Sunday night at the Spike Video Game Awards, Grand Theft Auto IV was awarded game of the year honors, beating out Gears of War 2, Fallout 3, Fable 2, Burnout Paradise, and a slew of other great games that didn't make the cut.
From a sales perspective, it's tough to argue with the logic--GTA IV set sales records earlier this year, selling 2.5 million copies in its first week and 5.04 million units since its release. Although the total units sold mark doesn't set any records, GTA IV obliterated every other known sales record and was met with considerable reviewer praise. I'd venture to say that it was the best Grand Theft Auto title in its storied history.
But does that make it the best game of the year?
To say GTA IV is the best game of 2008 isn't such an easy decision to make. If we purely base it off sales, then I guess it's impossible to pick any other game. But if we look at the value each game provides, I'm not so sure GTA IV deserves the top spot.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots was a great game that was largely overlooked by reviewers and consumers, alike. The game featured outstanding graphics, a great, yet convoluted storyline, and some of the best MGS action ever. It's not hard to make the case that it should have gotten the top game nod.
Gears of War 2 was another outstanding title that offered the kind of fun and excitement that I just couldn't get out of GTA IV. The title's gameplay was outstanding, its design was even better, and the amount of fun I had playing it was unrivaled.
Fable 2 is, if you ask me, the best game of 2008. The title featured a real, living world, and the gameplay was outstanding. That doesn't mean GTA IV wasn't great--it was--but to say that it was better than Fable 2 and its gripping story, is a bit misguided, in my view.
Of course, the list can go on and I'm sure many of you can make the case for other games I haven't listed here. I'm not here to say that GTA IV wasn't one of the better games I've ever played--it was--but I think it's only slightly worse than Fable 2 and on par with Gears of War 2 as the second-best game of the year.
I know my opinion won't be popular and I'm sure many of you will find fault in my logic, but isn't that the point? Spike judges decided that GTA IV was the best game of the year and if it was based on sales, it's tough to argue with the logic. But if its decision was based on the opinions of judges, I simply don't think the award holds any value--everyone has their own reason why their own favorite title should take the top spot.
I loved GTA IV and would recommend it to anyone. MGS IV was great and I could play Gears of War 2 each day and never get bored. But for me, Fable 2 provided a superior storyline, an engaging world, and an experience that eclipsed others by a very narrow margin.