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     GameSpot's Best & Worst Awards for 1997

Game of the Year

Winner: Total Annihilation
"Cavedog (Entertainment) has done a commendable job of taking the basic mechanics of real-time strategy and using them to create something new: a game that relies less on constant mouse-clicking than careful planning and strategic thinking." - Ron Dulin, GameSpot Review

Developer: Cavedog Entertainment
Publisher: Cavedog Entertainment
Review and Demo

Selecting the best game of 1997 was a very difficult task, one that involved lengthy debates, heated arguments, and even a well-placed threat or two. It came down to the wire, but Cavedog's Total Annihilation nabbed the top slot by a very small margin.

It's important to note that our three strongest contenders all took established formulas and improved upon them significantly, so we weighed the significance of these improvements to determine the victor. Total Annihilation, with its 3D terrain, numerous multiplayer options, and seamless but complex interface, makes some incredible improvements in a genre that saw a lot of action this year, the majority of which were totally forgettable.

While at first glance it's just another real-time strategy game, Total Annihilation reveals a whole other beast - one where tried-and-true strategies, such as tank rushes, unit luring, and other basics of the real-time game, are completely useless. Total Annihilation also excels in one important area - longevity. With 25 campaign missions per side, a great skirmish mode, and new units and maps constantly provided - for free - via Cavedog's web site, it's a game that keeps on giving long after you get your money's worth.

As we've said, it was a tough decision this year. But in the end, no game made more dramatic improvements in its category than Total Annihilation.

Runner-up: Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II
"It will not be easy for anyone to surpass Jedi Knight in 1998." - John Wilson, GameSpot Player Review

Developer: LucasArts
Publisher: LucasArts
Review and Demo
Sure it has cheesy FMV cutscenes. Sure it has lackluster multiplayer options. But when it comes to level design and control, no game can compare to Jedi Knight. From running across the tops of buildings while being strafed by TIE Bombers, to trying to make your way through a spacecraft as it tumbles down a mountain side, Jedi Knight makes you feel like a superhuman stuntman, winding your way through its expansive and ingenious levels.

On the control side, Jedi Knight adds subtle additions that are inexplicably neglected in other first-person shooters. Moving backward, forward, or side-to-side all feel different, giving you the impression that you are actually moving, not just hurtling along at breakneck speed with no regard to physical reality. And you can really jump in the game, making it possible to move just about anywhere without feeling frustrated because you can't get up on a seemingly one-foot ledge.

Finally, there's the story. It may be a bit too much like its silver-screen counterparts, but it is well integrated into the game, and gives every level - and every task within each level - a much better sense of purpose than other games (like Quake II or Hexen II) that attempt to do the same.

Jedi Knight may not be the most technically advanced game in its genre, and it certainly isn't the most visually attractive, but LucasArts focused on an area long-neglected in the genre: single-player. And in doing so, it came up with what was arguably the best single-player game since Doom.

Special Mention: Fallout
"Fallout is one of the best role-playing games to be released in several years, and it succeeds in entertaining gamers by providing a fresh and compelling storyline, good graphics and sound, and attention to those little details that can transform a good game into a great one." - Desslock, GameSpot Review

Developer: Interplay Productions
Publisher: Interplay Productions
Review and Demo
A surprise contender for Game of the Year was Interplay's Fallout, which earned some vehement support from many of our in-house judges and contributors.

Fallout deserves more attention than it has received. A tale of postapocalyptic life somewhat akin to The Road Warrior, it is one of the most accurate re-creations of a pen-and-paper RPG to ever hit a hard drive. It is a game that ostensibly appeals to RPG fans, but the dynamic story and amazing replayability - especially for the genre - should give it crossover appeal.

Unfortunately, there are a few design problems and bugs that hamper the game's enjoyment. But it is such an epic and an original experience that these problems are easily overlooked. Hopefully, Interplay will use the engine in future endeavors.

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