It’s the end of the year and that moment we’ve all been waiting for: the Game of the Year category winners. At Press2Reset, as you’ve surely noticed by now, we’ve tried to keep things a little quirky and outside the box by giving everyone something to vote on that isn’t really the standard console and genre awards. While we do have those as well, we wanted to try something new and fresh and we hope you’ve enjoyed voting for the categories thus far.
As with last week’s nominations, each day for the next six days we will be providing a theme along with awards for the winners that have been voted on by you, the readers. Along with each theme we will also announce our genre and console awards that were voted on in-house.
Audio and art direction have certainly grown to a more prominent place in the video game industry. Larger budgets and much greater technological capabilities have provided developers with the freedom to create works of art that the public loves to see (and hear). Our Sound ‘n Visuals category recognizes these efforts from voice actors to the best song. The genre and console awards included are Puzzle (because you just have to stop and look at things to figure it out) and PC (because lets face it, you’re generally going to have the best of both on this customizable platform) respectively.
Soundtrack of the Year
Bastion was unlike any other game released this year. From its setting and character development straight down to its music; all were used to create an amazing atmosphere.
The music of Bastion pulls you in and immerses you in its world. The mixture of folk, western, rock, or whatever you want to call it comes together to create a cohesive package that needs to be experienced. The songs accompanied by the haunting vocals by Ashley Barrett and Darren Korb will stay with you long after the game is done. We wouldn’t ask for it any other way.
Runner up: Portal 2
Song of the Year
The audio direction in video games has evolved by leaps and bounds, with compositions even being featured at music awards shows like the Grammy Awards. Build That Wall is a wonderful example of the beauty that music can provide to a game. It establishes an idea of the type of character that Zia is; wistful, lonely, sad, and searching for truth, the song and lyrics are the wonderful backdrop against which her personality is built.
With vocals from Ashley Barrett and lyrics and composition by Darren Korb, Bastion certainly has a winner with this song.
Runner up: Into Dust by Mazzy Star – Gears of War 3
Best Voice Acting
In such a short game, it’s a true work of art that every voiced character in Portal 2 is developed so perfectly. From Wheatley, the bumbling and anxious personality sphere to Cave Johnson, the former head of Aperture Science, a person you never interact with directly but still manages to provide a perfect look into his character, and of course, GLaDOS. Even the most minor of characters – a flawed defense turret scheduled for destruction – provides a heartfelt moment with a very valuable bit of information should you decide to listen to what it says.
While Valve has always done a great job casting and directing their voice actors to expertly tell their stories, Portal 2 is on another level. With a lineup of great actors including Ellen McLain, J.K. Simmons, and the incomparable Stephen Merchant, the game delivers a true masterpiece with characters that you feel like you instantly understand – regardless of how brief your time with them may be.
Runner up: Dragon Age II
Best Visual Style
The Rayman franchise has always had its own unique style and Origins was certainly no different (or… it was different, because it’s unique). It’s 3D storybook-like graphics and quirky animations were backed up wonderfully by goofy characters and gorgeous level design.
Rayman Origins creative director Michael Ancel and team have outdone themselves with this title, earning Rayman our Best Visual Style award.
Runner up (tie): Bastion & Batman: Arkham City
Puzzle Game of the Year
A surprising amount of puzzle games came to the forefront this year, but none of them could hold a candle to the greatness of Portal 2. The mechanics are so simple in the beginning and the game does a fantastic job of introducing you to the way it all works. However, once you get familiar with the basics the game begins to introduce new tweaks to the system to add challenge. Still, the core gameplay is kept intact: shoot portal, shoot another portal, profit.
None of the challenge feels overwhelming, either. Progression is spurred onward by the game’s simplicity combined with one of the medium’s most engaging stories of all-time. Finishing each level is satisfying in an unexplainable way; something that the game addresses directly, but in such a way that you probably won’t notice it until long after your time in Aperture Laboratories. Playing the co-op campaign requires a certain amount of teamwork with another, and provides one of the greatest team-up experiences that I’ve ever had. It’s a true testament to a puzzle game when you don’t even notice the complexity of it all and Valve easily succeeds in making players enjoy Portal 2 without leaving them frustrated by its tests, making it the Best Puzzle Game of the Year.
Runner up: Catherine
PC Game of the Year
After countless beta versions and thousands of testers, Minecraft finally released publicly this year to much acclaim. It wasn’t unwarranted though, as Minecraft followed through with its promise to become one of the PCs top titles.
The unique idea of building everything in the game while fending off creatures (or just shutting monsters off and building to your heart’s content) stole the show this year, making Minecraft our PC Game of the Year.
Runner up: The Witcher 2