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2010 British Academy Video Games Awards - Part 1 Ian's avatar
 
BAFTA
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts have held their Video Game awards for 2009. I think they really need to start incorporating Video Games into their fancy title somewhere if they're going to be doing things like that. I've decided to use this momentous occasion or whatever to hold a bit of a GOTY 2009 thing for the site. I'm not sure if you remember 2009 but this here website weren't around back then, nonetheless we played most of these games. Here are BAFTA's winners, as well as our personal picks for the first five categories.

Category - Action

Nominations
Assassin’s Creed II
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
inFAMOUS
Left 4 Dead 2
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

BAFTA Winner: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Ian's avatar Ian's Winner: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
For me this is a real toss up between Uncharted 2 and Modern Warfare 2. Ignoring multiplayer, I think Uncharted 2 does the best job of making you feel like you are playing an action movie. For as amazing as the action in Modern Warfare 2 is, it's not as active and kinetic as Uncharted 2. The train sequence is a great example of what Uncharted 2 does better than anything in Modern Warfare 2, and is why it probably deserves this award. Of the rest, Assassin's Creed II would probably be my third place.
 
Josh's avatar Josh's Winner: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
As I sat and watched the closing scene of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves fade to black, there were a number of things that I wasn’t thinking about. I wasn’t thinking about the highly entertaining globetrotting storyline. I wasn’t thinking about the snappy and satisfying gunplay and brilliantly executed stealth mechanics. I certainly wasn’t thinking about the impressive set pieces that allowed me to play sequences that other games would have happily ripped away from my control and present as cutscenes. I wasn’t even thinking about the introspective and oddly affecting Tibetan village segment. Instead, I was caught up in just how big the game’s heart is and how convincingly its cast of characters are portrayed. The improvised banter between Nathan and Elena as they clamber through a partially destroyed building or the subtle way that Chloe places Nathan’s hands on her rear convey their personalities far more than any amount of tedious exposition could muster. As much as Heavy Rain relentlessly chases gaming’s Holy Grail of a cohesive and convincing narrative, its company of plastic mannequins still seem significantly less emotive and real than Nathan Drake’s gang of misfits.
 
Sam's avatar Sam's Winner: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Pound for pound, no other game comes close to Modern Warfare 2 when it comes to filling every minuscule crevice with action. From the time my first bullet hit the target in the single player campaign's tutorial to the moment I decided prestige in multiplayer, pretty much every second was jam packed with edge-of-my-seat drama. Whether I was experiencing the agony of being shot in the face two yards away from a checkpoint on veteran mode, or feeling the ecstasy of watching my knife throw winning a deathmatch with two seconds remaining, there's always one thing that rang true. I will be playing again.
 

Category - Artistic Achievement

Nominations
Assassin’s Creed II
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Flower
Left 4 Dead 2
Street Fighter IV
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

BAFTA Winner: Flower

Ian's avatar Ian's Winner: Borderlands
Where the hell is Borderlands? For an artistic achievement awards, I think any one screenshot from the game should be immediately identifiable as the game. This is certainly true of Assassin's Creed 2, Flower, Street Fighter 4, and Uncharted 2. While Modern Warfare 2 looks and runs awesomely, there is nothing particularly notable about it's artistic style, and you could probably mistake a Battlefield: Bad Company 2 screenshot for it. If Batman wasn't in any screenshots of Batman: Arkham Asylum, it wouldn't be particularly identifiable either. Compared to those, Borderlands is quite a lot more interesting, and would definitely be my pick. Going from what the BAFTA judges picked, they definitely seem to be looking for interesting artistic flair over the more technically complex realistic visuals of the other games. It's definitely a bit weird though, comparing Flower to Modern Warfare 2.
 
Josh's avatar Josh's Winner: Street Fighter IV
Whilst more powerful hardware means that games are becoming more visually impressive across the board, their aesthetic is also becoming somewhat homogenised. I’m always glad to see any game experiment with an interesting art style, and it’s especially refreshing when the title is being put out by a major publisher. Like Ian, I enjoyed Borderlands’ cel-shaded aesthetic a great deal, but its execution couldn’t quite compete with that of Street Fighter IV. The vibrant, ink-splattered appearance of Capcom’s brawler perfectly brings out the expressive and eccentric qualities of each combatant far more effectively than 2D sprites have to date. If anything, the overly clinical and precise linework produced by Udon for Super Street Fighter 2 HD Remix makes me intensely glad that Capcom decided to take the series into 3D, though thankfully not in terms of gameplay.
 
Sam's avatar Sam's Winner: Red Faction: Guerrilla
I have to admit, being asked to judge a computer game on its artistic merits alone is a tough one. While agreeing with Ian that Borderlands had a wonderful cartoon aesthetic to it and almost choosing Batman: Arkham Asylum for its gorgeous fusion of Gothic architecture and film noir, I'm going off-piste with my choice. Red Faction: Guerilla managed to perfectly capture the retro vision of the future that Paul Verhoeven championed in the 1980s with the sublime 'Total Recall'. The way the stark black buildings of the EDF punctured the dusky red haze of the atmosphere still sticks in memory of being one of the only games to make me think 'Woah, this is another planet'.
 

Category - Best Game

Nominations
Assassin’s Creed II
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
FIFA 10
Left 4 Dead 2
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

BAFTA Winner: Batman: Arkham Asylum

Ian's avatar Ian's Winner: Borderlands
I really do like Batman, and I also really like Uncharted 2. But which is better? It doesn't matter because clearly the best choice is Borderlands! I feel like I've talked at length about my unjustifiable love for Borderlands, so won't go into massive detail here. As I keep finding myself saying, I would still be playing Borderlands right now if there was more Borderlands to play. It’s that good.
 
Josh's avatar Josh's Winner: Borderlands
Although I’m in the process of playing through Batman: Arkham Asylum and enjoying it a great deal, I’m going to have to give my vote to Gearbox's genre-bending RPG shooter as well. Whilst I enjoyed exploring the sand blasted locales of Pandora and encountering its population of deranged rednecks, midget psychopaths and mutant dog things, it was pure loot lust that carried me through a lot of the game. The thirst to find the shotgun of my dreams kept me looking in every single chest, refrigerator and toilet many hours into the campaign. My compulsion to find bigger and better firearms is a testament to how satisfying the shooting is, and the deadly impact of your bullets is rarely compromised to accommodate roleplaying elements. Borderlands is far from perfect; the static nature of world can be stifling at times and some of the boss fights are downright broken. However, Gearbox has laid some very impressive groundwork on which to build further games, and the existence of the Borderworlds trademark has me giddy in considering the direction that the series could be taken in.
 
Sam's avatar Sam's Winner: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
This choice made itself by virtue of having spent so much time playing Modern Warfare 2, I didn't even have time to give any of the other nominees more than a cursory look in. The single player section of the game was perfectly paced and full of plenty of 'Oh Shit!' moments and I need say little more about the multiplayer element other than it ate four days in my pursuit of a 2:1 Kill-Death Ratio. The best fun you can have with a console and a controller bar none.
 

Category - Multiplayer

Nominations
Battlefield 1943
The Beatles: Rock Band
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Halo 3 ODST
Left 4 Dead 2
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

BAFTA Winner: Left 4 Dead 2

Ian's avatar Ian's Winner: Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Of the games listed, it's definitely somewhere between Battlefield 1943 and Modern Warfare 2. Wait scrap that, Modern Warfare 2 wins, but I feel I should give Battlefield 1943 for providing some really fun moments that aren't possible in any other sort of game. Namely, the fun of your buddies all getting on one car and scooting around the map running people over and inevitably getting obliterated by a tank/getting comically stuck in a ditch/accidentally flying off a cliff. These moments were certainly the highlight, as the rest of the game for me involved a lot of getting killed repeatedly with no real idea how or why I died. Modern Warfare 2 challenged my skill as a gamer in a lot of ways, namely because everyone else playing it is so goddamn good that you've either got to work out how to get better pretty quickly or you will just die over and over again, and not have any fun. I started off hating a lot of the maps as I would continuously get killed, but after you've take the time to work out where you can be shot from at any time and what stupid places people tend to camp in, you can start surviving and really messing people up.
 
Josh's avatar Josh's Winner: Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Looking past all of the hyperbole heaped upon Infinity Ward’s franchise, playing Modern Warfare 2’s multiplayer mode two years after the original Modern Warfare felt like putting on a warmed pair of my favourite slippers; comfortingly familiar. The layout and feel of the controls seem so natural and irrevocably linked with first-person shooters at this point that the lack of fine-aim and sprinting makes even the titanic Halo series feel disturbingly more dated than you might expect. As you begin to unlock weapons through in-game challenges, you’re also reminded how the innovation of meta-game progression has permeated the design of other games so thoroughly. Far from remaining limited to first-person shooters, its presence has started to seep into other genres; something demonstrated by Bizarre Creations’ upcoming racer, Blur. Though it may sound like Modern Warfare 2 simply rests on the laurels of its predecessor, the fact that Infinity Ward nailed so many of the tactile and design elements first time around means that they’ve been able to make small and perfected iterations upon proven mechanics. This alone is the reason that we can take great pleasure in hauling two primary weapons into battle, cheekily attaching semtex to someone’s riot shield, or launching a tactical nuke upon our unsuspecting foes.
 
Sam's avatar Sam's Winner: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Without wanting to sound too much like a broken record on the subject of Infinity Ward's 2009 shooter, Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer is in a complete universe of its own. No other game allows me to formulate a plan in my head, put the idea into action and have a good chance to pull it off. I can't remember a single time where I've died and been frustrated that the situation had been totally unfair or unavoidable. I've put around about four days into this aspect of the game now and still feel I have room to grow into a better player, which speaks volumes about the scope and depth of the multiplayer elements. Of course this doesn't even touch up the oodles of wholesome fun there is to be had with a capable friend in Spec Ops. Probably the most fun you can have with another person outside of sex.
 

Category - Original Score

Nominations
Assassin’s Creed II
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
PixelJunk Shooter
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

BAFTA Winner: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Ian's avatar Ian's Winner: Pixeljunk Shooter
I've never really been a fan of the sweeping orchestral score that's becoming so common in the modern military games. If you are going to do that sort of music you really need a decent main theme that you can come back to, like Uncharted and it's sequel have. Of any of these, High Frequency Bandwidth's Pixeljunk Shooter soundtrack is a great mix of musical styles had me listening to them on loop pretty regularly. I am actually listening to Hidden Foto Banks while I am typing this to make sure I have chosen correctly. I have, and I wasn't there when JFK got shot.
 
Josh's avatar Josh's Winner: Plants vs. Zombies
Although I did enjoy the orchestral pomp of the games that Bafta nominated for this category (the theme to Uncharted 2 definitely deserves an honourable mention here), it’s the infectious handful of cheeky schlock jingles from PopCap’s flower defence title Plants vs. Zombies that have stayed with me the most. The music always seems to fit perfectly with the onscreen action, with spooky pianos and chiming bells effortlessly shifting into spacey salsa grooves as the undead begin to advance in greater numbers. The frenzied action of mini games is accompanied by an appropriately frantic composition which succeeds in reminding you that one too many mis-clicks and it’s bye-bye brains. Additionally, there are some great audio cues, the short, jazzy piano riff that accompanies the acquisition of a new type of plant proving particularly memorable. Far from the bite of its necrotic antagonists being the only contagious thing about Plants vs. Zombies, I frequently find myself whistling one of the game’s ditties even when I haven’t played for days.
 
Sam's avatar Sam's Winner: Battlefield 1943
For some reason, I'm usually only interested in one type of score when it comes to video games and it's not the one consisting of all those funny squiggles. However, even though I last played the game over six months ago, I still occasionally find myself humming the music from Battlefield 1943. Perhaps I've watched too many documentaries on the History Channel, but there is something proud and regimental about the game's score that instantly takes me back to a time of rations, gas masks and the stench of the trenches. The fact that I wasn't born until 1980 makes the time travelling ability of Battlefield 1943's original score all the more impressive.
 

Come back soon for Part 2. How's that for a cliffhanger? Bad? Okay...yes, you're probably right. Oh well.

Tags: bafta