The Second GamingLives Alternative Games of the Year Awards

Recognition is a great thing to receive, as long as it’s for all the right reasons. After all, wouldn’t you prefer to be flagged down on the street for curing a disease or being “that bloke off the telly”, rather than shouted about because you’re that weirdo who pumps wee dogs, or, even worse, because you’re Bono?

Last year, we launched the first GamingLives Alternative Games of the Year Awards, and it was a rousing success. Nobody went home disappointed, and I’m pretty sure we only told Microsoft to go fuck themselves twice; significantly fewer than the number of times Microsoft expressed the same sentiment to us when they announced the Xbox One. Hey, look, I skimmed through the winning envelopes and I’m pretty sure that’s the only insult they get this year, which is a bigger exclusive than their console can boast.

Just as before, we here at GamingLives didn’t want to do the standard routine of dishing out awards based on the best DLC, microtransactions, or the sexiest character of the year, because not only would we never reach a full consensus, I’m still not actually in any games, and until that issue is rectified, that latter vote would still be an utter farce. So, instead, I once again tasked our writers with devising their own awards; something unique that no other company or game would find hanging on their mantelpiece or nestling in their trophy case.


Best Game I Got Really Excited About, Raved To Everyone About, Played For An Hour And Then Never Went Back To
D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die
I’ve never even played Deadly Premonition, but I love whatever that Japanese guy is called and everything he’s ever made. Not SUDA51, the other one. Swery65? Something like that. Anyway did you hear he’s making a point and click? It looks amazing! It’s the only reason I’m buying an Xbox One! Look, I just spent over £400 on an Xbox One, and now D4 is coming out! They’ve dropped Kinect support so I can actually play it, since apparently £400 Xbox One bundles don’t come with Kinects! Oh my God I bought it day one! Oh my God everyone play this game it’s awesome!!!

That was me for a long time, and then I just stopped caring. I love D4; I love its stupidity, its clunkiness, the main character’s horrible Baw-stun accent. I love the art direction, the horrible colours on the main character’s shirts, the fact you can slap people around forever for absolutely no reason. It’s a batshit stupid game, and I thoroughly enjoy it. But now I just can’t be bothered going back to it. The very thought gives me headaches. I have lingered over the icon on the menu, willing myself to load it up once more, but my thumb just won’t comply. Instead it hits the Home button for too long and turns the whole machine off, and I wander off to go will myself not to hit children while they interrupt a classic episode of Peppa Pig.

I’ll find time for you again one day, D4.


Best Use of Borderlands Assets in a Game
Thankfully, Telltale Games’ “Tales from the Borderlands” hadn’t yet been released when this award list was being compiled, otherwise it would probably have won. I jest. There’s a difference between actually playing a game and watching someone tell you a story whilst pushing buttons every once in a while. With its beautiful sarcasm, trademark wit, and shining lack of any Telltale interference, Borderlands: The Pre Sequel wins this one hands down.


The “Peanut Butter M&Ms” Award
For an unlikely combination that worked way better than you’d ever imagine.
Winner: Tales From the Borderlands.
As a relentless Telltale fanboy, this year has been nothing but an emotional roller-coaster for me. I’ve been a fan since the Sam & Max revival days, and although it’s lovely seeing them reach mainstream acclaim with their adaptations of The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, I haven’t been able to help but wish they’d go back to their comic ways, especially since The Wolf Among Us was a disappointing noir to nowhere and The Walking Dead Season Two was the most disappointing follow-up since the results of my last prostate exam. Thankfully, Telltale’s Tales From The Borderlands is easily the greatest thing they’ve done since they first introduced us to Lee and Clementine, and what’s even better is they made it seem all so effortless. Despite being confused and mildly put off by the myriad of changes they’d made since E3, I found myself engrossed, laughing, and loving Fiona and Rhys’ adventures despite finding Borderlands a bit of a snooze-fest and never truly gathering the wherewithal to take on the twenty gazillion or so pieces of DLC Gearbox released for Borderlands 2. In essence, they made the perfect opening to an adaptation; they eased you in with the source material, found a unique hook, and made you fall in love with the universe regardless of whether you loved the games or not. Oh, and it’s by far one of the funniest games of the year despite being one episode of five. Here’s hoping it inspires Telltale to go back to their comedy roots a bit more instead of the ultra-depressing “Fuck Life” simulators.

Runner-Up – An original game set in the LOTR Universe
Considering that the entire universe is basically carte blanche for some of the coolest potential battles ever, Middle-Earth has been a surprisingly dull and disappointing place when it comes to gaming. The tie-in games? Alright hack-and-slashes, but nothing to phone home about. Anything original? Please, like you could even remember Battle For Middle-Earth, The Third Age, or War in the North unless I’d just reminded you or you’d actually worked on them.

Yet, I doubt anyone would disagree that Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor was undoubtedly the best thing to happen to Tolkien’s Universe since Peter Jackson was given a camera and an unquenchable fetish for New Zealand. Okay, so the game’s narrative was easily one of the worst-written, dull and uninspiring stories in a year overflowing with them, but that combination of open-world exploration, combat and stealth is something that nobody else got close to usurping. Plus, the nemesis system is easily the most innovative thing the AAA has come up with in years, and in about two years you won’t be able to breast-stroke for all the games that’ll bastardise it. Come for the beautiful vistas, stay for orc kebabs..


Better Call Soul – Lords Of The Fallen
As the first Dark Souls-esque game to hit the new generation of consoles, Lords Of The Fallen has earned a respectable name for itself, selling enough copies for a sequel to be in the early stages of development, according to developer City Interactive. With Dark Souls II remaining on last-gen for the time being and Bloodborne still a little way off, there could be worse places for challenge-seekers/masochists to look for their next hard-as-nails fix.


Best Game I Already Bought Like Three Times Already But Happily Paid For Again
Winner: Fable Anniversary
Having bought an Xbox just so I could play Fable, then buying Fable: The Lost Chapters again when I re-bought an Xbox some years later, then pirating the PC version because I missed it, then buying the original again as an Xbox Original directly downloaded onto my Xbox 360, you’d think I’d be sick of Fable. Wrong! I bought it again! And I’d do it again and again, I tell you! HAHAHAHAHAHA!

It’s the same game! The exact same game! They changed the save system, but I never noticed because I didn’t play it any differently! They changed the graphics, and to be honest I kinda really hate the new art, but who cares! I paid full price! Again! It’s the same game! It’s all the same quests, same items, same dialogue, same badly compressed audio, same music, same meandering storyline, same obvious moral choices! How could I have not fallen in love with it?!

There’s a part of me that feels like a gross consumerist loser, who fears new ideas and falls back on trusted, repackaged brands with pretty new colours rather than explore the vast unknown. Christ, most of my favourite games of the year have been licensed franchises, sequels and HD revamps. But at the same time, why should I try to push my boundaries any further than necessary? I love Fable! Fable Anniversary re-release for Xbox One, please!


Old Chop, New Tricks – Grand Theft Auto V
Of all the games that made the generational jump this year, GTA V is perhaps the most notable one. Not only because it’s GTA V, the fastest-selling entertainment property in history if you didn’t know, but because it added something that not only fundamentally changed the way you played the game but also the way you thought about playing it. The new first-person mode showed all of your Los Santos-based crime-committing from a closer and uncomfortable viewpoint, one that would make you think twice before ploughing into a crowd of innocent bystanders minding their own business on the pavement in your Grotti Carbonizzare, or gunning down the LSPD forces attempting to stop the monster you are after raiding the bank in Paleto Bay. It’s unclear whether this profound effect was always Rockstar’s intention, but it’s a new way to experience GTA and an example of how new-gen re-releases should be expanded upon. Rockstar have set yet another precedent.


The Buy, Buy, Buy Delilah award
Winner: Valve
Sell, sell sell, are we selling yet? Are they buying? Is everyone buying? That guy, you, yes YOU over there, why the fuck aren’t you buying? Why aren’t you buying games you already own physically? Or games you thought about owning once? Why aren’t you mindlessly adding to cart? Do you hate your PC, hmm? Why are you grousing about your digital copy activating via Steam? Why are you grousing that your indie game got buried under a deluge of old crap with deceitful new release dates? Have you seen our cards, our gems, our gold bricks, our gold bricks covered in gems, our sausage-inna-buns, half a shekel for an old ex-leper?

*puts arm around you* Hey, we like you, look, how about you buy a few things and cheer yourself up? There are some heinous Early Access games over here… they’ve got nearly all the glitches out and won’t delete too many enraged customers’ negative comments from their forums. We’ll hold your wallet for you while you go and take a look.

Last seen preparing their mission probe to Alpha Centauri to see if there is anyone there who doesn’t have a Steam account, Valve have been busy this year. Lathering up their sales foam and spraying it into every corner and cranny of this miserable globe, there are only a few dead Ebola victims who haven’t got Steam, been forced into Steam, or been drowned in the deluge of sales and new (mainly old) releases.

James Doohan’s ashes were fired into space a few years ago, Valve, I don’t think he sold any cards or has updated his wish-list and email contact details before he left… if you hurry you could just catch him before he hits the Nexus.

Runner-Up: Ubisoft.
For taking their PC ball and skulking home to Uplay with their games before changing their minds.


The Yves Guillemot Memorial Award
For the most Ubisoft game of the year.
Despite tough competition from all-comers, this award once again goes to Ubisoft for all of their games. Whether you’re looking at Assassin’s Creed Rogue, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Far Cry 4, Watch_Dogs, or even The Crew, you really can’t deny that Ubisoft has put out some seriously Ubisoft games this year. We can only hope that 2015 is as Ubisoft a year for games as 2014 has been.


Assassin’s Greed – Assassin’s Creed
Not one, not two, but three Assassin’s Creed games saw the light of day on consoles in 2014 (well, four if you count Watch_Dogs…), and neither of them were particularly any good. Unity was buggy and broken, Rogue failed to capitalise fully on its Templar lead, among other things, and PS Vita’s Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation didn’t translate well to a bigger screen. Even taking into account one was a port and the other two were split between new-gen and last-gen, three releases in one year is virtually unprecedented for a series as big as this. And, considering we’ve had a new core Assassin’s Creed game every year since 2009 (not to mention the spin-offs), it’s far too much to keep up with. We know we’re headed for Victorian London in 2015, Ubisoft, but please give us a break afterwards. Enough is enough.


The Lactose Award
There aren’t many who could go up against veteran Bavarian girls and still come out on top but, when it comes to milking, none can truly compete with the champion of champions – Ubisoft. Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the Animus, out comes another colon or numeral, and it’s time for an irked protagonist to don their hood, grab their favourite concealed weapon and trudge through the streets unleashing the exquisite pain of the knife. In fact, by the time these awards are published we’ll undoubtedly have had several announcements from Ubi, telling us about their latest stab in the dark. Assassin’s Creed: Lactose Tolerant Infinitum is on the horizon.


The ‘We’re All Spanish’ Award
For Creative Ways of Harming Animals.
Far Cry 4 didn’t fuck around when it came to letting you fuck up anything furry. Are you observing a deer happily wandering around in the woods, and fancy ruining its day? Well why not fling a knife at it, slow it down with a flame-thrower as it tries to run away, put a couple of bullets into its slow-roasting body, and then blow the shit out of it with a grenade launcher. You can even get in a small truck and run it over in front of its calves or whatever baby deer are fucking called.

Make sure to drag it up a church and fling it at some children dressed as donkeys for that authentic rural Spanish feel.


Coolest Pokémon Ever, Ever
With yet another Pokémon remake storming the shelves and bringing your loved pocket monsters into the third dimension, there’ll always be the debate over which of the two thousand, nine hundred and sixty (citation needed) is the coolest. However, that search has been redundant since Pokémon Blue, as none of them will ever be as cool as Squirtle. Look at him, man. He’s a turtle with a squirrel tail, he’s basically the cutest thing ever, and he looks dope with sunglasses, a trait literally no other pocket monsters can attain (citation needed). Absolutely untouchable, forever and always.

Runner Up: Blastoise
Look at him, man. He’s a giant turtle who happens to be the only Pokémon cool enough to be given guns, and he probably looks dope with sunglasses. Let down because it evolves from Wartortle, who is a loser and has never ever been anyone’s favourite Pokémon because he sucks.


The “You Absolute Fucking Bellend” Award – Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna)
For Dodgiest AI.
Dodgy AI isn’t exactly something to write home about. Even with years of advancements in technology, you can’t walk five paces in most games without some cockend who’s supposed to be working with you getting in the way and fucking everything up. Worse yet is when their survival is paramount to your mission – let them die and it’s game over.

You’d think that by now developers would’ve at least considered removing that particular piece of design, but Never Alone is right here to prove you wrong. While at its core it’s a charming game that teaches you about a culture you probably haven’t encountered before, Never Alone is also an infuriating platformer, riddled with poor design choices and AI that is more than willing to dive into a bottomless pit for no good reason.

You can, in theory, play as either a little girl or a fox, and will need to swap between the two to solve puzzles and reach the end of the game. Except the little girl’s AI can’t jump for shit, and tends to miss ledges by miles and die instead. And sometimes the fox runs too far, goes off screen, vanishes, and then yowls in pain as it dies by running off an unseen cliff. Or the time when the fox was stood next to a cliff, and suddenly jumped in with no prompting. Fuck you, fox. You absolute fucking bellend.


The BioShock Award
For excellence in wandering around corridors like a fucking prick.
Alien: Isolation got the look of the movie Alien down to a T with its authentic use of the colour beige. It also allows you to re-live your school days with an INFINITE number of corridors to crawl and walk along. It even has its own hallway monitor to make sure you don’t run. It’s eight foot tall and has acid for blood. Just like Mr Carver, our evil maths teacher. Fuck!


Return To Form – Insomniac Games
After a round of unsuccessful experiments with Ratchet & Clank and the less-talked-about-the-better Fuse, Insomniac Games came back swinging with their excessively vibrant Xbox One exclusive, Sunset Overdrive. Immediately likeable, often laugh-out-loud funny and always a joy to play, Insomniac’s latest was a much-needed reminder of why we fell in love with them in the first place. Even though Resistance 3 proved they can do serious games just as capably as any other developer you care to mention, gaming would never be as fun if that’s all Insomniac made.


The Shut The Fuck Up Award
Fallout 3 was, to many, a great game. Fallout New Vegas was better in some respects and worse in others. Fallout 4 hasn’t been announced yet. Bethesda have been working on other projects, some of which have been great while others… not so hot. But why… why oh fucking why is it necessary for those who follow Bethesda on social media to immediately ‘boycott’ whatever new release has been announced by way of protest at Fallout 4 not having been announced.

Worse still, are those who comment with simply “Fallout 4” and nothing else. Worse than even those, however, are the sheep who ‘like’ those two-word protests and attempt to flag wave by writing things such as “I’m not playing another minute of Skyrim until Fallout 4 is announced” like anyone at Bethesda really gives a fuck. They have your money, you stupid knob. They give as many fucks as Tim Langdell has successful lawsuits against anyone using ‘edge’ in a sentence. Move the fuck on. Also, hurry up Bethesda, fuck sake.


”Kick, Punch, Report it to the Media” AKA The “How Did Nobody Report On This?” Award – The Parappa the Scammer Scandal
In the lead-up to the release of Sony Smash Bros. (Or All-Stars Battle Royale, if you want to be on-brand), two college students wanted to make a flash animation to promote it, and instead of imitating the voice of appearing character Parappa the Rapper, chose to ask original voice actor John Simpson III (or Dred Foxx, if you painfully want to be street) to contribute. After requesting a hundred dollars for five lines, he promptly spent months not doing it, causing the kids to cancel the project and ask for their money back.

Anyone who can actually remember Sony Don’t Have Enough Bankable Mascots For This To Work: The Game will note that it was released in 2012, meaning that the man who once voiced a cartoon rapping dog has refused to give back a hundred dollars for two years. During that time, he’s given stupid excuses, begged his fans for money to buy an iPad he lost at a gig (which, let’s be honest, if you’re taking an iPad to a gig then part of you totally deserves it when it gets stolen), set his rabid fanboys on the duo, planned to make and release diss tracks about them, threatened them with lawsuits for slander and libel, and done pretty much anything except hand over the hundred dollars he stole.

In the most recent chapter of the scandal, the man who calls himself Dred Foxx for some reason decided that, rather than solving the dilemma by giving them back the hundred dollars he stole, the better idea would be to send some death threats instead. With an incredible grasp on the concept of good ideas, the former Parappa voice-actor went on to claim, amongst other things, that he had “a female “banger”near your town who said if she see you she’s gonna slash your face with a boxcutter without warning so every time you look in the mirror you remember. ..BKLYN STYLE.

Over a hundred dollars. That’s barely sixty pounds in real money.

It has everything a classic gaming controversy needs; a reluctant protagonist, a deluded has-been with delusions of grandeur, and ridiculously high stakes over something that could be solved if the voice-actor of Sony’s Parappa The Rapper would just hand over the hundred dollars he owes. I dread to think of what’d happen if you asked him to apologise, too.


The Henri Paul Award
For excellence in driving badly.
Sony have a game called Driveclub or DriveClub or DRIVECLUB or FUCKINGDRIVECLUBYOUDRIVINGFUCKS. Either way it hardly matters as it drives like a cunt, apparently. A cut-down version was announced for PS+ about fifteen years ago. At this rate we’ve got more chance of the full game being given away with a message that simply says ‘sorry.’


Best Use of My Fucking Bandwidth
While we understand that marketing is essential, especially these days with so many people tightening their belts – mostly around their own necks, thanks to bankers being twats and thrusting us into a never-ending recession – there comes a point where it’s being taken too far. Those truly innovative people at may have set the bar at a ridiculous height when it comes to free-to-play tank-em-ups, but it becomes unnecessary to issue a press release when all you’re saying is that the colour of the grass has changed slightly, or a new tank model has been released where one of the switches within the cockpit is slightly different. With more emails sent than that prick with the “V1AGR4″ macro, Wargaming outshine everyone else.


The George R. R. Martin Award For Excellence In Taking Forever To Release The Next Instalment – Kentucky Route Zero
Dear Cardboard Computer,

I bought your game last year, around this time, after hearing many good things about it. Mainly, games journalist Cara Ellison described it as “if Wes Anderson made a game”, and that was good enough for me. And it was in a sale, so I would’ve been a fool to pass it up.

After devouring the first two episodes and falling in love with the characters, the narrative choices that made no difference but to add an interesting and personal flavour to the game, and the stunning art, I sat and waited patiently for the third act. Months passed, and finally, in May, your game updated, Twitter rejoiced, and we all dove in for another fantastic addition to the ever-intriguing story that is Kentucky Route Zero.

That was seven months ago.

I need this game in my life. Give it to me.



Biggest Non-Surprise of the Year
That Gaming Culture Started To Destroy Itself.
Considering the way the landscape was forming, it was really no surprise that 2014 was the year when Gaming Culture really started to devour itself like an Ouroboros with the munchies. There’d been a serious problem with the way women were treated by gamers whether they were fictional, real, or DLC, but if ever there were a year for it to happen, this was surely the one. There were barely enough real titles to keep track of and everything AAA was delayed or probably a huge disappointment, so in a morbid way it’s hardly surprising that we all started turning on each other instead.

It’s not been an easy few months for anyone, least of all the women who’ve been harassed and sent death threats for wanting to continue to work in this industry. It’s genuinely sickening waking up every day and confronting the fact that there’s a toxic, cancerous part of our industry, but there’s a shining light in all of this; the harassers are an overwhelmingly tiny minority – a prehistoric remnant that’s fast-tracking itself on the path to extinction. Let’s hope 2015 begins a new, better, more inclusive industry for everyone, or otherwise it’s all been a devastating, depressing waste of time.


Biggest Non-Surprise of the Year
Pretty much every game released was full of bugs.

Late Entry: Best Use Of Pun With A Popular Culture Reference In An Award Title
Winner: “Better Call Soul” by Tim.
I bow to you.

And so ends another daring, amazing, brilliant (and some may also say excellent, sexy and life-changing) Alternative Game of the Year Awards. If you won, your award is in the post. Probably. If we ever bothered to send it which, to be honest, we probably didn’t.

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