The Year with No New Games–Part 2: Making a List, Checking it Twice

by Kim Wong
Let’s take a moment and take a look at that original gaming schedule from the first article:
January 2011: Vanquish, Super Meat Boy, Battlefield: Bad Company 2-Vietnam
February: Alan Wake, Splosion Man, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
March: Dead Space, Halo Wars, Wolfenstein
April: Singularity, Conan
May: Metro 2033, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
June: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, LEGO Rock Band, The Beatles Rock Band
July: Fable II, Penny Arcade Adventures 1 and 2
August: Alpha Protocol, Modern Warfare 2 (Veteran difficulty)
September: Mass Effect, Call of Duty 4 (Veteran difficulty)
October: Saints Row 2, Prince of Persia
November: Bully: Scholarship Edition, The Secret of Monkey Island
December: Grand Theft Auto IV, Trials HD
In 12 months, I had aimed to complete 19 full retail games, 2 ports of classic retail games (Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and The Secret of Monkey Island), 3 games that are nearly impossible to master (Super Meat Boy, Splosion Man, and Trials HD), 2 games that I wanted to master on higher difficulties (Call of Duty 4 and Modern Warfare 2), a downloadable multiplayer expansion (BF:BC2-Vietnam), and 2 downloadable RPGs. This would have been a tall task if I didn’t work full time, went to graduate school part time, and weren’t a husband and a father of a toddler. With those obligations in hand, I probably should have scaled back the scope of this project. So how did I create this schedule?
There was purpose to this madness, and it’s easier to explain if viewed in chunks.
I had dedicated January to March to atmospheric third person shooters. Vanquish, Alan Wake, Dead Space, and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West each presented a different take on how to pace third person games and give the player a different experience. Dead Space was also timed for March to be near the release of Dead Space 2, so I could at least understand the chatter about how the sequel would compare to the original. Super Meat Boy and Splosion Man were going to be compared as two takes on the modern sadistic puzzle platformer. Wolfenstein would have laid the transition to the next segment.
From April to May, the goal was to experience two first person shooters that created rich worlds for the players to explore. Singularity has been compared to BioShock in various reviews, while Metro 2033 tries to strike the middle between open world shooters like the STALKER series and Half-Life 2. Conan would have provided the mindless hack and slash, while Castlevania: Symphony of the Night would have segued to the next segment of the year.
What’s better than to immerse yourself in a full role-playing game during the summer? From June to September, I would have taken on three of the biggest role-playing games of this generation, two downloadable role-playing games, and one that’s become an underground hit. The Rock Band games would have been a palate cleanser from heavy role-playing games. The two Call of Duty games would have been also interesting contrasts to how Alpha Protocol and Mass Effect handled the mechanics of shooting. Because Modern Warfare 2 lacks infinitely respawning enemies, I scheduled it before Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
The year would have ended on the great open world games of this generation, from the satirical Saints Row 2 to the beginning of Rockstar’s evolution in open world gaming design this generation with Bully: Scholarship Edition. Theoretically, I would have followed Grand Theft Auto IV with Red Dead Redemption in January 2012.
Each segment of the year focused on a theme and would have provided potential for comparison and contrast. Over the course of a year, I would also have played some of the best games of this console generation, and I would be able to participate in more conversations. But this didn’t come to pass, and the reasons for this will explored in the next article.