Over the last week or so, people have, naturally, been reminiscing over the past year. When I considered my experiences of 2011, 2 key things stick out in my mind:
1) This is the year I never stopped moving. Travelling through Asia and Australia at the beginning of the year would naturally enforce this prerequisite, but my original plan had been that this would only be the case for the first half of the year. I visited Germany for a total of 3 times this past Summer. 3 times, within the space of just over 3 months. That's a new record. And then I end up getting a job in the Czech Republic :P. Now that I've set up my cosy little nest (mostly - I still need some shelves) perhaps 2012 will be the year I finally settle somewhere? Or perhaps not? I say this because I'm aware of my tendency to completely disregard something if it doesn't work.
2) This is the first ever year I played headlining games a long time past their release dates. I am, of course, referring to games that were released in 2011. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is the last PS3 game I have pre-ordered, and that was released November 2010. At the beginning of 2011 I was still playing it (while also playing Folklore, which was originally released 2007 so it doesn't count). The next game I played was the hotly-anticipated Portal 2, which delivered on all its promises so well I played it through at least 3 times (one time to listen to the developers' commentary). Bear in mind I bought that nearly a month after its release. Then I bought L.A. Noire, over a month after its release date. Seeing a pattern yet? The next 2 games I played I had bought off the PSN; Limbo and Abe's Exoddus. I bought Resistance 3 a week after its release date (or was that 2 weeks?), while purchasing Deus Ex: Human Revolution at the same time. By that point, it had been out 3 weeks (or 4).
That's one thing that baffles me about the gaming industry of the past Summer: what is it this year that made big-name publishers decide to release their games in the Summer? The season when games sales slump a little? And the reason they do is because most developers try to stall their releases until the lucrative Autumn season, or because they don't want their imminent/current releases to be overshadowed by the Games Fairs that promote new games in the pipeline.
In connection to the second thing that stood out for me in 2011: what is it about the heavily promoted games released this year that failed to live up to its posturing at the last hurdle? Out of all the hard-copy releases I played this year, why was Portal 2 the only one that delivered? I have spoken about the many flaws of L.A. Noire already, but I must say, the game was worth the money I paid for it and it still holds my respect. Resistance 3 was very solid, but nothing about the game stuck with me. I don't know how to explain it, the game did nothing wrong but it had nothing iconic or memorable about it (unlike the first two). And I've just finished Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
Honestly, that game just makes me want to bang my head against the wall. Having completed it, it's certainly an ego boost that I've managed to finish a game that's gained notoriety for being senselessly difficult while also having some bizarre ways to make the game a lot easier. My problem with it? Well, outdated graphics aside the story is...unfulfilling. At first I was patient and, to my delight, I found myself genuinely interested in and liking the character of Adam Jensen and the relationships he has with the various other characters. It got to the point that I was playing the game just to find out what would happen next.
The ending, though, was just not satisfying. The player is not provided any idea of what the world looks like after Jensen's (or my) history-altering decision, nor are we given any clue as to the resolution of the conflicts between Jensen and the other characters, with Megan Reed in particular. We don't get a complete answer to Jensen's origins either, which really pisses me off! But the worst thing? The entire time I was playing, I was chuckling to myself whenever I spotted the various elements of the Metal Gear Solid franchise, but the ending just revealed to me that Deus Ex: Human Revolution is nothing but a Metal Gear Solid wannabe! All the points and arguments raised in Metal Gear Solid 2 in particular were repeated here. They even did the audio-only conversation after the credits!!!
I just can't believe a Metal Gear Solid wannabe was released in 2011. Most other developers gave up copying the style a decade ago. (And another thing, MGS2 has the superior enemy AI, despite now being 10 years old.)