Or, That Was The Year That Was 2011.
I made a similar post to this at this time last year, and thought it may be fun to do so again. So, here is my run down of some of the highlights of the year as far as I'm concerned.
Of course, everything in the year pales into insignificance compared to the birth of my daughter (my second child), which has made the second half of the year a time of great joy and a lack of sleep. However understanding that my good news is not of the greatest interest to everyone else, here are my thoughts on some of my media highlights of the past 12 months, using the format of last years post, by way of recommendation to anyone who may be interested.
So, to start with I'm going to pick my single-player game of the year. There were a few contenders this year in what has been an excellent year for PC gaming overall. I really enjoyed Civilization V, Little Big Planet 2, and Deus Ex: HR, and had a blast in Dragon Age 2 as well, despite its faults. There were some games I would have liked to have played but never got round to, like Batman: Arkham City (I'll probably wait for the gold edition whenever it arrives) or Assassins Creed: Brotherhood, and in a quiet year I may even have tried Skyrim. There's one game which stood head and shoulders above the others though for me, and that was Portal 2. Brilliant gameplay, intuitive controls, maddening puzzles and a genuinely hilarious script gave me the most fun I had this year playing a single player game. Check out my original review here.
The "most obvious winner" award goes to my MMO game of 2011, and it's a game that hasn't even launched yet. My massive review (over 8000 words) of the Star Wars: The Old Republic beta explains why this is the game I'll be spending most of my gaming hours playing next year. I can't really add anything to my review, so I'll just say that for me it more than lives up to my expectations.
Charlie Brooker won my Blog of 2010 award, and I was tempted to give him my Blog of 2011 choice as well. He continued his witty assault on everyone and everything this year with the funny and insightful (the truth about David Cameron), as well as showing his geek credentials with commentary on the latest trends in video gaming (why games are better than films and why most gaming characters are dicks). Instead however I'm going to give it to Dave Gorman. Updated so regularly its scary, Gorman is a geek comedian who also happened to go to the same school as me. Definitely worth checking out.
Like last year I didn't get to see many films in 2011. I only got to the cinema once, and that was to see Cars 2 with my three-year-old son. And I had to leave that early once he started running up and down the aisles and talking to people (too much lemonade and ice-cream was a mistake!). I still got to see some cracking films though. A couple of the best were actually from last year, but I didn't get to see them until 2011, such as Inception (so good, it would have been the winner by a mile if it had been released this year) and The King's Speech (so much better than I was expecting). Anyway, 2011 wasn't a great year for film, but even so I found Super 8 to be heart-warming, nostalgia-fuelled geek heaven. If you have a soft spot for films like E.T, Close Encounters and The Goonies I can heartily recommend it.
Two more easy, and related categories now. Book of the Year goes to A Dance With Dragons by George RR Martin. Five years is a long time to wait for a book, but it really was worth it. And related to that is my TV Show of 2011; Game of Thrones. You can find my original thoughts here. It was a show that managed to distill the complexity of the book down to its essence and marry it to a great script with some fantastic acting. I can't wait for the second season to begin.
Finally my Album of 2011 was The King of Limbs by Radiohead. Not quite up to the standard of In Rainbows (possibly my favourite ever record) it still arrived like a bolt out of the blue (it was announced only four days before release) and maintains their incredible hit rate. Special mentions for great albums this year should also go to Songs to Test By (the Portal 2 soundtrack which channelled Aphex Twin) and 5 by Lamb.
Not sure if anyone will find any of that interesting, but its a nice exercise to look back over the year anyway.