Game critics narrow down Best of E3

Journalists from 37 North American publications meld minds to vote on best of E3 2006; Gears of War, Nintendo lead pack. Winners announced next week.

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In the wake of the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the only thing almost as abundant as the trinkets and schwag being sold on online auction sites are the Best of E3 lists touted by various publications. However, one set of awards stands out from the rest as it represents a large sample of the gaming press.

The Game Critics Awards, first held in 1998, is decided by a group of dozens of journalists from different media outlets. This year, 37 judges participated in deciding the best games and hardware from E3 2006. Leading gaming editors culled from publications such as Newsweek, CNN/Money, The Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, and GameSpot chimed in on what they thought were the highlights of the conference.

Categories this year include Best of Show, Best Hardware, and several genre awards. Epic Games' Gears of War for the Xbox 360 leads all games with five nominations, including Best of Show, Best Original Game, Best Console Game, Best Action Game, and Best Online Multiplayer Game. Following close behind with four nominations are Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed for the PlayStation 3, Electronic Arts' Spore for the PC (which won the GCA's Best of Show in 2005), and Irrational Games' BioShock for the Xbox 360 and PC, which won GameSpot's Game of the Show this year.

On the publishers' side, Nintendo was out in front with 13 nominations. Electronic Arts showed its muscle by coming in second with 11, while Sony and Microsoft followed with 10 and nine, respectively.

As for the most nominated platforms, the PC dominated the list with 29 nominations (perhaps helped by its own category--other platforms were lumped into Best Handheld Game or Best Console Game). The next generation is apparently well underway, as the Xbox 360 came in second with 21, the PS3 came in third with 10, and the Wii followed with nine. The war between handhelds wasn't much of a contest, as the PSP took nine nods, and the DS only three.

To qualify for the awards, games must have been playable in some form--editors must have been able to have hands-on time with the title. Games shown only as developer-controlled theater demos, trailers, and prescripted gameplay sequences were automatically disqualified. Nominations were made by each judge after E3, with the top five in each category going on the ballot.

Each judge will now vote on their top choice in each category, and the winners will be announced on the Game Critics Awards Web site on Wednesday, May 31, at 8:30 p.m. PDT.

A full breakdown of nominees is listed below.

Best of Show
Assassin's Creed (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft for PlayStation 3)
BioShock (Irrational Games/2K Games for PC and Xbox 360)
Gears of War (Epic Games/Microsoft Games Studio for Xbox 360)
Spore (Electronic Arts for PC)
Wii (Nintendo)

Best Original Game
Assassin's Creed (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft for PlayStation 3)
BioShock (Irrational Games/2K Games for PC/Xbox 360)
Gears of War (Epic Games/Microsoft Games Studio for Xbox 360)
LocoRoco (SCEJ/Sony Computer Entertainment for PSP)
Spore (Electronic Arts for PC)
Wii Sports (Nintendo for Wii)

Best PC Game
Crysis (Crytek/Electronic Arts for PC)
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (Splash Damage/id/Activision for PC)
Hellgate: London (Flagship Studios/Namco Bandai Games for PC)
Supreme Commander (Gas Powered Games/THQ for PC)
Spore (Electronic Arts for PC)

Best Console Game
Assassin's Creed (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft for PlayStation 3)
BioShock (Irrational Games/2K Games for PC and Xbox 360)
Gears of War (Epic Games/Microsoft Games Studios for Xbox 360)
Mass Effect (BioWare/Microsoft Games Studio for Xbox 360)
Super Mario Galaxy (Nintendo for Wii)

Best Handheld Game
Elite Beat Agents (Inis/Nintendo for Nintendo DS)
Killzone: Liberation (Guerrilla/Sony Computer Entertainment for PSP)
LocoRoco (SCEJ/Sony Computer Entertainment for PSP)
Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops (Kojima Productions/Konami for PSP)
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (Nintendo for Nintendo DS)

Best Hardware
DS Lite (Nintendo)
Logitech G25 Racing Wheel (Logitech for PC)
PlayStation 3 (Sony Computer Entertainment)
Wii (Nintendo)
Xbox 360 Wireless Headset (Microsoft for Xbox 360)

Best Action Game
Crysis (Crytek/Electronic Arts for PC)
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (Splash Damage/id/Activision for PC)
Gears of War (Epic Games/Microsoft Games Studios for Xbox 360)
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition (Capcom for Xbox 360)
Resistance: Fall of Man (Insomniac/SCEA for PlayStation 3)

Best Action/Adventure Game
Assassin's Creed (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft for PlayStation 3)
BioShock (Irrational Games/2K Games for PC and Xbox 360)
God of War 2 (Sony Santa Monica/SCEA for PlayStation 2)
Super Mario Galaxy (Nintendo for Wii)
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Nintendo for GameCube/Wii)

Best Fighting Game
Heavenly Sword (Ninja Theory/Sony Computer Entertainment for PS3)
Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (Midway Games for PlayStation 2/Xbox)
Tekken: Dark Resurrection (Namco Bandai Games for PSP)
Virtua Fighter 5 (Sega for Arcade/PlayStation 3)
WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2007 (Yuke's/THQ for 360/PS3/PS2/PSP)

Best Role-Playing Game
Final Fantasy XII (Square Enix for PlayStation 2)
Hellgate: London (Flagship Studios/Namco Bandai Games for PC)
Mass Effect (BioWare/Microsoft Games Studio for Xbox 360)
Neverwinter Nights 2 (Obsidian/Atari for PC)
World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade (Blizzard for PC)

Best Racing Game
Excite Truck (Nintendo for Wii)
Formula One 06 (Studio Liverpool/SCEE for PlayStation 3)
Gran Turismo HD (Polyphony Digital/Sony Computer Entertainment for PS3)
MotoGP 06 (Climax/THQ for Xbox 360)
Test Drive Unlimited (Eden Studios/Atari for Xbox 360, PC, PS2, PSP)

Best Simulation Game
Microsoft Flight Simulator X (Microsoft Games Studio for PC)
Sid Meier's Railroads! (Firaxis Games/2K Games for PC)
Spore (Electronic Arts for PC)
The Movies: Stunts and Effects (Lionhead Studios/Activision for PC)
Wii Music Orchestra (Nintendo for Wii)

Best Sports Game
Madden NFL 07 (Tiburon/EA for PS3 / Xbox 360)
Madden NFL 07 (Tiburon/EA for Nintendo Wii)
NBA 2K7 (Visual Concepts/2K Sports for Xbox 360)
NCAA Football 07 (EA Tiburon/Electronic Arts for X360/PS2/Xbox/PSP)
Wii Sports (Nintendo for Wii)

Best Strategy Game
Company of Heroes (Relic/THQ for PC)
Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth II (EA for X360)
Medieval 2: Total War (Creative Assembly/Sega for PC)
Supreme Commander (Gas Powered Games/THQ for PC)
World in Conflict (Massive Entertainment/Sierra for PC)

Best Puzzle/Trivia/Parlor Game
Elite Beat Agents (Inis/Nintendo for Nintendo DS)
Guitar Hero 2 (Harmonix/Red Octane for PlayStation 2)
LocoRoco (SCEJ/Sony Computer Entertainment for PSP)
Lumines II (Q Entertainment/Buena Vista Games for PSP)
WarioWare: Smooth Moves (Nintendo for Wii)

Best Online Multiplayer Game
Battlefield 2142 (Digital Illusions/Electronic Arts for PC)
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (Splash Damage/id/Activision for PC)
Gears of War (Epic Games/Microsoft Games Studio for Xbox 360)
Huxley (Webzen for PC/Xbox 360)
World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade (Blizzard for PC)

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