Spike VGAs, what’s the worst that can happen?

On Saturday the Spike Video Game Awards showed how our beloved industry still has a way to go yet before it can pull off an interesting ceremony but does now how to rouse a crowd. Exclusivities, announcements, rumour-squashing and adverts. Lots and lots of adverts filled two hours with the actual awards lightly peppered in between. All the winners were highly deserving of their accolades but it almost seems pointless handing them out on the night, especially when some categories were barely given a mention at all before being whisked off to be told why Dr Pepper is so awesome. The best and sometimes worst part of the VGAs is how they’re voted for by the public so on one hand you have like-minded people choosing a winner but that can quickly become a popularity contest over a true mark of a game’s overall quality. All of that becomes secondary when you hardly even notice an award has been received but rather find out about Power Point.

The trailers and exclusive announcements are by far the best part of a show that’s not quite sure what it wants to be. The next E3? Our medium’s Oscars? There maybe a way to go yet for either of those but the games and various teases are what rallies the viewers and there were a number of juicy ones. Having sunk many hours into Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, the site of Todd Howard surrounded by chanting monks could have only meant one thing and since EA accidentally revealed Mass Effect 3 a day early, it was a relief to finally have confirmation and a release date of Christmas next year. Both huge announcements with two very different videos which leads me to my next realisation; the games industry sure does love its CG trailers. Being so far ahead of a release, any form of in-game footage would be misleading but CG only videos are fast becoming the norm. And for some games it works very well, like the aforementioned Mass Effect 3. As grandiose as the story, BioWare’s full CG announcement trailer was able to build up excitement, capture the pressure that Shepard faces and how terrifying it would be if gigantic alien lifeforms came smashing down our doorstep. But for a franchise like SSX, I could have done with seeing a bit more really. I appreciate the brief was to get people hooked and leaving them wanting more but what this new game appears to offer, a new darker possibly story-driven campaign, even a hint at some in-game footage would have been plenty. Imagine the excitement from watching a similar version of the trailer but made using replay footage of new courses.

The best and most boastful trailer of the evening in terms of hype generation and proof of concept was for Uncharted 3. We got a new setting, troubling predicament old Drake must get out of and some in-game action ending with a release date and the happy chirping from Sony of the vid purely being run in-engine. Very impressive indeed and a well balanced trailer too. I think full CG cinematics have a respectful place in gaming as do all in-game trailers and the theatrics they both offer are equally important. But I wouldn’t want one to overrule the other and wonder if things are ever so slowly creeping that way.

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