THE FANBOY AWARDS FOR BEST SYSTEM EXCLUSIVES
system has games that can’t be found anywhere else. Sometimes those titles are
good enough to stomp their huge, multiplatform rivals; sometimes not. Either
way, they’re guaranteed to be beloved by system loyalists, and they deserve
recognition for being the best of what’s unique to their respective platforms.
Fanboy Award for best PC exclusive: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
may not have seen a bountiful crop of exclusives this year, but even if it had,
The Witcher 2 would still be at the top. Want to show your friends why the PC
blows away consoles? Show them this game. Want to show that games can have
mature, witty writing and nuanced acting? Look no further. If you're tired of
RPG clichés, The Witcher 2 is the cure. Its combat is fast, brutal, and
difficult. Its world is not one of gauzy, bright fantasy where humans, elves,
and dwarves work together to combat ancient evil – it's a dirty, mean-spirited
place where elves are terrorists and humans are racists and there is no ancient
evil, but rather a complex plot of political scheming and hidden enemies.
point in the game, you must decide which side to take in a small conflict. This
seemingly minor decision leads you on a path to an entirely unique area filled
with unique quests, which takes up a third to half of the entire game.
One choice means the difference of perhaps twenty hours of content, and as is
the case with most choices in the Witcher series, there are no black-or-white
options, just shades of gray where you know that no matter what you do,
somebody you care about will get hurt. Like real life, sometimes there is no
Fanboy Award for Best Wii Exclusive: Zelda: Skyward Sword
Sword was this year’s reason to dust off your Wii. The first and last Wii-exclusive
Zelda truly delivered, with advanced motion controls for 1:1 sword-swinging,
shield-bashing, and arrow-flinging precision that feels like the real
thing. The game pushed the series
forward, changing the overall formula and rehashing the overworld layout into a
combination of Wind Waker’s open ocean and Metroid-style backtracking. Series
staples like the boomerang and light (or silver) arrows are no-shows. Instead,
we’re treated to puzzles that force players to think outside the Zelda box,
using the more unusual items at hand. Even the characters are better fleshed
out than ever before, with Zelda actually presented as someone Link would
actually want to save, rather than just that princess in that castle over there.
any Zelda fan, Skyward Sword is a must play. It brings a fantastic origin story
to the series – even answering a few questions about the series timeline. And
for those who’ve never played Zelda, what better way is there to experience a
Legend than from the beginning?
Fanboy Award for Best DS Exclusive: Pokemon Black and White
said it before, and we'll say it again: Pokemon is one of the deepest, most
strategic RPGs of all time, and it's a shame it often doesn't get credit for
how hardcore it can be. Black and White continues this tradition, with more
Pokemon, more multiplayer features, and a better story than ever before. In
terms of the sheer amount of content it contains (it can't even be measured in
hours – try a few hundred to start), and the level of polish on every last
pixel, B&W is unrivaled among all other DS games.
and White introduces 156 new Pokemon – more than any Pokemon game before it –
bringing the total number of Pokemon to 649. With countless ways to train each
Pokemon, the balancing nightmare this must have posed is truly staggering, but
somehow developer Game Freak managed it beautifully – enough to support a
thriving community of competitive battlers. O.G. Pokemon fans tend to have a
nostalgia-fueled love for the original 151, coupled with an irrational hatred
for all newer Pokemon, but if you're able to put those biases aside, B&W's
Pokemon are some of the coolest in the entire series. Just saying – we'd take
Volcarona over Venomoth any day.
Fanboy Award for Best 3DS Exclusive: Super Mario 3D Land
Mario 3D Land isn’t just a vitally important game for the 3DS, although it has
single-handedly transformed the machine from an abortive misfire into a legitimate
successor to the great Nintendo handheld line. It’s also a very important entry
in the Mario series. Instead of a cut-down, simplified 3D Mario, as some
initially had it pegged, Super Mario 3D Land is actually the first Mario game
in 21 years to feel like a genuine part of the original, 2D NES/SNES series.
simply, it’s the product of everything Nintendo has learned about the creative
possibilities of 3D game design, filtered through the lens of the original
games’ values. What 3D Land chooses to leave out is just as important as what
it includes. With climbing, punching, kicking and ledge-dangling gone, it
leaves the more general action-adventure vibe of the recent games behind and
returns to the intricate, densely layered level design and disciplined,
pixel-perfect platforming demands of old. With a light, optional objective
system closer in tone to Super Mario World than Super Mario 64, and literally a
whole game’s worth of unlockable extra content, it’s as large and challenging
an undertaking as you want it to be. Or not. Whoever you are, it’s perfect.
Fanboy Award for Best PS3 Exclusive: Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
The best reason to own a PS3? Damn straight. Naughty
Dog really went above and beyond to serve up the most epic Uncharted to date, simply
by making everything bigger. From the enormous scope of the shipyard level and its
beached super-tankers to the jaw-dropping plane crash in the desert, everything
here has been super-sized. The flow between these stunning levels, and the
game’s dramatic set-pieces, is superb and sucks you through without ever
leaving you feeling bored.
While some idiots are already wishing their lives away
for the Wii U, Xbox 720 and PS4, the mix of intense action, nigh-perfect
dialogue and incredible visuals in Uncharted 3 showcases what’s still possible
“this-gen.” Sony can finally be proud of a platform exclusive that makes its
competitors look on in pure envy, and this year, with the third outing of its
poster boy, Nathan Drake, it cemented the Uncharted series as an all-time
Fanboy Award for Best PSP Exclusive: Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
waning handheld has been home to some of the best tactical RPGs of the last few
years, and Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is arguably the best of them
yet. The original Super Famicom/SNES release of Tactics Ogre popularized the
"tactics" genre of isometric strategy games, and inspired its even
more famous successor, Final Fantasy Tactics. Sadly, though, it's a classic
that's been largely overlooked in the US, so we were pleased to see that this
year's PSP remake was impeccably executed.
the original is still among the best in the genre, Square Enix could have done
a straight port of original developer Quest's work, but instead it went all-out,
with brand-new, gorgeous, hand-drawn art and some welcome tweaks that modernize
the gameplay without dulling its hardcore edge. Most notably, the PSP remake
features a rewind function, called Chariot Tarot, that allows you to undo up to
your last 50 moves, so you can erase any silly mistakes you make and call a
do-over anytime. Can all tactics games have this option from now on?
Fanboy Award for Best Xbox 360 Exclusive: Forza Motorsport 4
After the underwhelming Gran Turismo 5, all Forza
Motorsport had to do to take the crown was not trip over its feet and crack its
head open on the way to the stage. Fortunately, Turn 10 put in the work and
made a great thing even better. Multiple configurations for every track, a
great car list (sans Porsche, sadly) and a much-improved community interface
make FM4 the best iteration of the series, and the best console racing-simulation
game available. Add to that the car porn of Autovista, the Top Gear races and
the constantly updating online challenges, and Forza has something for even the
mildest racing fan.
While hardcore players may not care, the game also puts a lot of
effort into making itself accessible for casual gamers. Kinect controls and a
huge array of assists mean even your grandma can lap around the Nurburgring at
Fanboy Award for Best iOS Exclusive: Infinity Blade II
3DS? Pah. PS Vita? Pah. Yes, PAH. Infinity Blade II on
iPhone looks better than anything yet seen on these handhelds, meaning the best
graphics you can play with on the bus come from a humble cell phone. Gasp in
awe at the new “rays of light” effect, which silhouette your character against
a halo of amazingness. Regardless of what hardware it’s on, this is a true
showcase for computer-generated imagery. Take that, dedicated gaming machines!
your favorite game not represented here? Don’t worry – we’ve got two more
rounds of awards still to go, continuing here and culminating in our Game of the Year!