The Sarumarine Awards of 2011!

Due to limited time and money on my part, I'm not qualified to make any real "best of" list. I've missed plenty of promising looking games in favor of other promising games, so all I really feel comfortable with is handing out some awards for some of the things I thought was pretty great (or terrible) in the year 2011. It should go without saying that this is merely my humble opinion, and your results may vary. You know, video games! So without further adieu...

HEADS UP: There are spoilers for Dead Space 2 and Portal 2, if you're worried about that kind of thing.

Best Evil English Accent Award: Queen Myrrah - Gears of War 3

"You're not worthy!"

If you live in the United States, the short hand for villainy is a slick English accent all because the US and England have had some serious beef in the past. This is especially true if an English accent makes zero sense in the context of the video game world it appears in. The clear winner of this year I found was Queen Myrrah from Gears of War 3. As the leader of a vicious underground monster horde, she uses her accent to spit game about genocide, the dominant species, and people named Fenix young and old alike. Her mannerisms get extra mileage in multiplayer where she has plenty of amusing one liners and at least one hilarious laugh that is completely out of character as she vaporizes targets with the Hammer of Dawn.

A round of applause for voice actress Carolyn Seymour. Clearly there is nothing more evil than Killer Underground Monster British.

Runner Ups: Katherine Marlowe - Uncharted 3, Wheatley - Portal 2

Grossest Moment Award: Isaac Clarke's Do-it-Yourself Eye Surgery - Dead Space 2

God Isaac. Stop moving!

If you don't know this about me, I don't deal well with eye horror. Sticking anything sharp and metal in the soft tissue used to look at things is enough to make me wretch inside. So it was especially tough to play through Dead Space 2 when the story suddenly demands Isaac jam a long, steel needle into his right eye. This scene gets extra points as a playable sequence where you have to carefully guide the needle into a very unwilling Clarke laying down on a bed. Why is this in the game? Something to do with those crazy Markers. It gets even worse if you fail this part, as the machine goes haywire and tunnels out Isaac's eye socket in gut wrenching fashion.

If you want to see how bad it can get, blame Hamst3r for linking a funny (and still disgusting) parody of the 5 Gum commercials using the worst case scenario of DIY eye surgery.

Runner Up: Stuff with the Night Mother Coffin - Skyrim

Handheld Hat Trick Award (Music, Gameplay, Story): Ghost Trick - Nintendo DS

Ghost Trick is a game that came out of nowhere to kick some ass and lay down some amazing character animation for a quirky puzzle game on the DS. It does what it says on the tin, involving ghosts, tricks, phantoms, and detectives. How that all runs together as the story unfolded threw me for a loop over and over again until I couldn't wait to see how it all played out. To be fair, this is a very "one and done" sort of game with zero replay value except to relive the magic over again. But Sissel, red headed girls, blue skinned hitmen, and Pomeranians make for a compelling mystery about truth and identity. Avert that fate, ghost that trick, and detect those phantoms.

Will Smith and Norm Chan's Stare of Disapproval Award: Okamiden - Nintendo DS

I really can't express how much I hate Okamiden without going overboard or sounding unrealistically mean. It has one of the worst final boss battles I've ever seen (with terrible execution to boot). So instead I'll let Will Smith and Norm Chan of Tested.com express how I really feel deep down inside about this game.

Favorite Franchise with No Release in 2011: Advance Wars

Ah... Good times. Good times.

One of my favorite game series, handheld or not, is Advance Wars that first came out on the GBA in 2001. The mostly bright and colorful take on managing armies of tanks, planes, and soldiers had shown me lots of good music and quirky characters. I've taken the lack of news about a new installment after Days of Ruin/Dark Conflict pretty hard and can't help but wonder if we'll ever see another one. It's easy to be a pessimist on this one considering Intelligent Systems also makes the far more popular Fire Emblem series. And I've come to accept the knowledge that if they ever do make another one, I'll probably have to buy a 3DS to enjoy it. Either way, sad to see nothing Advance Wars related this year. The wait continues.

Wishful Thinking/Runners Up: Blast Corps. and F-Zero

The Dead Space Quality Achievement Award: Modern Warfare 3

Iron Lady is the best mission in the game.

The Dead Space Quality Achievement Award is given to a game that does nothing new in terms of graphics, gameplay, design or pushing limits... but still manages to be a solid, fun experience anyway- much like when the first Dead Space came out. Modern Warfare 3 has nailed this middle ground as one of the many installments in the Call of Duty series. It's a modern military first person shooter that needs no introduction... but I would be lying if I said I didn't have any fun on the last outing of Captain Price's mustache and other random soldier dudes who keep stumbling into frame. It's big on spectacle as a roller coaster ride with bottomless explosions and all the plot holes you can come to expect. It also has the triumphant return of the AC-130 mission (one of my personal favorites) and the same mulitplayer with a few tweaks here and there. It is what it is.

Whether you hate or tolerate this series, I can take solace in the fact that I'm done with Price and I won't have to care about one of these games unless maybe they come out with Call of Duty: AC-130.

Best Rock Band DLC Song Award: Otherside - Red Hot Chili Peppers

I will find any excuse to use this

I find it incredible that someone somewhere is still releasing DLC for Rock Band. Week after week, they’re still putting out songs for people to download. One of my favorites this year was Otherside from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Whether it’s guitar, bass, vocals or drums, this song is an amazing release that I couldn’t wait to get into. Maybe a little low key compared to some of the shred fests... but I love it. I know how tricky taste in music can be, so I don't mean any disrespect to the truck load of other releases in the year.

Runners Up: Edge of Seventeen - Stevie Nicks, Betus Blues (Retro Remix) - dB Soundworks

Awesome Co-op Action Award: Uncharted 3

I couldn't find a good picture. So here's LEGO Drake.

Uncharted 3’s campaign was solid with some great character moments... but nothing on the level of Among Thieves. I was surprised to enjoy the Co-op campaign much more with it’s crazy, non-canon plot that ends in a gun battle at an airport with most of Uncharted’s major villains. If they had somehow thrown Marlowe and Talbot in there it would have been one of my favorite moments of the year. But along with an arena mode involving various objectives, I’ve had tons of fun jumping, shooting and climbing with two other people in pursuit of body counts... I mean treasure.

Runner Up: Beast Mode - Gears of War 3, Co-op - Portal 2

Most Memorable Set Piece Award: The Tormentor Tumble - Dead Space 2

Tormentor... IN SPACE

For the most part, Dead Space 2 did away with boss battles in favor of scripted moments involving rampaging necromorphs. My favorite moment involved a hulking monster known as the Tormentor that shows up while Isaac is trying to deal with a persistent gunship and insane Unitologist people. Shit gets kinda crazy when both of them get sucked out into space and tumble into a gunship for a final scuffle. The motion, soundtrack, and spectacle for this part is awesome as they all spin around in a vacuum until you take the shot. If you fail, the Tormentor re-creates the cover of the original Dead Space with Isaac's body.

Runner Up: The Sinking Cruise Ship - Uncharted 3

Standout Character Award: Cave Johnson - Portal 2

Good job, robots.

In a game series known for a crazy computer called GlaDOS, it's an achievement to somehow one up her with an even more memorable character in the sequel. The only trace of Aperture Science CEO Cave Johnson in Portal 2 is in the form of old portraits and prerecorded messages as you follow his career in crazy science. But I found myself kinda moved by his final speech he delivers in his failing health due to his relentless drive for progress (or whatever that means to him). J.K. Simmons, as the voice of Cave, did a great job to overcome my mental image of him as J.J. Jameson and the psychiatrist from Law and Order: SVU.

Runners Up: Herschell Biggs - L.A. Noire, Cicero - Skyrim, Charlie Cutter - Uncharted 3

Quick Categories

And that will do it for the year 2011. I will probably play more games before the year is out, but this topic will make a good representation of some of the fun (and horror) I've seen so far. By the time Christmas rolls around, hopefully I will have my hands on Dark Souls and Fortune Street. I can't wait to get into those.

23 Comments
24 Comments
Posted by Sarumarine

Due to limited time and money on my part, I'm not qualified to make any real "best of" list. I've missed plenty of promising looking games in favor of other promising games, so all I really feel comfortable with is handing out some awards for some of the things I thought was pretty great (or terrible) in the year 2011. It should go without saying that this is merely my humble opinion, and your results may vary. You know, video games! So without further adieu...

HEADS UP: There are spoilers for Dead Space 2 and Portal 2, if you're worried about that kind of thing.

Best Evil English Accent Award: Queen Myrrah - Gears of War 3

"You're not worthy!"

If you live in the United States, the short hand for villainy is a slick English accent all because the US and England have had some serious beef in the past. This is especially true if an English accent makes zero sense in the context of the video game world it appears in. The clear winner of this year I found was Queen Myrrah from Gears of War 3. As the leader of a vicious underground monster horde, she uses her accent to spit game about genocide, the dominant species, and people named Fenix young and old alike. Her mannerisms get extra mileage in multiplayer where she has plenty of amusing one liners and at least one hilarious laugh that is completely out of character as she vaporizes targets with the Hammer of Dawn.

A round of applause for voice actress Carolyn Seymour. Clearly there is nothing more evil than Killer Underground Monster British.

Runner Ups: Katherine Marlowe - Uncharted 3, Wheatley - Portal 2

Grossest Moment Award: Isaac Clarke's Do-it-Yourself Eye Surgery - Dead Space 2

God Isaac. Stop moving!

If you don't know this about me, I don't deal well with eye horror. Sticking anything sharp and metal in the soft tissue used to look at things is enough to make me wretch inside. So it was especially tough to play through Dead Space 2 when the story suddenly demands Isaac jam a long, steel needle into his right eye. This scene gets extra points as a playable sequence where you have to carefully guide the needle into a very unwilling Clarke laying down on a bed. Why is this in the game? Something to do with those crazy Markers. It gets even worse if you fail this part, as the machine goes haywire and tunnels out Isaac's eye socket in gut wrenching fashion.

If you want to see how bad it can get, blame Hamst3r for linking a funny (and still disgusting) parody of the 5 Gum commercials using the worst case scenario of DIY eye surgery.

Runner Up: Stuff with the Night Mother Coffin - Skyrim

Handheld Hat Trick Award (Music, Gameplay, Story): Ghost Trick - Nintendo DS

Ghost Trick is a game that came out of nowhere to kick some ass and lay down some amazing character animation for a quirky puzzle game on the DS. It does what it says on the tin, involving ghosts, tricks, phantoms, and detectives. How that all runs together as the story unfolded threw me for a loop over and over again until I couldn't wait to see how it all played out. To be fair, this is a very "one and done" sort of game with zero replay value except to relive the magic over again. But Sissel, red headed girls, blue skinned hitmen, and Pomeranians make for a compelling mystery about truth and identity. Avert that fate, ghost that trick, and detect those phantoms.

Will Smith and Norm Chan's Stare of Disapproval Award: Okamiden - Nintendo DS

I really can't express how much I hate Okamiden without going overboard or sounding unrealistically mean. It has one of the worst final boss battles I've ever seen (with terrible execution to boot). So instead I'll let Will Smith and Norm Chan of Tested.com express how I really feel deep down inside about this game.

Favorite Franchise with No Release in 2011: Advance Wars

Ah... Good times. Good times.

One of my favorite game series, handheld or not, is Advance Wars that first came out on the GBA in 2001. The mostly bright and colorful take on managing armies of tanks, planes, and soldiers had shown me lots of good music and quirky characters. I've taken the lack of news about a new installment after Days of Ruin/Dark Conflict pretty hard and can't help but wonder if we'll ever see another one. It's easy to be a pessimist on this one considering Intelligent Systems also makes the far more popular Fire Emblem series. And I've come to accept the knowledge that if they ever do make another one, I'll probably have to buy a 3DS to enjoy it. Either way, sad to see nothing Advance Wars related this year. The wait continues.

Wishful Thinking/Runners Up: Blast Corps. and F-Zero

The Dead Space Quality Achievement Award: Modern Warfare 3

Iron Lady is the best mission in the game.

The Dead Space Quality Achievement Award is given to a game that does nothing new in terms of graphics, gameplay, design or pushing limits... but still manages to be a solid, fun experience anyway- much like when the first Dead Space came out. Modern Warfare 3 has nailed this middle ground as one of the many installments in the Call of Duty series. It's a modern military first person shooter that needs no introduction... but I would be lying if I said I didn't have any fun on the last outing of Captain Price's mustache and other random soldier dudes who keep stumbling into frame. It's big on spectacle as a roller coaster ride with bottomless explosions and all the plot holes you can come to expect. It also has the triumphant return of the AC-130 mission (one of my personal favorites) and the same mulitplayer with a few tweaks here and there. It is what it is.

Whether you hate or tolerate this series, I can take solace in the fact that I'm done with Price and I won't have to care about one of these games unless maybe they come out with Call of Duty: AC-130.

Best Rock Band DLC Song Award: Otherside - Red Hot Chili Peppers

I will find any excuse to use this

I find it incredible that someone somewhere is still releasing DLC for Rock Band. Week after week, they’re still putting out songs for people to download. One of my favorites this year was Otherside from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Whether it’s guitar, bass, vocals or drums, this song is an amazing release that I couldn’t wait to get into. Maybe a little low key compared to some of the shred fests... but I love it. I know how tricky taste in music can be, so I don't mean any disrespect to the truck load of other releases in the year.

Runners Up: Edge of Seventeen - Stevie Nicks, Betus Blues (Retro Remix) - dB Soundworks

Awesome Co-op Action Award: Uncharted 3

I couldn't find a good picture. So here's LEGO Drake.

Uncharted 3’s campaign was solid with some great character moments... but nothing on the level of Among Thieves. I was surprised to enjoy the Co-op campaign much more with it’s crazy, non-canon plot that ends in a gun battle at an airport with most of Uncharted’s major villains. If they had somehow thrown Marlowe and Talbot in there it would have been one of my favorite moments of the year. But along with an arena mode involving various objectives, I’ve had tons of fun jumping, shooting and climbing with two other people in pursuit of body counts... I mean treasure.

Runner Up: Beast Mode - Gears of War 3, Co-op - Portal 2

Most Memorable Set Piece Award: The Tormentor Tumble - Dead Space 2

Tormentor... IN SPACE

For the most part, Dead Space 2 did away with boss battles in favor of scripted moments involving rampaging necromorphs. My favorite moment involved a hulking monster known as the Tormentor that shows up while Isaac is trying to deal with a persistent gunship and insane Unitologist people. Shit gets kinda crazy when both of them get sucked out into space and tumble into a gunship for a final scuffle. The motion, soundtrack, and spectacle for this part is awesome as they all spin around in a vacuum until you take the shot. If you fail, the Tormentor re-creates the cover of the original Dead Space with Isaac's body.

Runner Up: The Sinking Cruise Ship - Uncharted 3

Standout Character Award: Cave Johnson - Portal 2

Good job, robots.

In a game series known for a crazy computer called GlaDOS, it's an achievement to somehow one up her with an even more memorable character in the sequel. The only trace of Aperture Science CEO Cave Johnson in Portal 2 is in the form of old portraits and prerecorded messages as you follow his career in crazy science. But I found myself kinda moved by his final speech he delivers in his failing health due to his relentless drive for progress (or whatever that means to him). J.K. Simmons, as the voice of Cave, did a great job to overcome my mental image of him as J.J. Jameson and the psychiatrist from Law and Order: SVU.

Runners Up: Herschell Biggs - L.A. Noire, Cicero - Skyrim, Charlie Cutter - Uncharted 3

Quick Categories

And that will do it for the year 2011. I will probably play more games before the year is out, but this topic will make a good representation of some of the fun (and horror) I've seen so far. By the time Christmas rolls around, hopefully I will have my hands on Dark Souls and Fortune Street. I can't wait to get into those.

Posted by echelon11

Great round-up duder, nice work!

Posted by Claude

That was fun to read. Thanks for posting.

Posted by FancySoapsMan

Oh man, I would love another AW game.

Posted by WatanabeKazuma

Wow, Dead Space 2 DID come out this year! It just seems so long ago.

I really thought it would be my pick at the time, to know that its no longer the case is staggering to me. Just goes to show how strong the quality has been.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

Well done. Also, as a Fire Emblem fan, you have to remember that Nintendo is screwing us over too. The most recent game didn't come out in the US, and it has yet to be seen if the 3DS title will come out over here either (and if it does, will I actually have to buy myself a 3DS?). Of course, I want a new Advance Wars too. I'm just not sure where they go. Do they do more Days of Ruin stuff? Because I'd rather they not, even if the gameplay changes made actually made the formula fresh again the generally low quality of the campaign and the lack of side stuff to do made me not really want to play that game past a certain point.

Posted by Sarumarine

@ArbitraryWater: Yeah, I guess it's been rough for all turn based strategy games from Intelligent Systems. I admit I haven't kept up much with the Fire Emblem stuff past the two GBA releases, but I feel like it has more exposure all around given the two characters in Brawl and the decent looking Wii releases.

As for where do they go with another Advance Wars? That's a good question. Like you said, I rather they leave the Days of Ruin stuff where it is although I'll miss Penny and Mr. Bear. Maybe start fresh? Either way, I'd love to see them give it another shot.

Posted by RE_Player1

This was a very enjoyable read. Thank you.

Posted by astonish

Well thought out list

Posted by Dalfiuss
This is especially true if an English accent makes zero sense in the context of the video game world it appears in.

I'm not sure I understand your reasoning behind this. American accents make as little sense. I'm not sure if a connection to Earth is ever covered in any of the extended fiction, but in either of the greater scenarios I can imagine (Earth is in humanity's past, or Earth never existed in this Universe) an English accent is just as acceptable as an American accent.

Posted by Sarumarine

@Dalfiuss said:

This is especially true if an English accent makes zero sense in the context of the video game world it appears in.

I'm not sure I understand your reasoning behind this. American accents make as little sense. I'm not sure if a connection to Earth is ever covered in any of the extended fiction, but in either of the greater scenarios I can imagine (Earth is in humanity's past, or Earth never existed in this Universe) an English accent is just as acceptable as an American accent.

Looking at it critically, It's a good point, and you definitely have me there if everything was flipped. I just wanted to poke fun at how often us Americans do that in fiction. Star Wars is a pretty good example. But anyway, weird underground monster queen Myrrah has an English accent because... of course that's what "evil" sounds like. She's all dramatic and proper while the rest of her entire species communicates through grunts and yells. I don't think it would have been as funny if she sounded like Anya or if Jennifer Hale had voiced her. It could be the queen thing too.

Posted by SaucySala

Awesome awards, man!

Posted by Pie

Definitely agree about the Dead Space 2 set piece award. That whole sequence was so amazing

Online
Posted by AlmostSwedish

I hereby bestwon upon these awards the award of best awards.

Great work duder.

Posted by Mirado

Great job overall, but a big fuck yeah for Blast Corps. I don't care if it's wishful thinking that we'll ever seen another one of those, I want one bad. I think I still might hold a few speed records....

Posted by ssj4raditz

Will Smith and Norm Chan's Stare of Disapproval Award

LOL! Love that picture.

Posted by barkertron

These are great, good stuff!

And you're absolutely right: as a Brit, it never ceases to amuse me how often the bad guy/girl in any American game (or film, for that matter) turns out to be British - specifically, speaking with a plummy-voiced English accent actually only possessed by around 0.5% of the people in this country.

Maybe it's because we are all in fact massively evil. All of us. Everyone over here is constantly plotting to bring about the end of the world and/or murder a boatload of puppies. We're the most evil people in the world. We like nothing better than to bring about the downfall of civilisation then have a good cackle about it. Always remember the cackle.

Posted by Lunar_Aura

I didn't bother to read other people's personal Blog Post 2011 Awards, but I somehow knew yours was worth reading.

Don't tell me you hated Okami because I loved Okami but felt lukewarm towards -den. After youtubing the last boss, I can see why you feel the way you do.

Posted by Sarumarine

@Lunar_Aura said:

I didn't bother to read other people's personal Blog Post 2011 Awards, but I somehow knew yours was worth reading.

Don't tell me you hated Okami because I loved Okami but felt lukewarm towards -den. After youtubing the last boss, I can see why you feel the way you do.

Okami was a fine game. I loved the enemy and boss design. Especially the twin clockwork demon owls that can control time. The last boss Yami was especially awesome because of his transforming sphere (not to mention his non sequitur Slot machine form). It wasn't a hard game. But it was oozing with style and the Celestial Brush was fun to use. As an affectionate parody of Japanese mythology, I loved how serious the narration was in contrast to what was actually happening. That game is very well realized.

Okamiden, on the other hand, feels hollow with plenty of ugly plot points and has some extremely unlikeable characters. I wrote a blog trying to carefully complain about it, but I'll be a little more specific now that it's been awhile.

The compounding time travel thing was probably the worst considering how they barely got away with it in Okami. Retreading Orochi and that sacrifice scene was really awkward, especially how it went out if its way to mess with Okami's plot. And the last boss. Oh man. I was blown away how they could go from someone as awesome as Yami to an evil pallet swap from nowhere. I don't know if that mirror was mentioned anywhere in the game, but I don't care. I really hate "dark" versions of existing characters that amount to nothing more than a black and red color scheme. That's lazy design. Dark Link, Dark Samus- all of them. If you want to give me a dark version of a character, you'll have to go Persona 4 and make it crazy. Even if it is painfully symbolic.

If I had to pick, my favorite part of Okamiden was the end where you kill Kurow. The game tries to play it up like a tragedy, but I could not wait to kill that guy. That power slash was probably the most satisfying attack in the game.

And when I read back on that, it seems mean. And I'm sure someone, somewhere loved Okamiden and everything about it. I usually don't enjoy slamming a game (as it usually leads to trouble anyway) but this was a good release. I apologize for being a little long winded about it. Yeah, Okami was great. Okamiden was not.

Posted by big_jon

Nice

Edited by Sarumarine

@barkertron said:

These are great, good stuff!

And you're absolutely right: as a Brit, it never ceases to amuse me how often the bad guy/girl in any American game (or film, for that matter) turns out to be British - specifically, speaking with a plummy-voiced English accent actually only possessed by around 0.5% of the people in this country.

Maybe it's because we are all in fact massively evil. All of us. Everyone over here is constantly plotting to bring about the end of the world and/or murder a boatload of puppies. We're the most evil people in the world. We like nothing better than to bring about the downfall of civilisation then have a good cackle about it. Always remember the cackle.

Thanks alot!

Aw, I'm sure you guys aren't evil. You're just misunderstood. Maybe it's that dry humor. No one can tell if you're making a joke. Heh heh.

Posted by HaltIamReptar

Cave Johnson had one of the best character arcs I have seen in video games. That he got shafted for character of the year is ludicrous to me.

Edited by Undeadpool
Posted by Sarumarine

@Undeadpool: Heh, yup. That and a few other things. For awhile I was bothered there was no explanation for a lot of the things Talbot does... and then I realized the game couldn't possibly come up with a good reason for it and leaving it vague was for the best.