By Dalai 7 Comments
Yeah, I think it's time to start my own awards thing... I like what Giant Bomb is doing, but I don't agree with most of their choices... opinions differ once again. No big deal, I've got my list of awesome and not-so-awesome games of 2008 plus some other dubious awards. Now, onto the ceremony.
The "You tricked me, hype machine." Award (Most disappointed): Spore
Will Wright had never let me down. I've been a huge fan of the SimCity franchise for years and The Sims remains one of my favorite PC games ever. When Spore was announced, it looked okay, but I wasn't ready to jump on the bandwagon just yet. It wasn't until this year that I was touting Spore as "Game of the Year" material and the greatest concept in PC gaming history. So what happened? The hype took a life of its own and Spore was not the game we were ultimately hoping for. Sure, the creation tools are fun to mess with, but the revolutionary gameplay failed to meet expectations. Spore was really 5 good games in one, but none of them really gelled.
It's games like this that want me to hate EA again. Who the fuck thought this would be a good idea? Fergie, Nelly Furtado, and Keith Urban playing dodgeball and badminton? I guess Pink, Jewel, and Kenny Chesney weren't good enough for them, huh? Wii Sports clones are a dime a dozen so a game of this nature needs a gimmick to stand out... and adding B-list athletes and C-list celebs qualifies as a cheap gimmick these days. I wish a slow, painful death to the executives behind this abomination.
The "This game is totally fucked up in a good way." Award (Best premise): No More Heroes
Suda 51 deserves a lifetime achievement award in this category. No More Heroes has a simple, yet crazy story that makes you ask, "Who comes up with this shit?" You're a guy that buys a lightsaber off the internet and you kill assassins so you can score with a hot chick. Every boss comes with a weird backstory and/or unusual weapon of choice, the open world of Santa Destroy is empty, the graphics are beautifully hideous and the action is insane and violent beyond belief. Plus, it's a Wii exclusive which adds to the whole "Fuck you!" attitude behind the game. No More Heroes made me into a believer and Desperate Struggle should win this award in 2010.
The "I wish I were as awesome as you." Award (Best character): Niko Bellic
Niko Bellic is the best, most fleshed-out character of 2008. Niko just wants to live the American dream after years of hell fighting in the Bosnian War. His past follows him during his stay in Liberty City so he must resort to performing some dirty deeds for numerous shady characters. You feel bad for the guy throughout the game and you hope he can live a normal life. There's not a single character in gaming as intriguing or as human as Niko Bellic.
The "totally digging that old-school feel." Award (Best retro game): Mega Man 9
The people working at Capcom are fucking geniuses. The 8-bit Mega Man games are timeless... the later versions might have tried too hard to add useless bullshit like the Mega Buster and Fliptop, but the core experience was what mattered. Mega Man 9 could've easily been a 3D shooter or equipped with the latest in HD technology, but Mega Man 9 looks like it came straight from 1988. Yes, there are modern tweaks like achievements and special modes, but this is the most pure Mega Man experience since Mega Man 2, right down to the crushing difficulty. No game this year made me feel 8 years old, except for Mega Man 9.
The "Hey, that's really different... I want more of that." Award (Best new concept): Mirror's Edge
Mirror's Edge is the biggest experiment in gaming this year. Most games that have a first-person perspective usually involve lots of gunplay, but DICE scrapped the gun (for the most part) for quick acrobatics and speed. And if the parkour wasn't enough, the setting is the complete opposite of the gray/brown generation of games. Whites and blues dominate the cityscape and flashes of red. It dares to be different, and that's a winner in my book, even with its flaws.
The "Seriously, games can be art." Award (Best art direction): Braid
Art is subjective... hell, not everyone thinks of games as a work of art. They think games are purely entertainment... I think they're wrong. Just look at Braid. Jonathon Blow and his underlings made one of the most visually stunning masterpieces on any system. It's not a technical marvel by any means... it's the Starry Night of games. Aesthetically pleasing and hella smart, a deadly combination.
The "Holy shit, that game looks technically awesome." Award (Best technical graphics): Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
MGS4 proved that horsepower has a place in gaming. Although graphics are low on my list of priorities when it comes to games, there's a special place for games that look exceptionally good. MGS4 took the PS3's powerful machine and showed the world that consoles can compete with the mighty PC in the graphics department.
The "Soundtrack of my year, and maybe life." Award (Best soundtrack): Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Super Smash Bros. Brawl manages to push the fan service boundaries to new heights with a soundtrack that chronicles Nintendo's history from past to present. The Brawl soundtrack is the definitive collection of original and remade songs from literally dozens of franchises, and it's perhaps the game's most redeeming quality. With over 300 tracks from 36 composers... from Mario to Mother, this game packs in some of the best video game music ever made, bar-none.
The "Let me tell you a story." Award (Best story): Grand Theft Auto IV
When the initial reactions came out, some thought GTAIV's story rivals Hollywood's best... probably not the case, but GTAIV does get a step closer to Oscar-worthy status. The entire presentation is highly polished and looks like a big-budget film. The voice work is stellar despite the lack of big names, unless you consider Ricky Gervais big. The cutscenes are straight for the game engine, yet it works better than any CGI or FMV I've seen in a game. Of course, none of this would matter if the writing sucked... it didn't. Niko's journey from the boat to the big city is as good as it gets in gaming.
The "Kill it! Kill it with fire!" Award (Franchise that needs a vacation): Sonic the Hedgehog
It's a universal fact that Sonic games need to just stop being made. In 2006, Sonic fell flat on his face hard, 2007 wasn't really any better, but Secret Rings was marginally decent at best. Sonic Unleashed was only 30% good, and the other 70% reeked of werehog. Next year comes that Sonic game where he wields a sword... you may scream at the screen if you want. Sonic, Shadow, Tails, and the 800 other characters in the Sonic world need a vacation, preferably one that lasts for several years. It works for Mario. Take a cue from the mustached one.
Tomorrow, some genre awards. Discuss and pick me apart!