January 4, 2010

~ PART 1 ~

2010 was another very interesting year for a number of reasons. While we didn't see any new consoles launched, although rumours of PSP2 are now rife around the industry, this was a year of change for Sony and their PlayStation consoles. The PlayStation 2 is now pretty much dead in the water with no titles worth looking at in 2010, the PSP has died a slow, painful death as well with only the odd title generating interest including a new God of War and, in Japan, a Monster Hunter title which has sold in the millions. The PSPgo proved to be the biggest misstep for Sony in their 15 year console history with minimal sales at best.

The PlayStation 3 was where everything happened during 2010 and this year saw the release of several massive titles - some of which exceeded expectations, and some which failed to meet them - while it was the inclusion of 3D Blu-Ray support and 3D gaming that really got us excited. Then there was PlayStation Move - Sony's motion controller which on a technical level was quite stunning, but Sony failed to back it up with titles worth playing. Still it's a device that should come into its own in 2011 and beyond.

There are a couple of rules for games to be entered into consideration. Firstly, the games must have been released in Australia during the 2010 calendar year, so no 2009 or 2011 titles are in consideration (even if they were already released in Japan or America in 2010). Also, all these awards have been considered by those here at Future Gamez, and not the public. While we give scores for reviews throughout the year, the highest score may not be the winner in these awards, as long term appeal and a lot of hindsight is also considered. Finally, all categories are for PS3, PS2 and PSP titles, except for graphics and sound where they were considered separately. So let's get to it...

Biggest Disappointments of 2010
3. Playstation Move Launch Titles
I have absolutely no hesitation in stating that the PlayStation Move hardware is a technically polished and brilliant piece of kit which meets every expectation we ever had. The only problem is that the launch titles for the device were mediocre to say the least. Still with over 50 games now listed to support the hardware and big titles like SOCOM 4 and Killzone 3 set to use it if desired we can only see this becoming an essential piece of kit. The launch, however, was a disappointment.

2. Final Fantasy XIII
When it comes to RPG's few have the clout of Square-Enix's Final Fantasy franchise and with a tonne of hype, some gorgeous trailers, and a massive marketing campaign everything looked bright for this shining light of Japanese RPG good-ness. The problem; the game wasn't actually very good. Actually, to clarify, it was still good, but no where near what everyone expected, and the good stuff didn't happen until 2/3 the way into the game when it opened up from the linear path. Oh, so disappointing.

1. Death of the PSP/PSPgo
Sadly our biggest disappointment for 2010 is the virtual demise of the PSP/PSPgo (the latter of which was dead from the first week on sale!). Publishers are no longer creating games, Sony aren't promoting the systems as much and sales in Europe and America are struggling. Only in Japan where Capcom sells millions of Monster Hunter games is the system still succeeding. Still, things will only get worse in 2011. The good news; PSP2 is just around the corner of rumours, speculation, and comments from industry folk are to be believed.

Biggest Surprise of 2010
3. Treyarch deliver the goods with Black Ops
Treyarch have been seen as the "lesser" developer in Activision's Call of Duty franchise following their weaker outing with their 2008 title World at War. Black Ops promised a lot and fortunately Treyarch delivered the goods with a decent single player experience, but more importantly a deep and entertaining online experience as well. The only negative is that the PS3 version, while great, did have technical issues and limitations compared to the XBox 360 version.

2. 3D Movies and Games on PS3
What a 12 months it has been for 3D. It was only a year ago when Avatar smashed into cinemas breaking all manner of records. Now our humble PS3 is playing 3D Blu-Ray discs and 3D Games with 3D photos and Youtube also kicking off. Not only that but most TV manufacturers have 3DTV's out there - Sony, Samsung, Panasonic to name a few - and you can bet that most people buying them have a PS3 attached for plenty of entertainment. We must admit, it won't be too long before we're on the bandwagon ourselves!

1. Implosion of Infinity Ward
One would think that a development studio whose previous two titles included Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2 would be the most loved by their publishers, Activision. There wasn't much love though as president Jason West and studio head Vince Zampella left after disputes over royalties (and other things) and formed their own studio called Respawn Entertainment, with games to be published by Electronic Arts. It wasn't just those two though as within week dozens of others had resigned, many of them heading to Respawn as well.

Best Australian Distributor of 2010
Winner: Namco Bandai
Namco Bandai have always had a great list of titles and 2010 was no exception with games from a swag of studios including Namco Bandai (of course), Codemasters and Atari among others. It was the range of titles which managed to impress from the great Just Cause 2, F1 2010, Fallout: New Vegas and Demon's Souls to the obscure such as Atelier Rorona, 3D Dot Game Heroes and Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom. There's plenty on offer for a wide range of gamers which is why Namco Bandai gets Distributer of the Year.

Best Publisher of 2010
Winner: Sony
2010 wasn't quite as strong a year for Sony as last year however the company still gets Publisher of 2010 for the simple reason that they have the largest range of titles yet again, and polished ones at that. In fact, while Sony haven't had many triple-A titles they haven't really had any duds either (well, perhaps Kung Fu Rider should never have been released). Still the company has released the phenomenal God of War III (as well as the God of War Collection which included HD versions of the two original games), the very cinematic, and brilliant, Heavy Rain, M.A.G., Gran Turismo 5, The Sly Trilogy and multiple games for the Playstation Move which while not brilliant, were enough to show what the controller was capable of.

Best Developer of 2010
Winner: MercurySteam
Picking a developer for 2010 was a tough choice as there were so many possibilities. Avalanche Studios very much impressed with their open world engine for Just Cause 2, SCEA Santa Monica blew us away with the phenomenal engine they created for God of War III however there can only be one winner and this year we have selected MercurySteam for their rather amazing new engine they used in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. Sure the game may not have some of the whiz-bang special effects of some other titles, nor the quantity of CG cut-scenes, but the scale of the levels, and enemies put jaws on floor while the audio, including Patrick Stewart, was stunning. From such a small Spanish development team the resulting game exceeded all expectations and resurrected Konami's ailing franchise too.

Best Peripheral
Winner: PlayStation Move (Sony)
While there aren't a whole lot of peripherals released each year the PlayStation Move is a clear winner this year and will be a device, that if handled well by Sony could be seen as an entirely new platform for years to come. Admittedly the launch titles so far haven't made great use of the device, but it's accuracy and range of movements is superb.

Best Blu-Ray Movie - Video Quality
Winner: Toy Story 3 (Walt Disney)
The Blu-Ray format is well beyond it's infancy now and picking the winner for the best video quality is a hard thing to do. CG movies are perfect by their very nature as they are 100% computer controlled right down to what the filmmaker intends. Movie shot on film are still subject to film artifacts, uneven levels of grain and other issues. Still all three movies here are reference quality, but we've picked Pixar's movie due to the overall impact. This is, quite simply, the most gorgeous film we've seen on a technical and artistic level..
Runners Up: Avatar (Fox), Iron Man 2 (Paramount).

Best Blu-Ray Movie - Audio Quality
Winner: Iron Man 2 (Paramount)
We quite enjoyed this second Iron Man movie which continue Tony Stark's empire destroying role as the deterrent to war. Paramount's audio transfer on this release is downright spectacular with enough bass to shake your entire house to pieces, but also plenty of subtlety and surround sound use throughout. This was the most jaw dropping audio experience we had during 2010 on Blu-Ray, although as with the video the two runners up are very worth indeed.
Runners Up: Avatar (Fox), Toy Story 3 (Walt Disney).

Best Blu-Ray Movie - Extras
Winner: Avatar Extended Edition (Fox)
While we have only reviewed the original, extra-less, version of this movie on the website we have indeed got and gone through the entire Extended Edition on Blu-Ray. As well as three versions of the film this release there are hours of documentaries which detail the amount of work that went into this mammoth production, the amount of visual effects and, well, pretty much anything else you could ever want to know about the film. Fantastic.
Runners Up: Iron Man 2 (Paramount), Funny People (Universal).

Best Blu-Ray Release Overall
Winner: Avatar Extended Edition (Fox)
Admittedly we haven't reviewed the Extended Edition of the worlds highest grossing movie, but we've got it and watched every single extra which is extensive. As well as hours of bonus content there are three versions of this film and a nigh on perfect audio visual presentation. Even if you own the movie only release we highly recommend upgrading to this fully featured release which gets our Blu-Ray release of 2010.
Runners Up: Toy Story 3 (Walt Disney), Iron Man 2 (Paramount), Alien Quadrilogy (Fox), Kick-Ass (Universal), Inception (Warner Brothers).

Best Download-only Game
Winner: Tumble (PS3, SCE Japan)
This probably isn't a game many would put as their first choice as Download-Only Game of the Year however this game wins as it provided a gripping puzzle title which, unlike almost every other game release, actually showed the potential of the new PlayStation Move controller. If you have a PlayStation Move we beg you to check out the demo, if not the full game which is available for $15.95 in the PlayStation Store.
Runners Up: Söldner-X 2: Final Prototype (PS3, SideQuest Studios), Sonic 4: Episode 1 (PS3, Yukes).

Best Game Based On Pre-Existing Property (Print or Film)
Winner: Transformers: War for Cybertron (PS3, TT Games)
Transformers games have, to put it bluntly, sucked for years, but 2010 saw the release of this game from High Moon Studios which was one of biggest surprises of the year with an accomplished single player campaign and some brilliant online gameplay. Plenty of post-release support sealed this as the winner of this category. If you're a Transformers fan then this release is a game worth checking out while the sequel is being worked on for release in 2012.
Runners Up: Darksiders (PS3, Vigil Games), Lego: Harry Potter (PS3, Traveller's Tales).

Most Original Title
Winner: Heavy Rain (PS3, Quantic Dreams)
2010 was an interesting year in that picking an original and fresh title wasn't an easy task with few "risks" taken by developers and publishers. This game, from French developers Quantic Dream, was more of an interactive movie for the most part but with four main characters and multiple endings this provided something rather new and fresh. Impressively in late 2010 the game was patched to be playable with the Playstation Move providing and entirely different experience, and also another reason to play through the game again.
Runners Up: PlayStation Move Games (PS3, Multiple Companies), EA Sports Active 2.0 (PS3, EA Sports).

Best Offline Multiplayer Game
Winner: DJ Hero 2 (PS3, FreeStyleGames)
Admittedly we love this game as a single player experience, but there is nothing like having two competent players sitting, or standing, side-by-side battling through a series of great song mixes. It's great fun with a quality game that seems to have been overlooked by too many people so if you like the prospect of DJ'ing we highly recommend this fantastic release.
Runners Up: Super Street Fighter IV (PS3, Capcom), Sports Champions (PS3, Zindagi Games).

Best Online Multiplayer Game
Winner: Call of Duty: Black Ops (PS3, Treyarch)
One of the biggest surprises of 2010 was that Treyarch provided a Call of Duty game that almost lived up to the quality of Infinity Ward's previous title. Treyarch's title had a brilliant online mode which included Wager Matches for those liking to gamble and even more Perks and Customisation then we have ever seen in a FPS. It played well too with a tonne of game modes and plenty of maps. With a couple of map packs coming in 2011 this game will continue to have millions playing online for months.
Runners Up: M.A.G. (PS3, Zipper Interactive), Red Dead Redemption (PS3, Rockstar San Diego).

Continue to Part 2 of the 2010 FutureGamez Awards
Continue to Part 3 of the 2010 FutureGamez Awards

I hope you enjoyed reading the 2010 FutureGamez Awards. If you have any comments feel free to e-mail me at the usual address: admin@futuregamez.net.