My name is Jared Whittaker, one of the hosts and Audio Chewbacca of the Super-Fly Podcast and PCW! Welcome to Game Changer, a weekly burning missive about all aspects of video gaming with a little bit of opinion thrown in for fun. Proceed with caution and tread lightly, gentle gamers. It’s going to be good time. Like the first time you saw Super Mario 3 good time.
It’s coming up on the end of the year. So, like many other publications and media outlets, it’s time to look back on the vast landscape that was the the year in gaming. A lot happened this year. Big games, new consoles, network outages, new ways for companies to take your money, I transitioned from a console gamer to a PC gamer, big game franchises went belly up and others did better than ever, the year’s most anticipated games totally delivered and more. So here are some of the things that happened this year in gaming…
Big Games Delivered Big Time
2011 was a another year chock full of awesome looking trailers. It’s not like any other year. There’s always a handful of games that have a buzz around them and are pushed to prime spots in the year to move a lot of units. But this year, there were SO many games that lived up to every bit of hype the game generated. Dead Island, Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare 3, Uncharted 3, Gears of War 3, Portal 2, Batman: Arkham City, The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim and more completely met expectations of gamers all over. I can’t remember a time when such a large amount of games rose up past expectation and wowed so many people. The only bad thing about it: There was not way to buy all of the great games coming out without some kind for gaming bailout.
New Systems are Inbound. Get Ready.
One thing that started popping up around the middle of the year was speculation about Microsoft’s next console, (With the terribly projected name the Xbox 720) and everyone started wondering what the new Xbox was going to be about. As of this writing, the Xbox 720 hype is nothing but hypotheticals. Most analysts agreed that the new Xbox will most likely debut in 2013, possiblly being shown at next year’s E3. There was talk of Sony’s next console being currently in development, but no concrete date has been laid out. Sony did release plans for their next handheld game system, the Playstation Vita. Complete with dual touch screens, two analog sticks and a huge boost in processing power, the Vita looks to up the visual content of the handheld market. The Vita drops in Febuary here and in Japan this month. And then there’s the Wii U, where there isn’t really any actual news about Nintendo’s new system to report yet. No doubt about it, the future is around the corner. Get ready to start standing in line outside your local Best Buy to pick up the new latest gaming system.
Sony’s System Goes Down
On April 20th, Sony’s Playstation Network was crashed by the hacker group, Anonymous, and was offline until May 15th. It was a big deal and caused a lot of people to really take a look at online security. It also made me look harder at
playing games on my totally capable laptop. Sony never really recovered from the outage and the stigma that came with it afterwards. It’s sucked not being able to play online, but hey, Anonymous had my back. I also managed to beat Modern Warfare 2′s campaign mode in a swift 3.5 hours during the outage. Pretty good, I’d say. All in all, the PSN outage ended up being another bump in the road for the troubled console.
Old Games Become New Again
This year marked the return of a lot of old games getting a new lease on life and new exposure to a brand new audience. Some of the highlights are The Metal Gear Solid Collection, Playstation Plus’ exclusive Neo-Geo collection on the PSN, The Sly Copper HD Collection, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Eco and Shadow of the Colossus HD, Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection on PSP, Pac Man Championship Edition DX and Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike to name a few. In most instances, the packages were very affordable for the amount of product you were getting. Companies saw it as a good way to get an old property out in front of new people and a way to make some money on nostalgia. And thank god they did because Rush’n Attack: Ex-Patriot was awesome. Look for this trend to continue in the future, so get ready to see your favorite old games to show up again soon.
Everyone Has Motion Controls
While the Wii introduced us all to motion control in video games, (Sony’s Sixaxis not withstanding) it was 2011 where in became a standard. Microsoft released the Kinect hands free motion controller and Sony rolled out their Playstation Move controllers. While misers like me automatically groaned at both of these and the subsequent ad roll out for both controllers, preferring to continue to use the tried and true, stone age means of controlling games, it was offically clear that motion control as whole had risen above the “fad” tagline and turned into and industry standard.
That’s some of the bigger things that happened this year. What was the biggest thing in gaming for you? Let us know.
Jared Whittaker plays a lot of games. Not as much as he’d like, but as much as time and money will allow. If you want to play some games with Jared, you can find him on Playstation 3; PSN tag: JFX. He is also on Steam and Battle.net as JFX316 and while he doesn’t have an Xbox 360, he has the coolest Gamertag in the world: Obiwan Jaborni. Feel free to add him as a friend or email him at JWhittaker@PanelsonPages.com. and on Twitter as JFX316