Sunday, December 6, 2015

Recap and Highlights of The Game Awards 2015

Already dubbed “video gaming’s biggest night”, The Game Awards 2015 certainly delivered last December 3rd in Los Angeles when it gave the fans what they wanted from the industry. The event aired live on gaming screens all over the globe, featuring much coveted awards, musical performances, exclusive world premieres, and major announcements from the industry’s biggest players. The Game Awards also offered huge discounts for gamers when they purchase titles at that very moment during the show on Steam, Xbox Live, and PlayStation Network. These sales include The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (which won the coveted Game of the Year award) for 50% off, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain for 25% off on PlayStation Network, and 25% off for Pro Evolution Soccer 2016.

“2015 has been a blockbuster year for gaming, and now, with the help of go90, we are going to take The Game Awards to the next level,” says producer Geoff Keighley. “This year we plan to put fans at the center of the show – and give them special opportunities to interact with us by using their gaming consoles, mobile devices and computers.”

While the thrilling appearances of Kiefer Sutherland (of Metal Gear’s Snake fame), Conan O’Brien (via a hilarious video presentation), and the legendary Mark Hamill (that Joker voice he did was pure fan service—one that’s always welcome) were all very exciting, the most sensational moment of the night was perhaps Keighley calling out Konami for banning the great Hideo Kojima from attending the awards show. The rift between Konami and Kojima was allegedly due to the in-studio Kojima Productions’ high costs, but it seems as if there is something that’s running deeper than what the parties want the public to know. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain won the award for best action adventure game, but it was Kiefer Sutherland (who plays the voice of Snake in the game) who accepted the award on the team’s behalf. Everyone loved him, but the question that was on everyone’s mind was: Where is Hideo Kojima? Met with passionate boos from the audience, the announcement that Kojima wasn’t allowed by Konami’s lawyers to attend stirred up even more controversy surrounding the already notorious Konami vs. Kojima issue. When will the saga end? Will we ever find out what really happened? Will Kojima move on to build his own empire of ridiculously good games for the next generation?

Still, between that and Troy Baker joking about how he and Nolan North would voice the gaming industry forever, the night was a rousing success and the trailer premieres couldn’t be more breathtaking. There’s a lot of buzz about Far Cry Primal, where you play as a beast master who can tame wild animals and sic them on your enemies. The trailer is filled with so many fangs being bared that it’s impossible to keep count, but amidst all the growling and roaring, it’s actually a pretty cool concept.

Microsoft also revealed the Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch downloadable content for Rise of the Tomb Raider. The story will be all about "a forbidden forest that no man will enter, where a Soviet expedition vanished without a trace. Lara enters the Wicked Vale in search of a missing man, but what she finds is a nightmare that she cannot explain. Is the witch, Baba Yaga, truly haunting the forbidden forest? Or is there more to the legend?"

Some of my personal faves from that awesome night include the Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End clip. As a big fan of the Uncharted series, I’m already super pumped as it is about the next chapter in Nathan Drake’s rambunctious life, and this sneak peek isn’t doing anything to calm me down. We meet a new character in this trailer, and, as usual, Nate is as cocky as ever. But while I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for this game to come out in March next year, I’m also pretty devastated that Uncharted 4 is going to be the last one in the series. It is, after all, A Thief’s End. Bittersweet as it may be to say goodbye to the beloved franchise, I can understand that Naughty Dog wants to move on, and in order to do that, Nate has to hang the cape(or his holsters, I suppose). It’s a good thing that there’s still The Last of Us to sort of keep the same vibe going. But until the supposed sequel to that gets released, we’re free to dream, right? Even lead game designer Robert Cogburn has admitted to seeing Nate, Elena, and Sully head off to their next adventure in space. I’m sure all Uncharted fans will agree with me when I say that we’ll definitely follow this team to the moon and back—no questions asked.

My interest was definitely piqued when they premiered a teaser for Batman: A Telltale Games Series. There’s so much mystery surrounding the new Batman game from Telltale, and even though there’s not much to go on yet, I can already tell it’s going to be amaze-balls. But then again, I’m pretty biased when it comes to the World’s Greatest Detective, and after playing the previous Arkham games, I can’t wait for more. “At Telltale, we’ve been honored to bring our unique approach to interactive storytelling to some of the biggest entertainment franchises in the world, and we’re excited to announce that we’ll soon be exploring what it means to be Batman in an all-new series starting next year,” says Telltale Co-Founder and CEO Kevin Bruner. “This iteration of Batman will give fans a first-hand opportunity to dive deeper into the complex life and mind of Bruce Wayne, the duality of his own identity, and the struggle of responsibility in saving a city overcome with corruption and villainy.” That said, it would be nice to play as The Dark Knight in the episodic manner that Telltale is planning. Maybe we’ll even get to see more of his detective skills, or more of his life when he’s not wearing the cowl.

Another thing that got my attention was the indie game Where The Water Tastes Like Wine. The teaser was the ultimate tease indeed, and I couldn’t help but admire the beautiful artwork and the more-than-apt music that accompanied it. What’s even more incredible is that the game is made by an up-and-comer. Dim Bulb Games’ Johnnemann Nordhagen was also behind the wildly successful and award-winning Gone Home in 2013. In Where The Water Tastes Like Wine, players will travel across America and experience the world through the folk stories told by the characters they meet along the way. The experience will be as surreal as the various people and creatures in the game, and you can get a sense of what the developer is driving at in this teaser below:

The show also paid tribute to Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata, who passed away earlier this July at the age of 55 due to complications from a growth in his bile duct. Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime delivered a heartfelt speech about the life of the industry legend, and about how much he has touched everyone in the community—whether directly or indirectly. “But most of all, he was my friend,” says Fils-Aime , “and I am a better person for it.”

Overall, The Game Awards 2015 wrapped up pretty nicely, with CHVRCHES and Deadmau5 keeping the crowd musically pumped up. Even Shaquille O’Neal dropped by to announce the sequel to Shaq Fu to the delight of the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis and Super Nintendo fans. Here’s hoping that next year will be even bigger and better, and that Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End will win as the Game of the Year 2016!

*This article was first seen on The Philippine Online Chronicles HERE.

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