Last Friday, Spike TV aired the 10th annual Spike VGAs, a show that simultaneously delight and disgust gamers across the world with its tradition of great new game reveals, as well as its tone deaf insistence on using non-gaming celebrities to poorly deliver even more poorly written jokes.
This year, in many ways, was no different. We had some great new reveals, including a game that may or may not be Metal Gear Solid V, and we had Snoop Lion saying he put the “high in high score.” A little unexpectedly, however, we also had some awards given with integrity, with games like The Walking Dead taking top honors. Read on for a play by play breakdown of the 2012 Spike VGAs.
So, presumably because they don’t want this awards show to focus too much on extraneous things like awards, they announced several winners on the red carpet itself, shocking the recipients. It was pretty amusing to see people dealing with the conflicting emotions of being honored to have won an award, but insulted because their award didn’t even warrant a speech on the stage. Also, newly redhead Allison Haislip didn’t know Gabe Newell’s name, and that motherfucker could have bought and sold everyone in the room. Twice.
Nice to see Sam Jackson enjoying himself. He is the first person to admit he doesn’t really play games, but who cares? He is professionally Sam Jackson, and he was having a blast. He also avoided coming off as a fake gamer celebrity, like… I dunno.. EVERY other celebrity at the VGAs. (I.E. The Walking Dead actors, Zoe Saldana, Jessica Alba etc).
Trailer: South Park: The Stick Of Truth (View)
The game looks and sounds great. It really feels like South Park and there are some clearly intelligent nods to RPG tropes. Considering this game may be THQ’s last gasping breath, I really hope it turns out well.
Best Shooter/Best Multiplayer/Best Character Winner: Borderlands 2 (and Claptrap)
This was my first inkling that something different was going on this year. Borderlands 2 was not the obvious choice for a dude-bro organization like the VGAs when a Call of Duty is also on the nominee list. Borderlands 2 is a smart, funny, and unconventional game. Great decision, just a shame that Far Cry 3 didn’t make the nominations for both Shooter and character.
Trailer: The Phantom Pain (View)
Supposedly 100% gameplay footage for a game called “The Phantom Pain” by an unknown Swedish developer called Moby Dick Studio. The game looked dark, extremely violent, and had a trippy Jacob’s Ladder vibe. Also, it’s probably Metal Gear Solid 5. There are quite a few articles around the web coming to this conclusion, so I won’t go over all the evidence here. Suffice it to say, I buy it. This is almost certainly Metal Gear, and I would put a smallish amount of money down on it being a next gen title, but who knows. Oh Kojima, you scamp. Great trailer reveal.
Beautiful performances of the best game music of the year. Shame the sound effects were so loud it really drowned out the performances. Also, extra props to the cellist and violinist with the tight leather getups.
Not enough overt sexuality in classical performances.
Trailer: The Last Of Us (View)
This was our first look at the broader scope of The Last of Us. When she saw the trailer, the first thing my wife said was “This reminds me a lot of the Walking Dead.” And, of course, she’s right. We see the main character dealing with the rigors of surviving in a post apocalyptic world, and at least at some point, he is with a group of other survivors, and not just his young woman companion. In short, the game looks far more populated than previous trailers have implied, and with more survivors comes a more complex story. This game looks like it may be more than just platforming and gunplay, a la Uncharted but we will see. Naughty Dog doesn’t make bad games, and I fully expect this game to be phenomenal.
Trailer: Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow 2 (View)
I hated the original Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. The gameplay felt off, the difficulty and level design made the game a joyless experience, and for all the changes they made to the Castlevania formula, the game ended up feeling fairly mundane. This first glance at C:LOS2, at least, didn’t look terrible. From the trailer, it appears that players will be playing as Dracula in possibly the modern day, hacking and slashing enemies a la Devil May Cry. Admittedly, playing as Dracula is an interesting twist to the series, but the game is giving me some bad “me too” vibes. Not expecting great things here. Meh.
Trailer: Dark Souls 2 (View)
First off, Jessica Alba introducing Dark Souls 2 by comparing it to Super Mario Brothers? Seriously VGAs? We were doing so well. Whatever though. What about the trailer? Well, it was very pretty, and it looked like Dark Souls, and that was about it. No gameplay, no real hints about new systems or new directions. The trailer seemed to focus a bit on some white masked enemies and a female companion, but everything was vague enough to deny the viewer any real information. All we know is that Dark Souls 2 is coming, and that’s probably enough for any Dark Souls fan to know to get them excited.
Best Action/Adventure Winner: Dishonored
Not a bad choice. I would have preferred to see Sleeping Dogs take the award, but Dishonored is a solid and respectable choice. Again, giving a game like Dishonored an award like this shows some integrity. If the VGAs keep this up, the awards might actually start meaning something.
Performance by Linkin Park
One of my favorite things in the world is Bo Ssam, which is basically Korean roast pork.
Takes days to make correctly, and what you end up with is super tender and flavorful pieces of shredded pork. While this stuff is great to eat right away, saving it for leftovers in the fridge actually continues to improve the flavor.
It takes about three minutes to throw together some Bo Ssam leftovers. You see, the correct way to eat it is to roll it up in a lettuce leaf with a little kimchi, chili sauce, and some mixed green onions and ginger. It’s delicious, and by the time its done, chances are whatever it is you were avoiding on TV, such as an awful song from Medal of Honor: Warfighter, has completed.
Best Independent Game Winner: Journey
A wonderful game that deserves all the awards it gets. It is easily the most cerebral and original gameplay experience of the year, and manages to tell an emotional and inspiring story. It’s great that Journey took home the award. Good for them. Also of note, Journey was nominated for Game of the Year, but it was never going to win that spot, so this was basically the consolation prize.
First you are introduced by Marlon Wayans (not even one of the good Wayans), then you don’t even perform? You just talk about fighting games and Assassins Creed? For shame Mr. Lion. For Shame.
Trailer: Assassins Creed 3: The Tyranny Of King Washington (View)
DLC trailer is meh. I can’t imagine that many folks who finished Assassins Creed 3 are that excited to play more of it. Considering the trailer didn’t show any gameplay, or offer and specifics other than “WHAT IF GW WAS EVIL OMG,” I can’t get worked up.
Trailer: Gears Of War: Judgment (View)
Looks like more Gears of War. Except it’s a prequel, taking place right after Emergence Day, and it doesn’t star the usual dudes. So, um, I guess if you like Gears of War, you will probably like Gears of War: Judgment.
Trailer: Tomb Raider (View)
This appeared to be a slightly extended trailer from what we last saw during E3, though they cut out the much ballyhood rapey bits. Not much to say, the game looks great. Decent trailer for what’s going to be one of the benchmark games of the year. On the other hand, what the fuck is up with Camilla Luddington’s accent? It’s like Chicago meets Australia and London by way of New York.
Game Of The Decade Winner: Half Life 2
Great Bass Duel joke from Tenacious D, I guess. Also, I guess Half Life 2 is the game of the decade. Whatever. It’s a very good game. I think there were some other games nominated that are considerably better, but whatever. This award is all about nostalgia, and no game has more nostalgia going for it than HL2.
Trailer: Bioshock Infinite (View)
I have high hopes for this game. Recent early looks from various outlets have been pretty positive. It’s a shame, therefore, that the trailers Ken Levine showed were pretty framey and overly combat focused. Even so, my anticipation for this game is not lessened.
Oh, also, Kotaku’s recent fascination with the Bioshock Infinite coverart is hilarious and retarded. I say that with love.
Game Of The Year Winner: The Walking Dead
A real surprise, and a pleasant one at that. In a year with big profile games like Mass Effect, Assassins Creed, and Dishonored competing for the number one spot, it’s shocking that the VGAs would award a licensed adventure game of all things. This was clearly the right decision though. Walking Dead is a phenominal game and easily deserves the award. This award goes a long way towards giving the VGAs a small amount of legitimacy as a key event for our industry.
I can’t believe I am writing this, but I actually enjoyed the VGAs this year. I didn’t feel especially pandered to or insulted, and certainly not embarrassed I was actually a little proud that the industry chose to award some truly good games, and there wasn’t a “Powered By Dew” moment to be found. It does feel a little strange to watch an hour and a half award show in which they give out five total awards, but really, folks watch the the VGAs for the reveals, and those were great. It just doesn’t hurt that the awards themselves were not a joke.
Oh, and if you want to watch the awards for yourself, right now, you can do so HERE.