Hey you, 2010′s over and you know what that means, right? It’s that time of the year again where we enjoy a long sigh of relief knowing all the holiday shenanigans are finally over. It’s 2011 and I suggest we enjoy the crap out of it because if the Mayans have their way we’ll all be meeting in person whatever dear and fluffy Lord, Deities, or Flying Spaghetti Monster you believe in come 2012. I’m sure by now you’ve grown tired of whatever goods you received over the holidays. I mean, who actually appreciates new things for more than a week? No one, that’s who. So that’s where I come in, to add a ray of Adam flavored video game sunshine so you can really start the new year off right. And as an added bonus I have way more vitamins than V8 plus you don’t have to worry about whether or not you should recycle me when you’re through.
2010 was pretty great but it could’ve been way better. I mean, come on, last year I asked Santa for news on a slew of missing games like Condemned 3, Dead Island, Doom 4 and Possession but you know what? That old fat bastard didn’t come through. Since this isn’t a place to bitch and moan, though I’m sure most of you are fairly used to me doing just that on more than a few occasions. So let’s take a gander at the bounty of awesome last year brought us so I can force my choices for best horror games of the year on you, and you will like it. Before we really dig into who won what you should know all those other sites suck. Yep, they really do. They award every game for the sake of satisfying a wider audience, to make as many people happy that they can. Ha, I say. From my time writing for various publications, particularly those of the online persuasion, I’ve realized there’s no satisfying everyone. No matter how hard you try there’s always someone out there waiting to let you know how wrong you are. That’s life, my friends, and these are the FEAR Awards, which are far better than life could ever hope to be.
Last year wasn’t light on horrifying expansions for some of our favorite games, including Fallout 3, F.E.A.R. 2 and Borderlands, but I think it’s safe to say this year blew the previous one out of the water.
Left 4 Dead 2: The Passing & The Sacrifice
Alan Wake: The Writer & The Signal
Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare
Mass Effect 2: Overlord
Dead Rising 2: Case Zero & Case West
Resident Evil 5: Lost in Nightmares
Lots to choose from here and while I can say I’ve not only experienced but thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of them, Mass Effect: Overlord takes the cake here. Really, it was between that or Lost in Nightmares and both for the same reason: the nostalgia factor. Lost in Nightmares reminded me of the original, and best, Resident Evil games, but Overlord took one of my favorite games of all time and threw in a little tease of what a System Shock 3 could be like if it were made today. Please give us another System Shock, pleeeaassse.
This award celebrates the games that give us the chance to be scared with a friend, because there’s only one thing that’s more fun than having your peers around to witness you scream like a little girl when that thing with the glowing eyes grabs you. The nominees for best multiplayer game (excluding DLC, like Resident Evil 5′s Lost in Nightmares mission) are:
Dead Rising 2
Call of Duty: Black Ops’ Zombie Mode
After much deliberation the winner is Dead Rising 2. The original game never caught my attention because of its archaic save system and timed quests, and neither of those were fixed completely in this game, but there’s just something special about being able to mow down thousands of zombies with a friend.
This category is dedicated to those brave games that step out of their respective action/puzzle/fantasy molds and toss a little terror our way. As a whole it’s tough to call any of them true horror games, but then again, the definition of horror in gaming is changing all the time. Here are the nominees:
Aliens vs. Predator
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
Darksiders: Wrath of War
Honestly, this one was pretty easy, it’s all about Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. WIth my insanely busy schedule I never finish games much less backtrack for items I missed or to simply experience again some of the many gorgeous locations this game has to offer. Lords of Shadow is an amazing game, the first to receive our coveted Editor’s Choice, so if you haven’t already I highly suggest checking it out now.
This is the crap, the worst of the worst, the games that should a young child actually play them they’ll grow up to become arsonists or mass murderers. These are bad. But the tough question is which is worst?
Dead Space: Ignition
I wanted to include Hydrophobia in this list because of how badly it scorned me but since its developer is giving it a massive renovation, this award will be handed down to a game that was far, far worse. Now, it’s tough for me to do this because I love the brand but it’s a stretch to call Dead Space: Ignition a game, primarily due to the overall lack of fun. Here’s hoping EA will learn from this mark on the Dead Space brand and never, ever do anything like it again.
This one’s always tough because it’s not easy choosing which of these games are the most anticipated? Oh, and in case you were wondering about a certain glaring absence, Dead Space 2 wasn’t included because it’s only a few weeks away.
Alice: Madness Returns
Red Faction: Armageddon
Shadows of the Damned
Silent Hill 8
Aliens: Colonial Marines
I know what you’re thinking, and no, despite the insane amount of hype I’ve thrown at Shadows of the Damned, that’s actually not my number one choice. The winner here is the tentatively titled Silent Hill 8, because despite a slew of dreadful to so-so games I’m maintaining hope that this next game will be an unexpected hit. Otherwise I would’ve immediately jumped to Diablo III, a game I’ve been patiently waiting on for many years, but I just can’t see it coming out in 2011. Early 2012 perhaps?
Nowadays you would think with 55″ HDTVs, 7.1 Dolby Surround Sound systems, and 3D glasses that now a newborn baby could find a way to scare the fuck out of someone in a game. Not true. For the most part, scares in video games have transitioned from the old days when you were scared of what was around the next corner and whether or not you had enough ammo to vanquish it to present time where the monster closets, timed scares and sudden noises make it incredibly easy to predict when something’s about to happen. Here are the games that either had me nervously looking around each corner or somehow managed to make me jump, at least a few times. transmute me into a sobbing schoolgirl:
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Resident Evil 5: Lost in Nightmares
The easy choice here is Amnesia: The Dark Descent and anyone who’s played or even glimpsed gameplay from it has seen that it’s terrifying in every sense of the word. With that said, let me explain that last nominee. No, it’s really not a scary game, but the first hour or so I had died so many times that I had developed a powerful paranoia that something was hiding and waiting to take me out (I was usually right about that too). There weren’t any high-pitched squeals coming out of my mouth while playing this game, just some unexpected expletives every time that adorable glassey-eyed boy got impaled/crushed/fell/shocked/etc.
Ahh yes, my favorite category. When I think of all the great, or potentially great horror games the Wii gets exclusively I huddle deep into a corner of my room and cry. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the console or the infants/soccer moms who spend money on it, but last year Nintendo’s console racked up nine exclusive horror titles, and that’s a lot for a console whose audience looks to have little to no interest in the genre (every horror exclusive failed commercially, critically, or both, and a few, like Sadness were even cancelled). And here are the results:
Granted Resident Evil and Silent Hill each had their big games out last year but do you see that? One. Fucking. Game. That’s progress people and it’s even a stretch to call that crapfest anything but shovelware since it’s scares wouldn’t manage to startle kids around the age of, oh I don’t know, fetus, maybe? So you know who’s the winner here? You. You deserve some credit, and I sincerely hope that unless there’s a horror game in the works for the Wii right now that has a real reason to be on the console that next year we’ll see a similar number of horror exclusives.
Every year we get too many bad games, with some good games on top that fail to stand out and then we have the great games (let’s just forget about sequels, which we get an excess of every year). Usually for a game to reach greatness it requires innovation of some sort, a selling point if you will. Gears of War has bulky space marines doing manly things against aliens. Did about a dozen games pop into your mind that have the same thing? So what’s the twist? The game streamlined the cover system, and oh yeah, their guns come with fucking chainsaws! But that’s just an example, here are five games that tried something new.
Amnesia’s Insanity Meter
Heavy Rain’s Player Interaction
Dead Rising 2′s Weapons
Alan Wake’s Use of Light
This is always a tough category to choose from, particularly last year when there was a solid selection to choose from, but this year the award for innovation goes to Heavy Rain. Surprised? I didn’t think so. Essentially, there’s no other game quite like it, and if you can get passed the clunky walking there’s an immensely entertaining and unique game that any gamer should check out.
In last year’s FEAR Awards I listed off a handful of highly anticipated horror games I wanted to play but we haven’t heard about any of them yet. Now, the “official” Doom 4 announcement was supposed to happen at QuakeCon, but obviously did not, and from what we’ve seen of Silent Hill 8 (working title), the game is looking good despite the loss of Akira Yamaoka. But you didn’t honestly think those were all of the horror titles that are still MIA, right? Good, here are some more:
Nightmare Creatures 3
RE: Outbreak 3
The Suffering 3
Cold Fear 2
Parasite Eve 3
Haunting Ground 2
Clock Tower 4
Eternal Darkness 2
System Shock 3
Untitled Resident Evil Co-op Game
If I had to choose a sort of “most anticipated” winner it would be Eternal Darkness 2. We got a taste of what System Shock could be like with its ‘spiritual successor’ that was BioShock, though I sincerely hope there is a team of sleep-deprived Game Designers working diligently on a third game in the series right now. And we do already have Left 4 Dead, which is essentially a faster paced Outbreak game, and depending on the success of The Third Birthday we might actually be getting a Parasite Eve 3, so yeah, I’ll stick with Eternal Darkness 2.
I was on the bus the other day and some strange old man walked up to me and asked “Hey there sonny, is that a zombie in your pocket or are just happy to see me? Now, at first I was surprised this ancient man who undoubtedly had one foot on Death’s doorstep had the gall to ask a hot young thing like me out? Then I realized I had been playing a Resident Evil game on my iPhone and instantly knew what he was talking about. Did you believe any of that? Fine, it was all a lie but made for one hell of an opener for our first category that rewards the delicious niblets of horror that fit in the palm of your hand (if they weren’t already on your console’s hard drive).
Dead Space: Ignition
So who wins? Limbo, ’nuff said. This game remains as the first and only game I’ve ever given a perfect score, because of it’s simplicity, clever puzzles and incredibly cool atmosphere and art style.
Surprised Hydrophobia’s on the list? Don’t be. It’s a good game and after its renovation I predict it’ll be even better. But will that be enough to help it win over the competition? Let’s see…
Darksiders: Wrath of War
Nope, not even close, because Alan Wake has this one. You might even say Alan knocked the competition’s lights out! Err, sorry, but it had to be done.