God of War leads AIAS Award finalists

[UPDATE 2] Spartan actioner leads pack with 11 nominations--winners to be named February 9 at D.I.C.E. in Vegas; RE4 MIA.

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As was the case during the previous eight years, 2006 has begun with the announcement of the nominees for the Annual Interactive Achievement Awards. The prizes are doled out by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences (AIAS), the game equivalent of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, which organizes the Oscars. The AIAS awards are revealed at the group's annual D.I.C.E. (Design, Innovate, Create, Entertain) summit, which will run from February 8 to 10, 2006.

Leading the nominees this year was GameSpot's 2005 PlayStation 2 Game of the Year, God of War. Developed and published by Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA), the game got a whopping 11 nominations, including Overall Game of the Year, Action/Adventure Game of the Year, and Outstanding Innovation in Gaming. The game's number of nominations ties last year's AIAS Game of the Year winner, Half-Life 2.

Behind God of War was a two-way tie between Guitar Hero and Shadow of the Colossus. Red Octane and Harmonix's rhythm game and Sony's action-adventure both clocked in at seven nominees each, just ahead of the year's best-selling DS game, Nintendogs, with six. Speaking of handhelds, the PSP saw its first nominations in the form of Burnout Legends and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories. Despite a lukewarm reaction from critics, the Xbox 360's launch lineup also made the cut in the form of Activision and Infinity Ward's Call of Duty 2.

[UPDATE] Most notable by its absence was Resident Evil 4. Capcom's horror-survival game earned top honors from many game-news outlets, including GameSpot, but didn't garner a single nomination from AIAS. Also missing was Psychonauts, the Majesco game which, despite tepid sales, was a critical darling.

A rep for the organization told GameSpot that the reason for the omission of the two games was that their publishers did not join the AIAS. "Majesco and Capcom are not members, and chose the option not to be," said the rep. "According to the rules, you have to be a member for your game to be nominated." However, the AIAS rep said that Resident Evil 4 could have made the list, as it was written in by many voters. "There was a write-in option, and Resident [Evil 4] got written in, but [Capcom] chose not to play," the rep said. The rep also said that Majesco, which has fallen upon hard times, simply "couldn't afford to join the Academy."

A complete list of the Annual Interactive Achievement Awards finalists is below. As part of our at D.I.C.E. coverage, GameSpot will be on hand when the winners are announced the evening of February 9.

GAMES OF THE YEAR
Overall Game of the Year:
- God of War (P: Sony Computer Entertainment America, D: Sony Computer Entertainment America-Santa Monica)
- Guitar Hero (P: Red Octane, D: Harmonix)
- Shadow of the Colossus (P:/D: Sony Computer Entertainment America)
- Call of Duty 2 (P: Activision, D: Infinity Ward)
- Nintendogs (P: Nintendo, D: Nintendo EAD)

PC Game of the Year:
- F.E.A.R.: First Encounter Assault Recon (P: Vivendi Universal Games, D: Monolith)
- Sid Meier's Civilization IV (P: 2K Games, D: Firaxis Games)
- Battlefield 2 (P: EA, D: Digital Illusions)
- Age of Empires III (P: Microsoft, D: Ensemble Studios)
- The Movies (P: Activision, D: Lionhead Studios)

Console Game of the Year:
- God of War (P: Sony Computer Entertainment America, D: Sony Computer Entertainment America-Santa Monica)
- Guitar Hero (P: Red Octane, D: Harmonix)
- Shadow of the Colossus (P:/D: Sony Computer Entertainment America)
- Call of Duty 2 (P: Activision, D: Infinity Ward)
- Nintendogs (P: Nintendo, D: Nintendo EAD)

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT
Outstanding Innovation in Gaming
- Nintendogs (P: Nintendo, D: Nintendo EAD)
- Guitar Hero (P: Red Octane, D: Harmonix)
- Shadow of the Colossus (P:/D: Sony Computer Entertainment America)
- God of War (P: Sony Computer Entertainment America, D: Sony Computer Entertainment America-Santa Monica)
- The Movies (P: Activision, D: Lionhead Studios)

Outstanding Achievement: Animation
-Shadow of the Colossus (P:/D: Sony Computer Entertainment America)
- God of War (P: Sony Computer Entertainment America, D: Sony Computer Entertainment America-Santa Monica)
-Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones (P: Ubisoft, D: Ubisoft-Montreal)
-Rise of the Kasai (P: Sony Computer Entertainment America, D: Bottlerocket Entertainment)
-Oddworld Stranger's Wrath (P: EA, D: Oddworld)

Outstanding Achievement: Art Direction
-Shadow of the Colossus (P:/D: Sony Computer Entertainment America)
- God of War (P: Sony Computer Entertainment America, D: Sony Computer Entertainment America-Santa Monica)
-Peter Jackson's King Kong (P: Ubisoft, D: Ubisoft-Montpellier)
-Ultimate Spider-Man (P: Activision, D: Treyarch)
-Jade Empire (P: Microsoft, D: Bioware)

Outstanding Achievement: Soundtrack
- Guitar Hero (P: Red Octane, D: Harmonix)
- SSX On Tour (P: EA, D: EA-Canada)
- Wipeout Pure (P: Sony Computer Entertainment America, D: Studio Liverpool)
- The Warriors (P: Rockstar Games, D: Rockstar Toronto)
- Burnout Revenge (P: EA, D: Criterion Games)

Outstanding Achievement: Original Music Composition
- God of War (P: Sony Computer Entertainment America, D: Sony Computer Entertainment America-Santa Monica)
- Rise of the Kasai (P: Sony Computer Entertainment America, D: Bottlerocket Entertainment)
- Gun (P: Activision, D: Neversoft Entertainment)
- Jade Empire (P: Microsoft, D: Bioware)
- Kameo: Elements of Power (P: Microsoft, D: RARE)

Outstanding Achievement: Sound Design
- F.E.A.R.: First Encounter Assault Recon (P: Vivendi Universal Games, D: Monolith)
- God of War (P: Sony Computer Entertainment America, D: Sony Computer Entertainment America-Santa Monica)
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Chaos Theory (P:/D: Ubisoft)
- Condemned: Criminal Origins (P: Sega, D: Monolith)
- Peter Jackson's King Kong (P: Ubisoft, D: Ubisoft-Montpellier)

Outstanding Achievement: Story and Character Development
- Peter Jackson's King Kong (P: Ubisoft, D: Ubisoft-Montpellier)
- Gun (P: Activision, D: Neversoft Entertainment)
- Call of Duty: Big Red One (P: Activision, D: Treyarch)
- Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood (P: Ubisoft, D: Gearbox Software)
- Sly Cooper 3: Honor Among Thieves (P: Sony Computer Entertainment America D: Suckerpunch)

Outstanding Achievement: Game Play Engineering
- Nintendogs (P: Nintendo, D: Nintendo EAD)
- Guitar Hero (P: Red Octane, D: Harmonix)
- God of War (P: Sony Computer Entertainment America, D: Sony Computer Entertainment America-Santa Monica)
- Lumines (P: Ubisoft, D: Q Entertainment)
- Zoo Tycoon 2: Endangered Species (P: Microsoft, D: Blue Fang)

Outstanding Achievement: Online Game Play
- Battlefield 2 (P: EA, D: Digital Illusions)
- Mario Kart DS (P: Nintendo, D: Nintendo EAD)
- Age of Empires III (P: Microsoft, D: Ensemble Studios)
- Project Gotham Racing 3 (P: Microsoft, D: Bizarre Creations)
- Call of Duty 2 (P: Activision, D: Infinity Ward)

Outstanding Achievement: Visual Engineering
- F.E.A.R.: First Encounter Assault Recon (P: Vivendi Universal Games, D: Monolith)
- Shadow of the Colossus (P:/D: Sony Computer Entertainment America)
- Kameo: Elements of Power (P: Microsoft, D: RARE)
- Call of Duty 2 (P: Activision, D: Infinity Ward)
- God of War (P: Sony Computer Entertainment America, D: Sony Computer Entertainment America-Santa Monica)

Outstanding Achievement: Game Design
- Guitar Hero (P: Red Octane, D: Harmonix)
- God of War (P: Sony Computer Entertainment America, D: Sony Computer Entertainment America-Santa Monica)
- Shadow of the Colossus (P:/D: Sony Computer Entertainment America)
- Nintendogs (P: Nintendo, D: Nintendo EAD)
- Peter Jackson's King Kong (P: Ubisoft, D: Ubisoft-Montpellier)

Outstanding Character Performance: Male
- God of War (P: Sony Computer Entertainment America, D: Sony Computer Entertainment America-Santa Monica)
- Gun (P: Activision, D: Neversoft Entertainment)
- Oddworld Stranger's Wrath (P: EA, D: Oddworld)
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Chaos Theory (P:/D: Ubisoft)
- Jade Empire (P: Microsoft, D: Bioware)

Outstanding Character Performance: Female
- Jade Empire (P: Microsoft, D: Bioware)
- Gun (P: Activision, D: Neversoft Entertainment)
- Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones (P: Ubisoft, D: Ubisoft-Montreal)
- Need for Speed: Most Wanted (P: EA, D: EA-Vancouver)

GENRE AWARDS
Sports Game of the Year
- NBA 2K6 (P: 2K Games, D: Visual Concepts)
- MLB 2006 (P:/D: Sony Computer Entertainment America)
- SSX On Tour (P: EA, D: EA Canada)
- MLB 2K5: WS Edition (P: 2K Games, D: Visual Concepts)
- Super Mario Strikers (P: Nintendo, D: Next Level)

First-Person Action Game of the Year
- Call of Duty 2 (P: Activision, D: Infinity Ward)
- Condemned: Criminal Origins (P: Sega, Monolith)
- Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 (P: Ubisoft, D: Gearbox Software)
- F.E.A.R.: First Encounter Assault Recon (P: Vivendi Universal Games, D: Monolith)
- Battlefield 2 (P: EA, D: Digital Illusions)

Role-Playing Game of the Year
- Jade Empire (P: Microsoft, D: Bioware)
- Dragon Quest VII (P: Sqaure Enix, D: Level 5)
- Dungeon Siege II (P: Microsoft, D: Gas Powered)
- Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (P: Nintendo, D: Intelligent Systems)
- Radiata Stories (P: Square Enix, D: Tri-Ace Inc.)

Fighting Game of the Year
- Soul Calibur 3 (P:/D: Namco)
- Tekken 5 (P:/D: Namco)
- Fight Night Round 2 (P: EA, D: EA-Chicago)
- WWE Smackdown VS Raw (P: THQ, D: Yuke's Co. Ltd.)

Action/Adventure Game of the Year
- God of War (P: Sony Computer Entertainment America, D: Sony Computer Entertainment America-Santa Monica)
- Shadow of the Colossus (P:/D: Sony Computer Entertainment America)
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Chaos Theory (P:/D: Ubisoft)
- Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones (P: Ubisoft, D: Ubisoft-Montreal)
- The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (P: Vivendi Universal Games, D: Radical Entertainment)

Racing Game of the Year
- Forza Motorsport (P: Microsoft, D: Microsoft Game Studios)
- Project Gotham Racing 3 (P: Microsoft, D: Bizarre Creations)
- Mario Kart DS (P: Nintendo, D: Nintendo EAD)

Children's Game of the Year
- Chicken Little (P: Buena Vista Games, D: Avalanche Software)
- Madagascar (P: Activision, D: Toys for Bob)
- Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves (P: Sony Computer Entertainment America, D: Sucker Punch)
- Tak 3: The Great Juju Challenge (P: THQ, D: Avalanche)
- We Love Katamari (P:/D: Namco)

Downloadable Game of the Year
- Oasis (P: PlayFirst, D: Mind Control Software)
- Egg v. Chicken (P: PlayFirst, D: GameLab)
- Chuzzle (P:/D: PopCap)
- Tradewinds Legend (P:/D: Sandlot)
- WIK: Fable of Souls (P: Microsoft, D: Reflexive)

Family Game of the Year
- Guitar Hero (P: Red Octane, D: Harmonix)
- Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix (P: Nintendo, D: Konami)
- LEGO Star Wars (P: TT Games, D: Traveler's Tales)

Simulation Game of the Year
- The Movies (P: Activision, D: Lionhead Studios)
- Silent Hunter III (P: Ubisoft, D: Ubisoft-Romania)
- Animal Crossing (P: Nintendo, D: Nintendo EAD)

Strategy Game of the Year
- Age of Empires III (P: Microsoft, D: Ensemble Studios)
- Civilization IV (P: 2K Games, D: Firaxis)
- Empire Earth II (P: Vivendi Universal Games, D: Mad Doc)

Massively Multiplayer/Persistent World Game of the Year
- City of Villains (P: NCsoft, D: Cryptic Studios)
- Guild Wars (P: NCsoft, D: ArenaNet)
- Lineage II: The Chaotic Principle (P:/D: NCsoft)
- Final Fantasy XI: The Vana'diel Collection (P:/D: Square Enix)

Handheld Game of the Year
- Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (P: Nintendo, D: Capcom)
- Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (P: Rockstar, D: Rockstar-Leeds)
- Burnout Legends (P: EA, D: EA-UK Fusion)
- Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time (P: Nintendo, D: Alpha Dream)
- Nintendogs (P: Nintendo, D: Nintendo EAD)

Cellular Game of the Year
- Mile High Pinball (P: Nokia, D: Bonus.com)
- Skipping Stone (P: I-Play, D: Gamevil)
- One (P: Nokia, D: Digital Legends)
- Ancient Empires II (P:/D: Glu Mobile)
- High Seize (P: Nokia, D: Red Lynx)

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