GameCentral hands out awards for the best graphics, music, storytelling, and more in its annual video game awards.
At some point we’re going to get tired of saying what a great year 2017 was for video games, but really it can’t be understated. Not considering how terrible things had got just a couple of years ago. The only problem with having so many top quality games is finding enough time to praise them all, which has made deciding on this year’s mini-award winners all the more difficult…
Cuphead (Xbox One)
On a technical level Horizon Zero Dawn is definitely the most accomplished video game of 2017. And it has some really nice art design too, in terms of the characters and the various robot animals. But it’s no Cuphead. If you want to talk about the game with the most memorable, and the most artistically interesting, visuals of the year then it has to be Cuphead. With not a single polygon in sight it created a game world the likes of which have never been seen before, but which you immediately wanted to interact with. The sinister character designs fit the rock-hard difficulty perfectly, and prove that the very best visuals aren’t just a flashy tech demo layered on top of the gameplay but just one part of a holistic design.
Runner-up: Horizon Zero Dawn (PlayStation 4)
The multiplayer game mode known as Battle Royale was invented long before 2017. But in games, as with everything, it’s not about who invents an idea but who can popularise it. And they don’t get much more popular than PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (aka PUBG). Battle Royale is a very simple idea: 100 people start on a huge 16km square map and have to survive and scavenge weapons in order to be the last person standing. PUBG popularised the concept, and is arguably the best at it, but the reason it gets the innovation award is the immediate and obvious effect it’s had on other publishers. Everything from Fortnite to GTA Online has rushed to copy the formula, and you can guarantee there’ll be many more next year.
Runner-up: Cappy – Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)
Format of the year
There’s no question about the winner in this category. And barely any need to explain why. The Switch has enjoyed the best first year of perhaps any format in console history, something only the most zealous of fans would’ve betted on even as recently as its January previews. At first the idea of a home and portable hybrid seemed nothing more than a novel gimmick, but it’s transformed the way games are played on the system and suddenly its more powerful rivals seem like literal stick in the muds. And then of course there’s the games. Some consoles could go without this many top-quality exclusives in their entire existence, but in just nine months the Switch has claimed three 10/10s (including Mario Kart 8 Deluxe) and created Nintendo’s best run of new titles since the SNES.
Runner-up: PlayStation 4
Indie game of the year
Nex Machina (PlayStation 4 and PC)
At the start of this generation indie games proved to be essential for filling in the (wide) gaps in the new consoles’ release schedules. But more importantly than that they can afford to be daring and inventive in ways that big budget games never can. Or at least that describes some of the year’s other great titles, such as The Sexy Brutale and What Remains Of Edith Finch, but actually Nex Machina isn’t very original. It’s a twin-stick shooter designed in conjunction with golden age arcade genius Eugene Jarvis and its main claim to fame is that… it’s near perfect. The super slick controls, and the constant sense of being on the edge of disaster, makes it the definitive modern-day arcade game.
Runner-up: Polybius (PlayStation 4)
NieR: Automata (PlayStation 4 and PC)
We almost wish NieR: Automata hadn’t come out this year, because we’d have liked it to be higher in our top 20 of the year. We also feel a bit guilty about not giving it the best storytelling award, but it definitely deserves the best soundtrack. Much like the visuals in Cuphead, it’s the way the music integrates into the rest of the game that makes it so effective, becoming a key component of multiple set pieces in a way that just doesn’t happen in other games. A special mention does need to go to Destiny 2 though, whose soundtrack shows far more variety and inventiveness than any other element of the game.
Runner-up: Destiny 2 (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC)
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC)
We’ve always been frustrated at how little praise Wolfenstein: The New Order got for its storytelling, but we were relieved to find that didn’t put developer MachineGames off when it came to the sequel. Their games are a bizarre tonal mix of the deadly serious, the absurdly silly, and the just plain weird. That’s a hard enough mixture to get right at the best of times, but when the subject matter is an alternative history where Germany won the Second World War you know you’ve got to be pitch perfect. And somehow they are. The commentary on the current alt-right movement is hilariously scathing and yet the rest of the game also manages to feature likeable, believably human characters – as well as fart jokes, LSD visions, and… well, it’s better you find out for yourself.
Runner-up: NieR: Automata (PlayStation 4 and PC)
Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days (Xbox One and PC)
As final proof of just how good 2017 has been for games we genuinely couldn’t think of anything for this category, and had to start looking up the scores we’d given over the course of the year. And that’s when we remembered Reservoir Dogs: Blood Days. How a little indie developer got hold of the licence we don’t know, but Winston Wolf (yes, we know that’s a different film, but it’s the same universe) should be sent round immediately to retrieve it. The game is obviously trying to be Hotline Miami, but with no idea of what made that game work. Bloody Days is bloody awful and almost makes you glad film tie-ins fell out of fashion years ago.
Runner-up: FlatOut 4: Total Insanity (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC)
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