I am slightly peeved by this year’s rebranded VGX awards. I can tell you before even the year started it was set for; Bioshock Infinite, The Last of Us, and Grand Theft Auto V to be Game of the Year nominees. It’s a hype train that the industry buys into. I know I’m not supposed to take these awards seriously but considering their coverage and their official name branding as the main industry awards just goes to show how shallow the industry is. If you look at their calendar and format they don’t even include the month of December, which in the past has shown to bring out some of the best games of the year. This year Gran Turismo 6 was left out and although I doubt the prospects of it re-inventing the wheel and pulling out a Game of the Year nod I can imagine it being a contender for best racing game.
The second problem I have with the nominees is that they are all equally good on seperate terms. Bioshock Infinite has some great writing, a ballsy and disagreeable, but well written ending and fresh characters that rest on established gameplay mechanics that are somewhat dated and and seem a bit shoe-horned into the narrative which seems obviously padded at times in order to stretch out the game. The Last of Us creates a great atmosphere and draws complex hard to like characters, but seems to let itself off the hook leaning on tired gaming narrative cliches. Mario is the same Mario game we’ve all played before and Tomb Raider is a wealth of great gameplay options that in no way tie together or fix to achieve a compelling story. Finally Grand Theft Auto V takes a similar formula as its predecessors creating an absurdly rich, expensive to create world adding new tweaks to its masterful gameplay but fails to really say anything new or anything at all with its story. These are all very well polished games, the best of their kind that have all been done before. Where’s the new and exciting that’s pushing the industry forward? I’ve played Uncharted, Super Mario, Bioshock, Grand Theft Auto before. Show me what gaming has become and can be and then I’ll have hope.
I would like to point out a small thing, to me there doesn’t seem to be enough of a distinction between studio and game but if you were to ask me (which no one did but you’re reading this) the two major properties from the defunct THQ; Metro Last Light and Saints Row 4 deserve special kodos, for enduring the bankruptcy of their financial backer, creating exceptionally quality gaming despite their limited resources, not jumping the shark on their franchises and in many regards the most important thing, make gamers and game makers everywhere proud.
Last year’s D.I.C.E. awards were where its at for serious awards consideration, everyone knows VGA’s are all about the reveals, but can we stop pretending now.