December 30, 2002

~ PART 1 ~

An interesting year indeed. In early 2002 Microsoft released the XBox console while Nintendo launched, and re-launched, the Nintendo Gamecube. But even with the competition the Sony Playstation 2 is still outselling the Xbox at about 4:1 and the Gamecube about 10:1. 2002 was a great year for games. Developers have finally come to grips with the tricky Playstation 2 hardware and the results were amazing. The 2002 Future Gamez Awards aims to celebrate the best, and worst, of the year as well as offering some insights as to what games must be in your collection.

This is the first part of the 2002 Future Gamez Awards which covers the worst game of 2002, the most original title, the best multi-player game, the best arcade port and more. The second part of the awards will be announced soon and will cover the different genres and best game of 2002.

There are a couple of rules for games to be entered into consideration. Firstly, the games must have been released during the 2002 calendar year so no 2001 or 2000 titles are in consideration. Secondly, despite the fact that Grand Theft Auto 3 was released in Australia in December 2001, due to it's subsequent banning by the OLFC and re-release in 2002 it is in consideration for this years awards - it was not in consideration for the 2001 Future Gamez 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 2002
3. No Sega Sports Titles
While the games may not have sold as well as expected in America there is little doubt that the Sega Sports branded titles such as NFL2K3, NBA2K3 and NHL2K3 are equal, if not better then the Electronic Arts sports titles. Fortunately, while the games weren't released in 2002, Gamenation has picked up the titles for release starting in March 2003. We shall soon see what all the fuss is about.

2. Censorship
One of the biggest controversies that hit in 2001 was the banning of Grand Theft Auto 3 by the Office of Film and Literature Classification. If that wasn't bad enough then the decision was made that a whopping 7 seconds! would have to be removed to be sold here. 11 months later and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City suffers the same fate. Acclaim also suffered from the OFLC with the banning of BMX XXX due to nudity, while Sony's The Getaway had 20 seconds of a torture cut scene removed while the violence and swearing remained intact. The Australian government has also knocked back the idea of a R rating for games here for at least a couple more years. Sigh.

1. No online gaming
It was the number 3 disappointment last year, and despite the broadband adapter being released in America in September 2002 it won't be out in PAL territories until mid 2003 - hopefully. With games such as SOCOM: US Navy Seals, Resident Evil Online, Twisted Metal Online and Final Fantasy XI all waiting to be released there should be a great line-up on offer.

Most Anticipated Games of 2003
3. Devil May Cry 2 (Capcom)
The original Devil May Cry is one of the best action games on any system ever. This sequel looks like taking the game to the next level with more baddies, bigger levels and more action. This is one game to keep an eye out for later in March 2003.

2. Driver 3 (Reflections)
There is very little known about this title but apparently Reflections are moving the game to a more detailed storyline to compete with games such as The Getaway and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. After playing Stuntman developed by Reflections we know the developers have the talent to pull this one off, it's just a matter of making everything come together in the right way.

1. Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc (UbiSoft)
If you haven't played Rayman 2 on Dreamcast or the slightly inferior but still stunning Rayman Revolution on Playstation 2 then you are doing yourself a disservice. These games are among the best platformers ever created, and the third game in the series looks stunning. This game has the potential to become the greatest platformer of all time. Mario included.

Best Publisher of 2002
Winner: EA Sports
Not content with just re-hashing games from last year (except in the case of NHL 2003) EA Sports have re-coded many of their games for major changes. Titles such as Madden NFL 2003 (which now includes online gameplay in America), Tiger Woods PGA 2003 and NBA Live 2003 are vastly improved from their 2001 releases. Hell, EA Sports even released a second Tiger Woods game earlier in the year with Tiger Woods USA Tour 2002. If you buy any EA Sports title you really can't go wrong.

Best Peripheral
Winner: PS2 Optical lead (Various)
It won last year, and has to win again this year. The PS2 optical lead allows you to hear the wonderful surround sound from games, including the stunning DTS sound in new game such as Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. If you don't have this you're missing half the experience.

Best New Technology/Engine In A Game
Winner: The Getaway Driving Engine
While this game may not have been the "be all and end all" of video games this year, the technology used to re-create the streets of London so perfectly is stunning. Every building has been faithfully reproduced and amazingly the cars still speed around the streets with no slowdown. Better still, there are literally thousands of other cars and pedestrians to contend with making this new graphics engine a stunner.

Worst Game of 2002
Winner (or should that be loser?): Mike Tyson Heavyweight Boxing (Atomic Planet)
With such a strong and prominent license you would expect the developers of this game to go all out to make this a stunning title. Unfortunately, what we ended up with is a drab looking button mash which has no sense of excitement, suspense or control. Leave this one well alone, unless the ear muncher himself is standing next to you.
Runners Up: Gravity Games (Acclaim), Simpsons Skateboarding (Fox Interactive).

Best Intro & Cut Scenes In A Game
Winner: Final Fantasy X (Square)
Square have once again proven that they have the goods when it comes to creating, not only an engrossing RPG, but also stunning cut scenes to flesh out the games storyline. This game manages to maintain the stunning efforts of Square's previous titles and create cut-scenes to rival most computer generated movies including Square's own Final Fantasy movie.
Runners Up: Metal Gear Solid: Sons of Liberty (Konami), The Getaway (Team Soho).

Best Game Based On Pre-Existing Property (Print or Film)
Winner: Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (EA Games)
Without a doubt this game is the most impressive game based on a film license in many years, probably since Goldeneye on Nintendo 64. The game integrates video clips and music from the motion pictures perfectly while the action is most impressive. One major bonus to this game was the ability to see clips from the (then) upcoming Two Towers movie.
Runners Up: Bond: Nightfire (Eurocom), Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets (EA Games).

Most Original Title
Winner: Rez (Sega/UGA)
This is one of the most interesting titles released, ever. At it's core it's a simple shooter, but combined with the stunning music and effects and this game becomes a visual, and aural treat. It's a little on the short side, but is still one game I go back to very often when I want to chill out after a heavy day, or a good night of partying.
Runners Up: ICO (SCEI), Atari Stuntman (Reflections).

Best Arcade Conversion
Winner: Virtua Fighter 4 (Sega/AM2)
Sega have once again proven their still with the fighting games with an almost arcade perfect port of their latest arcade fighting game. With lot more flair and varied fighting styles this game pushes Namco's Tekken series out of the ring. The port is enhanced with many extras and is deserving of Sega's strong arcade pedigree.
Runners Up: Alpine Racer 3 (Namco), Tekken 4 (Namco).

Best Multiplayer Game
Winner: TimeSplitters 2 (Free Radical Design)
The best multi-player game just got a lot better. TimeSplitters 2 retains a 4-player split screen mode as well as a 16-player mode through the i.Link cable. The only downer is that the online gameplay wasn't included in the final game. This game is a blast.
Runners Up: Virtua Tennis 2 (Sega/Hitmaker), Monopoly Party (Runecraft).

Part 2 coming soon

I hope you enjoyed reading the 2002 Future Gamez Awards. If you have any comments feel free to e-mail me at the usual address: