US men’s channel Spike TV has played host to the annual VGA awards ceremony for a few years now – taking place in December, the show celebrates the best titles of the year and has become one of the annual high-points in the gaming calendar for title reveals and trailer debuts.
This year was no exception.
As with most similar events in the video game sphere, a fair number of the surprises were spoiled on the internet prior to Saturday night’s presentation – a development not helped by the likes of Tony Hawk hyping announcements on his Twitter feed and NeoGaf sleuths making threads when they’ve found a new website domain or discovered something which momentarily leaked and was taken down quickly (but not quickly enough) by its makers.
The big announcement for me, inevitably, was “The Last of Us” – a survival horror title which had seen some advanced speculation in the week before the event as VGA mainstay Geoff Keighley’s Twitter feed teased a big PS3 exclusive that wasn’t even on the radar of the vid-game community sites.
Some had expected to see an open-world Zombie game akin to Valve’s “Left4Dead” but it would seem that “The Last of Us” is something a bit different, which is in fairness what you might come to expect from a Naughty Dog game.
We’re seeing a world post an as-yet-undetermined apocalyptic event, with humans eking out a desperate existence and what look like mutant hybrid antagonists doing their best to remove humanity from the equation.
It’s hard to take away anything truly concrete from a couple of minutes of trailer but I was pleased to see the emphasis on character in the brief running time and that Naughty Dog seem to be continuing their strong run of having female protagonists who are plausible, not defined by the worst excesses of the male gaze, funny and interesting.
I’m looking at this trailer and it’s giving me a distinct “Enslaved” vibe, which can only be a good thing, as that’s one of my favourite games of this generation.
Much as I would like to purely wax rhapsodic about Naughty Dog’s game, there was other noteworthy stuff shown at the VGAs.
Epic Games presented a trailer for FortNite, a new IP from the creators of “Unreal”, “Gears of War” and “Infinity Blade” which forums have instantly dubbed “Team Fortress 2” mashed up with “Minecraft”. If the evidence of the trailer is to be taken at face value, we’re going to be building a siege-proof fortress by day and defending it against enemy incursion by night, whilst looking like the Heavy, The Scout and other TF2 favourites. So, I get the snap-judgement but I want to see more.
We also saw the aforementioned Tony Hawk title, which takes the beloved first and second titles in the “Pro Skater” series and seems to be giving them the de rigeur HD up-scaling treatment for every platform known to person-kind. There’s a new XBLA “Alan Wake” title, “American Nightmare”, which is quite some going given the protracted dev cycle of the first game – they’re practically chucking them out the door in double-quick time!
A new trailer happened along for “Metal Gear Rising”, which now has the subtitle “Revengeance” and is officially being made by Platinum Games, which is a fair old turn up for the books. There’s been some playing with the previously announced timeline, in which the game no longer takes place between the second and fourth “Metal Gear” entries in the series and is now set after “MGS4”. More reassuringly, it still looks as though it doesn’t make a lick of sense: Huzzah!
We also had a new “Command & Conquer: Generals” PC-exclusive title from BioWare, some new “Mass Effect 3” gameplay, trailers of Activision’s licensed “The Amazing Spider-Man” game and the gorgeous CG trailer for “Transformers: Fall of Cybertron”, the intro movie from Blizzard’s “Diablo 3”, a haunting “BioShock:Infinite” teaser and “Rainbow Six: Patriots”.
Some sequels, some licensed stuff but enough there to keep anybody busy for a while, I think.