I like this award. It makes me think of the times that video games were great. Find who or what was our biggest surprise of the year.
And the winners are...
Shadow of Mordor This is a great choice. In video game land, the Lord of the Rings franchise was famous for pumping out workmanlike slasher/RPG type games. No-one expected this seamless, polished fusion of Assassin's Creed and Batman: Arkham Asylum.
Wolfenstein: The New Order Similarly, when old, classic series get the reboot something usually gets lost. On rare occasions the developer takes things in a direction no-one could possibly expect and somehow succeeds.
Alien: Isolation There was always this small inkling that Alien: Isolation might be good. But we were fragile and sensitive after the debacle that was Aliens: Colonial Marines. We weren't sure if we could love again. This was a game by Creative Assembly, a studio who had never created a game like this, working on a property that was completely burnt out and hollow. How could it possibly succeed?
But the concept was so strong that we were strung along by it. Creative Assembly were sincerely talking a good game, they sounded like they knew what they were doing. The said the right things.
Turns out they actually followed through on what they promised. In this day and age that feels like an anomaly.
When it was first realised I said that Alien: Isolation was the bravest AAA game of the year, and I stand by that. It might end up being the best AAA release of the year full stop, if AAA even means anything any more.
But for me it was definitely the most surprising.
I wasn't expecting a game filled with such incredibly varied encounters. I wasn't expecting a game that felt genuinely emergent. I wasn't expecting it to be so fucking intense and scary. I wasn't expecting it to come together as this amazing package.
I wasn't expecting it to be so flat-out good.
New 3DS Releasing In Australia in 2014 How could you have predicted this? Nintendo releasing a brand new console in Australia before Europe and the US? This still blows my mind to this day.