‘Grand Theft’ carjacks five game awards

'Rings,' 'Zelda,' 'Heart,' 'Splinter Cell' also receive kudos

Controversial vidgame “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” hijacked five awards at the first G-Phoria event Wednesday night at the Henry Fonda Theater in Hollywood, including game of the year and the EB Gamers Choice Award.

G-Phoria is sponsored by G4, the Comcast-owned digital cable channel devoted to the vidgame biz. The night’s proceedings were taped for a 90-minute broadcast on the channel Aug. 8.

The big winner in the inaugural event was “Vice City,” which has regularly swiped top spots on sales charts and best-of lists since its release late last year, even as it has angered pols and other industry critics for its violence and sexual content.

In addition to its game of the year gong, the title from Take-Two Interactive’s Rockstar Games unit drew kudos for soundtrack (a seven-disc collection of minor early-1980s hits) and voice performance for both female (porn starlet Jenna Jameson) and male (Ray Liotta). All those awards were chosen by a panel of industry judges and journalists.

“Vice City” also won the EB Gamers Choice Award, picked by customers at the vidgame retailer’s stores. Nominees in other categories were drawn up by a panel of celebs, industry leaders and journalists, with game fans picking winners from the nominees in 24 categories.

Electronic Arts picked up awards for its game version of “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” (adaptation); Madden NFL 2003 (sports game); and “Battlefield 1942” (online game).

Several Nintendo titles won, including “Super Mario Sunshine” (most underrated); “Animal Crossing” (most innovative); “Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker” (revival, villain); and “Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past” (handheld/mobile game).

Disney Interactive and Square picked up a story nod for “Kingdom Hearts,” a bestseller from last fall that married Disney characters to an involved role-playing game and characters created by Square. Ubi Soft’s “Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell” won for franchise debut.

Vivendi Universal Games unit Blizzard Entertainment drew the best cinematic award for the scenes in “Warcraft III.” Those scenes were also honored at this week’s Siggraph 2003 conference in San Diego by inclusion in the Electronic Theater showcase.

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