Last year, the largely overused effects were lens flare and other easy lighting tricks. While it was usually limited to driving games and cutscenes, the lens flare effect spread wide in 2000, showing up in fighting games, sports games, and other places where it seemed like a really cheesy afterthought. While realistically modeled water hasn't really been overused in 2001, this was definitely the year when water got real. Stretching beyond just water-based sports and racing games, water effects got a whole lot better in 2001, and we'd like to take a moment to honor the game that did it the best. Here is the winner of the 2001 Best In-Game Water Award:
Wave Race: Blue Storm
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This category originally began as a sort of gag around the GameSpot offices, when the first games with spectacular-looking water were originally being unveiled. Wave Race: Blue Storm's water impressed us with its unpredictability-- the waves were completely unscripted and came in a variety of shapes and sizes. The use of impressive environment mapping--which reflected and warped the surroundings on the surface of the water--helped to intensify the realism. Perhaps the most important way that Wave Race: Blue Storm pleased us was that it was the only game where the water actually reacted like real water.
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