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Review GameBanshee Game of the Year Awards

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Ausir, Jan 16, 2008.

  1. Ausir Arcane

    Ausir
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    Tags: CD Projekt; Witcher, The

    <a href=http://www.gamebanshee.com>GameBanshee</a> has published its <a href=http://www.gamebanshee.com/editorials/goty2007page1.php>2007 Game of the Year Awards</a>. The main RPG of the Year award goes to CD Projekt's <a href=http://www.thewitcher.com>The Witcher</a>:
    <br>
    <blockquote>
    <br>
    Even though we had witnessed more than one demonstration of The Witcher before release, we really weren&#8217;t prepared for just how good CD Projekt&#8217;s CRPG was going to be. Simply put, the game excels in virtually every area that a role-playing game should. In addition to featuring an excellent story in the believable world of Temeria, The Witcher offers tough player choices, a large number of meaningful NPCs, a well-constructed character development system, and a unique and interactive combat system. To sweeten the deal, the game was surprisingly stable and well localized when compared to the many other European titles we&#8217;ve seen in recent years.
    <br>
    <br>
    And so, despite the fact that it was the publisher&#8217;s first attempt at game development and was built around BioWare&#8217;s dated Aurora engine, The Witcher succeeded in surpassing our expectations and is an easy pick for our RPG of the Year.</blockquote>
    <br>
    Other categories include Best Story/Writing (Mass Effect), Best Original Setting (BioShock), Best Graphics (BioShock), Best Sound/Music (BioShock), Disappointment of the Year (Mass Effect), Independent RPG of the Year (Geneforge 4) Action RPG of the Year (Titan Quest: Immortal Throne). You can read more about those and the runners up <a href=http://www.gamebanshee.com/editorials/goty2007page1.php>here</a>.
    <br>
    <br>
    Cheers, <b>Hazelnut</b>!
     
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  2. cardtrick Arbiter

    cardtrick
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    Ausir . . . you've now posted 3 The Witcher news articles in the last 5 hours. Doesn't that seem a little off to you?

    I'll grant you, this one could legitimately be called news, but the news ought to have been about the awards in general. In barely any more time than it took you to list out the various awards won by games that weren't The Witcher, you could have said which games won them. There's already been a forum thread about these awards, in fact, so you could at least have given Hazelnut credit.
     
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  3. Ausir Arcane

    Ausir
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  4. Edward_R_Murrow Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Edward_R_Murrow
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    Alright, Gamebanshee needs to tone down the slurping on Bioware's cock.

    Huh, that's funny, because the preview info right here tells you exactly what the plot of the game is. Bad aliens are coming and you need to stop them. Heck, you know more than the character does for 80% of the game if you have read even one preview.

    So it's good because of the graphics?

    And because it loads you up with ancillary bullshit that doesn't matter?

    So Mass Effect's story is better than a cliche MacGuffin hunt with some of the most two-dimensional characters in history? WHAT A FUCKING AMAZING FEAT OF MANKIND!

    Where? Because having some characters arbitrarily be chosen to die isn't fucking brilliant, just stupid, especially seeing as there's a good chance most people wouldn't give two shits about one of them, making it a non-choice. Nothing else was really remarkable, plot-wise, and the one chance they had for a satisfying final conclusion was killed by the incredibly lame "final final boss" type of consolish bullshit.

    We stopped the ancient evil today....but we still must put them down for good! Not nearly as bad as Halo 2's ;

    Admiral: Where are you Master Chief?
    Chief: Sir, waiting for Halo 3 to advance the plot!

    ending after you spank a huge monkey with the alien guy, but still godawful.

    I find it fucked up that graphics were a factor in the fucking "writing" award? What. THE. FUCK? And all of the completely baseless compliments are almost sickening.

    System Shock + Sealab mixed into some Frankenstein's monster with Fallout stuff shamelessly stolen is what constitutes originality over there?

    So wait....they claim the setting is based on Rand's stuff, but is the best original setting? Am I the only one who finds that a little strange?

    I'm not a huge fan of Rand, but for crying out loud, how messed up do you have to be to slam Rand as awful, shoddy writing whilst praising the work of Drew Karpyshyn as brilliant in the same piece? Anyone who disagrees, go slam your head on a cinder block....as that's far more pleasant and civil than subjecting someone to reading the Throne of Bhaal novelization. And they probably do the same amount of brain damage as well....

    The fuck? It's barely an RPG and the are shoving it into a category it fails in? Hell, Mass Effect had a pretty awesome soundtrack and actually deserves this spot.

    And that's why it received the best writing award, and all those other awards. It's obviously worse than the toolset shipped as a game with the mind-numbingly bad OC, it's obviously worse than KOTOR which had absolutely no stimulating gameplay to speak of, and it's obviously worse than the godawful brawler with stats and more Asian stereotypes and cliches than a 70's Kung-Fu flick. Yep....

    So, how long does everyone think it will take for Gamebanshee to follow in the footsteps of TheEscapist, going from pretty intelligent site, to skullfuckingly idiotic? Hopefully this was an isolated incident, or Brother None was too busy infiltrating Bethesda HQ to collaborate on this.
     
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  5. Brother None inXile Entertainment Developer

    Brother None
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    *flails arms* this is going to be such a mess if I have to discuss this in two threads.

    Yes, our editing staff (except me) likes BioWare more than you do. No, that does not automatically qualify us as "Biowhores". The head editor tagged ME as a disappointing game, that's what it's being reviewed as.

    Why do you people get so bogged down on one line about KotOR? Yes, he's a KotOR fan. Deal with it.

    It's called game of the year for a reason. You're not comparing it to games of all time or your own high standards, you're comparing it to contemporaries.

    They weren't. Well-executed cutscenes advance the storyline, as would well-done "talking heads", and I don't care if they're well-done by being well-designed graphically or well-written if you're not giving an image.

    No, "over there" basing a setting on Objectivist philosophy and actually grasping what that philosophy is about rather than just smearing it on as a thin veneer is a good thing. They fail to deliver in the plot, but both the retro-50s and reflections of a dystopic Objectivist world are incredibly well-rendered.

    Again you seem to fail to grasp the concept of game of the year, too. Exactly what game (out of GB's coverage) would you say had a better original setting?

    I don't claim anything, I know it is. And the failure of so many game journalists to notice that just shows how maleducated the industry is now.

    That said, BioShock is based less on Atlas Shrugged than, say, Warcraft is on LotR, or Mass Effect on Star Warss.

    You do know what "best original setting" means, right? "original setting" means "a setting created for purpose of this game, a first-timer", not "a setting that's original"

    By having multiple editors?

    That said, how retarded do you have to be to directly compare video game writing to novel writing as if they have the same standards?

    Where exactly did we say Karpyshyn is a great novelist?

    I don't see how BioShock fails. Atmospheric music, well-implemented 50s music stuck in, great atmospheric sounds (metal screeching on metal etc.)
    Works for me.

    As for "barely an RPG", that's not relevant there. For all awards except for best (indie/action) RPG of the year, all games we covered the past year were considered. Simple as that.

    All what other awards? It won one positive award, best writing, and was runner-up on another one, best soundtrack.

    But guess what, neither of those rewards reflect on gameplay. Exactly where that piece of text says Mass Effect disappoints.

    If a game has great writing and a great soundtrack, it can't possibly disappoint as a game? Seriously?

    Again, the only change in GB's staff recently has been me getting hired. If GB has been getting dumber, it's thus on me, no one else.

    No, this was done mostly by me and Jon. And I only did the writing on BioShock (Action RPG of the year, best original setting, best sound & music), Genefore 4 and Eschalon: Book I. All the rest is Jon.
     
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  6. thesheeep Arcane

    thesheeep
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    Don't get too much involved on that, BN... Edward simply seems to have failed grasping what this is about.
    Such things happen. He may even be a nice person, despite all that ;)
     
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  7. Edward_R_Murrow Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Sorry about that.

    Of course not, but ridiculous claims and seeming contradictions go a bit towards doing that.

    And that's something I just don't understand given some other information.

    I really couldn't care less if someone liked KOTOR, but praising it's writing as something great? Please. I can see someone heavily enjoying KOTOR as a fun space-opera romp, but it wasn't very well written. That would be like if someone here who really loved Arcanum tried to argue that combat in it was great, and the Blackrock Clan caverns was the pinnacle of level design. Just plain silly.

    Uh huh. And my incredibly sarcastic response was merely targeted towards the comment made about it being the best thing since KOTOR in the sci-fi writing department.

    Are you sure?

    Seems like graphics are playing a part. Especially seeing as the Mask of the Betrayer piece had absolutely nothing on audio-visual peripherals, yet Mass Effect did.

    But does that really factor into the "writing" at all? Nobody says Bloodlines had great writing because of it's animations....they say it because it had well done dialogues that felt authentic and "real".

    Fair enough, though I think it was less an actual good implementation of objectivist thinking and more of a "These are all the bad things that happen with total laissez faire and look at how all hell just broke loose because of it" that completely lambastes objectivist thinking as "bad" and doesn't give it a fair shake. But that's just me.

    Well, I'm going to dodge the question and say that the whole category seems kind of, well, stupid. Personally, I don't really think there are enough "original settings" in RPGs out there, and this year is a good example. BioShock, a glorified FPS is shoehorned into the genre and given the award, with the abysmal Hellgate London, that did nothing with the setting and made it feel as artificial as can be, coming in second. Maybe ditch the originality idea and go for a best "atmosphere" award. Because a lot of games in pre-conceived settings and IP still have a lot of work in fleshing out the setting. Take Bloodlines again for example. It's set in White Wolf's World of Darkness, pretty much a over-gothed idiotfest. Troika was actually able to make it something completely different, dare I use the "I-word"? Same thing with Mask of the Betrayer, it's in a licensed IP, but it oozes creativity in the atmosphere constructed. Whereas this award is just thrown upon the few "original" settings that are created.

    I can buy that.

    Actually....not until I read your post. The "correct" interpretation just seemed kind of silly to me, based on what I said above. It kind of seemed like an incredibly narrow category not really worth an award.

    Got me there.

    In practice, you are right, it's probably stupid. But there is really nothing that makes it so video-games can't actually have some good writing besides the industry being incompetent and the consumers operating under some directive that allows them to lower their standards at will when video games come into the equation. I mean, if people demanded good writing and wrote the Final Fantasies, the Oblivions, and the like off as godawful instead of praising their brilliance, things might actually change, no?

    Then again I'm operating under the assumption that narratives, whether in novel form, or game form share a lot of the same properties of good writing. Like showing character development through actions and interactions as opposed to rather contrived backstory exposition.

    I was just using that as a bit of a joke and to realy exemplify how bad the lead writer of Mass Effect can be. Not trying to imply anything like that.

    I guess this one is pretty subjective. I thought the sound did a lot more in Mass Effect than it did in Bioshock and I suppose the GameBanshee staff felt otherwise. Granted, it's probably because I'm biased against Bioshock, seeing as it really failed on all levels to surpass System Shock 2, save graphics. But then that would be holding a game up to it's predecessors.

    Alrighty then. It still seems kind of silly to shove a colossal blockbuster action game into the same category as RPGs on a mostly RPG focused site. Just me though.

    Wait for it....

    Well, maybe it's just that I don't exactly understand the logic behind it. The team are a bunch of KOTOR-diehards, they feel the presentation and story have excelled over KOTOR and they complain about the gameplay. See, this is where it doesn't make sense. They claim it to be the most dumbed down Bioware game in terms of RPG elements, when it surely is not. There are plenty of quests where dialogue skills can help prevail, a bunch of decent choice scenarios, and dialogue skills are actually useful this time around, as there are no KOTOR-style vanilla dialogue option that do the same thing. Plus, you can "Master" Saren. How are the RPG mechanics dumbed down? They are better than every previous Bioware game, save Shadows of Amn. The companions are still the same backstory dumps as in KOTOR, and the item descriptions have been replaced by the Galatic Codex in the idea of ancillary fluff provision. And the combat seems very similar to KOTOR, in fact better, in that they trimmed the fat. Sure KOTOR had more stuff, but most o it was stuff like "Kickass 1 through 3", "Cheap Shot 1 through 4" or feats like "Will Save +1", "Will Save +2" and the like. Basically, Mass Effect is pretty much an actionized KOTOR with better RPG mechanics when comes down to gameplay. And let's face it, KOTOR didn't exactly have any tactical depth whatsoever, so action elements and twitch skills actually do better the formula in this case. Yet even though KOTOR is the cat's pajamas to the staff, Mass Effect is a huge disappointment even though it's basically "the same formula" that they wanted and more.

    I just don't get it. Seems kind of hypocritical.

    Maybe...
     
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  8. Morbus Scholar

    Morbus
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    How can they not choose The Witcher for the Action RPG of the Year when they chose it for RPG of the Year? :\
     
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  9. Ausir Arcane

    Ausir
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  10. Section8 Erudite

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    It depends on what you consider to be RPG elements, and Jon from GB does explain his stance pretty well. He's disappointed at the lack of functional character development, a smaller quantity of items/weapons with less stats and background, less companions and less opportunity for NPC discourse.

    Personally, I don't see that as dumbed down because I thought KOTOR had too much fluff content that could be judiciously done away with.

    And to go back to something that caught my eye:

    You're right that a direct comparison would be foolish, but I don't think standards should be lowered as much as people seem willing to lower them. A game like Mass Effect should at least be held up to the standard of film, with certain concessions being made for a less linear narrative. A game like Torment should be held up to the standards of literature, again with certain concessions for the interactive nature of the story. A game like Oblivion should be held up to a film standard, and offered no concessions since it makes no real effort to make its narrative sensibly interact with the world.

    That's if you want to make comparisons to traditional media, however I think it would be more sensible to judge a game narrative on the strengths of the medium. Don't just judge the story, judge how it is told. You could theoretically shoehorn the whole of Project Gutenberg into a game as book items the player can pick up and read, but that wouldn't make the game an effective storytelling device.
     
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  11. 1eyedking Erudite

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    Finally, someone gets it.
     
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  12. OccupatedVoid Arbiter

    OccupatedVoid
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    Bioshock *slurp*
     
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  13. BuckGB Novice

    BuckGB
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    Hey guys, I just thought I'd drop in here to try and address some of the criticisms about my decision to label Mass Effect as a disappointment.

    Let me start off by saying that I've been playing tabletop and PC RPGs for 27 years, I think the D20 system is pretty solid in terms of variety, and I grew up watching (and really enjoying) Star Wars episodes IV - VI. As a result, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was a good match for me and I enjoyed it immensely for many different reasons that are sort of out of the scope of what I popped in here for.

    Now, eschewing the D20 system for Mass Effect was fine, but I didn't expect BioWare's proprietary character development system to be so generic. There are no character attributes, no noteworthy non-combat skills, and only forty talents - most of which are nearly identical. For example, all four weapon talents use the same progression with one unlockable skill within each that more-or-less increases damage, the three armor talents reduce damage and increase shield regeneration, and the six biotic talents serve either a direct damage or crowd control purpose. The talent pool also includes class specializations, which can only be perceived as an afterthought. Ascending to any of them just lets you allocate six more points into a slightly modified version of your previous class talent. They're practically transparent.

    The Paragon/Renegade system might enter into grey areas more than the Dark/Light and Open Palm/Closed Fist systems, but it's still the same approach. Top choices on the radial menu are for Paragons, bottom choices are for Renegades. Whenever there is an option to Charm, there's an option to Intimidate. It's not a terrible way to handle dialogue considering that there are no attributes to reference or anything, but there's definitely nothing unique about it. The game was supposed to have some real hard-hitting player decisions, too. There are two major decisions you have to make in the game - which of your squad members dies at the hands of the Geth and whether or not to wipe out the Rachni race. Aside from potentially losing a romance option, there are no consequences to either of these actions.

    It might not matter to some, but having unique equipment with interesting descriptions is a must for me in a role-playing game. With Mass Effect, it's as if they just opened up a thesarus and grabbed all the one-word synonyms they could find for the weapons and armor. Some of the names are even duplicated (Avenger is the name of a sniper rifle AND an assault rifle, Striker is the name of a pistol AND a sniper rifle, etc.) and there is no naming differentiation between light/medium/heavy armors for any of the four races (resulting in the same name being used for up to 12 different armors). Additionally, I'm the kind of guy who actually reads the six paragraphs that describe how The Snow Maiden's Reaver came to be. With the equipment in ME, there are no item descriptions and no statistics to consider aside from three simple scores. The whole equipment system just feels uninspired and boring to me.

    Aside from the main quest planets (which were pretty well done), I never really felt any satisfaction from exploring the game's galaxy, either. The idea of exploring uncharted planets sounded great to me, but when you're just landing on the same square patch of land devoid of anything but crashed space probes, minerals waiting to be surveyed, insurmountable mountain ranges, and the occasional side quest that takes place in an unremarkable building or mining facility, the novelty wears off fast. When coupled with the simplistic, bouncy, and slow-moving Mako, most of my planetary exploration has felt like a chore.

    I should also add that I'm not a fan of enemy and loot scaling, especially when it's used exclusively and ruins any sense of danger (and adventure) in the game. I was actually hoping that I'd be able to land on some exotic planet and be slaughtered by a sinister alien species, but that never happened. In my opinion, that type of thing encourages players to continue to build their characters, re-equip their characters, or otherwise utilize some other strategy and then return to the challenge later on. It was also pretty disappointing to get a few dozen credits and maybe a suit of Explorer I armor for quests and Geth kills at the beginning of the game, only to discover that those same quests and Geth could suddenly be worth tens of thousands of credits and a suit of Explorer X armor if I killed or completed them when my squad was of higher level later in the game. Some scaling is acceptable, but Mass Effect's progression was just too strict and linear for me.

    That's my take, anyway. Mass Effect is certainly not a bad game (I still contend that the storyline, cinematics, voiceovers, and music are great), but I couldn't help but scratch my head at the many poor design decisions. It had a lot to live up to for me and as a result was my biggest disappointment this year. Hellgate: London was a close second, but I went into that game expecting Diablo-style skill trees and some quick cooperative fun, nothing more. As a result, my expectations were met.
     
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  14. cardtrick Arbiter

    cardtrick
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    Thanks for stopping by. Not having played Mass Effect, I can't really weigh in too much, but I thought that was a thoroughly respectable explanation of your opinion. Personally, I'm still looking forward to trying the game when it's ported to PC.
     
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  15. Brother None inXile Entertainment Developer

    Brother None
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    I, also, haven't played Mass Effect (the newest console I own is a Sega Megadrive (Genesis for you yanks)), so I'll bow out of discussing it.

    Well, what other Sci Fi RPG or game had much better writing? Again, high standards are a good thing, but this kind of editorial isn't the place.

    The way you transfer the story does matter. Yes, sorry, I know you don't like to hear it, but if I print the greatest book ever written on purple paper, people still won't like it.

    It doesn't matter to me *how* you choose to transfer the story, it matter to me how well you do it. Whether you're a text-based RPG or the greatest graphical innovation since Fallout's talking heads doesn't matter.

    It's that simple: the fact that they have great graphics doesn't matter. The fact that they use it effectively to transfer the story *does*

    That's a matter of how much you like Objectivist thinking and laissez faire, though.

    Besides, BioShock does allow for incredibly human willpower and ingenuity to, under these circumstances, build a marvel of human technology. Its downfall isn't caused by internal contradictions in Objectivist thinking, it's brought about by human nature (this is made most explicit in the last few audio tapes of Fontaine you can listen to).

    If you don't think that distinction matters...well...it does matter whether I say "communism is inherently flawed" or "communism can not work due to human nature".

    Actually, the best original setting award was probably a one-time award, and we picked it up this year exactly because this year is an exceptional good year in the creation of original property; Mass Effect, BioShock, Hellgate: London, Eschalon, Depths of Peril, Tabula Rasa, Two Worlds, Chosen. Not exactly a dry spell of candidates to choose from.

    Next year we probably won't be running this award.

    BioShock's genre has nothing to do with it winning the award. I do regret the Hellgate: London pick, but again, the other choices were all so...predictable.

    Yes, it does look silly, and it'll probably one happen this year, as BioShock was kind of exceptional.

    But no need to imply the other games didn't stand a chance against the colossus. The Witcher only lost out to BioShock for graphics by an elbow. Not because the Witcher can stand up to BioShock when it comes to shininess, but because the Witcher executes its graphics really well. Same goes for ME vs BioShock.

    You can't win two awards. Games were put either in the action RPG or RPG category. Indie RPGs did kind of fall under both, since that's about production models, not types of RPG. The Witcher was not considered an action RPG for sake of that award, and I don't really see how it is. If we have to consider the Witcher an action RPG, we're hardly left with any candidates for "RPG". And no, we're not about to hold RPGs up to the Codex standards. If we did that, we couldn't call any release an RPG.

    Sure, in the context of a review, possibly. But game of the year, again, compares games against each other, not against anything else. That means "best action RPG of the year" can still suck, if all action RPGs that year sucked.

    Uhm...yes, duh. I don't see how that reflects in any way on this article, though.
     
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  16. Morbus Scholar

    Morbus
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    Yeah, it's pretty understandable why Bioshock is a let down. As someone who's played about half of it, I can see the truth in BuckGB's post, and it's clear enough to me.

    All in all, Bioshock is more a playable movie-slash-mindless shooter than a proper RPG. The choices are there, but are pretty much like KotOR's. And you know how KotOR is...
     
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