I promise there will be no pessimism in this; things are actually looking a bit brighter for the gaming industry in 2011. Yes, I slated everything from 2010 for a number of (and in my mind fully justifiable) reasons. Every game brought out in 2010 didn’t seem to have an original thought between them and while the list of games I’m going to present here are mostly made up of sequels, I’ll do my level best to at least try and look forward to them for now.
Unfortunately, we will probably end up with quite a few games launched in 2011 to showcase the Kinect and Move’s capabilities. I never look forward to a motion-sensor game being brought out due to the down grade in graphics, it’s almost like going from Blu-ray movies back to VHS in terms of quality, but the advanced hardware of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are making me feel slightly better about the technology as a genre of gaming. Plus there are still a number of mainstream titles to look forward to in 2011, so let’s try and look at some of the more interesting games due on our shelves next year.
Portal 2 –Trailer
If you have not played the original Portal, go and do so now. Go on, I’ll wait … Finished? Good, it’s bloody awesome isn’t it? Portal was considered one of the top games of 2007, which is quite an accolade considering it’s relative shortness and only real inclusion as an add-on for the Half Life series (as part of the Orange Box). The game did, however, inspire thousands of pop-culture references, was genuinely clever and puzzling and hysterically funny. Now GlaDOS is back a few hundred years later to rebuild the ruined facility from the first game and to test “Chell” with a new series of puzzle-based portal challenges. Only this time, the game will include a co-op game mode (video). I’m more excited than a teenage girl at a Justin Beiber concert. Due: April 2011.
Batman: Batman Arkham City –Trailer (contains violent scenes)
Regular readers will understand how much I love Batman: Arkham Asylum. I even made a fictitious award up and gave it to the game a year late. It just worked so well. Incredibly atmospheric, combat flowed extremely well and the story was tight enough to tie it all together. It even manages to bring non-fans in to Batman’s world and immerse them in various characters which otherwise would have been oblivious to them. The latest instalment, due late in 2011, won’t necessarily need to change a winning formula and taking the step of introducing new villains and a new, bigger setting will work an absolute treat for games fans. Oh, and Rocksteady have hinted at multiplayer support for this instalment, too. I’m marking this one down in my diary; I suggest you all do the same. Due: Autumn 2011
Duke Nukem Forever –Trailer (contains bad language)
Oh and how we laughed. The focal point of many jokes in the gaming industry, Duke Nukem Forever actually looks set to be released nearly 14 years after initial plans were made. "All great things take time … a lot of time," jokes Christoph Hartmann, president of 2k. I get an uneasy feeling this game will not be worth the wait, but fortunately for Duke there is a nice niche for Alien FPSs now that Halo has hung up its, erm, halo. Plus the waiting all these years has at least put the name out there for people to talk about. Who else can advertise a game with “14 years in the making”? Due: TBA – Quelle surprise
Crysis 2 – Trailer
The original Crysis builds on the back of the Cryengine by Crytek, which was responsible for the Far Cry series. Crysis was an absolute gem in terms of futuristic FPSs. Yeah, it was basically Far Cry set in the future and the main character replaced a funky Hawaiian shirt with a “Nanosuit” but the graphics alone kept the players’ attention long enough to see the game through, even if they did strain the processor a bit. Now Crytek is back with a new instalment in this predicted trilogy of games. Only this time I applaud the developers for taking the game play out of the safety of jungle environment, which they have vast experience in creating, and shifting it to urban warfare set in the futuristic streets of New York. From what I have seen so far in promo videos and gameplay, the graphics look unbelievable again and even the structure of New York buildings and streets seem incredibly accurate. Due: 22 March 2011
Gears of War 3 –Trailer
There will be blood … and chest high walls. I must admit to liking this trilogy, it’s not very sophisticated or enlightening as a game, but it does exactly what it says on the tin. You run around as an armoured truck resembling a man and kill lots of aliens, all from the safety of chest-high walls. Epic Games has promised to deliver the missing pieces in the back story for the locust invasion in the new game. The game will also feature four-player co-op mode and you can even play as an armoured truck resembling a woman! A lot of effort seems to have gone in to this game though with a star cast of voice actors being drafted in, they even hired science-fiction writer Karen Traviss to write the story. So it looks like it could be more than a generic FPS. Due: 5 April 2011
Other sequels to look forward to: Medal of Honor: Battlefield 3, Dead Space 2 and Killzone 3 are all due for 2011 releases, as well.
Child of Eden – Trailer
Child of Eden just about made it out of the sequel section because it is more of a spiritual successor, rather than a sequel to Rez (also known as Project Eden). It is a little hard to class in to a genre of game. Rhythm action game seems to be the term bandied about. It combines a series of lights, shapes and music into an interactive experience which looks like it could cause seizures. If this type of game sounds interesting I’d seriously recommend giving Music Catch a go. The Kinect technology looks like it can work really well with this game, even if the user ends up looking like Mickey Mouse in Fantasia, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I suppose. Due: Q1 2011
Sorcery –Live demo
Now to the Move’s big launch in the new year – Sorcery. It is exactly as the name would suggest, a game about a sorcerer’s apprentice (I love these Fantasia references), who must learn the arcane arts to protect her homeland. The game looks like it did everything in it’s power to rip off both Fable and Harry Potter. While the Harry Potter resemblance was inevitable, the Fable one was a little harder to pull off but still manages it. The Spells seem an exact replica, as is the combination option, the quest symbol looks extremely like the guild symbol from Fable. It even has those annoying little Hobbes in it (sure they’re called goblins but I know a Hobbe when I see one). Then again, Fable tried its level best to be Diablo, and Diablo tried … and so on. Long story short, you will definitely have fun with this game if magic is your particular “nerdy pleasure”. The Move controls look like they combine very well with this, even if a little limited in imagination. Due: Q2 2011
L.A Noire –Trailer
Rockstar will continue their grand tradition releasing Grand Theft Auto in different settings again next year with the release of L.A Noire which is set in "a perfectly re-created Los Angeles" of 1947. Unfortunately no Fantasia references here, but as the name would suggest the game is done in a “film noire” style with themes of crime, sex and moral ambiguity and were often shot in black and white. The player will be tasked with solving a number of murder mysteries and while I must admit it looks very impressive and the genre it is mimicking is ripe for a good game, I fear this could well turn out to be another Heavy Rain. While that may sound like a compliment to some, for me it spells long, arduous cut-scenes and cinematic overlays out-weighing actual game play. Due: Q2 2011
The Last Guardian –Trailer
Now this I am extremely excited about. The promo video has sold me instantly. I know I’m heavily distracted by shiny things but the visuals just look so good. Something tells me there will be substance behind the visuals, though. The game comes to us courtesy of Team Ico, whose last epic was Shadow of the Colossus, which was bloody brilliant. The game will be an action-adventure controlling third-person style. The player has to develop the friendship between the main character and a giant, a feathered creature resembling a griffin named “Trico”. We don’t have much information to go on so far but from the screenshots this is something to keep an eye on. Due: Q4 2011
And a quick mention to Shadow of the Damned (trailer) which looks like a cross between Resident Evil and Silent Hill, but without the subtlety. Happy new year, oh, and apologies for the GT5 adverts you’ll have to sit through to watch those videos.