2011: Games, Games & More Games

I want to update my blog more, I really do, but I’m just so lazy. When I’m not working, I’m hanging out with my kids, reading or veg’ing out in front of the goggle box and relaxing.

I really don’t know how other devs write at such length and regularity. I also tend to write things as I think of them, as my posts aren’t pre-calculated or revised (much). Most of them are more like snapshots of the moment, a spur to write something. I just pour what I’m thinking on to the page, it’s simple and direct.

As we’re nearing the end of the year, I just wanted to point out some of my faves from 2011. I haven’t played as many games as I’d like to have played this year, as work has intensified so much, plus, the last three months has been so jam-packed with grade AAA quality titles, that is has been incredibly hard to keep pace with them all.

I can’t remember a time when so many high level titles have been released in such a compressed amount of time. I still have a very large pile of shame that I’m attempting to get through before there’s another influx too.

As a quick note, I don’t rate the games I play on how original or technical they are, I rate them on how much fun I have playing them and, how long they entertained me…really simple uh?

Enough waffle…let’s do this!

Games of 2011

Dark Souls

Immensely frustrating, punishing and brutal at times, this game redefines how much work a player is intended to put in to succeed. With that said, it is also incredibly rewarding and satisfying in more than equal measure. The devs really wanted users to experience what it would be like for a newb to enter a very dangerous world indeed. Life became more important, and thus decisions felt more critical creating situations that made my heart beat go nuts. Straying too far without a save point, low on health in a dangerous place, was like diving too deep for the oxygen you had; panic time activated. It’s also incredibly deep, with many cool design systems bouncing off each other including some great world/level design. The system which allowed friends & foes into your own game bitch slapped every other single-player RPG in the face, HARD!


Even though it’s heavily bugged, combat was iffy and characters still look spooky, this game’s world is just a sheer pleasure to explore. It’s a lush and varied place, which draws players to explore it more than most games ever hope to do. So many quests and options, it’s easily worth its asking price. Even though it’s not what the game is known for, I absolutely loved their item deliver options. Much like the looting of Bioshock picksups, but on ultra-crack, I searched every pot, urn, chest, dark corner and dove down each watery depth wherever I went. I also found some really inventive/fun placement and uses of that extensive system in those places.

Dead Space 2

I loved the original Dead Space, it wove in-game cinematics and gameplay sweetly together in attempting to keep a lot of the experience in the control of the player. The second took what the original did, and amplified it. Lots of great moment, awesome sound design, UI and visuals that helped intensify the tension of the game. Some of the realtime “flashbacks” were truly exceptional. Resident Evil meets Event Horizon; bravo Visceral Games.


You know when you just want balls out fun? Well, the chaps at People Can Fly obviously knew exactly how to deliver on that feeling. Bulletstorm was all about kicking ass and poking fun at the whole action-hero genre in general.  Devs have tried the “kill with skill” thing before, but PCF nailed it with the implementation of the Energy Leash, deadly environment objects and the old-school bonus scoring system which made me smile to no end. To be honest, after playing Bulletstorm, I had a real depressing few weeks after it, because everything else I played seemed so bland.

Batman: Arkham City

It started slow for me, and I nearly gave up on it after around the 2 hour mark, even though it was giving me everything the first game did; I was trying to rush through it. Once I relaxed and spent more time looking and taking time to see the game for what it was, I really liked it. Although I still prefer the first game, this one still delivers on what is cool about being Batman; gadgets, detective work and kicking ass. Rocksteady are producing hands down, the best Superhero franchise, ever.

Cod: MW3

I still prefer the campaign of MW1, but MW3’s campaign was also a metric ton of fun to play through. I don’t have time for multiplayer, so going through the story mode is still a big deal for me. Activision & Infinity Ward really delivered on some of the most memorable moments of any game in 2011. Call it the Micheal Bay of gaming, I don’t give a crap, it was fun and had me smiling from start to finish. I also think I have a man crush on Capt. Price….he’s just a down-to-earth cool bastard.

Portal 2

Slick level design/puzzles, memorable characters and a great script elevate Valve further as one of most revered devs out there. I still regret not playing the multiplayer mode, which is supposed to be incredible too….Ah well, this was a sacrifice I had to make to have any chance in keeping up with all the releases this year. Oh, and Stephen Merchant as Wheatley; Genius!

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit

I’m not a fan of driving “Sims”, I love arcade-like driving games. I want to floor-it and skid my car around impossible bends at impossible speeds; I want to do stuff I can’t do in real life. Hot Pursuit was such a fun game to play for me. I finished both the bad guy and cop campaigns, and both were very enjoyable. The product was slick and smacked of Criterion’s Burnout, which is not a bad thing at all, or a coincidence, of course. It’s also worth nothing that the last driving game I had this much fun with, just happened to be Burnout Paradise.

Crysis 2

Crysis 2 forced me to re-do a few areas and miss out on some items due its bugs, but I forgave it. You can do that and still enjoy a game, you know? The power suit was slick, the UI upgrading system was simple and allowed players to mix-up their abilities to make their own tactics on-the-fly. I didn’t spend too much time pondering the story, I just wanted to get to the next bit of the game and be a power suited badass. Its level design was a lot more open than most FPS’ and fed back into the systems of the suit, allowing for Stealth or Action at every turn.

Honourable Mentions

Mobile/XBLA Titles

  • Renegade Ops
  • Bastion
  • Galaga Legions DX
  • Outland
  • Sword & Sworcery

Pile of Shame

2011 was a crazy year, and here’s me thinking I’d played my fair share of games…it just wasn’t enough. Here’s what I still have in line to play:

  • Uncharted 3
  • Zelda: Skyward Sword
  • Resistance 3
  • Killzone 3
  • Child of Eden
  • Infamous 2
  • Rage
  • Saints Row the Third
  • Rayman Origins
  • Fifa 12
  • Pes 2012
  • Blur
  • Assassin’s Creed Revelations
  • Split Second

2012 Most Anticipated Games

These are the ones I’m looking forward to (I’m sure there’s a ton more, but these are the ones that rolled out of me):

  • The Last Guardian
  • Diablo III
  • Journey
  • Tomb Raider
  • Mass Effect 3
  • Anarchy Reigns
  • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
  • Bioshock Infinite
  • Halo 4
  • Soulcalibur V
  • Max Payne 3
  • The Last of Us

Phew, that’s it. I’m hoping to follow-up this post tomorrow (or soon) with a summary of how things are going on Darksiders II and in general.

If I don’t keep with my intended update, let me wish you all a very merry new year. I can’t wait for 2012, for obvious reasons 🙂



About Haydn Dalton

Creative Lead 30 Years Developing Games

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