In the meantime, I'm just a guy who writes about videogame theory and how the medium can achieve better cinematic emulation (while keeping its own indentity). Though, if that's too boring, you can always find something delightfully fluffy in the following:
Well, I think it might be New Year. Honestly, it’s hard to remember since the Radio Times (TV Guide for non-Brits) stopped at December 31st. Now I’m just measuring time by any unopened bottles of Colonel Kwiki-Mart’s Kentucky Fried Bourbon.
Anyway, 2010 will go down as the year where just about everyone of my favourite bands released average albums. That and I also received an alarmingly awful scarf from my father, showing how little he knows about me or any fashion sense.
At least there was one constant in my life and it’s obviously videogames. There’s also my girlfriend of 8-9 years, but that’s irrelevant right now.
This year we had the cowboy epic, an increase in detective mysteries, some tense moments in psychological horror, the blockbuster conspiracy thriller and the continuation of an intergalactic interpretation of Days of Our Lives. There was also some astoundingly dumb moments and squandered ideas too, but you can’t have it all.
So let’s just get the negatives out of the way, shall we?
Through the medium of song!
Cing finally went bust
Even though they made Hotel Dusk
Sleep is Death’s payment plan was an arrogant mess
Pre-order strong arms didn’t make a sale
Rohrer’s slapped out of his complacency
And he’s now on a “sliding scale”
Heavy Rain’s Plot Hole
I was the killer and I didn’t know
Damn, I felt so screwed
The info was omitted from my view
Doctor Who and Sam & Max
Had controls as crumpled as my ball-sack
Amateur bedroom retro reviewers think they’re great
Formed a gaming website that’s quite irate
Um...Ahem...Damn, song writing is hard.
Now it’s time for some faux-awards that are completely irrelevant and are basically just a cover for my personal preferences rather than being a catalyst for cultural remembrance. It also has nothing to do with Destructoid’s opinions.
THE GAMER OBSCURA AWARD
Last Window: The Secret of Cape West
Tony Ponce thought 9 Doors... was the best written game of the year.
Well, he was wrong!
The sequel to the melancholic noir adventure Hotel Dusk was a bittersweet triumph for Cing’s final game; creating a near-perfect blend of downbeat crime drama and wistful character studies through the use of subterfuge investigations and mundane conversations.
When the whole story kicks off with the unusual sight of the hero losing their sales job and being told they’re about to be evicted over Christmas, you don’t need to be a genius to know you’re playing something uniquely different and honestly mature for once.
£10 says you didn’t play it either.
THE UNSUNG HEROES AWARD
Samara (Mass Effect 2)
Samara was a wandering Ronin with a Zen approach to life’s hardships. As a deeply tragic character who has accepted her woes as karmic payback, she’s played with distant grace by Maggie Baird. Conversations about morality and acceptance were played out in hushed tones, with a stunning loyalty mission about hunting down her psychotic daughter, made her one of the best developed characters in recent years.
Yet, nobody liked her because she wasn’t Liara.
THE UNENDORSED SUDA 51 POST-MODERN GENIUS AWARD
FBI Special Agent Francis York Morgan has a personality called Zach living in his head. Only you’re Zach (except later you’re not) and so begins an inspired relationship between player and protagonist. Instead of being a passive controller, you’re another cast member that York interacts with; perfectly judging the balance between engagement and immersion while breaking the fourth wall.
As York usually exclaimed – “Amazing!”
THE BRUCE CAMPBELL INVENTIVE USE OF WEAPONRY AWARD
Dead Rising 2
Dead Rising 2 was daft fun (while being tough as hell) and does everything a sequel should – make improvements across the board. It’ll probably be overlooked in a few years’ time for aping the original so closely, but hell, at least it gave us some of the most inspired use of everyday materials ever; my favourite being the Flaming Boxing Gloves of DOOM!
BEST UNORIGINAL MOVIE ADAPTATION AWARD
Splinter Cell: Conviction
Don’t get me wrong, Conviction was amazing. While the die-hards might have turned their noses up at the action, it was a heart-racing popcorn blockbuster that riffed on The Bourne Trilogy and 24. It’s interesting to see how Splinter Cell’s ideals have shifted from right-wing to the Hollywood left over the years without Tom Clancy’s involvement and it’s a guilty pleasure to re-enact awesome movie scenes; especially the chase around The Lincoln Memorial (which ends with a carbomb explosion).
THE BUTTOCK CLENCH AWARD
Mass Effect 2
“The chances of survival...are slim.”
You’ve assembled your team and you’re going to take on The Collectors in daring suicide mission. From start to finish, you’re assaulted for a good hour with on-the-fly decision making, shoot-outs, diversions and the knowledge that anyone might die. It’s a ridiculously intense finale, with a genuine personal stake in every decision you make.
Even if everyone else makes it out alive, you still have to make that white-knuckle jump to the Normandy in glorious slow motion.
This is why I love videogames.
THE UNPOPULAR OPINION AWARD
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (UK release Feb 2010)
Shattered Memories was simple horrifying bliss that harked back to the frantic desperation and confusion of old survival horror without firing a single bullet. Scrape away the layers and it was a depressingly familiar tale of divorce. Sure, it was disposable to the point of only needing one play-through, but it was easily one of the best Silent Hill stories ever made.
So much so, it didn’t really need the franchise tag at all.
THE “KEEP YOUR FIRE, CAVE APE! WE JUST REINVENTED THE WHEEL!” AWARD
Red Dead Redemption
It might not be the greatest Western ever made, but Red Dead Redemption had me stumped in the same way that Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven came along and handed us a dour love letter to the genre. It’s hard to imagine anybody else following up RDR in such serious fashion, except maybe the “Boy’s Adventures” feel of the Call of Juarez franchise.
It’s not even my GOTY, but hard not to feel the uniqueness of John Marston cutting a sad, lonely, figure as he rides down Mexico way to kill an old friend.
THE GHOSTBUSTERS 2009 GOTY AWARD FOR GOTY 2010
Well, this is where the sham, self-satisfaction that is incumbent of all award ceremonies is truly exposed because it’s truly tough to decide on a winner. On one hand, there’s a stunningly bizarre mystery thriller that twists the TV serial knife into post-modern interaction and on the other...
Flip a coin and it would still be a nightmare to choose between Alan Wake and Deadly Premonition because of their similar strengths and weaknesses; practically ‘Ying and Yang’ to each other. While Alan Wake would have benefited from the free-roam investigation of Deadly Premonition, the latter definitely needed the action sequences from the former. Regardless, both had strong existential concepts that were slowly uncovered by two of the best written protagonists in recent years.
Personally, Deadly Premonition’s place in gaming history is assured (it was charming to see Destructoid on the PAL cover too), while Alan Wake will probably have to face some kind of decent reappraisal one day.
But as it stands, they’re both tied for the top spot.
A bit of a cop out, but hey, this was all just a bit of fun. It’s not like the guy from Game Journalists Are Incompetent Fuckwits is going to berate me for it. He’s too busy with money woes.
Now a tribute to those who passed away last year...