Oh well, at least it's the new year now, so a good time for a few thoughts on the last twelve months. Due to the illness I haven't had the time or inclination to write one of my annual TWTYTW ("That Was The Year That Was") posts, or post my predictions for the coming year (though considering my predictions last year were all universally rubbish, that's probably a good thing!). So instead here's a more rambling post about my highs and lows of the year.
The big thing for me this year as far as gaming and the blog are concerned was obviously being totally unexpectedly bowled over by The Secret World. At the start of the year I was playing (and really enjoying) The Old Republic. A few months later and my entire MMO world had been turned upside down by Funcom's new baby.
I won't go into all the details of why I now consider TSW to be the best MMO I have played. I've already written about it in great detail elsewhere on the blog, so let's just take it as read. I'll just say that the game still manages to surprise me almost every time I play.
It also helps that the regular updates (5 superb content updates in the first six months of the game's life) are of such an incredible quality; the new quest chain (The Vanishing of Tyler Freeborn) is one of the best I have ever played in any roleplaying game, either MMO or single-player. Syp has a really good write up on the new content over at Bio Break, and I can't disagree with anything he says. His first paragraph sums up the game for me beautifully:
It’s a common refrain in the voice chat on The Secret World nights for several of us to just spontaneously gush with praise for the game — and wonder, with frustration, why more people aren’t playing it. I mean, I can understand why it’s not for everyone, it’s just the general sentiment that this is something special, something that hasn’t gotten the least bit old since it launched.So, The Secret World has definitely been my gaming highlight of the year. I loved The Old Republic whilst I played it, but my guild drifting away from the game so quickly helped to bring my time with the game to a conclusion. I was tempted to go back again with the move to a free-to-play model, but EA/Bioware have picked the most restrictive ftp system I've seen and it feels like I would be getting punished for returning, so I'm not.
Guild Wars 2 was obviously the other big hitter of the year, but I found it to be pretty but shallow. The much hyped innovations were more like fresh paint on old ideas, and I haven't felt any urge to log in again since the first couple of weeks. It may look better, play smoother and be more charming that it's darker, more psychotic Norwegian cousin, but it lacks the soul, depth and challenge of Funcom's game.
Another gaming highlight for me was starting my first pen 'n' paper roleplay game for almost twenty years. My old regular group had grown apart over the years due to family, work commitments and the like, so it was nice to be able to harness modern technology to bring us all back together. It's going well too, and everyone seems to be enjoying the game. I had just forgotten how much hard work it can be getting each session prepared as the games master!
I managed to get back to the cinema a few times this year, something I've not done over recent years because it's so difficult to find the time with two young kids. I enjoyed Avengers (though it was neither the best superhero movie of the year nor even the best Joss Whedon film of the year), and loved The Dark Knight Rises.
Shut Up And Play The Hits was a surprisingly emotional documentary and one of the best live concert movies I've seen, and The Hobbit was far better than it had any right to be (I was humming that epic main dwarf theme for hours afterwards). My favourite film of the year though was The Cabin In The Woods, Joss Whedon's homage to horror flicks.
Other highlights of the year? Sherlock continued to be the best British drama on TV, and Game of Thrones just got better and better. I discovered Kim Newman's amazing Anno Dracula books for the first time (this is how you write vampire fiction folks) and enjoyed the London Olympics more than I had thought possible.
Not a bad year overall. So what's in store for the next twelve months? Well considering my atrocious record for making predictions, plus that fact that this year I had no idea what my main gaming focus would be (TSW and Cthulhu) I'm just going to see what happens. The only thing I'm sure of so far is that I'll be playing Skyrim (better late than never) as it was gifted to me at Christmas. Assuming I don't get another bout of flu...