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Best Video Game Levels Of 2014

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We could have done a "Best video games of 2014" compilation, but we figured the collection of games around your TV is the only list you really care about. Instead, we've dug into some of the best titles of the year to uncover their finest moments - those rare occasions when design, story and gameplay all unite in a sequence of video game magic. 

The only titles we've purposefully overlooked are the many shiny reissues of the past 12 months - we figure they don't deserve two bites of the cherry. If we've left out one of your favourites please do let us know in the comments. 

From nerve jangling boss fights to sumptuous driving courses, these are the levels we were most entertained by in 2014. 


Mario Kart 8 - Mount Wario

Best bit: The music

From the catchy theme tune to the challenging three-part structure, if you're looking for one reason to play Mario Kart 8, it's the mountain descent of Mount Wario (well, that and the death stare of Luigi).

The final race of the Star Cup, Mount Wario is the perfect blend of reaction-testing challenges and vehicular silliness: it shows off the best of what makes Mario Kart one of the finest franchises ever made. Anti-gravity twists, glider slaloms, expanses of booster combinations - it offers a multiplayer experience you can lose an entire evening to. 


Alien: Isolation - Outbreak

Best bit: Goo-dripping air vents

Much like Ridley Scott's classic of 1979, the pacing of Alien: Isolation is key to its terror. Just when you think you've broken through the tension of the game's early sequences, tooling yourself with a variety of gadgets and weapons, the Outbreak mission proceeds to slam your nerves against your living room wall like a synthetic with murderous intent.

Every surface of the space station's medical centre looks specially made for hiding a lethal xenomorph - any loud noises attracting the titular monster in a matter of seconds. After a particularly nerve-jangling cutscene, you're faced with the terrifying prospect of the Alien hiding in air ducts, goo dripping from the air vents it haunts. Not one to play with the lights turned off (unless you're into that kind of thing, you weirdo).  


Destiny - The Sword Of Crota

Best bit: The sword

An MMO, RPG, FPS, disappointment, game of the year - Bungie's latest title hard to pin down. But just when we thought we'd got Destiny sussed, a mission into the depths of the Moon gave us pause for thought.

The Sword Of Crota (momentarily) interrupted the run-here-push-that-run-there tedium of missions to give players the chance to feel like a death-wielding god. Armed with the infinitely powerful alien blade, the waves of Hive scum were no longer feared, but welcomed with open, sword-carrying arms. Having finished the level, there's not a loot cave in all of Russia that can give you the same kick of joy as that damn foil. Yes, it randomly appears in various places thanks to a new update, but it's just not quite the same as that first, brilliant encounter. More swords please, Bungie. 


Bayonetta 2 - Lumen Sage battle

Best bit: The monsters

Remember when boss battles were all that you played video games for? All that running and dodging, knowing you were inching your way toward a spectacular battle with a foe so vast and deadly it would make all those double jumps worth the effort?

Bayonetta 2 takes that video game kick to bewildering new heights - none more so than the showdown with the masked Lumen at the end of the fourth chapter. One-liners are hurled, giant demons are summoned, all manner of chaos ensues, but thanks to the game's masterful combat system, you feel totally in control of the action. Having gone toe-to-toe with an avenging angel, you'll wonder why any other boss fight was worth bothering with. 


Broken Age - Ice Cream Avalanche

Best bit: The whimsy 

No other title of 2014 has quite matched the charm offensive of Broken Age. From the beautiful artwork to the smirk-inducing dialogue, it's an experience you need to download right this very minute. We'll wait....

One of the earliest missions perfectly sets the game's whimsical tone, as the hero Shay is asked to help some alien victims of an unlikely disaster - an ice cream avalanche. Cute, silly, different, it's one of the most satisfying tasks we've ever been asked to complete in a video game.


South Park: Stick of Truth - Zombie Chef Fight

Best bit: The return of a legend

You're right, the moment of crude vulgarity you're thinking of from South Park is probably funnier than the Zombie Chef Fight. But we didn't think so. There's almost too much brilliance to choose from in what was undoubtedly the most offensive game of the year - if not ever.

The return of the beloved Chef as a Nazi zombie edged it for us. A solid example of turn-based boss battling, the jokes of Stick of Truth give an edge to an otherwise familiar formula. And yes, it does end with a fart joke. What did you expect? 


Wolfenstein: The New Order - Final Boss

Best bit: Old school boss fights

In fitting tribute to its FPS-birthing roots, the final boss of Wolfenstein: The New Order is a rollicking good showdown between a square-jawed hero and an evil zombie robot. Classic stuff. 

Having insisted on offering players the opportunity to 'stealth' their way past armed forces, the concluding fight goes back to what made the original series so popular: bullets, blood and health packs. Your foes drinks up damage like a sponge, forcing you to search for any safe cover available. Reload, unload, repeat - but it's fun. Really fun. And when you've finally downed the enemy, heck, the game's final moments are almost enough to bring a tear to the eye. Almost. 


Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor - Hunting Partners

Best bit: Snack time

Forgetting running orcs through with your blade or slaying Wraiths - hearing that we were going to be able to ride a Great White Graug was reason enough for us to play through Shadow of Mordor - and we weren't disappointed.

One of the secondary main missions of the game, Hunting Partners sees Torvin teach Talion how to stalk, approach and eventually ride a ruddy great big Graug. Sure, the quick time events aren't the most inspiring of avenues to make a player feel like they're mounting an ancient beast, but the sensation of power it results in is fantastic. Swiping, smashing and stomping foe is every bit of fun as we hoped it would be. You can even eat Uruk. Your move, Assassin's Creed. 


Dark Souls II - Heide's Tower of Flame

Best bit: The visual distractions

No one enjoys the experience offered by Dark Souls II, much in the same way you don't enjoy all those scabs you collected learning to ride a bike. But you still play it because it's just so... difficult. Brilliantly difficult, rewarding you in small flashes of victory before snatching away all you've achieved at the end of a giant, ghastly sword.

One area that offers a beautiful distraction to all of the dying are the halls and broken platforms of Heide's Tower of Flame; a ruined castle whose coastal position would make an excellent holiday spot, were it not for all of the undead horrors. It's one of the game's most pleasure environments to explore, even managing to take the edge off your constant failures. 


Super Smash Bros for Wii U - Kalos Pokémon Stadium

Best bit: The variety of death

Based on the Pokémon League of Pokémon X and Y (but you knew that), the Kalos Pokémon Stadium is one of the finest stages we've ever been mercilessly beaten up by our friends on.

While the latest edition of Smash Bros features an array of well designed levels, the Kalos Stadium never fails to get dull: just when you think you've got the edge over one of your mates, a river of water emerges to send you sliding into the void/a giant sword slices out of thin air to end your rampage/a dragon void takes you down. Get some friends together, give it a play and spend the rest of the year apologising for trying to bludgeon them to death with a Wii U pad. 


Monument Valley - Level VI

Best bit: Interactive architecture 

If you're yet to download Monument Valley because you "never pay for apps", we insist that you have a long hard think about what's important in your life.

The winner of 2014's iPad game of the year, the sixth level of Monument Valley introduces an unlikely champion to the video game hall of fame - a golden pillar. As well as adding a whole new level (literally) to the game's puzzles, this post manages build a lasting bond with the play thanks to nothing more than a single roving pupil. The section also provides some of the more perspective-warping challenges of the app, forcing you to think about the positions of both the princess and the pillar. Download it. Right. Now. 


Child of Light - Heart of Magna Spider Boss

Best bit: A challenge

We were going to write this entry in rhyming couplets, but our poetic skills weren't up to scratch. Of all the levels in Child of Light, the Heart of Magna boasts the hardest match (okay, well stop trying).

A feast of visual delights and well designed levels, some of the early opponents of Child of Light can leave you feeling a touch unchallenged, scrapping through most battles on your first attempt. That all changes in the caves populated by the Heart Spiders - the monstrous Sir Spider providing the game's first real jump in difficulty. With his fiendish counter attacks, paralysis and lack of weaknesses, this is a long, hard battle. As such, defeating him offers the biggest feeling of accomplishment offered in the game. 

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