The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of the 2020 Game Awards

With the way the year has been going, it’s really nice to have something like The Game Awards actually try to give some relief and fun to the myriad of gamers all around the world. I will have to say I’m impressed with how Geoff Keighley and his crew managed to put in a really good virtual show together. As good and impressive it was, I can’t say this year’s Game Awards wasn’t as good. Then again, it’s unfair of me to expect perfection but I kind of wanted a little bit more.

So, with that in mind, here are my thoughts on what was good, what was bad and what was definitely ugly about this year’s Game Awards program.

Presenters

The Good: Nolan North

When it comes to gaming’s good guys, you can’t really go wrong with Nolan North. He’s the man who played the lovable rogue Nathan Drake and you can see it’s more Nolan North inspiring how the character behaves and not the other way around. There’s an everyman charm to him and he just knows when to become the butt of a joke if it’ll illicit the most laughs. He perfectly demonstrated this when he had to come after Tom Holland introduced him.

It’s funny… because it’s true?

The Bad: Christopher Nolan

From one Nolan to another. Now, I like Christopher Nolan as he’s a director who has not only found his own storytelling style but still manages to take a whole bunch of risks with his films. He respects the audience and doesn’t do much hand holding, even though some of the tales he does weave can get a bit confusing if you’re not paying attention. However, he did make a rather minor boo-boo while giving his introduction to Game of the Year based on the games that were nominated this year. See of you can catch it.

So, he says that all nominees for this year’s Game of the Year have “player’s agency and choice intersect with more traditional storytelling methods.” That’s an odd thing to say when one of the games Christopher Nolan is talking about is Animal Crossing New Horizons!

Okay, that’s just a minor error and is a little nitpicky but I did get a good, hearty laugh when I thought about it.

The Ugly: Brie Larson

I’ll keep this brief because, well, I can’t really say I hate Brie Larson. I don’t even dislike Brie Larson. I’m actually more indifferent to her so I can say I’m not biased to instantly disliking anything she’s in. However, her rather monotone and stale delivery when introducing the Best Performance category was, well, much to be desired.

I’m sorry, but it just sounded like she didn’t want to be there? That’s what I was thinking. Even Christopher Nolan, a director and not an Oscar winning actor, sounded more convincing!

Trailer

The Good: Sephiroth in Smash Bros. Ultimate

What makes a good announcement or reveal? For me, it has to be unexpected but welcome. And, for video games, it also has to show actual gameplay clips. Oh, and there have to be some really eye catching moments. I don’t think anyone expected to see Sephiroth, the main antagonist of Final Fantasy VII to appear in Smash Bros. Ultimate! And, boy, was the reveal super brilliant!

Not only did we get brief glimpses of Sephiroth in action in the game, we also got a lot of cute and memorable moments, like the One Winged Angel missing Zelda with his sword and the “gotcha!” moment when you see the silhouette of Sephiroth’s katana seemingly skewering Mario! The only thing I didn’t like, and it’s a minor gripe, is that it’s the Advent Children version of the character. Still… wow!

The Bad: Ark II

I talked about what makes a good trailer. Now, what about a bad one? Well, for me, a bad trailer is overly long and doesn’t use any in-game footage. It’s there to sell you on the idea of the game without you actually learning what the game will be like. Oh, and as good as the CGI trailer is put together, it still lacks polish. Ark II fit the bill.

There’s just something really off about the Ark II trailer. Maybe it’s the weird facial animations that make’s Vin Diesel look like he took a stroll through the uncanny valley. Maybe it’s the stiff and unsatisfying feeling of the punches throughout the CGI fight. Maybe it’s because I haven’t played the first Ark so I have no idea what’s actually happening. It could be all these things.

The Ugly: Crimson Desert

Now, what makes an ugly trailer? Well, it’s going to be a trailer that comes off as unfinished. Like they had to rush it out the door because they had to get it out before The Game Awards airs. This is how I felt about Crimson Desert’s trailer.

Okay, Crimson Desert does look like it has some promise. The characters look details and the trailer does seem to show some in-game action. But there was just something weird about it. I couldn’t figure it out a few minutes in but I then realized something. None of the characters are talking even when they look like they’re speaking.

It’s just strange to have such a polished looking trailer but not have any of the voice acting recorded for it. It looks like it’s supposed to have an intriguing and well thought out story but, without words coming out of their mouths, I can’t say for sure. I actually thought there was something wrong with my audio but I realized there was music playing. Because of the lack of any dialogue or even subtitles, Crimson Desert gave me a terrible first impression.

Bits and Segments

The Good: Devolver Digital announces the Game of the Year for 2021

Good ol’ Devolver Digital. Still doing the oddball and rebellious parodies even during the thing they’re actually parodying! In a brilliant move, Devolver Digital’s Nina Struthers already announced Loop Hero as the winner for Game of the Year in 2021! No take backsies, Game Awards!

What makes this segment doubly brilliant is, while it’s basically there to promote their upcoming game, it also manages to sneak in five of the games they’ve already released! Now that’s how to get as much bang for your buck as possible!

Bad: Swedish Chef in Overcooked

Now, I actually thought this was cute at the start as it was classic Muppets… or cartoons. We have Swedish Chef claiming to have won an award with Geoff Keighley trying to get him back on track. It wasn’t a bad idea nor a terrible bit. I just thought it went on a few seconds too long.

Also, I kind of expected the chicken to make an appearance. Not a terrible segment but it just got a little cringey by the end.

Ugly: Mario Medley

How can a medley of some of the best video game music be terrible, especially when they’re being played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra? Well, The Game Awards managed to botch it up somehow! And I can’t say it’s because of the musicians because they played flawlessly.

The Mario Medley should’ve been something grand and beautiful. With Mario spanning a 35 year career of games with memorable music, you would expect The Game Awards to devote more than three whole minutes to this! It felt like a very protracted medley because of this. This also meant that a whole mess of Mario music didn’t get any time to get played! They started with Super Mario’s main theme and then skipped right on to Super Mario 64! What happened with Super Mario 3 and Super Mario World? I’m sorry but I felt cheated.

The Winners and Losers:

The Good: Among Us wins two times

It feels a little weird for Among Us, a game that was released in 2018, to be nominated for any kind of award in 2020. Yet, it would be a crime if it wasn’t as this was the year when gamers needed it most. So I’m really glad for Innersloth for bagging not one, but two wins in the 2020 Game Awards!

Not only that, the Among Us creators looked honestly thrilled to be winning. It wasn’t an “aw, shucks” moment for them. It looked like they were genuinely elated to be getting an award for making Among Us. And the best thing is they actually deserve it. It was a long time coming but, yeah. They deserve it.

The Bad: Final Fantasy VII Remake

Oh, I love Final Fantasy VII Remake. So I’m glad it bagged two awards for Best RPG and Best Music. But they were a shoo-in for those. What I wanted to see was Final Fantasy VII Remake winning Game of the Year. It didn’t happen (see The Ugly portion below).

Even if I kind of knew it wouldn’t win, I really hoped it would sneak in and steal it from the eventual winner. To me, Final Fantasy VII Remake was Game of the Year and I wanted The Game Awards to make it the definitive winner.

The Ugly: The Last of Us: Part 2

Oh, I haven’t played The Last of Us: Part 2. I have read the stellar reviews and the divisive reaction the game has gotten from gamers all over the world. I do have to say The Last of Us: Part 2 looks like a stunning game. I can even get into the big twist because, honestly, that’s something unique in video game storytelling. But Game of the Year? I don’t think so.

Among the nominees, I already knew Doom: Eternal and Animal Crossing: New Horizons didn’t stand a chance. But against the likes of Final Fantasy VII Remake and Ghost of Tsushima? I didn’t think The Last of Us Part II would take Game of the Year. It winning actually felt like the “safe” bet because it’s the most “artistic” of the three. But as a game of pure enjoyment? I think the other games were better… and I haven’t even played Ghost of Tsushima!

What did you think of this year’s Game Awards? Let me know in the comments section below!

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