Features// SPOnG's Review of the Year 2011: February

Posted 27 Dec 2011 10:00 by
February, eh? What a miserable month. It's cold. It's damp. The trees look like something a really old person would poke you with. There's no Christmas/pagan Winter solstice festival to perk things up. You probably had a cold. What a miserable month, eh?

Well, actually, NO. Not for gamers, anyway. The good news is that the days of the post-Christmas hangover months being barren of releases are gone. Highlights (or, at least 'big releases' we can't honestly claim that all the heavy-hitters were as strong as we might have hoped) included Mario vs Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem, which Svend tucked into and Bulletstorm, which I warmed to like a laser warms your heart as it turns it to red vapour.

Killzone 3 was another tentpole release. Sadly, while it was a strong outing its narrative nearly made Gareth cry. Still, if making Gareth cry was the yardstick for getting a bad review we'd have to score the Santa's Reindeer Fuel he drank at the last Christmas party with minus numbers and, despite its flaws, Killzone 3 was still a solid entry in the series.

Less solid was Test Drive Unlimited 2, which David Turner told us had a lot going for it but was in serious need of another coat of paint.

There was also Kirby's Epic Yarn which must, surely, have resulted in an upturn in demand on the nation's dentists by March. It was kind of like mainlining liquidised candyfloss through your eyeball. In a good way, you know? It might not have been particularly ground-breaking, but I liked it.

See? February's not all bad.

That said, over in the news the month got started with a spot of doom and gloom. A report into the state of our esteemed educational establishments and the quality of graduates from games-related courses by industry legend Ian Livingstone OBE and visual FX guru Alex Hope highlighted a massive skills shortage. It's all well and good talking nebulously about the benefits to the games industry of better-trained graduates, but the report put a number on it that the government might understand. It claimed that 1bn in extra revenue could be generated for the UK by 2014 existing barriers could be overcome (Games Industry to Government: Do You Want 1 Billion or What?, February 1st).

Another study told us that gamers driver like maniacs. Thanks for that, Continental Tires. We've got awesome skills but poor judgement, apparently. (Video Gamers Drive Like Nutjobs, February 1st).

Still, there was good news to be had and it didn't take too long to arrive. Rumour had it that the original Halo was to get a HD touch-up (in the non-sexy way). (Report: Halo: Combat Evolved Gets HD Re-Run, February 12th). It didn't take all that long for that rumour to be proved true, either.

And, lo and behold, the PlayStation Phone turned out to be an actual thing, too! Sure, I knew it, you knew it, your office cleaner's cat found out about it while licking its genitals... but these things still need announcing. It was, as earlier reports had suggested, a device with a sliding screen that revealed PlayStation-styled buttons and ran PlayStation Suite. (Video: Sony Ericsson Officially Unveils PlayStation Phone, February 7th). See Svend's impressions here.

There was sad - if not unexpected news towards the middle of the month. After floundering around for a few years, Guitar Hero, DJ Hero and the Tony Hawk franchise all got kicked to the curb. This was another case of no-one at all being surprised, but there were (and are) still people who held/hold warm, fuzzy, punk-y memories of the series. Never again, though, will that pile of plastic sat in the corner of the living room be good for anything but causing arguments with your significant other about cluttering up the house. True Crime: Hong Kong also got the slash, but things weren't quite over for that game just yet... (Axe Falls on Guitar and DJ Hero, True Crime and Tony Hawk Shredded, February 10th).
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