2012 Calvin Awards: Best Videogame
By David Mumpower
February 13, 2012
The story itself is great as The Joker gets sick and dies then keeps showing up again and again. Also, he has a tendency to drunk dial Batman and wants to talk about his feelings and their relationship. Nobody will ever say that the creators of Arkham City didn’t go for it. The difference is that Arkham City eventually grows monotonous just enough to differentiate it from Skyrim, which hasn’t given us that sensation yet. Either one would be a worthy choice for game of the year, but Skyrim is a touch better in our estimation.
The lone new property in this year’s vote finishes in third place. L.A. Noire is a wonderful sleuthing test from the videogame masters at Rockstar Games. Set in Los Angeles in 1947, the game technically pre-dates the 1997 movie masterpiece, L.A. Confidential which is set in 1954, but this is exactly the vibe the user experiences. Police corruption is a theme the movie and the videogame share as the player is asked to investigate any number of open-ended cases in the city. Using visual and audio clues from the technically innocent but almost certainly guilty punks, the user gets to negotiate, entice and cajole perps into coming clean. It’s like Law and Order: 1947, a triumph of imagination and creativity. As we laud it for its originality, naming it the only new property worthy of selection in this year’s list, we hope you will understand when we say we are really looking forward to the sequel.
The funniest game of 2011 and quite possibly of all time is BOP’s choice for fourth place. A celebration of science and physics, Portal 2 explores the early days of Aperture Science thanks to sublime voiceover work by J. K. Simmons as company founder Cave Johnson. As the player solves the puzzles and progresses through the game, they discover the long abandoned testing facilities that once featured Earth’s finest athletes and scientists. And, later, hobos. It’s amazing what a person will do for 60 bucks.
Simultaneously introducing breathtaking new gameplay and focusing upon returning villain GLaDOS’s fall from grace, Portal 2 is imbued with bravado and whimsy. It is brimming with one liners, quips that are so inspiring that video compilations of them have gone massively viral. Portal 2 is a game that dares to turn a monstrous AI killing machine into a potato. And the potato pities you because you are adopted. Videogames should never be this witty. Portal 2 is not as great a videogame as the titles above it on this list, but it is an unparalleled gameplay experience.
Science fiction is all the rage with our fifth, sixth and seventh place selections. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a prequel to the 2000 release once heralded as the greatest computer game of all time. The third game in the franchise, it is the first release in the series since 2003 and the gameplay mechanics exemplify advancements in terms of character modification in the interim, fitting for a game of this nature. Dead Space 2 is an alien zombie killing game so its appeal is self-explanatory. It too has added better player upgrade options to create a more individual gameplay experience. Kill space zombies your way. I could run for office with that as my slogan. And Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary may be a ten year old game, but the joy of reaching The Library for the first time remains euphoric even now.
Our final three selections are Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception and Saints Row: The Third. Modern Warfare 3 is a rite of passage with our group and while the game changes are minimal, the killing joy is still optimal. The Uncharted franchise continues to justify the entire existence of the Playstation 3 with the latest chapter revealing something or another about King Solomon and the lost city of Ubar. What’s important here is that it has guns. Lots of guns. Finally, Saints Row: The Third takes customization to new heights as the player’s battle triumphs allow for personalization of their entire gang. Nobody respects an uncoordinated posse, after all. The Saints Row franchise has not always delivered the goods but the third outing is a masterpiece of urban warfare and individualization.
Narrowly missing selection this year are Dance Central 2, Dead Island, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Gears of War 3 and Forza Motorsport 4.
The Calvins: An Introduction
Best Overlooked Film
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
||The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
||Batman: Arkham City
||Deus Ex: Human Revolution
||Dead Space 2
||Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
||Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
||Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
||Saints Row: The Third