Following on from yesterday, Part Uno, we have Part Due - or as I like to call them, the "actually sort of genuinely real categories!" Yes, today, rather than sort of handing out fairly jokey awards, holding back mocking laughter while giggling under my breath, I will be handing out awards that kind of almost are worth a damn. Be it the Brown Pants Award for Genuinely Frighteningest Frights, or the Award for Most Dickhead Boss That Pads Out the Game Like a Menstruating Whore, these awards aren't tongue-in-cheek - they are all completely and utterly sincere. Except for the Too Human award. Ewww.
So, without further adieu, I present to you Part Due of Andy's Game of the Year Awards for 2010. Take it away, me.
Brown Pants Award for Genuinely Scariest Game
As a general rule of thumb, scary games are far and few between nowadays. Like, actually "scary," like your Silent Hill 2s and your System Shocks. Instead we get crap like Dead Space, which - while is shocking in some parts, and definitely dark and atmospheric - doesn't get inside your head as well as classic horror games used to. There was, however, a game this year that was pants-wettingly atmospheric, and creepy as a spider crawling down your neck - and not just because of the creepy spider crawling down the back of your neck. My friend, Paul, is arachnophobic and I swear to god he nearly died playing LIMBO. The pure sense of oppression present in LIMBO is one that very few pure horror games have managed to nail in the past three years, and for this, LIMBO is the genuinely most horrifying game released this year. Everything is out to kill you. Everything most likely does kill you. It's atmospheric, not just for its darkness and colour palette, but for the true sense you get while playing this game that you are truly a small, insignificant bug, scrambling helplessly under the feet of the giants above you. Playdead have crafted a really fucking frightening and freaky game here. If you're a fan of survival/horror, it's time to go play it... and wear a diaper.
Taking home the much sought-after second place is Amnesia: The Dark Decent, from Frictional Games. Penumbra, by the same studio, is the only horror game released in the past five years that actually made me yelp out loud in loathing and fear - and Amnesia is no different. Some horror games give you chills up your spine - Amnesia gets the chills up your spine and well into your skull. Too bad about the, y'know... 90s-era point-and-click-inspired gameplay.
Runner-up: Amnesia: The Dark Decent
Crippled Thumbs Award for Hardest Game
Crippled Thumbs Award for Hardest Game
Do you hear that? It's the sound of my thumbs bleeding, my index fingers cracking and my brain exploding. This is the award for the most physically and mentally punishing game of 2010. Now, my first idea was to award this to Super Meat Boy or VVVVVV and knock off for lunch knowing that I've tossed the indies a well-deserved bone, but on afterthought, I realized if I did this I would be lying. SMB and Vx6 may well be insanely difficult games - with SMB very specifically inspired by the soul-crushing NES-era platformers of Team Meat's childhood - there was one game released this year that was actually much, much harder than both of these games combined. That is Bayonetta. Now, you may recall there was a lot of debacle over Devil May Cry 3's initial release, difficulty-wise. The game was so soul-crushingly hard, that they had to re-release the game with the difficulties adjusted - Easy difficulty in the original release became Normal difficulty in the re-release. Well, I can safely assume that Bayonetta will likely do the same thing if ever a Director's Cut is released. Bayonetta is so thumb-cripplingly difficult, so painfully hard to master, that you have to unlock Hard difficulty as a reward for beating Normal difficulty. Any game that hides away Hard, saying "nah, prove to us you can do it without fainting like a pussy-whipped bitch first," is truly a game that does not fuck with its audience. Indeed, the game is hard for other reasons - watching the under-developed (or more accurately, over-developed) story play out on your first run through is an exercise in futility. It's the sort of plot you need a fucking graph to make sense of it - but I digress. As far as pure difficulty is concerned, Bayonetta made us all squeal like its bitch - both in and out of gameplay. It wasn't the best action game in the world, but if not the world, it certainly set the palms of our hands on fire.
Runners-up: VVVVVV, Super Meat Boy
Too Human Award for Moast Speshal Gaem
too humen is a pritty speshal gaem, bt its not teh only oen! a gaem dis yeer was queit speshel to! adn i tink i *cough* ...auuuurgghh, no don't worry I won't do that all article. No, yes - Too Human is the bane of my existence, a game whose unplayable frustrating mess haunts me even to this day. And a game this year did the same thing pretty much - it wasn't functional, it had awful controls, and it had an ultimately just damn retarded story. I'm sorry, but the award goes to Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days. It was ugly. It was boring. The shooting was lame and the story concerned characters we just didn't even care about because they were such dicktwats. Square Enix, congratulations. The trophy may have a small dog turd inside, and we're sorry about that -we couldn't find a bigger dog.
Winner: Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days
Runners-up: Final Fantasy XIII, Dark Void
Old Man Murray Award for Genuinely Funniest Game
In case you guys don't know. Eric Wolpaw and Chet Faliszek had a website called Old Man Murray - possibly the smartest, most irreverent gaming website of the time. It's horribly dated now, it's not been updated since the early 2000s, but Chet and Eric are still writing and being published even to this day - and you might even recognize them! Eric Wolpaw wrote some lines for Tim Schafer's Psychonauts, but you probably know them best as the writers of Valve's Portal. They still write for Valve even to this day. So yes, seeing as they're technically the funniest writers on the planet, it's all too fitting that the Genuinely Funniest Game Award be handed out in their honour, on my behalf. So which game gets this award? Frankly, Telltale win this with their fantastic continuation of their flagship adventure game series Sam & Max, with Season 3, The Devil's Playhouse. It was the smartest, most irreverent gaming experience I've had the pleasure to enjoy in a long, long time. It had the comic timing of a genius comedian, and had a tighter script than any Sam & Max game that had come before it. So yes - The Devil's Playhouse wins this one, for it is the funniest game of the year. It totally cut the cucumber lengthwise.
"Ooh boy, I love asps!"
"You love the word 'asps,' Max."
Winner: Sam and Max: The Devil's Playhouse
Runner-up: Poker Night at the Inventory, Super Meat Boy
Functional Ferret Award for Mostest Functional Gameplay
Games are only as good as the gameplay within. Your game could look great, feel great, have a story that rivals Shakespeare in deepness and solves world hunger while simultaneously curing cancer. But if the gameplay falls to shit then the game will still be deemed irredeemable. So, what game this year had the most functional gameplay? Well, it has to be Super Meat Boy of course! You have to realise how hard it is to make twitch-reflex platforming, when the few nano-seconds it takes an action to go from your brain to the screen are technically enough to completely ruin the flow completely. Luckily, Team Meat made probably the best controls and jump physics of any platformer released in the past decade, which let the player totally focus on the impossible acts of jumping from spike bit to spike bit, rather than fiddling with the gamepad. The controls were insanely responsive and Meat Boy himself handled so well, that it's hard to argue that Super Meat Boy had the most purely functional gameplay of 2010. Go Team Meat! Gold star for you!
Winner: Super Meat Boy
Runners-up: Halo: Reach, Mass Effect 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops
Stuffed Shirt Award for Most Awful Artificial Padding
"FUCKING STARTS OFF WITH FUCKING STUPID ATTACKS THAT DO NO DAMAGE, OH, TURNS OUT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO AIM FOR THE OTHER BITS YOU CAN’T SEE WITHOUT USING AN OBSCURELY HIDDEN COMMAND, OKAY THEN. And then that takes forever and everytime you kill one thing it gets more powerful, fucking cunt, and then HOLY FUCKING SHIT he has super moves up the wazoo that you can’t avoid unless you’re REALLY FUCKING LEVELLED UP and AUURGHHHAHAHRGAHRG!YGEY78326337&#&RTSAGH@BH1!!!!!!"
That was me, earlier this year. I was talking about Final Fantasy XIII's first boss encounter with the big bad-ass Barthandelus. Now Final Fantasy XIII comes on three discs and is upwards of 40 hours long despite having a plot that could be summarised on a napkin, so it's no stranger to artificial and wholly transparent gameplay padding, but no more-so than this first encounter with Bart. What I was trying to explain as I rolled my face over the keyboard in frustration is that Bart has four hidden weak points over his body. Now locating the weak points is impossible unless you use one of your "magic" commands, which you've been taught over the course of the game to use liberally - if not at all - so when the game gives you no clues as what to do it all comes down to plain old dumb luck. Once you actually have located the weak points, you then start chipping away oh-so-slowly at them - eventually, once you get one down, the other three become more powerful. By the time three are down, the fourth one is so powerful that it's virtually impossible to get a shot in without being totally destroyed.
I could go on, but I won't. The idea is, this boss encounter came right after a massive plot twist. The shock had hit me quite hard (surprisingly) and I was really invested in the story. So a poorly constructed boss battle like this is all it took for me to come flying back to shoddy old reality. Turn-based combat is hard enough to keep interesting and immersive at the best of times, so Square Enix had to work really hard not to fuck this shit up - and they fucked dat shit up. Square Enix, here's your second awful award of the day. Have you done nothing right since Kingdom Hearts 2?
Winner: Final Fantasy XIII
Runners-up: VVVVVV, Super Mario Galaxy 2
Well, there we go - Part Due. The Overall Game of the Year and Reader Game of the Year is upon us! Remember to prepare for the Reader Game of the Year by commenting in the comments what your favourite game was! Until then, Andy out - I'll see you in Part Tres, my lovelies. Stay sharp. Keep gaming. Donate to Childs Play.
Trophies will be given to anyone who goes to their local trophy store and buys one.