This is it. The culmination of our Top 100 of 2011 Recap might not have the natural suspense that the original Top 100 did and it might not be the end to such a herculean task as the original list, but we’ve seen twenty articles that have succinctly rounded up the progress of so many titles that captured our imagination enough for us to tell you about them back at the end of last year.
We started this running feature four weeks ago with the aim of looking back at what we were excited about and seeing where we are with those games now and we’ve enjoyed that chance to reminisce. We’re glad you came along with us. Now, let’s get on with the final post and see what’s happened or is happening with the last five of our most anticipated games we thought would be released in 2011.
5 – Dead Space 2
It’s notable that EA’s triumphant resurrection of a flagging survival horror genre was such that this sequel made it into our top five. Perhaps the dizzy heights it reached in our chart had much to do with the fact that it was scheduled for release so soon after we voted coming, as it did, towards the end of January.
Our review gave the sequel a fantastic 9/10, stating that “for those of us that adored Clarke’s first adventure this sequel represents everything we could have wished for: it’s bigger, better and more beautiful but without straying from the core principles that mapped out the former.”
Everything about Isaac Clarke had been given a bit more polish than the previous game, which was already no slouch in the looks department. I felt that it was less scary and relied a little more on the jump shocks than the first Dead Space but it also did a lot to improve upon certain aspects that needed a bit of attention. It’s fair to say that we were correct to be excited for this sequel, we’ll just have to try to keep January’s best release in mind at the end of the year when we’re compiling another list of TSA’s favourites.
When a couple of PlayStation 2 games, from 2001 and 2005/6 make it onto a list comprising of our most anticipated titles for 2011, you know they’ve got to be something a little bit special.
ICO was not a particularly strong commercial performer when it first launched in 2001. The themes and feelings it played on were something slightly alien for the medium which was to have, as its major success stories for the year, Grand Theft Auto III and Halo: Combat Evolved. Beside games about the rise of a criminal powerhouse and the resistance of an alien invasion, dodging shadows while trying to guide a kidnapped girl out of a castle seemed a little bit too conceptual for many.
ICO was heralded by many critics though and saw a European reprint five years later when its spiritual successor, Shadows of the Colossus, was released. That second game from Team ICO was slightly more traditional in the sense that it had colossi to act as bosses and not so much mystery about it. It was still more of a critical hit than a commercial one but if the buzz around the HD re-release is anything to go by, both games could do a little better at market this time around.
It is a testament to the quality of Uncharted 2 that we were so keen to get our hands on this third instalment. With little more than a few rumours and some release cycle assumptions, we voted en masse to ensure that a game we had merely assumed would be released in 2011 was this high up on our list.
Between voting and publishing, we’d seen a trailer and heard a subtitle, which only served to increase our anticipation for what we still assume will be one of 2011’s most accomplished storytelling feats in gaming.
In short: Uncharted knows how to tell a story. Naughty Dog knows how to make a great looking game (Uncharted 2 is still unrivalled in the looks department on consoles as far as I’m concerned) and Sony knows that this is their banker for the holiday season. No matter what else can go wrong, they’ll always have Uncharted.
If ICO and Shadow of the Colossus were so high up in the list, The Last Guardian deserved to be a little higher. We know that Team ICO are capable of incredible things, and we know that The Last Guardian is going to utilise everything in the PlayStation 3’s considerable box of tricks. This game very nearly made it to the top of our list by virtue of a gameplay video featuring a young boy and a weird bird/cat creature and the simple fact that we were keen to see anything that Team ICO could put out.
As we edge ever closer to the release of The Last Guardian, information about it is still fairly thin on the ground. We don’t mind that though, the game has been pushed back to 2012 now and we have no doubt that it will make our list for next year too.
1 – Journey
And then there was one. Journey was a huge surprise in our top spot, with this being the first many had heard of the title at all. We’ve always had a rather large soft spot for thatgamecompany though, with Flow and Flower ranking highly amongst many of the TSA staffers.
Journey is still forecast for this year, though a firm release date still evades us. We’ve played the beta though, and various staff members adored that. Even after having played it, explaining what Journey is about remains tricky. You wander through the deserted ruins and flowing sands of a barren landscape, activating a series of switches to solve the area and move on. That sells the experience short though: Journey is more about the exploration than the discovery.
Add to that the silent, anonymous assistance you can receive from other people via a random online cooperative element and we think you’ll agree that Journey is set to be one of 2011’s most interesting games.
It was a surprise when it appeared at number one on our list back in December 2010 but now everyone has heard of Journey and we’re still looking forward to it just as much.