|Artwork by CitrusKing46|
So this weekend gave us one of the year’s biggest gaming events. A relatively new event designed to show off some of the absolute best and most innovative games the industry has to offer, and act as a celebration of the medium with plenty of terrific games for everyone…
…Unfortunately, that event was the PlayStation Experience (which we’ll get to later today). Sadly, I had bet on the wrong pony and opted to cover The Game Awards instead.
Why, you may ask? Well, after the extremely awkward VGX last year, everyone’s hopes were high that without Spike, Geoff Keighley’s The Game Awards (re-christened with the most generic name possible) would end up being a vast improvement. Plus, at the very least it was boasting over a dozen World Premieres consisting of major new game reveals and brand new footage. So while the show itself still turned out to be a dud (in my opinion), let’s at least go over what trailers we got out this supposed shebang…
First, for those of you who are actually curious, you can view the entire Game Awards show right here…
…But for those of you who just want to get straight to the point, here are all of the show’s World Premiere trailers, in the order they aired. Enjoy!
1. Mario Maker
I know I’ve criticized/poked fun at Nintendo before for not having injected much life into the Mario series recently, but the upcoming Mario Maker really shows just how much creativity one can put into creating challenging and fun levels for a Mario game, and how much potential lies in a set of game-making tools such as these.
…Of course, the levels seen there were made by professionals at Nintendo. If LittleBigPlanet and other games revolving around user-created content have taught me anything, the levels actual players make will consist of re-created levels from other video games that already exist, gimmicky stuff like a level where you kick a Koopa shell into a series of enemies so it plays “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, and of course, penises. Still, valiant effort, Nintendo.
2. Metal Gear Online
The MGSV version of MMO looks like a hoot indeed – I mean, you can’t ever go wrong with little AT-ST-style tanks equipped with miniguns that you can command – but what’s with that one part where a player gets distracted by a plush dog, complete with little pink hearts coming from his head? I mean, I know the Metal Gear series is well-known for its campier elements and B-movie inspired bits, but between this and the weird box shenanigans involving guards distracted by swimsuit models, I’m still kind of expecting the game to give Snake a giant cartoon mallet for a weapon at some point. Again, though, still looks like a fun game.
The creators of the incredibly polarizing indie hit Gone Home show us their new game that will no doubt be their magnum opus, consisting of an engineer walking out into a mysterious, fancy space station where things are floating in mid-air and…um, that’s it, actually?…Seriously? Okay, I know “less is more” can be the more effective approach when it comes to trailers to keep the audience hungry for more, but there still has to be enough meat in the trailer that we’re actually interested enough to take a bite. So until a little more comes out, I’ll pass.
Bloodborne gets to show off some of its co-op gameplay this time around, because presumably there’s nothing From Software loves more than a chance to showcase how they humiliate multiple players at once by having them vanquished at the hands of giant enemies, per tradition. That being said, I didn’t notice much new in the way of content this time around…except possibly for the little old-school flamethrower you apparently get to wield, because you can never go wrong with something like that. Looking impressive overall indeed.
5. The Banner Saga 2
Wait, seriously? Dang, I haven’t even gotten around to playing the first one yet…Still, the sequel to this year’s big Viking-themed tactical RPG looks pretty awesome, at least when it comes to cinematics. Here’s hoping the actual gameplay is solid as well. Oddly enough, though, it wasn’t billed as a World Premiere until after the trailer played, and is one of two games missing from the show’s official YouTube playlist of World Premieres…There might a chance either me or the show screwed up. What say we blame it on them, ‘kay?
6. Untitled Hazelight Game
Good lord, and I thought the Tacoma trailer was lacking enough meat to warrant a World Premiere. Note to Hazelight: Nobody loved Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons more than me (except for several other video game critics, maybe), but maybe you should wait until you at least have a name for your new game before you go to try and shout it from the rooftops. Or least have more than a quick shot of two drifters riding a train. Because so far this just looks like Hobo Simulator, which only sounds vaguely interesting.
So with four indie games shown so far for World Premieres, it definitely seems like the Game Awards are trying to get lightning to strike twice by recapturing how the premiere of No Man’s Sky at last year’s show blew everyone away and got the internet talking. But if there was one game that could even come close to achieving that feat, Adrift was definitely it, featuring some stunning footage from a game where the lone survivor of a horrific space accident has to float around and search through the wreckage in order to find what they need in order to survive and get home.
…So yeah, it basically comes off as Gravity: The Game. Which as it turns out, is a concept that I’m actually completely down with. Go figure.
8. Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.
This was the only other trailer here aside from The Banner Saga 2 that The Game Awards didn’t upload to YouTube…possibly because since a lot of it was already used in previous trailers for Code Name: S.T.E.A.M., so it was easy to get confused as to whether or not this was a World Premiere. We do get a look at the turn-based strategy game’s multiplayer components, though, which thankfully look pretty fun. Then again, this is a game where Abe Lincoln battles aliens, so fun was naturally expected.
Hey, do you like games about survival, prehistoric life and relatively crude graphics? Well, then I suggest you check out Tail of the Sun for the original Playstation. But yeah, Before looks pretty neat as well. It does indeed have an intriguing artistic style and seems to hold a lot of potential, and since gamers these days are already used to crude naked people hunting in the wilderness thanks to Rust, it should be pretty easy for them to get into a game like this.
10. The Order: 1886 and Until Dawn
Well, Sony kind of pulled off a dick move this weekend with the trailers for both of these games. At the Game Awards, they debuted a new cinematic trailer for The Order: 1886 and a new gameplay trailer for Until Dawn, as seen above. But then at the PlayStation Experience the next day, they debuted a new gameplay trailer for The Order: 1886 and a new cinematic trailer for Until Dawn, both of which were connected to their respective previous trailers.
This means that Sony’s presence at this show was teased simply so they could deliver additional teases for trailers the next day that seem to also be designed to tease extended trailers combining both. Somebody grab some torches and pitchforks, because we have to stop the entertainment industry from making this s*** a trend.
11. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
I’m still searching for the part of me that actually cares about the Witcher games. Until then, feel free to just write your own praise for it in my place if you want: [INSERT “YAAAAAAYYYYYY” HERE]
12. No Man’s Sky
BREAKING NEWS: No Man’s Sky still looks absolutely f***ing gorgeous. Hard to believe, I know. While it is difficult to live up to the same impact the initial trailer had last year, I will admit that showing off even more of a large variety of spaceships, alien life, and traditional ominous black monoliths with mysterious wavy portals in them does help quite a bit. Not much to add to this one aside from the fact that if your jaw hasn’t dropped yet over one these trailers, then you have no soul.
13. Godzilla: The Game
Well, this was one of the few World Premieres that wasn’t announced as upcoming during the commercial breaks, so at least I can say this came as a legitimate surprise. Actually, I had heard about this in the import gaming news, but didn’t know if it was coming over to these shores or not. And yes, just to confirm, you get to play as Godzilla himself and battle several kaiju. If you were one of those folks who thought this year’s Godzilla film didn’t contain enough kaiju battles, then hopefully this might make up for it.
14. King’s Quest
Well, we finally get to one of the night’s big reveals: The trailer for (hopefully) the first game in the newly-revived King’s Quest series. So how did it do? Well, props for using a more cartoonish style that suits the series better than any “gritty” reboot or crap like that, but it looks like this game is shaping up to be some sort of puzzle-platformer rather than the more traditional point-and-click graphic adventure it always was. Not a bad direction to go in, but for people like me who are more die-hard old-school adventure game fans, it’s a slight disappointment. A promising game nonetheless.
15. Human Element
So this trailer for a shooter set in a post-apocalyptic world thirty-five years after a zombie outbreak contains no less than half a dozen clich?s in it, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that its goofy, carefree attitude didn’t make things look fun. Of course, I’d also be lying if I didn’t say I groaned at the aforementioned clich?s as well, so this one could go either way. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens down the road…
16. The Legend of Zelda for Wii U
Well, here it is, the big one, the biggest thing to come out of this event, what everyone watching this show was waiting for, being able to see Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma show off the first-ever gameplay from the new Legend of Zelda game!!
…And honestly, I thought it was kind of boring.
Look, don’t take this the wrong way, I’m not biased against Nintendo or anything and I really want this to be a damn good game. But at no point during this presentation did what I was watching actually get me excited for the game. For one, it committed a major sin in that the actual gameplay footage only took up less than a quarter of the screen, making me question why the actual game didn’t take up the whole screen and Miyamoto and Aonuma just didn’t appear in a smaller window in the corner. And while the quick bit showing how big the game’s world would be was kind of cool, what they actually decided to show us inside of that world was…well, pretty basic stuff we’ve seen in countless Zelda games before. And god, were the reactions to this one kind of sycophantic, with countless Nintendo fanboys calling this the GOTY for 2015 already over a few minutes of the bare basics. Again, I still look forward to the new Zelda game…just not because of this.
(Oh, and Miyamoto mentioned a new Star Fox game during the presentation. They actually showed it off over two and a half hours earlier before the Mario Maker trailer, yet everyone acted like it was a stealth reveal here only for some reason.)
…So those were the highlights from The Game Awards this year. Now, you may be asking “Wait, why the hell haven’t you said anything about the actual awards already?” Well, if you are asking that, congratulations, now you know how I felt.
Yes, the Game Awards may have shed its Spike skin that caused several amounts of awkwardness and Mountain Dew jokes from the peanut gallery, but that still doesn’t hide the fact that Geoff still took some of the show’s biggest flaws with it. And the biggest flaw was that the actual awards at a friggin’ awards show celebrating the year’s greatest video games felt completely secondary. Out of the 21 awards, only eight actually got official on-stage presentations; most of the rest were just handed out as quickly as possible by Geoff in between presentations, clips, and musical performances (he basically gave Reggie Fils-Aim? an award as casually and as quickly as possible and said “Oh yeah, and Nintendo won Developer of the Year, whatever, no big deal.”), and at least three awards weren’t even mentioned at all.
Aside from the lack of awards? A vaguely decent show, I suppose, but kind of dull without any truly exciting bits. Well, one exception was a retrospective of Ken and Roberta Williams (who received an Industry Icon award), which was legitimately sweet. There were also some neat ideas, like a performance by Imagine Dragons featuring Koji Kondo, but they didn’t have the impact that you’d hope for, and there were definitely some duds as well (an “Orchestra Hero” joke that flopped heavily and a performance of the Battlefield: Hardline theme that sounded like a “Wanted Dead or Alive” knock-off, to name a couple). In fact, the show seemed to be a bit too heavily reliant on musical numbers, with at least six of them throughout the whole thing. I think it’s safe to say we would’ve gladly sacrificed a few of them for more awards.
Long story short, while I can technically say that the Game Awards was an improvement over the VGX, it still didn’t feel like it was living up to its potential (I mean, the actual nominee choices have vastly improved over the days of “Hottest Tits” and “Best Madden Game”), still coming off as a bit stiff and uneventful. Here’s hoping that things improve next year…if there is another Game Awards next year.
Although on the plus side, Shovel Knight won Best Independent Game, which was awesome indeed. Yay!
WINNERS AT THE GAME AWARDS:
Game Of The Year: Dragon Age: Inquisition
Best Independent Game: Shovel Knight
Best Narrative: Valiant Hearts: The Great War
Best Performance: Trey Parker in South Park: The Stick of Truth
Best Remaster: Grand Theft Auto V
Best Action/Adventure: Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
Best Fighting Game: Super Smash Bros. for 3DS
Best Sports/Racing Game: Mario Kart 8
Developer Of The Year: Nintendo
Best Mobile/Handheld Game: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Best Score/Soundtrack: Destiny
Games For Change: Valiant Hearts: The Great War
Best Shooter: Far Cry 4
Best Role-Playing Game: Dragon Age: Inquisition
Best Family Game: Mario Kart 8
Best Online Experience: Destiny
Most Anticipated Game: The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
ESports Team Of The Year: Ninjas In Pajamas
Best Fan Creation: Twitch Plays Pokemon
ESports Player Of The Year: Matt “NaDeSHoT” Haag
Trending Gamer: TotalBiscuit
Previously by Kyle LeClair
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