This year's Leipzig Games Convention was bigger and better than ever. True, only one platform holder bothered to put on a conference, while Nintendo didn't bother turning up at all. But Sony had a good one, and Guitar Hero World Tour to Street Fighter IV there was plenty of stuff to write home about.
But what were the real highlights? Which titles stood out in the crowd, what with the crowd being comprised mainly of games about shooting monsters in the face within post-apocalyptic environments? And which title is Eurogamer most likely to give 8/10, thereby setting fire to its particular corner of the internet?
To answer all these questions, we decided to do the Eurogamer Games Convention Awards. This involved polling staff who were at Leipzig this year for their favourite games and moments of the show, and then doing some maths. Here are the results.
Best Single-Player: Heavy Rain
No one got to play it, but David Cage's 45-minute demo of Heavy Rain left many impressed and everyone intrigued. Quantic Dream has expanded the banding narrative technique used in Fahrenheit, dressing it up with an incredibly detailed graphics engine. In other words, you can choose your own adventure and they can do hair and everything. Heavy Rain promises to offer a degree of interactivity that helps shape both the storyline and the experience, and if it delivers, could be a killer app for PlayStation 3.
- Dead Space - Metroid Prime and Alien do scissors.
- Fallout 3 - Not everyone's convinced, but for many this title shows plenty of promise.
- Mirror's Edge - A unique first-person take on the action-adventure genre.
- Resident Evil 5 - Looks like it could be another top-drawer instalment. Best not mention the other thing.
Best Multiplayer: LittleBigPlanet
There was no contest for this one. LittleBigPlanet is a 2D platform game with physics, but it's also a grand experiment in creativity. With all the tools the developers used for the single-player game at your disposal you can create Mario clones, Rube Goldberg-style contraptions, complex dioramas and virtually anything else. Or just play with what everyone else has created. You can play with up to three friends, both online and off, but what gives LBP the edge in this category is the huge potential for sharing content with others.
- Left 4 Dead - Perhaps the most promising shoot-the-monster-in-the-face game currently in development.
- Warhammer Online - Taking on WOW is the stuff of fantasy, but Mythic's giving it a go anyway.
- Battlefield Heroes - DICE refines the team-based shooter and doesn't ask for a penny in return.
- Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 - "It's like PES 5 again!" was the triumphant cry of everyone who tried this one out. In other words, brilliant.
Best New IP: LittleBigPlanet
Media Molecule's first game is so strong and striking it's hardly surprising to see Sackboy being promoted as the face of PS3. He seemed to be popping up on every advertising billboard in Leipzig, and even graced one side of an entire tower block. Sony's pretty confident LittleBigPlanet will live up to the hype it's creating, and it's hard to blame them.
- Heavy Rain - Adventure fans have been waiting forever for a proper big-budget poster-child. With really good hair.
- InFamous - In which you play a man who can make lightning come out of his hands. Tick.
- Mirror's Edge - Certainly looks original, if slightly nauseating.
- Spore - It's been in the making for eight years, but was it worth the effort?
Best Visual Impact: Heavy Rain
Developers are getting into their stride with the current crop of consoles, and there were plenty of good-looking games on show at GC 2008. It was Heavy Rain, however, that made the biggest splash. From the hypnotic front-end to the detailed environments to the hyper-realistic animations, watching the demo felt like standing in front of Half-Life 2 for the first time. The game is visually stunning, there's no doubt about that. And the hair's good. They still can't do lip-synching though.
- LittleBigPlanet - A very close second. The merchandise makes itself.
- MadWorld - Gratuitous violence made arty through judicious use of black and white.
- Mirror's Edge - Stark, clean, beautiful.
- Prince of Persia - Certainly looks different to previous instalments.
Best Comeback: Street Fighter IV
Street Fighter IV really shows how best to take an old idea and reinvent it for a new generation: don't go over the top. Better to opt for an inspired art style and a sensible refinement of the enduring 2D gameplay, as Capcom has done here. It's an approach that's likely to be copied over and over as other publishers blow the dust off long-dormant IP. Whether they'll be able to achieve the same degree of success remains to be seen.
- Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts - Tom loved what he saw at Rare a few weeks ago, and it's not hard to see why.
- Operation Flashpoint 2 - A brave attempt to deliver on the promise of the 2001 classic.
- Diablo III - Blizzard seems determined to move the series forward while staying true to its roots.
- Fallout 3 - Using the Oblivion template to reinvent this brand could be an inspired move.
Best Social Game: Guitar Hero World Tour
It was no surprise to learn new instruments will be introduced in the next version of Guitar Hero, what with Rock Band having proved so popular. But it was good to discover the peripherals are of an excellent quality, and the game is compatible with RB instruments too. Not to mention the new Studio mode, which should please creative types. But will all that be enough to give Guitar Hero the edge, leaving Rock Band to overdose on bad chang and die spasming in a pool of its own sick?
- Family Trainer - Ellie claims this is good. And she hates most things,
- Rock Band 2 - Better peripherals, better songs, better online functionality.
- SingStar Vol. 3 - The promise of a firmware update to add PS2 disc support is welcome.
- EA Tennis - It'll be very interesting to see how this works with Wii MotionPlus.
Best Novelty Value: Family Trainer
The Wii balance board is all very well, but you can't actually run or jump on it. The result is it can feel like you're not so much exercising as having a nice stretch. Family Trainer Wii works with a dance mat-style peripheral instead, and actively encourages running and jumping. There are plenty of mini-games to play, including river rafting and jumping over logs. It only took one GC demo to convince Ellie of its brilliance, and she wasn't even drunk. [As far as we know. - Ed]
- Babysitting Party - For the name alone.
- MadWorld - Ritual dismemberment in the name of sport. Tick.
- EyePet - Draw things on paper, and the EyeToy will make them come to life. Virtually. Or something.
- FIFA 09 - Ten-on-ten videogame football. Everyone goal-hanging! Brilliantly rubbish!
Best Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Sony presented a strong software line-up at GC this year, not to mention a new iteration of the PSP, a free music download service and plenty more to get PlayStation fans excited. There was a huge buzz around the behind-closed-doors presentation of Heavy Rain, while LittleBigPlanet put smiles on people's faces and Killzone 2's multiplayer action was shown off for the first time. David Reeves almost let the side down by banging on about Goethe and Bob Dylan at the start of the press conference; he came across like a would-be trendy geography teacher trying to impress sixth formers with his knowledge of Pokmon. But there's no doubt about it, Sony's back on track. Microsoft may have gifted it to them by not showing up, but if it's the same story this Christmas then 2009 will be very interesting.
- Capcom - Resident Evil 5, Bionic Commando and Street Fighter IV. Fierce.
- Electronic Arts - With Mirror's Edge, Spore and more original IP on the way, it's not just about sequels any more.
- SEGA - MadWorld and Bayonetta look most intriguing, while a new House of the Dead is welcome.
- Activision Blizzard - Hooray for more Call Of Duty and Guitar Hero. The new Bond game looks alright too.
Best News: Heavy Rain announcement
Microsoft's stealth reveal of a revised Xbox 360 pad might have come close, but in the end the biggest buzz at GC was about Heavy Rain. "It's amazing," said some. "It's awful," said a few. "It's a load of Quick-Time Events strung together by the looks of things but at least the hair is nice," said someone else. "Shame they still can't do lip-synching though."
- New Xbox 360 control pad - Designed for PES and, apparently, Street Fighter IV. The colour is still a subject for debate.
- Alone in the Dark to be fixed - Well done Eden for admitting the game has faults and promising to fix them.
- No PS3 price cut this year - It's good to know there's no point waiting.
Best Quote: Sony's David Reeves
On PlayStation Home. "Everything is absolutely on track. I can look you in the eyes and tell you it's on track." Thanks, Dave. It's about time to be honest, but thanks.
- Acclaim's David Perry on Sony's fortunes: "Sony basically has pretty much no chance of making money on the PS3, because it's lost more money than they made during the entire peak of the PlayStation 2."
- Peter Moore on suing file-sharers: "I'm not a huge fan of trying to punish your consumer."
- Hideo Kojima on tiresome journalists: "Half the questions are like, 'Will MGS4 be coming out on 360 or other formats?', and in the near future I hope they'll ask me about Metal Gear, about us, about our future projects, and will stop caring about the hardware." We then asked him about MGS4 on Xbox 360.
Game Most Likely To Controversially Get 8/10 On Eurogamer: Spore
We don't give high profile games an eight to wind people up on purpose. Honest. And yet we can't seem to stop ourselves - Halo, Gears of War, Metal Gear Solid 4... What next? Despite stiff competition, our judges reckon Will Wright's super-ambitious Spore is the most likely candidate. Eurogamer editor Tom Bramwell, who is reviewing the game, didn't vote in this category, being too busy conquering the world with cutesy Dodos.
- Heavy Rain - Looks pretty, but will it play nice?
- LittleBigPlanet - The LittleBigger they come...
- Resident Evil 5 - We might prefer the shade.
- Guitar Hero: World Tour - There are no more Spinal Tap jokes left to nick.
And if you couldn't get enough of Games Convention, watch out for our coverage of the Tokyo Game Show in October, and anything else we can blag our way into in the meantime.