Inside Pulse Games 2005 Year End Awards

BEST STORY

The Nominees:
Digital Devil Saga 1
Indigo Prophecy
Oddworld: Stranger’s Wraith
The Warriors

The Winner: DIGITAL DEVIL SAGA 1

The fundamental basis behind DDS’ story is surprisingly innovative: take a group of characters who have absolutely no emotional depth to speak of, at all, and stick emotions into them. Then force them to kill and eat everyone in the world, all so that they can get to an unspecified heaven that MIGHT be better than the world they live in now. The writing takes the game far beyond being a simple game, and places it into the realms of being an absolute work of powerfully rendered art, simply because of the character’s interaction with one another and the world around them. Squaresoft could stand to learn something from this. -Mark B

Fan Vote: Digital Devil Saga

BEST GRAPHICS

The Nominees:
Call of Duty 2
Half Life 2
Project Gotham Racing 3
Resident Evil 4

The Winner: PROJECT GOTHAM RACING

While racing games aren’t usually known for their graphical prowess, that doesn’t stop companies for shooting for the stars. And Bizarre Creations may have bounced off a few of those stars. Rather than settling for having the best looking cars possible, they wanted to have the best EVERYTHING possible. The developers drove around the cities they were featuring and took hours of video footage and thousands of still pictures of the area. And they captured that in lifelike clarity that has never been captured before in a game. One of the greatest features in the game is the ability to stop the game and take a picture, mid-race. You can move around your car and take a snapshot of your surroundings. Want a picture of the Sphinx in front of the Luxor, or the spires of Excalibur? You can do that now. And if you show that picture to an unsuspecting person, chances are they won’t know that it’s from a game. That’s how great these graphics are. -Lee

Fan Vote: Resident Evil 4

BEST SOUND

The Nominees:
Digital Devil Saga 1
Guitar Hero
Medal of Honour: European Assualt
We Love Katamari

The Winner: DIGITAL DEVIL SAGA 1

And this becomes the Fourth award for the Megaten spinoff this year, and we’re not done yet.

DDS1 : Avatar Tuner boasts both amazing music and some excellent voice acting. You have to admit that when Cielio first gets emotion, you were not expecting his voice to be anything close to what Atlus cast? And the best thing is that it served the exact purpose it was supposed to. It stood out and the more you played the game, the more you understood why. With a haunting score that enhances the battles and the overall mood of the game, Digital Devil Saga managed to capture our ears as well as our hearts. It’s just a good thing it didn’t devour either. – Lucard

Fan Vote: We Love Katamari

BEST GAMEPLAY

The Nominees:
Digital Devil Saga 1
Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks
Oddworld: Stranger’s Wraith
The Warriors

The Winner: DIGITAL DEVIL SAGA 1

It’s all about the Press System baby. Simple, functional, and easily the best combat system made for an RPG in years, Atlus has refined the system to the point that it could be their staple combat engine for years to come. Simple to learn, yet complex enough that you could string incredibly massive and devastating combos off of it with just the right amount of planning and stat management. Plus, Atlus took that stupid Monopoly/Chinese Checkers level up system from FFX and made it (GASP) FUNCTIONAL in DDS. The game is highly intuitive, easy to learn, and very rewarding if you’re willing to learn the subtle nuances contained therein. -Mark

Fan Vote: Digital Devil Saga 1

MOST IMPROVED FRANCHISE

The Nominees:
Megaten
Pokemon
Resident Evil
WWE Smackdown

The Winner: RESIDENT EVIL

The one thing that bothered me about the Resident Evil franchise was that you never really got the nerve racking feel from it when a swarm of zombies attacked you. Well that and the horrid camera angles, the nonsensical puzzles, the almost complete lack of ammunition, and the fact that it really brought nothing new to the table. Well Resident Evil Outbreak: File 2 changed all of this! Wait, that’s the shitty online Resident Evil, right?

In all seriousness, Resident Evil 4 reminded us why Resident Evil was once considered the pinnacle of horror gaming. The fast paced gameplay, smarter then usual AI, and cheap scares (f*cking snakes in the boxes) brought the Resident Evil series back to the tips of the fanboy’s tongues. With Resident Evil: Deadly Silence and RE 5 right around the corner, it’s certainly shaping up to be a great year to be a fan of the living dead. -Tom P
Fan Vote: Resident Evil

BEST NEW FEATURE

The Nominees:
Being able to turn on the Xbox 360 via your controller
Guitar Controller for Guitar Hero
Sega Saturn style controllers for the Xbox and PS2
UMD’s

The Winner: THE GUITAR CONTROLLER

Boy, we really do like our music games. The introduction of the guitar in video game form fills the gap between playing music games for fun and not wanting to play music games because you look like a ridiculous moron doing it. Well maybe the Guitar Controller still makes you look pretty moronic, but certainly less so then DDR, Pump It Up, and Karaoke Revolution. With the Guitar Controller, you’re the bad ass in the music game scene! I never thought I’d ever type that sentence…. -Tom P

Fan Vote: Power Button on the 360 Controller

BIGGEST NEWS STORY

The Nominees:
Hot Coffee
Nintendo’s DS slaughters Sony’s PSP in terms of software and hardware sales
Workings Designs R.I.P
Xbox 360 launch bugs

The Winner: HOT COFFEE

Rockstar Games is arguably the best-known video game publisher on the planet. They’ve sold enough copies of the Grand Theft Auto series to fund a small country. Which explains their incredible hubris in their reaction to this story. It seems that when San Andreas was being developed, there was a sex minigame included. Before the game was released, the minigame was removed from the game but not from the code. A few enterprising modders found the code in the PC version of the game and quickly wrote a mod for the game, affectionately known as “Hot Coffee”. When news of this broke, Rockstar’s immediate reaction was to claim that the mod wasn’t really a mod at all, but an addition of something that was never in the game. When the code was subsequently found in PS2 versions of the game, the jig was up. The game’s rating was quickly changed from M (Mature) to AO (Adults Only), stores refused to sell it, Australia banned it, and a national firestorm over video games erupted. Here’s hoping that in the future Rockstar thinks with their big heads and not their little ones. -McCullar

Fan Vote: Hot Coffee

MOST OVERHYPED GAME OF THE YEAR

The Nominees:
God of War
Jade Empire
Tekken V
The Warriors

The Winner: JADE EMPIRE
It’s not that Jade Empire is a bad game. Far from it. It had an enjoyable storline, good graphics, and a combat engine that was fairly decent. But this was BioWare. MDK. Neverwinter Nights. Baldur’s Gate. Knights of the Old Republic. The bar was hella high, and they fell short. This was touted as a breakthrough in RPGs, and instead we got a good, but not great, gaming experience. Had it been made by someone other than BioWare, it probably wouldn’t be viewed as a bit of a disappointment. But when you’re the Barry Bonds of RPGs, a double is a bit of a letdown after we were expecting a grand slam. -McCullar

Fan Vote: Jade Empire

GAMING LOWLIGHT OF THE YEAR

The Nominees:
Activision, Bioware and other companies exposed for bribing/bullying review sites and mags for higher scores for their games.
Hot Coffee
Jack Thompson’s consistent display of idiocy
Sony kills Star Wars Galaxies

The Winner: JACK THOMPSON

Why we even bother with this nutbag is beyond me. Jack Thompson has for years been trying unsuccessfully to get video games banned and developers burned at the stake. According to Thompson, video games are the root cause of everything wrong with society, from desensitizing kids to violence so that the Army could have more efficient soldiers to male pattern baldness and erectile dysfunction. But 2005 had to be Thompson’s banner year. He was involved in breaking the “Hot Coffee” story. He was involved, and then recused himself, in an Alabma lawsuit claiming GTA: San Andreas inspired the murder of two police officers and a dispatcher. He offered to donate $10,000 to the charity of Take-Two president Paul Eibeler’s choice if someone would make a violent video game to his specifications and quickly backpedaled and refused to make the donation once the game was actually made, and then tried to have Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik from Penny Arcade arrested when they made the donations in his name. Now news has broken that Thompson has bought shares in Take Two in an effort to dictate the company’s direction. God only knows what Jackie Boy will do in 2006 to top himself. Maybe play a few hours of GTA:SA, go on a homicidal rampage, get 25 to life, and finally get the f*ck out of all our lives.

Fan Vote: Jack Thompson

WORST GAME OF THE YEAR

The Nominees:
Jak X
Romancing SaGa
Shadow the Hedgehog
Wrestlemania XXI

The Winner: WRESTLEMANIA XXI

Tom doesn’t lie folks; I am to bad video games what MST3K is to bad horror movies. I find perverse enjoyment from horrible video game titles; the worse, the better. Sadly, I couldn’t find ANYTHING to enjoy about WM21… this was more of a sobbing hateful rage-inducing experience than anything I could honestly point and laugh at.

When the first two things that occur to me to write are 1) “Well, THQ really should have let Anchor develop the third WWE game for the Xbox”, and 2) “I wish I could say ‘at least it’s not an Acclaim wrestling game’, but most of Acclaim’s wrestling games were better than this piece of shit”… you just know it’s all downhill from here. Graphical glitches, poor controls, bugs and glitches from the get-go (so many that THQ had to issue a patch for the game, and that STILL didn’t fix it), an insanely limited Custom Character creation system, and a complete lack of ANYTHING interesting to do make this, easily, the worst game released this year. -Mark

Fan Vote: Wrestlemania XXI

SYSTEM OF THE YEAR

The Nominees:
Microsoft Xbox
Nintendo DS
Nintendo Game Cube
Sony Playstation 2

The Winner: SONY PLAYSTATION 2

Some people accuse IP Games of having an Anti-Sony bias. It’s not true; it just happens that a lot of the PS2 games that come our way are average-to-poor, and we say so.

However, we’ll be the first to commend any game on any system that’s good, and that’s why the PS2 is our top system of 2005.

A trend in console gaming is that, as a machine nears the end of its life, the absolute limits of what can be done with it are reached. Developers are so familiar with the system that they can produce things that nobody would have dreamed of two years ago. And that’s what we’ve been seeing from the PS2.

Microsoft have sidelined the X-Box to push the 360. Nintendo have seen regular masterpieces for GBA, DS and Cube, but consistently lacked the volume of games needed to really ‘make’ their systems. Sony have continued to enjoy ever-improving titles from pretty much everybody. For proof, just look around this feature. There’s scant few games you can’t play with a PS2, and a number more that ONLY work on Sony’s box. With all that quality around, there’s only one real choice in this category.

Was 2005 the PS2’s last hurrah? Probably; next year will be all next-gen. But what a hurrah it was. – Misha

Fan Vote: Nintendo DS

2005’s GAME OF THE YEAR

The Nominees:
Digital Devil Saga
Pokemon XD
Resident Evil 4
The Warriors

The Winner: DIGITAL DEVIL SAGA 1

Was this really a surprise? I said back at the very beginning of 2005 that no other game would come close to touching the greatness that is Digital Devil Saga. You seen us say it had the best Gameplay, the best plot, the best sound, and also watched us label it the best Turn Based RPG and the overall best game on the PS2 in 2005. This really should not come as a shock to anyone.

There’s a reason why Megaten stands shoulder to should with Square-Enix’s Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy franchises as the most popular RPG series over there. Megaten focuses on plot and substance, and although they occasionally leave style out (see: Soul Hackers), they more than made up with it in Digital Devil Saga. If you’ve ever wanted to see just how fantastic a Turn Based RPG can be, than look no further than this game. After DDS, everything else in this genre will be mediocre by comparison.

You will not find a better game released in 2005 than this one. Nothing even comes close. Buy it. Embrace it. Devour it. Love it. -Lucard

Fan Vote: Digital Devil Saga 1

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