I was going to finish this up by the time Christmas came around, but I was so enamored with other things that I just didn't find the time to do so by then. I'm kind of late to the party, but that's not stopping me. I'm sure everybody's grieving on Gamespot's picks for GOTY and whatnot--and people are making their own awards/lists to make their voices heard--so I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon. Here are my personal video game awards. Enjoy!
Note: Images were taken out because Gamespot won't allow me to post a blog that's longer than 2000000 words.
Best Kinda Old/Kinda Retro Game (That Didn't Come Out In 2011)
Look, there are a ton of video games coming out each year. We barely have enough time to actually invest hours on every single one. So I occasionally roll out my cabinet of old, past-gen library and basically finish up whatever games I haven't yet. In this case, the best 'old' game I enjoyed the most this year was Dark Cloud 2 (Dark Chronicle in other regions). The game offered a great dungeon-crawling experience with some unique additions to the role-playing formula. In all its seemingly impenetrable layer of complexity--the weapon synthesizing, the Georama system, fishing, Spheda (basically golf), photography/invention (list goes on and on)--everything was extremely fun to do and, more importantly, meaningful to the overall experience. Dark Cloud 2 may fall short on its contrived story, but everything else about it is captivating, and definitely one of the best role-playing games I've ever played so far.
Best New Character
There was no other character this year that both played as the bumbling idiot and worthy antagonist quite like Wheatley. He more or less served as comic relief in Portal 2, but this funny personality core managed to become something bigger than himself, evident in the game's narrative. It's easy to make fun of Wheatley because he's that type of character, but his moments alone are what give Portal 2 its appropriate light-hearted tone and some pretty hilarious lines on top of that. Of course, you'd have to give credit to voice actor Stephen Merchant for producing such a memorable character this year, but it's Valve's excellent writing that deserves most of it.
Runners-up: Space Core (Portal 2), Johnson (Shadows of the Damned), Adam Jensen (Deus Ex: Human Revolution), Katherine (Catherine)
Best Nolan North Performance
Penguin (Batman: Arkham City)
Oh man, this seriously was hard to choose. Well, not really. It was between his "SPAAAAACE!!" impression in Portal 2 and his outstanding performance as Cobblepot; I chose the latter. The best thing about both of these choices? None of them actually sound like the Nathan Drake voice, and shows how much range and talent Nolan North has. It's pretty obvious, but hey, I had to point it out.
Runners-up: Space Core/Defective Turrets (Portal 2), Nathan Drake (Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception)
The 'Drinking Game' Game of 2011
Bored at parties? Can't seem to find a way to make gaming sessions with your best buddies more fun and interesting? Tired of playing the same old beer pong? Have I got just the game for you! From beginning to end, SUDA-51's latest outing, Shadows of the Damned, is littered with d*ck jokes and other sexual innuendos that it just makes for a good drinking game at a party. Every time you hear a sex joke, you drink! It's just got enough of these tidbits that won't totally kill you of alcohol poisoning. And you know what? Some of these jokes are actually pretty funny.
It's weird that somebody would even think of picking a game that they haven't played yet for this category. And yet, here we are. Still, that won't stop people from going to Youtube and listen to Bastion's soundtrack there, and that's exactly what I did. There were some great video game music this year, but it was "Build That Wall" and the ending song, "Setting Sail, Coming Home" that captured my attention the most. Don't get me wrong; the rest of Darren Korb's instrumental work is fantastic, but these two songs are more than enough to justify the soundtrack's quality, the tone it's going for, and just another game that's slowly convincing me to get an Xbox 360.
Props for Originality
A block-moving puzzle game with a story? Sounds like a bad combination, right?
Actually, no. While it's not the best way to promote a healthy relationship with that special someone, Catherine manages to implement its fairly intense puzzle sequences with an entertaining narrative filled with morality choices, freakish nightmares, and sheep. And let's face it: We need more games like Catherine; games that introduce unique concepts to familiar genres and put them to good use. It's not every day we get to see publishers take a risk on original IP like this, and I'm glad Atlus has taken the plunge.
Best Game I Haven't Played (Yet)
There were a number of noteworthy titles I missed playing this year, but Dark Souls is what I'm guilt-ridden about the most. I spent only a few hours on Demon's Souls, and it was every bit as punishing as they say. Yet, I wanted to jump back in and try again…only to fail. That's fine with me. Dark Souls seems like it's every bit of the latter but much harder, and I'd have to wonder if the developers at From Software just absolutely hate the entire human race. Still, it's an immersive role-playing game I have interest in, and hopefully I'll man up and actually buy it someday.
Most Disappointing Game
Assassin's Creed: Revelations
As a big fan of the AC franchise, it saddens me that I have to put Revelations as the 'winner' of this dubious honor. You can read my review on it here because I've already said all there is to say on how disappointed I am with Ubisoft's latest face-and-neck stabbing extravaganza. In short, it's still a fun game but it doesn't fulfill all expectations, and the new additions to the formula are needless, feel like they're forced, and worst of all, boring. I really hope Ubisoft addresses these issues and improves with Assassin's Creed III next year, but I'm still having doubts.
Best Story – Batman: Arkham City
Worst Game – Duke Nukem: Forever
Best Looking Game – Dark Souls, Batman: Arkham City, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, El Shaddai, I can't choose!
Best Character Voiced By Someone Other Than Nolan North – Grayson Hunt (Steve Blum – Bulletstorm) and The Boss (Troy Baker – Saints Row: The Third)
Best Box Art – Dark Souls (Japanese Version)