Best Indie Game of the Year - Super Meat Boy
Super Meat Boy is so good I can't even explain why it's so good. By all accounts it doesn't seem like it would be any good at all, at first glance. A game which prides itself on being unfairly difficult? Where's the fun in that? But it is. It's really fun. If you haven't played this game yet, you should.
Runner up - Beat Hazard
Beat Hazard! This game is just FUN! You see, this game is Asteroids. Oh, did I mention that instead of blips you shoot visualized light set to the music of your choice? ANY MP3 WILL WORK! It's fantastic, fun, and will probably give you a seizure.
Best Game For Under $5 - Poker Night at the Inventory
Poker Night at the Inventory is the pilot in the new "At the Inventory" series from Taletell games. It's set around a simple, yet ingenious premise. What do our favorite video game characters do in their spare time? The answer? Play lot and lots of Texas Hold 'Em apparently. For $4.99 you can get this game, 4 unlockable items in TF2, and hours of banter between the characters. It's great.
Runner up - The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom
Braid gets tons of critical acclaim for it's difficult puzzles and "great storytelling" (I use quotes because that's a load of crap, in case you were wondering.) However P.B. Winterbottom is a game that has puzzle very similar to some of those in Braid, and I heard no praise for it. It's cheap, it's fun, it has a uniquely awesome visual style, as it looks like an old silent film, and you get to steal PIE. It's pretty darn awesome.
Best FREE Game - Alien Swarm
Alien Swarm is freaking amazing. It's a completely free title released by Valve on Steam (You must have at least one game purchased on Steam in order to be eligible though. Might I suggest Poker Night or VVVVVV?) which is a remake of an old mod released on the source engine. The campaign is nice enough, and there are a ton of weapons, making a fun survival game, but Valve took it to eleven and let
Runner Up - Minecraft Classic
Minecraft is a game that popped up on EVERYONE'S radar this year. The game which is essentially the ultimate sandbox is supposedly quite good. It just entered Beta, and supposedly gets better every day. I wouldn't know. I'm too busy playing Minecraft Classic, the free (and AMAZING) version on the site.
Best Game That Went Under The Radar - The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom
P.B. Winterbottom, again is a game I heard NOTHING about until I purchased a copy on sale for 49 cents and played it. And that's disturbing since it's FREAKING AWESOME. You play P.B. Winterbottom, the dastardly pie thief. There are several things I like about this game, from the art style, as I said above, is that of an old black and white silent film, even applying film grain. The game also insults you and talks about what a horrible person you are, stealing pies. Anyways, you get time manipulation powers (sort of) and long story short, if you liked Braid, you'll like this. If you found Braid's terrible storytelling a barrier to entry, you'll love this as this is both funny and well done.
Runner Up - Worms Reloaded
I didn't hear much press or fanfare for Worms Reloaded when it was released late last august, but it's a VERY good game. It's fun, it's funny, and... Well, it's pretty darn good! The reason this is the runner up is because I at least heard VALVE mention it when they gave you a free hat in TF2 for buying it when it released. Either way, it was pretty under the radar, and I liked it.
Most Touching Movie - Toy Story 3
OH COME ON YOU KNOW YOU SAW THIS AND ALMOST CRIED
Best Adaptation - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One was a fantastic way of showing off how you should adapt something. Stay true to the core of it, but understand that some things don't translate well between mediums. Also, cut out a lot of the camping scenes. Oh good grief the camping scenes.
Best Effects - Inception
BRHAAAAAAAAAAM! Inception, like it or hate it, had brilliant effects. Between the sheer beauty of seeing the city lift up on top of itself to the low grav fight scene, Inception's effects, CGI and otherwise, were awesome.
Best Animated Movie of the Year - Toy Story 3
Toy Story 3 is, quite simply, a great end to a trilogy. Most trilogies have a weak spot in them if you look. Star Wars had Return of the Jedi, and the Ewoks, Indiana Jones had Temple of Doom, and Toy Story had nothing. Now, while I still love me some Temple of Doom and Return of the Jedi, they were weaker films. The Toy Story films, all three of them, however, are fantastic. Keeping up that trend was enough to earn this my favorite animated film of the year.
Best Animated Movie of the Year Runner Up - Tangled
I praised this movie for every aspect of it in my full review, so if you have read that and are still wondering why this is so good... Uh... l2reading comprehension bro?
Worst Game of the Year - Chime
Ok, understand that this isn't really the worst game of the year, just the worst game I played this year. Chime is a rhythm game which might be fun if it had more than 5 freaking songs on it, but as it is, was just weak all around.
Worst Adaptation - Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lighting Thief
In contrast to HP7Pt.1 Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, took everything that was fun, witty, and charming about the book series, and threw them out the window in favor of a jive talkin' black sidekick. The main character is 16, not 12, which completely throw off the ENTIRE FREAKING POINT OF THE REMAINING 4 BOOKS, every character was changed extremely (for the worse) and worst of all Kronos is hardly mentioned. Luke's motivations are not only weaker for this, they're practically nonexistant. Not to mention the romance between Percy and Annabeth is resolved in the FIRST FREAKING FILM, instead of the FIFTH. It was a movie which might have been decent if it had been titled ANYTHING else.
Worst New TV Series of the Year - The Ev3nt
I saw one episode of "The Ev3nt" after looking forward to it for MONTHS. Let me explain how bad this show is. The first episode was the perfect storm of TERRIBLE. Terrible acting, terrible EDITING, and of course dialogue which sounded like this:
"Mister President sir, should we do something about the... Event?"
"Yes, we must keep the... Event a secret."
"But sir, what if there's another... Event?"
"Then we must be careful. We can't afford to let another... Event happen."
"I don't like... Events, sir."
"Neither do I. I don't think anyone likes... Events."
"Except sir, perhaps... Event planners."
Worst Ending of the Year - Puzzle Agent
Puzzle Agents is a game I got for a buck. I played it for around 4 hours. I really was enjoying it. It was like Professor Layton but... No, actually it was like Professor Layton. But that's a good thing! I had an interesting mystery surrounding a mysterious town... I was solving the puzzles... I was getting into it aaaaaaand....
Credits roll suddenly. What. Nothing answered, no resolution given to any characters... GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH. WHY? HOW? WHO? Are the Gnomes aliens? Monsters? Was the one guy dead or alive?! WHY WAS I SUDDENLY AT A SPACESHIP FOR LIKE 5 MINUTES IN THE MIDDLE OF THE GAME?!
Screw this game, and it's ending.
Stupidest Moment of the Year -
Roger Ebert Opens Mouth, Inserts Foot
I've yelled about this enough by now that it feels pretty redundant talking about this again, but let me sum up the idiotic statement that a man named Roger Ebert made. "Games can never be art." If you need any more information than that quote, click through and read my post. Seriously. Ebert had to make a public apology. That's how bad this was.
Most Depressing Thing This Year - Stupid People Are Stupid, Complete Monsters Are Complete Monsters, -100 Faith In Humanity
I've made it FAIRLY APPARENT over the last year, since I started this blog, that I'm a big fan of games. I view them as a budding art form, am a huge advocate for games as art, and fully advocate games being treated equally to film and books, instead of the double standard that's SO apparent in the industry right now. Unfortunately, it gets pretty discouraging some times. Especially when you hear about MORONS who do absolutely HORRIBLE and UNSPEAKABLE things. Example? A few weeks ago a Korean college student died after a 12 hour marathon gaming session where he did not eat, drink, or otherwise attend to normal bodily functions. I wish I could say that this was the least depressing story this year, but unfortunately, that's the bright and sunny, happy story for this post. Take for instance this monster who commited the UNSPEAKABLE act of killing her child and leaving him on the floor for two days as she played games.
As with every year there are MANY of these stories, and no one of them can be called the "worst" as their all horrific in their own right. We have to keep in mind though that these people were obviously unstable before they began playing games, and the games are not at fault here. After all, the anti-games advocates hands aren't quite clean either. As was the case of the Korean boy killed in a Chinese "video games addiction reform boot camp".
Sigh. Stories like these keep making me lose faith in humanity
Best of the Year
Best Video Game of the Year Runner Up - Fallout: New Vegas
This is tough for me. I really do want to say this was the best game of the year. Fallout: New Vegas is a fantastic game all around. It's funny, fun, creative, and features some of the best examples of storytelling I've ever seen in a game. The gameplay is fun, and while it's essentially Fallout 3 set in Vegas, I actually like it a bit more.
Except for one thing. It's one of the buggiest games I've ever played. It absolutely should not have been released for another 3 months at least. I got it at the end of November, it had been out over a month, and it was still nearly unplayable. Random crashes, characters doing various bad things (like standing with their noses in the corner like they're in a time out) and clipping.
It's just... I can't say that it's ok for a game this buggy to be released. It's unacceptable. Game developers need to stop putting half broken games out there to be purchased. It's just not a finished game yet! The content is fantastic... When it works...
And that's what keeps me from calling it the best game of the year. That title goes to...
Best Video Game of the Year - Mass Effect 2
Another absolutely fantastic game. This is another landmark in game development. Mass Effect 2 is a great game. It has fantastic writing, fantastic characters, and is just all around fantastic. It's simply a wonderful game. Tali, Thane, Mordin... I could write entire articles on any of these characters, and why more game developers need to pay attention to their writing.
It would be very easy for Mass Effect 2 to fall victim to "middle child syndrome" as many games have, having neither a really good beginning, nor a really good ending, since it's simply a connector between the beginning of the trilogy, Mass Effect, and the smashing finale coming out next year (supposedly) Mass Effect 3. Instead though it starts by (spoiler alert I guess, although it happens in the first 5 minutes) BLOWING UP THE NORMANDY AND KILLING COMMANDER SHEPARD.
Not exactly a lackluster start. What follows is an EPIC story which took me around 30 hours to complete. And I loved every single minute of it. The characters are all fantastic, the gameplay is fantastic, and essentially they took everything that was bad about the first game, and fixed it. Then they made more fantastic characters like Thane, Legion, and Jack and... Well, it's just an AMAZING game! Seriously, if you haven't played this game yet, you're cheating yourself.
Best Movie of the Year Runner Up - Toy Story 3
Toy Story 3 is a great film. I spoke a bit about it above, but... It's really superb. I can't stress how good it is. I'm not sure if it's on DVD or not yet, but if it is and you haven't seen it, either go buy or rent it immediately. It's the perfect end to a great trilogy.
Best Movie of the Year - Inception
Inception is the latest film by Christopher Nolan, creator of The Dark Knight and Batman Begins, among other things. It's a fantastic, albeit confusing at times, film with tremendous ambiguity and many possible interpretations. Again, if you haven't seen it yet, go do so immediately.
Most Inspiring Moment Of the Year - Brian Wood Gives His Life To Save His Family
If there was one moment that could inspire faith in humanity, in the face of all the tragedies I mentioned above, it would be the story of Brian Wood, the head developer of the game Company of Heroes, who gave his life to save that of his wife and unborn child.
If you didn't follow this story as details arose last September, here's the short version. Brian Wood and his pregnant wife, Erin Wood, were out for a drive one night. Unfortunately, so was 21-year old, Jordyn Weichert. Jordyn was out driving with a few of her friends, drunk and stoned, and decided to take off her sweater, while driving. She asked her friend, Samantha Bowling, to take the wheel for a moment as she did. As she did so, she drove head on into Brian and Erin.
Had it been a head on collision for both cars, Erin and Brian both would have died. At the last moment however, Brian made a split second decision, and swerved, a decision that would save the life of Erin and his unborn child, but cost him his own.
A noble, and inspiring story, to be sure. One which wasn't quite over just yet. You see, not long after, Erin went on The Today Show with her story. (Warning: If you aren't in tears yet, watching that video will cause you to be.)
As many people saw it, either through the TV, or via sites like Kotaku, one of the main news sites reporting on the story, a memorial fund was started for Brian which raised a lot of money for Erin and her child.
Millions of users from the internet, gamers, sent kind words and condolences to Erin. Something that, for the internet, is highly unusual. Something which Erin Wood would respond to shortly after.
My name is Erin Wood, and I wanted to send a request to please pass along my most sincere and heartfelt thanks to the gaming community for the overwhelming support provided to me in the past two weeks. I asked coworkers of Brian how I might best send my thanks, and they recommended sending them to Kotaku - hence this email. Any way you can help share this with the community would be much appreciated.
Brian always told me about how close-knit and wonderful the video game community was, but I had no idea until this tragedy just how special a group it really is. From all the articles and comments, to the emails and donations, I am simply stunned and so touched by the love, kindness, and generosity shown to me and my family. As everyone knows, the last 10 days have been the most difficult, dark days of my life. But this journey has been eased tremendously by the thoughts, prayers, and well wishes received from friends, family, and strangers living all over the world. It is so meaningful for me to hear about how his work and enthusiasm for the industry has touched others. Brian was completely and utterly devoted to the game industry, and was pretty much living his dream every day. He woke up every morning excited to be working in such a creative, demanding field. It was such a joy to be married to someone who was absolutely passionate about his professional life.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the compassion and support. It is so http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifappreciated, and has been a light to me in this impossible situation.
A tragedy, yet an inspiring moment to be sure. Happy New Years everyone.
UPDATE MARCH 29TH 2011: I wrote an addendum to this post, after rewatching several movies again. It can be found here.