March 12, 2012

BOOTY Awards: 2011 Edition

Last year was nuts. Tons of quality games came out and there was no way I could play them all. There was also no way I could play the ones I had as much as I wanted. Also, this is going up way later than I wanted. Having said that, it's finally time for the BOOTY Awards!


The BOOTY for "Best Visuals"

Gold BOOTY: (Battlefield 3) Have you seen this game? Frostbite 2 is nuts!

Real life, or Batttlefield 3?

Silver BOOTY: (Rage) Despite being a general disappointment, the visuals still wowed.

Characters and vistas look especially great.

The BOOTY for "Best Art Style"

Gold BOOTY: (El Shaddai) Just looking an image of it, you'd think it was a painting.

Silver BOOTY: (Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet) Here's a game with style to spare. It's got a very unique and consistant look throughout incorporating dark silhouettes contrasted with bold colors. Fun fact: it was designed by Michel Gagné, best known for his work on The Iron Giant.

A taste of the game's various levels.

Bronze BOOTY: (Sword & Sworcery EP) Are you familiar with pixel art? This is what it looks like. It's glorious.

The BOOTY for "Most Colorful Game"

Gold BOOTY: (Rayman Origins) No one can dispute this. No one.

Seriously, it looks like this all the time.

Silver BOOTY: (Skyward Sword) This seems like a pretty obvious pick. I mean, the game is just plain vibrant.

Bronze BOOTY: (Halo Anniversary) The remake of Halo had a surprising amount of color. I initially thought it was all wrong, but it turns out I was all wrong. I have to commend Saber on their choice of color palate.

Even in one of the original game's darker areas, the vibrancy of the color stands out.

The BOOTY for "Most Unique Visuals"

Gold BOOTY: (Bastion) Bastion had a truly unique art style that's never been done before. It was 2D, 3D, and looked like interactive concept art all at the same time.

The BOOTY for "Best Animation" 

Gold BOOTY: (LA Noire) No one can dispute that LA Noire has the best facial animation ever produced in a video game. With gameplay so heavily influenced by it, it had better be damn fantastic. Oh, and the character animation is pretty great too.

Silver BOOTY: (Rage) Rage didn't impress me much with its gameplay, but the character animation (along with the overall visuals) really stuck with me.

The BOOTY for "Best Use of White"

Gold BOOTY: (Portal 2) As you can imagine, there is a lot of white in this game, though surprisingly not as much as in the first game.

Trust me, there's lots of white.

Silver BOOTY: (Pokemon Black) You see, because the legendary on the box is white.


The BOOTY for "Best Score"

Gold BOOTY: (Skyward Sword) It's Zelda, orchestrated for the very first time. The moment you first take flight and the song below kicks in was one of the best moments of 2011. Koji Kondo actually composed only one track for the game (the opening cinematic) but that just proves Nintendo has the best first party composers in the business. Primary composition was handled by Hajime Wakai, who worked on The Wind Waker, along with Mahito Yakota of Mario Galaxy fame and several others.

Silver BOOTY: (Deus Ex) I never asked for music this awesome. The music in the debut trailer instantly captivated me. Michael McCann (Splinter Cell: Double Agent) shows why he is the man. As far as cyberpunk goes, it's almost as great as Tron: Legacy. Almost.

Bronze BOOTY: (Rayman Origins) Rayman Origins has one of the most delightful, whimsical, and diverse soundtracks in ages. A single track doesn't even do it justice, but here's one.

The BOOTY for "Most Improved Soundtrack"

Gold BOOTY: (Mario Kart 7) The music of Mario Kart Wii was so bad that literally anything would be an improvement. Still not that great, but an improvement nonetheless.

The BOOTY for "The Exact Same Soundtrack"

Gold BOOTY: (Gears of War 3) As I played through the game I literally thought to myself "This music is exactly the game from the last game. Like it's ripped right out of it!"

Here's a track from Gears 3:

Here's a track from Gears 2:

The BOOTY for "Best Remastered Soundtrack"

Gold BOOTY: (Halo Anniversary) It's nice that they bothered to do this at all. On top of that, they put a lot of effort into it and created a great remaster.

The BOOTY for "Getting it Right"

Gold BOOTY: (Deus Ex) Like I said before, I played this game and the music immediately struck me as fitting the game perfectly.

The BOOTY for "Best Use of Sound"

Gold BOOTY: (Bastion) This one's a bit of an unconventional choice, but I've picked it because the narration is in integral part of the experience. You loose at least half of the game if you play it with the sound off.


BOOTY for "Best RPG"

Gold BOOTY: (Skyrim) If it isn't obvious why Skyrim is the RPG of the year, then you have no business being a gamer. 

No subtitle could do this picture justice.

Silver BOOTY: (Deus Ex) The shooting mechanics were just ok to me, but then you don't have to play through the game guns blazing. Interacting in the world was what really proved to be captivating.

I never asked for this...

BOOTY for "Best Fighting Game"

Gold BOOTY: (Mortal Kombat) Yes, Mortal Kombat is definitely better than Marvel vs Capcom 3. It's easier to pick up and has some really gruesome and epic fights. Plus, the story mode is actually really well done.

You can not argue the badassness of this game.

Silver BOOTY: (Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3) Can you believe the enhanced edition was announced just five months after the original and released only four months after that? Obviously, this version will get the award because, you know, it's the actual complete game.

Making Okami relevant again.

BOOTY for "Best 3rd Person Shooter"

Gold BOOTY: (Gears of War 3) I think it's the only 3rd person shooter I played last year and it was pretty good.

Insert 300 joke here.

Silver BOOTY: (Dead Space 2) It's funny, back in 2008 both the prequels to Gears 3 and Dead Space 2 won the gold and silver respectively. I'm giving the silver to a game I haven't played because the first one was so great, I expect the second to be great too.

Nothing terrifies like zombie babies.

Bronze BOOTY: (Shadows of the Damned) What do you get when you combine Shinji Makami (creator of Resident Evil and Devil May Cry) and Goichi Suda (creator of No More Heroes and Lolipop Chainsaw)? Answer: awesomeness.

Hot damn.

BOOTY for "Best Action-Adventure Game"

Gold BOOTY: (Arkham City) Haven't played this one either, but Arkham Asylum was so great I automatically assume the sequel is deserving.

The god damn Batman.

Silver BOOTY: (Skyward Sword) Zelda's an adventure game, right?

Bronze BOOTY: (El Shaddai) Yup.

BOOTY for "Best Racing Game"

Gold BOOTY: (Mario Kart 7) Mario Kart is (usually) a blast and 7 is no exception.

Hang gliding: It actually doesn't suck! 

Silver BOOTY: (SkyDrift) The only thing keeping this game from the number one spot is the lack of local multiplayer. The game is a total blast and its exclusion just hurts.

It's a seriously exciting game.

BOOTY for "Best Platformer"

Gold BOOTY: (Kirby's Return to Dreamland) I got a huge amount of joy out of playing this game.

Leaf power is a lot better than it sounds.

Silver BOOTY: (Rayman Origins) I also got a huge amount of joy from this one. And here we all thought Rayman had been killed in his sleep by rabbids.

Bronze BOOTY: (Outland) Outland was overlooked by many, but it's a smart and fun platformer incorporating some great puzzle elements.

Yet another beautiful game.

BOOTY for "Best FPS"

Gold BOOTY: (Halo Anniversary) If you feel like this one's a copout... well, it is. See, there were plenty of first person shooters released in 2011, but they were all very same-y. The best FPS of 2011 was the best FPS of 2001, end of story.

BOOTY for "Best Adventure Game"

Gold BOOTY: (Portal 2) Yes, I classify Portal 2 as an adventure game. I'll get into that at another time.

Silver BOOTY: (Sword & Sworcery EP) This iOS exclusive demonstrated why Apple devices can compete with today's other gaming machines. It also proved what limited control options they have.

Bronze BOOTY: (Back to the Future) Thought the episodic series began in 2010, 4/5ths of it game out in 2011. They were surprisingly great!

Not going to win any graphical awards...

BOOTY for "Best Puzzle Game"

Gold BOOTY: (IloMilo) One of the first games to be released in 2011 and one of the best XBLA releases of the year. IloMilo was almost sickeningly adorable.

Careful you don't die from adorableness.

BOOTY for "Best Downloadable Game"

Gold BOOTY: (Sword & Sworcery EP) This game really has to be played to be understood. It's a weird and engrossing experience.

Silver BOOTY: (Bastion) Similar sentiments can be expressed towards Bastion. It's the kind of game you just have to experience for yourself to truly understand.

Bronzee BOOTY: (IloMilo) IloMilo's a really smart game, and one more people ought to play.


BOOTY for "Best Voice Acting" 

Gold BOOTY: (Portal 2) Portal 2 only has three speaking characters and their actors (Ellen McLain, Stephen Merchant, and JK Simmons) are absolutely amazing. They really make the game, in fact.

Silver BOOTY: (LA Noire) It's dependent on voice acting, so it should be good. Lucky for us, it certainly is.

I farted.

Bronze BOOTY: (Back to the Future) Telltale did a fantastic job bringing back the spirit of the original movie series, even with the lack of Michael J Fox (more on that later).

BOOTY for "Worst Voice Acting"

Gold BOOTY: (Crimson Alliance) To be fair, though, it's so bad that it's hilarious. And the black dude sounds like Theo from The Cosby Show. 

Direwolf. Such an epic wizard.

BOOTY for "Best Design"

Gold BOOTY: (LA Noire) LA Noire has a great premise and is really great at what it does. Very rarely was I ever frustrated by it.

Silver BOOTY: (Kirby's Return to Dreamland) It's just so tight and refined that it'd be hard not to give Kirby and award in this category.

Bronze BOOTY: (Arkham City) Just because.

BOOTY for "Most Innovative Design"

Gold BOOTY: (LA Noire) Again, this game blew me away with how well it worked. Team Bondi gambled everything on conversation and it payed off wonderfully.

Silver BOOTY: (Super Mario 3D Land) Nintendo somehow figured out how to combine aspects of 2D Mario games with 3D Mario games. The result was a legitimately interesting and unique direction for the series.

Bronze BOOTY: (Skyward Sword) Nintendo is always innovating. While I don't think the 1:1 motion controls in Skyward Sword were quite tight enough, it certainly is a step in the innovating direction. Honestly, they did work more they they didn't and it provided for some really interesting gameplay.

BOOTY for "Most Batshit Crazy Game"

Gold BOOTY: (Rock of Ages) Rock of Ages is a tower defense game in which you must set up defenses to protect your door from being bashed down by your opponents giant boulder. When you're not building defenses, you're launching your own giant boulder at the enemy's door which you can control, rolling around, crushing buildings and people. Also your boulder has a face. Oh, and you play through different periods of history.

Silver BOOTY: (Shadows of the Damned) You play as Garcia Hotspur on a mission to rescue your girlfriend from Hell with the help of your talking gun, Johnson.

Bronze BOOTY: (Bulletstorm) The skill shot system led to some really insanely awesome ways to murder people.

Bodies everywhere, bodies in the air.

BOOTY for "Most Immersive Game"

Gold BOOTY: (Skyrim) The Elder Scrolls series really sucks you in and refuses to let go until you lost your job, your family, your home, and  your tv, at which point you can't play it any more.

Silver BOOTY: (LA Noire) LA Noire is really like playing a film, which makes it pretty damn immersive for obvious reasons.

Bronze BOOTY: (Sword & Sworcery EP) I was surprised by how much the game sucked me in to its world.

BOOTY for "Best Writing"

Gold BOOTY: (Portal 2) Sure, the story of Portal 2 may not have been super deep and involved, but the dialog really shines. It's absolutely fantastic. Some of the best ever in gaming.

Silver BOOTY: (LA Noire) For this game to work, it had to be both believable and interesting. LA Noire delivers on both.

BOOTY for "Best Storytelling"

Gold BOOTY: (Bastion) I mean, you've got this epic narrator guy fleshing out the story as it's happening. It's about as storytelling as you can get.

Silver BOOTY: (Sword & Sworcery EP) The story in this game plays out in a very interesting way that's pretty difficult to describe on paper. Trust me on this one.

BOOTY for "Best Multiplayer"

Gold BOOTY: (Portal 2) Typically, when multiplayer gets tacked on to a single player game that doesn't need it, it sucks. The co-op mode in Portal 2, however, is far from tacked on and provides great, friendship destroying fun.

Silver BOOTY: (Crimson Alliance) Crimson Alliance is one of those games that you buy to spend an afternoon of brainless, button-mashy fun with your friend.

Bronze BOOTY: (Dead Block) A game that absolutely nobody played, but I encourage everyone to try. Grab a friend and have a blast.

You can even play as an overweight boy scout who attacks with frying pans and soup ladles!

BOOTY for "Best DLC"

Gold BOOTY: (Portal 2's "Peer Review") It's free! That never happens any more! Free DLC! More co-op content for the best multiplayer of the year!

Silver BOOTY: (Bastion's "Stranger's Dream") It's $1! That never happens any more! $1 DLC! More content for one of the best downloadable games of the year!

Bronze BOOTY: (Halo Reach's "Anniversary Map Pack") This one's not free. It's actually $15. But where most map packs give you two or three maps for that price, Halo Reach gives you seven. It's a great selection of six classics reimagined by Certain Affinity and one firefight map taken from the original Halo's campaign.

Remember Headlong? Not like this, you don't.

BOOTY for "Best new IP"

Gold BOOTY: (LA Noire) It's quite unfortunate that Team Bondi died a horrible death. I'm hoping, though, Rockstar does the franchise proud sometime in the future.

Silver BOOTY: (Bulletstorm) Though not my cup of tea, Bulletstorm had a ton of potential and a unique premise.

Bronze BOOTY: (Shadows of the Damned) This game was awesome, alright?

BOOTY for "Best Revival"

Gold BOOTY: (Deus Ex: Human Revolution) The Deus Ex series was hugely popular and influential. Bringing the series back after all this time could have proved disastrous. Luckily, everything came together.

Silver BOOTY: (Rayman Origins) Some of us thought we'd never see Rayman again. We were terribly wrong.

Bronze BOOTY: (Mortal Kombat) A glorious return to form.

BOOTY for "Most Overlooked or Underrated Game"

Gold BOOTY: (Dead Block) This XBLA title flew past everybody. The terrible looking box art didn't help. But looking beyond that, you'll find a surprisingly fun and addictive co-op tower defense/zombie slaying game.

Silver BOOTY: (Alice: Madness Returns) Sequel to 2000's Alice, this platformer is a twisted take on the classic Alice in Wonderland. And you probably didn't even know it came out, did you?


Bronze BOOTY: (Steel Diver) Did you know Miyamoto always wanted to make a mech simulator? Unfortunately, Steel Battalion beat him to it. So he settled on submarines and the rest is history. Steel Diver is not for everyone, no, but I encourage any 3DS owner to at least give it a try.

You can fight a giant nautilus!

BOOTY for "Most Disappointing Game"

Gold BOOTY: (Super Mario 3D Land) This one makes me very sad. I really wanted to love it, but the run button just broke everything. I hope they get it right next time.

Silver BOOTY: (Bulletstorm) You'd think a game about creatively murdering people would be a blast but it just... wasn't.

Bronze BOOTY: (Gears of War 3) Gears 3 wasn't bad but it was too much. 

The "Fable 2 Award for Worst Sequel" 

(Conduit 2) The first thing they did wrong was axing the "The" in the title. Conduit 2 just sounds stupid. Second, while it's not a bad game per se, it is a bad sequel. The Conduit was a solid old school FPS that proved to be a lot of fun. They tried to modernize the gameplay a bit with the sequel, and I'm okay with that, but they removed the game's soul in the process. It's got a completely different voice cast, a completely different tone, it's way over the top in everything it does... hell, they even brought in Jon St. John (the voice of Duke Nukem). Sure, it's not Fable 2 bad, but it's a disappointment to the Conduit name.

You can just tell by the box artwork.

The "Gears of War 2 Award for Best Sequel"

(Portal 2) On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have a game that took everything great about the original, amped it up, refined and, and delivered one of the best sequels ever.


Wii BOOTY: Kirby's Return to Dreamland
Surprised? As great as Skyward Sword is, Kirby just gets everything right. I can't give the award to Zelda knowing that Kirby is so tightly designed.

Xbox BOOTY: Gears of War 3
Were there other exclusives in 2011? I don't remember them.

DS BOOTY: Kirby Mass Attack
Totally snuck by everybody. It's a great little strategy/action game.

You can make tiny Kirby's rape innocent creatures!

3DS BOOTY: Mario Kart 7
I have a policy that the GOTY for each system must be an exclusive, non-remake, non-port. Mario Kart 7 is just about the only game that fits the bill.

XBLA BOOTY: Torchlight
Sure, the PC version was out back in 2009, but the console version was an XBLA exclusive. And it is absolutely fantastic. It works much better on the Xbox, in my opinion.

Dungeon crawling at its finest.


The biggest failure award goes to Duke Nukem Forever.

The award for being disqualified because it already received enough awards in Alpha goes to Minecraft.

The PS3quel award goes to Killzone 3, Uncharted 3, and Resistance 3.

The PS2quel award goes to Little Big Planet 2 and inFamous 2.

The award for capitalizing on popularity goes to Dead Rising 2: Off The Record.

The doomed to die a beautiful death award goes to Okamiden, doomed to the same fate as Okami.

The ripoff award goes to Marvel vs Capcom 3.

The sad news award goes to Gamepro, for going out of print.

The award for Kingdom Hearts game released in 2011 goes to Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded.

The worst name award goes to Trinity: Souls of Zill O'll, Hunted: The Demon's Forge, Payday: The Heist, and Renegade Ops.

The best name award goes to Hard Reset, Rock of Ages, Bulletstorm, and Shadows of the Damned, and Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet.

The most extreme name award goes to Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion.

The award for most unnecessary graphical overhaul goes to Cave Story 3D.

The already forgotten award goes to Homefront, Brink, Bodycount, and Red Faction: Armageddon.

The award for best Wii game given a second life award goes to Bit.Trip Saga, Bit.Trip Complete, Goldeneye, and No More Heroes: Hero's Paradise. 

The failed ambition award goes to From Dust and Brink.

The best Sonic game award goes to Sonic Generations.

The 25th anniversary award goes to Metroid and Zelda.

The 10th anniversary award goes to Halo.

The award for my favorite games being 10 goes to Halo and Super Smash Bros. Melee.

The award for series that's gone on too long goes to Ratchet and Clank.

The S&M award goes to Dark Souls.

The award for best dismemberment goes to Dead Space 2.

The BioWare game released in 2011 award goes to Dragon Age 2.

The polarization award goes to Star Wars: The Old Republic.

The award for best line of dialog goes to Bulletstorm.

The award for cramming a fuckton of game onto one disk goes to Skyrim.

The award for best use of dildos goes to Saints Row 3.

The best character name goes to Garcia Hotspur. 

The award for best PC game I can't play goes to The Wither 2.

The award for best PC game I can't play that's coming to the Xbox in 2012 goes to The Witcher 2.

The award for almost justifying Kinect goes to Child of Eden.

The award for best submarine simulator goes to Steel Diver.

The award for being murdered by hype goes to Dead Island.

The last generation games you should buy on your PS3 award goes to Ico/Shadow of the Colossus Collection and Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath.

The game that I wish I could give more awards to but still haven't played award goes to Arkham City.

The most likely to be confused for LA Noire by your mom award goes to Jame's Noire's Hollywood Crimes.

The Call of Duty award goes to Modern Warfare 3.

The award for almost lame ending that was saved by a single character award goes to Gears 3.

The award for fighting game that wasn't Marvel vs Capcom or Mortal Kombat goes to King of Fighters 13.

The Portal Kombat Tuesday award goes to Port 2 and Mortal Kombat.

The most meme-worthy game award goes to Skyrim.

The stupidest idea to implement in Need for Speed award goes to running.

The game that wins no awards goes to Assassin's Creed Revelations.

The N64 retro revival award goes to StarFox 64 and Ocarina of Time.

The great looking game that plays terribly award goes to Bloodrayne: Betrayal. 

The Double Fine award goes to Stacking and Iron Brigade.

The original name was better award goes to Trenched.

The sounded awesome but was a letdown when revealed award goes to Burnout Crash.

The award for coming back from the dead goes to Installation 04.

The biggest surprise of the year goest to the massive 3DS price drop.

The seems great in theory award goes to the Wii U. 

The award for somehow being in its seventh year already goes to the Xbox 360.

The decade old award goes to Xbox and GameCube.

The best trailer award goes to Sword & Sworcery EP.

The award for best ending goes to Portal 2.

The award for best final boss goes to Super Mario 3D Land.

The award for most post-game content goes to Super Mario 3D Land.

The award for most overused Mario powerup goes to the Tanooki tail.

The award for best impersonation goes to A.J. Locascio. (Seriously, watch that video.)

The award for best new characters goes to Wheatley (Portal 2) and Groose (Skyward Sword). 

Other awards go to other games.


Surprised again? Sure, the controls may flip out 10% of the time, but the game is so great overall that I'm willing to look past that (see: Fallout New Vegas). Skyward Sword is the total package and the true next step for the Zelda franchise, making sweeping changes and improvements to every aspect of the game. The controls aren't the only thing that's new. That's that orchestrated soundtrack, more developed characters, better narrative, fantastic art style, and solid gameplay ideas that nearly always pay off.

Could you tell how much I loved this game? I picked it up on a whim because it looked intriguing, but I never expected to be blown away like I was. It's the most innovative game of the year, without a doubt. Usually, I'm skeptical of games that languish in development (six years in this case), especially when they have seemingly revolutionary gameplay aspects. Somehow, Team Bondi pulled it off. The development of the superb motion capture technology unfortunately forced Team Bondi into financial ruin, but their legacy shall hopefully live on. LA Noire was the most unique experience of 2011, and one of the year's best games.

When I look back at all the games I played in 2011, the one that stands above them all is Portal 2. Never has such a simple game been so engrossing. Not only did Valve improve upon ever aspect of the first Portal, but they greatly expanded it into a full retail game. It's no easy feat taking the "shoot portals to solve puzzles" concept and fleshing it out with just enough so that it can fill a full campaign length but not adding so much that it feels unfocused. At the end of the day, superb writing and pacing led to the creation of a game that not only stayed interesting from a gameplay perspective, but stayed engrossing as well. To think, the only human character in the game never even speaks. Never have I ever been so attached to robots. And the excellent co-op mode with free DLC was the icing on the (very real) cake.

And now, some very special awards...


Best Xbox Game: Halo 4
I will be extremely surprised if there are any Xbox exclusives that beat Halo 4 next year. The only possible contender I see is The Witcher 2.

The chief has never looked so good. And that's his in-game model, too!

Best 3DS Game: Kid Icarus: Uprising
It's kind of tough to pick this one considering we don't know what surprises Nintendo is going to have in store for us come E3. Plus, there's a ton of games coming out this year we know very little about. Still, Kid Icarus looks better and better every time I see it and it's at least a strong contender. Kingdom Hearts might have taken it, but I can't be sure it'll release in 2012 (though it seems likely).

Bark like a dog!

Best Wii Game: Xenoblade Chronicles
I'm just going by all the positive stuff I've heard about this game. To me, it looks like Japan's take on the Western RPG. At the very least, the premise excites me. And besides, the only other contender will be The Last Story.

I mean, doesn't that look like a world you want to explore?

Best XBLA Game: FEZ
I have played FEZ. FEZ is great. Again, I can't say what'll be announced out of the blue that may blow me away, but game will definitely be in the top three. I'm really hoping it's the top.

More lovely pixel art.

Best Wii U Game: Pikmin 3
Pikmin 3 will either be a launch title or it'll release shortly after launch. It's really the only exclusive I know for sure that'll be coming to the system this year, so it's the obvious pick. I'd love to say for sure that some other great game is coming, but we just won't know until E3.

Imagine if they run with the claymation style used in the promo art for the second game!

Best Overall:

3. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
Reckoning is, without a doubt, a contender. I'd really love to give it an award in the top 3 of the year. Hopefully, it can hang on to the spot.

2. Halo 4
Call me crazy, but I truly believe in 343 Industries to deliver a great Halo title. In fact, I think it'll be the best one yet, even surpassing the original. They're in a great spot to deliver something amazing and everything I've seen so far indicates that they absolutely will.

1. Borderlands 2
When it comes down to pure fun, I have no doubt that Borderlands 2 will be the big winner in 2012. I think it'll easily take home the gold.

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