The Twelve Games of Christmas 2011 – Day Nine: September

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Electronic Theatre ImageWelcome to the ninth edition of this year’s ‘The Twelve Games of Christmas’ article series, today looking at the best videogames released in September 2011. Eight instalments so far and things have been relatively straight forward. A few disappointing releases and a couple of pleasant surprises, but typically in equal measure. Now we’ve arrived at autumn however, and things are far from simple.

As has been the case in previous months, September presented both frustration and surprise in its releases; the difference now is that of the quantity. September traditional kicks-off the packed autumn schedule of new releases, and 2011 was no different. Beginning with the rather poor reboot of the Driver series – an incredibly disappointing eventuality, given the positive reception of early preview builds – and leading to Tecmo Koei Europe’s Championship Jockey: G1 Jockey and Gallop Racer, which proved to be a reliably enjoyable experience with or without motion control.

September 2011 also brought us the eventual release of Resistance 3 and Rise of Nightmares, the first of which failed to meet with gamers’ expectations while the latter exceeded them. However, this was more to do with the hype cannon than the videogames themselves, as while Resistance 3 was a hugely enjoyable experience, it wasn’t the groundbreaking piece of interactive entertainment we had been promised. In the case of Rise of Nightmares, it was almost the direct reverse: expectations were so low that when an enjoyable survival horror videogame came to Xbox 360 Kinect, with a well balanced combat system, absorbing atmosphere and genuinely clever design ideas, few could believe that SEGA had managed to pull it off.

 

 

Honourable Mentions:

 

 

Dead Island

 

Bodycount

 

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine

 

 

Runner Up:

 

 

El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron

 

Some videogames have fantastic gameplay design, innovative works that push the boundaries of genre. Some videogames are stunning pieces of art, visual delights that turn the normal palette upside down and hand it back to you with introverted expedience. However, once in a while, a videogame will come along that does both. In 2011, that videogame was El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. It was a platform videogame with combo-based combat and a unique art style. On paper that’s all it was, but to play it was to play a videogame so far from anything else currently being produced by the industry that it deserves the recognition of a title that argues against the hard set rules of what genre pieces should be. El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron is in reality a very simple videogame, but it’s also one that every console gamer worth their salt should have on their shelf.

 

 

 

Best of September 2011:

 

 

Gears of War 3

 

As predictable as it may have been, Gears of War 3 is undoubtedly one of the finest videogames released in 2011. It’s obviously not to everyone’s taste – what single videogame is? – but for the vast majority of the videogames playing public it’s exactly the right kind of overblown machismo Hollywood production that is called for, and, perhaps more depressingly, is needed to push the industry further into mainstream culture. For all the many aspects of Gears of War that have been done right, it’s still infuriating that it’s poster child has more in common with a washing machine than a human being.

Of course, while Gears of War 3 packed a compellingly explosive campaign, playable in co-operative multiplayer for its entire duration, it’s also packed with other gameplay modes that could arguably provide far more hours of entertainment. The now famous Horde mode returns, now accompanied by the opportunity to play as the bad guys in Beast mode, and the staple online multiplayer is back in force. Gears of War 3 is a comprehensive action videogame experience, and one which will surely be remembered as one of the best videogames of the current-generation.

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