411 Games Presents: Game Awards Part 3: Platform Awards
411 Game Awards 2008
Well we got the 2nd part done, let’s move on to part 3. It’s the part everyone has been waiting for where we reveal the platform awards and Game of the Year. In case you missed it though, here’s Part 2
Let’s Meet the Blurb Contributors
*There were 18 total writers that voted on this, but these listed are the ones that decided to write blurbs for the actual written results*
Todd Vote: Is sort of a newbie here at 411, but he does do important things like give us the news and he wrote a three column series called Eye on the Future
Theo Fraser: Our resident Nintendo know-it-all and writer of the news report dedicated to the Big N, Nintendophiles
Rod Oracheski: Game Reviewer and the writer of Achievement Unlocked
Jordan Williams: Jordan is a reviewer extraordinaire, but he also writers the ever popular column Working Title as well.
Joe Roche: Writes the Full Circle: 360 News Report as well as being a game reviewer
Drew Robbins: Is a game reviewer for 411 Games
Sean Garmer: I’m your host for most of these roundtable things and I write Game Reviews for 411 Games.
*Runner-Ups are only listed if there was not a tie for 2nd place*
Part 3= Platform Awards
Best XBOX 360 Game
Winner: Gears of War 2 (XBOX 360 Shooter, Microsoft & Epic)
Rod Oracheski: As I said before, the sequel is polished in surprising ways. I doubt anyone who hated Gears of War, rationally or not, will be swayed by the changes, but it’s a game that everyone should try out at some point.
Jordan Williams: You can’t be surprised here. It was what Microsoft had been waiting for all year and when it dropped it dropped BIG TIME. So it’s no wonder why this game is taking home GOTY for the Xbox 360.
Sean Garmer: This is the game, the new series that Microsoft is banking a lot of their system on, since Halo will probably go by the wayside in a couple years or so. So far it has accomplished that for them and I completely agree with Gears 2 getting this award.
Best PS3 Game
Winner: Metal Gear Solid 4 (PS3 Action Game, Konami)
Rod Oracheski: The last (doubtful!) Metal Gear game isn’t my favourite in the series, but showed the results of those years of work. The cutscenes might drag for gamers who want action, action, action, but there’s always online for that.
Jordan Williams: When you bank a game like Metal Gear Solid you can’t go wrong. You have it all here, jaw dropping cinematics, great gameplay…and an old guy that kicks ass.
Drew Robbins: While I wasn’t a big fan of Metal Gear Solid 4’s story, the gameplay and graphics were astounding. And don’t even get me started on the final boss fight, a boss fight that will likely go unchallenged as the best ever for years to come.
Runner-Up: Little Big Planet (PS3 Platformer, SCEA & Media Molecule)
Best Nintendo Wii Game
Winner: Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Nintendo Wii Fighting Game, Nintendo)
Theo Fraser: As much a fan as I am of No More Heroes, there’s no doubt in my mind that Super Smash Bros. Brawl deserved to run away with the award this year. Melee was easily in the top 5 when it comes to great Gamecube titles, and many questioned how it could ever be topped. Well, Brawl came along and smashed (no pun intended) its ancestors right out of the water. Brawl is the definitive Smash Bros game, the most eclectic collection of Nintendo heritage and nostalgia ever seen. The addition of Final Smashes and the Dragoon parts are clear examples of Nintendo hoping to cater to some of the casual market, making battles as much about luck as they are skills, but this is still the place hardcore gamers come to dine. And if you wanna talk longevity, boy, Smash Bros has got you more than adequately covered in that department! Unlocking everything would literally take a year of solitude, and even then you’d still be collecting trophies and stickers. Above all else, this is still THE offline multiplayer game to enjoy with 3 other mates, and the addition of online battles makes this the total package. Hey, I went this far without mentioning the inclusion of Sonic and Solid Snake! The first time you hook up a straight Mario vs Sonic fight is just magical, purely from a nostalgic perspective. Magical moments like this crop up all the time in Brawl; a clear sign that this game is truly something special.
Rod Oracheski: The Brawl series is one of the handful of titles Nintendo offered up for ‘real’ gamers this year, making it a fairly easy choice. Hopefully next year we’ll see more competition here.
Vincent Chiucchi: Smash Bros is a Nintendo fanboy’s dream game. Brawl made everything better about Melee with a bigger and more balanced roster, a wider selection of stages, and a one player mode that didn’t feel like such a throwaway. Smash Bros is an endlessly fun experience.
Jordan Williams: Nintendo didn’t have the year everyone was hoping it would’ve, but fuck all of the negativity. They unleashed Super Smash Brothers Brawl. Mario vs. Sonic in full combat along with a all-star list of characters and a pretty decent single player mode. Let’ s just hope we don’t have to wait as long for the next Super Smash game.
Drew Robbins: Smash Bros. is a franchise that is near and dear to my heart. I had been playing Melee for about 7 years by the time Brawl came out, and now Brawl will take that position and likely be played for the next 7 years. Who cares if it is almost the same as Melee? It has Sonic AND Snake!
Sean Garmer: SSSB was the game we all wanted, giving Nintendo fanboys the joy of controlling their favorite characters and bashing their heads in with different weapons and attacks. With all the different characters and levels you could have fun with this all week. Nintendo always delivers with their stuff and this is another one of those that you can’t fail playing.
Best PC Game
Winner: Left 4 Dead (XBOX 360 & PC Shooter, Valve)
Rod Oracheski: Like I said earlier, Left 4 Dead is a stellar title that a lot of people are dismissing because it’s multiplayer-focused. Kind of a mistake, guys. I thought Spore was a huge disappointment, so I’m surprised to see it in second.
Runner-Up: Spore (PC Virtual Life, EA)
Best Nintendo DS Game
Winner: Chrono Trigger (Nintendo DS RPG, Square-Enix)
Rod Oracheski: Now I know some of you are saying “Wait, this game is old!” but it’s really worth a look. The port is great, and the game – if you’ve forgotten – is awesome.
Vincent Chiucchi: A game that came out 13 years ago on the Super Nintendo wins the Best Nintendo DS award. Was it because the Nintendo DS didn’t have anything else good? No, it’s just that Chrono Trigger is still one of the best damn games in history. Instead of turning it into a 3D remake, Square-Enix kept the just the way we loved it (and threw in some other stuff), and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Jordan Williams: Call me negative all you want, but I personally don’t’ like the idea of a port being the best game of the year, but that still dosen’t take away fromt he fact that Chrono Trigger is an awesome game…but I think there might’ve been better (new) DS games out there.
Sean Garmer: My favorite game of all-time gets ported over to a portable system and its ported in the great way we all remember it. If you have never played this game, especially if you are an RPG fan, give this a look. The story is memorable, it has probably one of the best gameplay elements with double and triple techs, and it has 13 endings. How can you beat that?
Best PSP Game
Winner: God of War: Chains of Olympus (PSP Action Game, SCEA)
Rod Oracheski: Word is that Ready at Dawn, earlier thought to be done with PSP development after Chains of Olympus, might be back for more. After playing this latest God of War title, that’s not a bad idea.
Runner-Up: Patapon (PSP Music Game, SCEA)
Best PS2 Game
Winner: Shin Megami Tensei Persona 4 (PS2 RPG, Atlus)
Rod Oracheski: Apparently if you weren’t a JRPG fan, the PS2 wasn’t for you this year. Solid games, but they’re not really all that newbie friendly. Play both games all the way through and that should cover your gaming for the year.
Best Downloadable Game
Winner: Megaman 9 (All 3 systems Platformer, Capcom)
Rod Oracheski: It’s hard to imagine a game that’s more focused on the ‘old school’ gamer than Mega Man 9, though that makes it a game that not everyone will enjoy. I never heard how this sold, but hopefully well enough that we’ll see another in a similar vein at some point.
Sean Garmer: You have to give it to Capcom for after so many years, they give us a new 2D Megaman that works in the series with the 9th edition with all the stuff you come to expect from Megaman, including the difficulty how can you go wrong. I would like to give props to the people that made Braid. It was like a big game in a little games body and it was so much fun to play.
Runner-Up: Braid (XBOX 360 Live Arcade Platformer, Number None Inc.)
Portable Game of the Year:
Winner: Chrono Trigger (Nintendo DS RPG, Square-Enix)
Rod Oracheski: I’d probably flip these two just to give a new game the rub, but such is life. Either game is a great pickup for portable gamers.
Sean Garmer: As I mentioned above this is my favorite game ever, though I don’t have a PSP to play GOW: Chains of Olympus, from the many years I’ve played Chrono Trigger, port or not, it’s a great game that everyone should play.
Runner-Up: God of War: Chains of Olympus (PSP Action Game, SCEA)
System of the Year:
Winner: Microsoft’s XBOX 360
Rod Oracheski: At this point I can’t see how anyone could recommend the PS3 over the 360 to someone who doesn’t yet have a next-gen console. It’s cheaper, it’s got the games in droves, and Xbox Live continues to pull people in. Revamping the UI with NXE, though it confused longtime owners a bit initially, was probably a good move as Microsoft tries to shift towards a larger (and yes, less hardcore) audience.
Vincent Chiucchi: Once again Xbox 360 proves to be the gamers favorite. The Wii is starting to get too casual while almost everything on the PS3 seems to be coming out for the Xbox 360 as well. Now if only the red ring of death wasn’t around, this system would probably be the best of all time.
Jordan Williams: PS3 had a strong year, but to me (and seemingly everyone else) the Xbox 360 still took it home. The Wii is now having to fight to gain back the fans it lost, the PS3 is just NOW getting up to speed, meanwhile the 360 coasted through yet another year with hit after hit and hardly any hiccups and slips along the way. Now this same model might not help in in 2009, but for 2008 you can’t deny that the path of least resistance leads to victory for the XBOX 360.
Joe Roche: 2008 was supposed to be the swan song of the Xbox 360. This was the year that Sony was going to make their big push to take over the American market with the PS3 and the Xbox 360 would be relegated to third wheel. Earlier in the year there was even talk about the Xbox 720 being in pre-production, a sign that Microsoft had reached the end of their rope with the Xbox 360, preparing for the demise of the console that I know and love. But things have a funny way of working out don’t they? On the back of a multitude of good moves, and smart business decisions the Xbox 360 has remained solid in the North American market, and started to make major inroads in the once ignored Asian market. Some people will claim that the only reason the Xbox 360 remained viable throughout 2008 is because of the price cut, and that might be true, but Sony sells more PS2’s then PS3’s and that has nothing to do with the quality of games available, or people’s disdain for the BLU-Ray format. I drive a few minutes out of my way to save 3 cents per gallon on gas, if the difference is minimal why would people pay more? Microsoft made smart decisions by locking up exclusive content for GTA IV and Fallout 3, they made huge headlines with the Final Fantasy 13 announcement, and they brought casual gamers into the fold with a cheaper console, the NXE, and streaming Netflix. With Sony’s financial troubles on the front page of video game sites around the internet, and Microsoft making more inroads in larger foreign markets due to a cheaper console, and region specific games (Hello Tales of Vesperia) there is a very good chance that not only was 2008 the year of Microsoft, but 2009 is looking pretty strong as well.
Sean Garmer: So anyone wondering why the XBOX 360 version of a game is the one used in the picture, it is because it won this award. I don’t own a PS3 so I can’t speak for what it did this year, and maybe next year will be the “supposed year of the PS3” but for 2008 there is no doubt that the XBOX 360 ruled. With singing exclusive content, getting Final Fantasy XIII, the NXE, streaming Netflix, and all the good to great games that came out either exclusively or through multi-platform. Microsoft is saying this generation of consoles might last a while longer than normal and you have to wonder if the XBOX 360 is part of the reason for that. PS3 did make strides this year and if they go through with the price cut in April, who knows man.
Runner-Up: Sony’s Playstation 3
Game of the Year:
Winner: Grand Theft Auto IV (XBOX 360 & PS3 Action Game, Rockstar Games)
Todd Vote: All bow to Niko! To me this was a no brainer. There was no bigger multi-platform game this year. GTA was a fun game and easily clinches game of the year if you ask me.
Theo Fraser: Grand Theft Auto is such a solid franchise at this point, it would only take a few minor tweaks here and there and it would still sell by the millions. However, Rockstar really wanted to perfect things this time around, and with GTA IV, they may very well have done so. The title broke industry sales records within 24 hours, and rightly so. There is so much to love about Niko Bellic’s journey through Liberty City that to list it all would take an age. Maybe that’s appropriate seeing as this is a game for the ages. It looks beautiful, the sandbox gameplay has been spruced up, driving sections given a makeover, a great physics engine utilising Euphoria technology, and a hilarious (and as always, well acted) script, and this comprises just a few reasons why the title simply rules. MGS4 is a worthy runner up, but there’s no complaint from me about GTA IV being named 411’s Game of the Year.
Rod Oracheski: How many times can I say how much I liked GTA IV? All the fiddly little complaints people had from the past (primarily the gunplay) were fixed, though the new driving system took some time to get used to. It had a storyline that was engaging while not simply being a ‘Rockstar knockoff’ of past Hollywood offerings, and gave us a slew of new characters to like, love, or hate. The online multiplayer didn’t pan out the way they’d hoped, but that’s something both of the nominees shared.
Vincent Chiucchi: When it comes to making open world games, there’s a reason they get considered Grand Theft Auto clones. Going anywhere, doing anything, killing anything, spending time with your cousin…wait a minute, spending time with your cousin? That doesn’t sound like fun at all! Yet so many people like this game? See, that’s the sign of truly talented developers. It made going out with your cousin fun.
Jordan Williams: Crime Drama…but interactive. It floats the right boats it seems. Grand Theft Auto is a marvel in storytelling and action and actually makes you think for once before you act. The pundits and everyone can try to find something not to like about this game’s content or message, but these same people wouldn’t condemn other crime dramas like Scarface or The Godfather. While GTAIV is nowhere up there with those masterpeices yet, it (and it’s runner-up) are showing you that before we know it video games might just be a viable alternative to movies and TV, the storylines and production values are almost there.
Drew Robbins: I have had a love-hate relationship with the GTA series. That is to say, I disliked GTA III and Vice City, but was glad to see that San Andreas was a step in the right direction. GTA IV ended up being a leap in the right direction, with a chilling story of the “American Dream” and revamped gunplay that actually made the combat in GTA enjoyable.
Joe Roche: I’ve already made my peace with the fact that Gears 2 isn’t going to be the overall 411mania Game of the Year. I’m also on the record with my feelings about GTAIV. However I can’t dispute the fact that the game deserves the accolades that it received. I think that my feelings about the game came more from what I considered a mediocre way for the game to end (the final mission was a letdown). However, the story of Niko Bellic was engaging, and the character was the first time that a GTA game really went out of their way to create someone who you would actually like. Along with that Take-Two was able to create a world full of characters who had their own personality, and interesting quirks which made the game imminently more fun and playable then it would have been had they just thrown a bunch of cookie cutter stereotypes into a blender and spewed out the standard GTA fare. The best compliment that I can give to GTAIV is that when the game ended, I took memories with me. Much like a Hollywood film, GTA had all the ingredients to leave a lasting impression on the audience, and for that it deserves to be the GOTY. There will be arguments that there are more disserving games – Gears 2, Fallout 3, Fable II will all get thrown around but in the end the complaints that people have with GTAIV have come after you played the game for 50 hours. The other games that we toss around in the GOTY categories all still have that new game smell and the kinks haven’t started to show themselves – for GTAIV to have lasted this long in many consoles, and remain as playable today as it was the day it came out say something about the job Take-Two and Rockstar did in creating an epic that will live on past just 2008. So it wasn’t my own choice as the GOTY but I can’t argue with it getting the nod, lets just hope that 2009 brings us enough great games that we can have this debate again this time next year.
Sean Garmer: GTA surprised me this year, I wasn’t expecting GTA to make me want to play it for once, and I was astounded to like it. I’m still never gonna be a big fan of the series but they did a great job with the story and the characters to make it intriguing. It totally deserves Game of the Year.
Well, that’s it for the awards, we hope you enjoyed our look through the year 2008, hopefully 2009 gives us more games and even better ones. Be sure to leave all your comments too.