Every year, we are “treated” to the Spike Video Game Awards. This annual awards show is, unfortunately, one of the biggest representations of the gaming industry. Year after year, the show disappoints and outright embarrasses the gaming community with its stupidity and disrespectful attitude toward the medium that allows it to exist. Film buffs complain about the Oscars, TV people are always ranting about nominees getting shafted, but there is no other medium stuck with an awards show quite as terrible as what is now known as VGX.
Geoff Keighley is one of the most aggravating gaming personalities out there for various reasons. But when he is the most likable person on your show (with the exception of maybe Matt Stone and Trey Parker), then there is a serious problem here.
Joel McHale doesn’t care about gaming. He proved this at his E3 appearances. He tries too hard to be funny and while his character is funny in Community for being a jerk, it just doesn’t translate well to being a good host.
Constantly referencing the teleprompter, constantly referencing people off-camera, constantly making terrible immature jokes…Joel McHale was one of the least professional hosts I’ve ever seen in my entire existence. If I gave a teleprompter and camera to a class of fifth graders, they would easily do a better job than Joel McHale.
McHale clearly did not care to be there, but in his defense, why should he care? The show was a disaster, a barren landscape of anything noteworthy. In the past, the show was known for massively exciting reveals of upcoming titles; remember that it was at this show that we caught our first glimpses of games such as Mass Effect 2, Uncharted 2, and The Last of Us.
This year, there was one reveal that was actually worth getting excited about. One nice surprise that came out of left field. One. That is not worth a three hour broadcast. That is not worth watching Joel McHale putting down the industry in front of the people that have given their lives to it. That is not worth sitting through this painfully awkward show. Not by a long shot.
In the past, I have been critical of how the show was presented, but this year was even worse. Instead of the “big night feel” that the live audience gave to the product, all we had was the hosts sitting around in an oddly decorated set, saying things that felt like they obviously were intended for a live audience to hear, and reading horribly written jokes off of a teleprompter.
To cap off the evening was a terrible live performance of music from GTA V that sounded (unsurprisingly) a lot better in-game. The artists simply didn’t care to be there, they were obnoxious (one of them tried to start a “POTATO!” chant that went absolutely nowhere for no reason), and they were even less professional than Joel McHale.
Dictionary.com defines “world premiere” as:
(noun) the first public performance of a play, motion picture, musical work, etc.
So not only does this confirm that the people at VGX have no idea what “world premiere” actually means, but it’s blatantly false advertising. At any rate, we did see some new stuff here, but to put things into perspective, even the lower tier Nintendo Directs are significantly more exciting and have more information than this show did.
That being said, there were some pretty interesting premieres…just not interesting enough to expect people to sit through a three hour long broadcast that was comprised almost entirely of insulting the audience as much as possible.
Overall, there were 14 (technically 15) “world premieres”…except only two or three of them were really world premieres. So, good going on that one, whoever threw together the VGX.
Tales from the Borderlands
The evening started off leaving me optimistic (what a diabolical scheme) with the reveal of Tales from the Borderlands. This a joint effort between Telltale and Gearbox.
Styled after Telltale’s other episodic adventure games such as The Walking Dead, Tales from the Borderlands is set on Pandora. Players will control a variety of new characters, but none of them are Vault Hunters. Handsome Jack returns as the primary antagonist, and players will explore familiar territory and deal with returning and new characters alike.
Tales from the Borderlands will see its first episode released at some point in 2014.
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition
Unfortunately for the people at VGX, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition was outed by an ad that was mistakenly posted on their site on the morning of the show. The game is just a port of the Tomb Raider reboot to PS4 and Xbox One, for the most part.
Included in this new package is all the DLC that was released for the original game. Various physics have been improved with more realistic hair, trees, foliage, and all that jazz. The game is releasing very soon, with a planned release date of January 2014. Unfortunately, there will be no 3D option like what was included in the PC version of the title.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Nintendo really shot themselves in the foot at first with this “premiere”. Cranky Kong was revealed as a playable character in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze for Wii U about a week ago thanks to the leak of the European box art of the game. However, considering how terrible the rest of the show was, Nintendo overall made a good call not bringing anything worthwhile to the program. And not only that, despite how absolutely disappointing this reveal is, it turned out to be the second best thing that even happened during the entire event.
So, the big reveal for Donkey Kong was that Cranky Kong was confirmed as a playable character. Cranky Kong functions very similarly as Scrooge McDuck from DuckTales, using his cane as a weapon.
Other new features were mentioned for the game, such as the Kung Pow meter. This meter is filled after collecting 100 bananas. Filling the meter then allows the player to activate a move that will automatically eliminate all of the enemies that are on screen at once.
Now having four playable characters, the new Donkey Kong Country is mixing things up by having some items specific to certain characters. Diddy Kong will be the only one able to collect red balloons, while Dixie collects yellow hearts. Cranky will collect coins.
A new level was also shown off called Bramble Scramble. The level looked fine, but the visuals simply do not look like a significant step forward from Donkey Kong Country Returns on the original Wii. The only GamePad functionality mentioned was that it is possible to play the game entirely on the GamePad screen, though other control options such as remote + nunchuk comb as well as the pro controller can be used, too.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is releasing February 21st, 2014. Reggie also made a point to mention that 2014 will also see the release of Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U as well.
Speaking of Reggie, he foolishly wore a pin of Samus at the event. Perhaps this was a hint that a Metroid game is in development at Retro Studios. A bit of foreshadowing for E3 perhaps. That is probably wishful thinking, but at any rate, wearing the Samus pin just to taunt the fans seems a little cruel on Reggie’s behalf, so I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt and just keep my fingers crossed for a Metroid reveal soon.
Quantum Break and Agents of Storm
Remedy Entertainment had a large presence at VGX, starting with the first look at how Quantum Break will actually play and some of the finer details of the game, including gameplay and story details.
The story begins at River Port University. It is there that characters Jack Joyce, Beth Wilder, and Paul Serene are conducting a time traveling experiment. Something goes terribly wrong, essentially “breaking” time, which in turn causes time anomalies such as time freezing or rewinding or fast forwarding itself. This proves to be disastrous and brings on the beginning of the apocalypse, more or less.
In the game, players will control both Jack Joyce and Beth Wilder. The main antagonist is Paul Serene, who owns and operates the company called Monarch. All three of these characters have inherited special time powers due to their exposure to the failed experiment.
Remedy hopes that the game combines the best parts of Max Payne and Alan Wake. The title will utilize cover mechanics and gunplay similar to Max Payne or other third-person shooters while also having a far bigger focus on storytelling.
They are touting Quantum Break as “the ultimate Remedy experience” for that reason. A “high quality” television program will also tie into Quantum Break, and players will be able to make decisions in the game that will then have a major influence on what happens next in the TV show.
Remedy also managed to sneak in the first reveal of a new iOS game they’ve been working on called Agents of Storm. Agents of Storm is releasing in early 2014 and is described as a “reverse tower defense strategy game”.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
One of my personal most anticipated games coming in 2014, The Stick of Truth was given a brief gameplay demonstration at VGX. Basically, we saw Eric Cartman demonstrating to the “new kid” (the character that players create and control in the game) how to use ranged attacks in battle.
It seems that using “magic” (read: farts) will require the player to complete a QTE of sorts. The right sound frequency of the flatulence first had to be found, and then the right stick had to be tilted forward to initiate the attack. Players were graded based on their performance in performing the QTE.
Not much was shown for Destiny, but I will have a brand new preview written up about the game sometime next month that you can read. In any case, a brief new trailer was shown and we were reminded of the release date, which is September 9th, 2014. The beta for the game will happen in the summer of 2014 and it will be available for PS3 and PS4 users first.
Tim Schafer himself was on deck to show off Broken Age. We saw the game’s voice acting in action for the very first time, including the voice work of Jack Black.
Elijah Wood was revealed to be the voice actor behind Shay, one of the game’s two main protagonists. A new release window was given for the game. Expect part 1 of Broken Age to be available in January of 2014.
Tom Clancy’s The Division
The Division made waves at E3 as being one of the few games that actually looked like a next-gen release. We got an extended look at the game here. The title will have day and night cycles, advanced lighting effects, realistic destructible environments, an incredibly impressive particle system, and advanced shading. Not much new gameplay was shown besides what was necessary to show off the capabilities of the game’s engine, however.
Game of Thrones
It was leaked a few weeks ago, so this reveal left a bad taste in my mouth. Basically, the hosts kept urging people to use #VGX on Twitter to try to get the show trending (of course, virtually all the tweets about the show were overwhelmingly negative), saying that if they became the #1 trend worldwide then they would reveal a secret game. Like they wouldn’t reveal the game anyway. Shady marketing tactic.
At any rate, the game that was revealed was Telltale’s take on Game of Thrones. Having two Telltale games revealed in one night was a bit much, and I am afraid that they are going to be stretched too thin. They are already working on both The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead simultaneously, but now they’re also going to be working on Borderlands and Game of Thrones as well? That is a lot.
Their Game of Thrones game will be based on the TV show universe instead of the book universe, which is different from their Walking Dead games, which were based on the comic books instead of the TV show. Telltale’s take on Game of Thrones will be available at some point in 2014.
No Man’s Sky
Easily the most exciting game shown off at VGX was No Man’s Sky. This incredible indie title is being developed by a shocking four people, the folks behind Joe Danger. I wasn’t a big fan of Joe Danger, but No Man’s Sky looks absolutely amazing.
The game is an exploration title. It’s massively multiplayer online as well. Players are able to travel to any planet in this fictional universe that they wish and explore its mountains, oceans, and whatever else.
Any star seen in the sky can be traveled to. Traveling will mainly be done via spaceship, with players simply hopping in their ship and flying straight into space without any load times or anything else. In space, we were shown a giant space station as well as multiple other ships zipping around.
No Man’s Sky has potential to be one of the best indie games of all time. I can’t wait to see more about it in the future.
One of the few games at the show that Joel McHale actually showed enthusiasm for was Dying Light. From the creators of Dead Island, Dying Light is basically Dead Island 3, except under a different publisher.
Dying Light separates itself from Dead Island in a couple of different ways. The game is easier during the day, but at night, the amount of zombies greatly increases. The developers claim to have 10x more zombies on screen than what they were able to show in Dead Island: Riptide.
The zombies don’t die in Dying Light until their brain has been destroyed. That means you can cut off all their limbs and they will still try to bite you. The game uses realistic damaging for the zombies, making it possible to not only cut off their limbs but break their bones as well. This lends a strategic element to the combat that could be a pretty big deal when the game launches.
Dying Light has gained a lot of attention from the mainstream media for its use of parkour elements. Players can use parkour maneuvers to explore the environment easier than in other FPS games, including the ability to use zombies to jump higher.
Touted as an “action survival game”, Dying Light’s developers made the big mistake of having it presented by PewDiePie. PewDiePie is notorious for being a terrible YouTube personality and he showed just how come he’s so terrible yet again during his presence at VGX.
Thief was given a story trailer and that’s about it. You can check out the trailer right here:
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher was shown very briefly. I didn’t notice anything new from the video shown at VGX, which was disappointing as I am very much anticipating the game.
VGX used Titanfall to keep people that were ready to turn off the terrible show to stay tuned in, but Titanfall didn’t really bring the goods.
The game is still going to be amazing, but its presentation at VGX was disappointing to say the least. We learned that there is a corporation in the game called Hammond Robotics. We learned that there are two new Titan classes; one is the “heavy” Ogre class and the other is the fast-moving Stryder class.
Despite previous statements that the game would be online only, it was said that Titanfall will also have a traditional story mode. There will be no Kinect integration in the title.
Titanfall releases March 11th.
Most of the presenters were fairly disappointing (as the presenters were almost always Geoff Keighley and Joel McHale), except for Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Parker’s brief monologue was one of the few genuinely funny things at the entirety of VGX.
Anyway, here’s what won (The Last of Us got robbed) at VGX 2013:
Game of the Year: Grand Theft Auto V
Studio of the Year: Naughty Dog
Character of the Year: The Lutece Twins (BioShock Infinite)
Best Shooter: BioShock Infinite
Best Action-Adventure Game: Assassin’s Creed IV
Best Sports Game: NBA 2K14
Best Independent Game: Gone Home
Best RPG: Ni no Kuni
Best Fighting Game: Injustice
Best Driving Game: Forza Motorsport 5
Best DLC: Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon
Best Xbox Game: Brothers A Tale of Two Sons
Best PlayStation Game: The Last of Us
Best Nintendo Game: Super Mario 3D World
Best PC Game: Gone Home
Best Handheld Game: The Legend of Zelda A Link Between Worlds
Best Casual Game: Animal Crossing New Leaf
Best Mobile Game: Plants vs. Zombies 2
Best Voice Actor: Troy Baker (The Last of Us)
Best Voice Actress: Ashley Johnson (The Last of Us)
Best Soundtrack: Grand Theft Auto V
Best Song in a Game: BioShock Infinite
Most Anticipated Game: Titanfall