2011: The Year In Games (So Far)

Just a preamble: I’m not including games from Late September and October yet, those are, in my opinion, more approaching the Christmas side of things.  But I thought I’d take a quick look back at the year so far and look at what games have caught my attention, and more than likely should be catching yours as well!

Lets start with my favorite game of the year so far, and in my opionion one of the best games of this GENERATION so far: Portal 2.  I can’t even BEGIN describe how well written this game is. Combustible Lemons.  Potatoes. SPACE!!! These words may not seem like much on the surface, but in Portal 2, they are turned into masterpieces in tounge-in-cheek humor and writing.  For Example

I’M THE MAN WHOS GONNA BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN.  WITH THE LEMONS.  See that?  That’s Portal 2.  But exemplary writing does not make a “game of the generation” game.  Which is good, because Portal 2 has an idea about what it wants to do.  And what it wants to do, is make a damn good puzzle game.  Good thing it succeeds.  It succeeds greatly.  Portal 2 takes place in 2 parts.  The very cinematic and very well written/directed single player campaign, chock full of puzzles and clever set pieces, and the Multiplayer campaign, where both players are flinging portals all over the place in unison in order to make their way through.  All in all, it’s a very rewarding experience, and one that EVERYONE should take a look at.

Another game which is up there in my opinion for Game of the year (so far) Is The Game Catherine.

Ass Monster

Yep. thats a giant ass monster. And it's trying to eat you.

Catherine is not a standard game, and honestly, for better or for worse, it’s unlike ANYTHING you’ve ever played before.  Developed by Atlus’ Persona Team (The team behind a couple of my OTHER favorite games, Persona 3/4) This is a gmae about one man, and his inner conflict of morals as he debates on whether to continue cheating on his longtime girlfriend Katherine with the beautiful seductress Catherine.  and there’s also a baby with a Chainsaw.

At it’s heart, as you can see from the video, Catherine is a block puzzle game. In his dreams, The main character, Vincent, has to pull and rearrange blocks to climb a tower to the very top as the bottom of the tower fall away.  And if he falls in the dream, he succumbs to an equally gruesome fate in real life.  The game takes place in two parts.  During the day, you watch as the drama surrounding Vincent’s love life unfolds.  Most of this takes place with you interacting with the local bar, The Stray Sheep’s, patrons.  There are multiple endings, and based on your decisions in the game, and how you interact with the other patrons, you could get a different ending.  Whereas at night, the world becomes a hell of Block puzzles.  And sheep.  Lot’s of sheep.  A disclaimer: This game is BRUTALLY difficult, and unless you’re very alright with challenge, you’re gonna want to start it off on easy or normal.  But the challenge never seems to deter the player from wanting to continue.  Something about the very nature of the game makes it so you want to make it through, despite the difficulty, and on the easier difficulties, the game is very liberal about giving you retries, so it never seems entirely hopeless.  All in all, it’s a very respectable puzzle game, with a top notch drama attatched to it, that is genuinely adult.  Not adult in the “Look boobies!” kind of way, but in a way that legitimately makes you think about the moral reprocussions of cheating on your significant other.  If you like a decent challenge and a well made puzzler, definately pick this one up.

Another one of the big games, and one of the games that ended up with a lot of controversy around the making of it, was L.A. Noire.  L.A. Noire was developed by Australian studio Team Bondi, in association with Gamerpower-company Rockstar Games.  After a long period of “Is this ever actually going to happen?” Syndrome, the game was finally released earlier this year.  And boy was it a game.  At a whopping 3 discs on the Xbox 360, the game had a very wide scope of the inner workings of the Police Department in a Post WWII Los Angeles, with a storlyine attatched to it that could rival classic movies such as LA Confidential of The Maltese Falcon (Which, in a fun little easter egg, you can find in a Pawn shop.)  But, all of that aside, what you could REALLY write home about wasn’t the actual gameplay or the story, but the industry changing Facial Detection system in the game.

I honestly think, this could be the future of modern gaming if utilized in future games.  In interrocations and cut scenes, you could see Everything about their face.  Every facial tic, every eye movement, every word on their mouth was shown in painstaking detail through Bondi’s facial detection system.  Just imagine the possibilites if it were added to other games!  In all honestly, the rest of the game, although awesome, wasn’t perfect.  At times, some of the cases dragged on, and in the later parts of the game at times felt rather repetative.  Look at victim, search for clues, interrogate, lather, rinse, repeat.  And at times, what you think could be doubting someone could be straight up accusing them of murder.

But in the long run, those are minor gripes.  It’s a very well made game, and it’s worth playing, without a doubt.

Those are my top the games of the year thus far, I would have to say.  I’d like to honorably mention Dragon Age 2 and Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 as well, both are fun games in their respective genres, and are worth checking out as well.  There are a lot of good games to look forward to this holiday season, from Dark Souls and Skyrim, to the Old Republic and Gears of War 3.  So keep your eyes open for good games, and feel free to comment on my opinions and tell me I’m full of shit.


Brian Laurence Bishop



3 responses to “2011: The Year In Games (So Far)

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