2010 Round-Up / a view to 2011

Worry not as I’ll not be trying my hand at the prediction game as I’d likely get them all wrong. No this post is to write about my gaming year and what I’m looking forward to in new one.

The year 2010

It was a busy year, much of it spent attempting to get the balance of work/family/gaming right since mini-troll came along. Thankfully being married to a gamer makes having a gaming as a hobby much easier.

Here are my gaming highlights of 2010.

  • BF:BC2 : This game demonstrated how a FPS should work and play, it made ‘Modern Warfare 2’ pale in comparison. Great single and multi-player experience.
  • EVE : I have tried my hardest with EVE but really can’t get into the groove with this game for longer than a few weeks.
  • Fable 2 : I eventually got into how this game worked and it became one of my favourite console games of the year.
  • City Of Heroes : Sadly the Going Rogue expansion didn’t revitalise our interest in CoH and we left our subscriptions to expire.
  • DoWII – Chaos Rising : The sequel/expansion to the 2009 game was OK, but I felt it wasn’t long enough or maybe lacked content. I was disappointed overall.
  • GSB : See my last post.
  • All Points Bulletin :  It had potential but didn’t deliver and suffered from cheaters,lag & too high specs. That said I really enjoyed the short time I spend playing this with the KIASA folks.
  • Assassin’s Creed II : I’m still playing through this game, but I have enjoyed it immensely, it certainly improved on the original.
  • Blade Kitten : This small XBLA game was a really enjoyable combination of platform and puzzle genres, I look forward to future releases.
  • Trials HD : Another XBLA game that I thought was rather beautifully realised and reminded me of Junior : Kickstart.
  • Deathspank : This game gave me a lot of laughs, certainly glad I got it, I may even complete it one day.
  • Minecraft : There isn’t anything that hasn’t been said already about this game, it let your mind go crazy for a while.

With many MMO games going free to play (or with a free to play element) there certainly is alot of choice out there , unless you dislike the Fantasy genre, the you are pretty much forgotten about.

On to 2011

There have been many games announced or pushed back into 2011 or are games that I hope will start their hype-engine during 2011.

  • Planetside:Next (working title)
    As indicated in Smeds annual livejournal update http://john-smedley.livejournal.com/1998.htmlthe game is coming and by the sound of things is nearing beta, which was a big surprise to everyone. So as we all try and figure out how the game will change, we are also reforming connections with past allies, looking for the best way to approach the outfit setup and dusting off our Gauss Rifle. We all have our fingers crossed that the core game will remain but a shiny new engine and anti-cheat measures will be the predominant features. I for one hope that as more players are drawn into FPS games, thanks to the Call of Duty, Halo franchises, the populations will be rather healthy.
  • Torchlight 2
    I really enjoyed the first game and the opportunity of being able to enjoy the game in Co-op is very appealing to me. I’m hoping that the game continues to the excellence of the first and is naturally a stepping stone towards another game or a more on-line centric game. After hearing about the XBLA version of torchlight coming soon I wonder if we will see Torchlight 2 release in 2011.
  • DC Universe Online
    This game looks set to launch early in 2011 Today, It was nice to see that SOE didn’t feel the need to prove themselves against Cataclysm and postponed the launch, plus it gives a little more time to add more shine. A solid game that everyone says looks very polished already and with well designed gameplay. I’m still unsure if i want to invest in this title at launch, but I’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on it.
  • Age of Empires Online
    AoE was always the perfect RTS for me, it never felt too rushed, anything beyond fun. I’m hoping that this new F2P model will bring back a little of that old school magic back that drew me into the game originally.
  • The Sims Medieval
    From what I’ve seen of this game its looking to branch out the Sims game into new areas, not just obtaining goods for your pad but actually taking place in a different time. This is very interesting as the Franchise was looking to stagnate and appeared to be treading water with same-old-same-old content updates. This certainly looks set to rock the boat in this genre.
  • Dawn of War II: Retribution
    This third game in the DoW 2 series looks set to make the greenskins and tyranids playable races and rumour has it that base building may be making a comeback, well of sorts.  Most likely will add increasingly more content for multi-player and not much for us single players that aren’t interested in it. Hopefully the one good element of this game will be the removal of the Games for Windows Live, which has certainly hampered this games success.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution
    The first of the franchise relaunch titles, Will be interested to see how the game will treat all those fans that have been playing games like Splinter Cell etc since Deus Ex 2. The expectations will be high for this game and it may struggle to meet them.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine
    This game will be a must for any fan of the Warhammer 40k universe. The game set you as a squad leader with a team of various troops each skill differently and from what I read you will control only one at a time for their unique perks. After reading about this I did wonder if it would work in a similar style to Full Spectrum Warrior, but then I feel that maybe too complicated to combine into the 40K world. This is very high on my ones to watch this year, even if it doesn’t release.
  • Max Payne 3
    The return of the man that slows time to ensure there is maximum carnage, infact the Rockstar look to the game sees the hero look like a cross between John McClane(of die hard fame) & Stone Cold Steve Austin, I’m not completely sold on the look but we’ll see. Sadly it looks like the game may have been pushed back beyond 2011 at this time, hopefully more news will appear.
  • The Secret World
    This game has been simmering away building up followers and momentum in the last year or so. Funcom are building the game on the same engine as Conan, which removes that whole “hang around 2 years while we build the engine then another 2 for the game” approach yet history indicates the game was originally started in 2002. The game is rumoured to be without classes and levels, a brave move that could work very well if it’s managed correctly. I’m looking forward  hearing more about the game in 2011.
  • MechWarrior
    Nothing says “Fight me” like a massive robot armed to the teeth. Our 3rd reboot hasn’t seen any love in quite some time and playing in the BattleTech universe is likely to be a first for newer gamers.
  • Guild Wars 2
    The hype-bubble has really put me off this game and it’s not even out. Yes I’m interested in knowing about an upcoming game but for GW2 it feels like it’s being pushed into your face continually. I’ll play it when can be bothered.
  • Battlefield: Play4free
    Building on the success of their Battlefield Heroes game EA are making a non-cartoony Shooter game based on the Battlefield series. The videos and demos look good, just wondering what cash-shop options will be purchasable and if they give too much of an advantage.
  • Battlefield 3
    Just as I was completing this list I hear that EA are aiming for a new Battlefield game aside from the free to play version. I think the Battlefield franchise is certainly one of the most popular, if not the most popular FPS on the platform.
  • All Points Bulletin : Reloaded
    If they can pull of a relaunch of APB I will be very impressed, but the amount of work needed is going to be rather large I’m afraid. We’ll just have to wait on this one and see what happens.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic
    I’m not a big fan of the Star Wars Universe, that’s not the say it doesn’t entertain or interest me. But I really don’t have that same faithful dedication that others of my age have. The big idea with TOR is making story line a large part of the game rather than just a medium to level.

I think this could be my most wordy blog post for sometime, but then I enjoyed the topic.

Gratuitous Space Battles

GSBAs usual I’m late to the party (1 year late I believe) but I thought I’d blog about what has to be one of my favourite PC games of 2010, Gratuitous Space Battles.
Now before I get to the meat of this blog post I’d like to start with a little journey back in time (queue the harp sound effects). Cast your mind back to the year 1999, it was around this time I bought my very “own” PC, one of the first games that I bought was Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six, that game truly defined the FPS genre for me, combining different tactics, weapons and most of all strategic planning.

Looking back at the game now it seems very dated, yet the underlying systems stand up as some of the best and most enjoyable I’ve encountered. Over the last year I’ve really been yearning for a game that delivered strategy components and don’t just allow you to win by outnumbering the enemy.

From Demo to Purchase

I was first alerted to the games existence when I was discussing games with a work colleague and he mentioned to me that he’d been playing a strategic space warfare game. At the next available opportunity I downloaded the demo from Steam and was hooked.
Generally if I enjoy a demo, I waste very little time before purchasing the full game. In the case of Gratuitous Space Battles I think the gap between playing the demo and purchasing the game was a matter of hours (that can be counted on one hand).

One of the major elements that drew me to this game was it fed my inner-gamer, you know the nerdy one that likes numbers and figures, the one that has been brought up on a diet of games like : Laser Squad, X-com, Syndicate, Rainbow Six, Shogun: Total War, to name a few.


I would be lying if I said that altering and amending deployments and ship configurations wasn’t a big appeal to me, combine that with the ability to try the same encounter in three different difficultly settings and I’m in my element. Although not directly a strategy game, in the common gaming sense, GSB pulls players into that mind-set: analyse the enemy (normally with a few trial and error attempts), determine the best race/ship/equipment choices, optimise the best deployment for the most gain.
There are a vast number of options available to player from ship design to shield generators, each has their one strengths and weaknesses that you will need to take into consideration. More unlocks are purchasable as your progress through each encounter and earn Honor Points.

There is also the Survival mode encounters that require you to build a fleet to last as long as possible. These encounters are also linked into a global scoreboard that act like a proverbial red-flag to players that enjoy a challenge.

Finally there is an online challenge system that sees to go head-to-head against real opponents. I’ve registered for this but haven’t had any battles yet as I’m still getting to grips with a lot of the races/ships/modules.

But wait! that’s not all!

The core game comes with the standard 5 races (4 un-lockable), these cover over 40 different ship designs, which is more than enough to get you started. You are also able to purchase additional races for the game there are currently 4 additional races that you can buy

One man development army Cliffski has been hard at work building a Campaign mode for the game, which I havn’t played yet as it’s not on Steam, but from the videos it looks rather good.

So if you want to grab yourself a copy why not pay a visit to http://www.positech.co.uk/gratuitousspacebattles/index.html thus directly helping the developer, and without being locked into using a digital distributor like Steam. It’s worth noting the game has it’s own built in updater that ensures you have a most recent version.


Playability 4 | Graphics 5 | Audio 4 | Longevity 3 | Originality 5
Total 21 out of 25

GSB doesn’t tie you up with complex stories its all about the gameplay, once you have grasped the basics you are left alone to battle against the enemy forces. That not to say it’s easy, each encounter can take a fair amount of prep-time as you work to get the best configuration.
The game features beautifully designed ship models that bring a wonderful dimension to GSB, upbeat music that instantly makes you think of space themed films and the ever present and continual sound of banks of lasers firing into the dark voids of space.