Saturday, January 15, 2011

Video Game Awards 2010: A Small Review

Like Azrael, I was fortunate enough to have been invited to watch the Video Game Awards 2010 a week before its premier on Animax (Azrael's blog entry here). For those who want to read spoilers, it's all in the Wikipedia entry. What follows is a small review, and several observations randomly strewn about.

Video Game Awards property of Viacom, Animax property of Sony Entertainment

The Video Game Awards is not actually produced by Animax, but by Spike, an American media entity that has a viral website and an American cable channel. They cater to a predominantly young male audience, so don't expect this show to resemble other Animax programming. The VGAs have also often been criticized for their bias, but as this Destructoid blog entry explains, they actually did get help from the online video game community in choosing their winners and nominees.

This year, the host was Neil Patrick Harris, and fellow presenters included Olivia Munn, Dominic Monaghan, Benicio Del Toro, Dane Cook, etc. I think the highlight of this year's show, however, was not the star power, but their use of augmented reality to change the way the show looked to the TV audience.

The show went by briskly for an hour and a half. We basically saw nominations, awardings, exclusive previews and announcements in quick succession. Some of the awards were not shown on TV, but presumably given offscreen.

Out of all the previews, I was most impressed by Batman: Arkham City. Even if it wasn't a Batman property, the quality of the animated cutscenes, with convincing motion capture and a well executed short narrative were enough to wow me. On a personal level, I also liked the trailers for Thor: God of Asgard and Mortal Kombat.

Check out that trailer here! Watch it lag-free on Animax next week XD

Video from GameTrailers. Batman: Arkham City Warner Bros. Entertainment & Rocksteady Studios. Batman & Hugo Strange property of DC Comics

I think gamers and non-gamers alike will be happy with the trailers and previews alone, but there's some entertaining segments in between as well. NPH himself was inconsistent, but was very funny at times. (Watch out for his short swipe at NBA Elite 11.) I'm afraid some of the presenters didn't feel like a good fit for the show, and some segments felt awkward, but don't let these dissuade you from watching what is otherwise an entertaining show. They even have a funny self-aware skit between Olivia & Neil Patrick Love-Hewitt.

These, I feel, were the honest VGA highlights:

Director Guillermo Del Toro swiping the film industry again for treating video games as an ancillary product.
Limbo creator thanking fans for receiving the Independent Video Game Award.
The trailers for Batman: Arkham City and Thor: God Of Asgard, and to a lesser degree, X-Men Destiny. These will wow film & comic book fans alike.
Bethesda's announcement & trailer for Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I've never played this series, but appreciate its role and legacy in video game history.
Jose Gonzales' performance of Red Dead Redemption title track Far Away. There are few opportunities to use indie folk in video games, so just seeing this song performed was a treat. I thought MCR's performance was OK, btw.
Comedy from TMZ, the cast of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia (they had Danny Devito!) and Rachel Bilson. 
The trailer for Portal 2. Compared to the other featured game trailers, still a breath of fresh air. 
And that's how I saw the VGAs. I wouldn't call it a must watch, but it's certainly entertaining enough for a Sunday evening. You can catch it January 23, Sunday, starting 7:10 PM, to be simulcast on Animax, AXN, AXN Beyond and Sony Entertainment Television.  NOTE: Contains mature language, video game depictions of sexuality and violence.

As a bonus, here's a live performance of Jose Gonzales' Far Away in Rockstar Australia

Video from YouTube. Far Away property of Rockstar Games

KOMIKS PLUGS: A lot of upcoming komiks events soon as well! Check if you can catch any of these:

Sulyap book signings at Powerbooks, Greenbelt 3 1/22/11, 4-9 PM
and Powerbooks MOA 1/29/11, 4-9 PM
Hey Baby! Gerry Alanguilan book signing at Sputnik, Cubao X 1/29/11 9 PM to 2 AM
Leinil Yu book signing for Death of Spider-Man/Ultimate Avengers vs New Ultimates at Comic Odyssey, Robinson's Galleria 2/12/11 1-4 PM
Komikstrip 2011 CAS Annex 2 UP Los BaƱos 02/19/11 10 AM-7 PM

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