Welcome to the 2011 Mento VGAs: "Because I wanted to do one too." You all know how these things work. Video games get awards. It's a thing people are doing. But don't take my word for it:
So I'll just move directly onto the categories then:
BEST 2010 GAME PLAYED IN 2011 BECAUSE I WAITED TO BUY IT LIKE A CHEAPSKATE:
Just Cause 2 was a game I'd picked up the Xmas of last year, so playing it through most of January (it's a big game) seemed like an ideal way to see off 2010's spectacular year of games. Of course, I ended up playing several more games from last year in an eternal and futile attempt at catch-up, but nothing that matched the elation of grapple-hooking around an island at a hundred miles an hour.
BEST GAME MADE LONG BEFORE 2010 WHICH I WAITED TO PLAY BECAUSE BACKLOGS ARE A THING, I GUESS:
ToEE was made doubly fun not only by its idiosyncratic, overly-complex yet deeply engrossing CRPG combat system but also from the meta-game of getting myself embroiled in a high-stakes blog competition with a certain lunar monarch and a CRPG-obsessed skeletal general for nothing short of the very world itself. Definitely one of the more memorable gaming experiences in 2011, from a game that didn't come out anywhere close to this year.
"GAME, I AM DISAPPOINT" AWARD FOR MOST DISAPPOINTING GAME:
Bulletstorm wasn't ever going to be my type of game, Uncharted 3 isn't nearly as bad as I made it out to be and the Super Monkey Ball franchise lost its vitality and charm half a dozen games ago. So it comes down to the disappointment I received from Red Faction's regressive, generic shooter iteration and Dragon Age shooting itself in the foot with a steampunk crossbow. I have to hand it to Dragon Age 2, purely because it was a franchise I became very excited with after playing the first game. First games in a franchise, if not a home run with the initial swing, usually hold a bright spark of potential that future games can build and expand on. Dragon Age 2 steered itself away from that lighthouse beacon of a spark, choosing instead to veer into the sharp, jagged rocks of a stupidly over-simplified combat system with randomly spawning enemies, dungeons which were literally the same place over and over with certain doors bricked up like we wouldn't notice and a plot that peters out towards its foregone conclusion. But whatever, it wasn't a terrible game. Just a terrible waste of a spark.
BEST BABBY GAME FOR A BABBY CONSOLE:
Oh boy. I do this Nintendo category each year so I don't forget my roots. I'm no Nintendo fanboy, otherwise I'd be all green and shit, but I feel my tenuous grasp on my childhood love for video games slip whenever I play a brown military shooter or gritty character action game. Nintendo is still somehow able to tap into that giddy childish passion, and I played plenty of excellent games this year that felt like a Nintendo game (de Blob 2 and Rayman: Origins immediately come to mind). I give this award to Xenoblade, because I really didn't play much else on a Nintendo console this year. However, I have a feeling in a perfect world, Skyward Sword would be getting this award. I really ought to play that.
BEST DOWNLOADABLE GAME:
I didn't give much love to downloadable games in 2011. I should've, because lord knows I have dozens of them waiting for a playthrough on my Steam client after a whole year of the Humble Indie Bundles, the Indie Royale Bundles and the always magnanimous Steam sales. These were the only five Indie games of 2011 that I actually did play this year, and they were all pretty great. I'd say The Binding of Isaac just edges them all out with its addictive and perturbing dungeon crawling. Kind of wish it had a better auto-save feature though. Sorry Bastion, maybe next year.
WEIRDEST F-ING GAME:
I think I'm just drawn to weird games. I dunno if it's because I play a (frankly disturbing) amount of vidya and am always looking for something unique, or I just have an odd sense of humour that corresponds nicely to these curios. Isaac and Alice had some very strange psychological elements, Saints Row was as gleefully manic as ever and I really had no clue what was going on with Resonance of Fate in the short amount of time I spent with it. However, I feel like if I don't give this award to the Suda 51 game he'll probably go off and sulk in a corner for a few years, so.. here you go buddy. You are the weirdest. Forever.
BEST QUICK LOOK MOMENT:
Plenty to choose from this year. Probably should've included TNT in this category for the amazing Truck Wars, but there's enough to go on with the seven above. Sky Train just about edges them out as a combination of the guys being funny and the game being funny, even if Ryan didn't quite grasp what was going on straight away. I'm a sucker for incredulous Rorie moments and Wipeout will never stop being a hilarious game to QL (and a terrible game to actually play), so this was a hard decision to make.
BEST PREMIUM CONTENT MOMENT:
Not going to dwell too much on these moments. Instead, a story: This year I purchased a month's subscription for the SNES Party (and was later gifted a year's membership by the very kind omghisam) and it has never stopped paying dividends. This is from someone who abjectly refused to pay Lowtax ten dollars for
a secret torren hours of entertainment with the fine goons of that establishment and likewise hemmed and hawed a long time over the same decision for this site. Totally worth it, it turns out. Everyone should jump right into doing this as soon as possible, or during one of those large live streams where you can leave asinine messages to people watching in chat. That seemed kind of fun.
THE AWARD FOR THE DUMBEST, MOST POINTLESS & ACTUALLY SORTA REDUCTIVE VIDEO GAME AWARD CEREMONY:
Nominees: The Spike TV Video Game Awards, The Mento VGAs.
I didn't watch much of the VGAs. In fact, the clips I did watch were largely due to incredulity from the reports I was hearing. The whole thing seemed kind of insulting. I'm not one to live vicariously through my biggest hobby, as I have plenty of others of varying degrees of legitimacy (boy, that sounded shady), but I still think we deserve a lot better as a community of occasionally sensitive and discerning interactive media consumers. I realise that there are plenty of rational excuses to simply accept the VGAs as a necessary evil to help further a burgeoning legitimacy for video games, yet it's not going to happen if that legitimacy is consistently being undermined by teabagging jokes and the like. I just think back to poor old Sweep, getting verbal abuse and burger wedgies (presumably it's when the lettuce is pulled up and over the upper bun) by his hip graphic design workmates for his love of games and I can't help but believe the blame lies entirely at the feet of Spike TV and its annual idiocy. Boycott the Spike VGAs. For Sweep. He wants to be inside your heart this Christmas.
And that's going to do it for my awards this year. For a slightly more sober look at my actual top ten, I refer you to this list I made. I make a lot of lists...
See you next year! Or maybe later this year! There's still a few days to go!