It's time again
for the AIAS Interactive Achievement Awards. Think of these as "the big ones."
Sure, lots of us magazines take it upon ourselves to pronounce the greatest titles out
there, but the award with the most prestige is always going to be the one from the
"Academy." Just like every other major form of art or expression, video games
have spawned an official awards program. Someday it might even be televised.
The big shindig happens next week, on March
22, during the Game Developer's Conference. We won't be there to cover it live, but we
will keep you up to date about who won. Just like
we did last year. The big news this year is that John Carmack will be inducted into
the hall of fame. Read about that here.
The list of nominees and categories is huge, so I've trimmed it down to a smaller
selection of nominees. If you want to see the whole list of nominees, click around on the
AIAS website: www.interactive.org.
And the nominees are...
Console Game of the Year
Banjo Tooie (N64)
Chrono Cross (PSX)
Final Fantasy IX (PSX)
Jet Grind Radio (DC)
Madden NFL 2001 (PS2)
Rayman 2: The Great Escape (DC)
Skies of Arcadia (DC)
Spyro: Year of the Dragon (PSX)
Tekken Tag Tournament (PS2)
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 (PSX)
Virtua Tennis (DC)
WWF No Mercy (N64)
Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64)
Okay, so what about Perfect Dark? And what's
up with Virtua Tennis being on the list? Isn't that just Pong? I know, I love it, too,
especially with four players, but come on! And the omission of Perfect Dark seems to be
PC Game of the Year
Age of Empires II: The Conquerors
Baldur's Gate II
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2
Disney's Magic Artist 3D
EverQuest: Ruins of Kunark
No One Lives Forever
RollerCoaster Tycoon: Loopy Landscapes
It looks like the PC side has everything
covered (then again, I'm the Consoles Editor), although I seriously wonder if anybody ever
actually played Disney's Magic Artist 3D.
The categories break down along the lines
you'd expect. Perfect Dark is suspiciously missing from the list at all, nominated for
nothing. I nominate it for most overlooked game by the AIAS this year. The Console
Action/Adventure Game of the Year will go to either Banjo Tooie, Rayman 2, Spyro
2, Vagrant Story, or Zelda: Majora's Mask. Those are great games, but at least throw old
Joanna a bone and let her sit on the list. Fantavision is the only non-Dreamcast game
nominated for "Innovation in Console Gaming." The others
include JGR, Samba de Amigo, Seaman, Shenmue, and Space Channel 5. Kudos to Sega for
bringing us the coolest new titles we've seen this year, and "boo" to the AIAS
for forcing Fantavision into the list. What were you thinking?
Console Racing Game of the Year
will go to either F355 Challenge, Ridge Racer V, San Francisco Rush 2049, or SSX. I hope,
for the sake of all race fans out there, that SSX doesn't get it. Come on, we know what we
mean by racing -- cars. SSX sticks out like a sore thumb. Console RPG of the Year
will be either Chrono Cross, Final Fantasy IX, Legend of Dragoon, or Skies of Arcadia. Who
is putting money on FFIX? That's where my money is. Console Fighting Game of the
Year will go to Dead or Alive 2, Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2, Tekken Tag
Tournament, Ultimate Fighting Championship, or WWF No Mercy. What? No Marvel vs. Capcom 2?
Console Sports Game of the Year belongs to either Madden NFL 2001, SSX,
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, or Virtua Tennis. Of course, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 deserves
this award, but even last year, when THPS1 was nominated and the only competition was
Knockout Kings, the AIAS ganked the Birdman. Maybe this year we'll get a little justice,
but the force of SSX and Madden will probably overcome. Finally, we come to everybody's
fave, Console Family Title of the Year (or maybe we should call it,
"The Nintendo Award"). Donkey Kong Country (GBC), Hey You, Pikachu!, Mario
Tennis, and Pokemon Stadium are apparently the only good family titles this year. That's
not true, but that's how the nominees break down. Is it the fact that only Nintendo can
create family games? What about Wacky Races or Rayman 2? Aren't those family games?
In the PC arena, the Academy seems to do a
little better. For PC Action/Adventure Game of the Year, the nominees
are: Crimson Skies, Deus Ex, Escape from Monkey Island, No One Lives Forever, and Star
Trek Voyager: Elite Forces. We definitely don't see the same kind of anti-FPS bias that we
see in the console nominations. I'm hoping for Deus Ex to take it, but if polls on the old
GF! are any indication, NOLF is going to clean up. From there, we journey to PC
Family Title of the Year, which is thoroughly uninteresting. Disney's Magic
Artist 3D, Ernie's Adventures in Space, Return of the Incredible Machine: Contraptions,
and Tonka Dig 'n Rig are nominated. Once again, these don't really sound like
"family" titles as much as they sound like "kids" titles.
PC RPG of the Year will go
to either Baldur's Gate II, Deus Ex, Diablo II, or Icewind Dale. That's some stiff
competition, and I think it would be sad if Deus Ex won everything. Besides, it's not
really an RPG. The PC Sim of the Year category includes Enemy Engaged,
Links 2001, MechWarrior 4, Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed, Roller Coaster Tycoon: Loopy
Landscapes. I'm going with the Coaster. People love that stuff. For PC Sports Game
of the Year, the nominees are Championship Manager 00-01, FIFA 2001, Links 2001,
and Motocross Madness 2. What about High Heat Baseball? Or Madden? Very interesting...
PC Strategy Game of the Year
will go to either AOE2, Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, Sacrifice, or Zeus: Master of
Olympus. The Innovation in Computer Gaming will be awarded to Combat
Mission: Beyond Overlord, Crimson Skies, Deus Ex, Sacrifice, or Shogun: Total War. Once
again, I'm rooting for Deus Ex, although Sacrifice is a close contender. The Massively
Multiplayer/Persistent World Game of the Year will go to either Allegiance,
Asheron's Call, EverQuest: Ruins of Kunark, or Ultima Online: Renaissance. And that pretty
much covers the major MMOGs.
The various odds and ends include art
direction and sound design. Jet Grind Radio picks up a couple extra nominations for the
art direction, sound design, visual engineering, musical composition, and game design.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 gets nods for game design and game play. In the general
craft categories, it seems console titles greatly outnumber PC titles. It will be
interesting to see how it shakes down, and who will walk away with Game of the
Year. Nominees for PC and Console Game of the Year are all considered for the
general Game of the Year award. Good luck Tony Hawk.