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SILENT HILL: DOWNPOUR

Developer: Vatra Studios

Release: March 2012

Genre: Survival-Horror

Format: PS3, Xbox 360

It’s been a rocky road for the Silent Hill franchise ever since the fourth instalment, but I’ve always found it a difficult series to follow. Not every game related to the same story arc, and sometimes the abstract symbolism was too, well, abstract. But, being a huge Resident Evil fan back in the 1990s meant that Silent Hill was always a game worth playing, due to the comparisons people made at the time. Despite my struggle to sometimes understand the games, they always managed to get inside my head, creating a fear that Resident Evil’s grisly and jumpy scares couldn’t compete with.

Silent Hill: Downpour is a refreshing game to play. It isn’t a technical triumph; on the contrary, it has its shortcomings in regard to combat controls, graphic glitches, and outdated adventure game logic. However, it feels right, it brings back memories of sitting in the dark when I was a young gamer, scared shitless at the grotesque and surreal images amid the foggy streets of Silent Hill. It’s atmospheric game, and you can mostly thank the sound design team for that. With a good sound system, Downpour has the ability to immerse you fully into Murphy Pendleton’s journey to the infamous rural town. This is something most fans of the games will find hard to believe, considering that previous sound designer and series staple, Akira Yamaoka, retired from Konami prior to Downpour’s development.

The developer, Vatra, are making their debut in the industry, and to be given the chance to work on such a legendary series at such a crucial point in its lifespan, shows the young developer’s potential. Sure, games like Dead Space and F.E.A.R have come along and sewn up the horror genre, and Downpour won’t be remembered for adding anything innovative to cinematic and tactical scares, but it will be remembered for delivering an intriguing and traditional Silent Hill experience.

With a good sound system, Downpour has the ability to immerse you fully into Murphy Pendleton’s journey.

The story is a slow burner; you play Murphy Pendleton, an escaped convict who – not unlike every other Silent Hill protagonist – has an enigmatic past, and a withdrawn personality. While being transported from his previous prison complex, the bus crashes, and Murphy appears to be the only survivor from the wreckage. Making his way to the nearest seemingly inhabited area, Murphy looks for a way out onto the main road, and to start his new life as a free man. But we all know nothing is as simple as that when it comes to Silent Hill, and Murphy must face his inner demons in order to be truly free. Murphy’s is a captivating character, and even though the story takes plenty of time to engage you, you will be hooked once the secrets of his past start to come to light.

In terms of gameplay, don’t expect a lot from Downpour. As previously mentioned, the game doesn’t stand out graphically, and the controls can be very frustrating. However, it doesn’t hold your hand, and this is partly what makes the game so refreshing. Sure, it has a combat/control tutorial at the beginning, but after that, you’re on your own, and if you mess up, you will be required to load a previous save in order to continue. This may sound like a ball-ache, but it just goes to show how much we take for granted in videogames these days. The gameplay changes depending on which realm of Silent Hill you currently occupy. In the Fog World – or rather Rainy World – you’re exploring, occasionally fighting for your life, and meeting the game’s engaging cast of characters. In the Otherworld, you have large puzzles to solve, and chase sequences from a creature called The Void – these moments are extremely exciting.

A lot of thought has gone into the game’s presentation, resulting in a more realistic videogame. Murphy can only carry one melee weapon at the time, so pick wisely. They also degrade over time, you may start a fight with a hammer and finish with a chunk of wood in your hand, so you must always be on the lookout. Murphy’s clothes also tear and rip so throughout the game he’ll gradually look like he’s been through hell and back.

Silent Hill: Downpour perfectly captures the classic Silent Hill style, and fans of the series will enjoy the story. The fantastic voice acting and smart sound design allows for a more immersive experience, though issues with frame rates and difficulty, plus average graphics may put a lot of shallow gamers off.  It’s definitely a game to save for a rainy day.

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DUSTFORCE

Developer: Hitbox

Release: January 2012

Genre: Platformer

Format: PC, MAC (Steam)

Discovering great indie games is something I love doing. ‘Splosion Man, Bastion, and many more, have graced these pages and received praise for being quirky, original, and completely independently developed. This week, I was lucky enough to have a smash hit land on my desk, my very untidy desk. Perhaps I should get one of the Dustforce team to come clean it in style. Do you follow me? No? Continue reading.

The concept of Dustforce is basically what would happen if trainee ninjas from some sort of Ninja Academy didn’t make the grade, so the only way they could make ends meet is by becoming cleaners; very agile and super-fast cleaners. The premise is simple, there’s a hub world filled with doors, some locked, some not. You pick one of the four available cleaners, and control them through various levels behind the unlocked doors. The game plays out like a side-scrolling platformer, with the characters having a skill set similar to Faith from Mirror’s Edge. You can run up walls, double jump, pull stylish moves with your cleaning tool, and link together combos to get from one area to another. The controls require quite adept finger dexterity, and even once you’ve warmed you digits up, it takes some time to get used to. Each level has pathways and animals that need cleaning/sweeping, and it’s up to the members of Dustforce to do this.

The presentation is phenomenal, the art design is beautiful, and the characters move flowingly through the stylish levels. When you unleash fighting moves, the screen shakes, and the strikes leave behind streak marks. And also, when you complete a level by cleaning the last remaining creatures, everything goes into slow motion, Matrix-style bitches! The music is something else entirely, and has certainly caught my attention for review in the future. It’s somewhat reminiscent of chip tune music, while remaining unobtrusive and extremely melancholic.

Another very cool feature is the playback option. When you complete a level, you’re shown the leader boards to see who holds the best times for each level. In the hub world, there’s a log book where you can watch back your attempts at each level, as well as anyone else in the world that has played the level. That’s right, so if you’re stuck on a level, you can watch someone else play through it first and get some pretty valuable advice.

If Dustforce’s multiplayer was online, then this indie game would be an insanely perfect title well worth its price tag. But don’t let that discourage you; it is an extremely exciting, infuriating, addictive, and stylish videogame. I highly recommend this game, along with a gamepad to play it with, unless you’re some sort of keyboard ninja, sweeping your fingers across the keys like a member of Dustforce. This game is bang tidy.

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HALO: COMBAT EVOLVED ANNIVERSARY

Developer: Saber Interactive, Certain Affinity, 343 Industries

Release: Novermber 2011

Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure

Format: Xbox 360

I find myself in a very difficult position when it comes to reviewing HD Remakes. For the most part, remakes are a way for publishers to earn a quick buck; cashing in on previous successes. On the odd occasion, there is a genuine reason for a game to be revisited. For instance, Silicon Knights’ remake of Metal Gear Solid on the GameCube, or Capcom’s return to Resident Evil on the same console. These remakes did more than just touch up the graphics a notch, in some cases they rebuilt environments, changed the gameplay, and provided more backstory. These examples aren’t the only ones, but they serve a purpose to prove that some remakes are necessary. However, the real question is: is the remake of the first Halo necessary? Sure, it’s been ten years since this explosive sci-fi FPS stunned gamers across the globe, and yeah, the franchise has made more money than the Harry Potter series. But is Master Chief’s first steps on Halo really worth revisiting? Have 343 Industries et all made enough changes to the gameplay, or is it just a carbon copy with a makeover?

Having the chance to legitimately review the first Halo game is a dream come true; it remains one of my favourite games to this day. After playing an hour of Anniversary, it becomes apparent that the developers haven’t strayed from the original version at all. Besides from a few Kinect voice commands, and the ability to switch between Classic view and Remastered view, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is no different.

Legendary seems an appropriate word to describe the single-player campaign of Halo. From the moment your escape pod crashes onto the ancient ring world, Bungie managed to steal your breath away. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the plot, Halo tells the story of a genetically altered human called Master Chief. The soldier – or Spartan – along with a brilliantly intelligent A.I called Cortona, and a handful of human marines, must fight back against the Covenant, a zealous Alien species who want to wipe out humanity. Their galactic war finds the two enemies battling on an ancient alien construct called Halo, which the Covenant treat like a religious deity. However, even the cult-like aliens don’t know what the rings contain: a nasty space-zombie life form called the Flood that has the potential to wipe out all life in the universe. Suddenly, the fight for survival gets more severe, and it’s up to Master Chief to shoot, punch, and blow up anything that isn’t human.

The plot hasn’t changed, so obviously there are no surprises, but it remains strong and epic, even when compared to some recent releases, which says a lot about originality in the industry today compared to ten years ago (despite us talking about a remake).

343 Industries have remained completely faithful to the original in everything, from level layout, enemy A.I, and gameplay. This has its positives and negatives. In terms of the former, the gameplay remains simple, with no unnecessary power-ups, perks, and bizarre grenade types. The main negative however, is regarding the level design. The majority of Halo’s levels take place in luscious landscapes, sandy beaches to snowy mountains. However, there are still many moments where you must guide Master Chief through bleak hallways and rooms from one fire fight to another, and this can make the whole experience iterative and confusing. Getting lost in the main campaign is bound to happen, so be prepared to go back on yourself.

The inclusion of collectables in the form of Terminals, a la Halo 3, makes a welcome addition, extending the experience and giving you more reason to explore and see every corner of the newly decorated levels. Skulls return, which you can use to alter the gameplay, making things more challenging by reducing ammo and increasing enemy reaction time, or changing things up just for fun, like the confetti explosions every time you pop a grunt in the head (HOORAY!).

The inclusion of Kinect is a strange one, and it feels like it was literally an afterthought. You can use voice commands during single-player, shouting things like GRENADE and RELOAD, but it’s nothing more than a gimmick. There’s a great deal of lag behind it, so if you want to throw a well-timed frag, you’re best off tapping the left trigger, otherwise you’ll just get cut off mid-speech by enemy plasma fire. While speaking of lag, the game allows you to switch between Classic and Remastered view, but this doesn’t happen instantly, so I’d highly recommend you don’t do this in combat. However, it’s a great feature, and it’s cool to look at an iconic structure like the Control Room, and compare the two versions. The game actually runs both engines, the original and the new Saber3D, so it’s somewhat forgivable that it takes the game time to switch. You can’t switch during cut-scenes, but you can just before they start, allowing you to watch the classic versions or the new HD ones.

I’ve always believed that Halo is a co-op experience, come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever completed Halo by myself, despite playing it several times in the past ten years. It makes sense to have someone covering your back, especially when you consider the scale of the levels combined with the number of enemies. Now you can do this online, instead of just locally, which makes things more interesting; you can see how Joe Bloggs on Xbox Live plays Halo, compared to you and your closest friends.

The competitive multiplayer actually plays on the Halo: Reach engine, which makes sense, since Reach is the best multiplayer experience in the Halo franchise. There are a few new levels from the original and Halo 2, and a new Firefight mode, but because the levels have been recreated before in previous Halo titles, it seems a bit pointless. Still, it doesn’t take anything from the experience of teaming up with your mates and slaughtering the other teams at Capture the Flag or King of the Hill. Many purist of the original will be gutted to play Anniversary’s multiplayer with Reach’s rules, but at the end of the day, we all knew the multiplayer would be little more than a map pack for Bungie’s final Halo chapter.

Was it necessary to recreate Halo: Combat Evolved? The game literally did everything right ten years ago, taking everything from other successful shooters like GoldenEye and Doom. It’s great to play as Master Chief once again after all this time, and the pretty aesthetic will help those new to the franchise play, especially since they won’t have to suffer withdrawal from HD graphics. Anyone new to gaming will find this a rich experience, and fans of the franchise will of course appreciate the fan service. Seasoned gamers, who have never played Halo before may struggle, since FPS games have changed dramatically over the past decade, so this could be one they miss. As far as HD remakes go, it’s a cut above the rest. It’s not some cheap port; everything has been touched-up beautifully and with the upmost respect for fans and Bungie. If you want to get yourself warmed up for Halo 4, and you’re thinking of playing through the entire series again, then Anniversary is the stylish way to do so. What a nostalgia trip.

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BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY

Developer:Rocksteady

Release: October 2011

Genre: Action-Adventure

Format: PC, Xbox 360, PS3

In all honesty, I don’t think there’s been one game this year I’ve been more excited about playing than Batman: Arkham Asylum. Sure, there was the short lived Portal 2, and the epic finale that was Gears of War 3, but my anticipation to play those games felt like nothing compared to the seductive allure of Rocksteady’s sequel. The first game received Thirteen1 accolade of Game of the Year in 2009 – and rightly so – but how does the sequel fare? Is it an overwhelming improvement, taking what was great about the widely successful first game and adding more concepts and gameplay mechanics? Or is it just a case of copy-and-paste?

I was literally quivering with ecstasy when the main title popped up and the awesome music played; this felt like the dark Batman we’ve all grown used to. Unfortunately, my buzz was interrupted by notifications about DLC on more than one occasion. Now, I don’t want to get into a debate about the whole ‘DLC only available for those who buy brand new’, in fact that policy has proven to work sometimes (e.g. Mass Effect 2), however it should not mar the first – and most important – moments of the game.

The story begins 18 months after the events of the original game. Arkham Asylum has been shut down and decommissioned, and a section of Gotham City has been isolated to form its replacement: Arkham City. Overseen by the elusive Hugo Strange, Arkham City is a complex where all the super-villains and criminals of Gotham have free rein to do as they wish. Obviously this has led to a power struggle between rival villains, resulting in a major division of the city; with Two-Face, the Penguin, and the allegedly dying Joker seemingly leading the biggest gangs and owning the larger territories That being said, there’s still the presence of other supervillains behind the scenes; some who made an appearance in the original game, and others just waiting to make their debut in Rocksteady’s series. But where do we find our hero in all of this? The man behind the mask, Bruce Wayne, is publicly arrested in the opening scenes by Strange’s personal army. Strange knows who Batman really is, and makes this apparent to Wayne from the start. In order to keep him from interfering, Strange has Wayne incarcerated into Arkham City, making him easy-pickings for the inmates. After a brief encounter with The Penguin, Wayne has Alfred airdrop his Batman gear on a nearby roof, which he immediately dons and begins his investigation into Arkham City.

It’s a brilliant setup, and one of the greatest openings to a videogame ever. The overall plot keeps you hooked throughout, plus the fan service is absolutely incredible; characters don’t just make reference to the first game, but to other events in The Batman canon. From the delicious opening, right through to the shocking conclusion, the main story of Arkham City is an engaging and well-paced narrative. Rocksteady have really done their research, and any Batman fan would feel at home in the new environment, especially with the inclusion of iconic locations such as The Iceberg Lounge and Monarch Theatre, which of course leads to the infamous Crime Alley where a young Bruce Wayne witnessed the murder of his parents. Overall, the game’s presentation is dark and grim, which is perfect for all Batman acolytes, and the voice cast is simply sensational, with Nolan North as the cockney Penguin and Mark Hamill’s Joker stealing the show once again.

So how does it play? In a word: bat-tastic. The level of genius used to devise the combat system rivals that of Edward Nigma. The sheer simplicity of one button for strike, another for counter, etc., is implemented brilliantly, and the learning curve of new moves, combos, and finishing takedowns is steady, yet challenging. The freeflow mechanic that allows you to stack up your combo multiplier is smooth and responsive, and the addition of multiple counters is welcomed. The combat works great, and it feels even better due to the superb animations; each fight is so cinematic, as if they were carefully choreographed by Jackie Chan. I wouldn’t get into fights purely for the experience points; I just wanted to see Batman meticulously snap an arm or two. Gadgets can still be used in combat, and there’s a wide choice to choose from. Most are assigned quick-fire buttons, which allows you to grapple hook one enemy, batarang another, and freeze a third. It works seamlessly, which is a good thing since enemy types differ, and some require a more tactical approach than a simple toe-to-toe face off – Titan brutes aren’t as prominent this time round, but they do make the odd appearance.

Predator mode is very much the same but the enemy AI has been ramped up a bit; enemies will team up and search the area covering each other, and some will shoot down gargoyles if they clock on to your tactics. Again, it’s a brilliant addition, and it keeps you on your toes. Just like in combat mode, enemies differ to ramp up the challenge; some thugs have gadgets that can see you in the shadows, or interfere with your detective vision. It’s still fun to play the hunter, watching your prey shake with fear as their numbers dwindle, but hand-to-hand combat wins when discussing which is most enjoyable and empowering.

Despite looking like an open world environment a lá Grand Theft Auto, Arkham City is structured more like the first game: outside being a hub world with numerous areas acting like dungeons with a boss at the end. Not all buildings are accessible, but every structure is worth fine-combing in order to find all those Riddler Trophies. Each ‘dungeon’ is unique, and like Arkham Asylum, they’ll be something new to discover each time you visit; The Penguin’s museum being a genuine highlight for me. Rocksteady attempted something different with the boss fights, which is a change for the better considering how poorly received the final fight with Joker was in the first game. Not all Boss fights are challenging, but the memorable and arduous journey to reach them makes the finishing punch all the more satisfying. None of the encounters match up to the intensity of the Scarecrow in Arkham Asylum, but a fight underneath Arkham City with a particular supervillian will remain a fond memory of mine.

The main story took roughly fifteen hours to complete on hard, but that only counts towards less than 40% of the game’s completion. A hero’s work is never done, and the various side missions mean Batman is going to have a long night. The Riddler quests are more exciting this time round, asking for a lot more time and lateral thinking, and side missions such as the Pay Phone Killer and Identity Thief murders mix things up nicely. Once you’re done with your first game, you’ll unlock new game plus; a story mode that allows you to carry across all your experience, upgrades and gadgets from the get-go in exchange for harder enemy types and no counter-indicators – this is what it really feels like to be Batman. It’s actually worth playing a second time – provided your game doesn’t delete your save file (an exclusive Xbox 360 bonus/glitch that we unfortunately encountered eight hours into our first playthrough).

The Catwoman DLC is a bit of a disappointment, acting as intermissions from the primary plot, the chapters with the feline thief don’t add much to the experience, but it must be played if you want a bigger picture into the background of Arkham City and its vibrant characters.

Playing as the world’s greatest detective again has been the most thrilling gaming experience this year; even now I can’t put my controller down due to the new and improved challenge mode. It feels so empowering to fight as The Dark Knight, and Rocksteady’s accomplishments with our hero are awesome in a very obvious kind of way. The long list of subtle improvements give this sequel its own identity, while staying true to the formula we fell in love with two years ago. And after the end credits roll, after hours of riddles, 45x combos, and Batman’s armour getting split to hell, there’s one fact that’s undeniably clear. No one knows the Caped Crusader better than Rocksteady.

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BASTION

Composer: Darren Korb

Release: July 2011

Length: 22 Tracks

Label: N/A

There always seems to be one indie game that suddenly comes out of nowhere during the summer season, and this year Supergiant Games can claim that accolade. Bastion, a RPG-inspired hack n’ slash, with ‘real-time’ narration (if one can coin such a term), has quickly become a strong candidate for the Best Independent Game of the Year, which in turn has gained the game a strong horde of followers. The same can also be said for the game’s soundtrack, which has grown increasingly popular over the past four weeks due to its free-to-listen availability on Supergiant’s website. The man behind this masterful score – and making his videogame soundtrack debut – is ‘self-professed’ rock star Darren Korb, an absolutely phenomenal guitarist from Stateside. Is Korb one to listen out for? Or has Bastion’s score just got caught up in the hype?

A guitarist first and foremost, Korb brilliantly showcases his skills with the stringed instrument. That’s not to say that this is an all guitar-led score, on the contrary, Korb classifies the style of Bastion’s music as ‘acoustic frontier trip-hop’, so let’s dissect that.

The acoustic theme is apparent from the get-go. In the score’s second track “A Proper Story”, the guitar strings are strummed forcefully, albeit confidently, and the strings have a vintage feel, complementing the game’s context. Straight-away memories of the soundtrack from Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven springs to mind; perhaps it’s the scales that are being used, or the lead string instrument that I assume is a sitar. And while we’re on the topic of other videogame soundtracks, the intro to the track “The Sole Regret” is somewhat reminiscent of Red Dead Redemption, but it only stems from the electric guitar used in this track.

Trip-hop could be a way of describing the fast-paced percussion mixed with the Asian scales. The quick tempo beats have a knack for inducing foot tapping and head rocking, and the Middle Eastern feel helps to augment the psychedelic – or trippy – aura. “Terminal March” is a perfect example of this; a strong percussion introduction featuring some very interesting instrument, and then the sitar returns again with some demanding finger work.

And the final aspect in Korb’s definition of Bastion’s music is frontier, and from that – coupled with Bastion’s narration – we can assume that the composer means to capture elements of the plot. Some of the tracks on the soundtrack include vocals sang by Korb and other talents, and some lyrics just dictated by the game’s narrator Logan Cunningham. Even if you’ve played the game, the soundtrack offers its own journey – and there’s nothing like a musical journey.

Korb has proven himself to be quite the guitar hero, not just in his playing style, but in the way he writes his music. Bastion may have surprised gamers across the globe, but the soundtrack with its unique-blend of genres has its own surprises worth discovering.

Listen to Bastion’s OST for free here

Check out Alec-Ross Bower’s writing at Thirteen1.com

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BASTION

Developer: Supergiant Games

Release: July 2011

Genre: Fantasy-RPG

Format: Xbox 360, PC

The writer stares at the blank word document. In his mind, he knows that he must write a detailed review for the XBLA game Bastion, but part of him wants to just crack up a beer and call it a day. No, he won’t do that. The readers need to know about Supergiant Games’ debut title and just how it brings something innovative to the fantasy RPG genre. The writer continues to stare at the words he’s already written, and chuckles to himself at his poor attempt to mimic the game’s narration.

Ok enough of that. Bastion is a fantasy RPG set around an unnamed hero, referred to by the narrator of the kid. Now, for those of us who’ve played numerous fantasy-RPG, we know what to expect: a lucrative, yet complex backstory, blank-faced NPCs who yak-yak-yak-side-quest-yak-yak-yak, huge environments to traverse and plenty of button mashing. Well, prepare for the unexpected with Bastion, which manages to flip the genre on its head. That’s right, Bastion is different. It’s completely original, has innovative gameplay, a brilliant story (superbly narrated), and paces itself very well.

Part of what makes this game so innovative – and for the bizarre introduction – is the literal way the game’s narrated. From the first moment you move the on screen character, the narrator says: “He gets up.” From the get go your choices, victories, fights, and failings are spoken out loud by a wonderful voice actor who should be commended for his work. It must be cheaper too, instead of hiring numerous voice actors to play NPCs to tell the story; you have one bloke do it. What’s also great about this design element is that the narrative can be absorbed without breaking up gameplay. You can continue to fight enemies or smash up the environment, all while taking in what the narrator has to say.

While we’re on the topic of the environment, let’s divulge how the levels are setup and how the game works. Bastion is the central hub world, and when you first discover the land, it’s in ruin. The point of the game is to go to other worlds and collect Cores, which can be used to rebuild Bastion. Each level is uniquely themed, and the way they’re designed is intricate and impressive. The world is created around as you move, so when you walk forward the path will slowly be created in front of you. It’s a very clever idea, because it motivates you to play on from the word go, making the game wholly addictive. Combine this with the colourful design, and it’s like being in control of your own game; as if you’re making the world up as you go.

At its core, Bastion is a hack-and-slash fighter, which is disappointing compared to the aforementioned design aspects. There are numerous weapons for you to collect, melee and ranged, but none of them really give you that much of a tactical advantage. Many enemy types exist, but most can be defeated with a quick combination of bashing the attack and evade buttons. Another disappointment is the ability to explore the dungeons. Despite creating the world as you go, the levels offer very little in terms of exploration, making the game more of a linear action game than an RPG.

However, these are only two things, and considering the game is brief one, it’s not a huge problem. The game has a steady pace, but we’re talking only a few hours until you complete it, plus it’s very addictive, so we wouldn’t be surprised if many of you finished it in one sitting. Bastion may not have brought an innovative combat system to the fantasy-RPG genre, but the way the story is told and how the game progresses will keep you hooked right through to its fruition.

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RED DEAD REDEMPTION RIDES OFF INTO THE SUNSET WITH MULTIPLE WINS

The ninth annual G.A.N.G awards took place in San Francisco last week (March 3) with the Music of the Year award going to Red Dead Redemption – Yeehaw! The musical aces of the soundtrack, Bill Elm and Woody Jackson, were also recognised, winning the Rookie(s) of the Year category – something that I consider to be well and truely deserved.

However Red Dead Redemption didn’t stop there; the relentless game also scooped up three more awards: Audio of the Year, Best Interactive Score, and Best Dialogue.

By no means was it an easy judge either, because the Rockstar game was up against some brilliantly strong competition including Heavy Rain, which unfortunately won nothing, Halo: Reach, again nothing, and Battlefield: Bad Company 2, the other prominent winner that day (Best Sound Design, and Best Use of Multi-Channel Surround in a Game).

The Music of the Year award is a huge accolade in the games industry, so hopefully it will mean we may hear more from Billy and Woody in the future. However, the fact that Red Dead Redemption claimed four awards, and also the fact that it was nominated for six other categories is an outstanding feat and one that sustains Rockstar Games’ sharp eye – or rather ear – for detail in every department, obviously including music and sound.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 was awarded for it's awesome sound design.

 

The gamut of talent was so strong last year, giving us a phenomenal selection of videogame music. It’s unfortunate that strong favourites of Now Loading didn’t win or get nominated – Heavy Rain and Mass Effect 2 respectively – but there’s no question regarding the sheer brilliance behind the Red Dead Redemption score. John Marston was the last cowboy standing after all.

G.A.N.G Awards

AUDIO OF THE YEAR
Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Dante’s Inferno
God of War III
Heavy Rain
WINNER: Red Dead Redemption

MUSIC OF THE YEAR
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Bioshock 2
Dante’s Inferno
Heavy Rain
James Bond 007: Blood Stone
WINNER: Red Dead Redemption

BEST AUDIO OTHER
WINNER: Halo: Waypoint “The Return”

SOUND DESIGN OF THE YEAR
WINNER: Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Bioshock 2
Dante’s Inferno
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
God of War III
Red Dead Redemption

BEST SOUNDTRACK ALBUM
Bioshock 2
Dante’s Inferno
Halo: Reach
Mass Effect 2
Red Dead Redemption
WINNER: Video Games Live – Level 2

BEST INTERACTIVE SCORE
Dante’s Inferno
God of War III
Halo: Reach
Heavy Rain
James Bond 007: Blood Stone
WINNER: Red Dead Redemption

BEST HANDHELD AUDIO
God of War: Ghost of Sparta
WINNER: Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck’s Revenge
Monster Hunter Portable 3
Ni no Kuni: Shikkoku no Madoshi
Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands

BEST CINEMATIC/CUT-SCENE AUDIO
Battlefield: Bad Company 2
God of War III
Medal of Honor
Red Dead Redemption
WINNER: StarCraft II
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

BEST DIALOGUE
Bioshock 2
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
God of War III
Mafia II
Medal of Honor
WINNER: Red Dead Redemption

BEST ORIGINAL INSTRUMENTAL
WINNER: “Athens Harbour Chase” – James Bond 007: Blood Stone
“Ethan Mars Theme” – Heavy Rain
“Main Theme” – Red Dead Redemption
“Northern Grasslands” – Age of Conan: Rise of the Godslayer
“The Palace Gates” – Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (Wii)

BEST ORIGINAL VOCAL – CHORAL
“Alice’s Theme” – Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland
“Dante’s Theme” – Dante’s Inferno
“Hymn” – Halo: Reach
WINNER: “Invincible” – World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
“Overture” – God of War III
“Redemption” – Dante’s Inferno

BEST ORIGINAL VOCAL – POP

“Dagomba” – Just Dance 2
“Dead Man’s Gun” – Red Dead Redemption
“Far Away” – Red Dead Redemption
WINNER: “I’ll Take It All” – James Bond 007: Blood Stone
“No Death In Love” – Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
“The Peri” (Zahara’s Theme) – Prince of Persia The Forgotten Sands

BEST USE OF MULTI-CHANNEL SURROUND
WINNER: Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Call of Duty: Black-Ops
Crackdown 2
Fable III
Halo: Reach
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
Transformers: War for Cybertron

BEST USE OF LICENSED MUSIC
WINNER: Bioshock 2
Civilization V
DJ Hero 2
Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock
Mafia II
Rock Band 3

BEST GAME AUDIO ARTICLE, PUBLICATION OR BROADCAST
APM Film & Television Music Podcast
“Composing the Music of Star Wars: The Old Republic”
“From the Shadows of Film Sound: Cinematic Production & Creative Process in Video Game Audio”
“Recording Firearms Explosions”
WINNER: “The Weight of Silence – How Silence Can Indicate a Character’s Importance”

G.A.N.G Recongition Award
WINNER: Sumthing Else Musicworks

G.A.N.G. Distinguished Service Award
WINNER: Dren McDonald, Jacquie Shriver

Rookie of the Year Award
WINNER: Woody Jackson, Bill Elm

Lifetime Achievement Award

WINNER: Chris Huelsbeck

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