Monday, November 28, 2011

Game of the Year Awards

The end of the year is fast approaching and in the video game industry that means it's time to hand out awards. Since everyone and their pet has a "best of" list picked out this year I thought I would join in to with my own choices. The twist is I'm going to use a special set of categories I created back in 2009. So with out further ado here are my winners of the year:

Avantgarde Award Winner:
While some my draw comparisons to Populous or Black and White this game is really only related to those games in that they are the next closest thing even if it might still be very distant. To put it in a nutshell From Dust is a game in which nature is both your ally and enemy. I can't think of another game that came out over the last decade where that is the case.

Backlash Award Winner:
After fourteen years in development I think fan expectations had exceeded what any game company could hope to achieve. Let that be a lesson to developers not to take too long after announcing a game they are working on. I've talked about The Duke before so I wont rehash the same stuff over, but I will say this; you can't thrive on nostalgia and one-liners alone.

Brutality Award Winner:
In truth the hardest game released this year is the aptly titled The Worlds Hardest Game, but since it isn't that difficult for some indie developer to turn out something that will make a Buddhist monk curse in frustration I decided to give this dubious award to Dark Souls, by far the most challenging non-indie game to be released this year. You have been warned.

Canvas Award Winner:
I actually don't mind grey and brown as much as some people who hang out on gaming forums. In fact making things too colorful can result in a very garish look which is, in my opinion, worse than an overly subdued color pallet. Fortunately, Link's final outing on the Nintendo Wii manages maintain that difficult balance between bright tones and consistent patterns better than most titles to come out this year. Now if only it could be in HD....

Ecology Award Winner:
If your not sure why I picked this game I highly suggest you visit it's Metacritic webpage and read a sampling of the negative user reviews. Virtually every single one mentions a recycling of themes from the previous title in the series aggravated by the fact that they turn one of these out every year in addition to a pile of other modern military themed FPS games that are churned out all year long.

“Engrish” Award Winner:

"You Defeated!" is now officially part of the gaming lexicon thanks to Dark Souls. Aside from the smattering of typos and incorrect item descriptions the reason this title stands out again is the pre-patch gift description for Black Firebombs which contains the phrase "more powerful than a STD bomb." After reading this I had a metal image of my character slogging through Blightown with a life draining status indicator flashing the word "SYPHILIS!" over and over. Alas, it did not come to pass.

Esoteric Award Winner:
While not a proper game (rather it's a Half-Life 2 mod) I chose it anyway because this game has got to be one of the most bizarre releases this year with its forth-wall-breaking commentary on linearity and game design. To call the game difficult in the you-die-a-lot sense would be a gross misrepresentation. Needless to say I found this a hard game to digest and process all the way up to the finish and beyond.

Lemon Award Winner:
Visit the Bethesda forums if you want to know the full extent of the glitches and bugs to be found in the land of the Nords. What truly blows my mind though is the fact that millions of people keep rushing out to buy every new release even though all previous installments have been rife with issues. To be fair its partly because of the expansive and emergent gameplay, but seriously, wait until they patch it if it bothers you so much. A little patience will save you a lot of heartache and more importantly it will send a message to Bethesda to clean up their games better before plopping them on store shelves.

Testosterone Award Winner:
Full frontal nudity, blood, gore and some rather stomach turning acts of violence against a sorceresses make this one of the most painstakingly detail examples of brutality in a fantasy setting. You might argue there are far more grotesque sights in a variety of other titles such as Gears of War 3 or Dead Space 2, but what makes this Polish game stand out is the fact that it is presented in such a matter-of-fact fashion.

Underdog Award Winner:
More open-ended than the over-rated Final Fantasy series, but less tedious than the Harvest Moon series this particular jRPG sequel looks like it will become the best game of 2011 that no one played. That's not to say the game is issue free, but if your looking for a lighthearted fantasy life simulator your in luck because this is the game for you.

So there you have it. My choices of the year. Some of the awards are dubious at best and I chose Dark Souls for two categories, but hey at least I didn't charge any of them entries a fee like they do at the Spike TV Video Game Awards, BAFTA or certain other award shows which will remain nameless simple because I don't want to give them the publicity even from a low traffic blog page such as this.

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