OCC E3 2013 AwardsClayMeow -
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Best Action-Adventure Game
Winner: Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain (PS3, PS4, 360, XBO)
The action-adventure category is almost too big for its own good, with at least a dozen games that could have walked away the winner. For me, however, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has that certain something that enables it to stand above the crowd. Maybe it's the multitude of new stealth elements to keep Snake hidden that does it. Or maybe it's the day/night cycles and the open-world desert setting of it. In actuality, it's all those and more that push MGSV over the edge for my winner. I mean, it's an open-world Metal Gear Solid that looks amazing already, and series creator Hideo KoJima actually said it can look even better when it ships. What's not to like about that? There's still plenty we don't know about MGSV however, and Kojima is being his usual cryptic self about what to expect. That still doesn't sway me from picking Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain as my winner, in fact it helps it even more because this game can only get better.
Runners-Up: Wolfenstein: The New Order (PC, PS3, PS4, 360, XBO), inFamous: Second Son (PS4)
I considered both of these games as winners, but ultimately settled on MGSV for the reasons above. Actually I could have gone with any number of games as winner and then runners-up, but ultimately the two that stand out the most are Wolfenstein: The New Order and inFamous: Second Son. The new Wolfenstein takes us out of the World War II setting and into the 1960s, except it's the 1960s with the Nazis as the world's dominant power. It's a darker world with fantastic technology that we've only glimpsed in trailers and gameplay demos, with various mechs and supernatural elements aplenty. Developer MachineGames is keeping the first-person shooter history of Wolfenstein intact, but this is a game built around a story you can actually get invested in and one that creates a lot more tension than just making sure you have enough bullets.
Winner: Watch Dogs (PC, PS3, PS4, 360, XBO, Wii U)
Action-Adventure was the category I struggled with the most. It wasn't just that there were a plethora of titles to choose from, but because I struggled with whether it was right to award Watch Dogs anything this year since it was my Biggest Surprise and Game of the Show last year. In the end, I decided that Ubisoft showed off enough new material to warrant Watch Dog's eligibility. But more importantly, what was shown had me itching to play yet again. The "Exposed" trailer shown during Ubisoft's press conference was absolutely outstanding – I will certainly be visiting that "sushi bar" when the game launches. But it was the seven-minute gameplay video that really clinched it. Watch Dogs is an open-world, action-adventure game set in modern day Chicago, and while it looked amazing last year, I questioned just how open-world it would really be. The gameplay video showed protagonist Aiden Pearce driving around Chicago, getting discovered by a civilian as a wanted man, using a video camera feed to direct his friend how to stealthily move past guards, and hopping into a boat to cruise the Chicago River after causing a temporary blackout. It certainly looked open-world to me and seems like a more grounded GTA. We don't know Aiden's motives just yet, but either way, Watch Dogs is highly promising.
Runners-Up: Batman: Arkham Origins (PC, PS3, 360, Wii U), Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain (PS3, PS4, 360, XBO)
The best thing I can say about Batman: Arkham Origins is that it looks just like the previous Batman: Arkham games. It's an even bigger deal when you consider that Rocksteady, the developer of the first two games, is not developing Origins – instead it's Warner Bros. Games Montreal at the helm. Because of my love of the first two games, this is actually the game I'm looking forward to most, even more than Watch Dogs. As the name suggests, the game actually takes place prior to the events in the previous two games, telling the story of how Batman first came into contact with various villains. The premise of the game is that Black Mask, a brutal crime lord, has put a hefty bounty on Batman's head and eight of the world's best assassins all come to collect on a single night – Christmas Eve. Festive, no? While many of the assassins have not been revealed, we do know Deathstroke and Deadshot are among them. We also know Joker, Penguin, Bane, and Anarchy make appearances as well. Of course the real question everyone wants to know is if Riddler will be making a return or will someone else be providing additional hidden challenges?. Guess we'll have to wait and see. What we did learn at E3 was the addition of a new item, the Remote Claw. The Remote Claw allows you to tether two people or objects together. Seeing Batman tether two enemies together, causing them to knock each unconscious, was hilarious. It also seemed a bit too overpowered, but there is still time to tweak it before the October release.
Then we have Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, which kicked off the Microsoft Press Conference. The lengthy trailer was impressive, but it's the promise of a "true open world experience" that is really exciting. While the previous Metal Gear game, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, was relatively well-received, it was a huge departure from the series, trading in stealthy tactical play for action hack-and-slash. Thankfully, based on the E3 gameplay trailer, it seems the series is shifting back to its stealth roots, but this time with a lot more options – and a realistic day/night cycle. Color me intrigued!