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GDC Awards 2K3: Pre Game Show
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on March 19, 2003   |   Episode 30 (Show Archive)  

   
Last year the writers of Defunct Games brought you two forms of Game Developers Choice Awards coverage. We took a look at the nominees, judging each of them, and who should win. And then after the winners were announced, we recapped the same material, and focused on the games that took the top prize. I figured we could do a whole heck of a lot better than that, so this year we are going to make a three-part article out of this. This is only the first part of our Game Developers Choice Awards coverage. These are predictions, and generally good ideas for what should be up for the various categories. At the time we wrote this, neither the nominees nor the winners had been announced. If you are looking for the real nominees, I suggest Game Developers Choice Award 2003: And the Nominees Are ... And now that the winners have been announced, you can feel free to head over to our Game Developers Choice Award 2003: Winners Circle! And that's not it! We also rounded up a rag tag group of people who have contributed to Defunct Games over the years, and after locking them in a room, we have come up with a three part special. It's a look at Who WILL Win, Who SHOULD Win, and Who Was SNUBBED! And now that we know the winners, we can take a look at the new and improved Who WILL Win: Turbo Champion Edition. And don't forget our look at the what SHOULD win, yup, you guessed it, Who SHOULD Win: Substance. You'll see our predictions weren't always golden. Anyway. In this Pre-Game special, we are going to take a look at a few of the games we think should be up for nomination. We also take a look at which titles won last year, contrast that with the year we just had, and I have came up with a list of SHOE-IN titles that will surely be nominated. You will notice, for each award, a list game has been selected to indicate which games are a given to be nominated. Clicking on the award will take you to a list of the five games I suggest; in a section we call FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION. Unfortunately the time to submit possible nominations has long past, but we have a few opinions about what games should and should not be nominated. -Cyril Excellence in Visual Arts Shoe-In: Metroid Prime Besides death and taxes, the only other thing we know for sure is that Nintendo's Metroid Prime will be nominated for its visuals. Bar none, this is the most impressive looking game of the year, and greatly exceeded everybody's expectations. Everything about Metroid Prime looks amazing, from the way the fire lights the entire area to the way your weapon affects the look. It's not just more detailed than any other game before it, it's all filled with character, which is what this award seems to reward. Last year the visuals arts award went to Halo, which is a similar take on the outer space first person adventure theme. It may not win, but there is no way that Metroid will passed over when it comes to visuals. Excellence in Programming Shoe-In: Animal Crossing When it comes to game developers, it would make a lot of sense for them to reward a daring game that stresses game play over graphics. Last year they gave this award to Black & White, and the year before it went to the Sims, which is much more telling. It's these winners that are the most telling story, and definitely point to Animal Crossing as one of the nominees. Nintendo's endless life simulator is part the Sims, part Black & White, and part gimmick, but is creative enough to define what this category is all about. The game developers are generally intrigued by games that do more than play one game, and considering all the things you can hook up and do with Animal Cross, there's next to no debate that this will be the frontrunner for the GDCA for Programming. Excellence in Level Design Shoe-In: Metroid Prime This year there were a lot of games that offered amazing level designs, but only one that took the world by storm. The worlds, environments, and architecture in the world of Metroid Prime is creepy, interesting, and best of all, never boring. You'll always want to know what comes next, and you'll quickly learn where things are based on having to go through them so many times. Like the classic Metroid's, or even the Castlevania series, Prime is not split up into levels, but is more or less a huge area that you can explore at your own freedom. I have a feeling that the people that nominate will keep this under consideration, and reward this game properly. Last year the award went to Ico, which in many ways is like Metroid without weapons. The year before the honor fell upon American McGee's Alice, which has isn't related to what we're talking about in any way. No matter how you look at it, the truth is, expect to see Metroid Prime on that list. Excellence in Writing Shoe-In: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell This is a new award, so we can't really gauge much on what the past. But I have a funny feeling that one of the five nominees will be Splinter Cell. It's one of the most intelligently written games on the market, and even features a great deal of well written dialogue. Just when you think you know what is going on, everything twists on you, making you question your own reality. It will be interesting how the game developers nominate here, it could go completely the way of games like this and Eternal Darkness, or more role-playing fair, like NeverWinter Nights and Resident Evil. Don't expect to see Metroid on that list, though, this is the one category it cannot dominate in. Unless the game developers didn't play Splinter Cell till the very end, I would say that it is a lock for a nomination. Excellence in Game Design Shoe-In: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City The Game Design category has a tendency of being on the eclectic side. Even though last years award went to Grand Theft Auto III, there was hardly a frontrunner. Rockstar Games had a tough battle against quite a few other games, including Pikmin, Black & White, and even Ico, but it was the adventures in Liberty City that made the voters sit up and take notice. Vice City isn't as big of a jump in design as GTA 2 was to Grand Theft Auto III, but there's no denying that it is still a great game. The chances are good that Grand Theft Auto: Vice City won't actually take the award home this time, but I bet you money it's at least nominated. It may be a tough choice, though, and there may be some surprises. We'll just have to wait and see, I guess. Excellence in Audio Shoe-In: Metroid Prime This is always a tough call, since even the worst game can have the best music. Last year the award went to Halo, but it was a tough call between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Frequency. The year before they rewarded the compositions in Diablo 2, which was a surprise considering that Space Channel 5 and Samba de Amigo were up for consideration. This year I don't think we'll see anything like that, considering it wasn't a big year for music games. I suspect that Metroid Prime's brilliant soundscape will actually lead the pack when getting a nomination. The sounds are unbelievable, and Nintendo has pushed the Dobly Pro Logic II as far as it can go. Even though the game is one big world, everything about it has a distinct sound, and I have a feeling the nominators will notice this. Original Game Character of the Year Shoe-In: Ratchet & Clank Let's just get this on the table, last year the voters chose Jak & Daxter as their game character(s) of the year. These smart mouthed adventurers took the prize away from Dante (Devil May Cry), Ico, and even Max Payne . all pretty serious folk. They seemed to appreciate the simple mindedness of Jak & Daxter, which I can appreciate. This year's Jak & Daxter comes in the way of Ratchet & Clank, another pair of smart mouthed adventurers. Of course, my theory could go all to hell, since two years ago they voted Seaman the character of the year. No matter how you slice it, expect to see Ratchet & Clank at least nominated for this prize. Game of the Year Shoe-In: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City/ Metroid Prime You want a sure bet? How about Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Metroid Prime? There's absolutely, positively, NO WAY these games will be left off the nomination block. Last year Grand Theft Auto III took the final prize, so Vice City is coming off an exciting year of hot sales, media attention, and controversy. Metroid Prime, on the other hand, is sweeping the year-end awards, and has a serious chance of people the game of the year. There is no way it will be left off the list. Then again, last year Halo was in the same spot Metroid Prime is now, and still Grand Theft Auto III did won the prize. But like last year, both of these games will be nominated for the top prize. Keep in mind that two years ago the top prize went to the Sims, a game completely different from Vice City and Metroid Prime. Soon all will be uncovered. Over the next two months you will see two more updates, each relating to different parts of the Game Developers Choice Awards. In a week and a half we will dissect the "actual" nominations, as they are announced. No more speculating, no more second guessing, just the facts. We can finally see how well I predicted, and how daring the game developers really were. Once the winners are announced, we will take a look at each of these winners in a very special, Defunct Games sort of way. You will never know what is coming. If you are still interested in reading about the Game Developers Choice Awards, I suggest you take a look at our awards coverage last year. We called the article: Game Developers Choice Awards 2002 - Truths, Predictions, and Utter Lies. It makes for a good companion piece to this article, but I assure you, what we have going this month is much better than last year.
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