D.I.C.E. 07: Gears grabs gold

Gears of War takes home eight D.I.C.E. awards, including Game of the Year, Console Game of the Year, and Action/Adventure Game of the Year; Wii Sports nabs three.

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Sid Meier walks the red carpet before the Achievement Awards.
Sid Meier walks the red carpet before the Achievement Awards.

LAS VEGAS--On the surface, the 10th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards (IAAs) seemed a lot like the Ninth Annual Interactive Achievement Awards--same venue (The Joint at Las Vegas' Hard Rock Hotel & Casino), same host (actor/comedian Jay Mohr), and same elbow-rubbing with industry celebs.

However, this year's coinciding D.I.C.E. Summit, put on by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences (AIAS), has grown, and in turn so has the IAA show. This year's awards show was of particular interest, because it is the first AIAS awards show to include all three new game consoles.

Journalist Heather Chaplin interviews AIAS president Joseph Olin on the red carpet.
Journalist Heather Chaplin interviews AIAS president Joseph Olin on the red carpet.

The awards show went off with just one technical hitch, which was filled with Mohr's semi-humorous tales of his cat fornicating. But as far as awards shows go, the AIAS pulled off a winner. Though there were plenty of people pulling for their own creations, the crowd, made up of industry bigwigs and not the randoms off the street like Spike TV's Video Game Awards, clearly appreciated a worthy winner.

Lifetime Achievement Award recipients Minoru Arakawa and Howard Lincoln.
Lifetime Achievement Award recipients Minoru Arakawa and Howard Lincoln.

The real fight to watch was between two of the most critically acclaimed games of the year--Epic Games' Gears of War and Bethesda Softworks' The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Oblivion took home the top prize at December's Spike TV Video Game Awards, both were matched up tonight for Game of the Year, and both will go head-to-head at the GDC Awards in March.

Over the course of the show, it was a dominating performance by Gears of War, which walked away with eight awards. The shooter took the very first two awards, prompting host Mohr to say, "Let's not get all sour after we're here for one and a half hours for Gears of War. Don't get pissy. Just get a cocktail."

Gears won the awards for Outstanding Character Performance - Male, Outstanding Achievement in Animation, Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction, Outstanding Achievement in Online Play, Outstanding Achievement in Visual Engineering, Action/Adventure Game of the Year, Console Game of the Year, and Overall Game of the Year.

Nintendo's Reggie Fils-Aime stands guard over the Lifetime Achievement Awards handed out earlier in the night to Minoru Arakawa and Howard Lincoln.
Nintendo's Reggie Fils-Aime stands guard over the Lifetime Achievement Awards handed out earlier in the night to Minoru Arakawa and Howard Lincoln.

One of the more surprising victors of the evening was Nintendo's pack-in Wii game, Wii Sports. If a category dabbled in innovation or game play, Wii Sports grabbed it. The game took home the awards for Outstanding Achievement in Game Play Engineering, Outstanding Achievement in Game Design, and Outstanding Innovation in Gaming.

However, the award for best reception of an award goes to Cliffy B, accepting the prize for Gears' win for Outstanding Achievement in Online Play. The prize was presented by Sony president of worldwide studios Phil Harrison, and when Gears was announced as the winner, many an eye widened in the crowd.

As Cliff accepted the award, he made sure to mention how robust the Xbox 360's online capabilities were--a not-too-veiled dig at Harrison's PlayStation 3. Harrison took the jab in good humor even when Cliff left the stage without an acknowledgement to Harrison, and chuckled as he approached the microphone to present the next award. These are the moments that make award shows like this.

The full list of nominees and categories is below, with winners in bold.

Overall Game of the Year:
Gears of War (Epic Games/Microsoft Game Studios)
Wii Sports (Nintendo/Nintendo)
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Nintendo/Nintendo)
Guitar Hero 2 (Harmonix/Activision/Red Octane)
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Bethesda Softworks/2K Games)

Console Game of the Year:
Gears of War (Epic Games/Microsoft Game Studios)
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Nintendo/Nintendo)
Wii Sports (Nintendo/Nintendo)
Guitar Hero 2 (Harmonix/Activision/Red Octane)
Viva Piñata (Rare/Microsoft Game Studios)

Computer Game of the Year:
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Bethesda Softworks/2K Games)
Company of Heroes (Relic/THQ)
Battlefield 2142 (D.I.C.E./Electronic Arts)
Prey (Human Head Games/2K Games)
Age of Empires III: The Warchiefs (Ensemble Studios/Microsoft Game Studios)

Outstanding Innovation in Gaming:
Wii Sports (Nintendo/Nintendo)
Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day (Nintendo/Nintendo)
Gears of War (Epic Games/Microsoft Game Studios)
Viva Piñata (Rare/Microsoft Game Studios)
LocoRoco (Sony Computer Entertainment/Sony Computer Entertainment)

Handheld Game of the Year:
LocoRoco (Sony Computer Entertainment/Sony Computer Entertainment)
Elite Beat Agents (Nintendo/Nintendo)
New Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo/Nintendo)
Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day (Nintendo/Nintendo)
Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (TT Games/Lucas Arts)

Outstanding Achievement in Animation
Gears of War (Epic Games/Microsoft Game Studios)
Daxter (ReadyatDawn/Sony Computer Entertainment)
Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (TT Games/Lucas Arts)
Rayman Raving Rabidds (Ubisoft Montpellier/Ubisoft)
Fight Night Round 3 (EA Sports/Electronic Arts)

Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction
Gears of War (Epic Games/Microsoft Game Studios)
Final Fantasy XII (Square Enix/Square Enix)
Call of Duty 3 (Treyarch/Activision)
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft)
Viva Piñata (Rare/Microsoft Game Studios)

Outstanding Achievement in Soundtrack
Guitar Hero 2 (Harmonix/Activision/Red Octane)
SingStar Rocks! (Sony Computer Entertainment London/Sony Computer Entertainment)
FIFA '07 (Electronic Arts Canada/Electronic Arts)
Marc Ecko's Getting Up (The Collective/Atari)
Scarface (Radical Entertainment/Sierra Entertainment)

Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition
Call of Duty 3 (Treyarch/Activision)
LocoRoco (Sony Computer Entertainment/Sony Computer Entertainment)
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Bethesda Softworks/2K Games)
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent (Ubisoft Shanghai/Ubisoft)
Black (Criterion Games/Electronic Arts)

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design
Call of Duty 3 (Treyarch/Activision)
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Bethesda Softworks/2K Games)
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (Redstorm Studios/Ubisoft Paris/Ubisoft)
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent (Ubisoft Shanghai/Ubisoft)
Company of Heroes (Relic/THQ)

Outstanding Character Performance - Male
Gears of War (Epic Games/Microsoft Game Studios)
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent(Ubisoft Shanghai/Ubisoft)
Bully (Rockstar Games/Rockstar Games)
Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (TT Games/Lucas Arts)
Daxter (ReadyatDawn/Sony Computer Entertainment)

Outstanding Achievement in Character Performance - Female
Saints Row (Volition/THQ)
Desperate Housewives (Liquid Entertainment/Buena Vista Games)
Viva Piñata (Rare/Microsoft Game Studios)
Bully (Rockstar Games/Rockstar Games)
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Bethesda Softworks/2K Games)

Outstanding Achievement in Story and Character Development
Sam & Max Episode 1: Culture Shock (GameTap/Telltale Games)
Saints Row (Volition/THQ)
24: The Game (Sony Online Entertainment/2K Games)
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Nintendo/Nintendo)
Dreamfall: The Longest Journey (Funcom/Aspyr)

Outstanding Achievement in Game Play Engineering
Wii Sports (Nintendo/Nintendo)
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Bethesda Softworks/2K Games)
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Nintendo/Nintendo)
Gears of War (Epic Games/Microsoft Game Studios)
Company of Heroes (Relic/THQ)

Outstanding Achievement in Online Game Play
Call of Duty 3 (Treyarch/Activision)
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (Redstorm Studios/Ubisoft Paris/Ubisoft)
Gears of War (Epic Games/Microsoft Game Studios)
Chromehounds (From Software/Sega of America)
Battlefield 2142 (D.I.C.E./Electronic Arts)

Outstanding Achievement in Visual Engineering
Viva Piñata (Rare/Microsoft Game Studios)
Resistance: Fall of Man (Insomniac Games/Sony Computer Entertainment)
Gears of War (Epic Games/Microsoft Game Studios)
Call of Duty 3 (Treyarch/Activision)
Company of Heroes (Relic/THQ)

Outstanding Achievement in Game Design
Wii Sports (Nintendo/Nintendo)
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Bethesda Softworks/2K Games)
Company of Heroes (Relic/THQ)
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Nintendo/Nintendo)
Nintendo Brain Age (Nintendo/Nintendo)

Sports Game of the Year
Tony Hawk's Project 8 (Neversoft Entertainment/Activision)
MLB '06: The Show (SCEA SD Sports Studio/Sony Computer Entertainment)
NBA 2K7 (Visual Concepts/2K Sports)
FIFA '07 (Electronic Arts Canada/Electronic Arts)
NBA '07 (SCEA SD Sports Studio/Sony Computer Entertainment)

Strategy Game of the Year
Company of Heroes (Relic/THQ)
Star Wars: Empire at War (Petroglyph/Lucas Arts)
Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II (Electronic Arts/Electronic Arts)
Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends (Big Huge Games/Microsoft Game Studios)
Medieval II: Total War (Creative Assembly/Sega of America)

First-Person Action Game of the Year
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft)
Resistance: Fall of Man (Insomniac Games/Sony Computer Entertainment)
Prey (Human Head Games/2K Games)
Half Life 2: Episode 1 (Valve/Electronic Arts)
Black (Criterion Games/Electronic Arts)

Fighting Game of the Year
Fight Night Round 3 (EA Sports/Electronic Arts)
Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (Midway/Midway)
WWE Smackdown! Vs. Raw 2006 (Yuke's Co. Ltd./THQ)
Tekken Dark Ressurection (Namco/Namco)

Racing Game of the Year
Test Drive Unlimited (Eden Studios/Atari)
Burnout Revenge (Criterion Games/Electronic Arts)
Excite Truck (Nintendo/Nintendo)
Full Auto 2: Battlelines (Pseudo Interactive/Sega of America)
Need for Speed: Carbon (Black Box/Electronic Arts)

Role-Playing Game of the Year
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Bethesda Softworks/2K Games)
Final Fantasy XII (Square Enix/Square Enix)
Final Fantasy III DS (Square Enix/Square Enix)
Titan Quest (Iron Lore Entertainment/THQ)
Phantasy Star Universe (Sonic Team/Sega of America)

Children's Game of the Year
LocoRoco (Sony Computer Entertainment/Sony Computer Entertainment)
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team (The Pokemon Co./CHUNSOFT Co./Nintendo)
Disney's Kim Possible: What's the Switch (A2M/Buena Vista Games)
Over the Hedge (Edge of Reality/Activision)
Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning (Krome Studios/Sierra Entertainment)

Action/Adventure Game of the Year
Gears of War (Epic Games/Microsoft Game Studios)
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Nintendo/Nintendo)
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent (Ubisoft Shanghai/Ubisoft)
Saints Row (Volition/THQ)
Daxter (ReadyatDawn/Sony Computer Entertainment)

Massively Multiplayer Game of the Year
Eve Online: Revelations (CCP Games/CCP Games)
Guild Wars: Nightfall (Arena Net/NCsoft)
Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach (Turbine/Atari/Wizards of the Coast)
Auto Assault (Net Devil/NCsoft)

Family Game of the Year
Rayman Raving Rabidds (Ubisoft Montpellier/Ubisoft)
Viva Piñata (Rare/Microsoft Game Studios)
Guitar Hero 2 (Harmonix/Activision/Red Octane)
Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (TT Games/Lucas Arts)
Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day (Nintendo/Nintendo)

Simulation Game of the Year
Microsoft Flight Simulator X (Microsoft Game Studios/Microsoft Game Studios)
Sid Meier's Railroads! (Firaxis Games/2K Games)
Tourist Trophy (Polyphony Digital, Inc./Sony Computer Entertainment)

Downloadable Game of the Year
Mystery Case Files: Prime Suspects (Big Fish Games/Big Fish Games)
Virtual Villagers: A New Home (Last Day of Work/Big Fish Games)
Diner Dash: Flo on the Go (Playfirst/Playfirst)
Bookworm Adventures (PopCap/PopCap)
Plantasia (Playfirst/Playfirst)

Mobile Game of the Year
Orcs & Elves (Fountainhead Entertainment/Electronic Arts Mobile)
Tropical Madness (Gameloft/Gameloft)
Duckshot (MoFactor/Hands-On Mobile)
Brothers in Arms 3D (Gameloft)

[For a different take on D.I.C.E. 2007, take a look at the GameSpot News Blog, containing interviews with Myst Online's Rand Miller and Lord British himself, NCsoft exec producer Richard Garriott.]

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