The Hot Topic this week asks you to name your favourite game of the year so far. The reason we ask now is because it’ll be exactly halfway through the year this weekend, which also seems like the perfect moment to give 2011 our own report card.
We really have been meaning to list our top 20 games of the year on the chart page for months, but senility and a busy schedule has seen us forget and postpone its debut for months. (The reader’s top 20 was meant to begin once we have a new automated polling system in place, which hopefully won’t be too long now.)
Perhaps subconsciously we were just trying to put off the near impossible task of ordering the chart – and pretending there’s any sensible way to compare Child Of Eden with Total War: Shogun 2.
If you’re wondering why Zelda: Ocarina Of Time 3D isn’t in the top 20 it’s because we traditionally never count remakes, re-releases, and versions of games previously released on another format in our chart. The only exception is if the game was never previously released in the UK, which is why Tactics Ogre still makes it in. (In other words we try to make sure the same game can only ever be in the chart once.)
That leaves Zelda out by a technicality, but to be honest that’s probably for the best given that the chart is already so full of sequels. The top four are all follow-ups (Child Of Eden is a spiritual sequel to Rez) and more than half the rest of the chart are either direct sequels, spin-offs or games heavily influenced by another.
In taking stock of 2011 so far it’s clear that originality is not one of the obvious trends. Quality is though, with more games than ever receiving an above average score and the level of polish on even relatively mediocre titles being extremely high.
But that’s exactly what publishers have been promising for years: less but better games. They haven’t been as vocal about it, but the lack of brand new franchises (we’ve always hated the phrase ‘IP’) is also exactly as expected, with the financial risk now almost too great for most publishers to bear.
It’s a shame because the likes of L.A. Noire and Bulletstorm have not only been very good, but they’ve also been extremely successful. Much of this is due to them relying on the popularity – not of an existing series – but of the developer responsible. Even though L.A. Noire isn’t even by an internal studio the association with the Rockstar Games name was enough to make it a success, while Bulletstorm enjoyed a close association, and beta promotion, with Epic Games’ Gears Of War by.
In the game world of today this is as dangerous as publishers dare to play things, but it’s good to see developers finally earning some well-deserved fame. We certainly dread to think what would’ve happened if both games had been flops.
Probably it would’ve meant that small downloadable and indie games such as BIT.TRIP FLUX, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge, Mighty Milky Way, Surveillant, Stacking, and Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP would’ve been the only original games of note this year. Although even then the first two are part of existing franchises, Surveillant is a clone of The Sentinel, and Superbrothers is a collaboration with an existing group of artists.
If the days of the bedroom programmer had returned, then it seems the curtains have been shut back upon them already.
For most games and franchises now the secret is slow, steady evolution and refinement. Child Of Eden might be a sequel to Rez in all but name but it uses modern technology to its very fullest, and creates an interactive experience of almost overwhelming beauty and immersion.
Meanwhile other sequels such as the new Total War, DiRT and Pokémon strip back several sequels worth of complications and make their respective series far more accessible than they’ve ever been.
These are the sort of trends we expect to see continue throughout the second half of the year, one that given the games industry’s traditionally uneven release schedules will see an even greater number of games competing for their place in the charts.
You can see the current release schedule here, but games we’re particularly looking forwards to include Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Batman: Arkham City, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Super Mario on 3DS and The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
In terms of commercial success the obvious front runners, beyond FIFA 12, are not only all shooters but also all the third entries in their respective series: Gears Of War 3, Battlefield 3, and Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Despite all EA’s trash talking though we find it almost impossible to imagine that Modern Warfare 3 won’t be the winner by a landslide, especially as the quality of the game doesn’t seem to show anything like the sharp decline some feared after the trouble at Infinity Ward.
But what game is the most financially successful doesn’t interest us, only which are the most interesting and enjoyable. We’ll be updating our top 20 every week from now on and hopefully it’ll be changed out of all recognition by the end of the year – and 2011 will have become a classic vintage after all.
GameCentral Top 20 – 2011
1 Child Of Eden (360)
2 Total War: Shogun 2 (PC)
3 Portal 2 (360/PS3/PC)
4 DiRT 3 (360/PS3/PC)
5 L.A. Noire (360/PS3)
6 BIT.TRIP FLUX (Wii)
7 Shantae: Risky’s Revenge (DSi)
8 Pokémon Black/White (DS)
9 Bulletstorm (360/PS3/PC)
10 Marvel Vs. Capcom 3: Fate Of Two Worlds (360/PS3)
11 Mighty Milky Way (DSi)
12 Crysis 2 (360/PS3/PC)
13 Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (PSP)
14 Ōkamiden (DS)
15 LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3)
16 Surveillant (iOS)
17 Stacking (360/PS3)
18 Deathsmiles Deluxe Edition (360/PS3)
19 Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars (3DS)
20 Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (iOS)
And before you start complaining about our terrible taste in games in the comments section make sure your write in and tell us what your favourites of 2011 have been for this weekend’s Hot Topic!
Read more: http://www.metro.co.uk/tech/games/867735-best-games-of-2011-half-year-report-midweek-feature#ixzz1Qg0mH73X