2011 - Wishes Unfulfilled
It’s that time of year where we all start casting a critical eye over the last twelve months – I’ll be posting my best and worst of 2011 sometime next week – as well as looking forward to what's in store for 2012. Whilst looking for some inspiration for my end of year extravaganza, I had a gander at my blogs from this time last year and stumbled upon a post all about my gaming wishes for 2011, which I thought I’d revisit to see how they turned out.
Overall I didn’t fare particularly well, though I can’t really complain about one of the deepest years in recent gaming history, though not necessarily the best (2009 for the win). Anyway, without further ado, here is the outcome of my gaming wishes for 2011.
"The PSP2 builds upon the success and failures of the PSP"
Obviously it’s a bit early to be making judgements, as the VITA has only been available for three days in Japan and is still two months away in the West, but we do already know plenty about what this portable does and doesn’t offer. My concerns about a lack of software have been assuaged by a reassuringly deep launch line-up and the promise of dozens of other games in development across a range of studios. However, Sony clearly has yet to learn its lesson about the pitfalls of premium price points. In the UK, the 3G model will be £150 ($232) more expensive than the nine month old 3DS (you could buy a pair of 3DS for the same cost as the 3G VITA!) and the price of memory cards has already drawn criticism from all corners.
I'm hearing mixed reports from early adopters in Japan. Gamers seem to be in agreement that it is a very smart and well-built device, and I’ve heard mostly positive things regarding the software, in particular launch day staple Ridge Racer and of course Uncharted. However, there are plenty of concerns regarding the OS, as well as the fact that only one PSN account may be linked to the portable. There are also worrying reports of freezes and unresponsive consoles, though hopefully these technical issues will have been ironed out come February.
"The Last Guardian cometh"
You may call me Nostrawires. I predicted back in January that the Last Guardian would slip into 2012, which is where it currently languishes without a firm release date. What I couldn’t predict was the departure of creator Fumito Ueda from Sony, which was confirmed by his employer a week or so ago. Having the game's creator working freelance probably won't help The Last Guardian appear any sooner, and at some point you have to question whether these constant delays can really be attributed simply to a desire to add an extra layer of polish. I think there may be more serious issues at play here, which is a shame as my time with Shadow of the Colossus has me looking forward to LG more than ever.
"Sequels come good and new IP’s keep us on our toes"
2011 was one hell of a year for sequels. From blockbusters like Uncharted 3 and Skyrim, to smaller releases like Yakuza 4 and Tactics Ogre: Let us Cling Together, we have been spoiled rotten by more of the same. While sequels may have impressed, there was a dearth of quality new IPs in 2011 and I was left thoroughly disappointed by my most anticipated new game, LA Noire. Although it had critics raving back in May, it is conspicuous in its absence from many a GOTY list. I said it at the time, but I think reviewers got a bit carried away with the facial animation and mature storyline and failed to initially recognize that at its core it just isn’t a very good game. The only new IP I played this year that managed to stand out was Shadows of the Damned; a flawed and derivative game that still found ways to be thoroughly entertaining and differentiate itself from the crowd. Here's hoping that 2012 will offer more of a balance between the established and the new.
"Final Fantasy XIV gets straightened out before hitting consoles"
This wish would struggle to be any more unfulfilled than it has been. Final Fantasy XIV on the PC was such a spectacular failure that, fifteen months after launch, Square-Enix are only just feeling confident enough to start charging players, following a complete restructuring of the development team and a year of free-to-play adventures. When a publisher admits that customers shouldn't be expected to pay for their product, you know it must really be broken. SE quickly took the console release off the table, offering a vague ETA of 2013; a delay of at least two years that has helped make XIV the most infamous Final Fantasy of all.
"Nintendo learn from the Virtual Boy and give 3D to the masses"
Though the 3DS is now starting to gain momentum, it has been a rather humbling year for Nintendo. In a near unprecedented move, Nintendo slashed the RRP for the 3DS a matter of months after release, in the face of disappointing sales and delays for a number of core, Nintendo games. It would appear that Nintendo grossly overestimated the public's interest in 3D gaming, and we are starting to see that games like Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario 3D Land are what the consumer really wants, regardless of whether they are in two or three dimensions. I think the future is bright for the 3DS, and we will come to look back at 2011 as merely a wasted year for what looks set to be the biggest selling portable for the foreseeable future. Still, Nintendo really bungled their opening gambit.
"Some repackaged love for the Sega Saturn"
No luck here I'm afraid, though SEGA did manage to churn out a couple of vanilla Dreamcast games without much care paid to presentation or history. To compound my Saturn woes, I learnt last week that one of my most sought after HD re-releases, Panzer Dragoon Saga, will almost certainly never find its way to current gen consoles, thanks to a travesty of office mismanagement that resulted in the entirety of the original code being lost! Oh well, best not throw out your Saturn just yet.
"Something from Kojima-san"
I was confident that we would be getting something huge from Hideo Kojima in 2011, something he had alluded to in past interviews. However, he spoke earlier in the year about the pain of letting go of a project on which he had been hard at work, though there is no indication of what exactly that project was. Was he referring to the final death throes of Metal Gear Solid Rising before it was handed over to Platinum Games, or could it have been that Snatcher or Policenauts remake I'd been hoping for? Either way, we didn't get much of anything from one of the industry's most respected and widely recognized figures, and that is never a good thing. Hopefully 2012 will be different and we will finally get the inevitable announcement that Metal Gear Solid 5 is on its way.