Edge Magazine has stirred up some controversy with their recent ruling on their award for "Most Innovative" this year. Bungie's Halo 3 took the award beating out Portal, Wii Fit, and Grand Theft Auto IV. A quote from the official edge page:
This year’s Edge Award For Interactive Innovation was a closely fought affair, Bungie proving victorious in a shortlist that also included Grand Theft Auto IV, Portal, Rock Band, Super Mario Galaxy and Wii Fit.
Ultimately it is the integration and coherence of Halo 3’s online content that makes the game stand apart. From its Theater mode to Forge, and the way a party playing through Live can seamlessly manoeuvre between them, here is an experience that demonstrates an unparalleled understanding of the potential for console online play. Outside of the game, Bungie.net has been engineered to become a remarkable resource for Halo 3 stats and communities, providing life for the game even when your Xbox 360 is switched off. Halo 3, just as Halo 2 did before it, presents a roadmap for the way online will be integrated in videogames in the coming years.
But for some, like the readers of Edge magazine and another videogame blog site that starts with a K, they feel the award is unjust and that the award belongs to Portal.
Now let us think about this for a second. Halo 3 does have a fairly robust online mode, and Theater mode and Forge are cool editions for games. Theater Mode removes the old way of sharing videos with friends over a shitty quality youtube video, and Forge lets you mess around with levels in real time while people play. But the stat-tracking is nothing new, Counter Strike: Source servers (with the proper mod installed) have had detailed stat tracking for years. But Forge is limited to pre-built levels and unlike the PC community (I know, blah blah blah I'm not trying to start a PC vs Console war, here) cannot have truly custom content. Video sharing is nice too, and Theater mode streamlines the process, but Youtube has been around for quite some time and videos of games have been showing up there for a while too. So in the end, is it really award winningly innovative?
But what about the other games? Portal took puzzle solving and put it into a first person view. While you could argue it is original, the game is a spiritual sequel to a game made by basically the same people, Narbacular Drop. It was still a hell of a lot of fun, with a devilishly funny antagonist and the overplayed end theme song.
GTA IV was a huge upgrade to the formula established by GTA III, but that was about it. Online play in the large multi-island world is fun and with the sandbox online mode you and your friends can make up your own original game ideas, and that is the one thing it did innovate on. And who can hate on BEEG AMERICAN TEETEES?
Wii Fit... Well, at least it isn't a Richard Simmons licensed product.
All in all, It does feel kind of like a close shave when it comes to the Innovation factor for these games. But who, in your opinion, takes the award? More importantly, what do you define as gaming innovation?