Monday, December 13, 2010

VGA 2010 Reveals: The Hot, the Not, and What We Thought

Spike TV’s 2010 Video Game Awards are done and dusted. In case you’ve missed them or just want some recap, we’ve decided to highlight the most important moments as well as give you our impressions of the event. When you're done, don't forget to check out our new feature, which includes all 12 trailers plus trailer reviews.

The first big trailer was for Batman: Arkham City, where we got to see a bit more background and came face to face with villain Hugo Strange and his army of goons. Batman: Arkham City will launch in Fall 2011.

The next teaser trailer was introduced by Bethesda Game Studios’ Todd Howard. The rumors were true, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is deep into development and scheduled for release on 11/11/11.

We all already knew Kratos was coming to Mortal Kombat for the PlayStation 3 version, but speculation surrounding a possible Xbox 360 exclusive character proved to be false.

The next world premiere got us worried for both the upcoming movie as well as its video game tie-in. Disappointingly, Marvel’s Thor: God of Thunder looked pretty weak and will most likely go the way of so many other superhero movie video games – to the bargain bin of shame. According to the trailer, “Mighty Thor Will Rise” May 3, 2011.

On a better note, speculation was put to rest when the Mass Effect 3 announcement trailer premiered. It looks like BioWare's RPG shooter will see the return of Commander Sheppard, this time coming to planet Earth to save humanity. The announced released window is vague, but I guess Holiday 2011 isn't too far away.

The Resistance 3 trailer got a lot of play and lead up. The video clip itself wasn’t particularly impressive, but the dark, hopeless feel the developers at Insomniac Games are going for is definitely coming through. We’ll be able to take on the role of Joseph Capelli starting September 6, 2011.

The next big reveal was Prototype 2. The first game had a lot of promise, most of which was fulfilled in the PS3 version. Disappointingly, the Xbox 360 version was crap, never letting the fledgling Activision IP take off. That hasn’t stopped the mega-publisher from taking another crack at it. It looks as though we’ll be taking on a new character, Sgt. James Heller, who’s hunting the illusive and destructive Alex Mercer. “To kill a monster you must become one”, so expect even more bad-ass abilities in 2012.

Guillermo del Toro’s game, Insane, which is supposed to have a very Lovecraftian feel, was finally officially announced by the man himself with the blessing of THQ. Volition will be the developer, and elements such as terror and horror will be accentuated by deteriorating mental health. This “first taste of craziness” didn’t reveal much other than the fact del Toro says “hopefully you’ll shit in your pants”. Insane is TBA 2013.

Hot on the heels of Gran Turismo 5, Forza Motorsport 4 was announced alongside its first teaser trailer. Attention to detail and sim racing will once again be pivotal when the racer launches in Fall 2011.

The world premiere trailer for SSX: Deadly Descents from EA Sports was odd to say the least. We’re not sure what’s up with the Call of Duty / Mission Impossible vibe that’s been injected into the series, but the inclusion of every major mountain range in the world backed by real-life topography does have us interested.

The last major trailer was for Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. To be honest, it was kind of a let-down, mostly because the screens and info released before the weekend already told the tale – nothing new was left for the VGA presentation. The official release date of 11/1/11 does have us excited though. It looks like next November is going to be a huge month for gaming… start saving now!

The big mystery on everyone’s mind was where did the big Gears of War 3 gameplay demo go? Bleszinski commented via Twitter that this delay wasn't up to Epic. I guess Microsoft has some explaining to do. The announcement was supposed to be cool, unexpected, and knock our socks off! In the end, it made no appearance and wasn't even mentioned.

Spike TV’s 2010 VGAs were, if nothing else, entertaining. Little bits such as the ‘In Memoriam’ skit that said goodbye to NBA Elite were pretty funny, and there were a few good jokes made by the presenters in spite of the dreadful dialog forced into their mouths by the teleprompter. The production crew running the event was awful, though, as cues were missed and effects were delayed, leading to a pretty amateurish presentation.

Oh yeah… I almost forgot. There were also awards handed out. Only a handful of categories were actually represented during the show, including 'Studio of the Year', 'Best Character', 'Best Action Adventure', 'Best Shooter', 'Best Performance by a Human Male', 'Best Independent Game', and, of course, 'Game of the Year' (GotY).


Other categories, such as 'Best Soundtrack' and 'Best RPG' were relegated to little more than passing mention, and most others were not given any air time whatsoever. To be fair, a lot of great games were chosen to represent their respective categories, and good (if somewhat predictable) final decisions were made all around.

Unfortunately, the VGAs aren’t nearly as prestigious as they aspire to be. A big reason for this is, as hinted at earlier, that only a handful of awards were actually given out during the program. Instead, the 2010 VGA “ceremony” was mostly a platform where the highest bidders got their games and products the most air time. From Verizon reminding us of mobile gaming to Microsoft making sure the word Kinect was dropped a half-dozen times at the top of the show, the VGA’s credibility is suspect due to its blatant commercialism. As a result, nominees and winners definitely played second fiddle to the world premiere trailers.

Below we’ve compiled a list of the nominees and winners in all the categories... in case your interested.

The nominees and winners in each category are:

Game of the Year:
Call of Duty: Black Ops
God of War III
Halo: Reach
Mass Effect 2
Red Dead Redemption *Winner*

Studio of the Year:
Bioware, Mass Effect 2 *Winner*
Blizzard Entertainment, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
Bungie Studios, Halo: Reach
Rockstar San Diego, Red Dead Redemption

Character of the Year:
Ezio, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
Kratos, God of War III
Srgt. Frank Woods, Call of Duty: Black Ops *Winner*
John Marston, Red Dead Redemption

Best Xbox 360 Game:
Alan Wake
Fable III
Halo: Reach
Mass Effect 2 *Winner*

Best PS3 Game:
God of War III *Winner*
Heavy Rain
ModNation Racers
Red Dead Redemption

Best Wii Game:
Donkey Kong Country Returns
Kirby's Epic Yarn
Metroid: Other M
Super Mario Galaxy 2 *Winner*

Best PC Game:
Fallout: New Vegas
Mass Effect 2
Sid Meier's Civilization V
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty *Winner*

Best Handheld Game:
God of War: Ghost of Sparta
Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops *Winner*
Professor Layton and the Unwound Future
Super Scribblenauts

Best Shooter:
Battlefield: Bad Company 2
BioShock 2
Call of Duty: Black Ops *Winner*
Halo: Reach

Best Action Adventure Game:
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood *Winner*
God of War III
Red Dead Redemption
Super Mario Galaxy 2

Best RPG:
Fable III
Fallout: New Vegas
Final Fantasy XIII
Mass Effect 2 *Winner*

Best Multiplayer:
Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Halo: Reach *Winner*
Call of Duty: Black Ops
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

Best Individual Sports Game:
EA Sports MMA
Shaun White Skateboarding
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 *Winner*
UFC Undisputed 2010

Best Team Sports Game:
FIFA 11
Madden NFL 11
NBA 2K11 *Winner*
MLB 10: The Show

Best Driving Game:
Blur
ModNation Racers
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit *Winner*
Split/Second

Best Music Game:
Dance Central
DJ Hero 2
Def Jam Rapstar
Rock Band 3 *Winner*

Best Soundtrack:
Def Jam Rapstar
DJ Hero 2 *Winner*
Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock
Rock Band 3

Best Song in a Game:
"Basket Case" by Green Day, Green Day: Rock Band
"Black Rain" by Soundgarden, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock
"Far Away" by José González, Red Dead Redemption *Winner*
"GoldenEye" by Nicole Scherzinger, GoldenEye 007
"Won't Back Down" by Eminem, Call of Duty: Black Ops
"Replay/Rude Boy Mashup" by Iyaz/Rihanna, DJ Hero 2

Best Original Score:
God of War III
Halo: Reach
Mass Effect 2
Red Dead Redemption *Winner*

Best Graphics:
God of War III *Winner*
Heavy Rain
Kirby's Epic Yarn
Red Dead Redemption

Best Adapted Video Game:
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game *Winner*
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
Transformers: War for Cybertron

Best Downloadable Game:
Costume Quest *Winner*
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
Monday Night Combat
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game

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