2011 – The Ones To Watch
2010 was a sterling year for gaming; as our recent ‘Best Games of 2010’ feature highlighted, gamers were served up with a wonderfully eclectic and praiseworthy range of releases. From the low-key art-house of Limbo to blockbusters such as Mass Effect 2 and Call of Duty: Black Ops, it was a year that really did offer something for everyone. 2011 has a lot to live up to then, but even the briefest of glances at the release schedules reveals that there is plenty on the horizon to get excited about.
While by no means exhaustive, here are a few releases that, in our opinion, really can’t come soon enough!
Journey (thatgamecompany.SCEA – PlayStation 3, ThatGameCompany, Release Date: TBA 2011)
thatgamecompany established its position as one the premier PSN developers very early on in the PlayStation 3’s lifespan with the release of fLow – a quietly ambitious and intriguing title that has without question proved to be a source of inspiration for many other releases since. The developer ably followed this up with Flower – a game that raised the visual bar for downloadable titles and yet again demonstrated the developer’s knack for honing fresh and original gaming experiences.
Though relatively few details are available at present, thatgamecompany’s next title, Journey, is looking every bit as intriguing as its predecessors. The lush greenery and floating petals of Flower has been jettisoned in favour of golden desert sands, crumbling temples and a mysterious, crimson robed lead character. The gameplay appears to be as enigmatic as we’ve come to expect; players will be able to explore the world alone or online, in which case you’ll cross paths with other desert wanderers, who will remain anonymous and unable to communicate with voice or text chat. In any other game, such a restriction would likely be met with groans from gamers for whom in game-chat is the norm, but in the hands of thatgamecompany, the decision takes on a level of intrigue that makes us even keener to explore the world of Journey.
Bulletstorm (People Can Fly/Epic Games – PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360. Release Date: 22nd February 2011).
Love ‘em or loathe ‘em, there’s no denying that first person shooter’s are in dire need of a shake up. Year on year, swathes of military themed titles hit our consoles, and while there is a steady and consistent ramping up of production values, new ideas are few and far between. So, it’s refreshing to see Epic Games’ Bulletstorm limbering up on the horizon.
While on the surface Bulletstorm looks like fairly standard FPS fare (with a post-apocalyptic setting and visuals that live up to Epic’s reputation as an industry leader), underneath is a focus on high-scores that has the potential to make a big impact on how you approach the game. Through the use of over the top weaponry and ‘skillshots’, players can rack up score multipliers to aid them in their quest for the top spot on the online leaderboards. Within a genre that has become increasingly po-faced and serious (in part due to the long term absence of a certain Mr Nukem…) Bulletstorm could very well be the more light-hearted romp that we’ve be waiting for; and if it gets the balance between twitch gaming and high score hunting right, it could become one of the most compelling time-sinks of 2011.
Child of Eden (Q Entertainment/Ubisoft – Xbox 360/Kinect. Release Date: TBA 2011).
Though Microsoft’s motion controller, Kinect, is currently selling like hot-cakes (with 8 million units having been shifted as of 6th January 2011), the device’s launch line up left ‘hardcore’ gamers wanting with few titles announced to really appeal to their specific tastes. We should be thankful then for Child of Eden – a game that stands out not only within the Kinect release schedule, but within the larger gaming landscape as well.
Helmed by Tetsuya Mizuguchi, producer of psychedelic shooter classic Rez, Child of Eden is looking to explore both the capabilities of Kinect as well as the outer-regions of our minds and, indeed, our universe. If the thought of being able to stand in front of your television and conduct a retina-searing display of light, sound, colour and celestial whales while blasting all and sundry into oblivion appeals to you, then Child of Eden should rank very highly on your ‘one to watch’ list.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Eidos Montreal/Eidos, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360. Release date: April 2011)
The original Deus Ex was as visionary as it was slickly produced; though easy to pigeonhole as a first person shooter, it was so much more than this, borrowing from adventure and roleplaying games and mixing them into a unique, satisfying and utterly compelling whole that its sequel, Deus Ex: Invisible War, sadly failed to capitalise on. Deus Ex: Human Revolution developer, Eidos Montreal, are looking to take the series back to its roots, and while (so far) there have been no sightings of JC Denton, the game is looking wonderfully promising.
Set in 2027 (25 years before Deus Ex), Human Revolution retains the cyber-noir aesthetics of the original while ramping up the range – and impressiveness – of ‘augmentations’ (body modifications that imbue the user with super-human abilities) . The glossy cinematic trailers and smattering of in game footage that have been released so far no doubt have Series fans are no doubt already smacking their lips in anticipation; everyone else should most probably be doing the same…
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