2010 wasn't exactly gaming's greatest year, though looking at this list, 2011 could very well be. Just behold the wondrous number of triple AAA titles here, and while you're at it, play the TPS drinking game each time a "2" or a "3" is mentioned!
Crysis 2 (PC/PS3/Xbox 360)
Gaming's prettiest jungle game brings the battle to New York City. We're promised lighter system requirements this time around, further improved graphics, and a beefed up Nano Suit that'll let you combo various moves. I yearn to see that same open-ended exploration hit the big city setting, but fear it'll become more of a simplified blaster given the inclusion of the consoles this time out. Still, Crysis had fab combat, so that'd do too. Expect it just a few meager months from now.
Batman - Arkham City (PC/PS3/Xbox 360)
A possible contender for 2011's greatest? Arkham Asylum's only gotten better with age, and I think it's fair to say that if this was just merely more of the same, we'd all still be there with bat ears on. But the inclusion of a new setting, gadget upgrades and rumored co-op/free-roam modes? Oh lordy. I think I just filled the suit. I do find the plot mildly weak, that said. Supposedly with the asylum out of action, the mayor has turned an entire chunk of the city into one mammoth cornered-off prison. That's fine, I guess, but man...wouldn't you love to go bashing your way around Gotham City proper, Batmobile in tow? Next time, perhaps. Though this'll more than do.
Guild Wars 2 (PC)
|A reward system was recently put in place for Guild Wars 1 vets, letting 'em earn sweet bonuses that will carry over to the second|
Everyone's hyped for Bioware's The Old Republic - which may or may not end up hitting this year - but if I'm 100% honest? This looks far more exciting. Guild Wars was a classic
RPG, fusing epic single player adventuring with all the better parts of an MMO...plus - most importantly - no monthly fee
. That'll continue here, though devs promise to push the online side harder, and still, thankfully, without cost after that initial splurge. Public open-world zones will offer the sorta world-changing events seen in Cataclysm for example, allowing players' actions to alter the landscape in pivotal, humungous ways, minus the instanced phasing of the aforementioned. Streamlined skills and the removal of dull support classes will meanwhile keep the fun coming for everyone, without the "looking for healer" nonsense that these games so often and annoyingly necessitate.
LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3)
LBP2 hits just under two weeks from now, and kicks off what is destined to be the PS3's most insane year by far. A recent demo showcased platforming antics fun, but not too dissimilar to last time, but where LBP2 will hit much harder is in its heavily beefed-up editing mode. Making games at uni to much hair-pulling "success" right now, the simplified dev tools here sure do excite. We're promised the ability to craft everything you can think of, from arcade shooters, to RPGs, to even an entire OS
. Here's just to hoping the community embraces this thing in a bigger way than with the last game.
Mass Effect 3 (PC/PS3/Xbox 360)
|Dead Space 2 takes place three years after the first, in which protagonist Isaac is enjoying mental illness side effects after his shennanigans in DS1. I think I'm with him on that|
Bioware's success over the past five years has seen them rapidly elevate into arguably the greatest company in the business today, but unlike the Blizzards and Valves of this world, capable of pumping out at least a title or two per year. Mass Effect 3 headlines a fantastic line-up for them in 2011, hopefully rounding off the greatest of RPG trilogies with a bang. The reapers have been dealt a serious blow. The cost was great (at least, in my game). And now they're gunning for Earth with a vengeance. Witnessing a CG render of my home city get demolished in that recent CG trailer set adrenaline pumping fierce...though them Reapers are more than welcome to the London Eye if they really want it. Here's to hoping the game delivers on the sheer epic sights and sounds glimpsed at in said vid
Dead Space 2 (PC/PS3/Xbox 360)
Last month's demo didn't do a whole lot, other than make me jump five friggin' times
over the space of about two minutes. There's no denying the draw of DS' enticing universe though, and the superb, limb-removal combat that it's fashioned out for itself perfectly. The idea of exploring a heavily populated space station sounds intriguing too, next to the remote and somewhat repetitive ship of the first game. The multiplayer however, does not.
The Elder Scrolls V - Skyrim (PC/PS3/Xbox 360)
|DA2 covers a mammoth time span, with much of its story supposedly told through flashback|
I honestly doubt this game'll come out this year to be honest, but if it does as promised...then fuuuuck. I can't begin to fathom another Oblivion
in my life; it simply does not compute. Set further down the line than Oblivion, Skyrim marks a time in the Elder Scrolls universe in which dragons have returned. These dragons will pop up regularly throughout the game apparently, torching towns and causing much destruction, with you playing the role of a hunter of such things. We're told of a customisable two-handed weapon system, vastly improved physics...and above all else, no more of those faces
. Oh. That'll be the most perfect game ever, then?
Dragon Age II (PC/PS3/Xbox 360)
This on the other hand, I still need some convincing of. Dragon Age rocked it hard, no doubts there, but the decade-long plot, iffy looking visuals and scaled-back character customization of its up-coming sequel come off as both weird and flat-out bizarre choices on the part of Bioware. Still, a follow up to 2009
's GOTY needs a nod, right? And I'm defo psyched for the more action-packed combat system. Touching down come March.
Unlike 2010's lackluster selection, this year's hardware looks positively nuts. Continual iPad and PSP murmurs aside - the latter of which is rumored to boast dual sticks and a rear-held touch pad (!) - it's mainly down to this bad boy right here. The 3DS is the most exciting handheld to be unveiled since the original Gameboy if you ask me. Putting aside its insane tech specs - pumping out renditions of Street Fighter IV that look pretty much on par with next-gen versions - the titular 3D might well be the sole use of this technology across the entire entertainment industry that actually gets my pulse racing and makes a modicum of sense. Stripping the requirement of goggles out is a massive leap forward, that when married with the handheld nature of the device, supposedly makes for a sensation not unlike holding some sorta futuristic hologram
in your hands. That's all well and good, but matched with a software line-up to die for? Day one, folks. Mario Kart, StarFox, Paper Mario, Metal Gear, Kingdom Hearts, Animal Crossing, Zelda, Pilot Wings, Resident Evil and Ridge Racer have all been discussed, and/or unveiled, and even if half end up being ports or remakes of older titles, a 3D redux would easily
make me re-play, say, StarFox 64 the second it hits shelves. Suddenly my beloved iPhone looks a lot more dated...
Killzone 3 (PS3)
|My biggest beef of all with the first Killzone was the bizarre lag and floaty aiming. If this can be fixed? We're in for a treat|
Another high profile sequel just right around the corner, Killzone 3 could well be a surprise hit of the year. The last game was great, but suffered bizarre control issues and a major lack of variety. If the former can be fixed, and the varied landscapes deliver, consider me pumped. Partly due to the inclusion of a much-needed co-op mode.
L.A. Noire (PS3/Xbox 360)
The enigmatic L.A. Noire remains somewhat shrouded in secrecy at this point. The genre, play-style and gameplay are unknown, though given Rockstar's recent pedigree, a Red Dead style take on L.A. Confidential seems a reasonable hypothesis to make. What we do know, is that technology-pushing new facial animation systems will be used in its interrogation scenes, the player being tasked with looking for lies and tells based on the "acting" of the characters. New.
Ghost Recon - Future Soldier (PC/PS3/Xbox 360)
|Mad Men's Aaron Staton plays the central role in Noire; more than enough to sell it to those of us with taste|
Discounting splendid E3 footage from six months back, Future Soldier remains similarly secretive right now. We do know that despite its dropping of the "Warfighter" tag, it continues with the almost sci-fi slant to the GRAW games though, with not only the MULE and Crosscom systems returning in unison, but futuristic tech not even invented yet too. Stealth suits and an exoskeleton are confirmed so far. Dig me some Recon so much that I splashed out on the entire back catalogue on Steam last week; those originals hold up better than you think.
Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360)
|Fingers crossed those blue dudes ain't back...|
We can't forget the one big Xbox exclusive of this year. Is there anything else due out in 2011, Microsoft old chap? Echo? Gears of Wars 3 looks like business as usual, only with the long-awaited (and no-brainer) inclusion of a 4-player co-op mode, not to mention new female playable toons for all the dames out there who love chainsaws. There'll also be new weapons, mech suits and - if early footage is anything to go by - some larger landscapes to teeth-stomp your way through. Been missing me some Gears
, I must say.
Uncharted 3 - Drake's Deception (PS3)
More Drake antics will always be welcome, but this'll sure be hard-pressed to better that last game. That said, enhanced combat, improved climbing, and beefed-up co-op features won't hurt, not to mention, the gorgeous desert setting showcased in that recent teaser trailer on top. Among a plethora of Sony exclusives, it could well be king.
Infamous 2 (PS3)
The much anticipated return of superhero Cole MacGrath in yet another Sony exclusive awarding the PS3 insane leverage this year. The first game was a fab slab of free-roaming destruction, and given that Infamous' only real issues were its somewhat shoddy presentation and awful cut-scenes, word that developers have bulked up this side of things considerably means another open world classic could well be heading our way soon.
The Lord of the Rings - War in the North (PC/PS3/Xbox 360)
|War in the North comes courtesy of devevlopers Snowblind, those behind the acclaimed Baldur's Gate - Dark alliance. Their aim being to inject the Rings franchise with a more mature twist, they claim|
I'm still ever so gutted that the Oblivion-esque Rings game The White Council was canned, but this may well help ease that lingering pain and constant self-harming. Supposedly a darker twist on The Lord of the Rings world, with 3-player co-op and the sorts of dialogue heavy/moral ramifications of the Dragon Age series. Not to mention, in-depth character customization and a pleasing range of Middle-Earth races to play as. It all sounds right up my alley, not to mention way overdue, though some of us haven't forgotten
The Legend of Zelda - Skyward Sword (Wii)
|Skyward apparently uses the same sword fighting system seen quite recently in Wii Sports Resort|
Hilariously iffy E3 demos aside, the new Zelda still seems intriguing and unique. That dusty Motion Plus
add-on will get the work-out it deserves for one, by way of 1:1 gesture mapped sword play and dramatically enhanced item use. We're told the traditional over-world/dungeoning back and forths now symbolic of the Zelda games are gone too, and that the plot may even tie into much-loved classic Ocarina of Time...
The Witcher 2 - Assassins of Kings (PC)
Between Divinity II, Two Worlds II and The Witcher
itself, I'm growing a fond affinity for the under-appreciated eastern bloc RPG. Vids of this game demonstrate a startling amount of improvement over an already under-appreciated classic, with impeccably gorgeous graphics, epic boss-fights, and hugely improved combat to boot. Devs CD Projekt embedded a hidden message in the game's debut trailer, which amidst championing PC gaming and thanking their fans hugely, claimed, "...the vision, the main concept, remains the same: a game with a mature, captivating and non linear story, and full of spectacular combat. A game created by a team of independent thinkers immune to corporate priorities, who don't care what's trendy at the given moment"
. That, to me, *is* PC gaming. Minus the horrendous sentence structure.
|Journey is typical of the wealth of variety coming to Sony's black slab this year. If you're still not on board, it's a great time to buy|
A downloadable oddball from thatgamecompany, those who stole our collective hearts with the delectable Fl0w
and Flower games. Journey boasts a vast, sandy landscape, with a goal no more than to explore. Online functionality will connect players together seamlessly - minus name-tags and voice-chat and other immersion breaking features - the idea being strangers meet, interact and go on their way more naturally amidst this ominous, haunting universe of crotch sand. It's a bizarre, artistic game, that we're still to fully grasp without playing, but certainly one of the more original and downright beautiful titles on the horizon.
Resistance 3 (PS3)
I've always had a soft spot for this WWII-themed alien-invasion series. I think it was actually the extortionate amount of cash I spent importing a US PS3 on launch
day that did it, 'cos back then - trust me - this shit was all we had to play. The last game had its faults - particularly the N64-caliber graphics and huge wads of frustration - but I'll happily nab another Resistance the second this sucker's released. 'Cos it did the same for me
MotorStorm - Apocalypse (PS3)
|Before you pop your jeans with excitment, be wary. Guardian may well see just a Japanese release this year, though given its premise and potential lack of dialogue, importing could work fine|
Speaking of launch-era PS3 franchises. MotorStorm 3 - which this essentially is - may be the least enticing of its brethren to me on a premise level, with a bizarre urban setting in which the world appears to be ending. Buildings will collapse, landscapes will mutate, and rival factions will infract on the races by breaking into fights and ramming the player off-course. Why these people are racing amidst the end of the world is a puzzler, but I guess story is not why one plays a MotorStorm game either. For arcadey thrills, don't forget that few do it better. Do miss the mud, mind.
The Last Guardian (PS3)
Though still not confirmed, all signs point to this appearing towards the very end of the year. Ico's ever atmospheric platforming married to a Disney-esque friendship with a big furry baby, and Shadow of the Colossus
' humongous scope backing it all up? Let's do this fucking thang! I can't believe a new Elder Scrolls, Mass Effect and Team Ico game are all set to hit in the same god damn year
Deus Ex - Human Revolution (PC/PS3/Xbox 360)
|Portal makes the leap from downloadable experiment, to fully featured shelf game with even a bonus two-player mode|
AND A DEUS EX GAME! I'm calling it. Best year ever. This was
due a few mere months from today, but's been put back to the tail-end as of December. A prequel to the original FPS/RPG hybrid, taking place some 27 years earlier, suspension of disbelief may be required to accept HR's setting of just 16 years on from now (look at those buildings!). Enhanced AI, a wealth of upgrades and an emphasis on social interactions more than make up for it though, with - we're promised - the ability to suave your way through the entire game, only killing the bosses if you so wish. Revolution boasts a cool first person look instantly recognizable next to its decade old grandfather, reinterpreted through today's hardware with some truly stylish art design. It'll be another high point of the year for sure...now how about some Thief news?
Portal 2 (PC/PS3/Xbox 360)
Co-op Portal-ising? I'm done. This list's getting too awesome.
RAGE (PC/PS3/Xbox 360)
|The asteroid in RAGE that totals most of known Earth, is actually based on a real-life event that scientists were at one stage worried about occurring, come 2036. Look it up. Then say your prayers|
Oh, what's that you say? Not awesome enough
? Here, have a new game from friggin' id Software
then. RAGE is something of a departure for the creators of Doom and Quake, in that it opts for not only extensive driving sections not too dissimilar to Burnout
or MotorStorm's, but also minor hints of the RPG genre by way of side quests and inventory fiddling. Fallout
appears to be something of a copyright infringing inspiration for the setting too, in which a humungous crashed asteroid has turned Earth into a barren wasteland in which humans dwell in vaults. If it can meld the latter's atmosphere with the rock solid combat of their heritage, we could have quite the beaut here and another all-time id masterpiece. 60 fps promised on consoles too, CoD fans.
Duke Nukem Forever (PC/PS3/Xbox 360)
Just to fuck up your year a little more and prove that this is indeed the gaming apocalypse, it appears our old friend Duke Nukem Forever may actually appear in '11 too. 14 years after development started, may I remind. One of the more interesting twists of 2010 was Gearbox' purchase of this game, backing up rumors that Duke would see a revival of some sort eventually. Whether that turns out to be a wise choice or not, we'll have to wait and see, but after starting life on the Quake II engine (trailer
), switching to the Unreal engine (second trailer
), then an assortment of rumors, legal battles, and the eventual firing of the entire dev team...who isn't
curious how the heck this ended up? It really needs to come with some sort of collector's edition DVD chronicling the whole perverse tale. Hell, screw the game, I just want that in fact.
2010 saw the introduction of the "HD update" to much varied success. Some were great - God of War and Sly Cooper for example - while others, less so (Prince of Persia, you're on). This concept seems to be going into the stratosphere in '11, with Splinter Cell, Tomb Raider and even Team ICO updates promised (fuck YES, Mr Shadow of the Colossus HD). We will also, thankfully, see the real
Stranger's Wrath hit PS3 in a mere few months, and perhaps most excitingly of all, freakin' Beyond Good & Evil
coming to the download stores.
But the year stops not there. There's also the continuation of Telltale's charming new Back to the Future series, SOCOM 4 on the PS3, Forza 4, the XCOM reboot, Sorcery for the Move, hope for some actual Kinect games, a stream of New Vegas DLC, that co-op Ratchet game, LOTRO's Isengard expansion, and possibly even an unveiling of whatever Halo project 343 Industries are currently working on behind closed doors. Could it be the Halo 1 remake currently rumored to exist...?
Better start saving.