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Metro GameCentral Video Game Awards – The Best of 2014

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    Which games deserve their own trophies?Which games deserve their own trophies?

    The year’s best visuals, best storytelling, best music, and best console are all up for consideration, as GC presents its own video game awards.

    As regular readers will know we’re not big fans of video game awards and remain unsurprised that none of the various contenders have risen up to become the equivalent of the Oscars or Emmys. That’s largely because they insist on rewarding financial success as much as actual quality, but also because they tend to be organised into meaningless genre types, or even worse by format.

    We’ve always tried to take a different approach, highlighting the achievements that may go on to have a lasting effect on the industry – and which are particularly interesting when they’re associated with otherwise flawed games, that wouldn’t otherwise get the recognition. The following might not always be great games but they do all excel in at least one area…

     

    Best Visuals
    Driveclub (PS4)

    Winning the best visuals awards doesn’t mean the game itself is any good, and indeed more often than not it isn’t. In fact Driveclub’s online problems have helped to obscure its more fundamental issues in terms of poor artificial intelligence, bland track design, and the complete lack of any identifiable personality of its own. It is, in essence, the old cliché of the beautiful but vacant supermodel. But if looks are all you’re judging it by then Driveclub is undoubtedly the best of the year, especially after the patch that added a stunning range of weather effects. Although even before that the backdrops, the lighting, and day/night transition are amongst the best ever seen on a console – and the best hint so far as to the true power of the PlayStation 4.

    Runner-up: Alien Isolation (360/PS3/XO/PS4/PC)

     

    Best Storytelling
    Valiant Hearts (360/PS3/XO/PS4/PC/iOS/Android)

    2014 was not a good year for Ubisoft. They’ve been embroiled in controversy seemingly the whole time, especially in regards to key disappointments Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed Unity. But whatever else they’ve done they deserve huge respect for creating Child Of Light and Valiant Hearts. Both are essentially indie games, created by much smaller teams than usual and aimed at being anything but the usual by-the-numbers blockbusters. Valiant Hearts in particular was brave enough to tackle the subject of the First World War, and during its anniversary year no less. The end result had its issues in terms of gameplay but in terms of storytelling it was remarkably even handed with its various protagonists, and often genuinely moving. After all, it’s not many video games that can make you think that war is a terrible thing.

    Runner-up: Professor Layton Vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (3DS)

     

    Format of the year
    Wii U

    When our Top 20 games of the year feature runs in a couple of days just consider what it would look like if it didn’t contain any Wii U games. After an appalling start to the console’s life Nintendo brought out the big guns this year and Mario Kart 8 (and its DLC) and Super Smash Bros. are arguably the best entries their franchises have ever seen. On top of this was Platinum Games’ peerless action game Bayonetta 2, the release date-challenged Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, and downloadable classics Scram Kitty And His Buddy On Rails and Shovel Knight. As ever with Nintendo it’s a case of quality over quantity, but in a year when most other formats had a problem with both the Wii U came out the clear winner.

    Runner-up: PS Vita

     

    Best Indie Game
    TxK (PSV)

    As barren as our Top 20 of the year would look without Wii U games it would barely make a Top 10 if it didn’t also include indie games (many of which also appeared on the PS Vita, which convinced us to give Sony’s portable the runner-up prize for format of the year). The lines between what is and isn’t an indie game became ever more blurred this year, but TxK is a quintessential example: an unofficial follow-up to developer Jeff Minter’s own Tempest 2000 series, it was only available as a download via the PSN store and was clearly a labour of love that hadn’t been within miles of any focus group. But it’s just one of many other great indie titles that helped to mitigate the year’s disappointments, from Scram Kitty to Sportsfriends, TowerFall Ascension, Astebreed, Pix The Cat, OlliOlli, Nidhogg, Luftrausers, Super Time Force, and many more.

    Runner-up: Scram Kitty And His Buddy On Rails (Wii U)

     

    Best Music
    Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Wii U)

    The game itself has enjoyed a mixed response from both critics and fans, but we refuse to believe that anyone could find a bad word to say about Tropical Freeze’s music. High quality soundtracks are commonplace nowadays in video game, but what’s so great about Tropical Freeze is that it feels like video game music – not just a generic movie soundtrack superimposed on the action. That doesn’t mean it’s entirely retro though, and bringing back Rare veteran David Wise to provide a modern take on his previous work has proven a master stroke. His music is just as varied and surprising as ever, but never overwhelms the action and always works in tandem with the events on-screen. We can only hope that Wise will be tempted back to work his magic again in 2015.

    Runner-up: Transistor (PS4/PC)

     

    Best innovation

    Nemesis System – Middle-Earth: Shadow Of Mordor (XO/PS4/PC)

    A grim ‘n’ gritty Lord of the Rings spin-off is not the sort of place you’d usually expect to find great gameplay innovation, but developer Monolith Productions (best known for the F.E.A.R. and Condemned series) deserve all credit for creating something other than just a lazy cash-in. The basic idea of the Nemesis System is that as you encounter enemies they remember you, both physically (if they lost a limb or were burned in a fire) and in terms of whether they beat you or not (thereby raising them up through the ranks of the orc hierarchy). It’s a brilliant way to mould the game’s action and story around you, and we hope and expect it will be used in all manner of other games in the future. It should be noted though that although the game is also on last gen consoles the Nemesis System is severely limited on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and the game as a whole runs extremely poorly.

    Runner-up: EXO Suit – Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare (360/PS3/XO/PS4/PC)

     

    Worst game
    Dungeon Keeper (iOS/Android)
    As ever there’s no shortage of nominees for this category, with Sonic Boom on Wii U and 3DS somehow managing to make last year’s Sonic: The Lost World look competent by comparsion. Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z was unspeakably bad, while Escape Dead Island, Senran Kagura Burst, The Legend Of Korra, Chibi-Robo! Let’s Go, Photo!, and Transformers: Rise Of The Dark Spark all did for video games what Michael Bay has done for intellectual drama. But there is one game who’s sheer retchedness stands clear above all others: EA’s offensively awful reboot of Dungeon Keeper. A microtransaction-ridden nightmare so bad that in our original review we refused to refer to it as a video game at all.

    Runner-up: Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z (360/PS3/PC)

     

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    Original: http://metro.co.uk/2014/12/25/metro-gamecentral-video-game-awards-the-best-of-2014-4997188/
    By: davidjenkins2012
    Posted: December 25, 2014, 1:00 am

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