So 2011 is consigned to the history books, and as per the original brief of Stuart Reviews Stuff, it’s time to look back on the past year and remember what I liked, what I hated and what I was disappointed with.
To start off with, I’m going to look at the games I played over the last year. Now I know that I haven’t done too much in the way of game reviews, but I write this blog for fun, and to be honest, I found reviewing games a less interesting subject.
However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been paying attention to what I was playing.
So my review of 2011 begins with Games. Please note that this is all about the games I played in 2011. The games may have come out in 2010.
Biggest Disappointment – Kinect
I don’t like spending money too much. Even when I play Football Manager, I suffer from buyers remorse if I feel I’ve overspent on a player – and that’s with imaginary funds. So
it always bugs me when I know I’ve wasted my ‘hard earned cash’.
And without question one of the greatest wastes of money I’ve ever purchased happened in 2011. And no, it wasn’t actually a game. It was Kinect for the Xbox 360.
I look at my bank statement and on January 4th last year, I effectively ripped up £155. Worse, I spent ages driving around Dundee looking for the best deal.
Admittedly, Kinect didn’t get incredibly good reviews from the critics, but people on forums (which is usually the true litmus test) praised it to high heaven, talking about how much fun it was. So perhaps against my better judgement I went out and bought it.
There are two things wrong with Kinect. The first is that it simply doesn’t suit the architecture of your average British house.
Whenever you see an advert for Kinect it involves people playing it in open plan American houses that resemble giant vacant warehouses. The reality is that most people play their consoles in a chair no more than a couple of meters from their screen. But Kinect doesn’t let you do that.
You read how much space you need on the box and it’s a bit like reading the Minimum Requirements for a PC game. You can play it but the experience will be one to forget. A single player can manage ok, but two or more players have no chance.
And apart from that, the games aren’t very good (and beyond the initial batch there haven’t been any new games out for it to speak of). Played without depth and clearly aimed at people who don’t really ‘get’ games, they don’t offer an enjoyable experience. And for someone like me who is active and does numerous hours of exercise per week, I just found that I couldn’t be arsed expending even more energy when the truth was that I’d rather sit down, relax and play a game with a controller.
And that’s the issue with all these gimmicks; as much as the games manufacturers want the likes of the Wii, Kinect and PS Move to succeed at a critical level, they won’t. A controller will always work better in my opinion.
LA Noire– Considering how good Red Dead Redemption was, this was a big disappointment. Far too samey and by the time I got past the Homicide missions I just gave up.
WWE 12: – Like every other year, I was sucked in by THQ’s press about how they’d changed it all up and that the game was far better than the year before. Needless to say, it wasn’t. And still they don’t manage to release a game in the same ‘Universe’ as WWF No Mercy from 10 years earlier.
Best Sports Game – Fifa 12
One game that does improve every year is Fifa 12. I’m not really one for offline play here – I find it tiresome and repetitive.
Fifa 12 is made for online play in my opinion, and the latest edition has improved on the previous version, ten-fold. As much as I loved Fifa 11, I had come to accept that if I wanted to play online I’d have to play as a 4.5 or 5 star team. If I wanted to play as Dundee United then I’d be up against Barcelona.
With the Head to Head Seasons mode, Fifa 12 manages to match up players against teams of a similar standard. The system also works to stop rage quitters.
The game introduced a new and more difficult defending system, and while I found this initially frustrating (although not as much as someone I know who smashed their disk against a wall) once I had got past it I realised it was a better system.
Plus I appear to be far better at it than my best mate.
Best Handheld Game – Sudoku Free (Android)
I have to admit that I didn’t play many handheld games in 2011. In December I started to get back into it with the 3DS, and while the new Mario game was good, it was over with very quickly and was another case Mario As You Were.
Sudoku Free is probably the only handheld game I played consistently in 2011, and while it might seem like a dull choice, it kept me occupied through half time of every football match I attended or any other time I was waiting around for something. You can easily lose an hour playing one single game on a harder difficulty, which served me well on a recent flight to Orlando.
Best X-Box Live Arcade Game – Pinball FX 2
I love Xbox Live Arcade – it is responsible for the most consistently high standard and at times best value for money gaming on the market. And there have been a load of great games out for it this year, but none better than Pinball FX 2.
I think it’s fair to say that if you don’t have any friends playing it online, it’s a game with limited appeal. But if you do the it turns into one of the most fiercely competitive games on the market.
The concept of aiming for the high score is one that few games offer these days, but there’s something wonderful about beating your friend’s long-held high score on a specific pinball table, and something equally crushing about getting a message a day later to say he’s gone and beaten your best effort.
With the option of buying as many or as few Pinball tables for the game as you like, it offers fresh gameplay, joy and frustration in equal measures.
In my opinion it offers far more bang for you buck than most ‘big budget’ games out there.
Worst Game – Child of Eden
Child of Eden somehow managed to get a review score of 9/10 on Eurogamer and 8.5/10 on IGN.
Christ knows how.
Heralded as ‘the best reason to have Kinect’ it’s a game that can be controlled either with a controller or – Kinect-wise – using your hand. To shoot at the screen you have to make
a fist and then suddenly open it up again, as if you were a sorcerer throwing fire from your hands.
The fundamental problem with the game is that by doing that with your hand you strain your forearm. Some people might consider it exercise, but it’s not.
Any game that physically hurts you is a no-go for me.
I tried to play it with a controller, but the gameplay was very dull.
Thankfully this was only a rental game so it just went straight back in the sleeve and back to LoveFilm.
Best Game – de Blob 2
I’ve played a load of great games this year; Skyrim, Fifa 12, Football Manager, Portal 2, Super Tank Run, Pinball FX2, Crackdown 2, Pac-Man CE: Deluxe, Geometry Wars 2, Adventures of Shuggy…the list goes on.
But in 2011 the one game that I had the most fun playing was de Blob 2,
I’ve discussed it on the blog before (read about it here) because it’s also one of the most underrated games out there.
It’s a colourful, fun and engrossing game that was genuinely charming from beginning to end.
I may well have had fun playing other games, but de Blob 2 stands out as the best.
Gaming Hopes for 2012
There are a few things I’m hoping for – gaming wise – in 2012…
- More Offline Multiplayer games – let’s bring back the idea of playing games with real people in the same room!
- WWE 13 to be different – no, that won’t happen.
- A playable 5-a-side Football game for the 360. Fifa Street is coming this year so let’s hope it’s as good as its big brother.
- This year’s Olympic Games game to be good. The last good track and field game was Athens 2004 – let’s make sure the new game sticks to the basic button mashing principles that made Athens and some of its predecessors a quality game.
- EA to release NFL Blitz in the UK. For whatever reason this is only available on the US XBLA Market.
- A new Japanese wrestling game – it’s been far far too long
- The Bigs 3
- Together in Electric Dreams to be released on Rock Band 3 DLC
- The new consoles to be proper games consoles rather than gimmick riddled flash in the pans like Kinect and the Wii.
- A big price drop on the Playstation Vita shortly after release so I can pick up Little King’s Story for it without paying too much
- Football Manager Handheld for Android
Let me know if you agree or disagree with my points, as well as your own thoughts on the Award Categories on offer.
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