Video game Baftas

 
Steve Dinneen
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The judges’ verdicts are in but did they get it right? We give our verdict on who should have won what

IF YOU need further proof that video games are a valid form of artistic expression, then look to the Baftas, which this week held its 10th games awards ceremony. This year saw a great mix of good old fashioned console blockbusters go head to head with nimble, innovative games that are available to download for a few pence from the App Store.

While some of the winners were as expected (the sublime Dishonored for Best Game, for example), others were a little more leftfield (who really expected New Star Soccer to beat Forza Horizon and FIFA 13 for Sports Game of the Year?).

Most promising of all, though, was the pipeline of titles that really pushed the boundaries of what a game can be – and what it means to play a game. Dear Esther has no puzzles, tasks or enemies; The Unfinished Swan places you in the centre of a white screen armed only with a bucket of paint and Thomas Was Alone sees you assume control of a bouncing pixel voiced by Danny Wallace. The world of video games still has plenty of uncharted territory to explore.

BEST GAME

DISHONOURED

What is it?

A Victorian-inspired steampunk adventure in which you play an assassin out for vengeance against those who framed him for murder. Your choice of weaponry includes guns and magic rats.

Was it the right choice?

Definitely – the combination of stunning graphics, engaging story and an incredibly realised world make this game stand head and shoulders above the competition.

Also nominated: Journey, Mass Effect 3, The Walking Dead, FIFA 13, Far Cry 3.

Platform: Xbox, PS3, PC

BEST ACTION TITLE

FAR CRY 3

What is it?

An open world adventure game populated by pirates and eccentric villagers. The emphasis is on finding your own path – defeat enemies through cunning or brute strength. Or don’t bother and spend your time hunting the local forna instead.

Was it the right choice?

Yes, but it was a close run category, with the makers of Halo 4, Hitman: Absolution and Mass Effect 3 likely to feel hard done by.

Also nominated: Hitman: Absolution, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Halo 4, Mass Effect 3, Borderlands 2.

Platform: Xbox, PS3, PC

BEST BRITISH GAME

THE ROOM

What is it?

An innovative game for the iPad and iPhone that sees you trying to crack a mysterious safe using intuitive touchscreen gestures. Simple to learn and fiendishly difficult to master.

Was it the right choice?

The Room is a great game showcasing what iOS is capable of, but for us Super Hexagon should have pipped it.

Also nominated: Need for Speed Most Wanted, Forza Horizon, Dear Esther, Super Hexagon, LEGO: The Lord of the Rings.

Platform: iOS

BEST STORY

THE WALKING DEAD

What is it?

An episodic thriller that merges elements of quality TV with more traditional video game fair. The gameplay is a little prescriptive but the comic book inspired story is excellent.

Was it the right choice?

All of the nominees prove that there is far more to games than mindlessly shooting at stuff. However, the incredibly rich, textured narrative of The Walking Dead makes it the rightful winner.

Also nominated: Journey, Far Cry 3, Thomas was Alone, Mass Effect 3, Dishonored.

Platform: Xbox, PS3, PC, OS X, iOS

BEST FAMILY GAME

LEGO BATMAN 2

What is it?

The latest installment in LEGO’s encroachment into the video games market, following the incredibly successful LEGO Star Wars

Was it the right choice?

No, they got it wrong. Minecraft is the video game equivalent of old-school plastic LEGO and is a worthy contender but Clay Jam, with its brilliant “do it yourself” graphics, wins it for us.

Also nominated: Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition, Just Dance 4, Skylanders Giants, Clay Jam, LEGO The Lord of the Rings.

Platform: All major platforms

BEST STRATEGY GAME

XCOM: ENEMY UNKNOWN

What is it?

A tactical combat simulator that pits you against waves of unpleasant UFOs, with elements of both real-time management and turn-based strategy.

Was it the right choice?

This is an impossible category to call. How can you compare Dark Souls and Football Manager? On hours played alone, we’d have gone for Diablo III.

Also nominated: Dark Souls: Prepare To Die, Diablo III, Great Big War Game, Total War Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai, Football Manager 2013.

Platform: Xbox, PS3, PC

ARTISTIC ACHIEVEMENT

THE JOURNEY

What is it?

A hypnotic adventure in which you guide your character through desert landscapes discovering relics from an ancient civilisation. The online aspect allows you to meet other players, changing the way you experience the world.

Was it the right choice?

Yes – it is visually stunning and emotionally engaging in ways few video games are. The Journey also won Best Game Design, Best Music, Best Audio and Best Online Game.

Also nominated: Halo 4, Borderlands 2, Far Cry 3, The Room, Dear Esther.

Platform: PS3 (download)

GAME INNOVATION

THE UNFINISHED SWAN

What is it?

You begin The Unfinished Swan with a blank white screen (although canvas might be a better word), which you bring to life by throwing blobs of paint around to uncover what is hidden there. You’re helped along the way by a mysterious swan.

Was it the right choice?

Just about. Fez is worthy of special mention but there is something wonderfully compelling about Swan.

Also nominated: Fez, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Wonderbook: Books of Spells, Journey, Kinect Sesame Street TV.

Platform: PS3 (download)

SPORTS/FITNESS GAME OF THE YEAR

NEW STAR SOCCER

What is it?

Instead of controlling a football team, New Star Soccer sees you take control of a single young player, with the aim of making him an international superstar.

Was it the right choice?

It was a bold choice to pick it ahead of FIFA 13. FIFA may only tweak a winning formula every year but it is difficult to compare NSS’s rudimentary gameplay to the slick realism of its richer rival.

Also nominated: Forza Horizon, Nike+ Kinect Training, Trials Evolution, FIFA 13.

Platform: Android, iOS

GAMES PERFORMER

DANNY WALLACE (THOMAS WAS ALONE)

What is it?

Thomas Was Alone is an eight bit existential platformer that follows a jumping pixel, brilliantly narrated by Danny Wallace.

Was it the right choice?

Probably. To breathe so much character into such a simple game takes real skill. The narration in Dear Esther is awesome, though.

Also nominated: Nolan North (Uncharted), Melissa Hutchinson (The Walking Dead), Dave Fennoy (The Walking Dead), Adrian Hough (Assassins Creed III), Nigel Carrington (Dear Esther).

Platform: OS X

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