Dissecting the VGA’s Part 1: The Awards.

by · December 12, 2011

The Spike Video Game awards have become such an interesting topic of conversation. Pre awards has always been dominated by Publishers & Devs rejoicing & pimping their nominations, encouraging people to vote for the viewers awards etc, and then we have post event, where the show gets reamed for too many celebs, not enough awards, poor writing etc. Well the 2011 awards are no different and in the following three posts I will be giving my thoughts.

Why three posts? Simple, I want to go thru who won what, then the big reveals before turning my attention to the actual broadcast. That will be the last of the three posts because I want to watch the show again, gather my thoughts. As I was actually at the broadcast last Sat, I want to watch it from the ‘gamer at home’ perspective and see what (if anything) changes for me.

So first up: The Awards!

I am going in reverse order, saving the GOTY for last. Please understand that these are my views. I am not a member of the voting panel, and I do not know how close the votes were in the categories. Please feel free to disagree with me!

GameTrailers.com Trailer Of The Year – Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (E3 Trailer)
My choice: Dead Island
No offense to my colleagues at GT, but this award should have gone to Dead Island. That trailer came from nowhere and is one of the few that got so many people sitting together around computer screens, marveling at the sheer cinematic feel and emotional punch the trailer delivered. Dead Island managed to do what most others fail to, namely feel something more than just hype.

Most Anticipated Game – Mass Effect 3
No quibbles here. ME3 just takes it from Diablo 3 for me.

Character Of The Year – The Joker (Batman: Arkham City)
Bloody strange category this one, I agree that Joker was the best character of the year, but will explain more when we get to the V/O winners.

NFL Blitz Cover Vote – Ray Rice
My choice: Who gives a rats ass about this paid award?
This was a joke category right? Just a way to get people texting? A sponsored award paid for by EA?

Best DLC – Portal 2 Peer Review
Not many gripes here, although I will say that the Fallout: New Vegas DLC stood out more for me as it really enhanced the Fallout world and took it in new and enjoyable directions.

Best Downloadable Game – Bastion
My choice: Bastion
Yep, no doubt. Got it right on the money here. If you haven’t played Bastion yet, then you should.

Best Performance By A Human Male – Stephen Merchant as Wheatley (Portal 2)
Best Performance By A Human Female – Ellen McLain as GLaDOS (Portal 2)

My Choice: Male – Mark Hamill (Arkham City) & Ellen McLain (Portal 2)
I have put these two together because I want to pose a question: When voice acting plays such a huge part of how we react to a character, why did Mark Hamill get the shaft for Joker? Don’t get me wrong, I love Stephen Merchant and his West Country tones, but for me, Mark Hamill delivered the definitive portrayal of The Joker, and if Joker was the best character, then Hamill got screwed.

Best Graphics – Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
My choice: Battlefield 3 – PC Version
Well this was a toughy. How do you evaluate the best graphics? Uncharted was certainly the most striking console game of the year, but does it compete with a high end gaming PC running Battlefield 3 or Skyrim? For me it doesn’t and I am not sure if this was a case of the games media not playing enough PC games, or them discounting the format completely. Either way that is what one would term an ‘Epic Fail’.

Best Song In A Game – “Build That Wall (Zia’s Theme)” by Darren Korb (Bastion)
Best Original Score – Bastion

My choice: Song: Main Score – Skyrim. Best Score – Skyrim
These categories are always tough and while I adore Bastion, the rousing but controlled music of Skyrim tramples all before it.

Best Adapted Video Game – Batman: Arkham City
My choice: Batman: Arkham City.
No brainer. Arkahm City took up where Arkham Asylum left off and simply raised the bar again for adapted material. It put every other movie/book/comic rival to shame.

Best Independent Game – Minecraft
My Choice: Minecraft.
Yep, easy pick here. Minecraft came out and turned heads, got gamers and media alike dribbling with glee and oh..what? ITS A PC GAME. Fancy that..

Best Motion Game – The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Best Wii Game – The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

My choice: Yawn…really..can’t be arsed…
Well this must have been a tremendously taxing pair of awards to decide on with both categories being so full of outstanding titles…(Sarcasm mode off) Well I guess they had to spooge for Myamoto so that he flew all the way out here.

Best Individual Sports Game – Fight Night Champion
Best Team Sports Games – NBA 2K12
Best Driving Game – Forza Motorsport 4
Best Fighting Games – Mortal Kombat

My choices: Meh, FIFA, Meh & Mortal Kombat.
This is down to personal taste. So ummm meh.

Best Multi-Player – Portal 2
My choice: Words with Friends
Again, this is down to personal taste, and I know a lot of people were wanting Gears 3 to win. However until they figure out a way to stop assholes playing online, I won’t really give a toss.

Best RPG – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
My choice: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Yep, nailed it in my opinion. Witcher 2 can feel hard done by here as many say it is a brilliant RPG as can Deus Ex, but Skyrim is my choice. If you are reading this blog and are not aware of my love for Skyrim, then do your research!

Best Action Adventure Game – Batman: Arkham City
My choice: Batman: Arkham City
Aye. No question.

Best Shooter – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
My choice: Deus Ex
Really? I mean REALLY??? Have our standards for FPS games sunk so low that the gaming equivalent of a Michael Bay movie is the best we can get? A generic twitch game built on a creaky engine where you are led by the hand from one big explosion to the next?? And obviously the MP could not have been a deciding factor in this award, because PORTAL 2 won best MP!

For Modern Wankfest 3 to beat out Deus Ex is a scandal. DE had innovation in spades, a stunning engine, great writing, brilliant weapons & pacing. Yes, the boss battles were daft, but it still trumps anything MW3 could offer. At best this was a fanboy vote on the part of the judges. At worst they were pressured into it. Either way this award disgusts me.

Best Handheld/Mobile Game – Super Mario 3D Land
My choice: Words with Friends
Don’t really care about this award either way. Moving on…

Best PC Game – Portal 2
My choice: Skyrim
This to me is all about personal preference. Portal 2 is brilliant and deserved an award, but Skyrim is just my cup of Nord Tea.

Best Xbox 360 Game – Batman: Arkham City
My choice: Ditto
Arkham City is an outstanding game. Deserves another award. I think what is more telling here is that the winner was not a platform exclusive. A warning to MS to step up and give it’s gamers better exclusive fare? Maybe they should take a leaf out of the next winners book..

Best PS3 Game – Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
My choice: Ditto
Sony had the best exclusive lineup of 2011, hands down, no doubt, without question. Uncharted 3 led the way, but I also want to give shoutouts to Resistance 3 & Infamous 2- both superb games in my opinion.

Gamer God Award – Blizzard Entertainment
No issues here. Blizzard have been stellar for years, and have managed to stay on top of their game despite being paired up with the cancer that is Activision. Long may they continue producing amazing PC games.

Video Game Hall of Fame Award – The Legend of Zelda
Look, I admit it, I don’t ‘get’ the love for Zelda. Not my cup of tea, never has been. However I do appreciate that the series is beloved by millions and have no issues with it getting this award.

Studio of the Year – Bethesda Game Studios
My choice: Bethesda
Makes sense right? If you made the best game then you are the best studio. Logic works for me. Which leads us to the final award….

Game of the Year – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
My choice: Do you really have to ask?
Yep. Aye. Oui. Ja. Indeedy.

Interesting factoid. Skyrim was not even on my list of most anticipated Fall games this year. I pretty much hated Oblivion and was too busy getting damp for Arkham City. Then the 360 version dropped on my doormat and 20 hours later I was pulling myself away from my console to go order the PC version. That almost never happens.
Now I am 89 hours in, have only completed 42% of the game and there is no end in sight, AND I LOVE THAT!

Best game of the last 3 yrs in my opinion. Congratulations to the team at Bethesda for showing us that huge stories, attention to detail and a fully interactive world can trump over the latest COD wannabe

And for those of you interested in my personal ‘Top 10’ of 2011, well here is that list, along with the formats played.

1/ Skyrim (PC)
2/ Arkham City (PS3 & 360)
3/ Deus Ex (PC)
4/ Uncharted 3 (PS3)
5/ Infamous 3 (PS3)
6/ Dead Island (360)
7/ Bastion (XBLA)
8/ Portal 2 (PC)
9/ Bulletstorm (360)
10/ Saints Row the Third (360)

Nest time I will be going thru the big reveals from the 2011 Spike VGA’s and offering my thoughts!

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