Little late today. And by "today", I really mean "Oops, Day 2 and Day 3 will actually happen the same day". Sorry! Holiday family plans and whatnot. Regardless, Day 2 is upon us! Welcome to the dark middle chapter of my awards. There will be blood.
And Shepherd’s Pie. But mostly blood.
From the simple concept of the Wanderer to the iconic depiction of the Mountain in the background, the art in Journey is creatively and emotionally inspiring. The environment designs are simple yet rich, and the symbolic nature of its world says more than most big-budget, developed universes do. There’s little more I can say about Journey’s artwork when it is one of the few examples where a picture of it fortunately says a thousand words.
Runners Up: Forza Horizon, Susan Coffey
God dammit, man. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD should have been something wonderful. It should of been the nostalgia pull for me. The dumb Sonic fans get dumb Sonic games every dumb year that caters to their dumb wishes, and what do we get? Shred? Fuck!
But wait! RoboModo (ugh) was there! It promised to save the day! It promised to deliver a game that had some the best levels, the best music, the best skaters, and the best idea: bring back the classic Tony Hawk formula. Two-minute runs; complete goals to win.
And what did we get instead? We got a game that had seven-levels, with four of them being absolute trash. Downhill Jam? I know Tony Hawk wanted it in the game, but maybe some of you GAME DEVELOPERS thought it’d be cool to tell him that maybe a level that isn’t THE WORST would be a better idea to feature? Where’s School I? Or Minneapolis? Skate Heaven? YOU GUYS DIDN’T EVEN PUT IN PHILLY, JESUS CHRIST. Put that in the pile of “Things That Should Have Been Included”, alongside Split-Screen multiplayer or H-O-R-S-E. Oh, and Create-a-Skater. I can deal with not including the Park Editor, even if I love it, but not having a skater creator? Come on, man! YOU DIDN’T GIVE US PHILLY, AT LEAST GIVE US THIS.
Yet even more appalling are the absolutely busted physics. It’s haunting how frequent a combo or trick will come to an end because of a freak physics bug that will make you fall through the level or slingshot you into the sun. Did you want to take that rail? Ha, fuck you. Here, hit this wall sideways instead. Oh, that’s broken? Hold on, I’ll get to it when I’m done counting your $15 over and over again and then laughing. Maniacally. Like the asshole I am.
It could have been so great, man. It could have been the fucking light at the end of a long and dark tunnel. Instead, there was a cliff at the end of the tunnel, one where we all fucking fell off. Every. Last. One of us.
Runner Up: None. There is literally nothing more disappointing this year than Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD. Fuck you, RoboModo.
Nier is both something special and something tragic. It’s something special as in it is something I had almost no expectations going into and left with a sense of wonder at what I had seen. Nier was nothing remotely close to what I was expecting. I never could have foreseen it implementing bullet-hell shooter mechanics into third-person combat, or that it could have such a fantastic group of characters, or that its soundtrack would be the best of its kind, or that it would have plot twists that threw my jaw to the floor, or thrown in mechanics half-way through the game that I still don’t even understand how no one has never thought of doing before. Nier is a game with so many damn curveballs in its design and it makes it one of the most refreshing JRPG experiences I’ve had the pleasure of playing.
But it’s equally tragic because where Cavia saw a chance to do something different, unique, and, for once, exciting with the JRPG genre, the general market saw a chance to ignore it. It’s sub-par presentation made for a game unappealing to the eye’s first glance and it seems like many ignored it because of that reason. It sold poorly and was ultimately responsible for Cavia’s demise. The first Square game to be likeable in ages, and the studio responsible for it is shut down. It makes me really thankful Atlus is still around (although its handheld focus this generation is worrysome) because the number of developers willing to try something different grows smaller by the year.
At the very least, we’ll always have Nier to remind us what a design doc filled absolute craziness and creativity can look like.
Okay, now is the time to talk about the Mass Effect 3 ending debacle. Now is the time to talk about it and why I think it’s fucking ridiculous that so many of you got so angry in the first place. I’ll throw in the caveat here that I beat Mass Effect 3, for the first time, with both the From Ashes and Extended Cut DLC, so my arguments might be a little skewed here, but I believe the core will stay true.
I don’t have a problem with players disagreeing with how the ending was handled. That’s all fine and good. It’s your opinion and, to some extent, you have the right to voice it. What I do have a problem with, however, is the kerfuffle that came about from players demanding Bioware to change the ending.
Mass Effect 3 is a creative work by a group of individuals. Like any other creative work, you are in your right to interpret it however you want, but it remains their creative work. Let’s say you are an illustrator, like myself. You make an illustration of, I don’t know, cats. Cats dancing in the rain. You finish it, proud of your work, and your fans fucking hate it. They hate it so much, they demand you change it to something else. The cats shouldn’t be dancing, they should be walking! Do you change it? Do you cave in to the pressure of your fanbase to alter the vision of your creative work? Fuck no, you don’t. It’s your work. It’s yours alone and while they are free to interpret it however they want, it is not up to them to decide what the subject of your artwork should be.
And even more to the point, why would you be so focused on a singular aspect of a larger image? Why does it bother you so that the cats are dancing? Is there nothing else to appreciate in that illustration? Just like with Mass Effect 3, I feel like many let the ending completely blind them as to what made the rest of that game great. Like I explained on Day 1, there is so much more to Mass Effect 3 that makes it worthy of being the best RPG of the year, yet so many felt the need to ignore these events because of a single moment in the game. It’s juvenile. It’s close to resembling a fourteen year-old girl dropping her popsicle on the ground and crying because “her entire fucking day is ruined omg”.
Get real, folks. Re-adjust yourselves a bit and re-examine what exactly you are criticising, and why you are criticising it. You might find there is a lot more to love than there is to hate.
Runners Up: #1ReasonWhy existing in the first place, being exposed to more MLP shit
I fucking exploded when I saw Dark Souls II being announced at the VGAs this year. I am so god-damn excited, you guys. Not just because it’s a sequel to one of the best games of 2011, but because it also means there’s finally room in mainstream gaming for something as incredibly unique as Dark Souls. Narrative and lore that is never explicitly told to the player, difficulty that is aggressive but rewarding, art design that is dark and subdued. These ideas should be exclusive to some niche but they aren’t anymore. They’re enjoyed by hundreds of thousands, if not millions, and it makes me so happy.
While all we got was a trailer and a few shots of concept art, I am unbelievably excited for Dark Souls II. Everything I’ve seen, heard, and read of it sounds like it’s heading in a great direction and I cannot wait to see the finished product.
… man. They made a sequel to Dark Souls. Fuckkkkkk that’s so rad.
Runners Up: Black Ops II’s campaign, Finding out I didn’t fail painting class
And that's a wrap for Day Two! Did you miss Day One? Shit! Check it out here. Come back tomorrow for the final award categories! Err... well, more like later today, I suppose. At least, if you're on the East Coast.