Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Game of the Year 2011: Genre Specific Awards

Allow me to explain how we will go about this. Basically, many months ago I made up a list of categories (divided into three sections, this is the first) for my fellow writers Jimmy, Anna, Marty and Jonis. We all filled in these as best we could and I will now present each choice that was made. There is no single winner here, just what we personally felt about genre specific games. From shooters to family games, here's the first part of Game of the Year 2011.


GAME OF THE YEAR - GENRE SPECIFIC AWARDS
SHOOTER OF THE YEAR

A vast selection of games here, the most surprising is probably the mostly-on-rails shooter Star Fox 64 3D as picked by Marty. The first of what might be a good deal of remakes/enhanced ports to hit this list. My own pick was RAGE which I have talked highly of in the past, I personally think it's the most classic FPS game this year, and that I can really respect as an old PC gamer. Anna went with F3AR, a game I reviewed and loved, she expressed great praise on the story and especially the character of Paxton Fettel. I was surprised when I saw that Jimmy picked Killzone 3, not that I suspected the game being bad, I just didn't expect it to be in his taste. I did expect it to be in Jonis' taste though seeing as he loved Killzone 2 beyond any other FPS I could think of. 3 FPS games and 1 Flying Sim. Good start!



GAME OF THE YEAR - GENRE SPECIFIC AWARDS
ACTION/ADVENTURE OF THE YEAR

The common game here was another enhanced port, in this case it was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, picked by me and Marty. I really felt this version of Ocarina spoke better to me than the old game, I though it was improved in every way it could have been and really hope Operation Moonfall get its' way and wins us Majora's Mask 3D for 2012, that could be a possible GotY contender for me. Being a huge fan of the franchise thus far, I'm not surprised Jimmy's choice went to Dead Rising 2: Off The Record even though I've yet to play it myself. Frank West is a great character, and with the improvements made in Dead Rising 2 the inclusion of the best elements of Dead Rising should make for a great game.

Jonis picked what is probably the first of the more common games to be found on a GotY list when he picked Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, a game of which we both loved the precursor to. Nathan Drake is a very appealing character and with tight gameplay it's hard not to love a game like Uncharted. Anna's choice was Alice: Madness Returns, the long-awaited sequel to American McGee's Alice. It took the original game and pretty much refined every aspect of it, including the platform elements, which we'll be talking about later.



GAME OF THE YEAR - GENRE SPECIFIC AWARDS
PUZZLE OF THE YEAR

Jimmy went with another common choice when he picked Portal 2, a game which I'm currently reviewing. Portal is a very special game, the mixture of humour and serious plot-threads reminds me of the old point and click days of Sierra, but with a puzzle twist. Adding the co-op element was a great way of making a great concept even better as well. Marty picked Bust-a-Move Universe, the launch title Puzzle Bobble game for the Nintendo 3DS. Puzzle Bobble is always great and there's not much to be done with the franchise, which might explain the more negative reviews, but none-the-less Marty found that it was indeed fun enough to win his award of Puzzle of the Year. Me, Anna and Jonis sat this one out.



GAME OF THE YEAR - GENRE SPECIFIC AWARDS
ROLE PLAYING GAME OF THE YEAR

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was picked by four people out of five. So, how do I start here? Well Skyrim is just an amazing game. It has limitless potential in the field of creating your own story as the dragonborn. Even if you decide to ignore every major questline and the main story you can still have a 100+ hour long experience with a single character, and never feel like you're not doing something relevant. As a man who criticized of Oblivion a lot upon the time of release, it's nice to see them fix every problem I had with that game. But enough about Skyrim, I wrote a whole review praising that, let's talk Xenoblade Chronicles, Marty's pick of RPG of the Year. Xenoblade has had a cult following since it released in Japan, originally not set to come to either Europe or America, it's now out here since August and on it's way to US shores as well. Xenoblade is another very large game with great customization and opportunities for those who may feel the JRPG market have been going a bit stale lately to get back into the genre at what might be its finest.



GAME OF THE YEAR - GENRE SPECIFIC AWARDS
MASSIVE MULTIPLAYER ONLINE OF THE YEAR

Jimmy was alone here since he's basically the only MMO guy we have. He picked Star Wars: The Old Republic which is pretty damn impressive seeing as he absolutely hates science fiction and Star Wars. Jimmy have explained to me the amazing voice-acting and story elements that BioWare put into this game, and I will admit that it does sound interesting. There are some great customization in this game too, a good range of classes and a faction system that I hope stay balanced. I might get into it myself based on Jimmy's recommendation, and I really do not like MMO games. So, could it get better praise than the fact that the anti-SciFi guy and the anti-MMO guy both are into it? I think not.



GAME OF THE YEAR - GENRE SPECIFIC AWARDS
STRATEGY OF THE YEAR

Three people voted, one unified choice. Heroes VI: Might and Magic was a game that I predicted back in the early days of Achievement Unlock, not only was I right about the game existing, I was also right about it being worth to get excited about. Heroes VI takes some of the lessons learned from Heroes V and Heroes IV and pushes it in the right direction, not all the way back to the glory days of Heroes II and Heroes III, but it certainly comes close at the best of times. However, I did find the story to be lacking a lot, leaving the multiplayer the strong part. Some would argue that has always been the case with Heroes and they'd be right, but it still makes me sad that they've spent time on the singleplayer campaign to try and make it work, but it just doesn't.



GAME OF THE YEAR - GENRE SPECIFIC AWARDS
PLATFORMER OF THE YEAR

Finally back to give different games. Yet we still have two Kirby games on the list! My choice was Kirby's Epic Yarn which I found to be one of the most enjoyable platformers in years. It was a 2010 title in the US, but here in Europe we had to wait until this spring. It was worth the wait however as the game exceeded my expectations and became one of the strongest pieces of gaming in 2011. The other Kirby title is Kirby's Adventure Wii that Jimmy picked, adding four-player co-op to Kirby is not completely new, but it's still a great concept. Mixing it with true classic gameplay rather than the stringy gameplay of Epic Yarn really gives anyone who felt that Epic Yarn didn't speak to them a go at having some fun. Anna once again picked Alice: Madness Returns as her choice, the platforming element of Alice was really well made as it had a very Super Mario 64 feel to it. Except with morbid visuals and a Vorpal Blade in the protagonist hand from some Zelda-inspired combat. A truly unique game with aromas of other classic titles, and sometimes that's all you need.

Jonis went with Rayman: Origins, a return to Rayman's 2D roots that we have not seen since 2006 on the Nintendo DS. It's one of the prettiest games this year with its' lush handdrawn visuals and the characters have a great sense of personality to them that you don't see that often these days in platformers. Marty closes out the list with Super Mario 3D Land which has been advertised as the love-child of Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Bros. 3, I played the game at GAMEX and thought it was fun. The visuals are very "Mario" so to say, which is all you really could ask for in terms of visual quality, the game itself is a bit less free-roamish than the 3D Mario titles have been up until now, which might indicate where future titles might head.



GAME OF THE YEAR - GENRE SPECIFIC AWARDS
RACER OF THE YEAR

Three picks here, starting with Jonis' Motorstorm: Apocalypse, the fourth entry into the PS3 racing game franchise. This time it's all taking a place in a city during the end of the world. Sound awesome. Jimmy's pick was Mario Kart 7, just like he predicted at GAMEX. Mario Kart is always fun and Nintendo knows how to get its' fans to pick up a new entry in the series just by basically remaking their games over and over again, can I fault them for this? Of course not, it's working and people love it and that means they're doing something right. My own choice was Driver: San Francisco that we reviewed back in October. I still stand by this as one of the best racing games in years, sure it might have the rubberbanding, but so does every other racing game on the market. Fun story, fun gameplay and a great city to race around in.



GAME OF THE YEAR - GENRE SPECIFIC AWARDS
FIGHTER OF THE YEAR

Another unified choice, all four of us decided on Mortal Kombat. Because no other game offered as much content at launch as Mortal Kombat did with all the various game modes and characters. The fatalities were some of the best in Mortal Kombat history and the visuals were some of the best in fighting game history. If I only had one wish it would be that it was available on the 3DS as it is my go-to fighting game console. Love the circle-pad for special moves. But I guess I'm fine ripping heads off on a PS3 or 360 as well. If all else fails I'll just play Test Your Luck and hope my opponent get all the bad stuff. Heh-heh-heh... Playing against Jimmy was fun because I never got any of the bad stuff. Netherrealm Studios have said that Mortal Kombat 10 will not be their next game. Well then I hope Mortal Kombat 10 will be their next game after their next game. Because I want more ways to brutally slughter and be slaughtered.



GAME OF THE YEAR - GENRE SPECIFIC AWARDS
FAMILY GAME OF THE YEAR

Four writers, two choices. Me and Anna both went with Fruit Ninja: Kinect as we found it to be the most fun out of all the gather-around-the-tv games this year, sure we had some good dancing games and some really good family-coop titles. But being a Ninja is where it's at, especially when being a ninja means you get to attack magic bananas for bonus powers. Jimmy and Jonis went back to the platformer award and grabbed Rayman: Origins, I can not fault them for this as it's a magnificent game in every way and it certainly works as a family game. Anyone can enjoy some good slapstick humour with fun gameplay, especially with the forgiving factor of there being no final death in the game. Great stuff.

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And that's it for the first part of Achievement Unlock's Game of the Year awards of 2011. Join us again tomorrow when we look at Console Exclusive titles, I'll give you a hint. Some of the ones from this section will be a part of tomorrows section.

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