15 Games for 2011
There are approximately four hundred billion games scheduled for a 2011 release. Okay, that might not be quite true. But it's certainly a lot. It's difficult to pick just a few to keep our eyes on.
However, if we did have to choose just 15 games to recommend taking a look at next year, these would be them. So welcome, friends, to Play.tm's tips for 2011. Please don't hit us with rocks if they all turn out to be rubbish.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
The team working on Human Revolution have said they're looking primarily to the original Deus Ex, instead of sequel Invisible War, for inspiration. Given that the original game is perhaps one of the greatest ever made, that's a pretty confidence-inspiring statement, but it's seeing the game in action earlier this year that really convinced us that this is going to be awesome. It's looking like an extraordinary blend of punchy action, sneaky stealth, and a wealth of player choices that define the progression of the game.
ETA: Some time after April
This FPS sequel takes us away from the jungle of the original game, and into the high-rising city. It's an action game in which the vertical axis is key, and we can expect to be bounding from rooftops to road level in this adrenaline-fuelled experience from Crytek. It's their first game to appear on consoles as well as PC, so there might be some teething troubles, but what we've seen looks promising.
Spelunky first hit PCs as a free download back in 2008. Now, creator Derek Yu is working on a completely revamped version to be released through XBLA this year. The original, despite its 0.00 price point, was one of the most fiendishly difficult and fearlessly creative platformers in ages: one where the levels are generated on the fly, and unfair death comes frequently. Maddening, but wonderful, this remake should be up there with the best.
Dead Space 2
Many have expressed concern that Dead Space 2 will venture even further away from pure survival horror, and into a more standard action space within the market. This could well prove to be true, but take it as an action adventure and it's looking wonderful, with highly imaginative zero-gravity sections and some cracking puzzles to boot. It also looks uncommonly beautiful, and the multiplayer component is shaping up to be rather interesting indeed.
Mass Effect 3
Recently announced, this final part in the Mass Effect trilogy is the first to see players head back to Earth, which is under threat of destruction. All we've seen so far is a CGI trailer, but the idea of fighting in a collapsing London seems an exciting one - let's hope it's there in the final game. BioWare have one of the best track records around, so it seems no unsafe bet to assume this will be one of the better releases of 2011.
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
Uncharted was great, but it was with Uncharted 2 that Naughty Dog proved themselves kings of the action adventure genre. A masterfully paced and absolutely gorgeous game, it tapped into a near-perfect balance of action and storytelling to create an experience unlike any other. The third game, Drake's Deception, has only just been announced, and not much is known of it yet. So it's a cautious tip, but given the previous title's quality, we're not particularly nervous.
Batman: Arkham City
2009's Batman: Arkham Asylum was an incredibly designed superhero game, a rare example of the genre which managed to capture the biff-smack-pow of the comics on which it's based. Arkham City takes things a step further, dropping Batman into a more expansive world and with even more tools at his disposal. Assuming the combat is as tight as in Arkham Asylum, and that the storytelling is just as engrossing, this should be very impressive indeed.
Portal was only a couple of hours long, but it was refreshing and creative beyond almost any other game that springs to mind. A fiendish first-person puzzle game, it was elegantly constructed, and told a captivating and downright hilarious story. Portal 2 takes the form of a full-length game, with co-operative elements dominating, and is looking like the full game Valve dreamt of right from the start. We have very little doubt that this is going to turn out wonderfully.
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
It's been a while since the launch of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the title which brought the previously cult RPG series to the mainstream gaming masses. The Elder Scrolls games are huge, open-world adventures which can take hundreds of hours to fully complete, and lead the way in exploratory gaming experiences. Skyrim is set to use a new engine, meaning the clunky Gamebryo tech will finally be laid to rest. Not much is known yet of what will replace it, but we're eager to find out.
thatgamecompany's last title was the wholly distinctive Flower, a game in which players controlled the breeze as it blew a collection of petals through the countryside. Journey is their next game, which is to be set in a vast online world. We'll be exploring a lost civilisation, apparently, although thatgamecompany are keeping things very much under wraps. Still, screenshots and a recent teaser trailer have showcased the remarkable art style - and given how interesting Flower was, this one looks set to impress us once again.
A class-based multiplayer shooter, Brink takes the likes of Team Fortress 2, combines them with the likes of Mirror's Edge, and presents a story-driven online FPS in which players can scoot about the environments in style. Depending on which team you pick, your experience of the story will be drastically different. And while the game is somewhat complex, it's surprisingly easy to get the hang of. As long as the story remains interesting between the multiplayer battling, this one's sure to be a hit.
This year, Lara Croft got a bit of a rebrand, in the form of Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. It marked a departure from the main Tomb Raider canon, both in terms of mechanics and storyline, but it proved just the kick up the backside that the series needed. Now, Crystal Dynamics are preparing for a completely new entry into the Tomb Raider series, dropping all numbers and subtitles. It too jumps away from the story so far, and is set to drop Lara into an open world - which could be another great way to mix up a sadly stagnating cultural icon.
This is id Software's ambitious new game - part first-person shooter, part science-fiction racer. We have concerns that the core mechanics might not be anything particularly special, with standard gun-based action dominating. But the technology is impressive: putting that much scale into a title playable on the consoles is a massive feat. Let's just hope the game itself lives up to the engine that's powering it.
Killzone 2's single-player component was pretty but nothing to write home about, but in multiplayer the game was a blast. The third game in the series is set to attempt to improve the storytelling, with character development being brought to the fore. It's also utilising interesting new technology: if you've a 3D display, you can benefit from those effects. And if you have PlayStation Move, that too could prove to be an interesting addition to an already great shooter series.
The Witcher 2
Polish developers CD Projekt received mixed reaction to their debut game, The Witcher, but the sequel is looking to be improved in just about every way. A brand new (and gorgeous) engine powers it, while an improved combat system allows for battles on a massive scale. Much of the story will alter depending on your decisions, too, and the game can be played with either a combat or nonviolent focus. Let's just hope the developers cut back on the gratuitous sexual references this time - they felt childish, rather than mature, in the original game.