agree upon a winner. The PSGamer team has argued, bickered and butted heads over who they think deserved to receive each award because of the sheer quality and diversity that has been on show throughout the past year. Finally, after weeks of discussion, we are proud to introduce the inaugural PSGamer Game of The Year Awards.

The PSGamer Game of The Year Awards 2014 are broken down into 12 categories which are listed below;

To be eligible for a PSGamer Game of The Year Award, a game had to fulfil a few simple criteria. Firstly, it had to have been released between December 1st 2013 and the 30th of November 2014 – this is the 2014 awards after all. With PSGamer being a PlayStation-centric site, the game had to have been released on the PS3, PS4 or PSVita between those dates too. Also, In a year where the lines between genres has become even more blurred, we took the decision that a game could win only one of these awards and it would be the award that best suited the games defining features. This was to avoid a single game dominating the awards and to give all games a chance to shine in its own genre. It is also worth noting that we chose not to consider those HD re-releases and remasters that only incorporated graphical upgrades (with no changes to the game play).

So, without further ado, please allow me to introduce the winners of the PSGamer Game of The Year Award 2014.
Next: Shooter of the Year 2014.

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The Swapper (PS3/PS4/PSVita) Review ~ No more cloning around

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After causing quite a stir on the PC, The Swapper has found its way onto Playstation platforms but is this one clone too many or have Curve worked their porting magic once again?

The Swapper is the story of an un-named astronaut who finds themselves stranded on the un-inhabited space ship Theseus. Once there you stumble across a prototype of a scientific experiment called The Swapper, which is capable of firstly creating clones of yourself and secondly, swapping your consciousness into one of those clones. This device helps you navigate the Theseus and as you progress, you discover that you are not alone on you vessel and start to unravel the mystery of what happened to the missing crew.

Broken down into its component parts, The Swapper is a collection of mind bending puzzles strung together by a web of corridors and a smattering of story segments – but the puzzles are what shine through in The Swapper. These puzzles utilise the games unique game play mechanics to produce some of the most challenging puzzles I have ever come across in all of my time playing games. Every puzzle in the game requires you to create clones to solve them. You can create a clone by shining The Swapper in any direction as long as it is within eye sight and not inside a wall. Once you have created a clone, this clone will do what ever you do with the controller. Move forward and the clone moves forward. Jump and the clone jumps with you. You can have up to 4 clones created at any one time and they all mirror your movement. The second aspect of the puzzles is actually swapping your consciousness from one clone to the next. This allows you reach different areas with The Swapper device because the one thing that the clones do not copy is the production of other clones. Sounds complex? At first it is but soon you are freezing time in mid-air and creating another “you” and swapping to them without even thinking. Of course, the puzzles don’t just stop there. Certain types of light prevent The Swapper from doing its job. Any area with blue light will prevent the creation of a clone in that area. Red light stops you transferring yourself into a clone. Purple light stops you doing everything with The Swapper. Finding the correct switches in the right order in order to turn these lights on and off is easier said than done.

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The Swapper is devilishly difficult – so much so that I have slatted my controller down in frustration more than once while playing it then sheepishly picked it back up and tried again and I am ashamed to say that I had to refer to a guide to solve 2 of the later puzzles in order to complete this review. The fascinating thing about the puzzles in The Swapper is that the answer is always staring you in the face and, either through perseverance, blind luck or a sudden brain wave, can eventually be found. The game is full of “Wow. How did I not see that before?” moments as the resolution to a sticking point pears through 10 repetitive failures and you come to realise how brilliantly designed these puzzles are. Everything is planned to perfection and will really put those brain cells to work.

One of the most interesting aspects of The Swapper is getting used to the fact that any of the 4 clones are actually you. Numerous times while playing I have struggled to solve a puzzle because I was so hung up on keeping my original version of myself alive. It is quite a unique aspect of The Swapper, killing off yourself in order to create another version of yourself and plays into the games surreal story line perfectly.

As you progress through the Theseus you start to unravel the mystery of The Watchers – strange, rock-like alien beings that the crew discovered while surveying a planet and bought back on-board. The story line of The Swapper is told through conversations with a mysterious and thoroughly confusing figure which is also travelling around the ship but is always just out of reach and small snippets into the minds of The Watchers which is revealed when you walk past them. Without spoiling the storyline too much, the game has an intelligent and insightful plot revolving around the existence of the soul and brings up some really thought provoking points – although it is not too heavy and those not after some deep insight can come for the puzzles alone.

The Swapper is beautiful on the PS4, the hand crafted environments making the Theseus come to life. The lighting effects are superb and the general atmosphere of spooky, abandoned sci-fi world is pieced together and complemented by a sound track which mirrors the game world perfectly.

My only complaint is that The Swapper is obviously a PC game and was not designed for consoles. Even though Curve have done a good job of bringing the overall experience to the PS4, PS3 and PSVita, the controls feel a little sluggish and the puzzles feel like they were plainly designed for a mouse and keyboard. This is most noticable during the zero gravity sections and firing The Swapper is the only way to propel yourself around. This feels awkward and you can fly off in random directions because changing the angle and direction of your shot is slow. Thankfully, this does not detract from the overall experience if you have not played the PC version before.

The Swapper is sublime. It contains some of the best puzzles I have ever come across in 14 years of gaming. They are challenging and you will most probably slap yourself, repeatedly, when something that has you stumped finally falls into place. It is a very rewarding game with a thought provoking plot and is an example for all side-scrolling puzzle platformers in terms of puzzle design and atmosphere. The game was obviously designed for a PC control scheme but Curve have done an admirable job of mapping the game to the PlayStations controllers. If you are looking for something which will test the old grey matter, The Swapper is a must-buy. You will not be disappointed.

Developers: Facepalm Games and Curve Studios
Publishers: Facepalm Games

The Swapper is available now on the PS4, PS3, PSVita and PC via Steam.

Find out how The Swapper shapes up against the other games that we have reviewed by visiting the PSGamer Review Leader Board.

The 40 PS4 Exclusives That Are Still To Come In 2014

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In the wake of E3 2014 there is a general murmuring of concern about Sony’s presentation, in particular, the lack of titles that they showed on stage that would be arriving in 2014. The vast majority of titles that took to the stage along side Andrew House and Adam Boyles would not be seeing the light of day this year. As amazing as 2015 is shaping up to be, the Sony faithful were beginning to worry what they would be getting to play for the rest of 2014. Admittedly, Sony didn’t do the best job of advertising the plethora of Playstation exclusives that were arriving during the rest of the year – so we thought we would do it for them with this list of 40 PS4 exclusives (platform, console or timed) you can play in 2014.

Moto GP 14

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The Moto GP series has been through peaks and toughs of varying quality over the years, with a successful simulator followed by an arcade mess the year after, but Moto GP 14 on the PS4 looks set to introduce almost photorealistic graphics and is going back to basics with fast paced, skilful racing at its core. Moto GP 14 will be released on June 20th and is a Playstation exclusive.

The Last of Us Remastered

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The “Citizen Kane” of gaming is getting another day in the spotlight. Naughty Dog’s “other masterpiece”, The Last of Us, is getting re-released with updated graphics which will make the most of the power under the hood of the PS4. The development team are trying to push it past 60 fps, which in and of itself is an amazing feat based on the PS4 hardware, but when it looks as beautiful as it does, it’s a breathtaking achievement. The Last of Us Remastered is releasing on the PS4 on July 29th.

Jamestown Plus

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Jamestown won awards and admiration when it released on the PC. Now the Mars based 4-player shoot-’em-up is gearing up towards an exclusive release on the PS4 with new ships, levels, story chapters and a reworked soundtrack. Look out for Jamestown Plus in the summer.

The Swapper

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Puzzle games don’t get much better than The Swapper. The game challenges you to create clones of yourself in order to solve increasingly more difficult puzzles in an atmospheric space setting. The Swapper will definitely challenge your grey matter and will have your scratching your head in bemusement when it releases in a few weeks on the PSN.

Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds Overdrive

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If there is one thing that the PS4 is missing right now it is a 2D side scrolling beat-em-up but Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds Overdrive is soon going to fill that gap. The game has a brutally cute art style allowing upto 4 players to team up and take down suited villains. Look out for this PS4 exclusive later this year when it lands on PSN.

Deep Down

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Deep Down was one of the first PS4 games the world ever laid its eyes on and it certainly whet the appetite. The free-to-play dungeon crawler was aiming to release along side the PS4 in Japan but missed its target but is still scheduled to release in 2014 as a PS4 exclusive.

N++

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The sequel to N+, N++ is set to bring fast-paced action-puzzle platforming to the PS4 later this year. Set in the distant future, you play as a ninja tasked with collecting gold and taking down nefarious robot enemies. N++ comes complete with co-op and multiplayer modes and will be releasing as a PS4 exclusive later this year.

Loadout

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Loadout has already attracted 3 million users on Steam but will soon be bringing its own unique blend of cartoony fire fights to the PS4 as a free-to-play console exclusive. The game focuses on Team Fortress-esque frantic multiplayer action with as much character customisation as you can possibly ever need. Loadout is set to hit the Playstation 4 later this year.

Axiom Verge

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You wake after a fatal accident in a mysterious, ancient but technologically advanced world. You have no idea where you are or how you got there. This is the premise that Axiom Verge is built around, focusing on exploration of this new world and its inhabitants. Originally set for a Xbox 360 and PC release, Tom Happ is now bringing Axiom Verge exclusively to the PS4 in 2014 with a Windows PC release to follow.

H1Z1

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The deffinately-not-a-DayZ-clone H1Z1 is Sony Online Entertainment’s attempt to break into the sandbox zombie survival genre and the initial reactions have been positive. The free-to-play game is not too far away from an early-access release on PC and the developers are confident it will arrive on the PS4 by the end of the year.

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