It's almost time to bid farewell to 2010, a year in which Bioware delivered space-opera at its finest with Mass Effect 2, where Rockstar reinvented the Old West with Red Dead, with Bungie shattering yet more records via Reach, and Black Ops finally proving Treyarch a worthy custodian to the franchise. It has, by and large, been a great year.
However, let us not dwell on the past, and instead look to the future. What should we begin hoarding pennies for and donating organs on the black-market to afford? With Spike's VGAs proclaiming Portal 2 as their most anticipated game for the forthcoming year, we thought we'd take a look at some of the other contenders and come up with our own list. 2010 was great, but 2011 looks even better. Don't believe me? Well, may I present the Top 10 Games To Look Forward To In 2011!
10. Dragon Age 2
Origins' prolonged gestation resulted in a wealth of content but a distinct lack of polish. Dragon Age 2, on the other hand, with a fresh visual palette and updated combat, looks set to sidestep that particular accusation, as you shape the story of Hawke, a refugee, a soldier, a legend. You can't fault Bioware's ambition, and if Origins didn't prove them capable of spinning an epic yarn, Mass Effect 2 surely did.
9. Star Wars The Old Republic
Now I'm not much of an MMO man. Not by nature, but by choice. I know if I even set foot in Azeroth or whatever, in no time at all I'd be sat in a chair, nursing a paunch and atrophied leg muscles, one hand flitting across the keypad, the other wrapped around a can of Monster. However, I can't hide my excitement for Star Wars The Old Republic. I've even forgiven Bioware for not making a true sequel to the original KOTOR on the Xbox. I can't wait to shape my Bobba Fett bounty hunter with a penchant for Han Solo-style tomfoolery.
8. Crysis 2
Finally, Crysis is on-route to consoles. But don't expect Crytek to downgrade the experience, no sir. Forget lush tropical paradises, Crysis 2 is set in the concrete jungle of New York, recently besieged by the same alien force you confronted in the original. Fitted with the Nano-Suit 2.0, capable of inflicting and withstanding vast amounts of damage, not to mention leaping from rooftop to rooftop like a bionic kangaroo, Crysis 2 is primed to provide some much-needed competition to the FPS market.
7. Gears of War 3
When I first saw the Gears of War 3 trailer at E3, as a disgruntled Marcus Fenix rose to his feet, hefting the ancient Pendulum Lancer, before charging a Locust grunt and impaling him on the end of the rifle's gleaming bayonet, I knew yet another forty pounds had been forcibly earmarked from my 2011 wallet. You can't fault Epic for resting on their laurels, as with each GoW release they continue to up the bar in terms of visual and visceral quality. Gears of War 3 is poised to end the trilogy with quite the bang.
6. Child of Eden
I've crammed this list to the gills with shooters, so I couldn't be happier to welcome Child of Eden to the fold. Tetsuya Mizuguchi's spiritual successor to Rez is an orgasmic delight of visual and melodic beauty, as you venture into a crippled AI system and attempt to purge it of the rampant virus plaguing its mainframe. It's the only Kinect-enabled title I have the slightest interest in. Bravo, Mizuguchi-san.
5. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Details are scarce on Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. So scarce, in fact, all we have to comb for tidbits is a vague announcement trailer where the camera pans across a detailed stone carving, before an enormous dragon breathes fiery life into a once-slumbering beast. But come on, it's a new Elder Scrolls! Built on a new engine which is - hopefully - less prone to collapsing in on itself, Skyrim promises to be an extremely exciting title in late 2011.
If this was an 'Insane and Irreverent' list, Bulletstorm would be top, no question. It is, quite simply, a mad and maniacal game from the minds of Painkiller developers, People Can Fly. Marooned on an alien planet crawling with carnivorous flora and cannibalistic natives, ex-mercenary Grayson Hunt must strive to survive and find an escape route. Bulletstorm is an original take on the tired FPS formula, granting you the tools neccesary to perform insane executions, such as kicking a foe and then performing a mid-air headshot. These so-called 'Skillshots' come in a variety of flavors with sexually-themed titles. As you do.
3. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
I'm a huge Uncharted fan. The first was great, if beset with niggling issues no doubt related to its swift development time, whereas the second was sheer, unadulterated joy, with visuals and directions so good I see no need in making a film. We have one, thanks. The third Uncharted title, Drake's Deception, relocates from the sweltering jungles and snowy mountains of old to the sun-baked deserts, where Drake has seemingly crash-landed in pursuit of some hidden treasure, no doubt. Bring it on.
2. Batman: Arkham City
We've seen little to nothing on Arkham City, other than a pre-rendered teaser and scant details from a magazine preview. However, what I can glean is enough to plant Arkham City second from top. The Asylum is no more, and instead the residents have been relocated to a portion of Gotham bought out and retrofitted as an almost Escape from New York-style district, with criminals and masterminds running amok. Batman has entered the so-called Arkham City to investigate, and I have no doubt it'll be spectacular. Just no Robin. Please.
1. Bioshock Infinite
I'm a Bioshock fanboy. I admit it. I absolutely adored the original, and even found worth in the lukewarm sequel. At first, Infinite's prequel context and city-in-the-sky setting irked me. I wanted to see the dawn of Rapture. But then I saw the gameplay trailer, the previews and reports. Slowly but surely, my anticipation meter filled to near-boiling point. Bioshock Infinite, just as Ken Levine has so promised, is a true Bioshock game in heart and soul, relieving the series of the shackles of Rapture, and promising a bold new adventure amongst the clouds. Prepare yourself, for thou art not worthy!
Did we miss any contenders for 2011's crown in our list? What games are you looking forward to in the New Year? As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below.