Jan 07 2011
So I recently flew to LA for Spike TV’s Video Game Awards, but I felt they didn’t adequately capture my feelings about the industry this year. Now I’m no Neil Patrick Harris, but I feel like I can present my own thoughts in an orderly fashion, so here goes Unreality’s inaugural Video Game Awards ceremony, with special co-host, Felicia Day. What do you mean her flight got cancelled? Goddamn snow!
Anyway, I’m not really all about your typical mainstream “categories” like you’d normally see in a show like this, so I kind of just made my own. And it’s also limited to the games I played this year, so apologies if I left out Force Unleashed 2 and didn’t hand it the “The Worst $60 I Spent All Year Award” or whatever it might have taken home.
Check out the actual awards below, and feel free to chime in with your own thoughts and nominations.
The Wow It Actually Lived Up to Expectations Award
When you’ve been waiting for a sequel to one of your favorite games for twelve years, it’s probably a safe bet to assume you’re going to expect a lot out of it. After dicking around with that bullshit known as “Warcraft” for years, I hoped Blizzard was going to devote proper time and effort to making sure Starcraft 2 was the best damn game it could be.
And guess what? It is, it really is, and if I was doing a game of the year, this would be it. there is perhaps no better balanced RTS in history, and though it can be frustratingly difficult at times, as you’ll always hit a wall of players better than you, it is fascinating to both watch and play. With two expansions on the horizon, it’s clear Blizzard is going to be supporting this title for the long haul, as with 12 years in between games, you really do need to have the maximum amount of replay value available.
The Learning From Past Mistakes Award
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Sure, it may look a little worse, and the campaign may be a little more dull, but not since Assassin’s Creed II have a I see a game address so many fan complaints all at once. Though Modern Warfare 2 was a different studio, Treyarch stepped up and fixed nearly every facet of multiplayer that was broken from that game, and believe me, there were plenty.
Noob tubing? Gone, with the removal of Danger Close and One Man Army, not to mention a Scavenger Nerf. Knife runners? No more, as Commando has been banished to the hell from whence it came. Double shotgun whoring? Far harder to do as it’s now main instead of secondary class. The list goes on and on, and what it lacks in graphics and maps, it more than makes up for in gameplay improvements.
The Thank God the Industry Has New Ideas Sometimes Award
Red Dead Redemption
Red Dead is both the most fun I’ve had playing a game this year, and the most engrossed I’ve been in a game’s story, which is a quite a great combo indeed. Open world games aren’t very revolutionary anymore, but this was the first title to bring the genre to a unique place, the wild west, allowing all of us to live out our childhood fantasies as a gunslinging cowboy.
And the story? I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a better scripted and voice acted game (well, Mass Effect maybe), but the ending is perhaps one of the greatest in video game history, as the developers really try to tell a gripping story rather than just hurriedly wrap up the plot with a big boss soliloquy and battle like most games. A truly incredible game all around.
The Biggest Step Backward Award
It’s tough to see a franchise like this go out on a low note, but fanboys be damned, that’s exactly what Reach did. It’s not a bad game per se, and I did particularly like the campaign, though having the best story in a Halo game is like being the tallest grunt facing off against a fleet of Scorpion tanks.
But rather the tweaks to the gameplay proved to be huge steps backwards for the series in multiplayer, with small adjustments like a rifle butt not killing a person even if they only have a fraction of their shield left completely throwing off the flow of the game, and new loadout abilities like Armor Lock often transforming the once fun shooter into an exercise in frustration with severe balance issues. It just didn’t feel like a step forward in any direction.
The Best Game I Didn’t Get to Play Award
God of War III
Sadly, I still refuse to drop money for a PS3, as I can’t justify the purchase to play only two franchises I really want to. One of them is the Uncharted series, the other is God of War.
Usually, I’ll be able to play such titles at my one friend’s house, but sadly each time I got there his copy was loaned out, and we ended up playing Black Ops instead. But from what I hear, the game is pretty incredible, even if the once stellar plot has gotten a bit off the rails at this point.
The Best DLC Masquerading as a Game Award
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Alright, so I’m about eight hours into this game right now, as I recently got it for Christmas. It’s a lot of fun, because Assassin’s Creed 2 was a lot of fun, and really, it’s more or less exactly the same game. There are little tweaks, just so they can say it is in fact different, but they’re so minor, you barely even notice them, and it’s clear that this was just an easy way to sell more games by making their old title 70% longer.
The other contender for this title was Fallout: New Vegas, which employed the exact same tactic, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. I really wish that instead of making titles like this (and DLC in general), studios would just focus on getting the next game in the series out faster, and make TRUE and SIGNIFICANT positive changes to it instead of just trying to cash in on the character and environment models they already have lying around.
The True Neutral Award
Mass Effect 2
The original Mass Effect is one of my favorite games of all time, and I was unreasonably excited for the sequel. I really did enjoy the game, though my enthusiasm wasn’t without a few asterisks. Yes, combat and squad AI is better, as is the inventory system, thought technically it’s disappeared. Yes, you still can have engrossing conversations with everyone from your first mate to the potted plant in your office, and you do feel a real human connection.
But the overall plot of the game just seemed off to me. The entire game was spent assembling a team to head off to fight the Collectors and Reapers, and once you did, that was it. Time to go. And once you got there? Half your crew could be killed if you didn’t spend a few bucks upgrading your ship, and the other half could die randomly depending on the slots you selected for various tasks throughout the level. Very few moral choices actually come up, and who lives and dies seems dependent more on luck than conscious choices you’re making.
The Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here Award
My disdain for Fable 3 is well documented in this epic 3,000 word post that now shows up on the first page of Google when you search for the game, but I’ll try to resummarize here. I love Fable 2, as I thought it made giant steps forward from its predecessor. Yes, there were still issues to be addressed, but if 2 could learn from 1, 3 would learn from 2, right? WRONG. Fable 3 regresses in almost every way from taking away spells, to removing weapon augments, to breaking its promise about the game “just beginning” once you become king, and throwing you into the breech when the year long countdown timer to the apocalypse starts skipping months like they’re seconds.
That’s not to mention my newly retarded dog, the broken breadcrumb trailer, the game breaking glitches and freezes, the mute butler voiced by John Cleese, the even further dumbed down job system and character interaction, and my wife who gave me both an STD and a black child. This is just off the top of my head, but needless to say I have to wonder if anyone even played this thing before it was released, or if everyone was too scared to tell Peter Molyneaux his latest title needed another year’s worth of work.
Alright, that’s all she wrote for this year, see you next year with Mass Effect 3 and Elder Scrolls V headlining things!
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