Sunday, December 27, 2009

The SuperPhillip Central Best of 2009 Awards - Opening Night

Welcome, one and all, to the second annual SPC Best Of Awards! This is where I pick my top games of the year as a parting shot to the year that was. A lot of great games came out this year, so what better way of celebrating than listing the best of the best in various categories? That was rhetorical, so no need to wrap your brains around that question for too long. With that said, here's several links to the award show of 2008.

Best of 2008 Awards - Day One
Best of 2008 Awards - Day Two
Best of 2008 Awards - Day Three
Best of 2008 Awards - Day Four
Best of 2008 Awards - Day Five

With the introductions out of the way, let's check out our first three categories and their respective nominees!

[Best Original Soundtrack]

Music is one of my passions, so this category has a lot to offer for me. I've enjoyed the soundtracks of many games this year, so it was hard to come up with just six that would be listed as nominees. For each nominee, I've provided three tracks from the game to listen to. With that, let's check out the nominees for our first award!

New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii)

Nintendo is known for its great soundtracks, and New Super Mario Bros. Wii does not disappoint with its bouncy, memorable, hummable tunes. Everything from the awesome castle theme to the overworld theme is just wonderful to listen to. While nowhere near the level of Super Mario Galaxy's soundtrack, New Super Mario Bros. Wii definitely holds its own.

LocoRoco 2 (PSP)

LocoRoco 2 has an eclectic mix of music. Most of which is performed by the cute locoroco themselves. While it decidedly might not be everyone's cup of tea, those who give the soundtrack a chance will find themselves growing strangely addicted to the tracks. Once they get inside your head, they just don't want to move out! With various vocal and instrumental tracks, LocoRoco 2 has an impressive soundtrack.

Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Wii)

Muramasa: The Demon Blade provides players with a feudal flair, and it's the soundtrack that helps that mood thrive. Your typical ancient Japanese instruments are played and pronounced throughout the seventy-plus song soundtrack. Hitoshi Sakimoto of Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy XII fame lends his expertise to many of the compositions heard throughout this game.

MadWorld (Wii)

I totally didn't expect to enjoy the soundtrack of MadWorld as much as I did. It's all rock, rap, and hip-hop exclusively, and it all sounds sexy and superb! There's nothing like the infectious beats of the various songs to move through you mind as you slice and saw open your unworthy adversaries in DeathWatch. Check out the song samples below and see what I mean.

Resident Evil 5 (PS3, 360)

When you're making a survival horror game, everything needs to lend itself to the experience. The setting, the lighting, and yes, the music, too. Resident Evil 5 succeeds in doing this with many tense and suspenseful sounding tracks including some big orchestral booms for the various boss fights. I hate to use the word, but this game has an epic soundtrack.

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (DS)

Composed by a triad of veteran Nintendo composers including Koji Kondo, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is full of memorable tracks to bop your head back and forth to. After the underwhelming soundtrack of Phantom Hourglass, I was worried that Spirit Tracks would follow the same forgettable style. Thankfully, my fears were laid to rest once I heard the music for this game. Hopefully by listening to these samples, you'll feel the same way, too.

And the winner is...

MadWorld (Wii)

Seeing how some of my least favorite music genres are rap and hip-hop, it's amazing that I love this soundtrack as much as I do. Sure, it's explicit and not appropriate for everyone, but it's catchy, has great beats, and it's great to take baddies out to! To say I wasn't expecting this soundtrack to be bad would be an understatement, and now it's soundtrack of the year.

Runner-up: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks


[Best Multiplayer]

Sure, playing alone is all fine and well. In fact, I adore it, but sometimes we need friends or total strangers to kick butt upon to make us smile. This is where multiplayer comes in. Whether you love it with total strangers online or with close buddies in the same room, multiplayer is a great thing to have in a game that calls for it. Let's check out the nominees for this category.

Halo 3 ODST (360)

Finish the fight... again? The fun multiplayer of the Halo series is back, and bigger and better than ever! Face off opponents on over twenty different cleverly-designed maps from forests to beaches to arid deserts. Ride vehicles, unleash hell with numerous types of weaponry, and frag any and everyone you see either locally or online.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (PS3, 360)

The multiplayer of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is engaging because you're always making progress, whether you win or lose. Assist someone in killing? Have some experience. Win a game? Have some experience. You use this experience to get new upgrades and perks like a more powerful air raid. I haven't even talked about how enjoyable this game is with friends.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Reflex Edition (Wii)

While not as sophisticated as the online functions of Modern Warfare 2, there's still plenty to be excited about with Reflex Edition. Nearly everything from the original is around in this port, sans voice chat for whatever odd reason. Join parties, choose from one of sixteen maps, destroy the opposition in a myriad of game modes, and seize victory from the jaws of defeat!

Wii Sports Resort (Wii)

Remember the first time you played the original Wii Sports and played it with your family for hours on end? It'll be like that again with Wii Sports Resort. It's just a blast to play with friends or family, playing table tennis, duking it out with swords, bowling, and so much more. This is the type of experience that online play just can't mimic. Call me stupid if you must, but this is how I feel.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii)

Even though there's no online to speak of nor do I have any idea on how I'd tell someone online to stop being a jerk with them following my instruction, New Super Mario Bros. Wii's multiplayer is some of the best fun I've had all year. Working together to progress through a level or chucking a shell at an older brother offers a multitude of multiplayer hi-jinks.

And the winner is...

New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii)

Playing through as two players was enough for me to have the most multiplayer fun this past year. Leaping off my partner's head to reach higher places otherwise inaccessible, doing speed-runs of levels together, causing one another to die-- the list goes on. It just goes to show that you don't always need online to have the best multiplayer experiences.

Runner-up: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (PS3, 360)


[Best Presentation]

This category is more than just prettiest graphics or most impressive tech. No, it's combination of that as well as voice acting, sound design, menu design, and just overall presentation of the game to the player. Here are the nominees...

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3)

I don't think I've ever seen a more gorgeous game than Uncharted 2. It looks stunning in pictures, and it looks stunning in motion. The voice acting is tremendous, the sound design is top-notch, and the loading times are quite short if there at all. As an entire package, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is sitting pretty near the top of the presentation mountain.

Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time (PS3)

Many moons ago people asked when Pixar-quality visuals would happen. Well, with Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time, the duo's latest adventure, we're getting pretty darn close if we're not already there. The fur on Ratchet is just astounding to me, and the shine of the levels is jaw-dropping. Combine that with the incredible voice acting, smooth as butter framerate, and you have a contender on your hands.

Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Wii)

2-D certainly isn't dead, and Muramasa: The Demon Blade proves it in spades. It looks in motion as it does in pictures-- like a beautiful painting. There's so much going on that it's hard to not just stop playing and view it all, taking it all in. This isn't just one of the most gorgeous games on Wii, it's just one of the most gorgeous games on any system, and that's no hyperbole.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (PS3, 360)

The number of bullets, soldiers, and polygons being pushed is incredibly impressive. From a technical standpoint, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a beast-- an absolute beast. Throw in some expertly-done voice acting, a framerate that behaves, easy to navigate menus, and all the grenade explosions you can handle, and Modern Warfare 2 might have enough to take this award.

A Boy and His Blob (Wii)

Last but certainly not least is another 2-D contender for Best Presentation. The hand-drawn art, characters, and backgrounds are all phenomenally done. Everything looks crisp and straight out of a cartoon. If there's one thing I love about the Wii is that it's a haven for 2-D games. That isn't to say it's the only console for that. Regardless, Boy and His Blob looks and sounds just terrific.

And the winner is...

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3)

As I said, I don't think I've ever seen a more technically impressive game than Uncharted 2. It has the big-budget blockbuster feel of Hollywood and the presentation everywhere else to match. Uncharted 2 is just an exceptional package both graphically and technologically.

Runner-up: Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time (PS3)


Stay tuned for tomorrow night as we take a look at the Biggest Unexpected Surprise, Best New Franchise, and Most Disappointing!

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