2011 Retrospective: The Predictions

2011 Invaders

AJ: To kick off I re-read both Part 1 and Part 2 of the articles we wrote at the beginning of the year and I have to say that I made some excruciating choices for games I was looking forward to. My mention of Bulletstorm in the opening paragraph was a mistake. That said I look on it a little more kindly after playing Shadows of the Damned.

Shaun: Bulletstorm was a game I had no real interest in or awareness of right up until the days before release. I’m quite good at avoiding the hype cycle, or at least I was until I got involved with Arcadian Rhythms and found myself reading a lot more gaming news. D’oh.

I stand by my Bulletstorm review – I still think the game pitched its lowbrow satire well and I still feel that the game’s core mechanics were a lot of fun. That said, I’ve not so much as launched the game since April, and hardly spent any time with the multiplayer. I suppose that ephemerality is the curse of blockbusters.

Walker: Man, I don’t have anything to say. I’ve barely even bought new games this year.

Spann: I don’t know if I was even writing for AR back when the aforementioned posts were written, so I have the benefit of not being wrong at all. Ahahahaha. [We’ll have to change that next year. – Ed]

Bulletstorm was this year’s Bayonetta for me: a dumb, over the top, overly shiny and fantastically presented straight line between cutscenes, and all the better for it. (Yes, I know Bayonetta had the optional unlocks and whatnot, but it was hardly fucking Morrowind, was it?)

Bulletstorm achieved what it set out to do, and did so very well in my eyes. One of my choices of the year, to be sure. It was daft, it was violent, it was action packed. It felt like Serious Sam uncomfortably shoehorned into a modern shooter and I’m kind of fine with that. Few games made me actually laugh out loud as much as Bulletstorm did, and I’m even prepared to overlook the overly long boss fight against that plant thing.

AJ: RE: The Bulletstorm love ¬¬…

Well, further down my list D&D Daggerdale was an utter misfire and it signals the end of me having any faith in Atari being able to ever publish a good game again. However, Dark Souls was fantastic so it balanced out the non-start of Earth Defence Force: Insect Armageddon.

Shaun: Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon is a game I’ve not played in a month or two but one that I’m really keen to return to. The problem is getting together enough competent players to take on the tougher difficulty modes. Hopefully at some point I’ll be able to corrall some Arcadians onto a sofa or into Xbox LIVE.

Another game I’d like to return to is Section 8: Prejudice, which has to qualify as one of the surprise budget hits of the year. After the first game flopped many developers might have given up, but Timegate Studios bounced back with a better game, more variety, some fresh ideas and a whole new publishing strategy. I’m not sure how lively the servers are now but in the months after the game’s release on Xbox and PC it was among the more popular second-tier FPS games online.

AJ: Yeah I enjoyed Section 8: Prejudice a hell of a lot and really want to revisit it. Speaking of budget releases I don’t know how Shaun feels exactly about Rock of Ages but for me Ace Team are a group of guys who, like Twisted Pixel, deliver visually and thematically but in terms of gameplay both Zeno Clash and subsequently Rock of Ages have failed to ignite my world.

Shaun: As AJ says Rock of Ages turned out to be a disappointment, with the gameplay falling far short of the lavish and inventive art and design.

Elsewhere, Sid Meier’s Civilization for Facebook turned out to be… well. Well, it’s better than almost every other Facebook game. Let’s just leave it at that and move along. I have some fucking mazes and a tileswap puzzle to complete.

AJ: Amusingly I don’t think that Guillaume played Alice: Madness Returns or Battlefield 3 for any great amount of time, and I know that Woolie played about an hour of Outland.

From other lists there were a few no-shows; I’m not even sure if Crusader Kings 2 is out yet.

Shaun: Yeah, in looking at the list of titles I was eagerly anticipating, it’s amusing to see what’s become of them or what my response has been. I didn’t bother with the almost universally underwhelming Brink, I’ve not even bought Icepick’s Cargo (actually since writing this I have bought it, and spent two fun hours with it during the Steam Xmas contest), and the Witcher 2 is waiting until I finish its sizable predecessor. Mass Effect 3, Max Payne 3, Xenonauts, X-COM, Jagged Alliance 2: Reloaded, Jagged Alliance 3, Beyond Good & Evil 2 and Might & Magic Heroes VI haven’t been released yet – some of them have fallen a little silent, in fact.

AJ: Looking at predictions from a few others, Battlefield 3 proved Dylan wrong about the dissipating interest in modern man-shooters; both it and MW3 did gangbusters. Certainly some of the critics are starting to talk of their disenfranchisement with the linear corridor shooter, echoing my Modern Warfare 2 review from about two years ago (posted to Badger Commander in September 2010) but that didn’t make them perform any weaker in sales terms.

Dylan was right about the indie ascension though. The humble indie bundles have been hugely successful benefiting favourite developers of mine such as zeboyd games and Introversion. Sadly we are still on the fence about mainstream acceptability for games.

Shaun: Roll on 2012 and the world being a bit more sane. And in the games.

[Alas, Dylan was eaten by a grue and was unable to participate in this retrospective feature. We’re trying to put him back together from bits of grue poo. Hopefully he’ll be fixed in time to contribute towards our remaining 2011 round-ups…]