Welcome to part two of the 2008 TGR Awards. This time around, we’re handing out specialty awards to the most deserving titles of the year.
Best Art Direction
Winner: Prince of Persia
Games have long used concept art as inspiration for visuals, but only Prince of Persia comes close enough to make the entire game look like a living and breathing work of art. Subtle pastels, twisted architecture, and fantastic character design give PoP a storybook feel unparalleled by any release this year. LittleBigPlanet’s lighting, sense of scale, and adorably animated Sackboy characters rendered in detail you can almost feel also deserve mention for recreating the innocent fun of playing with the toys of childhood.
Best Sound Design
Winner: Dead Space
Braid’s been a big hit with the TGR staff this year, and it nearly picks up another award here thanks to including some beautiful orchestral music and then playing with it in some very unusual ways. However, the game with the best sound this year in our humble opinions is Dead Space. EA’s new horror IP may not have been all that scary for everyone, but the constant haunting through whispers, echoes, and distant screams always kept us on edge. If you’re trying to convince someone of sorting out some surround sound for their home setup than there’s no better tool than Dead Space. This game has to be played in surround sound and even the most unaffected of gamers will feel a little jittery after a few hours on the USG Ishimura.
Winner: Left 4 Dead
Runner-up: Guitar Hero: World Tour
Runner-up: Super Smash Bros Brawl
While strong cases can be made for annihilating friends with a final smash in Super Smash Bros Brawl or rocking harder than should be legal in Guitar Hero World Tour, we ultimately had to grant best multiplayer to Left 4 Dead. Nothing both requires and forges strong relationships like surviving a zombie outbreak. Left 4 Dead’s brilliant design ensures that lone guns not only tank fast and hard, but have no one to blame but themselves. Only the tightest teams escape with their lives, though they might lose their bladders’ contents on the way.
Runner-up: Mirror’s Edge
LittleBigPlanet is one of the most ambitious titles to come around in quite some time, aiming to deliver not only a game for us to play, but an entire platform to build exactly what we want out of that game. Players are invited to create and share their work with others via PSN, team up with friends to tackle the seemingly endless number of player submissions, and then add ratings and tags for everyone else to see. Besides that, the gameplay makes wonderful use of physics in a more tangible playground than any other game provided in 2008. It’s true that Mirror’s Edge took a successful leap of faith in first-person platforming, and Braid’s time-manipulating gameplay and brilliantly delivered plot were unlike anything else, but for true innovation, LBP leads the pack.
Studio of the Year
Bethesda may not have produced the most games last year, or even the single best title, but this seasoned development team succeeded in ways that no other studio managed to do in 2008. They took a classic and revered franchise and completely re-imagined and recreated it for the current gaming generation. This was no easy task, but from its post-apocalyptic setting and characters, right down to its blend of old and new gameplay, Fallout 3 captured the essence of the series as gamers could have only hoped. Valve, too, impressed this year with the stellar Left 4 Dead, a fresh and fun multiplayer experience that changed the way we look at cooperative gaming.
Written by Lawrence Sonntag, Sinan Kubba, and Eddie Inzauto