By Jimbo_N 4 Comments
nominees: The Witcher 2 / Uncharted 3 / RAGE
Games now look so very good that having a category like this is really, when it comes down to it, kind of meaningless. 2011 carried games forward from both an artistical and a technical perspective in a really big way and I felt like I went "oh holy shit, this really looks ALOT better than games have done before" more than ever before. What it really came down tho was the crazy capabilities of ID Tech 5. Sadly enough the game suffered from pop-in problems and some technical stuff on the PC and PS3. But when the engine runs as it should RAGE just is in a league of its own. The artdirection is very well realized and the megatexture technology really allows for a level of detail and variation in the textures that cannot be seen anywhere else. All the while the game runs at double the framerate compared to the competition. While aspects of the games graphics might be subpar to aspects of other games, this very fact alone still puts it at no.1. RAGE is probably the best looking game I've played on my 360 and it never drops a frame under 60fps.
Boss of the Year
nominees: Decker Bossfight (Saints Row 3) / Final Bossfight (Alice - Madness Returns) / Mutated Flytrap (Bulletstorm)
WINNER: SAINTS ROW THE THIRD
Bossfights are now a thing that in most cases can no longer be taken seriously and no longer be made the same way they once were. There are exceptions to this rule but you need to be creative with all aspects of it and that is what I was looking for this year. Its 2011, I want to see something new or I want to see something funny or creative done with the fight. This is why SR3 really succeeds. The infamous Hackers section of the game where you are put into a videogame world inside of a videogame and the bossfight that follows is really nothing special from a gameplay perspective. But the fight so so out of left field that it works. At the same time it makes fun of our history with bossfights. Taken out of context it dosent look like much but getting to that fight in an open world sandbox game is by far the most memorable fight of the year. WATCH (11:30 min in)
Disappointment of the Year
nominees: Killzone 3 / InFamous 2 / Dragon Age 2
WINNER: KILLZONE 3
Now the important thing to mention here even tho it should be obvious is that the game dosen't need to be bad to be a disappointment. It has more to do with your own expectations or with the missed potential of what the game could have been. Killzone 3 had alot to live up to after Killzone 2 for me and for the most part it did not deliver at all. The story felt very much tacked on, silly and it almost felt like a comic book in a way it didnt need to. Leveldesign felt stale and uninspired and I feel both audio and graphics took a big step backwards from the second game. The game felt kind of rushed on all levels and after the masterpiece that was Killzone 2 I found myself just shrugging my shoulders to most of what this game had to offer. Now compared to alot of whats out there Killzone 3 is still a great shooter if you want a PS3 exclusive but in a year where we got Rage and Bulletstorm that really shows us how FPS design should work in 2011 I just feel Killzone went back a year instead of moving forward.
nominees: The Witcher 2 / Dragon Age 2 / Alice - Madness Returns
WINNER: THE WITCHER 2
The overall feeling I get is that games are moving more and more towards good storytelling rather than the actual story being super deep or super interesting. Getting characters to feel alive and human, voicing them well and directing good scenes within the confines of a gaming engine is what is really moving forward. Games like Uncharted 3 shows us how well you can direct a game even tho the story itself is very cookie cutter, and that is fine. It is however in the land between atmosphere, character development, intrigue and tensity that Witcher 2 falls. The story here is actually gripping and good while also having really good storytelling. I guess it's still kind of chiché that a fantasy RPG wins a category like this but I feel Witcher 2 creates an adult interesting case for itself that I want to see more of, all the while having memorable story beats and never taking the player for a child. Instead they rather take the player for an adult who wants a fleshed out story in videogame form.
Stay tuned for more in the near future and please go back and read my earlier entries!