2011 was one heck of a year for gaming. Once again, the Call of Duty franchise set records for the largest entertainment launch in history. A game that was only in Beta was able to sell millions of copies and spawn an ungodly large community to the point they had a convention before the game was officially released. There were tons of critical darlings encouraging developers to rethink how they create games.
Take a look this week at the awards The Flickcast (along with The Bitcast team) are proud to present for gaming in 2011
Think Outside the Box Game: Portal 2
While many may argue that Minecraft may be the most deserving of this award, they need to remember one thing. In Minecraft, there are no rules. The expanses of the box are too extreme to find the outer boundaries of. Within Portal 2, players are asked to explore new viewpoints of physics, matter and… well, portals. The puzzles in Portal 2 completely overtake the complexity and creativity of the original, which in itself was groundbreaking. With additional toys at their disposal and the introduction of a cooperative mode, the team at Valve came up with a game that redefined both the puzzle solving and FPS genres all at once.
Most Punishing Old School Game: Dark Souls
Thought Demon Souls didn’t kick your butt in 2010? No. No one thought that. Demon Souls was HARD. It wasn’t frustrating because of poor controls or cheap tactics. It was just a real challenge instead of the standard hand holding most games have players used to. So in Dark Souls, the spiritual successor to Demon Souls, they decided to make things even more challenging. There’s a reason Dark Souls players wear the fact that they play this game as a badge of hardcore honor. It does take a special kind of player to not only complete but enjoy the game’s old school mechanics and to those players we salute you for making a game like this a success.
Company Looking to Make the Most of Its Games: Capcom
Don’t get us wrong, we aren’t knocking Capcom by any means but damn if these people aren’t good at taking a game, adding a director’s cut worth of extra content and getting people to buy it again. 2011 saw two notable non-rereleases with Dead Rising 2: Off the Record and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. While Off the Record was an alternate take on 2010’s Dead Rising 2 with a divergent timeline where the original Dead Rising’s Frank West made his way to Fortune City, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 went back to the old school Street Fighter II “expansion” formula. With Marvel vs. Capcom 3 coming out earlier in the same year, Ultimate added 12 new characters, new stages and a boss mode. Hardcore fans of the Capcom / Street Fighter formula went back drooling at the prospect of new characters and balance to continue their tournament careers. Also, to Capcom’s credit, they only charged $40 for these titles instead of full retail prices though it is disappointing they didn’t release them as $30 or even $40 DLC to add on to the original disc games.
Best Opportunity for Innovation: Minecraft
Early in 2011, Little Big Planet 2 taught players about building games. But it was the little Beta that could called Minecraft that would teach players about building worlds. Give a kid blocks and he will build. Give those blocks a living world to be built in where multiple players can explore it together and you have a sensation on your hands. The utter simplicity of Minecraft combined with its world that lacked rules and constraints quickly led to a huge community for the Indie title, selling millions of copies as well as creating thousands upon thousands of hours of online video for builders to show off their creations ranging from Godzilla-sized Pokemon statues, accurate recreations of the U.S.S. Enterprise and real life buildings like the Eiffel Tower. This game is one of the must download titles for anyone with a PC and a sense of creativity, exploration and adventure.
Game Hindered the Most By Motion Controls: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
The Legend of Zelda has never been about gimmicks. It has been about the compelling story, epic feel and quality control schemes. Why didn’t anyone buy Link’s Crossbow Training? Because it was a gimmick and that’s not what Zelda fans wanted, even from a spinoff title. This was put to the test this holiday season as The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword came out with WiiMotion Plus focused controls. Players were required to swipe the WiiMote in specific ways to accomplish attacks and solve puzzles. In a game that is going to last as long as a Zelda title, the last thing the gaming public at large wants is motion controls. Whether or not the motion controls are good, the game should have included a classic control scheme.
Come back tomorrow for more of our Best of 2011 Video Game Awards!