Predictions: Game of the Year

Videogames - Image 1Us writers over here at QJ.NET dedicate ourselves to playing every game we could get our hands on – and we’ve had our share of ups and downs, likes and dislikes, loves and hates. We’ve played them to death, and now, we present to you our predictions for the most coveted title in this industry – Game of the Year.

Check out our choices at the full article.

Game of the Year. It’s a title that many a game developer covet for their own brainchild – and with today’s video gaming community not as easily amused or impressed as it was a few generations back, it’s harder than ever to even have your own creation be considered for this prestigious award. After all, should your game even be nominated for such an honor, it pretty much means that you’re doing something right, and your title has caught the attention of not only its target demographic but also of the entire video game community’s (or at least, a goodly-sized chunk of it).

But what makes a potential Game of the Year? Lots of things, actually – you can’t simply nail it down to a specific group of categories, as not only do you have to take into consideration its production values, but also the intangibles: pacing, keeping the player’s interest, motivating the player to progress further. That sort of stuff. But the main thing would be how it makes the player feel like he’s no longer playing a game, and instead playing an experience that can only be described as next-gen. In other words, it has to have that extra oomph to it that makes the player say something to the equivalent of OH SNAP THAT WAS FREAKING AWESOME. This article is about games that do exactly that – this article is about Game of the Year material.

So, what’s our criteria for picking Game of the Year candidates? We’ll base it all on what matters most: gameplay. Rest assured that we’ve put these games through their paces, and then some – we know how they are at their worst, and at their best. And to keep things short and sweet, we pared it down to one title per console, with multiplatform games excluded. Why no multiplatform titles? Because they have different versions, with each version somewhat different from the others so it’s not going to be as balanced. So it’s all just exclusives from here on in (but don’t worry, we’ll give those multiflavored gems the love they deserve in a future article). In any case, here our our humble nominees for 2007 Game of the Year. Also note that this is for the consoles, namely the Sony PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and PC. With that said, on to the list.

PlayStation 3:

Heavenly Sword for the PS3 - Image 1 

What game is it: Heavenly Sword

Who made it:
Ninja Theory

Why it should be GOTY:
It’s about a fiery red-head with a big, bad-ass sword and the attitude to match. What’s not to like? Not to mention that aforementioned sword can break up into many other little swords so the slashing is a little bit easier – and there’s certainly a lot of bloodletting to do, as the game throws hundreds upon hundreds of cymbal-wearing minions at you. Add to this a brutal Special Move system where Nariko happily uses every mode of the Heavenly Sword to inflict all sorts of nasty things upon the human anatomy, some of which finishing up with a decidedly leg-crossing cheapshot to the groin. Yes, it’s overkill. The controls are sometimes fiddly and you often mash because the attack animations are so complex and fluid that you have NO idea what Nariko is doing – but it’s a beautiful exercise of violence done right, and for that we nominate Heavenly Sword as Game of the Year.

What we don’t like about it:
It’s too damn short. There, we said it. When along comes a game that can be summarized as a martial arts epic in next-gen, you’d want the adventure to last at least more than one afternoon. Epic being the key word here, Ninja Theory.

What could’ve made it better:
Martial arts epics almost always has a rival that’s stronger, faster and better-looking than the main protagonist. Why not another Heavenly Sword user that challenges Nariko from time to time, vying for ownership of the sword? Or maybe a user that has a completely different version of the Heavenly Sword, but kicks an equal or higher amount of ass – simply because she’s the rival. It doesn’t all have to be straight-up good-versus-evil either.

Honorable mentions:
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction.

Xbox 360:

Halo 3 for the Xbox 360 - Image 1 

What game is it: Halo 3

Who made it:

Why it should be GOTY:
It’s Master Chief‘s last adventure, baby! The debut title of the green armored giant on Microsoft’s next-gen console, this title was hyped to the heavens and beyond – and guess what? It lived up to it! Sure, the environments were a bit generic, the Covenant weaponry still reminded you of Nerf toys, the final boss fight could have used a little more time in the back burner and the friendly AI still needs some work but the entire experience was pure FPS heaven right from the very beginning. The in-vehicle parts were pretty good, too (there’s nothing quite like firing off a round from a Scorpion Tank and watch that Ghost in the distance explode in a blue ball of flame). And let’s not forget the multiplayer aspect of Halo 3, where you not only can play the entire campaign with a buddy, but also go online to mash it up with other Arbiters and Master Chiefs.

What we don’t like about it:
The friendly AI. How hard is it for a team that could easily code devilishly-cunning enemies to make devilishly-cunning comrades for the Chief? Don’t get us started about letting one of THEM drive the Warthog or man the turret – if there ever was a black mark that we couldn’t hope to overlook in the next-gen experience that is Halo 3, friendly AI would be the all-too-visible ding on a Ferrari. That and Shotty freaking Snipers on Matchmaking.

What could’ve made it better:
Ol’ John 117 fighting the good fight with other Spartans. Maybe a female Spartan, like the one that made her cameo in Dead or Alive 4. Sure, seeing Chief team up with the Arbiter is already a treat in itself, but it would’ve been nice if there were other fully-armored Spartans who could lend a hand (and with Legendary being as difficult as it is, they’d be a sight for sore eyes.

Honorable Mentions: 
We really, really, really wanted to make Bioshock the potential game of the year for Xbox 360, but seeing as it has a PC port, it had to be axed. Not only does it have a compelling storyline and very awesome enemies to shoot up (i.e. Big Daddies), but it also presented the idea that there may be other ways to play First Person Shooters, other than simply shooting people up. Sure, the moral choices were shallow and only had impact on what ending you get, but it was a very good game overall.

Nintendo Wii:

Super Mario Galaxy - Image 1 

What game is it: Super Mario Galaxy

Who made it:

Why it should be GOTY:
It’s next-gen Mario. In space. Without the F.L.U.D.D. pack. With crazy spherical worlds, crazier boss battles, INSANE suits and gravity. Plus the soundtrack is an absolute joy to listen to. It helps that it plays like a dream. Game of the Year material right here, fresh from Nintendo. For more details, check out QJ.NET’s review of Super Mario Galaxy.

What we don’t like about it:
Sadly, even Mario is not without faults in this generation of next-gen bells and whistles. One of them being the Spring Suit that you get in the galaxy that coincidentally not only has the best music ever, but also the most colorful. While it certainly looks fun to watch (the Spring Suit pretty much wraps Mario in a coiled spring that lets him jump higher and faster than before), it’s definitely a challenge to use effectively. And the fact that you’re expected to use it in really tight quarters doesn’t help it at all, as Mario moves by bouncing around (which can lead to a lot of accidental deaths). Thankfully, the stages where you’re expected complete mastery of the Spring Suit are few and far between.

What could’ve made it better:
The really fun powerups, such as the Fire Flower and Ice Flower, as well as a few others we do not want to mention because of potential spoilage, have time limits – and this is not a good thing. Sure, we can understand the time limit with the Starmen, but with the flowers, not so much. Chucking fireballs as Fire Mario or skating across water as Ice Mario should never be a time-based event. NEVER.

Honorable Mentions: Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.

Games for Windows:

Crysis - Image 1 

What game is it: Crysis

Who made it:

Why it should be GOTY:
In the world of First Person Shooters, Crysis is as good as it gets. Barring the slight issue of your rig probably not being up to snuff as far as MINIMUM requirements for Crysis is concerned, this game will blow you away. Sporting not only the best photo-realistic graphics around, Crytek’s latest masterpiece also innovates with the Nanotek Muscle Suit, a brilliant piece of kit that lets you do what Master Chief wishes he could do. The game also sports some very solid physics, letting you pick up virtually anything and use it as a weapon – which brings about all sorts of possibilities. I myself saw this firsthand, as I picked up a turtle at the very first landing point and threw it at an enemy soldier. The turtle survived. The soldier did not.

What we don’t like about it:
It’s another humans-versus-aliens story. It could have been more than just that, but no. Otherwise, it’s fine, except for those damn helicopter chase sequences.

What could’ve made it better:
We actually had to dig deep to find out just what Crysis is lacking. We can’t say anything about the graphics, the gameplay or the sound because the game does excel in those areas (and with Crytek planning to make two sequels of Crysis, we can’t complain about it ending either). Nicolo S. does recommended that Crytek take it easy on the helicopters.

Honorable Mentions:

The Witcher, The Orange Box (unfortunately, multiplatform).

Again, we remind readers that these are only yours truly’s predictions. That said, do you agree or disagree? Maybe you have a list of your own you’d like to put forward? Let us know by your comments!

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