Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Review

Another year over and done with and once again, my blog has had even less posts than any previous years. At this rate I seem to just be posting about the Oscars, E3 and doing a yearly review. Oh well, if this is all my blog is used for, then that’ll do.

Anyway, here goes:


I first have to say that in my opinion, this has been truly awful year for films. I’ve really struggled to find 3 films to fill my top 3, and even then, whilst good, none of these has totally blown me away. I’d give each of these films no higher than an 8/10 (with the exception of The Girl Who Leaped Through Time, which is a clear 9/10, but technically that wasn’t released in 2011), which is pretty poor for a best of list.

I have to say, however, that I have been to the cinema less and less over the last few years, and tend to catch up on films later down the line via the likes of Lovefilm, but I still go to the cinema if there is a film that I desperately want to see, and this year there seems to be a definite lack of “”must see” films.

Top 3 films of 2010

The Girl Who Leaped Through Time

Okay, yet again this it a bit of a cheat, as this film was released in 2006 (although I’m not sure when it first came out on DVD/Blu-ray over here), but what the hell. As I seem to be catching up on a great number of films late recently, I’m adding it for the hell of it.

An enchanting, clever and moving Anime film about high school, love and time travel. Also, definitely my film of the year.

For once (in a long time) a Pixar film has not managed to make it into my top 3, instead that place has gone to Rango. A bizarre and hilarious CGI take on spaghetti westerns of old.

Black Swan

What I loved about this movie is that if you didn’t know any better going into the film, you wouldn’t realise that beyond the exterior of a simple film about ballet, lies a shocking and disturbing horror film underneath.

Notable mentions (for good or bad)

Source Code

Not quite as good as Moon, but a great second film from Duncan Jones. Reminds me a great deal of a sci-fi cross between Quantum Leap and Groundhog Day, but in a good way.

Thor and Captain America
Surprisingly good superhero adaptations, and probably the best Marvel films to date (I was not a fan of the Iron Man movies)

Julia’s Eyes
Not quite as good as I had hoped, but has to be mentioned as my token Spanish horror film of the year.

Sucker Punch
I really, REALLY wanted to like this. I loved Watchmen, Dawn of the Dead and 300, and as such believed that as this was an original script from Zack Snyder, that this would be a more personal, more spectacular and perhaps even a better film for it. Wrong, wrong and wrong again.

A Slew of Anime films:
I seem to have catched up on a great number of anime films this year, most of which have been quite excellent. As such, I thought that I’d list a few of them here:
Summer Wars
Whisper of the Heart
The Cat Returns


Top 3 games on 2010

This really was a tough one to call... but I just about whittled it down to the top 3 which are as follows:

Xenoblade Chronicles - Wii

This is, without a doubt, the game that I have spent the most time playing in 2011. It is also unquestionably, the best JRPG of this generation of consoles. In fact, I remember recently reading on a forum thread asking what the best Final Fantasy game was since VII that someone had simply answered “Xenoblade Chronicle”. It made me chuckle, but it is also very true.

It combines the best parts of Final Fantasy XII (battle system), with Final Fantasy VIII (equipment customization with crystals) and adds its own spin on things adding further additional elements. This together with a truly excellent story and memorable and likeable characters, and also some truly stunning environments on the humble Wii, made for an exceptional game.

Uncharted 3 – PS3

First of all, I think I need to get out of the way the fact that I think that Uncharted 2 is the better game, and is the pinnacle of the series so far, but saying that Uncharted 3 comes very close to the lofty highs of Uncharted 2.

As with any game in the Uncharted series, it’s the set-pieces that make the game, for Uncharted 2 the highlights for me were the train chapter and the tank chapter, for Uncharted 3 this is the chapters on a cruise liner and the truck convoy. Whilst obviously inspired by the likes of the Poseidon Adventure and Raiders of the Lost Ark, these were still fantastic gaming moments and the reason why the Uncharted games are so fantastic. In no other game that I can think of, does it really feel like you’re playing in a summer blockbuster movie.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword - Wii

Well, first I have to say that I haven't had as much time with this game as the others in my top 3 list, but what I have played so far, I have loved. I'm currently on the third dungeon, of I don't know how many, but what I have been able to ascertain so far is that this game still carries the same Zelda DNA, but at the same time is a very different beast than the past few Zelda's. This is largely due to to the motion controls, which whilst getting a little while to get used to, really do add to the experience.

The other elements which I think I should ass is that the puzzles also seem moire varied than previous and also very devious in places. The fights are also a lot more difficult, even lesser enemies need to be carefully approached and dealt with. Lastly, for some reason the story and Link's connection to Zelda, feels that bit more personal in this game than those previous.

Overall, it's Zelda, and I still love it!

I have to add (before I go onto the notable mentions), that I have also not had the chance to play Skyrim and also Batman: Arkham City during 2011 (I had both for Christmas, but Zelda and Mario Kart have taken priority). I hope to play these during early 2012.

Notable mentions (for good or bad)

LA Noire

Started off really promising, but it got boring real quick. It had all the appearances of an open game, but in reality was far from this. What really got on my nerves was that no matter how well, or poorly, you did on a case, the outcome seemed to be pretty much the same.

Infamous 2
Mentioned for the purpose of bringing up the truly fantastic evil (as opposed to the good route) ending. It’s rare that a games plot surprises me, but this came as a shock for 2 separate reasons, which I won’t spoil here. Overall it was a game which was great fun to play, but didn’t vary greatly from the original. All the same, a great PS3 exclusive.

Mario Kart 7
Only just recently got for Christmas and as such, have not put in as much time with it as I would like, but out of this and Mario Land 3D, I've spent much more time with this. I'd even go as far to say that this very nearly sneaked into my top 3 games of the year. What I have played so far, leads me to believe that this is quite possibly the most finely tuned Mario Kart game since Mario Kart DS (minus the annoying snaking which ruined online games).

Super Mario Land 3D
Also just got for Christmas (present to myself). Seems very much like the classic Mario games of old, specifically the likes of Mario 3 and Mario World. Even on a small screen, this still shines.

A small downloadable game for the 3DS, but a fantastic little puzzle game. It is also the best use of 3D in a game to date.

Battlefield 3
The best online multiplayer game of 2011 IMHO.


A few bullet points of memorable things in my life from 2011:

My holiday in Wales with Roz and Elliot. Highlights include standing in a park that I used to visit as a child with a fantastic view of the Severn Bridge and also taking Elliot out on a mountain bike trip, only to get terribly lost in the wilds of Wales.

A trip to Budapest for a work course, this being my first trip to another European country apart from the UK and France.

Having to (recently) explain to Elliot what breast implants were, only for him to reply “why on earth would someone want to do that?”

Okay, I’m officially stumped to think of a number of other points, but what I will say is that although I can’t provide a long list of bullet points for the year, overall it has been a very happy year, made all the more happier because I get to spend a large majority of my time with both Roz and Elliot. After all, it’s not necessarily the big events in a year that make it a good year, it is also the small quite moments that makes life good.

Lastly.... A Happy New Year to everyone!

Okay then… Roll on 2012!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Christmas everyone!

Just a quick note to wish everyone a very merry Christmas!