2011 Takes the Stage

January 29, 2011 § 3 Comments

Until I actually sat down to write this list I wasn’t too excited about 2011 in gaming. There’s a palpable sense this year (for me at any rate) of a generation that’s fallen into a stride, a generation that’s found the boundary of what modern consoles can do, and is quite happy playing within them.

I’ll admit now that I still hold this view, but whereas before I was frustrated by a lack of any truly breathtaking titles, now, after having a look over the next twelve months, I’m eager to see the polish sticking to what you know can bring.

Killzone 3 is a perfect example of this. We’ve had waggle-enabled shooters almost since the Wii first appeared, but whilst many of these have certainly functioned, they’ve never truly been able to make a case for the replacement of the gamepad.

Killzone could change all this. By virtue of its existence as Sony’s flagship shooter, it’s hard not to get the feeling that Guerilla has received more than its fair share of calls from its publisher stressing the importance of well-implemented Move support. We’ll probably get a good idea of the extent of their success as soon as team Move faces off against team Dualshock in the online arena, but even if this ratio falls short, at least other developers will be able to build upon these mistakes.

For the record; as far as I’m concerned the rest of that game looks like generic, ultra-violent garbage. I don’t see that melee attacks involving shoving thumbs through an enemy’s eyes is something any game should be proud of including, and I resent being treated like I’m twelve years old by a game’s marketing material.

The opposite is true of LA Noire, the detective thriller that’s been a long time coming from Team Bondi. In true Rockstar fashion all trailers thus far have been completely devoid of actual gameplay, which really speak to both the originality of the setting as well as the pedigree of this now legendary publisher.

As far as this writer is concerned the team behind LA Noire could dress Niko Belic in a suit and trilby and push the game’s setting back a few decades and I’d be happy The work they’re doing with facial animation certainly looks stunning, but whether they pull off such a ground breaking element is another matter entirely. At worst the game will have tried something new with a big budget, which is as good a reason as I need to include it on this list.

The term big-budget seems almost at odds with Journey, the next game from Jenova Chen and thatgamecompany. Details are spare on this idyllic piece, but what we do know is that it’ll focus around a lone soul’s journey (ah? See what they did there) towards a tower. Chen is also eager to make you feel small and insignificant, whatever that means…

Really though the reason I’m including Journey on this list is because of its art style. I mean just look at it…

I mean really look.

Go on, just once more for luck.

It would be almost criminal to lavish praise on le arte farte without mentioning Team Ico, who manage to not only indulge in the beauty so many other developers seem to be afraid to touch, whilst also capturing the hearts of even the most vehemently classical gamers.

The Last Guardian looks to build upon these themes, in a way which quite neatly builds upon the achievements of their first two games. Your companion this time around is a huge griffin-like monster who looks to be a nice cross between the beautiful-yet-useless Yorda and the utterly dependable but visually uninteresting Argo.

This year also sees the return of Team Ico’s previous two titles, Ico, and Shadow of the Colossus, repackaged into a single HD collection. Milking the franchise it may be, but it’s hard to decline the offer of revisiting two of the last generation’s greatest games, which may have in the process gotten a facelift far greater than the HD shunt promised by its title.

As for my most anticipated game though, nothing comes close to Portal 2. Though I’d be crazy not to be frothing at the mouth over more of one of the funniest, original, and downright clever titles ever released, it’s not actually the single player that I’m most eager to get into. The original Portal was my go-to for showing off games to the unconverted. It was so far from what people generally assume video games to be that it became an easy target to point toward whenever the whole ‘waste of time’ argument reared its ugly head.

 Previously I’d have to sit patiently whilst friends cautiously made their way though an entirely new experience, but with the second game’s introspection of co-op I can quite literally hold their hand as they play.

 My excitement for co-op is so great that it’s almost easy to forget that Portal 2 will push PS3 and PC players together in a way never seen before, with its utilisation of Steamworks. If playing multiplayer cross-platform works as well as console monogamous play then only a fool would assume Portal 2 will be the only game to do so.

As much as I love spouting hyperbole about games based purely upon past releases and previews it’s likely the game I end up enjoying most this year hasn’t appeared on this list. It might not have even been announced. Such is the beauty of the games industry, that it will always have a surprise or two tucked up its sleeve, ready to blow you away with the meagerest of expectations.

2011, you have the floor. Show us what you can do. 

This post was part of Gamer Banter, a monthly video game discussion
coordinated by Terry at Game Couch. If you’re interested in being part
of this, please email him for details.

Other takes:
The Game Fanatics
The Clockwork Manual
Game Couch


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