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GDC Awards 2K3: Winners Circle
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on April 02, 2003   |   Episode 32 (Show Archive)  

Game Developers Choice Awards 2003: The Winners Circle For two months we have talked about the Game Developers Choice Awards. In an almost relentless manner, we have picked apart just about every aspect of this award show in not one, not two, but three big features. And now is the moment you've been waiting for. Actually, it's almost the time you've been waiting for. Because if you haven't already, you really ought to check out our Game Developers Choice Awards 2003: Pre-Game Show. It's a great look at what games we thought should be up for each category. That feature led us to the Game Developers Choice Awards 2003: And the Nominees Are ., which believe it or not, featured a list of all the games up for awards this year. If you are unfamiliar with any of these games, or why they are up for a prize in their category, you should check out this feature. And on top of those two, our contributing staff members at Defunct Games predicted who WILL win, who SHOULD win, and who was SNUBBED. These three pages will both make us look very smart, and very foolish all at the same time. But it is worth reading, especially if you want to know what we think. Now, I think you've waited long enough. How about we dispense with some awards? Below you'll find all the winners, and what we think. You can click on their links to go to either the 'Pre-Game Show' or the 'And the Nominees Are .' features. So sit back, get your score card out, and see how well you did as we find out who the winners are . Excellence in Visual Arts Kingdom Hearts Pre-Game Predictions | And the Official Nominees This wacky Square/Disney collaboration certainly deserves this award, but I must admit, it comes as somewhat as a surprise to me. While all of the games up for this award were worthy nominees, Kingdom Hearts was the only one that delivered over 100 Disney characters, tons of Square heroes, and even a few surprises. This game recreates many of the greatest battles from your favorite Disney films, like Tarzan, the Nightmare Before Christmas, Peter Pan, Aladdin, and even Hercules. This is a great looking title, and at times, looks exactly like the source material. This was also Kingdom Hearts only nominee, so conspiracy theorists could argue that this was the sympathy vote. And since Metroid Prime was unavailable for this category, it was almost a wild card. Excellence in Programming Neverwinter Nights Pre-Game Predictions | And the Official Nominees One of the trends you'll notice while going through these awards is that there are very few repeat winners. Most games ended up getting one award, and just sitting through the rest of thefestival. Excellence in Programming goes to the much deserving Neverwinter Nights, one of the most ambitious role playing games of the year. In fact, it's so ambitious; it took half a decade to make. And now that it's here, it's almost endless what you can do with it. Everything from making your own game to being the dungeon master to an online game with old role-playing buddies. But then, didn't we know it was going to win from the get-go?? Excellence in Level Design Metroid Prime Pre-Game Predictions | And the Official Nominees Even though all of the staff members predicted the Getaway would take this prize, it looks like Metroid Prime has pulled it out. Though, you have to admit, there's just something about recreating that much real area of London that makes me think that maybe the Getaway was the right choice. Regardless, Metroid Prime does have some truly amazing level designs, and I certainly don't want to take anything away from the winner. In fact, when it comes to unrealistic, science fiction designs, Metroid Prime is among the best ever. But man, I feel so wronged when they didn't say the Getaway. Maybe it's just time for me to get over it. Excellence in Writing Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Pre-Game Predictions | And the Official Nominees I thought the voters would go for size, since that seems to have been the criteria of the past. Splinter Cell has a great, intriguing story all the way through, and frankly, deserves more than just this one award. It was, after all, the game with the most nominations this year. Coming in with seven, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell seemed like an upbeatable force to be reckoned with. But at the end of the day, excellence in writing is all it gets. It is much deserved, though, as it has more twists and turns than almost any game I've seen since the turn of the millennium. Of course, that Tom Clancy name before it doesn't hurt it any. Just don't play this and watch too much CNN. Trust me on that one. Excellence in Game Design Battlefield 1942 Pre-Game Predictions | And the Official Nominees Not to gloat, but here's what I said about Battlefield 1942 in our 'And the Nominees Are .' article: "It won't win the top prize, but this is a good second place trophy". After all, Battlefield 1942 is the most ambitious first person shooter in years. With 64 people online, and the ability to use a number of various vehicles, Battlefield 1942 is truly one of the most unique experiences around. It took the game of the year award a few weeks ago at the D.I.C.E event, and has a lot of buzz surrounding it still, due in large part to the recently released expansion pack, Road to Rome. Truth is, Excellence in Game Design is something of a second place award, sort of like Best Screenplay at the Oscars. Here's to Battlefield 1942's one award. Excellence in Audio Medal of Honor: Allied Assault Pre-Game Predictions | And the Official Nominees There's something awfully familiar about the sound effects in Medal of Honor, oh, that's right, I heard them in Saving Private Ryan. Of course, there are far worse things than being compared to an Oscar winning Steven Spielberg film. Even though it was released early in 2002, Medal of Honor still resonates in the voters minds, regardless of whether they are storming beaches, or searching bombed out cities. The bullet sounds, the voices, and even the music is all spot on, and is easily the best sounding war game of the year. It should be noted, the PlayStation 2 Medal of Honor game, Frontline, also sports amazing sound effects, especially if you have a good surround sound system. Original Game Character of the Year Sly Cooper Pre-Game Predictions | And the Official Nominees For me, this award was really between Sly Cooper and the team of Ratchet & Clank. Both great platformers, but unique characters, but there could only be one winner. I wasn't surprised that Sly Cooper stole the top honors this year. After all, last year Jak & Daxter won, so it might not look good to have another duo besting up the loners. Sly Cooper draws you in on this great, albeit short, adventure, by offering a dry sense of humor, a good supporting cast, and some of the best graphics around. This game looks almost exactly like a Saturday morning cartoon, which I have no problem with. Let's see Sly Cooper 2. Game of the Year Metroid Prime Pre-Game Predictions | And the Official Nominees Was there really a question? We knew they weren't going to choose another Grand Theft Auto game, being as it won last year. So it was either Metroid Prime or Splinter Cell, and while Tom Clancy had the nominees, Metroid had the nostalgia on its side. Like Super Mario 64 six years before it, Metroid Prime absolutely changes the notion of what a first person adventure should be like. There's dozens of hours of game play, tons to see, and more than one good reason to go through it a second time, Metroid Prime was clearly the winner. If you haven't decided on a GameCube yet, this may just be the best reason to get one. A Few Closing Thoughts Now then, there are a few things worth noting about this list. Like, did you notice that Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, the semi follow-up to last years big winner, was completely ignored? Even in the sound department, Vice City came up short. One could argue that this year's competition was much fiercer with Metroid Prime on the scene, but last year the gangs of Liberty City went up against the almost unstoppable Halo and still won. Perhaps the voters were ready to spread the wealth. Also, if you actually paid attention to our predictions, you'll notice that we came up a little short. If you are interested in seeing how well we predicted, I suggest you check out the brand new Who WILL Win: Turbo Champion Edition. We also were a little interested in seeing who was thinking the way the voters were, in a new feature we call Who SHOULD Win: Substance. You'll notice that I'm pretty consistent . though, not in a good way. Well, that brings us to the end of another exciting Game Developers Conference. I can honestly say we are all bummed that we have to go back to our regularly scheduled programming, but so is life. It's going to be hard to top this years coverage, but we're going to do our best next year. Hopefully there will be games worth talking about next year. So, here's to creativity and good games. I have my fingers crossed. -Cyril


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