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.