GOTY Awards 2011: Part 1

Categories in this post...

Best Co-op Game

Best Art Style

Best Indie Game Bundle

First up, Best Co-op Game!

Winner: Portal 2

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When it was first announced that Portal 2 would have co-op my reaction was a non-interested shrug and a noise that resembled "hrmph." It looked fine, but I doubted it would be able to integrate the story and humor that made Portal so great in the first place into it. Then the game actually came out and I put more time into Co-op than the single player (although finished both.)

Portal 2's co-op contains some bizarre and challenging puzzles, some genuinely funny jokes and a storyline that could maybe be setting up something really impressive for a Portal 3. Maybe, their was DLC that slightly changed that...

But without spoiling the story, it's a great story and there's some fantastic humour in it, including a part where Glados will in fact say different things to each player, trying to turn them against each other.

Runners up: Renegade Ops, Saints Row The Third

Best Art Style

Winner: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Zelda is a series that has struggled to find its style in the past few iterations, with Windwaker the series went cel-shaded and then in Twilight Princess the graphics had a darker turn. Both art styles had their high points and low points, TP had some textures with blurry details, WW had some textures with no details, but Skyward Sword manages to take the best of both and mix them together while losing the worst parts. The characters all look cartoony but not super deformed, the world is all realistic in a way but everything looks very painted, even the way it handles LOD adds to this effect, with the lower res textures it renders in the distance being made of large blobs that look painted.

The final effect is absolutely stunning in motion with some very memorable locales.

Best Indie Game Bundle

Winner: The IndieRoyale Launch Bundle

There were a few competitors to The Humble Indie bundle which launched last year, releasing a new bundle of games every few months for whatever you felt like paying, but none I felt was more impressive than the launch bundle for IndieRoyale. Now, it could be argued that in fact, the recent Humble Indie Bundle 4 which included such gems as Cave Story +, Super Meat Boy and Shank is a better quality bundle, and I'd agree to some extent. The reason it does not win this award is that everyone already knows about those games. Cave Story has been around forever and has been generally agreed upon to be one of the best Indie platformers since it came out, seven years ago. Super Meat Boy was incredibly hyped up first by Wii fans craving a good downloadable game and later by PC and XBLA gamers after Wiiware's restrictions forced it off the platform. And Shank is Shank. It had a fair amount of talk around it before it came out.

Now tell me, had you heard of Gemini Rue, Sanctum or Nimbus much if at all before they had come out? Or after? Unless you were in a very niche crowd of gamers, your only exposure to two of these games was probably Giantbomb's quick looks of them, or maybe Totalbiscuit or someone did a video.

IndieRoyale's Launch Bundle was the perfect one for pushing its new way of selling indie bundles (a minimum price is set, if you pay that the price raises for the next person, if you pay more than that it goes down). The bundle had a great mix of high quality but also not very well known indie games that helped give some indie gems better exposure to the world. And since that bundle IndieRoyale has release multiple other bundles of similar quality, so you should all be hotly anticipating their next one!

Runners up: The rest of IndieRoyale's bundles, Humble Voxatron Bundle, Little Big Bunch Indie Bundle (from GetGamesGo),