A quick little look over how 2011 has been a year to remember for some in video games... and a year to forget for others.
Perhaps this list is a little early, but now that we've plowed through the main November releases, it's difficult to see any massive changes affecting who appears on here. Either way, it's hard to deny that 2011 has been a big year for video games. New releases and new platforms have ensured that they'll be much released this year that we'll still be enjoying in 2012.
But from this change, some will be more successful than others. Some will enjoy fond memories of this year whilst others will just count the days to January 1st. Who are the winners and losers of 2011?
Sonic The Hedgehog
As a massive fan of the series, I'm probably not the best person to judge how well Sonic has done in 2011, but I think it's fair to say that the 20th anniversary has been a successful one. The dark days of 06 and Unleashed have damaged memories of Sonic for many people but the series itself has been on the up since the announcement of Sonic 4, with Colours helping to put Sonic in a positive light. 2011 has been a fairly big change though, with Generations bringing the hedgehog back to mainstream attention in its most positive light since the Dreamcast days. Where the series goes from here is anyone's guess, as it'll be a challenge for Sonic Team to do something new without a retro influence. Still, I think Sonic has a future, and I didn't feel that way a few years ago.
First Person Shooters
Love 'em or hate 'em (I know most of the internet hates 'em) it's hard to deny 2011's been quite a year for FPS games. Obviously, the big Battlefield v. Call of Duty match-up has been the main talking point, but games like Rage, Brink and Killzone 3 have ensured there's a fairly healthy level of challengers. Even titles like Homefront, not as widely advertised as the big hitters, have managed to stake their own claim. Do all these titles mean we're now being over-saturated? Perhaps but I've never really felt like complaining about having too many games before. Obviously issues over campaign length are a concern but generally, I've enjoyed what's available.
The Legend of Zelda
2011 marked the 25th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda and Nintendo were keen to celebrate in style with two key releases. First was a re-release of the N64 classic, Ocarina of Time, on the 3DS. The game has easily been the biggest success of the system (so far) providing a grand re-design of an old classic for a new audience. As well as this, Skyward Sword sets out an all-new adventure on the Wii (which I don't own -_-) and looks set to be a classic. Review scores have widely praised the title, with even Edge magazine giving a perfect 10. Big games like these are good, but Nintendo also did some cool little gestures, like making a Link's Awakening and Four Swords available on the 3DS market. You can't fail to appreciate old games at cheap prices.
'SONY? Hacked into, Home loving, Move waggling Sony?!' Yes, I do feel that Sony have, generally, had a good year this year. Obviously the whole 'PSN hacking' issue cast a major blot over their performance this year, but I feel they managed to do well in reimbursing those affected. Offering free games as an apology for the situation that was put on them was pretty impressive. The announcement of the PS Vita showed they still plan to challenge Nintendo's hold on the handheld market after the fairly weak performance of the PSP. I expected to laugh at the Vita but, apart from the back touch screen... and its name, I think it looks alright. Not perfect by any means but enough potential to keep me interested. Pull this together with impressive exclusives like Killzone and Uncharted and it's difficult to complain that Sony have been awful this year.
The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim
Obviously not all are interested in the FPS games in the world. There needs to be a gradual level of hype that builds a person's interest in something else and Skyrim was that game this year. Honestly, I'd pretty much forgotten about the game until September when previews gradually built into a huge advertising campaign in the last few weeks. Clearly, people at Bethesda see there are other options to throwing out a lengthy teaser trailer on TV months before a release date.
It's also that rare thing in modern games, a new title that hasn't just stumbled out a year or two after the last one. Time has allowed people's interest in Skyrim to grow. I know people who aren't massive gamers, who are still massively excited about playing the game and bought it day one. I do not have the finances to do this, but it's definitely going on the Christmas list.
2011 should have been a classic for Nintendo. One new system released, another announced and old franchises getting new releases. Whilst the games have been good though, other issues have not. The launch of the 3DS turned out to be a bust, with initial excitement falling away after quality games materialised painfully slowly. The system launched in March but some of Nintendo's big hitters are only appearing now in November. When a price drop is announced only three or four months after release, there's a noticeable problem.
The 3DS situation was bad, but not as much as the announcement of the Wii's successor. Anticipation was high about a 'hard-core' console to move away from the 'casual' audience the Wii picked up. Step forward the Wii U, immediately confusing gamers. Was it a new console or just a new controller? When clarifications have to be made just after the big reveal, it's worrying. Falling share prices were a clear sign that it wasn't just gamers who were concerned. I'll wait until the system is released before offering any complaints, but it's difficult to see 2011 as a good year for Nintendo.
I have felt sorry for Capcom this year. I felt the reaction to the cancelling of Mega Man Legends 3 was a little exaggerated and could understand, if not support, the cancelling of Ace Attorney Investigations 2 in the West. But Capcom's made a few poor decisions this year, like announcing the (inevitable) updated version of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 only a few months after the release of the original, or the undeletable data on Resident Evil: The Mercenaries. As I said before, I don't think Capcom have deserved the level of criticism they've received this year, but after some of the choices they've made, I would say there's no smoke without fire.
So, how many new Metroid games were released or announced this year? Answer: None
Hold on a minute, I hear you cry, there was no Bioshock, Mass Effect or God of War either. Should we complain about those too? Well obviously no, but those titles aren't experiencing their 25th anniversary.Truth be told, I wasn't expecting a new game to be brought out this year, since Other M was released later on in 2010, but I thought more of an effort would be made by Nintendo to mark the occasion. Yes the original Metroid was released a year later in North America, but surely it's original release deserves something like an announcement of a future title or even just recognition? Considering how Zelda and Mario's legacies have both been celebrated, it's disappointing that Samus has been left out in the cold.
It's been a fair while since gamers had something pointless to argue over but thankfully this situation was rectified this year with the great 'Battlefield 3/Modern Warfare 3' debate. Were you on the side of Battlefield, flaunting tanks and jeeps, or Modern Warfare, flaunting dominance of the FPS market over the last few years? You have to choose one or the other... unless you're a rational person and took them as the simple entertainment they were meant to be rather than a nerd point to rage about. Speaking of nerd rage...
...And Review Scores
Trivial complaints about review scores are hardly exclusive to 2011 but god damn did they get bad this year. With so many quality games appearing in November, it's not suprising that some games score better than others. But whilst pretty much all of these games have scored well, it doesn't stop the internet from complaining. My favourite complaints include: 'Why's (Game X) an 8/10 when (Game Y's) a 9', 'This review's shit, (Reviewer) was probably too busy jacking off to (Game X, but almost always Modern Warfare 3)' and the good old 'How is this game better than (Commentor's favourite game), the reviewer's definitely been paid off by (Evil Super Publisher X). Add in many more swears and spelling mistakes and you've got most of the comments on reviews this year. Mega64 did a video on it that's worth checking out.
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