2011 is now at an end, and looking back it’s been quite the year for gamers of all interests. There have been plenty of titles from different genres to choose from, and although some of the big heavy hitters didn’t pack the punches we were expecting, there were others that knocked us for the count across all systems and that is what matters. So enough of me attempting to sound all meaningful and whatnot, you’re here to see what caught my eye over the last twelve months, so let’s get to it.
Game of the Year
Oh come on, did you honestly think I was going to pick anything else? I’m still playing through The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim at the moment, and even though there are gravity-defying horses, NPCs that occasionally like to submerge themselves in the ground, and Lydia being as stupid as she is useful at being a pack mule, I’ve enjoyed every second of it because the overall experience is sublime. No other game this year has had me put in so many hours so effortlessly than Skyrim has (and I play MMOs, so take from that what you will) and I’m already planning for a second playthrough next year. I stand by what I stated at the end of my review; Skyrim is the pinnacle of the RPG genre.
Also, right, you can catch salmon with your bare hands.
Favourite Gaming Moment of 2011
While there have been attempts in the past to bring back the genre to its former glory, I feel that thanks to L.A. Noire that 2011 truely was the mainsteam return of the Adventure game. Despite the horrible controls in the action sequences, I thoroughly enjoyed L.A. Noire when it arrived in May. Sure, I’m a self-confessed sucker for anything Noir related, but what really stuck in my mind was how the game was a giant reminder that Adventure games can work in the current generation of games outside of the PC platform (and some excellent indie titles.) It was a crusade that Heavy Rain started the year before, and L.A. Noire carried on the fight with distinction in my eyes. The first crime scene I went through combing for clues to use in interrogations was something I won’t forget for some time, and I really hope we start seeing more developers giving the Adventure genre a go.
Surprise of the Year
We’re starting to see quite a few MMORPGs that are trying to break free of the standard formula that was made popular by Everquest and World of Warcraft, but one MMO burst out of nowhere and blindsided me at GamesCom, and that was WildStar. Not only did Carbine Studios announce their game at the event with an entertaining trailer, they allowed the public to get hands on with the game on the show floor too. After getting hands-on, as well as chatting with the developers, I am expecting big things from WildStar. You can check out my interview with two of the developers here to see why I’m so very excited about it.
Also, right, it’s a Sci-fi Western, and space cowboys are cool.
Disappointment of the Year
I’d like to start off by saying that I in no way felt that Dragon Age II was a bad game; it was in fact a good one and fully deserved by 7/10 score back in January. The problem I have is that apart from the enjoyable combat system, it was a huge step backwards in many areas in comparison to the superb Dragon Age: Origins. Lazy level design and some appalling support characters (besides Varric and Merril, I quite liked them) that had none of the charm that was found in the cast of its processor ensured that I did not care to play through the game again, even to experience a different class. Not even celebrity geek Felicia Day and her involvement in the latest DLC was able to lure me back. I wanted it to be amazing and it sadly wasn’t, and that’s why it was my disappointment of the year.
Most Anticipated for 2012
In keeping with the name of its MMO, Funcom had been rather secretive over details for The Secret World until the second half of this year. In-game trailers, demonstrations of the story missions, and a look at the huge PVP arenas changed all that, and only had me wanting more. The blend of Lovecraft-ian influence with the modern day setting provides a unique backdrop, especially in the MMO genre, and with features such as dynamic lighting and a class-less system to build up the character that you want, it certainly looks like it is going to deliver when it releases next March.