The good, bad and ugly of The Game Awards 2015

You can’t deny the amount of palpable hype going into the annual Game Awards.

No, it’s not for the bad montages, forced musical performances, or asinine attempt at connecting with “geek culture”, but rather the games themselves.  While the value of the awards being given is arguable, the carefully programmed world premieres of upcoming games is enough to pique even the most cynical gamer’s interests.  That being said, the event’s misfires are almost equally worth watching, if only for the schadenfreude of it all.

Let’s review some of these moments, shall we?

Telltale does Batman

It’s been a big year for Telltale Games.

After the runaway success of their adaptations of The Wolf Among Us and the Walking Dead series, Telltale left 2015 with some ambitious plans: namely another series of games based off of Game of Thrones, Minecraft, Borderlands and a Walking Dead spinoff based on show/comic character Michonne.  With Minecraft in progress and Michonne’s tale pushed to 2016, they managed to make good with more impressive titles under their belts that captured the look and feel of their respective canons.

So what’s next?  Well we got a taste of it tonight, with a tease of the ambitious developer’s next franchise adaptation: Batman.

Based on what very little was shown from the teaser, the game will feature a distinct art style that’s well-suited to Batman’s mythos.  This will be the first new developer to offer a take on the caped crusader since Rocksteady Studios began their wildly popular Arkham series in 2009.  Certainly, a fresh take is warranted on the license, and it’s exciting to see how Telltale’s episodic gameplay style will work when controlling The World’s Greatest Detective.

The tease, leak and subsequent no-show of Mortal Kombat X


Well, it wouldn’t be a TGA show if there wasn’t some massive screw-up.

Teased all throughout social media by Netherrealm Studios devs and the official Twitter account for The Game Awards was the long-awaited reveal of Kombat Pack 2 – the forthcoming DLC for Mortal Kombat X that was announced in September.  Mortal Kombat X was even the receiver of Best Fighting Game in the pre-show, with series creator Ed Boon on hand to receive.  All that to say that the big reveal was only moments away, right?

Well, not so much.

Not only was there no reveal during the broadcast, but hours before the show began, a leaked version of the trailer was popping up all over YouTube.  Coincidence?

This gave fans of the series to get an early start on spreading the word of the trailer’s contents (that has since been uploaded to the official MK YouTube channel), which features four new playable characters, including more guest characters from iconic horror franchises (Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and a xenomorph from Alien).  The response has been overwhelmingly negative, particularly from fans who expected the devs to pad the roster with missing favourites from Mortal Kombat’s expansive 20-year history.

Strategic last-minute choice to avoid a nasty backlash from a vocal fanbase, or massive programming gaffe?  You decide.

Psychonauts 2 finally announced … sort of.

Tim Schafer is a name that holds a lot of weight to older gamers, primarily for the unique properties he spearheaded in the 90s and early 2000s, such as The Secret of Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, and Psychonauts.  While his games are often lauded for their unique concepts and clever writing, they often end up being financial failures, which stifles any potential to build them into a series.

Psychonauts has amassed a massive cult following since its release in 2005, and that devotion has finally paid off. … Well, it might pay off.

Following in the footsteps of the announcement of the intention to create Shenmue 3 via crowdfunding at this year’s E3, the trailer for Psychonauts 2 was shortly followed by Schafer himself, who announced that it is currently up for crowdfunding on a new platform called Fig.  While a following like Schafer’s pretty much guarantees them hitting their stretch goals long before the campaign ends, I admit I’m a little iffy on this trend of announcing upcoming games through crowdfunding requests, where you’re putting your money towards a game before it’s even started development.  Given the general debacle surrounding pre-order incentives, I’m curious to see if this is something that’ll become more commonplace in the next few years.

Rock Band VR


I wrote not too long ago that unoriginality threatened to be the final nail in the coffin of rhythm games, with both Rock Band 4 and Guitar Hero Live making notable but largely unsuccessful attempts to resurrect the genre.

Well it looks like the good people at Harmonix had some ideas that went beyond their newest release, as they gave us a first look at Rock Band on the Occulus Rift.

Their goal is to put you right up on stage – going one step further than Guitar Hero Live‘s concept – and give you a full interactive simulation as you belt out some hard riffs to a crowd of screaming fans.

There’s obviously a lot of questions that are unanswered since the announcement, such as compatibility of existing software/DLC, or if new instruments will be required, but that will likely be addressed as we approach its release in 2016.  Maybe VR is the next natural evolution to keep rhythm games relevant?  We’ll see for sure in the new year.

Kojima being barred from attending TGA 2015


The ongoing feud between Hideo Kojima and Konami hit a new low at the awards, where host Geoff Keighley told us that he was forbidden from attending the affair under threat of litigation from Konami’s lawyers.  This is particularly problematic considering that Metal Gear Solid V, developed by his own Kojima Productions studio, was a major release that got a ton of recognition throughout the night.

Whether or not you’re a fan of Metal Gear or Kojima himself, it’s hard to watch an artist get shunned from celebrating his own work.  Konami has gone out of their way to deny Kojima any association with MGSV, a feud which was made public during the summer before its release.  It’s the sort of thing that is likely to get uglier before it gets better, but the show of solidarity shown by Keighley and those attending the awards undoubtedly meant a lot to the infamous game designer.

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