I’m tired of award shows.
It’s not that I’m against them philosophically, but they feature the same boring categories year after year. They need to spice them up a little. Go for the gusto. So, as I present my video game awards in the coming paragraphs, you won’t be seeing boring categories like best game of the year (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, by the way).
Instead, let’s hand out imaginary trophies in really classy categories for things gamers really care about.
Most imaginative way to wax somebody: When I played Rockstar Games’ Manhunt for XBOX earlier this year, I thought it would be tough to beat suffocating a guy with a plastic bag. That was until I played Eidos’ Hitman: Contracts and I actually got to off a crime boss by hiding my gun in the derriere of a chicken and offing him before his last meal. Just when you think video games can’t get any more twisted, a guy in Silicon Valley comes up with the idea to hide a gun in a chicken’s butt. Absolute genius.
Best game set in the future: I’ve been waiting for the attempt on my life by disciples of the Master Chief ever since I called Halo 2 pretentious a couple months ago. I’ve played it again since the review and think I like it even less. Want to play a great futuristic space game? Play Metroid Prime 2: Echoes for the Gamecube. It’s a fantastic, slick title that I absolutely loved.
Games that keep me hopeful that good movie-to-video game titles will become the norm instead of the exception: Spiderman 2: A free-roaming superhero movie game—the greatest invention since Reese’s Pieces. The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher’s Bay—the anti-Catwoman. Bad movie to great game; what a nice surprise.
Games that made me wish video-game companies lost their directions to Hollywood: Fight Club—I wish I was Tyler Durden, so I could kick the crap out of whoever came up with this lame title. Catwoman—I’d actually rather watch the horrendous movie.
Worst game that had the most potential to be a great game: I had an earlier rant on Legends of Wrestling 3: Showdown, so I’ll save time here. But come on, Acclaim. You had the greatest roster in the long history of professional games, and you gave it a low blow, with a lame career mode and game play so choppy that I was longing for the fluidity of Pong.
Title most worthy of a sequel: I know I was the only reviewer kind to this game, but Red Dead Revolver was an amazingly different disc with a great story and characters. It wasn’t perfect, but was absolutely entertaining and addicting. I’d love another chapter.
Best sports game that wasn’t Madden Football 2005: There were a lot that I loved—Outlaw Golf, NBA Street—but NASCAR 2005: Chase for The Cup was an absolutely awesome title that I found myself inexplicably playing for weeks. I hate racing, but this game was something else. I guess there’s nothing left to do but pack my bags and move to Alabama.
I cringe every time I hear a commercial in January and February calling a movie the best of the year, so I hesitate getting too gushy over THQ’s Punisher. But from everything I’ve seen so far, it will be in the mix as one of the best come December. Controlling mega-vigilante Frank Castle—aka The Punisher—is so effortless and smooth. Switching between weapons is easy and fluid, and the game’s difficulty and speed are enough to be challenging, but not frustrating. It’s an ultra-bloody, super-violent game, but in the context of the comic book’s good vs. evil theme it works without being gratuitous. Dolph Lundgren played Frank Castle, Thomas Jane played Frank Castle, but nobody has done the character as much justice as THQ. And justice, as we all know is exactly what The Punisher is all about. (THQ, PS2, XBOX, PC, Rated M, $49.99, PC: $39.99.)