Yesterday we took a look at Minecraft, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Capcom, Dark Souls and Portal 2. Today, we have a whole second set of awards to be given out for the best (and worst) of 2011.
Game That Shouldn’t Have Taken Nearly As Long to Come Out: Duke Nukem Forever
What happened in the time span since Duke Nukem Forever began development?
The entire Presidential run of George W. Bush.
This writer’s entire high school and college career.
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, and The Clone Wars were all released in theaters.
The XBox was released and ended its lifecycle.
Activision released 7 proper Call of Duty titles.
A child born when development started would have grown to be a teenager.
The list goes on and on…
And the worst part is, after all that wait… Duke Nukem Forever wasn’t very good when it did finally come out. What was considered controversial when the game began production is pretty tame by comparison to what people are enjoying in gaming now and the humor comes off as sophomoric instead of clever.
While we can understand the desire to release a passion project to finally let it see the light of day, sometimes it is better to let it enjoy a quiet death with some dignity instead of coming out guns blazing as a failure.
Best Weapons: Saints Row: The Third
Apocafists – Flesh colored Hulk hands that make the target EXPLODE on contact. The Manapult – A car with a vacuum attached to the front that sucks up pedestrians and shoots them out of a canon mounted to the back of it. The Penetrator: A big purple…. “baseball bat” that can be used to bludgeon a character to death. All these and more are standard fair in Saints Row: The Third. As goofy and gratuitous as these sound, they all work within the context of the whacked out world of Steelport. In a world where games feel the desire to take themselves so damn seriously, its so refreshing to see a game that embraces the fact that it is a game set so far from reality and just lets people have fun.
Best Cameo: Saints Row: The Third
Many games have characters created to look like a famous person. Many have famous actors voicing characters. Some games even get an actor’s likeness down to the finest detail to portray the actor voicing them, like that of L.A. Noir. But it’s rare when a celebrity actually lends THEMSELVES to appear in a game that isn’t based off them. Enter Saints Row: The Third. When a mysterious virus is created from a chemical spill, essentially turning denizens of Steelport in to zombies, the Saints offer their help to the mayor… none other than Burt Reynolds. Not a character voiced by Burt. Not someone who just looks like Burt. It’s one of those “so cool” moments that the player and their character both have moments of uncontrollable giddiness. But hey, we understand. We flipped out just as much when we saw the Bandit too.
Blending Gaming and Reality: L.A. Noire
Watch Mad Men. Watch someone playing L.A. Noire. It’s scary how much L.A. Noire’s Cole Phelps resembles his real life counterpart, actor Aaron Staton with not just his likeness but his facial animations as well. The new technology developed by Team Bondi on all characters in the game gives a look unique to L.A. Noire that could one day soon become a standard to gaming to bridge the gap in making everything look just that little bit more real. While parts of L.A. Noire’s story took a turn that didn’t seem totally necessary, nothing can be taken away from the look given to the game and the stunning new technology that it created.
“Gotta Catch ‘Em All” Game: Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure
One would think that Pokemon Black or Pokemon White would have taken this award hands down but it was the team at Toys for Bob who took a concept as unlocking characters and combined it was the real life collectability of figures to turn it in to what may be Activision’s next major youth franchise with Skylanders: Spryo’s Adventure. How do you get players to spend more money on a game after release? Yes, DLC is an option but to get them to purchase additional physical products that you can charge much more for than a file, that’s proof of a winning combination. Parents have already proven this method a success as they tore through various brick and mortar retailers this holiday season to make sure their kids had an epic collection of Skylanders to unwrap and play in the virtual world of Spyro on Christmas morning.
Check back tomorrow for our final set of awards and make sure to tune into the next episode of The Bitcast podcast for our game of the year debate!