Fragland Crew Awards 2004: “Genre”
Hours and hours of discussion on the crew irc-channel. Demotivation, anger, fanboyism and even crew members throwing up resulted to the nominations and now also the winners of our 2004 Fragland Crew Awards !
We are very pleased that we can finally announce the winners. Today we start with the winners by game genre.
Everyone will agree that 2004 was a great year for the gaming humanoid. Both for pc as for console one hitgame after another was released, especially in the second part of the year. The Xbox lived its first true top year with a bunch of high quality titles while the PS2 probably had its best year ever. On the other hand it’s quite possible that both platforms have seen their last great year as a lot of developers will now be concentrating on Xbox2 and PS3.
Also the Gamecube got quite some tasty games although quality obviously proceded quantity, something that has not always been reckognised by the gaming community. Witness of that is the little influence of the Cube on the Top10 Game Sales Charts. On the quality side we found enough titles in our pre-selection to talk about a good offer for the last 12 months.
My final note is that 2004 was also the year of the sequels, with little to no new and/or innovating titles. You won’t hear me complain, each one of them was a pearl, but silently I do hope we’ll be seeing a ton of new characters, storylines and “intellectual property” in 2005.
Enough talking now, on with the show !
FRAGLAND CREW AWARDS 2004: GENRE
Best Sports game
- FIFA Football 2005 (EA Sports)
- Pro Evolution Soccer 4 (Konami)
- Madden NFL 2005 (EA Sports)
- Smash Court Tennis Pro Tournament 2 (Namco)
- Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 (Activision)
Winner: Pro Evolution Soccer 4
Without a doubt this was one of the choices almost the entire crew agreed with instantly, even Speed and Zwan didn’t fight against each other ! Despite tough competition, with FIFA2005 and Madden, we couldn’t do anything else but give the crown to this school example of gameplay. For the true soccer lovers this remains the ultimate game !
Best RPG game
- Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines (Activision – Troika)
- Tales of Symphonia (Namco)
- Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (Nintendo)
- Fable (Microsoft Studios- Lionhead)
- Beyond Divinity (Digital Jesters – Larian Studios)
Winner: Tales of Symphonia
Extremely little RPG games this year on the PC, only Vampire and the Belgian Beyond Divinity could bring some joy. However, they could not face the power of the consoles. First came Fable, the very ambitious game from Peter Molyneux which, after a first disappointment due to a lot of promised features not being implemented, did manage to leave us with a good feeling.
However, the Gamecube is what charmed us most. Paper Mario gave a breath of fresh air through the genre and has become a must-have for everyone. That specific approach to RPG’s however also lead to the lacking of the “epic feeling” an RPG in our opinion needs to have.
Tales of Symphonia is the title that goes home with the honor this year. The unique atmosphere is unmistakenly omnipresent. Add to that the gigantic world filled with details, many sidestories, an action-packed but still deep combat system and beautiful cel-shaded graphics and you know why we were taken by this charming game.
We from the crew are already looking forward to a classic role-playing game like Oblivion or Baldur’s Gate and in the meantime the Cube manages to lessen our thirst!
- Half-Life 2 (VU Games – Valve)
- Doom 3 (Activision – id Software)
- Far Cry (Ubisoft – Crytek)
- Painkiller (Dreamcatcher – People Can Fly)
- Halo 2 (Microsoft Studios – Bungie)
Winner: Half-Life 2
Honorable mentioning of the crew: Far Cry
The King of the Genre Awards this year! You’ve got no idea which emotions can erupt due to the irc discussion HL2 vs. Far Cry: anger, despair, hysteria, panic attacks to even euphoria! DoubleD even had to leave the channel for a moment because it got too much to him… Yes, the nerves of a Fragland crew member sometimes have it hard!
Especially the PC brought us enough to keep us quiet until the end of 2005 with fantastic shooters and it’s therefore logical that only Halo 2 was able to sustain a place in this PC-colored selection.
As you can see, the choice ultimately fell on Half-Life 2 and Far Cry. The first game is without a doubt top: realistic graphics, loads of atmosphere, never-seen-before gameplay, unmatched characters with revolutionary facial animations and physics like we’ve never seen them before! Add to that the extremely cool Gravity Gun, renewing puzzles, controllable vehicles, a subtle storyline, CS:Source and the promise for a massive amount of mods and you can’t go wrong. Concerning leading times and the occasional Steam problems we blink an eye away. The waiting is now for part 3, not ?
But how good HL2 was, we couldn’t look besides Far Cry! This FPS surprised friend and enemy with open gameplay and miles of huge landscapes, which on top of that were portrayed in beautiful colors. The multiplayer disappointed a bit but the fun and excitement you could get from the SP made up for that!
Because of all that: an ex-aequo with HL2 which had an inch ahead due to the finishing, the typical HL-atmosphere and the bigger impact on the community.
Best Action game
- Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay (VU Games – Starbreeze Studios)
- Ninja Gaiden (Tecmo)
- GTA: San Andreas (Rockstar Games)
- Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (Nintendo)
- Onimusha 3: Demon Siege (Capcom)
Winner: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
The incredibly strong competition of the other nominees (you just have to have played each of the five games) couldn’t copy against Rockstar’s interpretation of fun, fun and more fun. Ninja Gaiden is all perfected action, Riddick is so surprisingly good that each Xbox owner just has to buy it, and MP2 and Onumusha 3 improved their already great predecessors.
It didn’t help them though. GTA:SA is so massive, so filled with surprises, so stiff with strong acting and on top of that accompanied by a gripping storyline that even the biggest PS2-haters couldn’t deny it: CJ rules ! Vice City was already good, San Andreas just triples the environment that can be explored and forms the concept to an all-round success. You should have bought it already !
- Jak 3 (Sony Entertainment – Naughty Dog)
- Sly 2: Band of Thieves (Sony Entertainment – Sucker Punch)
- Ratchet & Clank 3: Up Your Arsenal (Sony Entertainment – Insomniac)
- Prince of Persia: Warrior Within (Ubisoft)
Winner: Jak 3
The action games were strong, the platform games didn’t let anything get the better of them either ! Especially the PS2 got a couple of top games. The choice was quickly made though: Jak 3 was for most of the crew the obvious winner. In this third and last part, Naughty Dog succeeded to keep things fresh and that which was there already got improved.
I’ll keep it simple and quote our reviewer Billieturf: “In the end you can say what you want but contradicting me when I say that Jak 3 reaches unknown heigths is ridiculous. Naughty Dog knows to end in absolute beauty, chapeau!”
Best Strategy game
- Rome: Total War (Activision – Creative Assembly)
- Soldiers: Heroes Of World War II (Codemasters – Best Way)
- Warhammer 40.000: Dawn of War (THQ – Relic Entertainment)
- Codename Panzers: Phase One (CDV – Storm Region)
- The Lord Of The Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth (EA Games)
Winner: Rome: Total War
The good old PC is clearly still the ideal platform when it comes to strategy, both turn-based and real-time. Nice to know that only two games have WW2 as setting: change is always applauded.
Biggest surprise was Warhammer that when it comes to online and fast gameplay took the crown. Also Soldiers deserves a mentioning because of the beautiful engine, just like LoTR:BfME which succeeded to form the imaginative world of Middle-Earth to the giant RTS battlefield. Looking at the sales figures you weren’t really convinced of Panzers although purely objectively this is without a doubt a top game.
Rome: Total War was Epic with a big “E”. Not only qua setting but also when it comes to size. You got two games for the price of one: one very good and big turnbased world map, combined with one of the most impressive graphical engines of the time during the enormous battles. The amount of units and the shape of them, the attention to details and historical correctness, and the size of the battles brought realistic and strategic gameplay. Clearly the Ceasar amongst strategy this year.
Best MMOG game (playable in 2004)
- Everquest 2 (Sony Entertainment)
- Final Fantasy XI (Square-Enix)
- EVE: Online (CCP Games)
- Star Wars Galaxies (LucasArts – Sony Entertainment)
- PlanetSide (Ubisoft – Verant Interactive
Winner: Eve: Online
As you will have noticed, the harvest of new MMOG’s this year was a little thin. World of Warcraft and City of Heroes can’t be counted in yet as they’ve not been released in Europe.
That’s why we decided to organise the award between those that are still being played at this very moment, otherwise it would be a quite boring get together of EQ2 and FFXI
These latter are unmistakenly worth checking out but the crew has lost its heart to EVE: Online (some even their social life but this besides the point!)
Thanks to the Exodus patch of 2004 with overhaul of content could please us very much. The space-setting and infinite greatness of the universe, with your customisable spaceship is just too cool for words. On top of that, the game is so fun that addiction isn’t far away. With a release that was a bit earlier, maybe EQ2 might have gotten the award but we were too fond of EVE to let this happen!
Best Race game
- Burnout 3: Takedown (EA Games – Criterion Games)
- Colin McRae Rally 2005 (Codemasters)
- WRC 4 (Sony Entertainment)
- DTM Race Driver 2 (Codemasters)
- Need For Speed: Underground 2 (EA Games)
Winner: Burnout 3: Takedown
Our last choice of the day was again an easy one: Burnout 3 is hot ! Hotter than burnt rubber that got smeared over hot roads on a sunny afternoon. This is just one of the best arcade racers ever created. We don’t know this only because of the fantastic sense of speed, the Live options and the great graphics, but mostly because of the crashes and the fun you have, alone of with friends, again and again when you put this game in your console.
The new game modes without a doubt add something extra to the genre and each gamer will find in this game something he likes. Also the aftertouch option where you can cause mayhem after a crash is just godlike. Like the hundreds of awards and unlockables you can collect: a game will not soon get more addictive and cooler than this.
Too bad for the excellent rally game DTM/TOCA and the ultimate “pimp your ride”-game NFS:U2 but Burnout 3 brings them all a Takedown this year. Damn Van!
Thusfar the first part of our Awards ! I hop you enjoyed it and that you’re looking forward to our next piece which comes next week and where we’ll take a look at the different platforms.