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Six Video Games for 2011

2011 is fast approaching and one thing I always look forward are the game releases during the year.  I’ve been looking forward to putting this list together and sharing it with people.  In comparison to 2010, next year looks more exciting.  Where 2010 had the great releases of Mass Effect 2 and Rock Band 3, next year easily has six games I’m already itching for as well as a handful of games that have certainly piqued my interest.  Let’s get to the list.

1) Star Wars: The Old Republic

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Anyone who has been following me in the last year knows that SW:TOR is something I highly anticipate.  Some people have lamented that this game isn’t going to be very good and spend an inordinate amount of time complaining about it.  The sheer desire of a good Star Wars game brings out an absurd level of expectation and negativity from people with specific desires naturally follows.  With each news release, people have spent a good amount of time complaining about the graphics, the gameplay, the lack of free roaming space combat and a myriad of other perceived problems.

The only thing I can say to these complaints is this; if you’ve enjoyed Bioware’s other titles as I have, SW:TOR is likely going to be fun.  If you’re looking for anything else, you’re going to be disappointed.  This is not going to be an X-Wing/TIE Fighter game any more than it’s going to be a rehash of the Jedi Knight series.  It’s going to be a storyline based MMO in the tradition of Knights of the Old Republic.  I really liked that game and can’t wait to see what they do with this one.

2) Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2

Ever since Lord of the Rings Online went free to play, I’ve been looking for a good replacement.  Guild Wars 2 may just be the ticket.  First of all, it is unique in that you buy the game once.  There are no subscription fees.  That in itself is unusual in the MMO gaming community.  But GW2 promises so much more as it wants to emphasize a changing world and the ability to join in a battle without necessarily going through the drudgery of trying to pick up a group.  You join the battle in progress.  Quests happen on the fly.  The team at Arena Net wanted to keep you in the action and not going back and forth between quest givers or killing an arbitrary number of monsters or enemies to hit some strange goal that resets when you turn it in.  Such efforts sound promising to me and make this a title worth playing.

3) Portal 2

Portal 2

Portal 2

When Portal 2 was announced, you could almost hear the cries of delight from the gaming public.  The first Portal game was damn near perfect and still remains one of my favorite games.  What was meant as a little side addition to the Orange Box which released a couple of Half-Life episodes and the long awaited Team Fortress 2, it became a sleeper hit and racked up a number of glowing reviews.  The good people at Valve have taken that game and fleshed it out a bit, promising the return of GLaDOS and a myriad of brain puzzles even more fiendish than the first game.

Not very much is out about this game right now, but early game play videos look really good, still seeming to have those brain teasers and a healthy dose of black humor.  Valve’s game offerings have been consistently good and they never seem to release an unpolished game.

4) Little Big Planet 2

Little Big Planet 2

Little Big Planet 2

What?  Another sequel?  Well, yes.  LBP is a fun game which used the talents of its users to offer loads of content and add to its replay value.  It scores high in area of being able to play this game with your kids, playing up to four people at one time and being a clever platform game with puzzles to solve and fun to be had.  You can customize your little sackboy (or sackgirl) to your hearts content, have fun in groups and if so desired, create levels and offer them up to the public.  LBP2 offers all of this and more.  In fact, it gives users to create their own games, whatever that really means.  What it means to the ordinary player though is more fun.

5) Monaco

Monaco

Monaco

I truthfully do not know if Monaco is coming out in 2011.  You may not even have heard about this game as it’s an indy project and not one of the big players that I’ve mentioned up to this point.  But it’s a game that I’m keeping an eye on because it’s got a certain buzz about it.  It’s billed as a cross between Pac Man and Oceans 11, a heist game where you can play co-operatively with up to three other players.  It’s an old style, top-down game where each player has their own special talents and the idea is to pull off the heist without getting caught.  The one word I hear constantly with this game is “fun”.  Isn’t that why we play?  Plus, I’m a big believer in supporting independent game creators who focus not on machine crippling graphics but on the enjoyment factor in a game.

6) EVE Online: Incarna

EVE Online

EVE Online

Okay, a bit of a cheat here as EVE has been around since 2003, which makes it a venerable, old game.  But one of the unique things about EVE since inception is the release of two game content updates every year.  It has done a number of graphical updates and keeps getting better looking as time goes on.  It is the only MMO game which exists as a single universe rather than one broken into server shards (unless you want to count ST:O and their laughably inane concept of “single server”).

The winter update this year lays the groundwork for something long planned by CCP which they’ve dubbed Incarna.  Incarna comes out next summer and for the first time, player avatars will not be the ships they are currently flying, but fully human avatars who will be able to walk in the stations.  Because of this, there’s a lot of grousing about the dumbing down of the EVE universe amongst some of the player base.  Players have enjoyed EVE’s reputation as having a notoriously difficult learning curve and see the move as catering to the casual player base.  But then again, any change in the game leads to someone complaining about it.  Me?  I’m looking forward to it.

The game play videos and the graphical screenshots CCP has offered up look beautiful and may actually inject some new blood into the game.  Although subscribers have increased slowly but steadily, this addition may provide a good jolt of new players which is only good for a game of this nature.  EVE Online is not a game for everyone, but Incarna may be worth checking out for those who have sat on the fence, put off by the lack of an actual avatar.  If nothing else, it will offer areas of new and different gameplay, especially when you’re trapped in station with nothing else to do.

Keeping my eye on:

There are a couple other games out there that I thought might warrant some attention as well.

Max Payne 3 is coming out.  I have no idea what it looks like but the game that took full advantage of bullet-time might be worth a gander.

Duke Nukem Forever might actually be released.  This long cursed title and often mocked for it’s vaporware status may actually see the light of day.  Whether it’s actually any good is another story.

Dragon Age II is scheduled to hit the shelves.  It is amazing that Bioware can put out two top notch games in 2010 (Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age: Origins) within weeks of each other and still have DA2 and SW:TOR come out in 2011.  Still, Bioware seems to do the impossible on a regular basis.

Diablo III should also be available.  I’m not terribly excited for this one but I remember the original Diablo being fun.

And that’s it.  There are likely other games coming up in 2011 that will merit attention, mostly indy titles which fly under the press radar until release.  If you feel I’ve missed something, feel free to leave a comment.

5 Comments

  1. I’ll happily add a few to your list. Keep your eye on…

    • “Ni No Kuni,” a unique Nintendo DS project from the people who brought you the “Professor Layton” video games and the “Spirited Away” movie.

    • “The Last Story” and “Xenoblade,” two RPGs for the Nintendo Wii. Check out YouTube for some beautiful trailers that show how much these long-in-development games graphically push the Wii.

    • “DC Universe Online” is the first game that’s made me truly consider buying a PlayStation 3. Come on. You’d join the Green Lantern Corps if you could, wouldn’t you?

    • Finally, I don’t often get jazzed about downloadable games, but “Retro City Rampage” is much more than a “Grand Theft Auto” knockoff. It’s a wonderfully creative homage to the iconic games and cultural touchstones of days long gone.

    So, yeah, feel free to buy a console and join the fun any time now. 😉

  2. Hey Josh!

    You must not have gotten the memo about our now owning a PS3. 😀

    I’ll definitely check those games out, but I still far prefer PC gaming to console gaming as you can probably tell from my list. Although you can play Portal on the console and all, I am an old gamer, one who loves WASD and a mouse rather than the button mashing console games. There are exceptions to this (Little Big Planet, the EA NHL series games, Tiger Woods Golf series, DeathSpank, Rock Band series, old style platformers and such), but the PC is where I spend most of my gaming time.

    I did want to briefly cover DC Universe Online. Not that it would have been in my list of anticipated games, but it almost made it into my keep an eye on list. The only reason I’m really hesitant about this game is that it looks a lot like the City of Heroes/City of Villains MMO game which I played long ago. I did enjoy playing CoX for awhile, but it lost its sheen over time. Grouping up for the tougher missions can be a pain as it only takes one person in the group who lacks experience or feels like griefing everyone to ruin the mission. And other than the gorgeous cinematic trailers, I’ve not seen anything in the actual gameplay that looks innovative in the MMO genre. Sad to say, I’ve played MMOs long enough now that it takes an innovative approach, something different and exciting, to bring me to the table now.

    DCU has a lot going for it and I’m particularly keen on the fact they have some top notch voice acting including Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamil bringing their respective talents to the game. The thing that hurts their chances with me is that MMOs are a real investment in time. The problem is that as much as you’d like to try a number of them, the MMO subscription money only goes so far. As you can see, three of the six games I have listed are MMOs, but each one is unique in what they deliver. SW:TOR will be story driven with cut-scene participatory voice acting. GW2 has no ongoing subscription and “instant” quests, for lack of a better term. EVE is an MMO that has defied standard MMO trends since the beginning and it would be difficult for me to list all the ways it does so. As for DCU, what I’ve seen so far has been standard fare for a MMO. I could be wrong and I would welcome another opinion of any innovations they’re introducing to the MMO genre.

    Needless to say, I’ll definitely check out those suggestions. Thanks for the input!

  3. Oh, I forgot to mention in my last post for DCU.

    Yes, I would join the Green Lanterns in a heart beat in that game. I don’t think you can though, which is too bad. Continuity-wise, I can see why they’d limit it, but it would be fun to do.

  4. Hmmmm if I were in the beta for a comic book hero game, I’m sure it would have to still be holding up pretty well to have me playing a month and 1/2 later. That’s if I was…. because I couldn’t publicly acknowledge due to NDA’s of course. Not that I’d know, because I’m not in the beta.

  5. After Josh’s comments, I did some more poking around and I have to admit that DCUO is likely not getting a fair shake from me. I’m man enough to admit it. There are personal reasons why I’m a little hesitant about it.

    First of all, like I said, there’s only so much MMO money to spread around the house and unless SW:TOR really tanks, I’ll be playing that and EVE. Secondly, I really want to play something that I can play with Melanie and though the super-hero genre has a lot of life in it, I’m not sure it’s something Melanie would be on board to play. Thirdly, I just have a negative opinion of SOE as they have not really always been good to their MMO properties (SWG and the NGE fiasco, the way Planetside was handled, etc.).

    It does look good. The word I’ve been reading about the game is that it’s fun. And I want it to succeed, but then it becomes an issue of money and time, neither of which I have a lot of recently.

    Another SOE game that got pushed back to late 2011 is The Agency. *sigh* Such a great concept, one that I hope they don’t screw up. I think I’d have to beta that game before buying though.

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