Game of the Year Nominations

January 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s that time of year again. Film industry veterans will be staying up late tonight for the announcement of the Oscar nominations, and in the video game industry several major publications have already handed out their awards for Game of the Year. I always enjoy seeing the nominees for this award, but in recent years they have become all too predictable. A film does not need to have a certain budget in order to be nominated for Best Picture, but it is rare to see a video game outlet nominate anything other than the epic AAA blockbuster.

It should go without saying that I played a ton of video games this year, and I have played almost every game that received a Game of the Year nomination elsewhere. When deciding on the best games of 2010, I looked at overall ambition and how well it was achieved. Therefore, an ambitious game that only achieves 75% of what it set out to do is more valuable to me than an uninspired game that accomplishes all of its goals. I ended up choosing six games that I think represent the best of the medium in 2010. If any of these games were chosen by another video game outlet, I would not bat an eye. Here are my nominees for Game of the Year.

Super Mario Galaxy 2
Nintendo | Wii

Each and every level in this stellar sequel introduces new and engaging mechanics that are more original than 90% of the games released this year.  The geniuses over at Nintendo never cease to amaze in the iconic plumber’s best 3D outing to date.

Red Dead Redemption
Rockstar San Diego | PlayStation 3 & XBOX 360

I discussed the latest Rockstar masterpiece’s educational merit in a blog entry earlier this year. The studio behind the controversial yet utterly brilliant Grand Theft Auto series leaves the city for the frontier, and in the process creates the first successful video game western and their best game yet.

Infinity Blade
Chair Entertainment & Epic Games | iOS

More than just the most visually stunning game on iPhone and iPad, Infinity Blade is the first action game that feels at home on Apple’s devices. The game’s simplistic yet addictive structure is ideal for on the go play, and its innovative touch screen swordplay is natural, intuitive, and always full of surprises.

Heavy Rain
Quantic Dream | PlayStation 3

Completely unlike anything else ever made, Heavy Rain is an emotional powerhouse that gives the player control over the lives of four characters entangled in a murder mystery. The consequences of the choices the player makes linger long after the end credits roll.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
Crystal Dynamics | PlayStation Network, XBOX Live Arcade, Steam, and iOS

The first Lara Croft game without the “Tomb Raider” name eschews the series’ traditional gameplay in favor of an isometric design that fully embraces cooperative play. The two lead characters play differently enough to make teamwork an absolute necessity in the game’s many brilliant puzzles and battles.

Limbo
Playdead | XBOX Live Arcade

Aesthetically mesmerizing and wonderful to play, Limbo is a haunting exploration of visual storytelling in two dimensions. After guiding the protagonist through devilishly complex puzzles, the IndieCade finalist leaves the player with a genuine sense of awe and fulfillment.

Whether you agree or disagree with my choices, feel free to share your thoughts. I will write a full article on my pick for Game of the Year very soon.

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