Shacknews - Steve Watts

The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences held its Interactive Achievement Awards at DICE last night, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim took home the Game of the Year prize, among four other awards. The game also won RPG of the year, and outstanding achievements for story, gameplay engineering, and gameplay direction.

Uncharted 3 and Portal 2 each walked away with three awards. Uncharted won a set of technical awards (visual engineering, art direction, animation), while Portal 2 won varied awards for music composition, character performance, and connectivity.

Bastion from newcomer Supergiant Games won the Downloadable crown, while Fruit Ninja Kinect and Infinity Blade 2 won best casual and mobile game, respectively.

"Each year the Interactive Achievement Awards sees the top minds and personas of our industry coming together to not only celebrate, but recognize one another for the achievements of the year," said academy president Martin Rae in the announcement. "2011 produced an outstanding number of fantastic games in all areas of the industry - console, PC, social and mobile - we are truly witnessing a new golden age of gaming."

Check out the full breakdown of winners below.

  • Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition - Portal 2

  • Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design - Battlefield 3

  • Outstanding Achievement in Story - Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

  • Outstanding Character Performance - Portal 2 (Wheatley)

  • Downloadable Title of the Year - Bastion

  • Casual Game of the Year - Fruit Ninja Kinect

  • Social Networking Game of the Year - The Sims Social

  • Role-Playing/Massively Multiplayer Online Game of the Year - Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

  • Outstanding Innovation in Gaming - Skylanders Spyro's Adventure

  • Sports Game of the Year - FIFA 12

  • Racing Game of the Year - Forza Motorsport 4

  • Fighting Game of the Year - Mortal Kombat

  • Strategy/Simulation Game of the Year - Orcs Must Die!

  • Family Game of the Year - LittleBigPlanet 2

  • Mobile Game of the Year - Infinity Blade II

  • Handheld Game of the Year - Super Mario 3D Land

  • Adventure Game of the Year - Batman: Arkham City

  • Outstanding Achievement in Online Gameplay - Star Wars: The Old Republic

  • Outstanding Achievement in Connectivity - Portal 2

  • Action Game of the Year - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

  • Outstanding Achievement in Animation - Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

  • Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction - Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

  • Outstanding Achievement in Visual Engineering - Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

  • Outstanding Achievement in Gameplay Engineering - Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

  • Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction - Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

  • Game of the Year - Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Shacknews - Shack Staff

With Portal, Valve took the mechanic of shooting--something we're very familiar with--and used it in a whole new fashion. Using a gun that opened portals, Valve created a geometry-based puzzle game, the object of which was to use the openings to navigate increasingly challenging test chambers. With that starting point established, Portal 2 hits the ground running.

Portal 2 tricks you into thinking you'd never leave the unfriendly confines of the Aperture Science labs. Then the game blossoms, blowing down the very walls needed for its portals and opens up into a fantastic adventure. Breaking out of the test chambers feels liberating, answering the question: "what could I do with this portal gun in the world outside a test chamber?"

Peeking behind the curtain at Aperture Science offered an intellectual story that fits the puzzling pace just right. It's fun sci-fi, just campy enough, without becoming so silly it can't be taken seriously.

The crowning achievement of Portal 2 is its co-op mode. Working with a second player more than just doubled the complexity of the game. Solving a puzzle with a friend offered the same surprising, euphoric feel of the original Portal. For that feeling alone, Portal 2 stands as one of the high points of 2011.


The Shacknews 2011 Game of the Year awards are based on a weighted scoring system between all staff writers and editors [here's how it works!]. Last week we revealed our "Honorable Mentions," which include the titles that did not quite make our overall 'Top Five Games of the Year.' This week we reveal that Top Five list, with our Overall Game of the Year award being announced on January 20.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences released its list of nominees for this years Interactive Achievement Awards. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception leads with a dozen nominations, and shares a Game of the Year nod with Portal 2, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Batman: Arkham City, and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.

GameSpot reports that Drake's latest outing isn't quite to the levels set by Uncharted 2 in 2010, which earned 15 nominations. Portal 2 earned 10 nominations, while L.A. Noire followed with nine nominations -- but no GOTY nod.

This will mark the 15th Interactive Achievement Awards, to be held on Thursday, February 9 at the D.I.C.E. Sumit in Las Vegas. Check out the full list of nominations at the link above. Plus, be sure to check out our own ongoing Shacknews GOTY reveals, and keep up with our Staff Favorites that didn't make the cut.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

The 12th annual Game Developers Choice Awards nominees were announced today, providing nods to some of last year's greatest games. Three studios shared a tie for the most nominations: Bethesda for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Valve for Portal 2, and newcomer Supergiant Games for Bastion. Skyrim and Portal 2 received five nominations each, while Bastion received four and the studio itself was nominated for Best Debut.

Sharing Game of the Year nominations with Portal 2 and Skyrim were Batman: Arkham City, Dark Souls, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Winners will be chosen by a group of 500 industry professionals and announced at the 2012 Game Developers Conference on March 7.

Check out the full list of nominees below.

Best Game Design

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)

  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Nintendo)

  • Portal 2 (Valve)

  • Batman: Arkham City (Rocksteady Studios)

  • Dark Souls (FromSoftware)

Innovation

  • Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure (Toys For Bob)

  • Portal 2 (Valve)

  • Bastion (Supergiant Games)

  • Johann Sebastian Joust (Die Gute Fabrik)

  • L.A. Noire (Team Bondi)

Best Technology

  • Battlefield 3 (DICE)

  • L.A. Noire (Team Bondi)

  • Crysis 2 (Crytek Frankfurt/UK)

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)

  • Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (Naughty Dog)

Best Handheld/Mobile Game

  • Tiny Tower (NimbleBit)

  • Super Mario 3D Land (Nintendo)

  • Jetpack Joyride (Halfbrick)

  • Infinity Blade II (Chair Entertainment)

  • Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (Capy Games/Superbrothers)

Best Audio

  • Bastion (Supergiant Games)

  • LittleBigPlanet 2 (Media Molecule)

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)

  • Dead Space 2 (Visceral Games)

  • Portal 2 (Valve)

Best Downloadable Game

  • Stacking (Double Fine)

  • From Dust (Ubisoft Montpellier)

  • Bastion (Supergiant Games)

  • Outland (Housemarque)

  • Frozen Synapse (Mode 7)

Best Narrative

  • Portal 2 (Valve)

  • The Witcher 2 (CD Projekt RED)

  • Bastion (Supergiant Games)

  • Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (Naughty Dog)

  • Saints Row: The Third (Volition)

Best Debut

  • Supergiant Games (Bastion)

  • Team Bondi (L.A. Noire)

  • Re-Logic (Terraria)

  • BioWare Austin (Star Wars: The Old Republic)

  • Eidos Montreal (Deus Ex: Human Revolution)

Best Visual Arts

  • Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (Naughty Dog)

  • Rayman Origins (Ubisoft Montpellier)

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)

  • El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron (Ignition Japan)

  • Battlefield 3 (DICE)

Game of the Year

  • Batman: Arkham City (Rocksteady Studios)

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)

  • Portal 2 (Valve)

  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Eidos Montreal)

  • Dark Souls (FromSoftware)

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Oh, you thought that the industry had finally escaped the grasp of the Spike TV Video Game Awards? Not quite. Here are a few of the "acceptance speeches" that couldn't make it into the program--not because Spike TV decided to ignore most of the winners, but because these digitally rendered characters didn't win.

The Joker won the award for "Best Character," but here are the potential speeches you would've heard had Portal 2's Wheatley or Uncharted 3's Nathan Drake had won.

These videos are all hosted by GameTrailers.

And here's the winning video:

[These video embeds are not supported by the GameFly Apps or GameFly Digital Client]

Shacknews - Garnett Lee

It didn't take long for Valve to confirm the rumor we reported of an easy to use level creator coming to Portal 2. The new tool will be part of what the press release terms a "major update" planned for release early next year. With it, users will be able to create both single-player and co-op test chambers for Portal 2 and share them with the community. In addition to playing these new levels, gamers will be able to rate them with a single click, implying some sort of simple community rating system will exist for filtering the newly minted levels. Judging from the two screens below, it looks like making Portal 2 levels will be a much easier, perhaps even drag-and-drop, endeavor. Getting up to speed with, as Valve puts it, "thinking with portals," still presents plenty of challenge.

Shacknews - Garnett Lee

It didn't take long for Valve to confirm the rumor we reported of an easy to use level creator coming to Portal 2. The new tool will be part of what the press release terms a "major update" planned for release early next year. With it, users will be able to create both single-player and co-op test chambers for Portal 2 and share them with the community. In addition to playing these new levels, gamers will be able to rate them with a single click, implying some sort of simple community rating system will exist for filtering the newly minted levels. Judging from the two screens below, it looks like making Portal 2 levels will be a much easier, perhaps even drag-and-drop, endeavor. Getting up to speed with, as Valve puts it, "thinking with portals," still presents plenty of challenge.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Valve has hosted Portal 2 map contests in the past, but those tools are more advanced and best suited to the modding community. Now the company is reportedly experimenting with an easier tool set that will be more inviting to aspiring level creators.

An update to Geoff Keighley's The Final Hours of Portal 2 (via Kotaku) explains the tools, described as "Photoshop for levels." The new kit would be more user-friendly, and include a level browser to boot. The browser could even make it to consoles, letting PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 players benefit from the work of creators.

Also intriguing is the idea of adding personality to the level editor. "Imagine what it would be like to have GLaDOS berate you every time you spell something incorrectly in Microsoft Word and you'll have a sense of where this can go," Keighley writes.

Now for the bad news. The report is unclear on whether this is a definitive, planned update, or just some idle tinkering from Valve. The nebulousness of the plan means that if we do get these tools and browser, it may well be on Valve Time.

Shacknews - Xav de Matos

To celebrate today's launch of free downloadable content for Portal 2, Valve has slashed the price of the puzzle title for a limited time on Steam.

Starting now and running until Thursday afternoon, a single digital copy of Portal 2 is priced at $14.99 (50% off).

New downloadable content for the game continues the co-op adventures of Atlas and P-Body. In addition, it adds new single- and multiplayer challenge modes. The DLC is also available on Xbox 360 and PS3 for free.

A two-game bundle is also available for $27.49 (50% off) as well as a set that includes the original Portal and its sequel for $17.49 (50% off). Check the Steam gamepage for details.

The promotion ends on Thursday at 4pm PT.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

In typical Valve fashion, their next release is coming a bit later than expected. Portal 2's long-promised free DLC will be available on October 4th on PC, Mac, PS3, and Xbox 360. The "Peer Review" DLC will be automatically downloaded via Steam on PC and Mac, and will be available on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network for console players.

The add-on will add a brand new co-op test track for P-Body and Atlas, as you "once again match wits with GLaDOS." In addition to the new co-op track, the DLC also adds a single player and co-op Challenge Mode, and leaderboard support to compare Challenge Mode scores.

Along with the DLC announcement comes the third portion of the "Songs To Test By" official soundtrack, and new ringtone packs for both iOS and Android based cell phones.

Download the third volume of the "Songs To Test By" Portal 2 soundtrack here, or the complete soundtrack here.

Download the third iOS ringtones pack here, or the complete iOS ringtones pack here.

Download the third Android ringtones pack here, or the complete Android ringtones pack here.

...