Best in show
Gamescom 2014 has been full of great games and surprise announcements. Sure, the reveals werent as megaton as those seen at E3, but the game demos are a little better thanks to the added time given to developers between June and now. Were starting to get a real feel for how new-gen and PC is shaping up for 2014/15. Thanks Gamescom: wed like to give you a few awards, if we may
The following awards are a mix of sensible and silly--as youd expect from GamesRadar--but they reflect our feelings towards the show, having both attended it, and covered the events from afar. We hope they act as a final, delicious taste of what has been an exciting, game-packed event.
The Best Troll Award - Silent Hills / PT
We have two creative giants, Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro, coming together to create the first new Silent Hill game seen in two years. This is huge news! So of course the only way to properly advertise it is by putting the title card at the end of a vaguely named demo so that no one knows it's there unless they randomly play it. What would've been one of the most widely covered announcements of the show was ultimately revealed by YouTubers who had played the P.T. demo and figured out the secret first, catching everyone else with their trousers down. It's a lot harder to "shit your pants" that way, you guys.
Runner-up: Fable Legends The gargantuan troll in Fable Legends struck an imposing figure, though that was undercut by the fact he could be defeated by players cutting off his loincloth. Wait, did the troll get trolled?
The Frothing With Whimsy Award - Tearaway Unfolded
With Nintendo largely absent at Gamescom, it was left to others to provide the heart-melting whimsy. Sony stepped up and delivered with Tearaway on PS4. Its awesome news that the under-played Vita game is getting a bigger audience, and its amazing to see that Media Molecule is tailoring it to feel like a proper PS4 experience. Its not just Tearaways lovely, crafty visuals that are bringing the whimsy though: its the controls too. Using the pad to light dark areas? Smart. Being able to trap squirrels in your DualShock and fire them into the screen? Pure genius. We cant wait to fall in love with this game all over again.
Runner-up: Ori and the Blind Forest Microsofts premiere indie title is 100%, undiluted whimsy. Its about a cute glowing blob running around a forest, and the visuals are delightfully vibrant and colourful.
The Best Box Award - Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain
You think you know something about boxes in Metal Gear Solid? Well sit down kid, Kojima's about to take you to school. The Phantom Pain showcases the series' most intricate box-based technology yet, letting players use the cardboard cover as a decoy or pop out and take down enemies like the world's worst bachelor party gift. But the real majesty of the box comes in its disguise capabilities, allowing Big Boss to pose as an enemy soldier or, more appropriately, a sexy swimsuit model. Both distract surrounding enemies with varying degrees of success, allowing you to sneak away or launch a surprise attack. This is the pinnacle of American military technology at your fingertips, and we can only imagine Big Boss will get to put it to good use.
Runner-up: Toy Soldiers The toy box in Toy Soldiers: War Chest doesn't have the cool feature of its cardboard counterpart, but as the base of operations that you'll protect from enemy toys, it's certainly worth keeping an eye on.
The Best B-Movie Horror Award - Until Dawn
A big group of friends are going on vacation in some secluded locale, packing along a carload of fun plans and sexual frustration for a shenanigan-filled weekend. But these friends have a horrible secret, one that leads to a mysterious killer coming after them for reasons they better discover, or die trying. I just described an entire category of cheesy horror films, and also Supermassive Games' new title, Until Dawn. Heavily incorporating tropes from teen slasher films, Dawn is an atmospheric love-letter to the genre, adding in all the staples that horror fans know and love. The persistent element of choice promises to greatly affect the story's trajectory, putting an interesting little twist on a horror classic.
Runner-up: The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Though The Vanishing of Ethan Carter doesn't appear to be a straight-up horror affair, it does look to use things both terrifying and metaphysical to tell its mysterious story.
The "Stop ganging up on me, guys!" Award - Evolve
Used to be that a 4-vs-1 multiplayer match was considered "unfair," "a dumb waste of time," or "a disgraceful example of cyber-bullying." But lately, these uneven odds are all the rage--and right now, nothing does this brand of asymmetrical multiplayer better than Evolve. Whether you've got your heart set on running with the Hunter pack or chowing down on puny humans as a hulking monster, you're going to have a good time playing as both predator and prey. We can't imagine how difficult it must be for Turtle Rock Studios to balance so many different Hunter archetypes and monster abilities within the four-on-one scenario. But our hands-on sessions with Evolve have us convinced that smart tactics and skillful play matter more than team size.
Runner-up: Shadow Realms BioWare's experimental action RPG also employs the 4-vs-1 structure, with a mystical Shadow Lord as the singular enemy instead of an animalistic alien. But Shadow Realms puts more emphasis on setting up traps around the dungeon setting and possessing your demonic minions to dole out the hurt.
The Scarlet Letter Award - Rise of the Tomb Raider
Frankly, we cant print most of the comments left by people on forums, Facebook, and Twitter when Microsoft announced that Rise of the Tomb Raider would be an Xbox One exclusive. Even though it turned out to be a timed deal, theres little denying that a lot of people reacted really, really badly. Lara must feel an awful lot like Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter now, except shes been given a large green X to wear instead of the red A. And, to continue the metaphor, Laras punishment doesnt fit her crime either. Were not going to take sides: all we hope is that Rise of the Tomb Raider is every inch as awesome as the last game. Better even. And we hope it earns more awards than this one
Runner-up: Call of Duty Advanced Warfare Look, we know Activision makes a COD game every year, and some have felt more stagnant than others. Should it be unnecessarily persecuted again? No. Advanced Warfare looks ace: get over it.
The Sweetest Ride Award - Screamride
Deep down, adrenaline junkies must be aware that there's a small chance they could die during their next roller coaster ride. Hell, that possibility is probably part of the thrill. But what if death-by-derailed-coaster-cart was practically a guarantee? That's the strange--and awesome--premise of Screamride, a theme park builder with a deliciously sadistic spin. As part of the team of researchers in a dystopian future, it's your job to construct thrill rides that'll make passengers scream until every molecule of oxygen in their lungs has been evacuated (and let's not even think about their bowels). It's very likely that your park visitors will meet their end careening into a concrete building at supersonic speeds. But you know what? They'll die happy.
Runner-up: Wild's giant birds Not since The Hobbit have flights on the back of a humongous eagle looked this awesome. Michel Ancel's Wild clearly proves that our prehistoric ancestors knew how to travel in style. Y'know, when they weren't hanging out with reanimated skeletons or communing with gigantic tree spirits.
Darkest Soul Award - Bloodborne
Nowadays, it seems like any challenging, tactically deep experience is automatically labeled as "the Dark Souls" of its respective genre. But with Bloodborne, the comparison just makes sense. The spiritual succesor to From Software's most famous series hits all the gloriously difficult high notes that Souls fans live for. Bloodborne foregoes high fantasy, shields, and skeletons for the Victorian age, guns, and infected townsfolk, but the combat is just as demanding and the exploration just as captivating. Its boss fights--like one against a colossal, mutated wolf--feel like edge-of-your-seat deathmatches. Even the smallest enemy will test your ability to simultaneously plan ahead and think on your feet (because your plans WILL go to hell). If you like a game that makes your heart race and your palms sweat, this gothic PS4 exclusive can't come soon enough.
Runner-up: Lords of the Fallen Always wondered what Dark Souls would look like if it was developed by Germans for new-gen platforms? No? Well, here's your answer anyway. The core premise is the same as Souls--try, die, and try again--but combat in Lords of the Fallen mimics the fast pace and fluid combos you'd expect from a fighting game.
The Most Fitting Metaphor Award - The Sims 4
Most of you missed EAs press conference. It started at 9am UK time (thats 1am Pacific), and the stream regularly cut-out. However, aside from missing an awesome Dragon Age demo and some dull FIFA talk, what you also didnt see was the worlds longest (it felt that way) and most awkward Sims 4 presentation. The banter between EAs Peter Moore, and the lady presenting the game was stilted--possibly crammed full of repressed sexual tension--and tough to watch. The demo itself was a confusing mess of under-explained features, and rubbish visual gags. The assembled crowd shuffled awkwardly in their seats, the presenters were metaphorically dying on stage. So, its fitting that one of the Sims actually died in game during the demo, something the presenters didnt seem to be expecting. Cause of death? Embarrassment, probably.
Runner-up: FIFA 15 Microsoft dragged football legend Peter Schmeichel on stage to talk up FIFA 15. Hes a great man, but our Pete is a little dull. Ironic, as the lack of genuine improvements to this years FIFA made the game look a little dull.
Game Of The Show Award - The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Ok, weve got to have one serious award. Here it is: GOTS. Its The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, obviously. This latest RPG--made by the small Polish studio CD Projekt Red--blew everyone away with its beauty, scale, and ambition. In his preview, Justin compared it to Skyrim, and thats fully justified. Not only is the game vast and beautiful, its also packed with detail. The characters are interesting, the quests unusual, and the monsters you need to slay are epic. While there are some bigger names queued up for early 2015, this is the game well be keeping the most watchful eye on. We suggest you do the same.
Runner-up: Until Dawn Yes, it may be a schlocky horror game, but its looking great. What really impresses is the sheer volume of endings and ways the game could play out. One to watch, for sure.
Auf wiederesen, pet
Well, that's it for another year. Now comes the long, excruciating wait for all these fine games to hit our consoles / PCs. What was your highlight of Gamescom 2014? Let us know in the comments below. Just don't keep moaning about Tomb Raider... Lara has had quite enough of that.