Editorial: Riddles’ (Very Late) 2011 Year-in-Review

Dead Space 2 Issac
Dead Space 2's Issac

What ho, denizens of the L.coms. Oliver Motok here once again to write a few words about games. This article was actually written quite some time ago – as the content would suggest. But while we may be many things, Lusipurr.com is rarely timely. Or relevant. We strive only for entertainment. (Of ourselves, not necessarily our readers.) So, in the spirit of self-serving, untimely irrelevance we are going to take a look back at my personal travails in the world of gaming during the year 2011. Was it exciting? Boring? Prolific? Mild? In a way it was all of these things, dear readers. Let us venture forth.

I really did not play many games in 2011, relatively speaking. But, regardless of this, the year started off with a bang for me. How so? Dead Space 2, that is how. Talk of of a heavier focus on action and more powerful weapons initially made me fear for the fate of the sequel to 2008’s fantastic survival-horror title. But my fears were unfounded. Dead Space 2 was more action-packed, fast-paced, and visceral. But despite this it maintained – and even enhanced – the grotesquely frightening atmosphere and tightly-woven gameplay. Truly amazing stuff. Dead Space 3 has been confirmed to be in the works – and I cannot wait to see the conclusion to Isaac’s epic tale. By far my most anticipated game at the moment.

Unfortunately, the next chapter in my 2011 gaming escapades was not quite as positive. Dragon Age II was released to a justly lukewarm reception. At the time of this writing I have still yet to finish this game – and as the months continue to go by, it becomes less and less likely that I will ever do so. Dragon Age II is a shameless rush-job. Much ado has been made about the fact that there is (literally) only one city in the game, and all the dungeon environments are recycled throughout. And I hated that, sure. But it was the smaller things that really got to me. Like only being able to equip armor to the main character? A dialog tree that specifically implied the exact nature of my responses? Worst of all, though, BioWare – or should I say EA – made very sure that players did not need to have played Dragon Age: Origins in order to play DA2. And as someone who devoted many, many hours to Origins, I felt cheated. They could have at least thrown me a few bones, yeah? And no, finding a drunken Alistair in the Hanged Man’s pub is not enough. Give me continuity, dammit. Form a cohesive world and mythology.

Dragon Age II Screenshot 2
A few of Dragon Age II's mostly forgettable characters

Then there was a lull. I played through the first chapter of Telltale’s Back to the Future game, and little of the second chapter. Frankly, it did not excite me overmuch. I replayed some games; most notably my eternal love, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Just to clarify, it is still the definitive gaming experience. I also replayed a good bit of the original Metroid Prime for the GameCube, and found that it sorely, sorely lacks dual-analog control. (Though the game is still fantastic.) I then replayed the first 45 minutes of Tales of Symphonia, only to make the sad realization that that game has aged… poorly. Or maybe it just always sucked, I am unsure.

Then there was Outlands, which, at this time, is the second highest point of my 2011 gaming travails, second only to the aforementioned Dead Space 2. Outlands is a simply brilliant action-platform-puzzler that I could rave about for ages. Instead, I will simply prove a link for the review I wrote right here on Lusipurr.com. Read it. Then buy it. And love it.

Outland Screenshot 2
One of Outland's devious puzzlers

I bought more games digitally in 2011 than I ever had before; among these were Borderlands and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. Borderlands I enjoyed for roughly twenty hours – truth be told I have not so much as touched the game in months. When I first bought Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, the game hooked me hard for a good 15-20 hours. Yes, it is essentially more Assassin’s Creed II with weaker writing, but damn it all, the gameplay of Assassin’s Creed is just so addicting – and yes, while the improvements are (mostly) incremental, Brotherhood represents the most polished form-

Oh, wait. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is out now. Have… yet to give that one a spin. (Damn it all, Ubisoft.)

Well, anyway. When I bought it eight months ago, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood represented the most polished form of the Assassin’s Creed gameplay experience. Hell, maybe it still does – again, I have not quite gotten to Revelations yet. (Though I will – before Assassin’s Creed III for sure.)

2011 closed out with some decent-yet-not-amazing gaming experiences. First was Batman: Arkham City. I loved Arkham Asylum and bought City on release day. And… I have yet to finish it. It is quite good, make no mistake. But somehow the formula – which is largely unchanged – does not enthrall me quite as much a second time around.

Perplexingly, I had a similar experience with Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. It was more Uncharted, and it was good – but it felt too familiar. Oh, and the story was not as good as Uncharted 2‘s. Just check out my review for more.

I did technically receive The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for Christmas, but I only played roughly five hours in 2011 – on Christmas day. I have played quite a bit since then – but my thoughts on Skyward Sword will have to wait until another time. Why? Because I am frankly a little confused on them at this point. (D’oh!)

That is all. Filler material? Sure, maybe, but hey – it is damn good filler material if I do say so myself. Which I do not. But regardless, feel free to chime in any thoughts you may have on any of the words above. Particularly if they are words of contempt and discord. I like those best. Cheers!

20 comments

  1. For my money, Outland was one of the best values of 2011. Classic gameplay in a modern guise: thoroughly fantastic.

  2. Also, I have to say that the first paragraph of this post may be my favourite first paragraph of any post ever written at this site: and also, one of the most true.

  3. “But it was the smaller things that really got to me. … A dialog tree that specifically implied the exact nature of my responses?”

    I don’t follow. You would have liked to have had less control over your character’s dialogue responses?

  4. Your next post you should follow up with “The Year in Review: 2010” !

  5. Oh wow, I had no idea Outland existed! That game looks totally up my alley. I may have to check it out sometime when I have the money.

  6. @RBK: You really should. It’s not very expensive, but it is an exploration-platformer in the style of Super Metroid, but with amazing and crisp modern graphics.

  7. @SiliconNooB:disqus – I understood that to mean that the dialogue tree made it EXTREMELY clear what the results of every response would (or should) be prior to making those choices.

  8. Yeah, there were over 10 icons with specific definitions.

  9. Yeah, I can’t think of a sequel that was a bigger let-down. 

  10. “siliconnoob – I understood that to mean that the dialogue tree made it EXTREMELY clear what the results of every response would (or should) be prior to making those choices.”

    That is also what I understood it to mean, which sounds like an unambiguously good thing.

  11. What is the point of dialogue options if you know the results of every option beforehand?

    One might as well remove the dialogue and just list the rewards:

    “So you’re Mr. Shepherd? It’s a pleasure to meet you at last.”
    – Money
    – Experience
    – Reputation

  12. I agree with Oliver about Uncharted 3, but I totally disagree about Dead Space 2. The story was….a mess in my opinion, and the fall off of the scare factor was bad in Dead Space 1, but SO much worse in Dead Space 2. Plus the absolute thrown-in-by-a-B-team multiplayer mode. It was like Left 4 Dead’s multiplayer but copied by someone who didn’t like Left 4 Dead.

  13. Well that whole franchise has been miserable for ages (for the most part). I’m talking direct sequels.

  14. Dead Space 2 was a decent game – but giving Isaac a voice has ruined its immersion some ..

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