Sunday, 30 January 2011

10 Games For 2011, part 2

Killzone 3

Whether intentionally ironic or not, the February over of EDGE magazine doesn't paint an encouraging picture of the first-person shooter's current health, where bland cyber-soldier (Crysis 2) meets faceless robot (Bodycount) meets wise-cracking everyman (Bulletstorm); the personal feeling of fatigue and boredom is overwhelming despite the notion that each of these games - as well as the likes of Brink, Rage and Portal 2 - will each bring genre-pushing innovations, both technical and mechanical, to market.

Portal 2 we've already discussed in part one of our guide to the forthcoming year, and is the only first-person title (to call it a 'shooter' would be a massive disservice) that we're genuinely excited about. Killzone 3 is perhaps the most fascinating of the rest of this brawn-and-spectacle crop, and by releasing first has the potential to set an early benchmark for 2011.

With Killzone 2 Guerrilla Games showed a flair for set-piece and pacing, as well as a weakness for overly-portentous storytelling. This sequel promises a greater range of environments, adds split-screen co-op, bulks up the multiplayer side of things and - best of all - implements Move support. Worryingly this second sequel is reported to have reduced the sensation of weight that has been one of the series' trademarks thus far, but we'll know for sure once the game is released in just under a month's time. 2011 could be the biggest year yet for FPS; here's hoping for some genuine surprises to shake us from our jaded stupor.


thatgamecompany, already responsible for two of Playstation Network's most affecting and unique titles in Flow and 2009's Flower, are looking to complete a mini trilogy of interactive metaphysics with Journey. Whereas Flow essayed the sea, and Flower the clash between nature and the urban, Journey - if the brooding trailer below is indicative - will take place in vast, often empty, deserts. It's Journey's take on online interaction though that has us most excited. Although an online game in approach, Journey strips away any comparisons to the team-based ethics of an MMO, or the social japery of a hub such as Home, by removing any identifers, such as usernames, from any other player met, as well as preventing communication via voice chat or text. This focus on the fundamental truths of online interaction should make for one of 2011's most unforgettable experiences. Indeed, for a game so invested in the stripping of personality, Journey already has an individuality bolder than many titles on this list.

Batman: Arkham City

Before the release of Arkham Asylum you had to go all the way back to 1993's side-scrolling fighter Batman Returns for the last half-decent videogame starring the Caped Crusader (please feel free to contradict me in the comments section below). But Arkham Asylum was of course better than 'half-decent'; dripping with the Batman mythos, confident in switching between stealth and combat gameplay, and with a knack of disorientating the player that would please Hideo Kojima, Arkham Asylum was 2009's surprise package.

Arkham City won't have quite the same advantage of slipping out unheralded, but the extra focus shouldn't faze Rocksteady from their work. The presence of Catwoman will be a neat link to 2012's third Christopher Nolan film, whilst the trailers and artwork released thus far for Arkham City indicate a game likely to be even darker in tone.

L.A. Noire

L.A. Noire's release date (now confirmed for Europe as 20th May) would strongly suggest that publisher Rockstar Games has the belief that their latest intervention in the evolution of open world-style gaming will be as striking - and successful - as Red Dead Redemption, which was released on almost exactly the same date last year. Highly tenuous release date pondering aside, Team Bondi's debut certainly has an ambitious list of features: over 20 hours of voice acting (including Mad Men's Ken Cosgrove, actor Aaron Staton, in the lead role), a "perfectly recreated" 1947 Los Angeles, and the use of impressive new facial capture technology.

But beyond the headline-grabbing bullet-points, it's the intelligent understanding of film noir's aesthetics and themes, as evidenced in the latest trailer, coupled with an emphasis on procedure, careful sleuthing and interrogation upon which L.A. Noire's achievements will depend. For potential advancements in videogame storytelling, it's this year's Heavy Rain.

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

Sequel to one of the greatest videogames ever. Inspired by Lawrence of Arabia as much as Indiana Jones. Little more needs to be said. Released November 4th, 2011.

Honourable mentions: Shadows of the Damned, Gears of War 3, Pokemon Black & White, MotorStorm: Apocalypse, the Nintendo 3DS, Sony's NGP and Duke Nukem Forever(!).

1 comment:

  1. I got halfway through Arkham Asylum, when my PS3 crashed leaving me dataless and having to start all over again. For that Sony, I am angry and more upset with Scarecrow as it was his massive pixel count that I believe was the cause for my PS3s death. Needless to say, I didn't love Batman as much as Games Master magazine did.

    “As well as the likes of Brink, Rage and Portal 2 - will each bring genre-pushing innovations, both technical and mechanical, to market.”

    Can’t agree more. I’ve gotten to a point when I’m just bored of all these generic shooters and Portal 2 is the one game in a long time that genuinely excites me.