Everybody’s doing it, a new year starts so you look forward to all the new releases. This is even more important this year than the past few. Personally – although there were some big games, sure – last year was a bit disappointing. There have been years where come the big Autumn release schedule I’ve been really pushed to know what to play first, I’ve had loads of games on pre-order and they’ve kept me really busy. Last year… not so much.
Maybe that’s just my impression, there’s been a few changes in my life and in my gaming habits. A lot of my solo-gaming time goes to writing now, so Fable 3, which would have been a major time sink, remains unfinished. Not because i didn’t like it, I loved it, but gaming time is not what it was. Halo Reach had a disappointing campaign… great gameplay, of course, and some good story-telling but way, way, way too short.
So for my most anticipated science fiction games of 2011 I’m going to do a top 5. But first of all lets talk about the games that didn’t make the top 5, and why.
Gears of War 3 – I am looking forward to this, and doubly so because it has a co-op campaign (something which none of my top 5 do). But I’m looking forward to it because I know it’s going to be a good, solid gaming experience. I know I’m going to enjoy it, but it’s not really going to surprise me with the gameplay and the story has some good hooks, there are answers I’m waiting for, but well… there are better stories out there.
Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon – This is going to be so bad. But so was the previous one and I played the shit out of it. The graphics were crappy and the controls left a lot to be desired but it was a simple and awesome premise… giant insects & giant robots are invading the Earth, take your increasingly over-powered weapons and stop them. And if you happen to spectacularly destroy every building in the city while you’re at it… so be it!
Warhammer 40k: Space Marine – I am looking forward to this quite a lot… but guardedly. It has the potential to be awesome, I just don’t want to get my hopes too high.
It’s looking like a good year for SF in games, there are others: Dead Space 2, Portal 2, Crisis 2 and more. But they don’t make my top 5. These are the games that do:
5. Brink – It looks amazing and I really enjoyed the slick gameplay of the demo at the Eurogamer conference last year. I’m intrigued by the factions and storylines and want to see how well it all gels together in game terms. I’m a little worried about how much the multiplayer aspect is integrated with the game as I’m not too big on online play (I’m definitely not against online, I’m just a bit of a lone wolf or local co-op guy).
4. Mass Effect 3 – Only at number 4? But surely this is a science fiction list and Mass Effect 3 is science fiction to the core? Epic space opera with excellent gameplay thrown in? Well, yes, but… from the teaser trailer I have fears, I have worries. I loved the first game, I played it again and again. I only liked the second game… a lot, mind you, but it wasn’t a patch on the first. Oh, sure they’d smoothed a lot of things out, but I really didn’t like the way it felt so episodic. In Mass Effect 1 I felt like I had so much control over the story and where I went and when I chose to do it. In Mass Effect 2 I picked a character, worked at them, picked the next one, did their bit, and between every mission made a round of the ship to see if they had something to say. It felt more like a routine than an adventure. But, look, it still makes the top 5, I am looking forward to it immensely, I love the Mass Effect universe and I really can’t wait to get back there and see how it all ends.
3. Bulletstorm – Yes, seriously. There’s been some backlash over people saying they’re not going to be tricked into buying it for the Gears of War 3 beta access, and they’re right, they shouldn’t be. They should buy it because it’s going to be awesome. I’m no FPS god, not by a long shot, but Bulletstorm goes some way to making you feel like you are. I’ve played the demo and pulling off those trick shots is totally possible without needing uber pad skillz. Two of the most important things to me in a game is how much straight-up fun it is, and its sense of humour. Bulletstorm looks like it’s going to hit both those spots, and hit them hard. If you’re not excited about Bulletstorm, download the demo on the 25th January and you soon will be.
2. Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Put simply, it looks tremendous. Deep mechanics, deep gameplay, deep storytelling and the graphics are amazing. (I saw it running on an xbox 360 at Eurogamer, so while the SquareEnix rendered trailers are stunning, I can testify that the game itself does look great too.)
It is single player, but I can see my girlfriend playing on the PS3 while I’m on the other TV playing it on the Xbox 360, so it’ll still be a shared experience… ;) And it would have been number 1 on the list were it not for…
1. Rage – oh. my. god. I cannot express how much I am looking forward to this. Both Rage and Deus Ex are sitting so high in the anticipation spheres of my mind, but something puts Rage ahead. On paper I think I would put Deus Ex into the lead (I have, admittedly, seen more details for Deus Ex, although I have seen Rage in action too). Rage excites me, I like the setting; I like the movement and design of the bad guys; even the racing looks well-integrated and the graphics truly, stupendously incredible, I mean it looks are mind-blowing. So Rage, you better live up to the hype… I can’t wait to get you under my thumbs…