December 30, 2001

~ PART 1 ~

With the Dreamcast dying in early 2001, and the XBox and Gamecube not expected until mid-2002, Sony had the entire year to take control of the market. And what a year it was. The system dropped to $499.95 (about $US250) while the games were coming thick and fast. This is the second FUTURE GAMEZ AWARDS, but this year it's only Playstation 2 games in the running, and no longer Dreamcast. This is the first part of the awards which covers things such as the worst of 2001, the most original titles, the best multi-player games, the best arcade ports and more. The second part of the Awards will cover the different game genres and will be announced in the coming days.

There are a couple of rules that you should be aware of however. Firstly, the games in consideration must have been released in the 2001 calendar year so no Dead Or Alive 2 Hardcore which was released in December 2000. Secondly, despite the fact that Grand Theft Auto 3 was released in Australia, due to it's subsequent banning by the OLFC it is not in consideration for this years awards. Finally, all these awards have been considered by those here at Future Gamez, and not the public. While I give scores for reviews throughout the year, the highest score may not be the winner as long term appeal and a lot of hindsight is also considered.

Biggest Disappointments of 2001
3. Still no broadband adapter
It's not really unexpected that broadband online gaming didn't begin in 2001, but it would have been nice to see it hit Australia, or the rest of the world for that matter, this year. Sure, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 includes USB modem support but it's the broadband adapter that gamers really want to see, as well as games like SOCOM: US Navy Seals and Final Fantasy XI.

2. No Playstation 2 Price Drop For America
While Japan and Australia have received price drops American consumers haven't been so lucky. Sony have held out over the Christmas period with a firm $US299 price point (which converts to $AU600 compared to $AU529 for Australia after recent price drops), despite the release of Gamecube and XBox. America is a critical market and you can be sure there is bound to be a price drop sooner rather then later.

1. Metal Gear Solid 2 delay until 2002 in PAL territories
It's by far the most anticipated game on the PS2, and while American and Japanese gamers have been enjoying Hideo Kojima's masterpiece since November, PAL territories have to wait once again. There is some good news however, with the release date now set for February 22nd, less then two months away, and news that the PAL game will include a bonus behind the scenes DVD which Americans miss out on. Hooray.

Most Anticipated Games of 2002
3. Soul Calibur 2 (Namco)
Namco have a habit of producing games to blow away the competition. The original Soul Calibur on Dreamcast was the best game on the system, and was many times better the the arcade game. The sequel looks even better if that is possible and should hit the Playstation 2 in late 2002. The only downer is that the game will also be headed to Gamecube and XBox.

2. Final Fantasy X (Square)
It's been a long time coming but PAL gamers will experience the wonder of Square's massive RPG in early 2002. If you have never played a RPG (Role Playing Game) then you are in for a treat. If your a fan of the Final Fantasy games then should have an idea what the game will be like. The big difference this time is the voicing of all the actors at last.

1. Metal Gear Solid 2 (Konami)
It's by far the most anticipated game on the system and while American and Japanese gamers have been enjoying Hideo Kojima's masterpiece since November PAL territories have to wait once again. There is some good news however with the release date now set for February 22nd, less then two months away, and news that the PAL game will include a bonus behind the scenes DVD which American's miss out on.

Best Developer of 2001
Winner: Capcom
With games like Resident Evil: Code Veronica X, Onimusha Warlords and Devil May Cry there is little doubt that Capcom have fine tuned their game development perfectly. Each of these games, while similar in style, offer different experiences, include some of the best graphics on the system as well as some stunning sound.

Best Peripheral
Winner: PS2 Optical lead (Various)
Although you could get optical leads in 2000 this peripheral has really come into use with a couple of Electronic Arts titles late this year. Both SSX Tricky and NHL 2002 include DTS sound to provide 6 channels of sound for a much more imersive experience. If you have the appropriate decoded then this is a must. The optical lead, in case you weren't aware, is also used to provide the 5.1 and DTS sound from DVD's so if you don't have an optical lead you'll only get 2 channel stereo sound.
Runners Up: Official PS2 DVD Remote Control (Sony), Gun-Con 2 (Namco).

Best New Technology/Engine In A Game
Winner: DTS Sound in EA Titles
When it comes to games one area that usually gets few remarks about is the sound. Electronic Arts are the first company developing on Playstation 2 to include DTS (Digital Theatre Sound) into their games and the difference is quite noticeable. The sound comes from all 5.1 speakers (left, center, right, left rear, right rear and .1 for the subwoofer). Just listen to games like SSX Tricky to hear what a difference it makes. This is the biggest change to games since the introduction of 3D polygon models with the PSOne.

Worst Game of 2001
Winner (or should that be loser?): Paris-Dakar Rally (LJN)
Technically Paris-Dakar Rally isn't the worst game on the Playstation 2, but in terms of the initial promises from the developers to the final product this game was a massive disappointment. Where were the promised checkpoints/repair stations? What happened to the driver fatigue? What happened to use the GPS to navigate? Throw in some very average visuals and poor music and you can only think of this game as an expensive drink coaster.
Runners Up: Arctic Thunder (Midway), ESPN NBA 2 Night (Konami).

Best Intro & Cut Scenes In A Game
Winner: Jak & Daxter (Naughty Dog)
Naughty Dog's latest game is a wonderful experience. The first time you boot it up and see Daxter fall into the "black goo" you will be in stitches. It's like a comedy show, but it's not done in an over the top way and it absolutely hilarious. The animation on all the characters is excellent while voicing is second to none. In fact many of the cut scenes in this game put Disney movies to shame. It's that good.
Runners Up: The Bouncer (Square), Devil May Cry (Capcom).

Best Game Based On Pre-Existing Property (Print or Film)
Winner: Batman Vengeance (UbiSoft)
Based on the recent animated TV series UbiSoft have done a wonderful job of re-creating the atmosphere of the series. The graphics have a unique flat shaded style while the animation is very solid. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the game are the impressive cut scenes which flesh out the storyline. This is a game all Batman fans should love.
Runners Up: Bond: Agent Under Fire (Electronic Arts), Mummy Returns (Blitz Games).

Most Original Title
Winner: Moderngroove: Ministry of Sound Edition (UbiSoft)
It's not really a game as such, but more of an interactive light show. Backed by some of the best trance/dance music around the game allows you to select what appears on screen and, more impressively, manipulate it all in real-time. If you're a dance music fan then this title is a must, especially at such a low price. Hell, it's cheaper then buying the MOS CD's to begin with.
Runners Up: Freak Out (Treasure), NBA Street (EA Sports BIG).

Best Arcade Conversion
Winner: MotoGP (Namco)
While it may not be the most detailed or realistic simulation of motorbike racing the one thing that does set it apart is Namco's superb additions for the home conversion. The game offers plenty of challenge modes to complete which then unlock new riders, tracks and photos for you to enjoy. A sequel is due out in a few months but this original is worth picking up if you see it in bargain bins.
Runners Up: Time Crisis 2 (Namco), Crazy Taxi (Acclaim).

Best Multiplayer Game
Winner: Rayman M (UbiSoft)
While Rayman is recognised as one of the best platform based characters it was a bold move by UbiSoft to try and create a multi-player racing game with their mascot. But what a terrific job they did. The game looks even better then the single player platform game while the racing is intense, and terrific fun. Best of all with 4-players the gameplay will have you hooked for hours.
Runners Up: Gran Tusismo 3: A-Spec (Polyphony Digital), Gauntlet Legends (Midway).

Click here to go to Part 2 of the 2001 Awards, including the best game of 2001.

I hope you enjoyed reading this Awards for 2001. If you have any comments feel free to e-mail me at the usual address: