NinJaSistah previews tonight's Game Awards Show
The Game Awards Show goes off Thursday night, available in many places for free online. Here's how I think some of the categories will turn out:
Most Anticipated Game
Nominees: God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Red Dead Redemption 2, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Game anticipation is always a difficult category for me. Damn near every game is a most-anticipated game — it just depends on how long ago it was announced. They went golden master finally on The Last Guardian and it seems that game has been Most Anticipated for almost a decade. To say I’m hyped about God of War is the understatement of 2016. I’m a massive fan. I’ve played every game on the console at least twice. As I’ve said on the podcast, at the end of III when I was beating the living daylights out of Zeus, not realizing I could stop, and I just kept hitting the button for about a half-holur straight, with the screen filled with blood. I think there are a lot of people looking forward to this game. Horizon Zero Dawn is a great-looking game. Every time I’ve seen anything about the game, it looks fantastic. I’m still on the fence about actually playing the game myself. I have a feeling that it’s more of my sister Panda’s thing. I feel it’s going to have more of an RPG element to it. It is a gorgeous-looking game. Mass Effect Andromeda? Yeah. I can’t think of things I have not done on N7 day. If I could have a tattoo, I would have at least one N7 tattoo some place on my body. FemShep is the only Shep, and although there’s no Shepard in this game, I feel like there should be a Shepard. I did not finish the first Red Dead Redemption, but everyone I know on the planet, as soon as Rockstar teased Red Dead Redemption 2, it was the most anticipated game among my circle of friends. Out of this list, there’s who I want to win and who I think is more than likely going to win. The Legend of Zelda is going the favorite to win, because everyone who became a gamer did so because of a Nintendo game, and, if it wasn’t Mario, it was a Zelda game. The game I want to win is God of War, but the game that should win is Zelda. So, by process of elimination, the game that will probably win is Red Dead 2.
Best eSports Game
Nominees: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, League of Legends, Overwatch, Street Fighter 5
I have not played some of these games and of those that I have played, I haven’t played them on the eSports level, but I have watched eSports matches featuring most of these games. Counter-Strike is a fantastic eSports game. For both Counter-Strike and League of Legends, the fandom is strong. Counter-Strike’s audience is not going away — they love their platform, they love their players, they don’t give up. I have a lot of respect for them. Same thing with Dota 2. Their fans love the players and the game probably on a deeper level than anything I’ve loved. League of Legends I have played. Every once in a while, I go back in and try to bring my poor Summoner up. I suck at it, but I love the character art. Most of the people I play with are supportive and will give me tips and will use the chat in a positive way — they see from how low my Summoner is that I don’t know what I’m doing. League is almost a universe all unto itself, as one of the first eSports games shown on cable. Overwatch is new to the category. It came out earlier this year, but already has a strong fandom. It is obvious that it’s built for eSports and I think it will become a hot game in the realm. Every fighting game competition comes down to Street Fighter. I think there’s a lot more room in the space because there are a lot more fighters out there. People still play Mortal Kombat, people still play Soul Caliber, people still play Tekken. When it comes down to the penultimate eSports fighting game, it comes down to Street Fighter. Unfortunately, I wasn’t happy with the Street Fighter game this year. As for who I would like to win, I’m torn between Overwatch and League of Legends. I personally enjoy the everloving play of Overwatch on my console, but I think League of Legends will actually take it.
Nominees: Battlefield 1, Gears of War 4, Overcooked, Overwatch, Titanfall 2, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege
I have not played Battlefield 1, so I can’t personally talk about its multiplayer. Some of my friends have played the game and have positive things to say about it. It looks like a gorgeous game. I’ve played Gear of War 4 and loved the game. I have done some multiplayer in the game. I’ve watched people play Overcooked and I think it is a very interesting game and it gets extremely interesting in four-player vs. two-player multiplayer, being a cooperative game, which you usually don’t see. There is no single-player in Overwatch — it’s only multiplayer. The game is good — real good. Titanfall 2 is on deck for me to play — I have not touched it yet. I know the things that made me abandon the original game have supposedly been addressed in 2. That remains to be seen. I do love mecha battles — who doesn’t? I did play Tom Clancy’s Rainbox Six Siege. I loved the multiplayer campaign. It was difficult at times to get a good group of people who played around the same level together, because I got started late. The multiplayer reminded me of all the reasons why I love the Rainbow Six series. Plus, it had Angela Bassett. What I want to win is Overwatch. I really wanted to say Siege, but I had more fun playing Overwatch. More than likely, Battlefield 1 is going to walk away with this.
Best Sports/Racing Game
Nominees: FIFA 17, Forza Horizon 3, MLB The Show 16, NBA 2K17, Pro Evolution Soccer 2017
If ever there was a category that I don’t have a dog in the race, this is it. I don’t play sports games — for me they’re work, not fun. But I have a lot of friends who love sports games. I respect that. I know FIFA is a deep game. Fans talk highly of the customization, how realistic the game is, the career mode, there’s now a story you can play. I have Forza Horizon 3, and I’ve promised to play it this year, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. I was at the E3 event when they announced it and brought that gorgeous Mustang GT down from heaven (I didn’t lick it, but I wanted to). As far as racing games go, I think Forza is the most beautiful racing game on any platform. I know nothing about MLB The Show. I know next to nothing about baseball, so I can’t have an opinion about this one. A lot of people that I know, and a lot of YouTubers that I watch, love NBA 2K17 and constantly talk about it. The only negative things I’ve heard about it were glitches that were ultimately funny things. Another game I’ve never played was Pro Evolution Soccer. I would love Forza to win this category, but I have a feeling that it’s going to be FIFA.
Best Family Game
Nominees: Dragon Quest Builders, Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Pokémon Go, Ratchet & Clank, Skylanders Imaginators
I have played a couple of games on this list. In Skylanders, I thought Activision did a really good job with this one. Both parents and children will enjoy playing together — they can create their characters and use tools to build them up. It almost felt like Kiddy Skyrim putting characters together, which was interesting. And it’s fun to play. I’ve been a Ratchet and Clank fan for many years. It’s a good platformer that’s clever and having a new game on a current-gen console is really nice. If there were a Virtual Reality game from Ratchet and Clank, I would probably get that. I was addicted to Pokemon Go for the first two months it was out, trying to catch every water Pokemon that I could, trying to get Geardos, but I fell off after about two months. Now I go back only to check on my Eevee, to check to see if it’s still alive, like a Tamagotchi. I have not played Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but I know that if you’ve played one Lego game, you’ve played them all. They all have the same humor, they all have the same building blocks of what you do. This is the first time I’ve ever heard of Dragon Quest Builders, so I can’t talk about that. What I want to win is Ratchet and Clank, but what will probably win is Pokemon Go — it was just so huge, it dwarfed everything.
Best Strategy Game
Nominees: Sid Meier’s Civilization 6, Fire Emblem Fates, The Banner Saga 2, Total War: Warhammer, XCOM 2
That’s a strong grouping of strategy games. I have been avoiding playing Civilization 6 because I know once I put it on a computer to play, I will not get off that computer until I have achieved world domination. As deep as Civ games get, that could take me months. I have other games I have to play. Luckily for me, others on the ESH crew have played it — either achieving world domination or being wiped off the map. The Civ games always deliver, and 6 is no different. I am a fan of Fire Emblem, but I have not played this game. Although I’m not a fan of turn-based games, I have a lot of respect for the mechanisms in the game. Hamsterman2049 is a huge, huge fan, so I don’t want to make him upset by saying it sucks just because it’s turn-based. I have not touched Banner Saga 2, and I don’t know much about it, so I’m not going to pretend that I do. I do know that it is very popular and has been for a while. I think it is a very pretty game, but it just doesn’t appeal enough to me to pick it up. It’s hard to knock Total War: Warhammer, it’s has such staying power. It just doesn’t go away, and I think that’s a hallmark of a really good game. It speaks to how great the Total War series is. I have not played XCOM 2. A couple of friends who are big into strategy games love XCOM 2. I want Civ to win, and it will probably win this category. If it doesn’t, it will probably go to XCOM 2.
Best Independent Game
Nominees: Firewatch, Hyper Light Drifter, Inside, Stardew Valley, The Witness
I thought Firewatch was an amazing game. I’ve watched multiple YouTubers play it all the way through and everybody has a different reaction to it, which was interesting to see. I thought it had an interesting story, and it was pretty to look at, even in the weird, freaky parts. Hyper Light Drifter is a game that a lot of people don't know about. We’ve done a couple of pieces about it on our website and we talked about it on the show when it first came out, because we loved the release. It just snuck up on a lot of people. It didn’t get a whole lot of press early. For us, it was something King Baby Duck found at an indy game convention. It’s just shoot-‘em-up fun. It makes me think of Tron, especially with the use of music in the game. I love the game, and I’m glad to see them get this nod. because I think they deserve to be nominated. I hope this makes people pick it up and give it a shot. I don’t even know where to start with what to say about Inside. The puzzles are clever. There are moments that will make you rage-quit — I don’t care how good your reflexes are. There are some parts of the game I think that nobody ever gets right and solves the first time they try it. I’ve got nothing but amazing things to say about it. Stardew Valley also deserves to be nominated, and I’m glad to see that mobile games are being included in these categories. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, you absolutely should -- another obvious labor-of-love game. I don’t know about The Witness, so it will be interesting to learn more about it. I’d like Hyper Light Drifter to win, but Inside is going to win. It’s one of those games you’re going to play-through twice (it doesn’t take long to get through, so you will).
Games for Impact
Nominees: 1979 Revolution: Black Friday, Block’hood, Orwell, Sea Hero Quest, That Dragon, Cancer
I feel really bad about this category, because I know about only one of these games. It would be surprising to me if That Dragon Cancer didn’t take this category. It was so emotionally draining for anybody who touched it. It was so well done and so draining and emotional. I don’t know how anything has a deeper impact than that game.
Nominees: Alex Hernandez as Lincoln Clay, Mafia 3; Cissy Jones as Delilah, Firewatch; Emily Rose as Elena, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End; Nolan North as Nathan Drake, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End; Rich Sommer as Henry, Firewatch; Troy Baker as Sam Drake, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
It’s really good to see Cissy Jones and Rich Summer nominated here, and to have Emily Rose, Nolan North and Troy Baker nominated is no surprise. And, I agree that Alex Hernandez did a great job. It is the voice acting that does make a great character come to life. If you don’t have the right voice for the character, it doesn’t make them pop for you as a player and makes it difficult to become invested in them. I’d like Rich Summer to win, but more than likely it’s going to be Nolan North. It’s the final Uncharted game. You can’t think of Drake in Uncharted and not think of Nolan North, so I don’t know how Nolan North doesn’t take this.
I can’t mention voice acting without talking about the current strike. I support the strike. I think voice actors aren’t given the compensation and benefits that they should get. Without the right voice actor bringing in the right performance to a character, all you have are pixels on the screen. I hope that deals can be struck that give them the rights and money they deserve. I hope it is resolved soon.
Best Music/Sound Design
Nominees: Battlefield 1, Doom, Inside, Rez Infinite, Thumper
I’ve watched every trailer for Battlefield 1, as well as several walk throughs of the early missions and it sounds like a helluva war going on. You can’t say EA doesn’t make a good-sounding game. When the zeppelin crashed, I really thought a zeppelin crashed. Doom sounds phenomenal as well. I have been around people playing the game, watched YouTubers playing it, watched walk-throughs of it. I’m not a fan of rail-shooters, but I do feel a lot of nostalgia about Doom, so I did have to check it out when it came out. In Inside, the environment is another character in the game. The audio has been mixed very well. The audio cues are so subtle and so poignant. It’s really done well. I did play the original Rez game, but not Rez Inifinite. If Infinite brought in the same kind of music as the original, it has to sound great. Thumper? I don’t know this game, so I can’t have an opinion about it. What I want to win is Inside, but I think Rez Infinite will actually take this. I think the surprize will be that it doesn’t go to Battlefield.
Best Art Direction
Nominees: Abzu, Firewatch, Inside, Overwatch, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
This one’s so tough. Abzu is an explorer game. It kind of reminds me of Flo and Journey, in that you are a non-verbal communicative entity exploring the ocean encountering different sea creatures. It is a very beautiful game. It uses light very well. It’s very calming unless you’re coming up against sharks, which want to harm you. Generally, a very relaxing experience, which I like from time to time. Firewatch is also a very artically beautiful game. It seems that your imagination gets to play a little more, and that’s probably why I like it so much. Inside being in this category absolutely makes sense. It is artistically beautiful. It is constructed well. Some might say it’s just grayscale with the color red, but to do that well really says a lot about the art direction and design. The environments of Overwatch are very intricate and completely interactive in ways and it doesn’t feel like there’s any place that’s just a regeneration of another block with a different wall covering on it. Each environment feels well thought-out, like a labor of love. So I completely understand why Overwatch is in this category. There’s not been an Uncharted game that has not been absolutely gorgeous, when you think of the environments and how lush they are. Being on the PS4, took Uncharted 4 to another level. It puts the other Uncharted games to shame. They show their age when compared with 4, so I’m not surprised to see them in this category either. This one is a toughie for me to pick. What will probably win is Uncharted 4, because it is such a deep game — so many levels, deeper than its competition. It’s the last one in the franchise, so that gives it an edge as well. Deep in my heart, though, I want Abzu to win. It’s such a cool looking game and so different than anything else in the category.
Nominees: Firewatch, Inside, Mafia 3, Oxenfree, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
This category is also stacked very well and it’s going to be difficult for me to pick. Firewatch’s story is very good. Delivered very well. All of these games do storytelling well. In Inside, being the kid and not knowing exactly what you’re trying to do, just knowing that there are people out there that are trying to stop you by force from getting where you want to go and just wanting to feel safe is a big thing. The storytelling around it is done very well. In Mafia 3, having the Mafia involved in civil rights doesn’t sound like a great concept for video games when you say it out loud, but the way it is delivered makes so much sense. You gotta feel really good about takin’ it to the Klan, so having a game to do that is awesome. This feels like the first Mafia game that had a cohesive story, and not just be a Max Payne Lite. I did not play Oxenfree. I have watched people play it, so I can’t speak to the whole narrative, because I haven’t watched it all the way through. But I have been impressed by what I’ve seen. I make no bones about being a massive Uncharted fan. I think Nathan Drake’s relationships with those around him was done very well. If ypu do it wrong, it’s really bad, but Uncharted 4 did it right. I’d like Firewatch to take this, but I think Uncharted 4 will.
Best Game Direction
Nominees: Firewatch, Inside, Mafia 3, Oxenfree, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
There’s not a game here I haven’t already talked about. Who I’d like to win is Naughty Dog for Uncharted 4. The most likely winner is EA Dice for Battlefield 1.
Game of the Year
Nominees: Firewatch, Inside, Mafia 3, Oxenfree, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Depending upon the gamer that you are, you have all these games, you’ve loved all these game and they’re all game of the year. Everything I’ve seen of Doom (which I did not play), the game looks awesome. I could say the same thing about Titanfall 2. What I want to win is Overwatch. I think Doom will actually take it.
Here are the games nominated in other categories:
Best Fighting Game
Nominees: Killer Instinct Season 3, The King of Fighters 14, Pokkén Tournament, Street Fighter 5
Nominees: Dark Souls 3, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Blood and Wine, World of Warcraft: Legion, Xenoblade Chronicles X
Best Action/Adventure Game
Nominees: Dishonored 2, Hitman, Hyper Light Drifter, Ratchet & Clank, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Best Action Game
Nominees: Battlefield 1, Doom, Gears of War 4, Overwatch, Titanfall 2
Best VR Game
Nominees: Batman: Arkham VR, Eve: Valkyrie, Job Simulator, Rez Infinite, Thumper
Nominees: Clash Royale, Fire Emblem Fates, Monster Hunter Generations, Pokémon Go, Severed
Be sure to listen to next week’s podcast. We’ll be recording it during the Game Awards Show and you can get our reactions as they happen.