Wednesday, November 17, 2010

2010 VGA Picks

The list of nominations for this year’s Spike Video Game Awards was released today. After going through the list, it really reminds me of how much of a great year in gaming its been. While there are some obscure nominations (Danica Patrick as Herself in Blur for "Best Performance by Human Female”), generally all the nominations I agree with. So while these might not become actually winners, they are who I would choose.

Studio of the Year
BioWare – Hands down Bioware. Creators of the Mass Effect series and the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic, Bioware has taken every facet of creating a story and taken it a step above each time.
• Blizzard Entertainment
• Bungie Studios
• Rockstar San Diego

Best Wii Game
• Donkey Kong Country Returns
• Kirby's Epic Yarn
• Metroid: Other M
Super Mario Galaxy 2 – To be considered by some as a game of the year contender, this is no doubt the best game the Wii had to offer this year.

Best Xbox 360 Game
• Alan Wake
• Fable III
• Halo: Reach
Mass Effect 2 – This honestly was a toss-up for me between Mass Effect 2 and Halo: Reach. While both are essential Xbox 360 games, the fact that Mass Effect 2 is being whispered as the game of the year puts it ahead.

Best PS3 Game
God of War III – This was another tough choice, though I expect it won’t from the general public. God of War 3 is a great game with lots of fun action, but to me Heavy Rain was really something unique and never done before. Ultimately though, people want to play games, not interactive movies.
• Heavy Rain
• ModNation Racers
• Red Dead Redemption

Best PC Game
• Fallout: New Vegas
• Mass Effect 2
• Sid Meier's Civilization V
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty – As a genre that still has its talons on the PC gaming market, StarCraft 2 is a game that was 12 years in the making, and its fans’ excitement has not dropped at any point during those 12 years.

Best Handheld Game
• God of War: Ghost of Sparta
• Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Professor Layton and the Unwound Future – As someone who grew up during and was fond of classic Lucasarts point-and-click adventure games like Day of the Tentacle and Sam & Max, the Professor Layton series is a great throwback that really speaks to the new generation of today.
• Super Scribblenauts

Best Shooter
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 – If this list had come out 3-6 months later, my pick would be Black Ops. But seeing as it hasn’t really had time to mature yet, I have to go with Bad Company 2. BioShock 2 does not have the lasting appeal as the others and Halo: Reach has only a single target audience that it can reach.
• BioShock 2
• Call of Duty: Black Ops
• Halo: Reach

Best Action-Adventure Game
• Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
• God of War III
Red Dead Redemption – Rockstar are the kings of open-world games, and their work on the GTA series and Red Dead Redemption only makes me excited for L.A. Noire.
• Super Mario Galaxy 2

Best RPG
• Fable III
• Fallout: New Vegas
• Final Fantasy XIII
Mass Effect 2 – This one was tight because while Mass Effect 2 and Fallout: New Vegas are both RPGs, they both focus on different aspects of the RPG genre. Mass Effect 2 is all about characterization and story, while Fallout: New Vegas is about systems and mechanics familiar to staple RPGs. In the end though, I have to give it to Mass Effect 2 for delivering an unforgettable experience.

Best Multiplayer Game
• Battlefield: Bad Company 2
• Call of Duty: Black Ops
• Halo: Reach
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty – While Bad Company 2 may have been far reaching, Starcraft 2 had more of a tailored multiplayer component with more features through the service that helped set it apart.

Best Individual Sports Game
EA Sports MMA – the refinement of controls that EA Sports MMA has over UFC Undisputed and the support of live events with commentary sets a precedent that is sure to follow for future games.
• Shaun White Skateboarding
• Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11
• UFC Undisputed 2010

Best Team Sports Game
• FIFA Soccer 11
• Madden NFL 11
NBA 2K11 – The game is being hailed as the best basketball simulation game to date, and the inclusion of Michael Jordan and various key games of his lets players live vicariously through his victories.
• MLB '10: The Show

Best Driving Game
• Blur
• ModNation Racers
Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit – From the makers of Burnout comes a game with spectacular cinematic crashes, fast cars, and police chases. How can this not be anyone’s favorite?
• Split/Second

Best Music Game
• Dance Central
• DJ Hero 2
• Def Jam Rapstar
Rock Band 3 – Rock Band 3 is the definitive music game. With the inclusion of every on-disc song from Rock Band 1 and 2, the addition of the keyboard, and a new peripheral using a real string guitar, Rock Band 3 gives music game lovers everything they could want.

Best Soundtrack
• Def Jam Rapstar
• DJ Hero 2
• Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock
Rock Band 3 – With a launch line-up of over 2,000 songs, Rock Band 3 has the biggest and widest variety of songs to choose.

Best Song in a Game
• Basket Case by Green Day
• Black Rain by Soundgarden
• Far Away by José González
• GoldenEye by Nicole Scherzinger
• Replay/Rude Boy Mashup by Iyaz & Rihanna
Won't Back Down by Eminem – I’ll be honest, I’m only picking this one because it’s the only one I’ve actually heard.

Best Original Score
• God of War III
• Halo: Reach
Mass Effect 2 – I’m choosing Mass Effect 2 not because it’s Mass Effect 2, but because the score was done by Jack Wall, producer of the Video Games Live series, who has composed scores for over 20 video games and won numerous awards from the Game Audio Network Guild.
• Red Dead Redemption

Best Graphics
God of War III – I’m picking God of War 3 based on cinematography alone. It has great set pieces and vistas set as levels or boss fights.
• Heavy Rain
• Kirby's Epic Yarn
• Red Dead Redemption

Best Adapted Video Game
• LEGO: Harry Potter: Years 1-4
• Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game
• Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions
• Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
Transformers: War for Cybertron – While most will probably shun me for not choosing Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Transformers: War for Cybertron was regarded as the best Transformers game ever because of its ability to fit into the IP with believability.

Best Performance by a Human Male
• Daniel Craig as James Bond
• Gary Oldman as Sgt. Reznov
• John Cleese as Jasper
Martin Sheen as Illusive Man – Martin Sheen did such an excellent job as the Illusive Man that it really should be one of his bullet points whenever he is mentioned, eg. best known for his roles in the film Apocalypse Now, as President Josiah Bartlet on The West Wing, and the Illusive Man in Mass Effect 2.
• Nathan Fillion as Sergeant Edward Buck
• Neil Patrick Harris as Peter Parker/Amazing Spider-Man
• Rob Wiethoff as John Marston
• Sam Worthington as Alex Mason

Best Performance by a Human Female
• Dame Judi Dench as M
• Danica Patrick as Herself
• Emmanuelle Chriqui as The Numbers Lady
• Felicia Day as Veronica
Jennifer Hale as Commander Shepard – I think this category had the highest completion in it, but ultimately I have to give this to Jennifer Hale. She is an absolute professional when it comes to video game voice work and the fact that more players prefer to play Shepard as a female is a tribute to her work. Yvonne Strahovski and Tricia Helfer definitely should get recognition though; Miranda is a lot more than just Yvonne’s voice.
• Kristen Bell as Lucy Stillman
• Tricia Helfer as Sarah Kerrigan
• Yvonne Strahovski as Miranda Lawson

Best Downloadable Game
• Costume Quest
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light – This game has ton of replayability, between weapon unlocks through challenges and forthcoming DLC, this is a great downloadable game that could be released as a boxed title.
• Monday Night Combat
• Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game

Best DLC
• BioShock 2: Minerva's Den
• Borderlands: The Secret Armory of General Knoxx
Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker – Lair of the Shadow Broker is not only is a emotional chapter of the Mass Effect story that teams Commander Shepard with his former squadmate Dr. Liara T’Soni from the first Mass Effect, it also helps bridge the story from Mass Effect 2 into the yet announced Mass Effect 3.
• Red Dead Redemption – Undead Nightmare

Best Independent Game
• Joe Danger
• Limbo
• Super Meat Boy
The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom – A silent film about a distinguished gentleman during the late 1800s/early 1900s who has an insatiable appetite for pie. That’s definitely a winner.

Most Anticipated Game (You can actually vote for your choice here)
• Batman: Arkham City
BioShock: Infinite – The first Bioshock was a complete masterpiece. The team from the first game is back and ready to turn the world upside down in a city in the sky.
• Gears of War 3
• Portal 2

Game of the Year
• Call of Duty: Black Ops
• God of War III
• Halo: Reach
Mass Effect 2 – Mass Effect 2 efficently combines combat, character development, narrative, and cinematography that could rival most Hollywood films. Back by amazing voice work and a story written by a best-selling author, it is easily one of my top five games of all time.
• Red Dead Redemption

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