For me, 2011 wasn’t about ‘best games’, it was about best moments.
It was an odd year, a year in which two brand new handhelds faced the wrath of early sales figures and software line-ups that showed neither Nintendo nor Sony fully understood what made the last twelve months tick for mobile gamers. A year in which the annual November deluge became a breathtaking assault of hype, marketing and – thankfully – some really solid titles.
It was a year in which the likes of Rayman Origins, one of the best platformers for ages and easily this year’s most attractive game, died without a trace despite glowing reviews. And tellingly, a year in which publishers played it safer than ever, the gaming press took nose dive after nose dive in the pursuit of traffic and a year in which writing for TSA became incredibly stressful and frequently disheartening.
But there were some shining, stand out moments that showed a willing, receptive public that gaming can still impress. From the top of my head: going back to the Ishimura in Dead Space 2, unlocking the Special levels in Super Mario 3D Land and the still excellent second level of Uncharted 3. All brilliant but one that encapsulates just what – for me – all this is all about was at the very start of Portal 2.[drop2]Wheatley was an inspired character, even casting aside his voice actor.
Some didn’t get the game, or the chirpy AI bot that formed the basis of the plot, but for me when he asked the player to say ‘Apple’ it was a defining moment.
Of course, pressing X jumps, Chell doesn’t speak, but it was that delicious sense of individuality that made Valve’s utterly spellbinding game so captivating: it felt like your game, nobody else’s.
That TSA’s collective voted Portal 2 as our game of the year is no surprise. It’s not that it’s such a great game, it’s because it’s filled with great moments. It’s the constant supply of new experiences and new areas that make it so replayable, and it provided some real discussion amongst players that cared to read between the lines long after they’d finished the game. And what an ending!
There were others, of course. Meeting up with the gang in EGX, many of which for the first time, was a delight, attending E3 was a treat and grabbing a few margaritas with Dan whilst watching a naked man climb a curtain was lovely too. He’ll tell you flying to Amsterdam for a day to watch blokes waffle on about the 3DS was a waste of time but looking back it was one of those times when you’ve just got to give it a shot and see what happens.
Oh, and Michael and I made an iPhone game.
We don’t have an agenda here, other than to write, when we can, about the hobby we love, and have as good a time as possible doing it – making the most of the moments we have and the opportunities we get. Gaming is all about those moments, whether they’re a spherical robot telling you you’ve been asleep for years, or trying to steal a Chinese meal from a person living next door to a posh pub in London.
Here’s hoping 2012 is just as rich.