This rounds out the 2011 releases which I played through to completion or, in some cases, more than 50 hours. I wasn’t able to put together a top 10 list – I only played enough of nine new games in 2011 – but this was a good year to be a video game fan. I bought Battlefield 3, Gears of War 3 and Dead Space 2 this year and haven’t had a chance to spend more than an hour or two in any of them. I also need to play Saints Row: The Third, Batman: Arkham City and all the other games everyone is raving about.
I kind of wanted to leave it at that but, other than gymkhana, I dug Dirt 3. I found myself playing the trailblazer races the most. I like the long meandering tracks. The Nordschleife of Nürburgring is probably my favorite race track to drive in games – I’ve never driven the real thing but some day I’d like to – and the trailblazer races have that same kind of feel but on a dirt road.
I don’t mind that gymkhana is in the game but I don’t like that its mashed into the single player part. Every gymkhana event I’ve played I play as little as possible. I want to race and I kind of resent that I have to do even one gymkhana event, it just isn’t fun. If you disagree with me you can go suffocate yourself in a Monster Energy Drink branded pillow. I’m kidding, but gymkhana does suck.
Dirt 3 is at its best when you’re hauling balls down the dirt roads around the long version of the Michigan track. The inside the car view is a must for this game if only for driving through puddles. This game isn’t Forza 4 when it comes to realism but it’s still realistic feeling enough even though sometimes the car does feel like it’s locking into an imaginary grove even with all the assists turned off.
It’s been a while since I played two racing games in the same year. Before this year the newest racing game I have is Forza 2. Before that it was probably a Gran Turismo 2.
I have a few minor quibbles about the game. It pisses me off that if I don’t do as well as I’d like and hit restart after finishing a race I don’t get experience but if I hit continue to return to the menu I get the experience. All that does is makes me waste time in loading screens and menus before reselecting the event and racing again. I probably shouldn’t pick on Dirt 3, I think Forza 4 does the same thing so maybe they can’t figure out a way to do it. Whatever the reason, it’s annoying.
Did I mention the music and menus are terrible? Now that I really think about it, and yes I’m writing this stream of consciousness-style because I really am just thinking about this, the only thing I like about this game is the actual racing. I wish Codemasters would tone down the Mountain Dew-infused extreme sports schtick for this game.
I did the same thing with Portal 2 that I did with the original. I played it once, set it down and have no desire to touch it again. The game is perfectly enjoyable because it is challenging and makes you feel clever. The story is a great follow up to the first and garners a fair share of belly-jigglers along the way. Maybe the reason I don’t want to play the Portal games again is I know I’ll feel stupid when I get to a puzzle I already solved but can’t remember the solution.
Out of all the games I played this year this is the hardest one to write about because I don’t share the same love for it as I probably should. I like it well enough but it’s not the type of game I normally fall in love with. I really enjoyed the co-op but one time was enough for me.
I enjoyed the subterranean sections of the game and thought the Wheatley wackiness was well done. The gels were fun to play with. Who doesn’t like to speed off a ramp, bounce off a wall and fly through a hole? The controls felt like Portal and it’s still fun to endlessly free-fall.
I played through Renegade Ops twice. Once because I was having fun and it seemed like a moderately humorous game I could play with my friends and then a second time when during the very last part of the very last mission of my first play-through the game froze and destroyed the save.
Playing through a second time wasn’t too bad because the game is actually a challenging, well-designed dual joystick shooter with an over the top sense of humor. The first level got a little old and not all of the characters were worth playing but my friend and I powered through.
As I think back about Renegade Ops now, I can’t remember anything about it other than the mechanics of the shooting. I know there was that Inferno guy who was this game’s Makarov and there was a betrayal jammed in there somewhere but, other than the first few levels, I can’t remember what the hell I did in that game.
The fact that I remember liking the game a lot and can’t remember much about it baffles me. I only bought this game because of the Just Cause 2 connection and it fulfilled its end of the purchase. I’m happy with spending the money on it even if it was forgettable. Some day I might even hop back into it if the mood strikes.