#tiredgamer: 2011 in video gaming

i have been

meaning to write this post for a while, but I’m afraid life (and more specifically in this instance, death) has been getting in the way.

still, hopefully you’re more on board with ‘better late than never’ than our postman.

i’m not going to be too serious or detailed about it all – if that’s what you want, i’m sure a man in tight chinos and daps has written something long and imperious for The Guardian (Dear The Guardian, please please make me your man in chinos and daps).

anyway, here’s some #tiredgamer thoughts:

2011 was in several ways a very good year for gaming, with several brilliant and interesting games squeezing their way past the ever-swelling torrent of schlock (which, incidentally, is an old nickname of mine).

as with many areas of entertainment/the arts (and, inexplicably, politics), the recession has brought to gaming a trend towards conservatism. as such, the year’s release list is dominated by established franchises. sequels, and in particular threequels, were everywhere:

Killzone 3, Lego Star Wars III, Fable III, Dirt 3, F.E.A.R. 3, Resistance 3, Just Dance 3, Battlefield 3, Gears of War 3, Uncharted 3, Saints Row: The Third and Modern Warfare are just some (well, most) of 2011’s third-installments.

then there were the 2s, the 4s, the 5s, the HD redos, the spin-offs, the non-canonical affiliates and so on. in fact, of full releases for the major consoles (and that right there is a key), only a very modest proportion were representative of new ideas.

hope, however, continues to spring up at the margins, and stuff like XBLA and iOS gaming continue to offer a platform to niche/indie games and small-scale developers. as such, in terms of the future of gaming, two of the year’s most significant releases in my opinion were Final Fantasy III for iOS and Real Racing 2 for Mac.

following last year’s release of iOS versions of FFs I and II, this year saw FF III hit the App Store to near universal approval from fans. now personally, i hate RPG games and have a special hatred for the FF franchise, but the reason i think the release was so important is that it basically turned out to be almost exactly the same as FFIII on the Nintendo DS, but for somewhere between half and a third of the price, depending on when you bought it.

as for RR, we’ve been talking about the iOS gaming revolution for a long time at GamePeople (did you ever check out my probably too ahead-of-its-time, cunningly pseudonymous TouchGamer column, with its stock image of an old man staring at an iPhone?) and finally it seems to be realising its potential as a fully-fledged gaming platform. trust me, Nintendo and Sony are scared.

Real Racing 2 for Mac, arriving as it did towards the end of the year, signalled another coup for Apple. when the original Real Racing hit the iOS App Store in Autumn 2009 it was obvious (as i noted at the time) that it was a big deal. since then an HD version and a sequel have taken that potential and ran around wanging it about their heads like so much jumper.

the beauty of the Mac version (from Apple’s point of view) is the way that it beautifully builds on the success of Firemint/EA’s iOS app whilst also integrating it with the so far relatively un-developed gaming potential of Intel-era Macs and the slick logistics of the Mac App Store.

the ‘hook’ is that once Safari is pointed at a specific server, an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad functions as your controller. i won’t rehearse my forthcoming GamePeople review, but suffice to say that it works really well and all the idiots on the App Store moaning about autorotate and so on are idiots.

as for the more generic issue of the list of my eleven favourite games of 2011, it looks like as follows:

11. Forza 4 (360)
10. Dark Souls (PS3)
9. LA Noire (360)
8. Deus Ex: Human Revolution (360)
7. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PS3)
6. Stacking (XBLA)
5. Batman: Arkham City (PS3)
4. Portal 2 (360)
=2. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)
=2. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (360)
1. Uncharted 3 (PS3)

———-

honourable mentions:
o Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (iOS)
o NBA 2K12 (PS3)
o Iron Brigade (XBLA)
o Jetpack Joyride iOS
o Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet (XBLA)
o Star Wars Lego III: The Clone Wars (360)

———-

utterly dishonourable mentions:
o Duke Nukem Forever (PS3)
o Deathsmiles (360)
o Grey Matter (360)

and finally …

if i had to pick one game that i’m looking forward to most at the moment, it would have to be:

o Spelunky (XBLA) – the wait for the HDified version of Derek Yu’s great indie platformer has me stretched on tenterhooks.

that’s all for now, and here’s to a vintage year for sticks and pads of joy in 2012.

… keeeeeep gamin’

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