5 Things We Want To See More Of In 2012

We might have had a lot to complaint about in 2011, it’s true. But it wasn’t all botched PC releases, generic multiplayer content and incoherent stories. Sometimes – quite often, in fact – game developers managed to do their jobs and do them well and the result represented the very best about gaming in 2011. As we move into the new year, we’ve taken a moment to pause and reflect on those successes, and express, well, demand, that they be continued. Here’s GameFront’s 5 things we want to see more of in 2012.

1) Excellent Use of Music

IknowIknowIknow. It’s true that every game uses music. But there’s slapping some background noise in for a little lazy mais en scene, and there’s creating something close to a cinematic experience via the careful selection of perfect music. And to our great surprise, in 2011, several games actually had real thought and care put into their soundtracks.

Uncharted 3, for all its flaws, returned with its usual brilliant score. Bulletstorm not only had a beautiful score of its own, it put the disco classic “Disco Inferno” to exceptionally clever use as background music during a fight that takes place in a ‘Classical Music Club’ (the game is set in the 27th century. Giggle.) But the prize for best use of in-game music has to go to Saints Row: The Third. Every times it counts, SR3 makes its soundtrack an essential part of the game. Kanye West’s “Power” becomes the perfect accompaniment to murderously evicting your enemies from their house; clever timing of a radio station playlist ensures almost without fail that during one mission, when you’re chasing after your enemies in a Jet, it’s the William Tell Overture that pops on the radio. During the final mission, Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out For A Hero” plays on a loop during the entire scene. But the best of all is the video above.

In 2012, every game should care this much, or not even bother with a soundtrack at all.

2) Fantasy RPGs That Don’t Just Rip Off Lord Of The Rings

It’s a fact: The second J. R. R. Tolkien finished The Lord of the Rings trilogy, he caused a stable time loop that ultimately forces every single western RPG to blatantly imitate it in nearly every way. Orcs, elves, a fractured kingdom and of course, the looming threat of an ancient demonic enemy bent on taking over the world. Which is why when I played Dragon Age 2 at the start of 2011, my mind was blown 6 ways from Sunday.

In many ways, DA2 is a complete departure from the cliches of the RPG genre. Instead of an epic battle to rally all the peoples against Sauron The Darkspawn, it’s a family drama covering a 10 year timespan. In a way, the events of the larger Dragon Age universe take a backseat to bitter sibling rivalries, the loss of family and friends, a rise from destitution to prosperity, and the stark depiction of a bubbling religious war and racial strife.

I admit that Dragon Age 2 had awful recycled dungeons. It had stupid giant spiders. And it was buggy as heyull, at least at first. But I hope that these appropriate criticisms don’t cause game devs to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We need more, not less, willingness to challenge players with games that do more than rely on cliches to tell a good story. Here’s hoping in 2012, whatever RPGs we end up with learn that lesson.

For what it’s worth, that Skyrim (UPDATE: and Witcher 2] also depart from the Tolkien playbook gives me hope.

3) Shooters That Aren’t Call of Battle Warfare Duty

First Person Shooters tend to follow a set pattern: You are part of an elite team of… soldiery types. You’ll go to some foreign place and kill a bunch of people in the most linear way possible. A faceless voice talking to your earpiece (or a magical HUD) will give you objectives. You’ll save the world. Or something. Really, the plots and characters never matter because the real point is just to kill your friends online. And then there’s Bulletstorm, a game that dares to ask the question “Can you kick someone into a thorn bush and then shoot them in the nuts with a spiked chain of bombs?”.

It actually has real, in-game exposition, with characters talking to one another and discussing goals instead of being given directives by earbud. The acting is surprisingly good, suitably hammy and melodramatic. But it’s the script, particularly the dialogue and certain in-game moments, that makes it truly rise above. There’s the aforementioned Disco Inferno joke of course. There’s a hilarious bit involving a remote control dinosaur. And there’s the game’s legendary profanity. Simply put, in every way, it aims to be everything that the Call of Warfare: Modern Battlefield games are not.

That more shooters would start from that point, the world would be a better place. In 2012, let’s have more “What the Dick?”s and less “NEGATIVE I AM PROCEEDING COMMANDER”.

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6 Comments on 5 Things We Want To See More Of In 2012

Jeremy

On December 7, 2011 at 11:52 am

Most high-tier fantasy actually has little to do with Lord of the Rings. I suggest you try reading Gormenghast, Book of the New Sun or Prince of Nothing. Witcher 2 has a great setting and Morrowind probably has one of the most unique fantasy game settings ever.

Ross Lincoln

On December 7, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Right, I was speaking about how many RPGs rip it off, not talking about the state of Fantasy literature. It isn’t like I haven’t been HOLYTING over GoT. Because I have. A lot. Srsly.

Anyway, I added Witcher 2 above, thanks for the reminder!

Jeremy

On December 7, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Yeah, sorry, I accidentally used this as a soapbox for a line or two.

Have you tried Serious Sam 3: BFE yet? I believe that just might fulfill parts 1, 3 and 5 of your list.

mwallek

On December 7, 2011 at 9:55 pm

I would like to see Steam return to the excellence in quality it first demonstrated. When I load a game off a disk, butr need to use steam, I can count on Steam to drop files and cause me to validate all the time. Personally, I don’t care for Steam and Windows live when I could just load a game off disk and play. They have their uses, but for me they bung things up.

Geoff

On December 7, 2011 at 10:29 pm

I agree on all counts, most of all: More Bulletstorm and stuff like it.

Forgotten_alcoholic_android

On December 15, 2011 at 11:01 pm

I definitely agree that better use of music would be an improvement.