GregHorrorShow: Game Awards 2016

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So another stellar year done and a lot of games played, there have been some great releases and so many that I simply didn’t have time to get to them all. So apologies to Doom, Watch Dogs 2, Mafia III and Dishonored 2 (among others)… I will get around to playing you soon I promise!

Anyway, for 2016 – here we go:

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MISSED GEM OF 2015

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WINNER: Telltale’s ‘Tales From The Borderlands’

I’m seriously considering changing the name of this award to ‘Telltale’s Missed Gem’ because once again they take this with ‘Tales From The Borderlands’, an episodic adventure set in the Borderlands universe with a (mainly) new cast of characters. Telling the story of Rhys and Fiona from both viewpoints and with what can only be described as unreliable narration of both sides, it’s good fun. Great writing and some awesome set up in terms of vibe and atmosphere made this a whole lot better than I expected – heartily recommended.

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BEST DLC (CONTENT)

AC Synd 4

WINNER: Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate didn’t get the props it deserved in last year’s awards as I hadn’t finished it. So let the record state I thought it was the best AC game since Brotherhood. In addition to that we also got a great chunk of DLC based around the mythology of Jack The Ripper in which, playing as an older version of Evie, you have to track down London’s most notorious serial killer. Good fun and a rare chance to play as an older incarnation of a character, its well worth checking out. In terms of online DLC support both Uncharted 4 and Overwatch provided their players with free maps and new modes along with, in the case of the latter, new characters. Great stuff.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
  • Destiny
  • Overwatch

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THE JOE DANGER AWARD

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WINNER: Skullgirls – 2nd Encore

I put a whole host of, unexpected, time into Skullgirls upon it’s release for Vita in April. I had been looking for a fighter to get into and while I did consider the latest Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, in the end Skullgirls cartoon style won me over. What I wasn’t prepared for was how enjoyable the game would be to a newcomer. Playing through the character stories was great fun, though I did get repeatedly beaten online!

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MOST ANTICIPATED GAME OF 2017

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WINNER: Mass Effect Andromeda

This was a pretty close run thing, truth be told and Mass Effect ends up taking it by virtue of the fact I’m confident it’ll actually come out this year, unlike Red Dead Redemption 2! Both are highly desired though and I can’t wait to get my hands on them. I loved the original Gravity Rush so it makes sense the sequel is up there and Horizon: Zero Dawn looks set to be the most exciting new IP of 2017. I did want to put Persona 5 on here but I’m a bit nervous about it, just in terms of having had a connection with the characters of the previous game. New characters, new location… same magic? Fingers crossed.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Gravity Rush 2
  • Horizon: Zero Dawn

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BEST GAME TRAILER

WINNER: Red Dead Redemption 2

What can you say about Red Dead Redemption 2? Rockstar dropped a logo on Twitter and the world went crazy. When they dropped the trailer the gaming world pretty much unanimously stopped for 1 minute and 8 seconds. The piano, the graphics, the feel of the Wild West. It’s all there and showed us a brief glimpse of what might be on the horizon. Battlefield 1 dazzled us with amazing graphics and Gravity Rush 2 maintained the awesome style of the first game. Meanwhile Blizzard delivered a near Pixar-quality short as a trailer for Overwatch.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Battlefield 1
  • Overwatch
  • Gravity Rush 2

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BEST VITA GAME

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WINNER: Skullgirls – 2nd Encore

As noted above I hadn’t thought Skullgirls would grab me the way it did, especially as someone that doesn’t really play many fighting games. But it definitely did and the game does a great job of teaching you as much as you want to learn with a really in depth tutorial system. The characters and art style are cool and the music is fantastic. The Vita port is solid as well and the game controlled really well. I’d definitely say to pick this up if you’re interested in getting into a fighting game.

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BEST GRAPHICS

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WINNER: Battlefield 1

DICE have a history of nabbing this award with previous wins for Battlefield 3 (2013) and Star Wars: Battlefront (2015) and this year the competition was even fiercer with both Uncharted 4 and The Division delivering awe inspiring worlds and Overwatch bringing a stylised vibe to the party as well. Having said that, Battlefield 1 is a stunning looking game – one of those games you’ll show to people on the edge about buying a new console… ‘But look at this!’

RUNNERS UP:

  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
  • The Division
  • Overwatch

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BEST STORYLINE

Uncharted4 3

WINNER: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

I expect this one will come as no surprise to anyone as my love for Uncharted is well documented on these pages but after the departure of Amy Hennig I wasn’t entirely convinced that the heart of the game would still be there but thankfully Naughty Dog delivered everything we wanted story-wise. Sure, Nathan Drake now has a brother we’ve never heard about previously but the story here is well paced, enjoyable and uses the characters to great effect. Titanfall 2 has a claim on best level of 2016 with one mid level (pleasant) surprise and I thought the Infinite Warfare campaign was one of the best in Call Of Duty history. While Battlefield 1 tailed off in the last couple of story missions it started really strongly and Black Bess in particular was fantastic.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  • Titanfall 2
  • Battlefield 1

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BEST MUSIC (SCORE)

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WINNER: Overwatch

Skullgirls has a wonderful score that compliments it’s crazy outlandish aesthetic perfectly. Uncharted 4 and Battlefield 1 have amazing, soaring scores that do a great job to match the on-screen action throughout. But Overwatch… That theme when you load the game up, the swell as it reaches a crescendo. The ‘Play Of The Game’ theme is such a cool, heroic riff that does a super job of conveying that sense of heroism. Even the smaller parts like the music that accompanies the end of a round hit the mark. Really impressive stuff.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Battlefield 1
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
  • Skullgirls – 2nd Encore

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BEST MUSIC (LICENSED)

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WINNER: Gone Home

Despite some misgivings over the game itself there is no doubt that Gone Home had a killer soundtrack, with songs from Heavens to Betsy, Bratmobile and The Youngins (as GirlScout). With the game set in 1995 the developer did a great job of nailing that feel with the music. FIFA 17, as usual, delivered an eclectic mix of new artists for players to discover like Bishop Briggs and Barns Courtney alongside heavy hitters like Beck and Two Door Cinema Club. Special shout out to Tales From The Borderlands as well, I know it came out last year but as it wasn’t featured I felt a mention was in order for first class use of stuff like James Blake, The Rapture and First Aid Kit. Also apologies again to Watch Dogs 2 and Mafia III, who I suspect may have featured here if I’d played them.

RUNNERS UP:

  • FIFA 17
  • Tales From The Borderlands

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BEST VOICE ACTING

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WINNER: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Uncharted once againtakes home the best voice acting award – adding the irrepressible Troy Baker (Sam) and amazing Laura Bailey (Nadine) to the already stellar cast of Nolan North, Emily Rose and Richard McGonagle. The game itself is so full of graphical prowess and little touches that give the characters personality that it’s easy to forget the stunning job the cast of Uncharted consistently delivered. Unparalleled in gaming. I enjoyed the cast’s performance in Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare as well, with Ethan the robot shining alongside David Harewood as Sgt. Usef Omar. Camilla Luddington was spot on as Lara Croft in Rise Of The Tomb Raider and while I loved the voices in Overwatch I didn’t feel there was enough voiced content in the game for it to take the award.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Overwatch
  • Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  • Rise Of The Tomb Raider

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SINGLE PLAYER GAME OF THE YEAR

Uncharted4 Main

WINNER: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

What a way to round out the series! Uncharted 4 excels in so many areas it’s difficult to know where to start. Graphically it’s a powerhouse, with a great story and excellent voice acting. It controls really well and Naughty Dog also managed to keep a more gritty tone while retaining the original trilogy’s sense of swagger and humour. A fantastic achievement and a bench mark for single player campaigns. Rise Of The Tomb Raider continued the series high quality revival, expanding on several elements to give the player a host of customisation to their playthrough. Considering the original Titanfall didn’t have a campaign, it’s surprising that the sequel’s turned out so well. But it did and had lots of memorable moments that set you up nicely for the multiplayer. Hitman was a delight this year, split into episodic chunks that you could consume at leisure, basking in each level’s quirks and areas. Similarly to the excellent Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, I really felt like if I made a mistake in Hitman I had a chance to recover or at least try something different. A real triumph and I look forward to Season 2.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Rise Of The Tomb Raider
  • Titanfall 2
  • Hitman

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MULTIPLAYER GAME OF THE YEAR

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WINNER: Overwatch

I put quite a bit of time into both The Division and Uncharted 4’s online components this year and really enjoyed both of them. The Division’s cooperative online set up meant it was fun to play with friends and I’ve always enjoyed Nathan Drake’s multiplayer adventures so Uncharted 4 was no different. Probably the best ever offering in my opinion and while I didn’t play as much Titanfall 2 I thought what I did play was great fun. Despite all that only one game captivated me since it’s release back in Spring, of course, it’s Overwatch! With so many characters and classes (and sub classes) on offer (23 at last count with more coming) there is something here for everyone. Not great at shooters? Go with a healer instead, or maybe a defender like Mei, who can pop up ice walls to block off the opposition. Coming across like the best Saturday morning kids show ever, Overwatch might be the best multiplayer game I’ve ever played, and that’s saying something!

RUNNERS UP:

  • The Division
  • Titanfall 2
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

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GAME OF THE YEAR

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WINNER: Overwatch

I was really looking forward to Overwatch, I thought the Beta was neat and wanted to get my hands on it. It wasn’t even mentioned in my most anticipated games last year but it was the first game in a long time that I actually hit the level cap for. As discussed above there simply isn’t another shooter, or game, like it. The team based nature of it and the positive feedback loop of having good things during the match being the focus of end game round ups is awesome. Add into that the gender, and race, diversity that flows through the cast of colourful characters and you have a winning formula. Yes it can be frustrating, especially in competitive mode, but to win a closely fought match is one of the best feelings in gaming.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
  • The Division
  • Hitman

So there we go, another year down and lots of amazing games on the horizon for 2017!

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GregHorrorShow: Game Awards 2012

GOTYMain

So another fantastic year of gaming draws to a close and it’s time to look back to see what’s impressed in 2012:

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BEST GAME INNOVATION

GOTYInnovation

WINNER: Spec Ops ‘Degradation Of Characters’

It’s crazy to think that this has never been done before. In Spec Ops: The Line as well as physical changes, you and your squad also take a psychological beating. Later in the game as your character starts screaming his orders instead of calmly giving them it makes a huge difference. Even reloading calls are shouted through gritted teeth. It just makes the game feel incredibly visceral. Big shout outs to both Dishonored and Hitman: Absolution for bringing some new, inventive mechanics to the stealth genre. I expect both Blink and Instinct will turn up in other games at some stage.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Dishonored – Blink
  • Max Payne 3 – Bullet Time in Online Matches
  • Hitman: Absolution – Instinct

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BEST DLC (CONTENT)

GOTYDLCCon

WINNER: Battlefield 3 – Close Quarters

While Borderlands 2 gave us a substantial chunk of gameplay with Captain Scarlett’s Booty and Uncharted 3 delivered some clever, new maps, for sheer awesomeness this award has to go to Battlefield 3 for Close Quarters. This map pack with two new game modes was a brilliant addition to the Battlefield package. The maps in here are some of my favourite in the entire game’s roster – Operation 925 and Ziba Tower are so well designed it hurts. Sure these maps slightly favour a shotgun but when has that ever been a problem 🙂

RUNNERS UP:

  • Uncharted 3 – Map Pack
  • Mass Effect 3 – From Ashes
  • Borderlands 2 – Captain Scarlett’s Booty

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BEST DOWNLOADABLE GAME

Journey 1

WINNER: Journey

Journey is unlike anything I’ve ever played – it truly is a game that needs to be experienced rather than discussed but if you’d like to read more, check out my review from earlier in the year. A truly stunning game. Also have to congratulate the guys at Evolution on Motorstorm RC – when I first saw the reveal I wasn’t hugely impressed but the game turned out to be fantastic.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Motorstorm RC
  • Sound Shapes
  • When Vikings Attack!

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MOST ANTICIPATED GAME OF 2013

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WINNER: Grand Theft Auto V

Rockstar continue to deliver top quality games – since the last GTA we’ve had L.A Noire, Max Payne 3 and the superlative Red Dead Redemption. Grand Theft Auto V looks set to continue that (check out the trailer in the next section) and I can’t wait to see what advances have been made since the last game back in 2008.

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BEST GAME TRAILER

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WINNER: Borderlands 2

I love this trailer. It completely sums up the game and when Claptrap… well I won’t spoil it but check it out.

I’ve also included the runners up below so you can check them out as well.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Beyond: Two Souls
  • Bioshock Infinite

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BEST PS VITA GAME

GOTYVita

WINNER: Motorstorm RC

There have been some fantastic games for the Vita in it’s first year and I certainly don’t think the console is lacking in titles. Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation came close to making this list but was edged out by the excellent Need For Speed: Most Wanted. Sony Bend Studios delivered a great Uncharted game and Gravity Rush was a blast, despite some frustrating combat issues. However the award in 2012 goes to Motorstorm RC, a completely addictive racer that took up far too much of my time. Beating friend’s scores on the tracks gave everything a competitive edge and I enjoyed it so much I bought all the DLC to get more tracks. In my opinion a perfect title for the Vita.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Uncharted: Golden Abyss
  • Need For Speed: Most Wanted
  • Gravity Rush

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BEST GRAPHICS

GOTYGraphics

WINNER: Max Payne 3

Usually best graphics is one of those categories where you can immediately arrive at a shortlist and the tough part is narrowing that down to a winner. But this year we’ve had a number of games that shone in various different styles. It’s been extremely difficult and titles like The Darkness II, Need For Speed: Most Wanted, Hitman Absolution and Gravity Rush have all failed to make the cut. For me, although it was a linear experience, Max Payne 3 really delivered a mix of great technical work and graphical style to create a fairly unique and stunning looking game.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Journey
  • Assassin’s Creed III
  • Borderlands II

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BEST STORYLINE

GOTYStory

WINNER: Spec Ops: The Line

I had been keeping an eye on Spec Ops: The Line ever since it’s first reveal back at the Video Game Awards in 2009, so I was most pleased to see it finally get released in the summer. Promising tough moral choices, an interesting story and some good use of desert sand to trap enemies it looked like Spec Ops might dominate the barren Summer release schedule. It didn’t quite work out that way but Spec Ops: The Line tells one of the more engrossing stories in games of the last few years. The way things unfold is well choreographed and having seen some of the conversations with the writers of the game it seems almost everything in the game was planned that way from the beginning. It’s a slow start but well worth sticking with – one of the best storylines for a while.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Max Payne 3
  • The Darkness II
  • Dishonored

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BEST SOUNDTRACK (SCORE)

GOTYScore

WINNER: Max Payne 3 – Health

There have been some fantastic scores this year, from the usual military bombast of Call Of Duty: Black Ops II through to the quirky and lovable Sound Shapes on Vita. But most would be hard pressed to match Health‘s score for Max Payne 3, which fitted the game so well it was pretty much another aspect of Max’s character. Journey probably ran it closest, the sweeping joy and sorrow of Austin Wintory’s music really bringing a depth of emotion to the game. Big shout out as well to Hotline Miami, I haven’t even played that game but the soundtrack is fantastic in it’s own right.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Journey – Austin Wintory
  • Gravity Rush (Vita) – Kohei Tanaka
  • Sound Shapes (Vita) – Various

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BEST SOUNDTRACK (LICENSED)

GOTYLicensed

WINNER: The Darkness II

It’s also been a great year for licensed music uses in games – in fact it’s the first year I’ve truly struggled to get a shortlist, never mind a winner. FIFA continues to impress by delving into indie territory and Sleeping Dogs ‘Grand Theft Auto-esque’ radio station approach threw up some great tunes to cause carnage to. Eventually it was a two horse race for this award and despite a few excellent choices (Martha Reeves and the Vandellas – “Nowhere to Run” and Deep Purple – “Hush” in particular) by Spec Ops: The Line, The Darkness II steals it with tracks like Ram Jam – “Black Betty”, Metallica “Some Kind Of Monster”, Stereo MCs – “Connected”, The Flamingos – “I Only Have Eyes for You”, Dean Martin – “In the Chapel in the Moonlight”, The Offspring – “Self-Esteem” and of course, Tone Loc – “Wild Thing”. Fantastic stuff.

RUNNERS UP:

  • FIFA 13
  • Sleeping Dogs
  • Spec Ops: The Line

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BEST VOICE ACTING

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WINNER: Sleeping Dogs

Square Enix assembled an all star cast including Hong Kong actor Will Yun Lee, Tom Wilkinson, Lucy Liu and Emma Stone to bring the characters of Sleeping Dogs to life. They do a great job and really help to pull you into the world the game creates. Nolan North again pulls a Nate Drake performance out of the bag, this time on the small(er) screen of the Vita. He also took on the main role of Martin Walker in Spec Ops: The Line – you can see why he’s one of the most in demand, and best, voice actors in gaming.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Uncharted: Golden Abyss
  • Max Payne 3
  • Spec Ops: The Line

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SINGLE PLAYER GAME OF THE YEAR

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WINNER: Journey

Journey is a gaming experience like no other. As you make your way across desolate, sandy dunes the game will run you through a gamut of emotions. It’s such a wonderful game, play it online and in one sitting (it’s 2-3 hours long) – you won’t regret it. While in some respects Mass Effect 3 was disappointing, overall I thought it was a solid, enjoyable game. There were some interesting missions and choices you could make that meant, while the ending might not have been different, how you got to the conclusion of the story varied depending on your actions. Sleeping Dogs was so much fun I think I played almost the entire thing with a smile on my face but the dark horse in this race, sneaking up on the others with a fibre wire, is Hitman: Absolution. After a mis-step with Kane and Lynch 2, IO Interactive really delivered with Hitman. Accessible and challenging – definitely one of the best single player games out there this year.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Hitman: Absolution
  • Mass Effect 3
  • Sleeping Dogs

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MULTIPLAYER GAME OF THE YEAR

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WINNER: Borderlands 2

It hasn’t really been a great year for online multiplayer in my opinion – too few new games grabbed our attention and it was far too easy to jump back into titles like Battlefield 3 or Uncharted 3. However Borderlands 2 would be a worthy winner any year. Getting online with 3 of your friends and blasting through madcap missions was insane fun and the dash for spilled loot only added to the comedy. Mass Effect 3 successfully introduced multiplayer, it was only a horde mode of sorts but most enjoyable and the added depth of different character races gives it some longevity. Call Of Duty: Black Ops II was the most accessible and flexible yet, with some really great maps to boot. Max Payne 3 adds something different with modes like ‘Payne Killer’ and ‘Gang Wars’ but stands up as a third person action shooter in standard modes like Team Deathmatch as well. I was quite impressed with Max Payne’s online, especially the way the developer factored in bullet time but it didn’t seem like that many people were playing it beyond the first couple of weeks of release.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Mass Effect 3
  • Max Payne 3
  • Call Of Duty: Black Ops II

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GAME OF THE YEAR

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WINNER: Borderlands 2

If you’ve been keeping up with the blog or following me on Twitter it’s probably not too hard to guess this year’s winner. For Borderlands 2, Gearbox Software ramped up the game and refined it to such an extent that it is genuinely hard to find fault with it. It’s fun on your own but truly comes to life in online co-op. Memorable characters compliment the game’s wicked sense of humour and an outrageous amount of classes, guns, shields, mods and relics just add to the chaos. Borderlands 2 is a huge game that you will love playing through.

RUNNERS UP:

  • Sleeping Dogs
  • Hitman: Absolution
  • Journey

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So there you have it, another great year for gaming and the above is only the tip of iceberg. There were some great titles that didn’t make the shortlists but are still worth checking out. Things like Syndicate, Binary Domain, X-Com: Enemy Unknown and Need For Speed: Most Wanted for a start. Or how about Unit 13, Everybody’s Golf and LittleBigPlanet for the Vita.

I never got around to playing a few of the big games from this year, most notably The Walking Dead and Resident Evil 6 but I’ll hopefully get a chance to experience those soon.

There’s been plenty to play this year and 2013 looks interesting, especially with new hardware on the horizon.

What is your game of the year? Let me know what you agree/disagree with in the above and what titles you would’ve had in there.

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GregHorrorShow Game Awards 2011

Well I’ve been saying this every Christmas for the past few years but I honestly don’t think there has ever been a better time to be a gamer.

Once again we’ve been spoilt with a wealth of fantastic titles both in terms of first party content and third party.

As well as the big triple A exclusives, the level and standard of DLC and downloadable games has risen – giving gamers even more reason to keep playing older games, or to take a punt on a new downloadable title.

So without further ado – let’s kick things off!

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BEST GAME INNOVATION

WINNER: L.A. Noire – ‘Facial Capture’

I have to say it was pretty tough to pick between these as in their own way they could help move the industry forward. FIFA’s real time physics, while occasionally leading to comedy ‘bundles’, does add another dimension of realism to the game. Fight Night Champion gave us a great, enjoyable story mode *in a sports game*! ‘Operations’ Mode from Killzone 3 brings a touch of co-op style story to main multiplayer (shame there was only a few of them available) but looking back the innovation that stands out as something truly special was Team Bondi’s superb work at facial capture in L.A Noire. Just think, one day maybe faces in all games will look this good.

RUNNERS UP:

‘Operations’ Mode (Killzone 3)

‘Champion Mode’ (Fight Night Champion)

‘Real Physics Engine’ (FIFA 12)

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BEST DLC (CONTENT)

WINNER: Killzone 3 – From The Ashes Map Pack

While the L.A Noire and Mass Effect 2 DLC gave us more content I felt that the job Guerrilla Games did on revisiting the Killzone 2 maps for the third game was outstanding. The maps were recognisable but for the most part completely different – whether it was the crumbling Radec Academy or the overgrown Blood Gracht. Great stuff.

RUNNERS UP:

Mass Effect 2 – Arrival DLC

L.A Noire – Extra Cases

Battlefield 3: Back To Karkand

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BEST DOWNLOADABLE GAME

WINNER: Infamous: Festival Of Blood

Sucker Punch delivered an inspired slice of downloadable goodness with Infamous: Festival Of Blood – a completely stand alone game that requires no knowledge of the Infamous games or indeed no copy of Infamous 2 to play. Infamous’ hero/anti-hero Cole McGrath has been turned into a vampire by Bloody Mary and has until sunrise to save himself. While the main story is pretty short there is enough here to keep you well entertained, especially at the price. Sadly Payday: The Heist was a bit of a disappointment, which may have had more to do with a badly timed delay that meant it’s release slipped even closer to Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3. However if you get the chance definitely check out Stacking, which is a wonderfully charming puzzle game.

RUNNERS UP:

Back To The Future – The Game: Part 1

Payday: The Heist

Stacking

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MOST ANTICIPATED GAME OF 2012

WINNER: Mass Effect 3

This was between Mass Effect 3 and Bioshock Infinite – it was a very close call. While I love the Bioshock games the attachment that formed for my own Shepherd in Mass Effect 2 means that I can’t wait to see her get back into action. Hopefully she’ll be able to avenge those from our team that didn’t make it 😦 as the Reaper’s turn their attention to Earth.

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BEST GAME TRAILER

WINNER: Dead Island

There couldn’t really be a different winner could there? 😆 This trailer came out of nowhere and had one of the biggest, and quickest, en masse responses I’ve ever seen. It’s cleverly made and pulls at the heart strings, while also boasting an amazing piano piece to accompany it. Sadly it didn’t *really* represent the game because from what I’ve seen (I’m yet to pick it up) there isn’t much of an emotional aspect to Dead Island. Nevertheless, one of the best trailers for a while.

RUNNERS UP:

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations

GTA V

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BEST PSP GAME

WINNER: The 3rd Birthday

There hasn’t been a wealth of new games for the PSP (the fact that one of the nominees was a Mini title says it all) but there was one title in particular that stood out. While The 3rd Birthday is heavily Japanese influenced (crazy story/really hard etc) it’s not too inaccessible and the gunplay itself is very nicely handled. Despite all this I do have say I’m looking forward to the arrival of the dual analogue sticks on the PS Vita!

RUNNERS UP:

Speedball 2 (Mini)

PES 2011

Football Manager 2012

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BEST SPORTS GAME

WINNER: FIFA 12

FIFA takes the title again and this year justifies it more than ever. With a revamped physics engine that means collisions take place in real-time (as opposed to triggering standard animations) and a bold overhaul of the tackling mechanic, EA have taken football games to the next level. Dirt 3 ran this close as it’s a superb game and PES 2012 deserves a mention as it’s a big improvement on last year’s title but FIFA wins this one.

RUNNERS UP:

PES 2012

Dirt 3

Fight Night Champion

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BEST GRAPHICS

WINNER: Battlefield 3

While you’d think (looking at Battlefield’s gorgeous single player and (to a lesser extent) multiplayer) that this would be an easy decision, take a peek at the Runners Up in this category. Killzone 3, Dead Space 2 and Uncharted 3 have some of the best graphics I’ve seen. And that’s not to mention countless others (Batman: Arkham City/Portal 2/L.A. Noire/Resistance 3 and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations to name… well, quite a few actually) that looked great but didn’t make the nominations. However when all is said and done Battlefield 3 impressed me the most. At one stage I found myself ignoring my objective to watch the rain fall on the neon bathed rooftop I was standing on – simply awe inspiring.

RUNNERS UP:

Killzone 3

Dead Space 2

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

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BEST STORYLINE

WINNER: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

Whereas Uncharted 2: Among Thieves focused mainly on Drake’s relationship with Elena and Chloe, the third instalment in the series shines the spotlight on his bond with Victor ‘Sully’ Sullivan. That’s a plus for me as Sully is probably my favourite character in the game’s universe. In amongst this Drake is, once more, jet setting around the world trying to beat a villianous opponent to the (archeological) punch. With a story packed full of great characters Uncharted 3 continues the high standard of story telling set by the previous titles and I found myself with goosebumps at it’s conclusion.

RUNNERS UP:

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Killzone 3

Infamous 2

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BEST SOUNDTRACK (SCORE)

WINNER: Killzone 3 – Joris De Man

Joris De Man once again works his magic following the superb Killzone 2 score. Where the second game had the grand scale that accompanied the ISA’s invasion of Helghast, this score – with it’s lamenting strings and intense highs & lows – gives you a feel for the game’s theme of retreat/surrender. Revisiting a couple of pieces from the last game with a different twist is a great touch and really adds to the depth of the music. Special mention to both Uncharted 3 (Greg Edmonson) and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Jeremy Soule) which were both also amazing scores.

RUNNERS UP:

SOCOM 4

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

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BEST SOUNDTRACK (LICENSED)

WINNER: L.A Noire

While FIFA 12 delivered it’s usual mix of current flavour tracks, Dirt 3 hit some high points with a few great choices and LittleBigPlanet 2 was close to taking this award with it’s whimsical selection, it was Team Bondi’s ill fated (for them unfortunately, they no longer exist – despite the game being a roaring success) Noir project that snags the award. Featuring the awesome talents of legends like Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong and Peggy Lee you were never short of great music to accompany you as you travelled around L.A in the shoes of Cole Phelps.

RUNNERS UP:

Dirt3

LittleBigPlanet 2

FIFA 12

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BEST VOICE ACTING

WINNER: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

There just isn’t another series out there like Uncharted when it comes to voice acting. The guys and girls at Naughty Dog do a fantasic job of bringing the best out of the actors involved and as the series has gone on the actors have become more and more comfortable ad libbing and bouncing ideas off of each other. It shows in some of the wonderful moments the characters share. Everyone involved deserves a pat on the back for another job well done – hopefully going forward more and more games will try and bring more characters to life rather than just getting someone to come in a booth and read lines alone.

RUNNERS UP:

Portal 2

Killzone 3

Batman: Arkham City

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SINGLE PLAYER GAME OF THE YEAR

WINNER: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Mass Effect 2 was nailed on to win this right up until the moment I fired up The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, created a character and set off into the massive world Bethesda have made for you to shape your own story. I don’t think I have ever played a game that feels so organic before. Everything you do feels like a part of the story, indeed there is scope here for you to barely touch the main missions and just create a story of your own to play through. If you’re someone that enjoys single player games and is happy to get lost within a game for hours upon end, this was the title for you in 2011. I also have to give a nod to Resistance 3, which had – in my opinion – the best story of the entire series and seems to have be sadly overlooked by the public at large.

RUNNERS UP:

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

Resistance 3

Mass Effect 2

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MULTIPLAYER GAME OF THE YEAR

WINNER: Battlefield 3

As much as I’ve loved the online for Uncharted 3 and Killzone 3 the sheer unpredictability of Battlefield 3 sees it secure the award for best multiplayer. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations deserves praise for managing to refine enough from last year to make a positive difference to the gameplay. However, nothing can touch Battlefield 3 at it’s best. When in a squad with friends… rushing the objective under a hail of debris from multiple explosions… as a fighter jet ploughs into the ground alongside you, the resulting ‘bang’ knocking the sound from the game as bullets come from all directions… as you creep up on an unsuspecting opponent and knife him to steal his dog tags… shooting enemies through walls that would be impervious to bullets on other shooters… the list is endless. It’s been a great year for multiplayer games on the PS3 what with Killzone 3, Uncharted 3, Resistance 3, SOCOM 4 and, for some less serious fun, LittleBigPlanet 2.

RUNNERS UP:

Killzone 3

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations

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GAME OF THE YEAR

WINNER: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

As an overall gaming experience I don’t feel Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception can be touched this year. Despite being runner up for both the single player and mulitplayer awards, the combination of the two sides of Uncharted 3 give it the edge. While Skyrim is outstanding as a single player experience I don’t feel it can compare with the variety of gameplay that Uncharted 3 can provide. Sadly for Battlefield 3 it’s campiagn was a let down and in fact it was Killzone 3 that came closest to Uncharted 3 in my opinion. Guerrilla Games third instalment in the futuristic first person shooter, had a great story and an impressive multiplayer. Uncharted 3’s  stellar campaign that, while similar to second game, provided plenty of new exposition and a few new gameplay surprises alongside a vastly improved and much deeper multiplayer offering means that for me that this is the complete gaming package for 2011.

RUNNERS UP:

Killzone 3

Battlefield 3

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

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So there we go – it’s been a challenge to get through enough of the big titles that arrived in October/November to form an opinion but the job was done in the end.

It’s crazy to think of the games that missed out on nominations – Rage, Bulletstorm, Crysis 2, Mortal Kombat, Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Dragon Age II to name a few. In another year games like Dead Space 2, Batman: Arkham City, Portal 2, Resistance 3 and Infamous 2 would probably have walked away with awards and it’s a testament to the high standard of games this year that they have gone home empty handed.

What are your thoughts? Would be great to hear what your picks for the year were!

Thanks for reading through the year and contributing in the comment sections – it’s always appreciated. See you in 2012! 🙂

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