It’s the final night of Select Start Media’s annual awards ceremony! We only have a few awards lined up for tonight: firstly, we’re going to be giving out a number of “Outstanding Game” awards, followed by our writers’ Game of the Year awards, and then the overall Select Start Media 2012 GOTY award! First up, here’s the winner of the very first Outstanding Game of 2012 award:
Isometric click ‘em up is a genre that has been dominated by one franchise for the last fifteen years. Diablo. Since the release of the first title in that series back in 1996, the idea of running around clicking on things to make them explode into gibs has been synonymous with a game cover featuring an angry looking red thing glaring out at you. But as the world over waited for Diablo III, their desire to see things explode upon click sat, insatiated, until Torchlight popped its curious head around the corner. Torchlight, a game that could have so easily been lambasted as a direct clone of Diablo and yet was celebrated by critics and fans alike. It satisfied the desires of every gamer who’d moaned that they’d never see the release of Diablo III, perfecting the click and loot formula while retaining a sense of whimsy and humour that Diablo lacked. The introduction of the “pet” mechanic was seen as a revolution to the genre. What it didn’t have, however, was multiplayer.
I’ve never been very good at Counter-Strike. Hold your gasps of shock, please. Maybe it’s just the ridiculous level of skill reached by everyone else on the servers I seem to jump on, but I always find myself with a kill-to-death ratio of about 0.2. I just don’t have the drive to invest the time and energy required to really improve my twitch shooting skills. I do know people who are good at shooting heads from halfway across the map, however, and the majority of them seem to agree on one very important issue. Have you guessed it yet? That’s right - Counter-Strike players across the globe are near unanimous in agreement that Counter-Strike 1.6 is a far superior game to Counter-Strike: Source. Shocking, I know. For the better part, 1.6 is still used for professional play. That’s where Counter-Strike: Global Offensive comes in. The almighty Valve seem to have realised that they missed the competition-play boat with Source, and have released this budget-priced update to do what Source should have done.
Explore. Expand. Exploit. Exterminate. These are the four tenets of 4X video games; the four pillars upon which an entire genre of gaming rests. You scout through the fog of war and discover new lands. You plant your peoples’ flag on these lands, claiming them for your own. You drive your own territory down to skin and bones, through incessant mining and farming. And you amass yourself a military force like no other, using clever micromanagement and tactics to ensure that your civilization lives on while others perish. Endless Space is a 4X game created by 4X enthusiasts – one that doesn’t just abide by, but embraces the four tenets of the genre so wholeheartedly that myself, and other fans of the genre, will find themselves so engrossed in their galactic conquest that, by 4 in the morning, we’ll agree with each other that this is a game that can proudly stand alongside Master of Orion and Sid Meier’s Civilization as one of the best examples of the genre.
Wait – are we back in 1997? What happened? Did someone reach 88 miles per hour? If you’ll excuse my horrible intro (I never was good at them), Avernum: Escape from the Pit will totally convince you that yes, in fact, it is 1997 again and you’re playing games on MS-DOS (or Windows ’95, depending on how awesome you were). This is the third – yes, third - remake of the classic-yet-forgotten top-down RPG called Exile I: Escape from the Pit; its second incarnation goes by the name Avernum. Their creator, Seattle-based developer Spiderweb Software, were founded in 1994 – and have stayed there ever since.
It could have been so easy. I mean, a graphic novel about a zombie apocalypse? If any other studio had scored the rights to this adaptation, we’d have got a generic zombie shooter for sure. I expected a zombie shooter to come of the franchise. But, of all developers, Telltale Games was the one to take this project onboard – for the less learned of my readers, Telltale are the kings of the modern point and click adventure game. So, when I first heard that it was Telltale who’d be adapting The Walking Dead, I was both thoroughly bemused and thoroughly excited. A zombie point-and-click? Original, to say the least.
…and at $7.49 from Steam, it’s deliciously worth it. You may remember my review of the misunderstood FPP, published a couple of weeks ago.
Q.U.B.E. is a tasty in-between-games snack for gamers who enjoy a challenge. No, I wouldn’t pay $50 for it, but the devs never asked for it – and now, at $7.50, I can’t recommend it more highly.
Oh, and be the first person following me on Twitter to send reply to my account @SelectStartM to win yourself a copy of Q.U.B.E. I have one to give out, so be quick about it!
Bohemia Interactive, developers of the renowned milsim Arma 2, have announced an upcoming DLC for the recently-revitalised-due-to-DayZ shooter, entitled “Army of the Czech Republic”. The DLC will heavily focus on the Czech army, including realistic units, weapons, and terrains, as well as a new single-player campaign. The DLC will see release on Q3 2012, for PC only (but so was the base game, so that should come as no surprise).
As I’m sure we all know and are very saddened by, Kenny Hotz and Spencer Rice went their separate ways at the end of last year after collaborating since 1994. Spenny’s first solo program, a heavily scripted, oddball sitcom entitled “Single White Spenny” had plenty of laugh out loud moments but always seemed a little stock standard, not quite meeting the level of hilarity that we had come to expect from the duo. Kenny’s effort, however, meets and surpasses the quality of Kenny vs Spenny as he strives to complete six seemingly impossible tasks in order to embarrass himself on TV.
Kenny Hotz’s Triumph of the Will is pure originality. Never before has a show had such balls and honesty, as Kenny truly strives to complete the tasks he sets himself at the beginning of each episode, regardless of the consequences. Kenny’s history as a photojournalist is definitely exhibited in this program as we see his humour and character become much more mature than it ever was in KvS. Not that immaturity is a bad thing, by all means. And while the show definitely has a very Kenny-esqué feel to it, it lifts its maturity up fifteen notches from KvS, somehow managing to become a serious journalistic show while retaining Kenny’s unique sense of humour.
Additionally, Kenny chooses clever and unique “challenges” at the beginning of each show which allow him to shape his own views of various contemporary issues (such as the treatment of pigs at a slaughterhouse) and his longstanding personal values (his hatred of the French). And let us not neglect to mention what is possibly one of the greatest episodes of television in the last year, “Take My Mom… Please!”, in which Kenny lovingly attempts to find his mother a man after 20 years alone. This episode in particular perfectly blends Kenny’s humour with his sincerity and love for his mother Tzafi, who we all have a soft spot for after her co-operation with KvS for the last 6 years. Then there’s his stubborn attempt at bringing peace between Muslims and Jews (Children of Abraham) and his hilariously disgusting and eye-opening attempt at cannibalism culminating in a professionally cooked 3-course placenta feast in “Kennibal”.
Kenny Hotz’s Triumph of the Will‘s 6-episode run was one of the most creative, original shows not just on Canadian television, but around the world. I’m not giving the following score lightly – it’s a true representation of the quality and originality of this show. It’s truly a shame that it was shoved on Showtime Action, as not only would it convert even the most die-hard Spenny fan, but also anyone who had never even heard of the Hotz.