10th Annual Spike Video Game Awards (VGA’s) – Review, Analysis and World Premiere Game Trailers
By Patrick Newman
Culminating in a typically excellent Tenacious D performance after opening with a bang by introducing THQ’s upcoming South Park RPG, the 10th Annual Spike Video Game Awards (VGA’s) didn’t leave gamers wanting for much of anything Friday night. This extended to Samuel L. Jackson’s effortlessly cool clock-in as host. The Pulp Fiction star opened by instructing below-the-line crew: “Whoever’s in charge of the bleep button, keep your finger ready.” Dominating the awards was The Walking Dead: The Game – a serialized, downloadable adventure that went home with five awards including Game of the Year.
Though primarily a competitive awards show, the VGA’s have also commonly been a drop zone for massive gaming industry announcements, and to this end we had the announcements for both Dark Souls 2 and The Phantom Pain. The Phantom Pain, a code title for what will likely be a continuation of the Metal Gear Solid series, featured a trailer of hallucinations and dreams that thrilled audiences when it closed on a shot extremely reminiscent of Solid Snake. Sporting realistic imagery that seemed convincingly pulled from a convalescent’s subconscious – such as flaming unicorns and exploding whales – this was the essence of a tease, but possibly the biggest hit of the night.
Dark Souls II wasn’t given a release window or platform availability, but developer From Software did have a jaw-dropping trailer ready for the show, and a subsequent press release. Dark Souls 2, which will feature a new protagonist, setting and storyline, will be the first in the franchise to not have director Hidetaka Miyazaki at the helm. Instead, From Software’s Tomohiro Shibuya will be taking on the challenge, with Miyazaki staying on in a consulting capacity.
Dark Souls II – Of Masks and Dragons World Premiere Trailer
The scope of survival-horror thriller The Last of Us widened at Friday’s show after such a long, behind-closed-doors gestation period. It now has a release date (May 7th, 2013), a bigger ensemble cast and some slick-looking new footage, but the game’s success still rests on a yet-unproven AI system that needs to rank among the best for the game to really work at the level to which it aspires.
The Last of Us – World Premiere Story Trailer
Between The Last of Us and a performance by Linkin Park, Snoop Dogg (er… Lion) unveiled the new expansion for Assassin’s Creed III, tantalizingly titled The Tyranny of King Washington. The DLC is being released in a three-part episodic fashion, much like Halo 4’s Spartan Ops. The Tyranny of King Washington considers an alternate reality where Washington wouldn’t lay down his sword before the Continental Congress and instead fell in with the old adage “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” If only for the story, this DLC should be well worth a look.
Assassin’s Creed 3 – The Tyranny of King Washington Trailer
The last gameplay demo focused on the recently delayed BioShock Infinite, which was presented by Ken Levine of Irrational Games. Infinite still looked as pretty as ever in motion, with a commendable framerate, super-saturated colors, and some of the best lighting and particle effects yet seen on a console. Little new perspective was shed on the game, which has mostly already been embraced by gamers chomping at the bit to explore new territory in the acclaimed steampunk universe.
Though a greater volume of unexpected announcements would’ve improved the showing overall, this year’s VGA’s did a lot to showcase the pinnacle of what is still a burgeoning art form. Samuel L. Jackson kept things smooth and light (The recurring “Sam Jackson Mode” gag, in which the actor was inserted in popular games like Angry Birds, was consistently hilarious), and the musical tribute to Game of the Year Nominees was an elegant and unexpected reminder of the importance of music to the gaming experience overall. The 2012 VGAs was a night of fun and back-patting that is sure to persist the further gaming becomes entrenched in our culture.
Tomb Raider – Survivor World Premiere Trailer
The award winners are as follows:
Game of the Year: The Walking Dead: The Game (Telltale Games)
Studio of the Year: Telltale Games
Best Xbox 360 Game: Halo 4 (Microsoft Studios/343 Industries)
Best PS3 Game: Journey (Sony Computer Entertainment/thatgamecompany)
Best Wii / Wii-U Game: New Super Mario Bros. U (Nintendo)
Best PC Game: XCOM: Enemy Unknown (2K Games/Firaxis Games)
Best Handheld / Mobile Game: Sound Shapes (Sony Computer Entertainment/Queasy Games)
Best Shooter: Borderlands 2 (2K Games/Gearbox Software)
Best Action Adventure Game: Dishonored (Bethesda Softworks/Arkane Studios)
Best RPG: Mass Effect 3 (Electronic Arts/BioWare)
Best Multi-Player Game: Borderlands 2 (2K Games/Gearbox Software)
Best Individual Sports Game: SSX (Electronic Arts/EA Canada)
Best Team Sports Game: NBA 2K13 (2K Sports/Visual Concepts)
Best Driving Game: Need For Speed Most Wanted (Electronic Arts/Criterion Games)
Best Fighting Game: Persona 4 Arena (Atlus/ARC System Works/Atlus)
Best Adapted Video Game: The Walking Dead: The Game (Telltale Games)
Best Independent Game: Journey (thatgamecompany)
Best Graphics: Halo 4 (Microsoft Studios/343 Industries)
Best Song in a Game: “Cities” by Beck (Sound Shapes)
Best Original Score: Journey (Sony Computer Entertainment/thatgamecompany)
Best Performance By a Human Male: Dameon Clarke as Handsome Jack (Borderlands 2)
Best Performance By a Human Female: Melissa Hutchison as Clementine (The Walking Dead: The Game)
Best Downloadable Game: The Walking Dead: The Game (Telltale Games)
Best Social Game: You Don’t Know Jack (Jellyvision Games)
Best DLC: Dawnguard – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Softworks/Bethesda Game Studios)
Most Anticipated Game: Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar Games)
Gears of War: Judgment – Campaign World Premiere Trailer
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 – World Premiere Trailer
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