edge_cover.jpgThe panel of five judges has deliberated long and hard, they’ve spent the last year playing video games, and have announced the eight games in the running for the coveted EIF Edge award, we’ll get to those in a moment. I’ll be at the awards ceremony on Monday and will no doubt bring you many tales of rock star like behaviour from developers on a rare excursion from behind their computers.

I’m not sure if Edge is published in the US but over here in the UK its one of the most respected games magazines around. Instead of focussing on a single format, the magazine covers the cutting edge of gaming on every conceivable format, and has been a standard of British gaming culture for the last 15 years.

The games shortlisted for the award are as follows:

  • Bit Generation from Nintendo on the GameBoy Advance: A series of intriguing games which have been developed by Nintendo programmers, seemingly in their spare time. These games are quirky, simple, and endearing, and a fitting swansong for the GBA.
  • Wii Sports from Nintendo on the Wii: A great showcase for the Nintendo’s newest console’s abilities and potential, and fairly decent games to boot. This is the game that changed how we thought our games could be controlled forever, and made arms ache the world over.
  • Canis Canem Edit by Rockstar on various formats: Also known as Bully in the US, the name was changed to ‘Dog Eat Dog’ in latin in PAL regions due to the controversy stirred up by various anti-bullying groups in the UK and the by now infamous Jack Thompson in the States. This game is not about being a bully, however but about turning the tables on bullies. Dubbed by many as Grand Theft Auto goes to school, the unflinching treatment of the subject matter makes this game worthy of an Edge award.
  • Dead Rising from Capcom on Xbox 360: If you’ve seen Dawn of the Dead then you know the premise of this game. Survive in a Zombie infested mall for three days (real time), using whatever you can to defend yourself. Ground breaking in that it was the first zombie game to have more than 800 of the fiends on screen at once, capturing the tension and horror of the zombie movie genre perfectly.
  • Okami from Capcom on PlayStation 2: To read me gushing about this game go here. This game is art, there are no two ways about it. It ticks all the boxes; beauty, drama, innovation, they’re all here. My money is on Okami to swipe this one.
  • Defcon by Introversion on PC: Introversion have made themselves a name for producing quirky, innovative and above all different, games. Uplink was graphically simple but the tension it generates is tangible, Darwinia is a thing of beauty, and anyone who remembers Wargames, the ’80s movie about nuclear armageddon with Matthew Broderick, will get the idea of Defcon immediately. Global thermonuclear war has never been so much fun.
  • Final Fantasy XII by SquareEnix on PS2: As with all final fantasy games the story is epic and the graphics are beautiful, and yet I can’t bring myself to find a place in my heart for them. The combat system has only had minor tweaks since its conception and I would maybe have more admiration for them if the series represented a single story instead of changing the setting and background for every iteration.
  • Test Drive Unlimited by Eden Studios on various formats: The granddaddy of all driving games shows its pedigree in this latest in the series, and gives Gran Turismo 5 and Project Gotham 4 something to aim for. The multiplayer is a new direction for driving games and Oahu has never looked as good.

So those are the contenders for the EIF Edge award, this one isn’t decided by the seething masses but by five lumianries of the industry. The panel this year is made up of Charles Cecil from Revolution Software, Martin Kenwright of Evolution Studios and Bigbig Studios, games writer and author Steven Poole, Alice Taylor vice president of Digital Content at BBC Worldwide America, and Chris Taylor, the founder and CEO of Gas Powered Games. I’ll be trying to corner at least one of them for a word or two when I’m in Edinburgh.

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