The Golden Joysticks, arguably the premier popular voted gaming awards in existence, return to our screens (computer, that is) once again, and competition is fierce. Some categories have clear winners, but others have three, four, five titles that may well take the cake. Healthy competition is always good, but when it is considered that the titles competing for awards like “Best Shooter” are, compared to other games released in the past few years, generally quite awful, one has to conclude that the state of gaming is only getting worse.
Here, we look at the major categories (skipping out on such nonsense as “best browser game”), the contenders, likely winners, and dark horses for each.
The Contenders – Battlefield 3, Binary Domain, Gears of War 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Ghost Recon Future Soldier, Halo CE Anniversary, Max Payne 3, Rage, Resistance 3, Spec Ops: The Line, Starhawk, Syndicate, The Darkness II, Tribes Ascend.
The Likely – Battlefield 3
The Dark Horses – CoD:MW3, Halo Anniversary, Spec Ops: The Line
The Verdict – It seems impossible to top Battlefield 3’s hyper-immersive gameplay, popular across all platforms. While it, like many other releases in the year, carries the “3” suffix, Battlefield isn’t a once-per-year franchise, but something that DICE have put a lot of effort into. The gameplay is extremely immersive, if riddled with numerous weapon imbalances and general annoyances, and aesthetically it is probably the best of the bunch. The single player is short, but structured well enough, showcasing a lot of different features that are ported into multiplayer.
While few people would say that a shooter could challenge CoD’s throne – not due to its gameplay, but its popularity among the newest generation of online gamers – Modern Warfare 3 has enjoyed much less success than its predecessors, with populations declining rapidly months into its release. Perhaps people are finally cottoning onto the fact that the gameplay is broken, the single player is not worth the expense, and after three or four near identical games each year, it’s finally getting a little dry. That said, I don’t doubt for a second that Black Ops 2 will be the most successful shooter of the coming year.
Halo: Anniversary has a shot too, if a small one. The original Halo CE was one of the greatest console shooters ever, competing with the likes of Goldeneye on the N64 and holding a legacy as proud as Medal of Honor when that didn’t actually suck. Its HD remake is gorgeous, and preserves the gameplay of the old – though nowadays, a satisfying single player is just not enough, and the multiplayer maps, despite being excellent (apart from Prisoner) in their time, do not work with Halo Reach’s gameplay.
Spec Ops: The Line is the darkest of the dark horses, and I chose it simply because it adds something a little different – true morality. Based on Conrad’s Heart of Darkness – which was also the setting for Apocalypse Now – the game offers a familiar story with some genuinely tough choices, which appeals to a part of the gamer that isn’t explored enough in my opinion – his conscience.
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