Community Review: 2011

Community Review: 2011

Every Monday we have a community review, but when there are little-to-no games being released, finding new things to review can be pretty difficult! So this week, instead of reviewing a new game, I thought maybe we’d take a step back and look at the year that was. How will we remember 2011? What games will we remember as classics? Which games will date badly?

For me, 2011 was the year of the sequel. Almost every year could be called the year of the sequel but, compared to 2010, last year really suffered from a dearth of new IP. Almost every big release felt like another entry into some sort of franchise.

The good news, however, was the fact that all the franchises were good ones, and the games themselves were pretty decent as well.

We also had the rise, fall, and then the re-rise of the 3DS. The 3DS suffered massively after a semi-decent launch, only to end 2011 on a high with Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario 3D Land.

In many ways it was one of the most memorable years for gaming in recent memory.

How will you guys remember 2011?


  • I’d call it the year of the downloadable title- from the ongoing Minecraft craze, to titles like terraria and even d’loadable add-ons like Infamous, it was a stellar year for titles falling off the internet

    • When was your kid born? My son was born in 2011, I think that might have put everything else into perspective for me 🙂

      • She was born in early 2010. Holy mother of Christ that was nearly two years ago!

        The expectation/disappointment dynamic I refer to is this: 2011 was the year I got back into uni for a PhD program, and then had to drop out. It was the year I got published, but my book’s sales wouldn’t even net me a cup of coffee in royalties. It was the year I got a pay rise that was far outstripped by cost of living increases. And so on.

        Not complaining, just that I had high expectations for each of these things and events fell somewhat short 🙂

          • Don’t get me wrong, Someguy, I do love the process of writing. But ideally, I’d like to be able to make enough money from it to take some time off work to do more writing. At the moment, I get two hours a night between 10:30 and 12:30, which has basically cut my sleep down to 5 hours per night.

            Need moar sleep, need moar writing, and royalties are the only way that this will happen 🙂

          • I read your book and enjoyed it, so I’ll be buying volume 2 (I saw your post about waiting for Book Depository)! I’ll also write up some feedback for you soon. So there’s a dollar or two to feed the family.

          • Man, sorry, what I said came off a bit wrong: I was just commenting on how little authors get paid is all

          • This thread is why Kotaku AU is awesome – where else do you read a thread that involves reasonable people discussing real things? Shane, BatGuy and SomeGuy, you have restored my faith in the internets.

            Also, Macs rule! flame!

  • I made a list of games I played/replayed this year. Weirded me out a little:

    Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, Heavy Rain, inFamous 2, Portal, Portal 2, Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, L.A. Noire, Grey Matter, Dead Space: Extraction, Dead Space 2, Dragon Age 2, Prince of Persia, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, Mafia 2, Condemned: Criminal Origins, Assassin’s Creed, Assassin’s Creed 2, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, Costume Quest, Stacking, Trenched, Renegade Ops, From Dust, Bastion, The Saboteur, Splinter Cell: Conviction, Broken Sword: Shadow of the Demplars DC and Puzzle Agent 2.

    Now I know why I have no life. 😉

    It was a damn good year for games, though. For all the criticism L.A. Noire gets, I can’t wait to see more of it. A year with a triumphant return of Deus Ex can’t be a bad year either.

    • Yeah, I went back to LA Noire a couple of weeks ago to grab the gold film reels and was blown away again by the detail of that city. It was insane how faithfully recreated it was, yet how much of it never enters into the regular gameplay. I was following the Rockstar Social map and regularly ending up in places that I didn’t see once during my regular playthrough!

      Even if they don’t make a sequel, that city is a tremendous asset. They really should pimp it out to any developer they can. e.g. imagine a 1950s “Aliens attack” game set in the same city. Awesome!

      • I know what you mean, man. With open world games I like to let the story take me to places first before I explore so I don’t stumble upon major set pieces too early. It’s amazing how many fully fleshed out, detailed places exist that I must’ve driven past a hundred or so times. I’d like to see the adventure game elements of L.A. Noire in other games too. (Sure there were flaws, but just looking at the potential of it is mind blowing. Picture a Arkham City game where Batman interrogates people.)

  • 2011 was when I discovered the joy of spectating SC2, of Shameless Gaming and of a handful of games that were just straight up fun.

    Portal 2, Space Marine, Arkham City, Bastion and Gears of War 3 all managed to tickle my fancy. Alice: Madness Returns managed to take up more of my time than it should have (i kept going back to random levels to muck about for some reason)

  • 2011… The first time I chose not to buy a gen 1 Nintendo console in a long time.
    Also, the year of the rise of OzGameShop (I know it’s been around longer, but it was the first year they got some serious business from me).

  • 2011 for me was the year of the Indie games, so many awesome titles.

    I’m nearly at 200 hours played in Terraria (195 hrs) and still playing/creating.
    Nearly 120 hours in Dungeon Defenders and still playing.
    XXX hours played in Minecraft… waiting on 1.1 version of bukkit.

    The most time spend in a ‘AAA’ game was probably OOT at about 25-30 hours.

  • 2011 will be the year if the disappointing sequel.

    Assassin’s Creed Revelations has not held my attention, and while I am looking forward to another one coming in a year or so I hope there’s some substantial differences because that series needs rejuvenating if they’re going to drag it out any longer.

    Saints Row the Third, while great, just isn’t really up there with what I was hoping for after the precedent set by Saints Row 2. Granted, they made a bigger and better sandbox, but the story was a bit lacklustre and our old favourite Saints (Gat and Shaundi) just didn’t get the attention they deserved – instead it seems like Pierce (the buttmonkey of SR2) has pretty much taken over as 2IC of the Saints and apart from Oleg I didn’t find the new Saints that interesting. I also mainly like Oleg because he can tackle a truck off the road and throw enemies over the horizon.

    Modern Warfare 3 was my biggest letdown. It was ok but… I’ve completely abandoned the multiplayer, and the story doesn’t have the replayability of the others. It had a very satisfying ending, but I feel like now I’m done with Modern Warfare, and the Call of Duty franchise as a whole. I won’t be buying any further titles in the COD series.

    Dead Space 2 was superior to Dead Space 1 in a mechanical shooty action game way, but didn’t carry the same creeping dread of DS1.

    Gears 3 was good but this is another franchsie I’m kind of glad is done – even if we see more games in the Gears world, I don’t think we need more Marcus Fenix.

    Likewise, F3AR was superior to FEAR2 mechanically, but the story was a bit blah and it wasn’t nearly and mind-bendy as FEAR2 (especially that WTF FEAR2 ending, I’ll never forget that).

    On the upside, we did have a couple of interesting titles from new/revived IPs.

    Deus Ex was excellent and while we hate DEM BAWS FIGHTS the rest of the game was great. While parts of it felt a bit sterile and artifical they still presented a believable not-to-distant future world that I found incredibly immersive. I’ve never played Deus Ex 1 (and I don’t plan to) so I’m glad this fallowed franchise has been revived/rebooted with such a solid first entry.

    Bulletstorm was a good fun ride and set me up nicely mentally for Shadows of the Damned – those two titles are so steretypically videogame-y and the games so ridiculous at their core that I can’t help but love them. They were good, solid, fun games with no pretensions to anything more than that. Bulletstorm was a series of blatant dick jokes, and Shadows of the Damned was a series of thinly veiled dick jokes. The main characters of both were complete dumbasses who blundered their way through every scene, and I loved them for it – especially Garcia Hotspur (of SotD) who gives you the impression that he loves fighting demons so much that he doesn’t so much love his girlfriend IN SPITE of her being a hellmagnet, he loves her BECAUSE of it. I want to be Garcia Hotspur when I grow up.

    What else did I play… Crysis 2? Pretty unremarkable, didn’t hold my interest, so plop it on the pile of disappointing sequels (though I didn’t play Crysis 1, so I personally don’t have a benchmark).

    Overall, 2011 was a good year, but I think we all had our expectations set too high.

    2012 is a good year for us all to get a fresh start.

    • Totally agreed on Revelations and Dead Space 2. I also add Arkham City, Uncharted 3, Skyward Sword to that list – all sequels I was massively keen for, that were obviously technically brilliant, but left me feeling flat. Some of the new properties like LA Noire or the indies like Minecraft, Bastion and Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet felt different and interesting, but still didn’t hit the spot like previous years.

      In fact, Portal 2 is the only thing I can think of that I played where I finished it and thought “yes, that was everything that I wanted”.

      So a year of slight disappointment for me. I too hope that 2012 is a step up!

  • For me, 2011 will be remembered as the rise of indy IP. Minecraft saw official release along with terraria, Bastion, Kawata Shoujo, Trine 2, Atom Zombie Smasher and Frozen Synapse.
    The flood of sequels, I think, was partly poor timing, partly the harvesting of existing IPs. In that light, I’m glad HL3 didn’t come out, as it might have ended up just another sequel.
    However, there were some great sequels among the generally reasonable games, including Portal 2 and Witcher 2.

  • Overall the year of disappointment with sequel after sequel.

    Good games but nothing that stands out like a Half Life 2 or Deus Ex (Original) as something that you look back to and benchmark future releases against.

    BF3, Arkham City, AC: Revelations etc were all good games but have already been deleted from my hard drive only a few months after their release (PC). Only two thatreally stand out for me were Witcher 2 and Deus Ex: HR. Great leaps forward in this media’s narrative ability.

  • Without derailing the topic, 2011 was the year Bioware broke my heart.

    I kind of knew EA would ruin it, but it really kicked in this year for me. DA2 was awful, ME3 was delayed to 2012 and then subject to a steady stream of decisions that convinced me I don’t want to play it, and they finally moved into the realm of the MMO, where I can’t follow (I’m being melodramatic, I just have no interest in multiplayer in any format).

    This is like what happened to Square-Enix after I played FFXII and realised the SquareSoft I love in the nineties was dead.


  • 2011 was a year of surprises for me. Things that shouldn’t have worked turned up pretty well.

    This view is largely as a result of Driver San Francisco. When someone describes the game it is easy to roll your eyes and be skeptical. A classic franchise on the original Playstation, mismanaged with poor games on the PS2(I enjoyed Parallel lines though) is now returning with an odd mechanic and coma based story-line. YAWN.

    But the guys at Reflections pulled it off.It’s actually surprising that it is the same team responsible for Driv3r and Parallel lines. The Shift mechanic adds a lot of fun and strategy to the driving genre. Shifting between two racing cars is exhilarating as you try and control both cars. Shifting into oncoming traffic and causing a traffic wreck is always fun. My only gripe with the mechanic was I didn’t get a chance to explore the world as it was faster to shift out and just choose your next mission instead of driving to the mission marker.

    The story-line is also engaging and pretty funny. I loved how you watch the protagonist Tanner freaks out as he comes to grips with his new abilities and the disbelief of his partner. I also liked the characterisation of secondary characters in the world. For example when you engage certain side missions you meet up with two students racing to raise money for uni. Their exchanges are funny and it’s great meeting up with them as you go along the story. When you shift into a random car you also hear one or two sentences about the driver and passenger and this really helps fill out the world.

    The game looks and runs great at a smooth 60fps. The world is a bit bland in parts but it all moves at a quick pace so you barely notice the world anyway. The integration of classic movie chase scenes into the side missions is great and just helps to build on the games 70s cop TV show vibe.
    Also you should play this game in the first person perspective-seeing Tanners hands move around the steering well is great as he turns corners and performs jumps around the world.

    Bastion. It’s a great game and all but that’s not the surprising part. i was listening to the latest Irrational Podcast with Ken Levine and Guillermo Del Toro and Ken was surprised at how a former games journalist had made a surprisingly good game. This really changed how I viewed the game and it was a great example of a guy from the journalism side of the industry influencing developers


    3DS. I haven’t bought the machine yet but playing in store demos convinced me that glasses free 3D works. It’s unfortunate you have to keep the device within a certain position but the sense of depth is great. Hopefully more developers make great use of this capability.

    Australian game prices. Other than EB Games, most retailers in Australia have had some decent prices for games. Many big releases this year launched at $69-$79 dollars which was great compared to the $99-$119 before. It is still cheaper to buy games online but it was nice to know that if I felt lazy and just wanted the game on its release date I would be paying decent prices. JB, Big W and others also had some nice sales throughout the year which also helped.

    All in all it was an OK year. There were a bunch of sequels but they were high quality ones. I like the idea of new IPs but if you asked me what games I was excited for for 2012 I’d say Far cry 3, Darkness 2 and Prey 2-all sequels. New IPs are most of the time plagued by poor implementation and unpolished mechanics and it’s only until the sequel comes around that the game is improved. As long as new mechanics are introduced in sequels and the story-telling is better I don’t mind them.

    Some issues hampered 2011 for me though. The proliferation of online passes, PSN going down, pre-orer incentives etc. All these issues made me fearful of the digital downloads future we may be heading to. Aussie PSN prices are still concerning as well. Why am I paying $5 more or even double in some cases?

    • Mass Effect 3? Check. BioShock: Infinite? Check. SSX? Check. Hitman: Absolution? Check. The Last of Us? Check. Tomb Raider? Check. Syndicate? Check. XCOM? Check. Grand Theft Auto 5? Possible check. Assassin’s Creed 3? Check. Aliens: Colonial Marines? Check. Rainbow Six: Patriots? Check. South Park? Check. Kingdoms of Amular? Check.

      Your story checks out, 2012 is looking good. (Sequel-y, but good.)

  • I’m hoping 2011 was the year when gamers self-entitled spoiled whinging reached its peak. So many boss games released in 2011, too many to play, too many ways to play them, yet so much complaining.

    • Nope, not gonna happen. Many of us like a good whinge – me included. 2010 blew me away, but I honestly felt a sense of gaming malaise in 2011.

      If you invest as much time and money in a pass-time as some gamers do, the problems are going to be magnified. So you’re going to keep getting “spoiled whinging” unless the industry crashes some time soon.

      • One of my pet peeves about gaming, is when people write off a developer they’ve been loyal to for ten years because of one mistep. It goes from constant, gushing fanboy praise to the exact opposite like there’s no middle ground.

  • 2011: Dark Souls, Demon’s Souls, Starcraft II and Street Fighter IV. It was like gaming Nirvana.

    2012 is shaping up to be good with the above plus Diablo III 😉

  • 2011: The the year of the disposable sequels. I played Gears 3, Arkham City, MW3, Uncharted 3, etc last year & instantly forgot about them when finished. There wasnt really anything memorable about them, how these games are getting review scores like they are baffles me. Too many fanboy reviewers out there methinks.
    A few games did stand out for me though, Driver: San Fransisco, Shadows Of The Damned, & Rayman Origins. These titles were a shitload of fun, werent reliant on sticking sum fancy set piece up your ass every 5 minutes to make up for their lack of fun. They are just great games, that are aware they’re games(not movies) & are all the more better for it. More of this please…

    • The thing is, they are technically good games. Just forgettable in that they don’t introduce anything new to the medium. As such, its not surprising they’d get pretty good reviews – they don’t take enough risks to really fail.

  • For me 2011 was a year where I branched out my gaming, tried some new things and got a lot of things back because of it.

    I hadn’t really been a JRPG fan, but Xenoblade blew me away.

    I’d never really paid much attention to the Indie scene, but this year I found Limbo, Terraria and Cave Story.

    I also decided to get a few games that I had missed in previous years eg Psychonauts.

    And of course – SKYRIM!

    So all in all, A very good year.

  • All I know is that 2011 wasn’t the year that space-combat made a return to blockbuster status, so I don’t give a damn.

    And no one mention X:Rebirth, I said space combat not space engage-time-compression-and-wait-10-minutes-to-pass-through-jump-gate-then-engage-time-compression-again.

  • I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we look back at 2011 as the year of the indie games. It was the year the minecraft continued to grow and was officially released. Bastion grabbed everybody’s attention and others have grown from this.
    But the big part of it has been the introduction of the Indie Bundle. When $2 million is spent on a single bundle it is a very impressive feat.

    And really what else will there be to remember, most of the sequels will have follow up sequels so while we think of it now in a few years are we really going to remember the year that COD:x was released compared to all the years before and after when COD:x was released.

  • 2011 GOOD









  • 2011 was alright. Dark souls and Skyrim were both big games for me. But alas I was disappointed with Dragon Age 2 and Dues Ex HR. I spent most of the year getting back into table top wargaming and getting ready for my wedding.

  • 2011 was alright. Dark souls and Skyrim were both big games for me. But alas I was disappointed with Dragon Age 2 and Dues Ex HR. I spent most of the year getting back into table top wargaming and getting ready for my wedding.

  • 2011 was, as mentioned prolifically above, the year of the sequel. Or perhaps more accurately. the “trequel(?).
    My main platform is the PS3 and although I played all of my favourite franchise’s third games – Uncharted, Resistance, and Killzone – they all were enjoyable, but I haven’t played through them yet.
    2011 was the year where I pretty much wrote of motion controls, or, at least, what developers have done with them. Kinect I always knew wasn’t for me, and Move didn’t really do anything special either. It’s use in Killzone 3 made a massive difference to how the game plays, and absolutely improved it, but Resistance 3’s integration was dismal, and this comes down to the gameplay of both games.
    I didn’t play as much as I usually do last year, but Arkham City was my GOTY by far, and so 2011 was, for me, the year it came out, and not much more.
    I was a little disappointed by the overall blandness of 2011 – a couple of classics, but plenty of repetition in terms of characters, stories, design, and gameplay.
    Excluding Portal 2, of course, and a number of indie PC games I didn’t get around to but heard were stellar.

  • The best game (apart from Skyrim) that I played this year was dead island. The character models were crap, the story bland and the accents were the worst I’ve ever heard but it was FUN!!!

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