What’s that? You say the readers hunger for more genre awards in the same way that ancient Romans thirsted for gladiators’ blood amongst the lions in the Coliseum?
Very well. Give to them MOAR GAMEZ!!! And do it with a trophy giving the thumbs-up sign. My people shall be pleased!
Without further ado, the envelopes, please…
Best Music or Dance Title
And the Epic Win goes to… Fantasia: Music Evolved.
Many games tout themselves as “a game like no other” or “one of a kind.” In fact, it almost becomes cliche to hear companies claim their game is “like no other,” triggering the knee-jerk reaction to check texts, nod off in a hot demo room, or plan out punchlines for articles.
Fantasia: Music Evolved is, and I mean this with all sincerity, a game like no other.
Spun off from the 1940 Disney classic Fantasia and its modern day update, Fantasia 2000, Fantasia: Music Evolved pays homage to “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” In the classic film, Mickey Mouse was the titular apprentice; in the offering from Disney Interactive and Harmonix, the apprentice is you.
I don’t think I’ve used the word “exhilarating” to describe gameplay before, but I think it fits here. The idea of not just playing a music game, but truly being in command of it, gives a sense of magic and creation no music game at E3, or any music game as of yet, has been able to produce: a legitimately exhilarating gameplay experience.
The only way to add to the experience: play with a pair of Sorcerer Mickey ears.
Honorable mention: Just Dance 2014, Zumba World Party.
And the Epic Win goes to… Destiny.
Call of Duty, much like Microsoft and EA, may have started listening to their consumer base a little too late. Yes, gamers love shooting things, but they want to do so for a reason. A shooting rampage with little to no plot becomes essentially a crime spree. KILL ALL DA THINGZ is not what gamers are looking for anymore. CoD missed the memo though; with Ghosts they’re trying to fix it, but that ship may have sailed. Even the initially-well received Call of Duty dog is becoming synonymous with the TV trope of “jumping the shark.”
Destiny seems to have learned that lesson well. After a successful run with Halo, Bungie split from Microsoft Game Division to form Bungie LLC. Pulling from their success with the adventures of Master Chief, and scooping up those tired of the same ol’ Call of Duty, Bungie’s Destiny gives players what they were looking for: a vast open world, lots of weaponry, and reasons to use them all in a highly-developed, cinema-esque plot, none of the least is which headquarters is located on the last human city on Earth.
Good try, Call of Duty, but you’ll need more than a dog to top that.
Honorable Mention: Titanfall, Battlefield 4.
Best Horror Title
And the Epic Win goes to… The Walking Dead: 400 Days.
How do you follow up arguably the best game of the year from 2012? You give players more of what they want.
As such, Telltale Games brings zombie fans The Walking Dead: 400 Days. The DLC serves as a prequel to the Telltale Games hit, but serves also as a bridge between season one and the upcoming season two. Comprised of five mini-episodes set in the time leading up to the events in The Walking Dead video game, each mini-episode has its own storyline. Telltale Games demoed Vince’s episode, set around day two of the Walker outbreak.
The designers, once again, force players to decide for themselves what the bigger threat is: the flesh-eating undead encroaching upon them, or the remaining living amongst them. For example (SMALL SPOILER ALERT) one of the first serious decisions Vince has to make, shackled from within a prison van, is whose foot amongst two fellow criminals will you blow off from a shotgun in order to escape a Walker. Side note: it doesn’t blow clean off the first time. Enjoy that visual.
Choose wisely, though. The designers of The Walking Dead: 400 Days warn players that their season one choices will influence 400 DAYS, and the choices in 400 Days will cause changes in season two.
400 Days plays almost exactly the same as the original, but when the storytelling is so good, that’s something I’m okay with.
Honorable mention: The Evil Within, Dead Rising 3.
Best Fighting Title
And the Epic Win goes to… Super Smash Bros. Wii U / 3DS.
If you’ve played pai gow poker at your local casino, you may have run into an overkill hand. “Overkill” in pai gow poker is what dealers informally call a dominating hand (like a full house or better) beating up a really poor hand (a small pair or lower).
Fighting games at E3 had their own case of an overkill hand. Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate was nothing more than an HD rehash of a decent DOA title with a little bit of extra content, and Killer Instinct, while anticipated, had the misfortune of being married to the next-gen console version of the devil.
All Nintendo had to do was say “Super Smash Bros.” and the debate was shut down.
We love the characters. We love the moves. We love the stages. We really loved Brawl‘s “Subspace Emissary.” And we love the addition of the Villager and the plasma-blasting goodness of Mega Man. (The jury is still out on the Wii Fit Trainer.)
Even with just a reveal trailer at a Nintendo Direct, Nintendo pulled an overkill hand on this deal of the cards.
Honorable mention: Killer Instinct.
Best Action/Adventure Title
And the Epic Win goes to… WATCH_DOGS.
There was very healthy competition in this category. Many games at E3 in this genre could have held a win, if WATCH_DOGS wasn’t involved.
Back-to-back wins for Ubisoft’s action hacker title, revealed at last year’s E3 and receiving tons of positive press throughout the year. It’s not hard to see why: It’s an action title, but it’s not the average run-and-gun. It’s smart-guy stuff. Our hero isn’t all that physically impressive, but with his madd [email protected] ski11z, he’s able to shut the city down with a simple smartphone and a good wifi connection. It’s like the 2013 version of MacGuyver. The graphics are sleek while still retaining that gritty style Chicago carries, and bonus: no console-fighting – gamers are going to be able to enjoy this game no matter what console they’re loyal to.
The unanimous response to mentioning WATCH_DOGS, even to non-hardcore gamers, is “Oh man, I can’t wait to play that game.” We concur.
Honorable mention: Batman: Arkham Origins, Murdered: Soul Suspect