Spore nabs four of GCA's Best of E3

Game Critics Awards E3 winners announced; Will Wright's evolution sim wins Best of Show, EA grabs seven, PS3 takes Best Hardware.

Three weeks after the opening day of exhibits at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, the Game Critics Awards announced its annual Best of E3 winners today on its official Web site. The independent group, a collection of 33 journalists from various media outlets such as Time, Rolling Stone, and GameSpot, selects winners from several categories, including Best of Show, Best Hardware/Peripheral, and Best Fighting Game.

This year's Million Dollar Baby was Will Wright's Spore, which took home four awards by beating out contenders F.E.A.R., Gears of War, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and the Xbox 360 for the most coveted prize: Best of Show. Spore also took home the awards for Best Original Game, Best PC Game, and Best Simulation Game. (Spore also won GameSpot's Most Innovative award in its E3 2005 Editors' Choice Awards.) The strategy game lets players, depending on their opinions of evolution, assume the role of God or Mother Nature by starting them off with single-celled creatures that eventually "develop" across all reaches of the cosmos. Don't break out your petri dishes just yet, because Spore isn't scheduled to grow on PCs until late 2006. Spore is being developed by Maxis and published by Electronic Arts.

Speaking of Electronic Arts, the publisher more than doubled the total number of wins of its rivals by grabbing seven awards. In addition to the four wins garnered from Spore, EA got victories from Madden NFL 06 (Best Sports Game), Burnout Revenge (Best Racing Game), and Battlefield 2 (Best Online Multiplayer Game). EA continued to show its strength in the market with a total of 16 nominations (Nintendo was second with 12), which is five more than it had last year.

Nintendo's 12 nominations earned the publisher three awards, with Link's latest adventure, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for the GameCube, winning the Best Console Game and Best Action/Adventure Game titles (and GameSpot's E3 2005 Game of the Show). Nintendogs, the virtual pet game for the DS, walked off with Best Handheld Game.

The battle between the next-generation systems went to Sony's PlayStation 3. The console that surprised many during Sony's press conference took home the award for Best Hardware/Peripheral, besting Nintendo's Game Boy Micro, Tiger Telematic's Gizmondo, and Microsoft's Xbox 360. The trailer that had everyone picking their jaws up off the floor, the PS3's Killzone (working title), from Guerilla Games, won Special Commendation for Graphics, an award that was open to nonplayable games. The trailer has spawned a bit of controversy, as gamers have questioned whether the footage was rendered in real time or prerendered. The Xbox 360 was nominated for two awards, Best of Show and the aforementioned Best Hardware.

A full list of nominees and winners is below (winners in bold):

Best of Show
F.E.A.R. (Monolith Productions/Vivendi Universal Games for PC)
Gears of War (Epic Games/Microsoft Games Studio for Xbox 360)
Spore (Maxis/Electronic Arts for PC)
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Nintendo for GameCube)
Xbox 360 (Microsoft)

Best Original Game
Indigo Prophecy (Quantic Dream/Atari for PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox)
Nintendogs (Nintendo for Nintendo DS)
Okami (Clover Studios/Capcom for PlayStation 2)
Shadow of the Colossus (SCEI/SCEA for PlayStation 2)
Spore (Maxis/Electronic Arts for PC)

Best PC Game
Age of Empires III (Ensemble Studios/Microsoft Games Studios for PC)
Battlefield 2 (Digital Illusions/Electronic Arts for PC)
F.E.A.R. (Monolith Productions/Vivendi Universal Games for PC)
Prey (Human Head Studios/3D Realms/2K Games for PC)
Spore (Maxis/Electronic Arts for PC)

Best Console Game
Black (Criterion Games/Electronic Arts for PlayStation 2, Xbox)
Gears of War (Epic Games/Microsoft Games Studios for Xbox 360)
Okami (Clover Studios/Capcom for PlayStation 2)
Shadow of the Colossus (SCEI/SCEA for PlayStation 2)
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Nintendo for GameCube)

Best Handheld Game
Burnout Legends (Criterion Games/Electronic Arts for PSP)
Infected (Planet Moon Studios/Majesco Games for PSP)
Mario Kart DS (Nintendo for Nintendo DS)
Nintendogs (Nintendo for Nintendo DS)
SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo (Zipper/SCEA for PSP)

Best Peripheral / Hardware
Game Boy Micro (Nintendo)
Gizmondo (Tiger Telematics)
PlayStation 3 (Sony Computer Entertainment/ Nvidia/IBM)
Xbox 360 (Microsoft)

Best Action Game
Battlefield 2 (Digital Illusions/Electronic Arts for PC)
Black (Criterion Games/Electronic Arts for PS2, Xbox)
Call of Duty 2 (Infinity Ward/Activision for PC, Xbox 360)
F.E.A.R. (Monolith Productions/Vivendi Universal Games for PC)
Gears of War (Epic Games/Microsoft for Xbox 360)

Best Action/Adventure Game
Okami (Clover Studios/Capcom for PlayStation 2)
Peter Jackson's King Kong (UbiSoft for All Platforms)
Shadow of the Colossus (SCEI/SCEA for PlayStation 2)
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Nintendo for GameCube)
Ultimate Spider-Man (Treyarch/Activision for GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox)

Best Fighting Game
Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects (Nihilistic/EA for GC/PS2/Xbox/PSP)
Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks (Paradox/Midway Games for PlayStation 2/Xbox)
Soul Calibur III (Namco for PlayStation 2)
The Con (Think and Feel/Sony for PSP)

Best Role Playing Game
City of Villains (Cryptic Studios/NC Soft for PC)
Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (Level 5/Square Enix for PS2)
Hellgate: London (Flagship Studios/Namco for PC)
Kingdom Hearts II (Square Enix for PS2)
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Bethesda Software for PC / Xbox 360)

Best Racing Game
Burnout Legends (Criterion Games/Electronic Arts for PSP)
Burnout Revenge (Criterion Games/Electronic Arts for PlayStation 2/Xbox)
Full Auto (Pseudo Interactive/Sega for Xbox 360)
Mario Kart DS (Nintendo for Nintendo DS)
Need for Speed Most Wanted (Electronic Arts for All Platforms)

Best Simulation Game
Nintendogs (Nintendo for Nintendo DS)
The Sims 2 (Electronic Arts for All Consoles)
Spore (Maxis/Electronic Arts for PC)
The Movies (Lionhead Studios/Activision for PC)
Trauma Center: Under the Knife (Atlus Co. for Nintendo DS)

Best Sports Game
Blitz: The League (Midway for PS2/Xbox)
Madden NFL 06 (EA Sports/Electronic Arts for All Platforms)
Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland (Neversoft/Activision for All Platforms)
Top Spin 2 (2K Sports for Xbox 360)
Virtua Tennis: World Tour (Sega for PSP)

Best Strategy Game
Age of Empires III (Ensemble Studios/Microsoft for PC)
Civilization IV (Firaxis Games/2K Games for PC)
Company of Heroes (Relic/THQ for PC)
Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends (Big Huge Games/Microsoft for PC)
Star Wars Empire At War (Petroglyph Games/LucasArts for PC)

Best Puzzle/Trivia/Parlor Game
EyeToy: Kinetic (SCEE London Studio/SCEA for PS2)
Mario Party 7 (Hudson/Nintendo for GameCube)
Meteos (Q Entertainment/Nintendo for Nintendo DS)
We Love Katamari (Namco for PlayStation 2)
Yoot Saito's Odama (Vivarium/Nintendo for GameCube)

Best Online Multiplayer Game
Auto Assault (NetDevil/NCSoft for PC)
Battlefield 2 (Digital Illusions/Electronic Arts for PC)
City of Villains (Cryptic Studios/NCSoft for PC)
SOCOM 3: U.S. NAVY SEALs (Zipper Interactive/SCEA for PS2)
Star Wars Battlefront II (Pandemic Studios/LucasArts for PC, PS2, Xbox)

Special Commendation for Graphics
Killzone 2 (Guerilla Games/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe for PS3)

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