With the game awards set to air tonight, social media has become the battleground in which gamers debate which games, studios and actors deserve acknowledgement. Games like Zelda Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey are mentioned quite a bit as you’d expect given their staggering success this year but we’ve also seen niche titles like Persona 5 find a smaller, yet equally vocal base that does nothing short of proselytize about the lord and saviour that is Persona 5. With all of the talk about which games deserve recognition I figured that I throw my 2 cents into the conversation (for the half dozen of you that actually care about my opinion of course). In the interest of time, and your attention spans, I’m only going to only cover the meaningful categories here (and lets be real, no one is really sitting on the edge of their seats for the trending gamer award). So without further adieu, lets get into it.
- Game of the Year
The award we’re all going to be tuning into see tonight. I can’t think of a year of gaming where so many games deserved to win this award. In fact, each of the games that do not win this award tonight would have a great shot at taking the title in any other year (except 2015 where the greatest game of all time, Metal Gear Solid 5 released of course). With that said, Zelda Breath of the Wild should absolutely take this award. You’ve probably already heard from a ton of others that this game isn’t just one of the best games of 2017, but that it is also one of the best games ever. This is not hyperbole. All I’ll say is that Breath of the Wild executes open world better than any open world game I’ve ever played, and by a wide margin.
As for the others, I just don’t think that they had as much of an impact solely from a quality standpoint. Though I haven’t played Mario Odyssey, I am hard pressed to believe that the game would have gotten nearly the amount of praise that it did if not for being a game about “Mr. Video Game Himself”. I’m currently 35ish hours into Persona 5 and though it boasts the best turn based battle system (sorry Pokémon) I’ve ever experienced in a game, it hasn’t really wowed me anywhere else despite what some zealous Twitter users would have you believe. Somehow, Horizon Zero Dawn feels like its being slept on more and more since its release in February. I honestly think that is has the next best claim to this award not because of any specific innovation but because it pushed the core features of action RPG titles to their limit.
Then there is PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. I could write an entire essay as to why this game shouldn’t win this award but I’ll just leave you with this – if justice does in fact exist on God’s green earth, PUBG, the unfinished, poorly optimized early access game that it is, will not win game of the year. That said, I fully expect this game to take the award as the Nintendo fan base splits its votes on its two juggernauts.
Who ought to win: Zelda Breath of the Wild, Prediction: PUBG
- Best Art Direction
This category should be a slam dunk for Cuphead. In fact this award should just be call the Cuphead award for outstanding visual achievement. Why do I say this? Simply because this game was able to take a dated aesthetic and seamlessly present it in a way that wowed the entire gaming community.
Horizon Zero Dawn also deserves consideration here based strictly on the design of the game’s machines. To be brief, HZD has some of the best monster design I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing in a game.
On the opposite end were have Destiny 2 which while looking incredibly polished, seems as though the developers set out to make the best looking generic science fiction world they could, and since its Destiny, I wouldn’t be shocked if that were actually the case.
Persona 5 also sort of falls flat for me here as even though some of the games animations are incredible (I especially like the summoning animations for the Personas) I feel that the designs for most of the enemy shadow’s are incredible dated. While going through the games dungeons I sometimes get a Final Fantasy X feel from the shadows, and that would be awesome were this 2004 but it just doesn’t quite hold up for me.
As for breath of the wild outside of its bosses (which I freaking loved by the way) I wasn’t so impressed by the visuals that I felt the game deserved to be distinguished in this regard.
Who ought to win: Cuphead, Prediction: Cuphead!
- Best Score/Music
For me this category is a two horse race, between Persona 5 and Nier Automata. Persona 5 succeeds when it hits you with smooth beats (I may or may not be listening to Beneath the Mask as I write this) that perfectly reflect the games relaxed points then switches to the hair raising songs like Last Surprise during the games battle sequences that enhance the combat by untold magnitudes.
Nier is very similar in that the range of its music is something to behold. The deeply emotional game that Nier Automata is conveyed perfectly in its soundtrack. The most impressive thing about Nier’s soundtrack is that I am convinced that you could take out all of the character dialogue in the game and just leave the music and still understand the game’s plot.
Though both of these games boast incredible soundtracks I’d have to give the slightest of edges to Nier, strictly for the diversity of great music in the game, which isn’t to take anything away from Persona 5. Whichever of these two wins, it will be thoroughly deserved. That said both of these games are lucky that Pokémon Ultra Sun isn’t eligible for these awards.
Who ought to win: Nier Automata, Prediction: Persona 5