Can 2011's Line-Up Really Eclipse That of 2010's?
Written Sunday, January 02, 2011 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Whether you think 2010 was one of the best years for digital entertainment or not, I'm sure everyone can agree that just looking at the 2011 line-up at face value, there is a good chance that it could equal it or even eclipse it. It would be easy to say then that 2011 could turn out to be the best year yet, but that's boring, predictable and can easily get monotonous. So we won’t... not yet anyway. However, I can’t honestly sit here and say that next year’s line-up doesn’t look incredibly exciting, and as a gamer, one must be happy with the way the year is shaping up, even now. I could sit here and fuel its hype forever, but honestly, it's better to just let the publisher’s line-ups do the talking anyway.
"BioWare and Shepard, looking to save earth in Xmas 2011"
There’s no better way than to kick off a rundown of the year with what we believe is the strongest line-up of 2011 from a publisher: EA’s. Despite EA’s shady past, which still clouds consumer judgement even now, it’s clear that they're a positive force to be reckoned with, and their 2011 stable of games speaks volumes. Not only are EA still pushing new IPs in 2011, helping People Can Fly bring Bulletstorm to market for instance, but their range of sequels is second to none, both internally and through their EA Partners channel. This stable includes Dead Space 2, Dragon Age 2, Crysis 2, Portal 2 and undoubtedly the biggest of them all: Mass Effect 3. That’s only the obvious and big releases as well, and if you take into account the rest of their potential releases, like Fight Night Champion, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, potentially Battlefield 3, SSX: Deadly Descents and Shift 2: Unleashed, FIFA 12, NHL 12, and so on, then EA should have you covered on its own.
Activision’s 2011 line-up isn’t as straight forward and most of it is actually guesswork. We assume we’ll see another Guitar Hero, another DJ Hero and our yearly dose of Call of Duty. What else can we expect though? We know we won’t see Prototype 2 till 2012, but we could very well see Silicon Knights’ X-Men: Destiny and United Front Games’ True Crime: Hong Kong. The funny thing is, that even after flicking through the potentials, we still find ourselves asking the same old questions... which Call of Duty will we see in 2011? Will it be Sledgehammer's or Infinity Ward’s? And will the ongoing lawsuit upset Infinity Ward’s game to the point that they’ll roll out Sledgehammer’s instead? Regardless, it’s a series of questions we’re intrigued to see answered next year.
Speaking of a question we want answered next year, “Dear Square Enix, why the hell haven’t we seen a new Hitman game in the last 4+ years?” We hope they answer it in 2011 with a Hitman 5 announcement or even the game's release. If not, we’ve still got Deus Ex: Human Revolution to tend with, which has been shaping up quite nicely every time we’ve seen it. If that's not for you, Dungeon Siege 3 could be a hidden gem if the gameplay trailer is anything to go by. I wouldn’t expect the Tomb Raider reboot for some time though, and honestly, Gun Loco and Mindjack don’t really strike us as anything too amazing. We’ll see, but I do know one thing for sure though; and that's that it must sting them to see Warner Bros publishing the Arkham Asylum sequel, Arkham City, after they brought the original to market back in 2009. In fact, with the likes of Mortal Kombat, FEAR 3 and Lord of the Rings: War in the North all hitting in 2011, Warner Bros may have one of their best years yet.
"Dragons and Skooma return this coming November."
One of the standout publishers in 2011 though is shaping up to be Bethesda. For starters, they have potentially two of the biggest titles of 2011 in Rage and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, but they’ve also got a few that could go either way as well. Namely Brink, which has been hit and miss recently for me personally, and Hunted: Demon’s Forge, which could fill a void that longs to be filled. Regardless of how Brink and Hunted turnout though, with the success and elation of a new Elder Scrolls coming in 2011, combined with the awe-inspiring id Tech 5 that Rage uses, Bethesda should be keeping more than a few gamers happy throughout the next year.
Speaking of publishers to watch, 2K seems to have a solid stable of games for next year too. What we’ve seen of the XCOM reboot thus far is supremely intriguing, while Yager’s Spec Ops’ dark overtones and picture perfect Dubai could easily be a hit with shooter fans; especially its more serious nature. If serious is not for you, then Gearbox’s Duke Nukem Forever should fill a comedic void, but just don’t go in expecting ten year's worth of video games to smack you in the face, as you’ll no doubt be disappointed. The trademark Duke humour seems to be all present and correct, which is the main thing. If you were looking forward to BioShock Infinite, remember, that’s part of their 2012 line-up.
2K Games’ sister company, Rockstar, may not have too much going on that we're privy to at the moment, but Team Bondi seem to be doing great stuff with the motion capture aspects of L.A. Noire and we're excited to see how that pans out. Other than that though, it’s pretty much a mystery from Rockstar. All seems rosy for Take Two though - 2K and Rockstar Games’ parent company - who once relied so much on GTA, that it was the only way they could make a profit in a financial year. My, how times have changed, and thanks to a handful of strong performances from other franchises, they now seem to have some pretty solid foundations and are less reliant on the beast that is GTA. Still, it wouldn’t hurt them to announce the next Grand Theft Auto, which we all are no doubt anticipating, and our inklings tell us that 2011 may just be the year to see that announcement. Whether we’ll actually see anything of Max Payne 3 though remains one of the year’s biggest mysteries.
"Epic's Gears of War 3 is Microsoft's big hitter this year."
Unfortunately, Microsoft’s plan for 2011 isn’t as clear, with only the two big hitters in Gears of War 3 and Forza 4 really making much noise. They do have their Kinect trio too, which they announced at TGS this year: Project Draco, Suda 51’s Codename D and Haunt. Everything else in their calendar is a mystery, which in no uncertain terms, is rather worrying. Considering the first-party exclusives that Sony are lining up for 2011, Microsoft had better have some pretty big tricks up their sleeves, otherwise, they could see their recent domination take a U-turn in favour of their competitor. They say competition is healthy in any industry... but that’s only if the parties involved react to it.
Ubisoft, like they did last year, are holding their cards relatively close to their chest for 2011. Despite Ghost Recon: Future Soldier and Driver: San Francisco showing their face at E3 last year, when they’ll actually show up remains a little unclear. We can expect Child of Eden, the impressive looking XBLA title From Dust and the much anticipated Beyond Good & Evil HD in 2011, as well as another Assassin’s Creed. What we do want though is Beyond Good & Evil 2 and Rayman Origins released... maybe even a new Far Cry or Rainbow Six announcement. That might be asking a little too much though.
We’re barely scratching the surface here either, and if you factor in Capcom’s Marvel vs. Capcom 3, their Devil May Cry reboot and Steel Battalion: Heavy Armour, as well as THQ’s Homefront and Red Faction: Armageddon, then the list just keeps on growing. But wait! That’s not it, there’s SEGA’s Kinect game, Rise of Nightmares, Namco’s (or Atari if you’re in the US) Test Drive Unlimited 2 and Tecmo KOEI’s Ninja Gaiden 3; all due in 2011; and we might even see Konami’s Metal Gear Solid: Rising too. However, these are just the confirmed 2011 titles and there’s every chance we could see a Saints Row sequel or something to that effect in 2011 as well – mercy me, I may have even missed a few! Conversely, there’s every chance that some of these could slip. Yes, it’s a major pain, but it’s part and parcel of the business these days. As a package though, 2011 is certainly shaping up to be one to watch.
What does 2011 hold for us as a site, you ask? Well, like Ubisoft, we too keep our cards very close to our chest, but you can rest assured that growing the site and adding new features is always our number 1 priority - as is stocking the fridge with beer and streaking naked down the street to celebrate every achievement. We do listen to what you request and read through your feedback on the forums, via email and via Twitter for instance, and who knows what 2011 may hold... maybe Arcade game reviews and/or an X360A mobile application? Who knows? Well, we do, but you’ll have to wait to find out. Stick with us and you’ll do just fine though.