Look Back At A Blaverage 2011

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. You get fat, you get some games, you get time off of work. That’s the fucking trifecta right there. It’s also a time for reflecting. Have you progressed as a human in 2011? Kept to your resolutions? Had any life-affirming experiences? Well, fuck that. What is this? A Pepsi Max commercial. The gamerscore’s gone up a few milestones and that’ll do for me. If I wanted to live life ‘on the edge’ I’d become some sort of snowboarding prick and live on a hippy commune. Sounds a bit too much like butt-fucking to me. I’ll stick with the games while my thumbs still work.

Speaking of games, it’s been, in the words of barking mad songstress Tori Amos, a pretty good year. We’ve had all the usual triple A titles, a smattering of juicy lemons, hidden gems and rejuvenated old favourites along side the usual torrent of half-baked dogshit that passes as entertainment for the chavvy gamers that you try not to make contact with in GameStation. Personally, I thought 2009 and 2010 were the nadir of gaming. No good ideas, no good games. At best everything was just average and at worst it was insultingly awful but 2011 promised a lot. Especially as all the good shit that Microsoft announced at E3 2009 (before they nosedived into Kinect hell) was finally going to come to fruition.


January started with a hangover and brought us yet another pretender to Warcraft’s MMO throne, DC Universe Online – a PC and PS3 quest-’em-up set in the DC Comics universe (the same universe that Batman and Superman live in). As most MMOs find out, Warcraft isn’t going to be moved from the top and this soon moved into free-to-play obscurity.

Mindjack: a hugely-maligned shooter with a decent possess-’em-up mechanic, which got obliterated in the media by idiots and limped weakly into the five quid bargain basement. Patient gamers looking for an interesting take on the third-person cover shooter genre should check it out. It’s flawed but enjoyable, especially online.

Dead Space 2, the sequel to EA’s awful space janitor simulator, also hit the shelves in January and wisely ditched the chores and the endless backtracking. It scored well amongst critics and fans of the series. Personally I’d rather drink from a kangaroo’s cock than play that bullshit, but it’s probably worth the sub-£10 asking price these days.

January’s final interesting release (not counting Little Big Planet 2 which I have literally no opinion on) was a biggie here at GLHQ. Reality Pump’s technically-awful-but-actually-brilliant RPG, Two Worlds, is probably the greatest lemon in modern gaming. A game as broken as it was ambitious, it was one of the best (and worst) Oblivion-style RPGs and drew a hardcore following amongst gamers of a certain disposition. The off-again/on-again sequel eventually landed in January but a last twist in the tale meant you could only buy the fucking thing from Amazon. This meant that it never dropped in price and the lemony reputation combined with the high-asking price meant that most of us never gave it a go. But it was nice to know it finally got released all the same. Want to know if it’s good? Ask Mark.


As is traditional, plenty of publishers avoided getting swamped in the Christmas sales by releasing fucking everything in February. Great. The first biggie was the sequel to the open-world driving game Test Drive Unlimited. A nice idea in theory, Test Drive Unlimited 2 was released hopelessly broken out of the box and is still in the same state now. We weren’t fans, it has to be said.

Capcom released yet another unwanted scrapper with Marvel Vs Capcom 3, a game notable for having arguably the shittest boss in gaming this side of Seth from Street Fighter IV while the Sony Defense Force sharpened their pickaxes in readiness of any unsuspecting sites who gave Killzone 3 anything less than ten out of ten. Meanwhile, De Blob 2, a cute puzzle platformer, was released to universal apathy, as was the latest Xbox hack and slasher, Knight’s Contract. The pointy clicky gods were kind to Lorna though, giving her another obscure clicker to review in the shape of Gray Matter.


Beware the ides of March! I disagree. I say beware the first of March as EA chose that date to release the latest in their long line of pugilistic pummelers, Fight Night Champion. Alas, the series is starting to show its age and doesn’t help itself by insisting to you play with the assorted cocksuckers that make up the game’s fanbase. One to avoid I’d say. Joey disagrees though. We’ll be fighting that one out. TO THE DEATH!

You know that story that’s been done a million times before? Well, Homefront did that again in March. The oft-told tale of aliens invading and enslaving or killing everyone in their path led to an incredibly short, unfinished mess of a shooter that looked like it’d been coded in 2005. By idiots. Crysis 2, the console-neutered sequel to the graphics card melting PC original also told a similar story, albeit without aliens. Or maybe it did have aliens. I stopped caring after the first ten, awful minutes. Dragon Age 2 didn’t fare much better either, offering a cut-and-paste mission structure and enough DLC to make Bobby Kotick feel uneasy. Bad times indeed. Lego games, Need For Speed: Shift 2 and another Top Spin game made this a month to commit suicide to.


Quarter Two! An old favourite, Mortal Kombat, got its seventh sequel. Eschewing the 3D nonsense of the previous four games, the game went with the 3D graphics on a 2D plane approach of Street Fighter 4 and promised a return to the gameplay of the excellent Mortal Kombat 2. It didn’t work out. In the end it was still a very average beat ‘em up with more in common with the bad Mortal Kombat games than the good ones.

Sequel fans were pleased, however, with Portal 2, the follow up to the mind-melting PC puzzler. GL liked it a whole lot, anyway. The fan-pleasing humour and music of the original was still intact and it had decent co-op. What more can you ask? The rest of April however was all shitty PSP and Xbox Live/PSN nonsense, so moving swiftly on…


Rockstar’s big entry of 2011 came in the shape of LA Noire, a detective story with some open-world elements. We’re all for anything that lets us live out our Maddie Hayes and David Addison fantasies and LA Noire didn’t disappoint. Warning: it’s a Mark review so don’t make any plans for the next hour.

Original IPs were few and far between. Iain had some fun with the doomed-to-discount shooter Brink, and fans of retro-styled strategic shooting were treated to excellently Rebelstar-esque Frozen Synapse, but mainly it was a month of sequels with Virtua Tennis, Lego Whatever, MX Vs ATV and Fable all getting the sequel treatment. Out of that lot, Virtua Tennis 4 was pretty good but as predictable as an Andy Murray defeat.


Summertime and the living is easy; not for us gamers though as there were tons of things to play. Green Lantern was up first. It was all too predictable; about as average as the film I’d say. Then there was Red River, the follow-up to Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising – a game I’ve owned since launch but have never played. Red Faction: Armageddon was a deliciously short and linear, destructive shooter and well worth the five quid it’ll cost you to pick up these days. Avoid the DLC however, as it’s a load of bollocks.

One of the most eagerly awaited titles of 2011 was Child of Eden, the spiritual-successor to the incredibly wonderful trance-shooter Rez.  The initial disappointment of hearing it was a Kinect game gave way to joy with the news that you could use a joypad; I was really looking forward to it. Unfortunately, rather than being Rez part two, it was really just Rez: X-Factor Edition. Shame.

Less eagerly awaited was the obviously-going-to-be-shit Duke Nukem Forever which, unsurprisingly, was a dog’s dinner of a game and did nothing to repair 2K Games’ reputation, which was in tatters in the eyes of many after the Borderlands DLC debacle.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon was the month’s obligatory film tie-in. It wasn’t very good and somehow managed to barely reference the story of the film. It was mercifully short though and an easy 1000 gamerscore and that’s all that counts. Dungeon Siege 3 and F3AR were the token disappointing sequels of the month.


After Lorna’s excellent E3 interview with Vicious Cycle, the dev team entrusted with… nay… honoured with the task of making the next Earth Defence Force title, hopes were high for Insect Armageddon. After all, EDF is a true gamer’s game. A delicious, hi-octane lemon that was ignored by the Modern Borefare cocksuckers but picked up by discerning gamers. A few slipped release dates came and went and then the game was here. EDF but with online co-op… surely the best thing ever?  Nope, it was utter dog-shit and just the thought of it makes me want to weep tears of piss. A butchered, unfinished EDF experience that was full of so many compromises, you wondered when the big pay off was going to come. Unfortunately it never did. Indeed, the game barely has an ending. It did, however, lead to me, and another GamingLives forumer, slogging through two hundred hours of horrific grinding to get all the gamerscore. So fuck us, basically.

Fortunately, Captain America was a much more enjoyable game to play through, even if it was entirely average in every respect and if you ask some of the GL folk about Bastion they’re likely to wank themselves to death, so it wasn’t all bad for us in July.


Coming out of the supposed summer drought, the first (and only) big game in August was the sequel to Deus Ex. Mostly positive reviews suggest that it’s a step up from Invisible War but not as good as the universally-loved original. Tropico 4 (a slow-paced dictator sim) padded out the schedule along with two flavours of stupid sports sims, namely Rugby World Cup 2011 and NFL Madden 12. Bodycount, a mediocre shooter that never really took off online, completed the full retail releases.

Fans of digitally distributed games got to enjoy such highly rated games as Limbo (the Windows release of last year’s highly-rated-but-not-as-good-or-clever-as-Braid platform puzzler), Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, From Dust and Gatling Gears. Although looking back, none of them are actually that much fun to play. Ho hum!


One of my early contenders for Game of the Year was the improbably excellent Dead Island. For reasons unknown, this game – an open world trundler with all the zombies you can eat – was mauled by several reviews, including the fuckwitted Edge Magazine, but despite itself it was actually completely wonderful.  And I fucking hate sandbox games and zombies, so go figure! The GL review was less than glowing about it than I was, but secretly the reviewer probably has the Dead Island logo tattooed on his scrotum, so don’t believe a word of it!

September’s blast from the past came with the how-is-it-still-going Driver: San Francisco. Don’t ask me what it’s about though as that series died with Driv3r and I ain’t ever going back, y’hear? Meanwhile, fans of Gears of War were well catered for by an orcish version of it in Warhammer 40k Space Marine, as well as the real thing with Gears of War 3 which, according to my friends list on Xbox Live, must come with a disc that self-destructs after two day’s play.

FIFA yet again outclassed the opposition without rising above first gear, providing the best FIFA for the last two or three years, whilst an old favourite (and possible contender for the title of best game ever) resurfaced with Resident Evil 4 HD.  It was a lazy port that couldn’t quite take the shine off of such a great game. Fans of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus were equally well-catered for with HD ports of those games on the PS3.


With Christmas fast approaching, all the games publishers went a bit mad and started spewing out whatever half-finished bits of code they had left on their hard drives. The savage-but-brilliant Dark Souls disheartened anyone brave enough to try it, Rage saw iD Software doing what they’ve always done i.e. trying to top Doom and failing; Forza 4 came along and was snaffled up by all the Top Gear fans; Dead Rising 2: Off The Record tried and failed to inject life into the massively disappointing Dead Rising 2, and apparently there was a new Ace Combat game.

October, however, was really just about two games. One of these was the sequel to Batman: Arkham Asylum. Namely, the slightly more open-world sequel, Arkham City. Released to near universal-praise, this was seen as a worthy sequel even if it did appear to be playing it safe rather than expanding the series.

Shooter fans however were waiting for just one game: Battlefield 3. After a dodgy beta release that, as far as I can see, looked and played like the multiplayer in Kane and Lynch 2, the full game apparently doesn’t disappoint. I wouldn’t know though as I’m not touching it with yours, mate.


As the nights draw in and we all start our pre-Christmas hibernation, the games continue to come thick and fast, starting with an utterly pointless remake of much-loved N64 favourite, Goldeneye. As average as it is, they have re-cast it with Daniel Craig in the lead role, so that’s something I guess. Fans of old games also had the release of Sonic Generations to cheer them up. I’ve never really understood the Sonic games as they just seem to involve running so fast that you can’t react to any of the obstacles in your way; besides I only drive as fast I can see and it’s all in the reflexes.

Jo, the fluffiest of all the Gaming Lives writers, got her mitts on Modern Warfare 3, the latest installment in a series of Ross Kemp wet dreams, whilst Ezio and the less-good Altair got another outing in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. Clearly Stu is one of the few people who actually bothered playing Brotherhood.

Need For Speed: The Run was EA’s latest predictable stab at that particular series. Ric sort of liked it, I guess and Rayman capped a busy month for wee Jo who clearly likes guys with no arms or legs.

Skyrim, the eagerly-awaited follow-up to Oblivion, didn’t get the Gaming Lives review treatment, although Markuz is working on his War and Peace epic review of that. The game’s good, although it’s a bit of a slog at times and a somewhat buggy. That said, it’s as epic a game as you’ll ever play.

My personal game of the year was Saints Row 3, a rip-roaringly fun take on the whole gangster sandbox genre. Imagine all the po-faced realism of the Grand Theft Auto series being replaced with the stupidity of a Die Hard movie and the violence of council estate. And then multiply it by fuckloads. Saints Row 3 is a special game indeed. It also has the best in-game radio station of all time. Return of the Mac! Here it is! Return of the Mac! Oh my gawd! Only God can judge Mark Morrison.


Oddly, most publishers don’t bother with December and that was mostly the case this year. Mario Kart 7 came out for those 3DS owners who have somehow retained the full use of their eyes, while some game based on the all-too-French Tintin also got a full release.

Aside from that, the year ended just as it began with another attempt at dethroning World of Warcraft. This time it was the turn of Star Wars with Star Wars: The Old Republic. However, given that my PC reacts to games much as I react to being kicked squarely in the bollocks, I’ll be avoiding that for the foreseeable.

So there you have it 2011 in a rather large nutshell. 2012 promises more of the same, with inevitable sequels to FIFA, Battlefield, Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed as well as a bunch of Move and Kinect bullshit and a new Wii. The big question is whether or not Aliens: Colonial Marines will be good or if it’ll spew acidic badness all over our faces. I’m guessing the latter. Hopefully the prophecies will come true and the world will end before it happens.

Merry new year, everyone.

Last five articles by Richie



  1. Chris Chris says:

    Another fantastic article by Richie. If I were a millionaire I’d pay you just to write articles for me and me alone! Mwhaha!

  2. Ben Ben says:

    2011 was one of the best out of recent years for games. 2012 will be just as good if not better in my opinion.

  3. Simon says:

    A well written article – just a shame you didn’t mention Xenoblade Chronicles… :)

  4. Lorna Lorna says:

    I also thought that 2011 was a pretty solid year for gaming to be honest. There were some let downs, but there were also some stellar releases, including many from smaller publishers which usually get overlooked. 2012 is also shaping up to be pretty decent, even with the usual cut and paste schedule stuffers of COD, AC, etc. Fingers crossed for less bumpage this year, too.

  5. Richie richie says:

    yeah it was a pretty good year. Definitely the best year for a year or so.

  6. Rook says:

    I found many an enjoyable game this year and pleasantly surprised by some of the sequels. Portal 2 was always going to be a definite buy and I loved it to pieces but two games you mentioned I enjoyed were Dead Space 2; it knew what it did wrong in the first game and fixed the level strcture so it didn’t seem so repetitive.

    And a franchise that I thought was dead to me with a stupid plot mechanic actually turned out to be an enjoyable game and it’s new feature made some degree of sense in the end; I am refering to Driver: San Francisco. I didn’t buy it on relese but after trying it out at a friend’s house, I not only bought the game but bought the collector’s edition with a model of Tanner’s car which sits as the main gaming item atop my tv. (a non HDTV so it’s wide enough to support it)

    I played and maxed another Assassin’s Creed game and also played Rayman Origins which is another franchise that I was suprised to go back to. Enough good games to even out the time spent with EDF which failed in comparison to the previous game. Let’s see what gaming 2012 can bring.

  7. SimonJK says:

    Excellent peice Richie, it covers all my woes this past year, constantly stringing anything decent out on the hope something worth playing comes out untill finally saved by Skyrim and Sts Row 3. I too held out too much hope for my most lusted after 2 Worlds 2 to be destroyed my the end result. 2012 looks like a good Feb and March but after that, my source at http://eu.vgreleases.com/xbox360/ shows absolutely nothing after March! Huh maybe I’ll take up drinking instead?

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