2011 in review (so far)

Well, it only took about 7 years, but I finally accomplished something this weekend that’s been very subtly driving me crazy – my Xbox Gamerscore finally ends in a ‘5’.  There was a 6-point achievement in Rock Band 3 for linking my band (“The Vosstones”) to the Harmonix website, and for some reason it finally worked today – I’d tried hooking it up a long time ago, but for some reason it never took.  (Indeed, it took a while to get working today – not entirely sure what changed, but whatever.)

I’m trying to remember what got my Gamerscore off in the first place – I’m thinking it was one of the early Ghost Recon games, or possibly Cloning Clyde, a long-forgotten XBLA title.  Whatever it was, having those strange numbers in my score was always a little irritating (and that’s probably why they don’t really crop up all that often these days); I couldn’t ever have a nice round number.   And so now, since most ‘cheevos end in either ‘5’ or ‘0’, I can finally get to an aesthetically pleasing plateau.

Speaking of which, my Gamerscore is currently at 72615.  I can’t recall exactly where I was at the beginning of the year – my 2010 year in review (which I wrote in early December) put me at around 64,200 – but in any event, I’ve climbed up quite a bit.  I knew this year was going to be good, and that I’d be playing a lot, but goddamn – that’s almost 9000 points in about 8 months, and we still haven’t hit the peak of the release season just yet.

And in keeping with that, I figured this would be a good time to do a year-so-far recap, since, well, why not.

The Game of the Year (so far):

  • Portal 2 – current front-runner for GOTY, and while I’m very much looking forward to seeing how Skyrim, Uncharted 3 and Batman try to usurp the throne, I don’t want to make it sound like Portal 2 is just a placeholder for the top of the list.  I’ve played this game on every platform it’s currently available for, multiple times, and even writing about it now makes me want to go back and hang out with Wheatley.  I’m also looking forward to playing this again when it’s time to refresh my memory for the real GOTY post; hopefully I’ll have forgotten some of the puzzle solutions by then.
The Very, Very Good:
  • Dead Space 2 – I’m glad I finished this one; it was a very enjoyable experience (although not particularly scary, or even all that creepy, aside from that eyeball sequence).  And believe me, I’m a huge sissybaby when it comes to scary movies and books and stuff.  The very first time a dog jumped through the window in RE2, I think I literally jumped 3 feet out of my chair.
  • Bulletstorm – I kinda miss this game, to be honest – once I finished the story and did some of the extra bonus stuff, I traded it back to Amazon towards something, and whenever I hear people talk about it I remember how much fun I had with it.  It is everything that Duke Nukem Forever wasn’t.
  • You Don’t Know Jack  – I can’t let this one get lost in the shuffle.  I’ve had a BLAST with this game every time it’s come out, whether I’m alone or with a group of friends.
  • Bastion – I finally finished this earlier this week, when I was home sick from work.  It’s a lovely, charming, exceedingly well-crafted experience, and a ton of fun to boot.  Had a great time exploring the world.
The Very Good:
  • Little Big Planet 2  – even though I was ultimately a little disappointed with this game, at least compared to the first one, I still think it’s a pretty remarkable experience.  I just wish I wasn’t so reluctant to try the level creation stuff.
  • Mortal Kombat – even though I’m not really a fighting game enthusiast, I must tip my hat to MK – it’s probably the most complete fighting game experience ever made.
  • L.A. Noire  – the more time I spent away from this game, the better I think of it.  It’s got a number of flaws that seem particularly glaring when you’re actually dealing with them – the open world is totally unnecessary, frankly, and the interrogations seem a bit broken and not particularly well-written enough – but the things that it does right are truly incredible.  And the applications for the facial tech seem pretty exciting, frankly – I’d even accept a delay to Mass Effect 3 if it meant they could get that tech in there.
  • Dragon Age 2  – it’s true that this got really repetitive after a while, but I still liked it enough to finish it.  it’s to Bioware’s credit that even an acknowledged misstep can still be a pretty good time.
  • Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet  – not quite as deep or engaging as, say, Shadow Complex, but still a pretty fun little game.
  • Stacking  – DoubleFine’s mini-titles have been a really nice direction for the company, and while I finished this game pretty quickly, I could easily see myself going back for a sequel.  Charming as all hell.
  • Trenched – I feel terrible that I haven’t finished this one – I had an absolute blast with friends when it first came out.  One of the best online co-op experiences I’ve ever had, actually.

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