We’ve recently ended a decade in which it’s been absolutely fantastic being a gamer. Not only was video games brought into the mainstream, mostly thanks to the Nintendo Wii and iPhone, and some truly fantastic games have come out during the past 10 years. But the days of looking back are in our Game of the Year article. This particular piece is about looking forward.
So far 2011 is looking to be yet another great year in gaming and seeing as lists are all the rage on the internet; here are my 11 most anticipated games of 2011. Why 11? There simply were too many games I wanted to include in a simple list of 10.
Make note of the fact that this is my personalised list, not indicative of the thoughts and feelings of the rest of TGV’s staff. Feel free to have a problem with it and bash me for not including the sequel to one of your favourite games.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin!
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (DS)
At heart Ghost Trick is a story based puzzle game, but comes with a twist. The game comes courtesy of Shu Takumi, the creator of the Ace Attorney games, and is another murder mystery game with a supernatural twist. Ghost Trick not only caught my eye because of the creative mind behind it, but also because of its striking aesthetic. Everything is bright, colourful and, at times, very Japanese, but a particular strange kind of Japanese that really appeals to me. Couple that with great music and plenty of Rube Goldberg-esque puzzle solving, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective looks to be a great addition to the DS library in 2011.
Dust: An Elysian Tail (Xbox Live Arcade)
This game would have flown completely under my radar if it hadn’t been for a fellow game critic sending me a youtube link of the game in action. And boy does it look good! Dust: An Elysian Tail is an animator’s wet dream. Everything in the game is hand-animated, painted and coded by one man. Every frame is fluid and lovingly rendered, featuring what appears to be a fairly deep beat-em-up battle system. From looking at the trailer alone I get a sense of a 2D sidescrolling Bayonetta, which is far from a bad comparison for an indie game.
Bulletstorm (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
Shooters have come far since their humble beginnings in the arcade light gun games and id Software’s initial attempts with Wolfenstein and Doom. For one they’ve become more grey, gritty, «realistic» and just plain boring. Bulletstorm sets out to change all that. It sets out to be a return to the over-the-top, batshit insane style of combat found in the 90′s shooter like Serious Sam and Painkiller with unique weapons and a variety of ways to murder tons of dudes. Strap on your oversized shoulderpads and get ready to live the life of an alcoholic space pirate.
Gray Matter (Xbox 360, PC)
With the resurgence of adventure games thanks to companies like Telltale games, it was only a matter of time before some of the old greats of the adventure game hayday returned to their genre of choice. Jane Jensen is the mind behind the Gabriel Knight trilogy, a series many consider to be the best in the adventure game genre. Gray Matter’s plot weaves together intrigue, the paranormal and magic in a conspiratory web which to me sounds very compelling. Let’s just hope we don’t have to learn a new kind of moon logic in order to complete the game.
I Am Alive (Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii)
Ubisoft announced this game in 2008, but no release date came forth until E3 2010 which set the date at sometime in 2011. There’s no shortage of ambition in I Am Alive, as Ubisoft has set out to create a survival game set in the direct aftermath of a colossal earthquake. As you search for food, water and your missing girlfriend you also need to evade other survivors. Think Lost in Blue set in a modern day metropolis and you should have the general idea. I expect a huge non-linear map with plenty of random events to busy myself with.
Technically not a game, but the launch of the 3DS will be a significant gaming event in 2011. 3D gaming has slowly become the next big «thing» in the aftermath of James Cameron’s Avatar and the rise of 3D movies. But we’ve always had to wear those god awful glasses! Thankfully Nintendo found the sollution in autostereoscopy, or «glasses-free 3D». Nintendo has proven before that it can take a simple concept (like motion controls) and use it in a variety of ways. With a slew of potentially great games on the way, not to mention remakes of some true Nintendo classics, the 3DS is looking to be a great little system.
Shadows of the DAMNED (Xbox 360, PS3)
A self-described demon hunter named Garcia Hotspur battles all the evils of hell in order to save his girlfriend in a game directed by Suda 51 with Shinji Mikami as creative director and Akira Yamaoka as composer and sound designer. That’s all you need to buy this game!
Batman: Arkham City (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
I absolutely loved Batman: Arkham Asylum, even if it had certain flaws that became vastly apparent towards the end of the game. I’m assuming Arkham City will basically be more of the same, only improving upon the initial formula. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Arkham Asylum had great voice acting, great writing, a fantastic gothy aesthetic and a real love for the character of Batman. Arkham City will feature that, but also with more villains, better combat, more gadgets, bigger areas to explore and more secrets to find.
Duke Nukem Forever (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
I was one of the people who was happy when the Duke Nukem Forever development staff was fired. «Finally,» I thought, «we can put an end to this madness and move on!» But Duke would not die, it seemed, as he resurfaced at PAX 2010 under the direction of one Randy Pitchford of Gearbox. But why is it on the list if I hate it so? One simple reason, really: a 14 year old development cycle generates a lot of hype and plenty of expectations. So much hype, in fact, that Duke Nukem Forever won’t be able to live up to it. It will probably be a passable over-the-top shooter, but not much else. And there won’t be anything more satisfying in 2011 than seeing DNF hitting a brick wall.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)
I have been excited about Skyward Sword since the concept art surfaced during E3 of 2009. This will be the first Zelda title exclusive to the Wii since the Wii’s launch. Twilight Princess was originally a GameCube title ported to the Wii after all. The live demo of the game during E3 2010 was, unfortunately, full of fail, but reports from the show floor proved the game does work. The game’s visual style is striking, like an impressionist painting come to life and I’m definitely excited to experience what I hope is the next great Zelda title.
L.A. Noire (Xbox 360, PS3)
L.A. Noire will either fall flat on its face as a project too ambitious for its staff to execute or the leap forward in motion capture technology and facial animation. The game’s visual style, music and themes creates a well crafted image of L.A. life in the 1940′s. Little is known about the game’s story, but the game will revolve around solving a series of murder-mysteries by way of searching for clues and interrogating witnesses. Each mystery can be solved however the player wants, which makes for unique experiences for different players. This is one city I can’t wait to immerse myself in.