Editorial / BAFTA 2012 – deserved winners and criminal omissions

Portal 2 was a triumph. This is no lie.

So the 2012 Video Game BAFTA Awards have been and gone. The winners were announced on Friday. So what does this editorial think of the decisions made? Well overall I can happily say the winners seem fairly deserved of their praise. Some choices fox me a little, especially when comparing them to their nominees. The best pick of the bunch however got the recognition it deserved, which if you have read an older article of mine, you will know exactly what I am talking about. Without further ado, let us scrutinise the winners and losers of this year’s awards!

May as well start with the biggest award of the night I suppose. The coveted Best Game award went to Portal 2. Last year’s awards gave the award to Mass Effect 2. Completely different games in their entirety save for the one sole similarity in that they are both of the science fiction genre. This goes to show the sheer diversity as to what can win ‘Best Game’ and it makes you wonder if the judging panels follow any form of criteria. Portal 2 was likely duly deserving of the award though. I have not played the game however I did have the pleasure of playing the first Portal and can safely say if it bettered that then give it the award because the first Portal was a mind-bending stupour of splendour.

It staved off tough competition frankly. I really, really thought something like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim might have gotten it, but it is nice to see a change from the usual, mega blockbuster games taking the crown. On that note, I was surprised to see Skyrim win…well, nothing. I am no raging fanboy by any means but Bethesda’s fantasy epic is a big hitter in most departments and it is odd to see it walk away with only nominations. I had expected Original Music and Story from it but apparently it was not to be. Speaking of big hitters, Battlefield 3 performed well on the night, suitably destroying its Call of Duty rival. While the big acronym won nothing at all, Battlefield 3 waltzed out with Online Multiplayer, Audio Achievement and the GAME Award of 2011 beneath its belt. May I casually remind you that the GAME Award of 2011 is the only award voted for by the public. Even with the sales of the two, you guys have revealed rather clearly who among the major shooters is your favourite.

A series that has had wins in the past returned to take home a few of the golden masks too. Batman: Arkham City, sequel to 2010’s Best Game Batman: Arkham Asylum, took home the Action award and Performer award, for Mark Hamill’s always stellar Joker voicing. Interesting point to bring up though…if Arkham Asylum took home best game in 2010, but City failed to in 2012…what does that mean? The general consensus is that the games got better. So what then, did City drop the criteria somewhere down the line? Again, I pose the question, is there a criteria at all? What it is most likely however is that games are simply improving. I know it did not win Best Game, but I watched a video of L.A. Noire and was just blown away by the realism of it. I think it is a simple case of the competition being fantastic this year.

Something I did notice, readers, was that there was a distinct lack of Wii games even in the nominations. Changing times indeed as the Wii appears to continue to lose not only popularity but also credibility in the gaming world. Perhaps a rather sweeping statement yes, but I think there is certainly some merit to it. Nintendo is focusing on high definition graphics and ‘core’ games with the Wii U, though to differentiate games in categories like that is perhaps a foolish endeavour. Perhaps the change in attitude for the company is reflected by the industry. Most Wii games just are not able to stand up to the caliber of high profile, big budget blockbuster games that you see on other consoles.

The only Wii exclusive games to even be nominated were The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (surprise surprise, though it was nominated for Best Game, which is likely duly deserved) while the only 3DS titles were Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario 3D Land which honestly are the best titles on the system at the moment. So here, we’re now speaking Nintendo exclusives in general as barely appearing on the shortlists. Even the Family award was won by a Sony exclusive, LittleBigPlanet 2, whilst the Sports award was won by a Microsoft exclusive, Kinect Sports 2. Two of the things the Wii strived to do have clearly now been done better, rendering the Wii rather obsolete until another Mario or Zelda title comes around.

This particular writer was fairly disappointed to see Gears of War 3 walk away with nothing at all, though at least it received a nomination in the Online Multiplayer department, which is deserved indeed. Yet, for all the night’s frivolities, my utmost favourite award winner has yet to be mentioned. Yes readers, the Artistic Achievement award went to Rayman Origins. Some may call it an underdog, but this ‘return-to-form’ platform genius swept the rug from beneath the feet of the likes of Skyrim, Arkham City and L.A. Noire to win a very well deserved award for its graphical style is simply beautiful. Truly I was ecstatic to see Rayman take the win, to see that other people felt the same about the game as I did. I really hope it has a sequel in the same vein and that it spurs others onto revitalising their lost franchises.

Finally, an intriguing question. The awards are sponsored by GAME, British high street retailer which has found itself in the financial quicksand and is about to go under. Moment of silence. Back to business again as this reader has to wonder who will sponsor the awards next? If they are still around, it could be another retailer in the entertainment industry such as HMV but I suppose we will have to see when the time comes, since I do not see GAME making the 2013 ceremony. Anyway, the awards are done for another year and gaming continues to cement itself as an equal to film and music in the media business. Hope to see you next time readers as we continue to ponder the victors and wonder for the losers.