It’s that time of year again, when our tempers are so frayed as to be best described as piles of threads. Let’s impatiently run down some of the best and worst bits of gaming offered in 2014.
The VG247 Staff’s Very Serious Game Awards are given out annually when we’ve gotten disastrously bored of coming to work, and especially of compiling our actual awards, which involve a lot of thought and desperate trawling of the archives while screeching “something must have happened in March”.
Last year we honoured some truly stand out moments, and it was a challenge to build on that very strong foundation. But this is VG247, my children, and we do not shirk. We are not daunted. We took 2014 by the horns, stared into its beady, glistening eye, and mentally extracted its secrets.
Here they are. Congratulations to all nominees and winners on not receiving anything worse.
Most ghastly opportunity to live out your sexual fantasies in a video game
Winner: GTA 5 next-gen’s first person sex scenes
It is apparently some people’s fantasy to pick up a sex worker in a car and give her what seem like unfairly small amounts of money to perform various acts with them. This is a thing people wish they could do, regardless of the fact that they probably could do it in the real world quite easily, and Rockstar continues to allow them to live out this fantasy.
In the new first-person mode, the payoff is genuinely unpleasant. Even making allowances for the uncanny valley, watching the weird puppet sex (bless you for that, Ken Levine) is disturbingly unsexy. The dialogue raises a number of interesting questions we have posed to our male and female colleagues alike. Does anyone ever actually say “my clit is throbbing for you”? Does anyone find it attractive? Have the writers ever had sex, or do they just watch bad porn and sort of extrapolate? Moreover, it’s very hard not to imagine the voice actors performing these lines in a booth while a po-faced sound engineer and director look on, which is an instant boner killer.
GTA 5 is R18+ in most territories, so if you can purchase a copy of it you are probably also legally entitled to purchase real pornography, which won’t leave you feeling like Hitler just licked the back of your neck.
Runner-up: Dragon Age: Inquisition’s nude armour sets
Dragon Age: Inquisition fronts some of the best romance scenes of the series to date, since BioWare thoughtfully dialled back the action to focus on suggesting rather than showing. Since the bits that made the cut look like two store mannequins vaguely swivelling their heads through each other, deciding not to try to simulate closer contact was a good call.
Nevertheless, there are occasions where our companions and advisors must be seen in the buff, and rather than create all new character models BioWare apparently chose to leverage its excellent armour system to build “nude” sets. The results, tinkered out of the engine by curious PC players, are absolutely terrifying. You see a link labelled “Dorian naked” and you feel like all your secret dreams have come true, and then the blank, staring, genital-less horror that confronts you is like a cold shower that lasts a week.
Well done Bioware for managing to make characters engaging and romantic despite the tools it was working with; its writers and cinematic editors are clearly stars.
Cock-up of the year
Winner: Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Halo: The Master Chief Collection was always an ambitious project. You can talk about managing playlists all you want, but the fact is bundling together hundreds of pieces of multiplayer content means you’re going to get long wait times – even with a fanbase as large as Halo’s. The numbers required for successful, snappy matchmaking for even one game are staggering – so enormous that even GTA 5 can’t manage it. Call of Duty is just about the only game to really nail it on the regular.
With all that in mind: what an absolute cock up. This is the flagship multiplayer title of a brand that built itself around multiplayer gaming, and it bloody well didn’t work. It didn’t work for weeks. It didn’t work after multiple patches. It didn’t do a lot to convince us Halo 5: Guardians is going to be the exclusive that year, either.
Let’s hope we see a new influx of Halo players due to the holiday gifting spree – and that the damn thing works by then – to justify the longterm fan’s faith in the brand.
Obviously. Kudos to Sony for turning the mess around – eventually – but it must be said if the hubris had been a little lower when DriveClub was first announced its constant delay and violent launch day downfall would have been significantly less wince-worthy.
Next: two more snarky award categories.