January 3, 2003

~ PART 2 ~

This is the second part of the 2003 Future Gamez Awards where a winner is picked for each different major genre as well as a winner for the Best Sound and Graphics as well as the Best Overall Game of 2003. If you missed Part 1 of the awards where the best and worst of 2003 as well as best developers, peripheral and technology were awarded then I would suggest you go there to check out the other winners first. If you've checked them out then read on.

Best Puzzle/Strategy/Music Game
Winner: Eye Toy: Play (Sony)
Shame on us for not getting around to reviewing this title, but when you have two people running a site with 300 games released in a year we have an excuse. What we can tell you is that Eye Toy: Play is one of the few games that got my friends having a go, admittedly they were mostly drunk, and the only occasion when my parents decided to play a game, and what fun it is. This is easily the best music/dancing/puzzle/action game of the year. This game is simply tremendous and shows the potential of future titles using the Eye Toy peripheral.
Runners Up: The Sims: Bustin' Out (EA Games), Dancing Stage Megamix (Konami).

Best Fighting Game
Winner: Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution (Sega AM2)
Debate shall rage about this game beating Namco's weapon based Soul Calibur II, however Sega's title has a slight edge in the mos important aspect of any game, gameplay. Each fighter is quite unique while the fighting system has been tuned and balanced to perfection. This is quite simply the best home fighting game on any console ever and should be in every collection.
Runners Up: Soul Calibur 2 (Namco), Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (Midway).

Best Platform Game
Winner: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (UbiSoft)
This was the hardest call to make this year with three superb titles in the running to win this category, but UbiSoft's title just edges out Jak II: Renegade due to that games' frustrating difficulty level in places. The gameplay in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is engrossing and as much as you try to stop playing, the "just to the next save point" type gameplay remains from start to end. The ability to reverse time is a neat feature and adds a new dimension to the gameplay while the platforming sections and puzzles are superb.
Runners Up: Jak II: Renegade (Naughty Dog), Ratchet & Clank 2 (Insomniac Games).

Best Sports Game
Winner: Pro Evolution Soccer 3 (Konami)
The third game in Konami's soccer series takes soccer games, and indeed the entire sports genre, to a new level. The animation, graphics, gameplay and sound all combine to make this one of the best games of all time. Indeed it's the small touches such as passes and even hand gestures that make this game special. When you compare this game to the competition you realise there really is no competition.
Runners Up: SSX3 (EA Sport BIG), Madden NFL 2004 (EA Sports).

Best Action Game
Winner: Freedom Fighters (Io Interactive)
I have to say that of all the titles that genuinely entertained and kept me playing until the very end this game still stands out as one of the highlights of the year. The emphasis of the game not only includes controlling your own fighter, but also friends which join you in destroying the Russian forces. If you like your action games the require a little bit of thought then this is an essential purchase. Let's hope a sequel is made sooner rather then later. Fantastic.
Runners Up: Zone of Enders: The Second Runner (Konami), Splinter Cell (UbiSoft).

Best First of Third Person Shooter Game
Winner: SOCOM US Navy Seal's (Zipper Interactive)
2003 was a very lean year for First and Third Person shooters, but the highlight by far was the release of this title to kick off online gaming. It's technically not brilliant but the interaction with other players through the headset is. The single player game was decent enough and the game is one you should check out in a lean year for FPS's. The sequel has been confirmed for release in Australia in March, a date which thousands will already have marked in their calendars.
Runners Up: XIII (UbiSoft), Medal of Honor: Rising Sun (EA Games).

Best (Traditional) Role Playing Game
Winner: Dark Chronicle (Level 5)
We never previewed, or reviewed this game here at Future Gamez, but we did play it - and it was a superb follow-up to the excellent Dark Cloud. In a year of very few RPG releases (the most neglected genre) this game was a breath of fresh air. With stunning cel-shaded graphics and engrossing gameplay Dark Chronicle is one title that should be in every RPG lovers collection.
Runners Up: Breath of Fire: Dragon's Quarter (Capcom), Everquest Online Adventures (Sony).

Best Adventure Game
Winner: Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon (Revolution)
Fans of the Broken Sword series were hoping for something exciting, but Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon is simply brilliant and exceeds all expectations with some terrific puzzles to solve. Revolution's title deserves a play even if you never played the original games. Hopefully this won't be the last chapter in the trilogy as originally touted. Excellent stuff.
Runners Up: Silent Hill 3 (Konami), Beyond Good & Evil (UbiSoft).

Best Racing Game
Winner: Colin McRae Rally 04 (Codemasters)
Codemasters Rally game underwent another yearly update and while the need to upgrade is somewhat questionable what isn't in question is the quality of this title. You'll feel every bump and curve on the road as you fly around different countries. The only thing missing is an official license, but this gives the developers slightly more freedom with the track design. If you don't have a Colin McRae game in your collection now is a great time to start.
Runners Up: Need For Speed: Underground (Black Box), MotoGP3 (Namco).

Best Sound in a Game
Winner: SSX3 (EA Sports BIG)
Rarely has a game had sound so great. This sound is not only in DTS format but the game includes around 40 songs from recognised artists such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chemical Brothers, Felix Da Housecat, NERD, Queens of the Stoneage and many others. The game includes and option to turn off the music to hear the wonderful sounds of plowing down a massive hill at insane speeds. A DJ is also an option as he tells you about the conditions of the mountain, the music being played and the tricks being performed. All-in-all a sensational package.
Runners Up: Silent Hill 3 (Konami), Freedom Fighters (Io Interactive).

Best Graphics in a Game
Winner: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (UbiSoft)
This game really is spectacular. The soft lighting and superb texturing combine to make this look special, and the animation of the characters contributes to this greatly. In fact you could argue that this game has the best animation ever seen. When UbiSoft first announced the game in March it received positive press and some buzz, which then exploded when the game was first seen in action at the E3 show in May. It still amazes me just how stunning this title looks on the PS2, even though the hardware is starting to show its age. This is the PS2 at it's visual best.
Runners Up: Jak II: Renegade (Naughty Dog), Ghost Hunter (SCEE).

Best Overall Game Of 2003

Winner: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (UbiSoft)
There were so many brilliant titles on Playstation 2 this year that it was hard to pick a winner, but in the end UbiSoft's title won out due to originality and perfectly balanced gameplay and puzzle solving sections. The graphics are simply spectacular (including the animation) as you navigate your way through a castle full of enemies and wonderful traps. Throw in a perfect replica of the original game and you have a tremendous purchase. Let's hope a sequel makes an appearance sooner rather then later.

Runners Up: Pro Evolution Soccer 3 (Konami), SSX3 (EA Sports BIG), Jak II: Renegade (Naughty Dog), Splinter Cell (UbiSoft).

Click here to go to Part 1 of the 2003 Future Gamez Awards, including the worst of 2003.

I hope you enjoyed reading this Awards for 2003. If you have any comments feel free to e-mail me at the usual address: admin@futuregamez.net.