11th December 2011 - Well it's that time of year people. The plethora of Game Of The Year Awards come rolling out. But, never fear, the only one you need to read is ours! ;) We have come up with several great categories so sit back and enjoy and tell us what you think in the comments section at the bottom of the article or on our Facebook page.
BEST GRAPHICS - by John Elliott
Nominees: Uncharted 3, Rage, Gears of War 3, Batman: Arkham City, L.A. Noire, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Runner Up: Uncharted 3
Winner: L.A. Noire
This one was a tough decision. Each game nominated has a true advantage over the others in some way, shape or form, with each taking graphical innovation to new heights and providing different levels and variations of atmosphere and environments. But Uncharted 3 steals Runner Up with its stunningly detailed locations and animations, only just beat out by the wonderful L.A. Noire. L.A. Noire makes use of an industry-leading technology called Motion Scan to create the most believable, lifelike and stunning character models and animations ever seen in a game. Couple this with an almost perfect recreation of 40’s Los Angeles and amazing graphical utilisation in the gameplay itself, and L.A. Noire steals the cake for Best Graphics this year.
BEST SOUND - by Frankie Main
Nominees: Gears of War 3, Halo: Anniversary, Forza Motorsport 4, Battlefield 3, Skyrim, F1 2011
Runner Up: Halo: Anniversary
Winner: Forza Motorsport 4
Above all, when paying attention to the audio in a video game, one has to pay attention not only to the quality, but how the sound makes you feel. The knee-weakening, bone-crunching combat noises in Halo: Anniversary's campaign, along with its remastered (and in some areas redone) soundtrack are what earned it the Runner Up spot here, but the sheer quality and ferocity of the audio in Forza Motorsport 4 is what pushed it all the way up to the top spot. The hard-to-describe, low roar of the SLR McLaren. The scream of the Lexus LFA. The refined rage of the Nissan GTR. Every vehicle in Forza 4 has been perfectly captured, and that's no easy feat. The ferocity of Forza’s Audio is enough to make any car-lover salivate. Many other titles have come and gone, but none has gotten audio so right.
BEST SPORTS GAME - by Craig Cirillo
Nominees: NBA2K12, NHL 12, FIFA 12, Top Spin 4, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters
Runner Up: FIFA 12
2K Sports has continued to produce the finest sport game of the year with their stellar game, NBA2K12. Following on from the Jordan integration in NBA2K11, they have taken the historical aspect up a notch with more legends of the game being included and even more game modes. Their newest DLC, Legends Showcase is some of the best DLC for a game we’ve seen and further enhances the replay aspect of this fine game. If you love Basketball or sport games in general, then do yourself a favour and pick up NBA212!
BEST MUSIC/RHYTHM GAME - by Will Muscat
Nominees: Just Dance 3, Dance Central 2, Grease Dance, The Black Eyed Peas Experience
Runner up: Just Dance 3
Winner: Dance Central 2
The first incarnation won this award last because of its “style, innovation and depth”. A year on and now the sequel takes this award for those exact same reasons. Harmonix knew how to handle the sequel correctly, It wasn’t just the same game with a few new dances. This has the same game mechanics we all loved but now with side by side multiplayer, voice control, new songs and new ways to dance. So for the second year running, the Dance Central series is still the number one reason to buy a Kinect!
BEST ACTION/ADVENTURE GAME - by Khye Davey
Nominations: Batman: Arkham City, Assassins Creed: Revelations, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception, Dead Space 2.
Runner up: Batman: Arkham City
Winner: Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception
This year’s nominees are an indication of the breadth and depth in Action/Adventure gaming now. Runner up, Batman: Arkham City was everything a sequel to an unexpected hit needs to be. The fighting had more depth, the environment was expanded and more exploring elements added and the characters were well scripted and acted. But Uncharted 3 just has that bit more polish though, and gives a more emotive experience. Naughty Dog tightened up the combat to make it more realistic and context sensitive, it has some of the most gorgeous visuals on any platform today and the most spectacular set pieces that create more drama and suspense single-handedly than a lot of full game packages can hope for (sinking ship, anyone?). But the thing that really makes Uncharted 3 the masterpiece and deserving winner though is the way it effortlessly blends narrative and gaming. It tells a story with such well fleshed out characters. All their gestures, their diatribe and relationship dynamics combine to give a truly entertaining and engaging gaming experience that blurs the lines between movies and gaming that little bit more and just leaves you desiring more.
BEST RPG/STRATEGY GAME - by Tyler Chancey
Nominees: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Dark Souls, Bastion, Dragon Age II
Runner-Up: Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Winner: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Deus Ex: Human Revolution was the strongest nominee for the longest time. However, with the addition of hindsight, Skyrim wins by the skin of its teeth. As cerebral and engaging as Human Revolution was – the story being an interesting examination of Trans-Humanism and the moral shades of gray involved, and its gameplay managing to make gunfights, sneaking around restricted areas, and talking down someone wanting to commit suicide all equally fun – its boss fights were incongruous with the mindset of the series. Skyrim on the other hand managed to press out certain issues the past Elder Scrolls games had and became an epic fantasy adventure full of action, intrigue, and a great atmospheric mix of classic Norse mythology and Golden Age Dungeons and Dragons... oh, as well as dragons. Lots and lots of dragons....
BEST PLATFORMER GAME - by Tyler Chancey
Nominees: Portal 2, Catherine, Outland, Kirby's Return to Dreamland, Super Mario 3D Land
Winner: Portal 2
While Catherine was one of the most interesting titles of the year – an erotic horror puzzle-platformer with an Anime artstyle that goes into the turbulent subject matter of sex, sexuality, and adult relationships – the award for Platformer of the Year has to go to Valve Software's Portal 2. As great as it is to have games tell mature, engaging stories, Portal 2 is a reminder that games can also be funny, witty, and full of warmth, which is ironic given that the majority of the game's cast are robots. On top of this game being an absolute tour de force in its final hours, there is something infinitely hilarious in dropping your partner down a pit in the Co-Op Campaign.
BEST SHOOTER (SINGLE PLAYER) - by Will Muscat
Nominees: Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare 3, Gears of War 3, Killzone 3, Halo CE, Resistance 3
Runner Up: Modern Warfare 3
Winner: Gears of War 3
There were only really 2 real contenders this year; Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 and Gears of War 3. Truth be told, the Campaign in Battlefield 3 – no matter how good the graphics looked – just lacked that hook to drag me in. MW3 and Gears 3 however, both had that pull planted in from their previous titles and both games looked to finish off their own respective stories. The result for players of their previous instalments, a nice big fat hook and I’ll tell you what guys and girls; the Campaign in Gears 3 was an action packed, emotional thrill ride that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. A few surprises thrown in (for those who avoided spoilers) and a story line that just when you thought was about to end, kick started again and went up another gear. All that bundled with some gorgeous new graphics results in Gears of War receiving AAG’s Single Player Shooter of the Year.
BEST SHOOTER (MULTIPLAYER) - by Will Muscat
Nominees: Battlefield 3, Socom 4, Killzone 3, Modern Warfare 3, Gears of War 3, Resistance 3
Runner Up: Gears of War 3/Battlefield 3
Winner: Modern Warfare 3
This award was a pretty hard choice. In the space of a few months we had 3 massive online releases in Gears of War 3, Modern Warfare3 and Battlefield 3. Sadly however, the Competitive multiplayer side of Gears 3 is pretty dead right now thanks to those other 2 big releases. For its various multiplayer modes, and ability to just pick it up and play with mates Modern Warfare 3 adds another ‘Of the Year’ Award to the huge collection the Call of Duty franchise is building. This wasn’t an easy victory for MW3, but don’t be fooled – this game did not blow away every other Shooter out there. If it wasn’t for the wide range of Game modes, like everything from the classic “Capture the flag” to newcomer “Kill Confirmed”, this crown could very well have gone the way of BF3. However, another year, another Call of Duty title giving us 100’s of hours of online mayhem and glory.
BEST RACING GAME - by Frankie Main
Nominees: F1 2011, Forza Motorsport 4, Driver: San Francisco, DiRT 3, Shift 2: Unleashed
Runner Up: DiRT 3
Winner: Forza Motorsport 4
There were some disappointments in the racing genre recently, with a lot of big titles hitting below the belt. But our winner here didn't have problems. It was released after the same amount of development time as the previous games in its series, on an aging console, and not all that long after the previously-worshipped king of racing games; Gran Turismo 5. But it blew GT 5 away with its supreme visuals, audio, content, accessibility, multiplayer and quality. Over five-hundred fully rendered cars, the best tracks, a super-long career mode and the best community in any racing game to date, not to mention the most realistic handling I’ve ever experienced in a racer. This is why Forza Motorsport 4 is the racing game of the year, and indeed this generation.
BEST DOWNLOADABLE GAME (XBLA/PSN) - by Craig Cirillo
Nominees: Daytona USA, Outland, Beyond Good & Evil HD, NBA Jam: On Fire Edition, Street Fighter III: Online Edition
Runner Up: Street Fighter III: Online Edition
Winner: Daytona USA
There were so many good downloadable games this year which is awesome. Nostalgia seems to be coming back in a big way with remakes of old classics. The best downloadable game for me this year was one with heavy nostalgia attached to it, Daytona USA. The old Sega arcade classic is back in a big way on XBLA/PSN. Faithfully reproducing the classic arcade feeling of Daytona and combining it with a good online mode makes this an arcade title you should not miss out on!
BEST DOWNLOADABLE CONTENT - by Will Muscat
Nominees: NBA 2k12’s Legends Showcase, Mass Effect 2’s the Arrival, New Vegas' Old World Blues, Portal 2’s Peer Review
Runner Up: The Arrival (Mass Effect 2)
Winner: NBA 2K12 Legends Showcase
At only 800msp – or $12.95 for you PS3 fans – NBA 2k12 “Legends Showcase” brings you over 300 legends as well as a bunch of new game modes like the old park favourite H-O-R-S-E, The classic 1on1. Another feature of the DLC was a fresh Cell shaded art style, I’m talking Borderlands with a basketball and trick shots. The best thing about the DLC is it gives the Bulls a chance to actually win a championship again, that’s unless you bring Kobe over to the showcase anyway. Value for money wise, and with how much it adds to the game, NBA 2k12’s “Legends showcase” is the 2011 DLC of the Year.
MOST UNIQUE GAMING EXPERIENCE - by John Elliott
Nominees: L.A. Noire, Dark Souls, Portal 2, Little Big Planet 2, Catherine
Runner Up: L.A. Noire
This year had a heap of truly stand-out experiences on every console and even every genre, but a handful really stood out as something more than the usual, something different, and in some cases; something better. L.A. Noire was a genuinely unique experience, with players taking the role of a L.A. detective with awe-inspiring gameplay mechanics, but nothing released this year was as different, unique or downright strange as Catherine. A puzzle game at heart, Catherine is a self-proclaimed ‘erotic horror’ that blurs the lines between sexuality, morals, maturity and gameplay into a highly memorable and utterly masterful experience. If you want something unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before, get your hands on Catherine. The game, that is.
BEST Wii GAME - by Tyler Chancey
Nominees: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land`, Xenoblade Chronicles
Runner Up: Xenoblade Chronicles
Winner: Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
As interesting as it would be for the Wii to have many fantastic games vying for nomination of Wii Game of the Year, the shift of the studio towards the Wii U has led to a very tepid release schedule this year. Despite all of this, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is exactly what an ideal game should be. Fetching art design, brilliant levels, great control scheme, engaging story, and an adventure that can take more than two days straight to complete.
BEST DS/3DS GAME - by Tyler Chancey
Nominees: Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, Dead or Alive: Dimensions
Runner Up: Mario Kart 7
Winner: Super Mario 3D Land
On the handheld side of things, the 3DS is having similar problems as the Wii with a severe lack of 1st-party games, and anything else out with rare exception is either a port of a popular title or a remake. Thankfully, that changes with the release of some Mario titles… and nothing else. As depressing as that sounds, 3D Land has managed to justify the existence of Nintendo's new handheld on its own merits and has helped open the door to other titles coming out next year, including Luigi's Mansion 2 and Kid Icarus: Uprising.
BEST XBOX 360 EXCLUSIVE - by John Elliott
Nominees: Gears of War 3, Forza Motorsport 4, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
Runner Up: Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
Winner: Gears of War 3
While the Halo Anniversary title was everything fans wanted it to be and more, even giving newcomers a chance to experience the beginning of the franchise, Gears of War 3 takes first place here. Providing a ton of game modes catering to single-player, co-operative and competitive online and split-screen multiplayer, Gears 3 features more content at a higher quality than most other shooters can even dream of. A great conclusion to the epic 360 flagship series and righting every wrong from previous titles means Gears of War 3 is the Xbox 360 exclusive Game of the Year.
BEST PLAYSTATION 3 EXCLUSIVE - by Khye Davey
Nominations: Little Big Planet 2, Infamous 2, Resistance 3, Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception
Runner Up: Infamous 2
Winner: Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception
A tough choice, with so many great PS3 exclusives this year. Infamous 2 brought everything that we loved about the unlikely hero Cole – jumping around buildings, insanely powerful moves and moral choice – and expanded on it, topped with some cool new features. Infamous 2 had a story with plenty of twists, plenty of choices and lots of reasons to keep picking up the controller. It may sound repetitive, but the reason Uncharted 3 takes the crown here is the same as why the title won the Action/Adventure category; it’s such a brilliant blend of solid gameplay and well told story that it’s hard to pick faults with it. When the pacing of the story is so important to the overall experience, its linear nature is soon forgiven for the greater good. Almost everything about the gameplay that was flawed has been ironed out and improved from the previous installments, and with the continually high quality visuals, spectacular set pieces and possibly the best and most diverse group of characters of any game, Uncharted 3 is a truly entertaining and engaging gaming experience that the industry can learn from.
BEST FIGHTING GAME - by John Elliott
Nominees: Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Mortal Kombat, Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition (DS), Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition
Runner Up: Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition
Winner: Mortal Kombat
A surprisingly strong year for Street Fighter IV, a game released 3 years ago now. As well as the ultimate Super Street Fighter Iv Arcade Edition on PS3 and 360, the game made an appearance as a launch title on Nintendo’s 3DS, being hailed as the best game on launch and a true title to show off both the 3D capabilities and power of the machine. But it pales in comparison to the feats of Mortal Kombat (aka Mortal Kombat 9). A true return for the king of brutal fighters, Mortal Kombat is a gory, bloody mess that gives long-time fans what they’ve demanded for almost a decade; a return to form. Ticking every box we desired with a few new additives thrown in for good measure and a solid character roster, Mortal Kombat is a shining example of what a fighting game should be and despite some of the best genre competition we’ve seen for years, NetherRealm Studios fan favourite comes out on top.
BEST MOTION GAME - by Will Muscat
Nominees: Sesame Street Once Upon a Monster, Legend of Zelda Skylight Sword, Fruit Ninja Kinect, the Gun Stringer.
Runner Up: The Legend of Zelda Skyward sword.
Winner: The Gun Stringer
It’s been just over a year since we all got the “PS MOVE” and the “KINECT” so naturally 2011 was going to see the market flooded with various motion games. We had the normal exercise and dancing games plus the normal waggle kid’s games. Something that really stood out but was an offering from Texas based developer Twisted Pixel, That game was… The Gun Stringer.
This was really the first core-ish game for the Kinect and to date in my opinion it’s still the best offering on the Kinect. It offers a simple yet unique and engaging control mode and can be played sitting down or standing up. The story while childish at times is engaging and has its little humour moments. If this game is the first offering on Kinect from Twisted Pixel, I can’t wait to see the next one.
FLOP OF THE YEAR - by Craig Cirillo
Nominees: Duke Nukem Forever, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, RAGE, Virtua Tennis 4
Runner Up: Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
Winner: Duke Nukem Forever
I know I may cop some flack over putting Uncharted 3 in this category, considering it won some of our other awards, but to me if Duke Nukem Forever didn’t disappoint so much Uncharted 3 would of won this category as to in my opinion it didn’t come close to matching the quality of Uncharted 2.
Now for our illustrious winner, Duke Nukem Forever. The build up for this game was massive, so many delays, so many years of everyone looking forward to Duke’s return only for it to suck big time! Controlling Duke pissing in the toilet is about as exciting as this game gets! Duke says he has “Balls of Steel”! Well sorry Duke, this game has nothing shiny about it and rather than making one hard, it makes you as floppy as Jelly! And as far as “Hail to the King Baby”! The only signal I give this game is the one of the middle finger variety! So yeah as you can see you shouldn’t go anywhere near Duke Nukem Forever!
AAG GAME OF THE YEAR 2011 - by John Elliott
Nominees: Uncharted 3, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Gears of War 3, Portal 2
Runner Up: Gears of War 3
Epic Games’ Gears of War series is the Xbox 360’s flagship franchise. It started early on the machines lifecycle and demonstrated unparalleled power and action at the time, and now 5 years on and we finally get the end chapter of Delta Squads epic adventure, and the series is still pushing boundaries. Gears of War 3 features an unheard of amount of content, with gameplay spanning in absolutely every direction with the likes of single-player and co-operative and competitive online multiplayer in a variety of unique modes. With a solid story, beautifully told and perfectly paced, which can be played alone or with up to 3 friends, 2 more great standalone co-op modes – Horde 2.0 and the awesome Beast Mode – and topped with the famed Gears of War multiplayer mode which is stronger than ever thanks to new modes, features and weapons, and you have yourself the year’s best value-for-money title, and an absolute must have for every Xbox 360 owner.
Winner: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
It’s not an easy task to overcome Gears of War 3 for the top Game of the Year award, but The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim does just that. Elder Scrolls games aren’t just normal experiences. Since the third game, Morrowind, the series has been known the industry over for being far more than just RPGs. Elder Scrolls features the richest and most vibrant worlds imaginable, with more detail and thought put into the lore alone than most other companies can lay claim to in their entire games, and Skyrim is no different. The game is a lovingly crafted fantasy adventure done right. Players have almost unlimited choice in how they want to play, with the mechanics to back up every decision you care to make. You can play the game how you see fit, with magic, combat and stealth and unlimited numbers of ways to mix them up into the super badass or heroic do-gooder you want to play as. The land of Skyrim is a beautiful place, with varying environments and scenery, but where the true impressiveness lies is within the attention to detail. Every cave, every house and every character is hand-placed and crafted to create a living, breathing world unlike any other. There is no way to describe the epic feel and nature of exploring and questing through the land of Skyrim, but rest assured that the indescribable nature of the title is an experience beyond just the game and that is why The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is All Age Gaming’s Game of the Year for 2011.
Well that's another year of awards over! Hope you haven't fallen asleep after reading this mammoth article! 2012 looks like another stellar year, so stay tuned to All Age Gaming for all the latest news and reviews and we will be back next year with another bunch of awards!
Craig Cirillo - Owner of All Age Gaming