Home / 3DS / 2013 Brutal Gamer Awards part 2 (of 3) – Individual Honors

2013 Brutal Gamer Awards part 2 (of 3) – Individual Honors

Part 2 of our awards series centers on the games that took the industry by storm in individual categories like ‘best graphics’ and ‘most innovative’.

Where the first games to be honored in our look back at the year that was were the tops in their specific genres, these games represented here go beyond those genres to make an impact on the entire gaming industry in one way or another. It’s rare to find a title that breaks new ground or does something truly different than any that’s come before, but some of what you’ll find here definitely dug a little deeper than what you usually find on servers and on store shelves.

And while not all of the games here were groundbreakers, all of them were special enough to catch the attention of our crew here at BG in totality and make us stand up and take notice. That’s not all that easy, especially with as discerning a team of lifelong fans as we’ve got here. And in a year that saw so many new and exciting games and new consoles to platy them on, it was a crowded set of fields to say the least.

So we’ve assembled the top five games in each category. All of them great in their own way and all of them giving ground to one winner that made the grade in ways that the rest couldn’t in each individual slotting. As with yesterday’s collection of games, if you see things differently, feel free to tell us all about it in the comments section below.

First though, here are your 2013 Brutal Gamer Award winners and runners up for Individual Honors categories:

Most Innovative

This was a toughie. Innovation can be an intangible quality sometimes, not hitting you right in the face, but subtly bringing something new to an art form or style of game. Of course, it can also be something massive, a monstrous updating of a classic design that silly hasn’t been seen or attempted before.

Innovation can also be illusive. That’s true in any area of the entertainment business, but especially so in the gaming industry as companies want games that sell and proven winners of a formula that your average everyday gamer will flock to. What they’re really not looking for, en masse anyway, are games that go out on a limb or try something new. Still though, even in that climate, there are some titles that manage something brilliant.

Even if the entire end experience isn’t the greatest game in the world, that one element can make a game stand out from the crowd and scream ‘play me’! These are some of those games.

And the top 5 nominees are…

And the winner is…

Contrast (Multi)

From our review:

In most ways, this is a solid game with some very cool and well-built puzzles that are implemented in some very unique ways. I can’t help but feel like there was a lot more that Compulsion could have done with it though. The levels are largely unpopulated (by anyone) as Dawn sees living people as shadows and even then there are rarely more than one or two on screen at any given time which kind of made things feel dead in a way. The story is pretty bare-bones too which also seems like a missed opportunity as what there is is pretty cool and imaginative (especially with the twist ending).

If you’re looking for something to play on your new PS4, you could do a lot worse with Contrast. It’s not the greatest thing in the world, but there are a good deal of new and interesting ideas happening here, so many that I doubt you’ll be overly disappointed by it; even with the shortcomings.

 

Best Voice Work and/or Music

An often forgotten element of games, the music in a game can actually greatly affect a user’s enjoyment. Ever play a game with an almost unimaginably bad score? Oh sure you have… for like a minute and a half. Bad graphics, as prominent as they are in a game that’s afflicted by them, are sometimes not nearly as bad as bad musical score that hits you over the head with repetitious tones and aggravating melodies. And yet, when a game has a great soundtrack, how often do we as gamers even really pay attention?

One thing we do pay attention to, increasingly ever more so actually, is vocal acting. Once the dark sheep of the acting world, video game characters have an almost embarrassment of riches these days with Hollywood talent and veteran (not to mention great) gaming industry actors stepping up to make the games we play all that much richer and more enveloping.

This category was a barn-burner backstage by the way. Two of the games nominated got all of the votes when it came right down to it. See if you can figure out the second one when you see the winner.

And the top 5 nominees are…

And the winner is…

BioShock Infinite (Multi)

From our review:

Booker and Elizabeth are voiced by Troy Baker and Courtnee Draper respectively and both do an excellent job with the characters. You could pretty much say the same for all the actors in BioShock Infinite though as the cast is spot on and enjoyable throughout. In fact, one of the (many) high-points of the game is listening to the vocal work and taking in the interaction between the well written and well acted characters.

The music plays into the story in interesting ways too. As the tale progresses, you’ll get some audio clues to what’s actually happening in the game that may just strike you as odd at first, but makes a good deal more sense when you reach the story’s zenith.

Best Graphics

As little as it might seem that people pay attention to the music in a games is just about as much as it seems like they do pay attention to the graphics. There’s probably not a category on this list that’s as exemplary of the art form as Best Graphics when you really think about it after all.

When you’re talking up a game to your buddies at work or school, what’s the first think that you mention? Odds are that it’s the way that it looks. And graphics have only become more and more important and prominent in the gaming world with the launch of the next-gen consoles. Sure you might say that indie games like Papers, Please don’t have incredible graphics and are lauded for how excellent they are, but can you imagine a triple-A release that didn’t shine in the looks department? I can’t.

So sure it’s shallow and we all think the industry is leaving visual reliance behind to some degree, but we all know as soon as we see a beauty of a game, it’s just about all we talk about. So with that in mind, lets get to the pretty-

And the top 5 nominees are…

  • Killzone Shadow Fall (PS4)
  • Ryse (Xbox One)
  • The Last of Us (PS3)
  • Grand Theft Auto V (Multi)
  • Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)

And the winner is…

Ryse (Xbox One)

From our review:

There are a few rough spots where you can definitely tell that this is a first-gen game, but Ryse shines like a Centurion’s shield almost all the way through. The architecture on both the Roman and Briton structures is downright beautiful and the lush outdoor areas are stunning. Likewise, the character models (even though many of the enemies repeat almost a bit too much for my liking) are sharp and impressive with a stunning amount of detail and little graphical niceties and flourishes.

Biggest Surprise

Who doesn’t like a good surprise? Well, actually I know a few people, but I digress because this category is all about the biggest surprises of the last year. And we don’t mean ‘surprises’ like how bad the stage shows were at E3 either (not that that’s a surprise…). No, were talking about games that turned out better than they had any right to be.

Titles like Super Mario 3D World and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds were heralded at E3 as sad and somewhat pathetic stabs at recapturing the glory of yesteryear by Nintendo before they hit the streets. Both turned out to be two of the all-around best of the best for 2013. Likewise, Ryse was a game that was steeped in development issues for years and actually become one of the more impressive titles in the Xbox One’s launch window (and one of the best looking games of the year- see above).

See what we mean about ‘surprises’? Have a look below and see what else we though made the grade this past year in terms of shock-value.

And the top 5 nominees are…

And the winner is…

Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)

From our review:

Super Mario 3D World is the sequel to Super Mario World and Super Mario Bros 2 that we deserve. On the surface it may seem like just another sequel to Super Mario 3D Land, but it’s so much more than that. The love and dedication put into this game reflects the quality of video games made on the Super Nintendo. Its unquestionably solid gameplay combined with delightful looking surroundings and jazzy, upbeat tunes really does take you back to a simpler time in the video game industry.

Best Story

In a gaming world where multiplayer is getting ever more important, does a good ripping tale even matter much anymore? According to some of the biggest games to see release this past year, you better believe it does.

We saw some truly excellent titles hit the market in 2013 that told unique, deep, and generally top drawer stories that enraptured and engrossed fans on every console and the PC. We also saw more games that forgot all about an unnecessary multiplayer tack-on and set their focus directly on telling those narratives; some of which rivaled the best that Hollywood puts forth on a yearly basis.

Graphics, sound, and gameplay all matter greatly in a game, but without a solid script backing it all up video games would be tumbling backwards into the days of 8 and 16-bit gaming. That might have been an incredible era of breakthroughs for games, but an intelligent and cohesive tale was secondary or even tertiary to pretty much everything else. If the industry really wants to grow and get right up there with film in the court of public opinion, it’s going to take two things- time and a focus on telling a story. The games we’ve got in this next category all do the latter extremely well. Controlling time? Not so much.

And the top 5 nominees are…

And the winner is…

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)

From our review:

I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed a Zelda title this much since A Link to the Past. Even Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask (which you’ll spot in Rovio’s shop by the way), which are still super-highly lauded, didn’t hold my interest as much as that one. A Link Between Worlds though, that’s another story.

Everything about this game just screams classic Zelda; from the graphics to the music and the control and all of it’s excellent. A Link Between Worlds is classic Nintendo, through and through. And if you love the thought of that, then you’re going to love your trip through Hyrule, Lorule and everywhere in between.

 

Platform of the Year

We wrap up this middle installment of the 2013 Brutal Gamer Awards with a category that’s sure to instill a little unrest from the fanboys and girls out there. For some reason, gaming platforms (PlayStation, Xbox, etc…) have gotten a fan-base all their own over the years. It’s nothing new, as this kind of stuff haas been going on since the days of the SNES and Genesis, although it seems to get a little more mean-spirited and venomous with each passing console generation.

Fanboyish behavior aside though, 2013 was a banner year for all video game-playing machines, be they console, PC, mobile or handheld. The sheer amount of great games and rush of flexibility have made the gaming machine, no matter what it is, a staple of the living room. And the advent of Steam’s Big Picture Mode, oncoming controller, and affordable Steam Boxes are bringing PC gaming to life in exciting new ways. And so it is that this actually becomes one of the most iterating categories in our awards voting for this past year. It was also, for the record, a blowout.

And the top 5 nominees are…

  • PlayStation 3
  • Xbox 360
  • Wii U
  • Nintendo 3DS
  • PC

And the winner is…

The PC

With the sheer amount of incredible games from a seemingly infinite publisher and developer list, the PC shone brightly in 2013. Tripla-A experiences, indie darlings and everything in between meant that the Personal Computer (of all kinds) saw a year that only built upon the last and an ever fading chorus of folks decreeing it ‘dead’.

Now here in 2014, the compute is poised to integrate even further into the living rooms and dens of gamers across the globe with the advent of the Steam Box and native controller. Sure the next generation of consoles has finally arrived, but the true future-proof machine that can keep up with the times seemingly indefinitely is the PC, and it’s been sitting under your desk all along.

__

And that’s it for the second round of our 2013 Brutal Gamer Awards. So what’d you think? Did we name your favorites as our favorites for the year, or do you have a different list of titles that you think should be the ones getting the gold stars? How about our choice for platform of the year? Do you guys and gals agree that the PC had a break out of a year over the last 12 months? Or do you think that the PS, Xbox 360, or Wii U performed better? As always, we want to hear your thoughts so leave them in the comments below!

As for tomorrow’s installment of the awards, this is the one for all the marbles. We’ll be choosing our picks for the best of the best for each platform out there and then choosing a grand champion- one game to rule them all… for last year anyway. Join us back here one more time, at the same Brutal time, same Brutal website tomorrow for the final installment of the 2013 Brutal Gamer Awards.

About Jason

Jason's been knee deep in videogames since he was but a lad. Cutting his teeth on the pixely glory that was the Atari 2600, he's been hack'n'slashing and shoot'em'uping ever since. Mainly an FPS and action guy, Jason enjoys the occasional well crafted title from every genre.

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