2011: A Year Of Moments

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.

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12 Comments

  1. Happy New Year to all you guys, not just TSA staff but the community as well. You have all been so fantastically entertaining and I wish you all well in 2012, before the world collapses around us and we all sail off on arks

  2. You forgot “Releasing an iOS game”!

  3. This video was, by far, my best moment of 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=FTlFWTmbF5g

    Thank you, Peter! :)

  4. One of my best moments was playing Portal 2 with Nofi, but without headsets. Hilarity ensued as simple things became impossible to understand! Fun times.

  5. 2011, a good year for a gamer. :) 2011, saw the impossible happen. An EA or Acti game was overthrown by Skyrim. :O It is a massive shame that Rayman died quickly but they should have delayed the game untill there was a month that had nearly naff all out thus giving them an advantage.

    Anyway, Happy New Year TSA. *lights some ham on fire to celebrate it being 2012* :p

  6. Hmmm…. best gaming moment 2011. FIFA with RyanMartin. ” I literally shit myself” stuck on repeat by the opposition was hilarious. Still laugh about it to this day.

    Definitely a ‘had to be there’ moment.

    Infact most of my best moments were with FIFA, had some good times with the guys from here and Mediakick. :)

  7. In a year full of sequels that saw the major franchises extending their grip I thought it was quite a poor year for gaming despite the quality bar, being set very high. The major franchises not only choked the market somewhat, hoovering up most of publisher’s development money, but their gameplay mechanics ‘infected’ other games so that games are getting more & more samey as time goes on.

    New experiences were few & far between.

    Stacking wasn’t the best game of the year, but it was easily my favourite, it has a character & charm that is rarely seen in the über-polished, tightly scripted world of AAA gaming and served as a reminder that looking outside this world of waiting for ‘the next big thing’ can lead to great gaming experiences.

    It contained the only new gameplay I’ve seen this year (outside of Journey & Starhawk betas) and despite being a child friendly game was extremely challenging to fully complete

  8. one of the funniest things i saw about portal 2 was this.

    it contains a spoiler, don’t say i didn’t warn you.
    http://i49.photobucket.com/albums/f278/katietiedrich/comic199-1.png

  9. I had the exact same feeling when pressing x after being told to speak. It was amazing. Why hasn’t TSA reviewed Super Smoothies anyway?

  10. “or trying to steal a Chinese meal from a person living next door to a posh pub in London.”

    Oh, this is why TSA is the best – few of us will understand what this fully means, but for those that were there it basically cements what this year meant for TSA.
    It was the year that we all met, it was the year that we all went to events together and even to each other’s houses. 2011 was filled with moments with TSA, but the best – for the staff – involved meeting each other and having a lot of fun.

    Here’s to many more moments like these in 2012! Party at my house? ;)

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