GameZone's Game of the Year Awards Day 2: Technical Awards
It's time to kick off day of our Game of the Year Awards. This time we're going to be focusing heavily on technical aspects of games, such as best graphics, best voice acting, best presentation and more.
Best Licensed Soundtrack: Dance Central 2
You have to hand it to Harmonix. When it comes to music games, they seem to have the grasp on what's popular in the music culture. Their first game was an absolute hit for the Kinect, and the second game refined the gameplay and added multiplayer. But the game wouldn't be half as fun if the songs weren't fun to dance to. Thankfully with hits like "Club Can’t Handle Me – Flo Rida feat. David Guetta", "Like A G6 – Far East Movement" and "What Is Love? – Haddaway" along with 41 more songs, you're sure to dance your feet off.
Runner up: LA Noire
Best Original Soundtrack: Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Is anyone really surprised by this? Zelda games time and time again have top notch soundtracks that both reinvent themselves and create something totally new. With Skyward Sword, the soundtrack is as good as ever. Each location has matching music to fit the mood, whether you're exploring the town of Skyloft, or deep down in a dungeon. What was most mindblowing however is the main theme. Upon listening to it, you're thinking "Ahh, what an amazing and epic orchestrated theme song to listen to over and over again" until you realize, that it is essentially Zelda's Lullaby played backwards! Try to play any theme song backwards and try to make it sound good. Yeah, probably won't happen. This is not only a beautiful soundtrack, it's pure genius.
Runner up: Skyrim
Best Graphics (Technical): Uncharted 3
Sure there are some great candidates for Best Technical Graphics, Skyrim does look great, but the open world structure means that some of that power has to be sacrificed. Battlefield 3 with the Frostbite 2 engine looked amazing as well, but there is something absolutely breathtaking about Uncharted 3's visuals. Not only are the facial animations absolutely spot on, it's the environments that absolutely take your breath away. From the vastness of the Arabian Desert, to the city streets of Yemen, there is an incredible attention to detail that bring this game to life.
Runner up: Battlefield 3
Best Graphics (Artistic): El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
Much like Okami, El Shaddai is a game that takes a very offbeat, yet beautiful approach to its graphics. Unlike Okami though, it doesn't just stick to one art style through the whole game, but rather switches them as you progress. At one point you will be walking through a watercolored world that slowly fills up with color, while the next you'll be trekking through a neon world of lights that looks like it's straight out of Tron. Each section of the game is a surprise in aesthetics, and you'll truly be blown away by how gorgeous this game looks.
Runner up: Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Best Innovation in Game Design: Skylanders' Portal of Power
Love it or hate it, Skylanders have released a really unique way to acquire characters. Along with the game, gamers are able to purchase additional characters by buying separate figures. These figures then get placed on the included Portal of Power peripheral and the character appears in the game. Many argue that it's just way too expensive if you want all the figures, and sure, we can agree. This game however is more aimed at the younger, toy playing crowd anyways, so what better present for a kid than a toy figure that also acts as a playable character inside the game. You're also not required to own all the figures to get enjoyment out of the game, or let alone beat it, so I urge those that still long for games like Gauntlet to give it a try.
Runner up: LA Noire Motion Scan
Best Presentation: Sonic Generations
Sonic Generations truly surprised us. Not only was it finally an extremely fun Sonic game from start to finish, but it really knew how to rekindle gamers with that lost love for Sonic. Everything from the redone classic stages, to the overworld hub and its ever changing remixed versions of classic songs, this was a loveletter to Sonic fans everywhere. The entire game permeated with Sega goodness, and was so overwhelmingly stylish in its presentation that there was no way it wouldn't win this award.
Runner up: RAGE
Best Voice Acting: Uncharted 3
Is this a surprise? Sure Nolan North is the voice of almost every main character there is in other games, but he truly captured that good hearted rogue essence in Nathan Drake. Though he's not the only shining star in this game. Everyone from his companions, Elena Fisher, Chloe Frazer and Nathan's friend and mentor Sully are voiced so superbly, you can't help but connect with these characters.
Runner up: LA Noire
Best Writing/Dialogue: Portal 2
Portal 2 has puzzles sure. Though during those puzzles, and in between those puzzles, you're constantly in conversation, whether it's with GLaDOS, Wheatley, or the hilariously awesome Cave Johnson. Listening to these while you're trying to escape the many layers of the Aperture Science facility gives you a sense of purpose, and has you striving to push forward, if only to hear the next hilarious thing to come from Cave Johnson's hilarious recordings. Without these witty dialogues and conversations, Portal 2 would just be...a puzzle game.
Runner up: Witcher 2
Best Peripheral/Accessory: Nyko Zoom
The Kinect is a great family oriented peripheral. Everyone can get together for a game of dance or even spar in match of martial arts. The problem was that the Kinect required almost 8ft. of space in front of your TV, which left some family's that wanted to "be the controller" in the dark. Nyko, the premier peripheral and accessory manufacturer has alleviated this problem with the Nyko Zoom, an add-on for the Kinect which simply slides on the front and decreases the amount of space needed almost by half. Households with smaller living rooms could finally get in on motion controls and only for a mere $29.99.
Runner up: Gunnar Glasses
Best Sound Design: Dead Space 2
If there is one thing absolutely certain of Dead Space 2, it can scare the hell out of you just by its sounds. Sure it has shock value with monsters jumping out of dark corridors, but it's the sounds and the ambiance that will get to you. It's the creepy and eerie sounds that will have you always turning around, and making sure you're safe, even though deep down, you know you're not.
Runner up: Skyrim
Studio of the Year: Bethesda
Oh Bethesda, how do you always know how to suck up hundreds of hours with your Elder Scrolls games. Sure you also published RAGE, Brink and the less than stellar Hunted: The Demon's Forge this year, but you truly made up for it with Skyrim. The amount of work put in, not to mention the advancements made from Oblivion to Skyrim are huge. Like I've stated yesterday for winner of Best Atmosphere, Skyrim is a place where we live, not play, and it is with that reason that Bethesda deserves Studio of the Year.
Runner up: Naughty Dog