Assuming the world doesn’t collapse into the yawning maw of annihilation come December, when we peruse through our memories in a decade’s time just what will we remember 2011 for? The sequels? The HD remakes? The PR blunders? Will it be known as the year the mainstream industry finally lost its gall?
Ten years back Max Payne embarked on a bloody quest for vengeance. The Advance Wars commenced on a 2.9″ screen that didn’t even have sport a damn backlight. GTA 3 heralded the rebirth of a franchise and, you know, changed stuff. ICO captured hearts and minds, Halo: Combat Evolved stuck two fingers up at the venerable Timesplitters/Goldeneye mould of first person shootering and all other fps developers fell in line without question. We were blessed with Super Monkey Ball, Rollercoaster Tycoon, Pikmin and Luigi’s Mansion as well as Project Gotham Racing and Black and White.
The Dreamcast was still plodding along, oblivious to its cruel and inexorable future. Nintendo bestowed the world with a little box of delight and wonderment and the world spat thick globs of venom right back in its teary face, called it a cunt and now we have the Wii. Following on from that, of course, Microsoft bored through the fortress walls to become the first big, new console developer to emerge since 1994; the year Sony brought civilisation to the world with its Compact Disc technology. It was exciting. The grooves weren’t so deeply set. New AAA IP flourished. Ten years on that’s not exactly the case but does it even matter? The indie scene thrives and is providing the same thrills the big boys did back when. It’s sad that the biggest new AAA IP of the year turns out to be such a damp squib, but while L.A. Noire fell short, Bullestorm and Shadows of the Damned did not.
It’s been another grand year for developers on digital services. Titles like Bastion, Atom Zombie Smasher, Quarrel, The Dishwasher, To the Moon and Gemini Rue were all met with open arms and warm smiles and deservedly so. The iOS store continued to balloon, the 3DS exploded toward the end of the year and has thrown up some gems, none more darling than Pushmo. And even if we have been inundated in sequels, many of the them have been marvellous; Saints Row The Third, Dead Space 2, Skyrim, Super Mario 3D Land, Rayman Origins… really good stuff.
On that note then, onto the awards. Returning are such classics as the “Best use of Taxpayer Money” trophy alongside new awards like the “Most Like Call of Duty” gong and the “Derp-de-Derp” prize. And boy, there were no shortage of contenders for that one. Elsewhere I’ve also mustered up a list of my 12 favourite games from 2011, 4 of which aren’t actually sequels. Cor! Let’s kick off with that.