OCC E3 2012 AwardsClayMeow -
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Best Action-Adventure Game
Winner: The Last of Us (PS3)
Hot on the heels of the very successful Uncharted trilogy comes Naughty Dog's new title, The Last of Us. Like the series before it, each showing of the game has the audience clamoring for more. It's no surprise; The Last of Us simply looks fantastic and not only in the graphical department. The post-disaster setting, the backstory of Ellie and Joel, the pure drama between other survivors; it only leaves me enticed to play through the game for myself. At E3 this year, the public saw the first official gameplay footage of the game, and few were disappointed. In true Naughty Dog spirit, the controls look tight and the action intense. The characters – even the enemies – seem more than just computer-generated images, but people with raw emotions of survival. You'll constantly hear rambling or small-talk of some sort, whether between Ellie and Joel, or enemies who are only trying to survive themselves. Best of all, cinematic camera angles leaves tension high, making you consistently wonder who or what is around the next corner. There is still much to see in terms of story and premise (why is the ruthless Joel saving the young Ellie?), but that just leaves me even more excited for Naughty Dog's next big franchise. The Last of Us is simply a game that I can't wait to get my hands on.
Runner-Up: Tomb Raider (PC, PS3, 360)
After nine games and over 15 years of history, Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix have finally decided to reboot the story of Lara Croft. Built with no correlation to previous games, the brand new Tomb Raider begins at the onset of Lara Croft's adventure. Shipwrecked on a tropical island to discover her travel-mates dead in ritual positions or hanging from the ceiling, the name of the game here is survival. Unlike previous installments of Tomb Raider, there is much greater emphasis on the dangerous surroundings of the island and its mysterious inhabitants. She needs to find food and water, killing animals and making use of the environment along the way. No longer is Lara Croft overpoweringly jumping all over the screen (we haven't even seen Lara's guns yet). Rather, every turn feels like the verge of death, whether from the vicious bite of an attacking dog, or the rocks rushing past as Lara uncontrollably rides down a speeding river. The new Tomb Raider seems to owe much of its cinematic experience to the Uncharted series; a trilogy that was ironically inspired by Tomb Raider. Although this leaves Tomb Raider as only a runner-up, the raw emotion of Lara Croft and gritty details of accumulating blood and dirt on her face are a welcome change in an industry that is seemingly moving toward a movie-like experience in characters and plot.
Winner: Dishonored (PC, PS3, 360)
For me, Dishonored wins the action-adventure category because it is everything I want in an action-adventure game. There are dozens of games from which to choose for this category, but Dishonored is the game where I can say it is a day-one purchase. Dishonored is set in a Victorian-style city enriched by advanced technology throughout. Your character was the bodyguard to the Empress, but when she is killed, you are blamed for her death. Your character is a master swordsman, marksman, infiltrator, master-at-arms, and even possesses some supernatural powers. You can engage enemies in direct combat or sneak on by and take them out non-lethally. The choice really is yours; plus, who can pass up the opportunity to take control of a rat and sneak into a building? Dishonored has a unique visual style that simply must be seen, and we will all get our chance on October 9th.
Runners-Up: Assassin's Creed III (PC, PS3, 360, Wii U), Star Wars 1313 (PC), Tomb Raider (PC, PS3, 360), ZombiU (Wii U)
Like I said in the previous part, there are a ton of action-adventure games to choose from, which is why I have four runners-up. I could have more because there are plenty of deserving games, but I do not think everyone wants to read pages upon pages about them. To begin, Assassin's Creed III sees the franchise arrive during the time of the American Revolution. Our new hero, Connor, is part British and part Native American, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out in AC3. The new ship combat sections are a departure from the standard Assassin's Creed gameplay, but I feel it is necessary to include them in a game about the American Revolution. Star Wars 1313 is a new mature entry in the universe, as it sees a focus on bounty hunters. The game takes place on the 1313 level of Coruscant, the capital planet in the Star Wars galaxy, and the little snippets of gameplay shown so far make me eager to get my hands on this game.
Tomb Raider is a reboot of the franchise as it sees a teenage Lara Croft learn how to survive. She is a passenger on a boat, which crashes on an unknown island, and has to develop survival skills if she wants to escape. We see a much different Lara than past games, but I think it will be fun seeing how her skills developed into the badass we know and love. Finally, ZombiU introduces some new ideas to the zombie genre and is one of the Wii U titles I am most looking forward to. There will be different characters you control for short amounts of time, and if one happens to succumb to the zombie horde, then another may run into the zombie of the other. ZombiU will definitely be one to watch whenever the Wii U launches.
Winner: Star Wars 1313 (PC)
The action-adventure genre enjoyed a strong showing at this year's E3, but none impressed as much as Star Wars 1313. Typically when you see a four-digit number in a title, it refers to the year the game takes place, but in this case it refers to the underworld level of Coruscant. Although the developers haven't divulged much, they're promising a dark, gritty, and mature Star Wars experience, and the gameplay demos we saw certainly showed that. The excellent atmosphere and extremely impressive graphics (running on a heavily-modified Unreal Engine 3) make this one title worth keeping your eye on.
Runners-Up: Tomb Raider (PC, PS3, 360), Splinter Cell: Blacklist (PC, PS3, 360), Assassin's Creed III (PC, PS3, 360, Wii U), Dishonored (PC, PS3, 360)
I wanted to stick to just one or two runners-up per category, but there were just so many great action-adventure games; that limitation didn't seem fair. If not for the allure of a mature Star Wars game, these four games surely could have battled it out for the top spot. Tomb Raider is rebooting one of the most famous gaming franchises, providing us a glimpse at how Lara Croft became the adventurer we know and love. Splinter Cell: Blacklist asks us to once again assume the role of covert operative Sam Fisher, introducing a new gameplay feature of planning a series of executions. Assassin's Creed III doesn't simply give us more assassinating and parkour-like gameplay, but adds something completely new to the series – naval warfare. Dishonored provides the player with so many different ways to tackle a problem (including possessing rats and humans), offering a truly unique gaming experience. With games like these, it's no wonder the action-adventure genre remains the most popular.