Are you an awesome multitasker? Then listen to today's awards podcast while you read the awards below! It's like 3D for your mind!
Best Download-Only Game
Last year, we had a category called "Best Downloadable Game." But with the number of retail-sized games hitting digitally as well as in boxes on a steady rise, we felt the need to tweak the title, starting with "Best 'Small' Game," transitioning to "Best Downloadable Game But Not Retail Games You Know What Me Mean Stop Harassing Us," and finally coming to "Best Download-Only Game." You... know what we mean. It's been a great year for PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, and PC-focused releases that are only available via services like Steam or Direct2Drive.
The winner in this category was an easy choice for us. Shadow Complex is terrific game that spoke to our nostalgic side without feeling like some kind of weird throwback. Chair Entertainment made great use of the Unreal Engine, offering up a side-scrolling action-adventure that practically demanded to be played again and again and again. And you know what? Even after finishing all of the side stuff and collecting all of the items, Shadow Complex is still a total blast. If you're looking for a game that represents the best of what digital-only delivery has to offer, this is Exhibit A.
Runners-Up: Shatter, Noby Noby Boy
Second Annual Soulja Boy Award for Games To Play If You Drink And Get Drunk or Smoke And Get High
We should probably do the right thing here and say that we in no way condone this sort of behavior. We are not rappers, Miss Katie. But some of 2009's releases manage to evoke that certain wink-and-nod to altered states better than others, and that's what we're "awarding" this year. Actually, Modern Warfare 2 almost redefines the category by being way less of a wink or a nod, and more of a blinking sign that says YO CHECK THIS OUT. And you'll probably see every time you play multiplayer.
The blatant display of weed leaves and titles like "Blunt Trauma" and "Joint Ops" to go along with them let the "420 friendly" players out there wear their affiliation like a badge of honor. And judging by how frequently they seem to pop up, there are a lot of you out there that smell like Otto's jacket. The references are hokey and, well, a little garish. But then, so is Soulja Boy, right? Winners don't use drugs.
Oh, we should probably also state that this category is not actually endorsed by Soulja Boy.
Runners-Up: Noby Noby Boy, Flower
Best Big-Ass Ramp
Though 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand was the initial spark that led to our hardcore addiction to big-ass ramps, this year's award for the biggest-ass ramp somehow ended up going to a bigger-ass ramp than 50 Cent can handle... the gigantic structure sitting right outside of Fyrestone in Gearbox Software's Borderlands.
As if to totally lock this category up, this huge structure of vehicle launching is a required visit as part of one of the game's main story quests. So there's no way you'll miss this big-ass ramp... though you might miss Tony Yayo or one of the other G-Unit guys shouting about the big-ass ramp that you may or may not have just hit. That's just the way it goes.
Runners-Up: 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, Modern Warfare 2
Character We'd Most Like To Party With
Brutal Legend, Double Fine's grand tribute to the glory and the triumph of pure, soaring, fist-pumping heavy metal music, was not a game without problems. But if there was any good reason to look past its design missteps and technical shortcomings, it was the main character Eddie Riggs, the world's greatest roadie, a man whose considerable talents get put to far nobler use as he fights the forces of evil in a mythical realm of metal. As someone who has lugged Marshall stacks to hell and back, quite literally, who wouldn't want to party with Eddie Riggs?
Beyond the obviously amazing stories he'd be able to tell, whether it be about bacchanalian backstage antics from the road or that time he split a battle nun clean in two, Eddie's a guy who understands not just how to have a good time, but how to make sure the whole operation's running smoothly. The kegs would always be plentiful and ice-cold, the gender ratio would be golden, and he'd have no qualms about kicking unnecessary dirtbags to the curb.
Runners-Up: Ellis, Chris Cashman, John Vignocchi
Best Classic Revival
Properly reviving the classics is probably one of the toughest things a developer can take on, because you're not actually striving the develop something that improves upon an old thing. Instead, your goal is to deliver something that improves upon a fan's memories of that old thing. You don't need us to tell you that this is a gargantuan task, as gaming's most beloved classic franchises have millions of fans, all of them just waiting for something messed up to happen so they can say "well, this isn't as good as the old thing" and move on.
Street Fighter IV is better than the old thing. Even more, it's just about as good, if not slightly better than our memories of the Street Fighter II era. It's almost enough to inspire some sort of "back in my day, you'd do the dragon punch motion and it wouldn't even come out!!" rant, but instead we'll just lean back in our rocking chairs and tell you that you damn kids are lucky to have it this good.
Runners-Up: Punch-Out!!, Tales of Monkey Island