Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Texture Pop Presents: Game of the Year Awards

So, as a relatively new video game podcast, it is required by law (Section 1337: Subsection 707: Article 070)  for us to do an end-of-the-year podcast. In order to still keep it in our usual style, we opted to use mostly original "awards". Also, instead of naming our collective "Best Game Ever", we instead each have our own list of winners.

Though this podcast is short, it still has our signature style. Also, Garrett was extremely ill before the recording, so he skipped out. However, he did give us a list to read out during the show. Lastly, if I feel the need to, I will try to pick out any honorable mentions and write about them here as well. So, without further ado:

(Note: Persona 3 was not, in fact, the Game of the Year. In fact, we never even mentioned it in the podcast.)

0:00:00 Introduction
My joke here was a not-so-subtle jab at the VGAs from Geoff Keighley, and its commercialist nature.

0:01:20 Our take on 2014.
Overall, it was a pretty disappointing year. We saw a lot of mediocre games, surprisingly bad games, and glitch-prone games. There were many games, but mostly it felt pretty poor.

0:03:55 Best Presentation
My Pick: Transistor
What can I say. It looks gorgeous, it sounds amazing, and it plays smoothly. That soundtrack is so good, that I still listen to it now.

Chris's Pick: Mario Kart 8
No one can deny that the game looks fantastic. Nintendo games have always looked fantastic. The two biggest things Nintendo always manages to nail is quality in terms of both gameplay and presentation. You can be generally assured that a Nintendo game is a quality game, and Mario Kart 8 is no exception.

Sam's Pick: The Wolf Among Us
The contrast between the harsher blacks and the more saturated color palette is really eye-catching in terms of visuals. The main theme and the other tracks in the soundtrack really match the tone. With stellar vocal performances, it is no wonder it made Sam's top pick for Best Presentation.

Garrett's Pick: Watch_Dogs
I wish Garrett himself could defend this nomination, but I hope we did well in our defense of his pick. The game looks great visually, and the various effects give it a nice look.

0:10:55 Best Character
My Pick: Shay Patrick Cormack (Assassin's Creed: Rogue)
I find him as a character to be immensely fascinating. He was very fleshed out, and given a believable back-story and character motivations. Many other Assassin's Creed protagonists felt a bit more one-note, but Shay has a bit more of a personality to him. This is particularly true when you compare him to Arno in Assassin's Creed: Unity.

Chris's Pick: Shovel Knight (Shovel Knight)
I cannot add any more to this pick than what Chris said, as I have not played it for myself. I will say though, that to make such an impression without voice acting of any kind is an accomplishment.

Sam's Pick: BJ Blazkowicz (Wolfenstein: The New Order)
As someone who just played it myself, I can defend this pick. I found him to be a pretty interesting character. Though the game plays like a fun adventure, the character takes himself so seriously that it is appealing in an odd way. He's more than just a lunkhead.

Garrett's Pick: Pagan Min (Far Cry 4)
I'm just going to let Sam do the defending here. He knows more than I would.

0:18:55 Most Disappointing Game of the Year
My Pick: Watch_Dogs
I was really, really hoping for more of a stealth/hacking game. I thought doing that in the modern day could be really interesting, so I had high hopes. What I got was an okay, somewhat creative third-person shooter with terrible vehicle sections. It is not a bad game, but I was not satisfied. On top of that, the story and Aiden Pearce were both some of the worst pieces of writing I've ever seen.

Sam's Pick: Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
This is a pretty good pick. Since Sam is such a big fan of The Lord of the Rings, he must have been massively disappointed by the story and how terrible it is. The main quest missions were also really bad, and the environment is a little empty.

Chris's Pick: Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel
I don't have much to add, since I've pretty much never enjoyed Borderlands. However, this is the first I've heard of the game ditching the O2 mechanics at the end of the game. I did not know that you go back to Pandora.

Garrett's Pick: The Elder Scrolls: Online
I completely forgot that this came out this year. What more do I have to say? This was a terrible slap in the face to all of the fans of the franchise. Considering the subscription fee on top, there's no wonder people hate it. Excellent pick for this particular award.

0:30:25 Most Underrated Game
My Pick: Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
I understand why Sam hates this game so much. Truly, I can. However, I had a lot of fun with it. Sure, it's not amazing. But the gameplay is solid and the Nemesis System is extremely interesting.

Chris's Pick: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
I'll just let his discussion of it stand. Again, I didn't play it.

Garrett's Pick: Transistor
Critically, though the game did well, people did not like it as much as they did Transistor. It is also not as widespread. Despite that, there is a lot to love. It plays well, and there are many layers to the story.

Sam's Pick: Titanfall
People quickly moved away from this game after it came out. Though not a bad game, it is one of those "trendy" games that you need to play on launch day, or else don't waste your time. Since it was multiplayer-only, this was even moreso the case.

My Runners-Up: Assassin's Creed: Unity and Murdered: Soul Suspect
We talked about it on the show, but Assassin's Creed: Unity's technical problems overshadowed all of the good things it did for the series. It was so good at mission design and character customization that I loved it. The side-missions are also really good.
As for Murdered: Soul Suspect, I only thought about it after the show aired. A lot of people wrote off this game when it came out. Although it is really easy, and the "combat" is a pain in the ass, the writing was pretty solid and I grew to like the characters. Also, I'm a sucker for murder-mysteries, so this was up my alley.

0:43:15 Biggest Surprise
My Pick(s): The Walking Dead: Season 2 (and The Wolf Among Us).
I think these two go together because I had the opposite expectation for both games. I expected to fall in love again with The Walking Dead: Season 2, and find The Wolf Among Us pretty mediocre. Instead, The Wolf Among Us greatly impressed me. At the same time, I was underwhelmed by The Walking Dead: Season 2. So yeah, these two picks are together because they're reasons are very closely related.

Chris's Pick: Dragon Age: Inquisition
This is Chris's pick primarily because he was so disappointed with Bioware after Dragon Age 2, Mass Effect 3, and The Old Republic. With Inquisition, it seems like they've gotten their mojo back. It's a good thing to see.

Sam's Pick: Wolfenstein: The New Order
It plays well, but Sam was more surprised with how serious and grim in terms of the story. It seemed unlike what one could expect of a Wolfenstein game, so it definitely qualifies as "Biggest Surprise".

Garrett's Pick: Alien: Isolation
Given how Colonial Marines threw the Aliens license into the ground, this is definitely a good choice.

0:52:53 Game of the Year (of the Century, of the Universe, this year)
Sam's Pick: Dark Souls 2
I'm honestly surprised at Sam's apprehension at choosing Dark Souls 2. This has been the game he has come back to over and over again. After losing several saves, and playing tons of it without getting exhausted. The only thing that can stop him from playing Dark Souls 2 is the knowledge that more Dark Souls 2 is coming out soon. That says a lot about the game.

Garrett's Pick: The Evil Within
I really wish Garrett was there. I don't feel like we did justice to the defense of his choice.

Chris's Pick: Hyrule Warriors
Considering the amount of time Chris has spend with Hyrule Warriors, this should come as no surprise. Like Sam and Dark Souls 2, the fact that he has spent so much time with it says a lot about the game itself.

My Pick: Shadowrun: Dragonfall
After playing all sorts of CRPGs, Shadowrun Returns is one of the best ones I have ever played. Dragonfall fixes all of the minor problems I had with it, on top of having an excellent campaign. In terms of CRPGs, it's the closest thing I will get to perfection.
Assassin's Creed: Unity and Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor were games I did consider, but ultimately their flaws were too great to overcome. Still, I feel they are worth mentioning as solid runners-up.

1:04:43 Best ATLUS Game (That Brandon Has Played This Year)
(This is mostly a joke, referencing the fact that I played so many ATLUS games this year during my "Season of ATLUS". Still, there's a point in here somewhere.)

Chris's Pick: Persona 4 Golden
I did not play Persona 4: Dancing All Night (since it's not out yet... and I don't care), so this is the next best thing.

My Pick: Shin Megami Tensei IV
Like I said in the cast, once you can choose skills in fusion inheritance, you don't want to go back. Plus, the Press Turn System is really good for quick, decisive battles. Lastly, the game improved a lot on old-school ATLUS game design.
Persona 4 Golden was a close runner-up though. Unfortunately, it created Marie. That is unforgivable.

Sam's Pick: Digital Devil Saga
This was hard, because I didn't play Persona 3 this year. Still, he made a good choice, with the limited information given.

1:06:45 Good-bye.

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