And so 2008 is drawing to a close and despite the recent air of gloom around all things PS3 there are actually many things worth celebrating. To this end, I got a few of the TSA team together to ponder the awards for 2008, namely Nofi, CB, and CC_Star. It didn’t go quite according to plan, but it did, of a fashion, go. And this is how it ended up.
Game of the Year
Michael: I’ll tee-off with Everybody’s Golf, because not only is the single-player compulsively addictive, but I’ve never had so much online fun as during the TSA Open tournament. I suspect sports games won’t be that popular on this list though.
CC_Star: FIFA 09 is in my top 3. EA’s attention to detail, the great graphics, sound and commentary, along with the most realisitic gameplay ever seen in a footie game. And loads of new features like Adidas Live Season and Be-A-Pro 10 v 10.
Nofi: I’m not really into sports games, but FIFA 09 was astoundingly good, yeah.
Michael: CB, any sports games?
CB: Burnout Paradise? So much fun, I can’t believe I didn’t buy it sooner. I picked this up from the store as a download, it has been so well supported by Criterion with DLC; this is one of the games that I think everybody should own.
Michael: I’ve also got Resistance 2 in my list. I loved the original and the sequel is more of the same, but with a much improved online aspect due to the Cooperative Campaign. I know it’s had a mixed reception, but there’s something about taking a Rossmore to a bunch of brain-dead Chimera that I like.
Nofi: How about Metal Gear Solid 4?
CB: MGS 4 was the best overall package for me. The production qualities, the story, the controls and the gorgeous presentation.
Michael: It’s like the TSA website.
CC_Star: Dead Space, for me, is the top game on my list. Just. And only until I change my mind again. I hate shooters, I hate FPS and third-person shooters, I just hate shooters – but I really love Dead Space. The atmosphere the game creates is second to none, amazing visuals and the most suitably atmospheric sound ever heard in a video game. The game will make your skin crawl and scare you – I love Dead Space.
Michael: So, what’s your number 2, then? My top pick is the peerless LittleBigPlanet. It delivered on everything it set out to do. Graphically it’s amazing, with such an endearing charm that you can’t help fall in love with it. The controls can be a bit wampy at times, but you learn to compensate and then everything falls into place. It’s got the greatest ever editing tool, a wealth of content that’s actually good, and…and it’s got the PS3’s mascot in SackBoy. Genius.
CC_Star: Yeah, LittleBigPlanet was my number 2 pick. It’s won me over with its charm and creativity. The humour is only surpassed by the ingenuity of the level design. And if the game isn’t good enough, you can download thousands of levels or even create your own.
Michael: You’re rubbish at creating LBP levels though, aren’t you?
CB: LittleBigPlanet is my top pick too. It has an infectious charm that forbids you to dislike any aspect – I can’t find anybody with a bad word to say about this game.
Michael: That’s it then – LittleBigPlanet is the Game of the Year 2008.
TSA Game of the Year 2008: LittleBigPlanet
Michael: I’m rubbish at graphics. Ask Nofi. I picked LBP, Resistance 2, and FIFA 09. Seriously.
Nofi: Ah, they’re all good visually.
CB: Oh. GTA IV – I know GTA isn’t well known for its graphics and I do think that the close ups left a bit to be desired, but I had a literally breathtaking moment with this game. My first go in a helicopter I lifted into the air and was facing out to sea. It was around dawn and as I swung the helicopter around to face the city the whole skyline spread out beneath me. It reminded me so much of flying into New York. It was just brilliant.
Michael: Oh yeah, GTA had graphics.
CC_Star: MGS4 had brilliant graphics, but Dead Space was even better.
CB: Wipeout anyone? Beautiful 1080p backdrops to a fantastically represented feeling of speed. The only problem with how pretty this game is is that I never get to admire it because I have to concentrate so hard on the racing!
Michael: Oh yeah, I forgot Wipeout looked quite pretty too.
Nofi: Yes it did, although I’d plumb for Dead Space.
CB: I agree with CC_Star about MGS4 though – I didn’t get as excited about the storyline as most people did, I thought the end battle was a bit stupid and the plot was as far-fetched as ever but the game itself was beautiful. So much detail and texture in the environments and fantastic lighting effects that might not be matched until Uncharted 2.
Michael: Well, I think that makes MGS4 the winner as you both really rated it. I’m surprised by how well Dead Space is doing here – good work, EA.
TSA Graphics of the Year 2008: Metal Gear Solid 4
Michael: Shall we just give this to Dead Space and be done with it?
CC_Star: Yes. By a mile.
Michael: Settled then. I also thought that both GTA IV and LBP had excellent audio, so they deserve a mention.
CB: And also Wipeout HD and PixelJunk Eden, but I think Eden would just about edge Wipeout. The way the music evolves with the levels as you play through makes the game feel like it’s growing around you. Totally different to Dead Space in that it isn’t about the sound mixing and effects but more about the overall feeling that the music gives you and how well that matches the visuals of the game. If Nofi’s Game 3.0 track had been on the original WOHD soundtrack I’d have gone for that though, just in case he ever does get round to sharing his biscuits.
TSA Audio of the Year 2008: Dead Space
Michael: Everybody’s Golf, no question. It was a joy to get TSAers together for the TSA Open, meet new friends, have games played in a such a friendly spirit and what have you. A world away from the overly competitive nature of most online games.
CC_Star: Warhawk – but apparently that was out last year.
Michael: It won this award last year too, I think. It is the greatest game ever in the history of everything.
CC_Star: So, a genuine entrant is Guitar Hero IV.
Nofi: Was Everybody’s Golf even this year? I forget. Yeah, great multiplayer games mentioned already, but nothing brings new-gamers together more than LittleBigPlanet.
CB: LittleBigPlanet because local and online multiplayer are both so much fun. The first time I slapped my wife’s Sackgirl in the face we laughed for about ten minutes. Going online and watching how other people jump and flop about amuses me and you can genuinely see what they are thinking through the actions of their Sackboy, it is so emotive. Then there’s Call of Duty: World at War, nothing new or exciting, but sometimes giving you exactly what you expect can be a good thing. Finally, Buzz! Quiz TV, because even without the online part this would be a massive contender.
Michael: Buzz is brilliant, and I loved the Cooperative side to Resistance, but ultimately it’s LBP again. You can’t beat the happy slapping, the cooperation, the rush to get the prize bubbles. It’s just a magical game.
TSA Multiplayer of the Year 2008: LittleBigPlanet
Michael: Tricky one this as I haven’t played a whole lot of sporty stuff this year. Everbody’s Golf and FIFA 09 are the obvious ones.
CC_Star: Well, FIFA 09 and NHL 09 were both great.
CB: Mirror’s Edge? Parkour? Or, er, the bowling in Home? My favourite was FIFA 09 though.
Michael: Not so tricky after all then. Nofi?
Nofi: As I said before, got to be FIFA 09 for me.
Michael: Good shout with Mirror’s Edge, CB – but looks like we have a clear winner here.
TSA Sports Game of the Year 2008: FIFA 09
Michael: There’s only one choice really, because any game featuring Paradise City as a music track is going to get my vote. So, Burnout Paradise is my one-and-only pick for this category.
CC_Star: I thought the time trial mode of Mirror’s Edge was great too, but yeah Burnout Paradise is the number one.
CB: Burnout Paradise. Not a traditional racing game but that’s what makes it so good in my eyes. You can prick about smashing things up (usually myself) and just jump into a race or other event when you feel like it. So well supported and such a brilliant game to begin with this will keep me playing well into the New Year. And Wipeout HD and Pure too.
Michael: It’s easy this awards lark.
Nofi: Heh. There were some other great racers this year though: GRID was brilliant, Midnight Club LA was great too, but yeah, go for Burnout.
TSA Racing Game of the Year 2008: Burnout Paradise
Michael: I love this award, because it always interests me as to what people will consider to be innovative. I think Burnout Paradise falls into this category, because it took a number of things from the Burnout series and melded them together with stuff from other games to create something new. The open world aspect was done better than anything outside of a GTA game, and the seamless transition between offline and online play is one of the PS3’s highlights this year. And then I loved Echochrome for being a completely bonkers take on puzzle games. That the PS3 plays host to this kind of stuff excites me for the future.
CC_Star: Valkyrie Chronicles and LittleBigPlanet – LBP taking the prize.
CB: Mirror’s Edge, can you imagine the meeting where this was pitched? “You want to do an FPS but with no guns? Your main character is a female parcel courier? Get out.” I think it took that one little twist in a concept that has become well-worn and made a whole new genre out of it. Another one I rented just to be able to comment on it here, hopefully Santa will be good to me.
Michael: Yeah, that was so close to making my list. Can I do my list again? It’s my rules, so I guess I can. Not that it matters, because there’s only really one winner of this award. SackBoy does it again, right – surely LBP is the most innovative game of this year?
CB: Yeah, it’s in my list. There is nothing left to say about LBP, it had its problems surrounding the release date but even at the height of the server issues it was better than most other games around. Hopefully this is another game that will spark a whole new line of thought in gaming genres.
Michael: Yep, LBP – a PS3 exclusive let’s not forget – is a staggering achievement. I don’t think anything comes remotely close actually. It’s like it’s got its own LittleBigPlanet where it sits unsullied by other, lesser games.
TSA Innovation of the Year 2008: LittleBigPlanet
Michael: The PSN is an amazing place for games. Wipeout, Elefunk, The Last Guy, Novastrike, PixelJunk games and on and on. It’s so good and diverse. There’s no doubt that Wipeout HD is the best of the lot though.
CB: I totally agree. Although PixelJunk Eden and Elefunk were also brilliant games. I even managed to get on the worldwide leaderboards for Elefunk!
Michael: Good work!
Nofi: For the most rounded experience it has to be Wipeout HD.
CC_Star: Warhawk and Super Stardust HD, but there were both last year.
Michael: Still, it shows the astounding quality on the PSN. Do we sometimes forget that because there isn’t always a new game every week? Anyway, I think we have another winner.
TSA PSN Game of the Year 2008: Wipeout HD
Best Non-PS3 Game
Michael: Probably some well dodgy crazy golf game on my phone.
CC_Star: Not played any, not a single one.
Nofi: Wow, there’s loads, especially on the Xbox 360, but I’ll not go there and let someone else have a shot.
Michael: Take it away then, CB.
CB: Right! In order, first to last. Football Manager 2009 (PC) – I buy this every year and it takes up hours of my life that I should be spending working, sleeping or paying attention to my wife. It is easily the most engrossing game ever made. How I wish they’d port it to the PS3 so I didn’t have to sit in my PC chair for hours at a time with my arse going numb. Fieldrunners (iPhone) – nofi recommended this recently and I haven’t gone a day without playing it since I downloaded it. It’s just simple, addictive fun. Professor Layton and the Curious Village (DS) – I was guilty of mercilessly taking the piss out of this but I bought it because I like puzzle games. It’s perfect to drop in and out of for a bit of quick mental taxation.
Michael: Nice one, mate – you’ve kind of saved the day for this award.
TSA Non-PS3 Game of the Year 2008: Football Manager 2009 (PC)
Michael: I’ve bought one album all year, Chinese Democracy by Guns n Roses. I don’t really do music. Music-heads make videogame fanboys look tame. You guys pick it.
CC_Star: Are you kidding? There is only one album this year it’s Kings Of Leon’s ‘Only By The Night’.
CB: I’ve picked both your picks, but Kings of Leon’s is the best.
TSA Album of the Year 2008: Only By The Night by Kings of Leon
Best TSA Member
Michael: I’m picking this on account of wanting to big-up one of TSA’s most fervent supporters. He’s been there when we’ve organised TSAN Warhawk and Everybody’s Golf. He setup a TSA Club in the Home Beta and as a sub-leader in the new clubhouse he’s tried to promote online games through Home. And he’s been around on the site for as long as I can remember, always supporting us. Nofi?
Nofi: I can’t possibly win.
Michael: Yeah, so the award for Best TSA Member goes to gazo69! Cheers, gazo – we love you, man!
TSA Member of the Year 2008: gazo69