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

Posted 3 Jan 2012 17:29 by
Dear old Carmine Santiago
Dear old Carmine Santiago
After a comparatively uneventful release schedule throughout summer, September saw games companies gearing up for what would prove to be an endless wave of massive releases from then until December.

Gears of War 3's massive release was the highlight of the month for many, bringing the popular series to a close. This was until the inevitable spin-offs and prequels start popping up anyway. You can read Svend’s glowing review of the game here.

Not content with merely reviewing the game, Svend also did a series of interviews with novelist and Gears of War 3’s campaign writer Karen Traviss here, and Carlos Ferro, the voice actor behind series mainstay Dominic Santiago, here.

Gears 3 sold three million copies worldwide in its first week, making it the biggest selling game of the year so far and setting the bar for the next few months’ biggest releases. Read more about that here.

EA’s FIFA 12 was a massive hit, far exceeding FIFA 11’s opening week sales and firmly establishing the series as the top footballing sim. ‘The biggest selling sports game ever’ firmly trounced its rivals this year. You can read David Turner’s review here. It was a good month for sports games in general as another of EA’s annual franchises, NHL 12; and Codemaster’s F1 2011 both earned strong, positive reviews.

After Driver: Renegade 3D let the series down a month earlier, it was up to Driver: San Francisco to get the series back into the good books. And so it did.

You can read Marcus gush over it here. We can only hope that someone learned not to bother shamelessly rushing out handheld spin-offs from this experience. Probably not, though.

Zombie-infested, tropical island-roaming, survival horror game Dead Island also fared well critically and commercially, though some reviews were a little divided on it. You can read Marcus’s thoughts on both the game and how to go about surviving a real-life zombie apocalypse here.

Dear old the woman from Dead Island
Dear old the woman from Dead Island
In one of the year’s more entertaining screw-ups, publisher Deep Silver managed to accidentally release an early developer build on Steam rather than the final game. The company caught on quickly though, thanks to a barrage of fan complaints about the lengthy list of bugs, glitches and other weirdness. Read all about it here.

Star Fox 64 3D continued Nintendo’s trend of porting classic N64 titles over to the 3DS in grand fashion, bringing back everything that everybody loved about the original in a pretty new package. Check out SPONG’s review here.

I did say there were a lot of big releases in September, right? The rest of the month’s releases included the strategy board game-inspired third-person shooter Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine and PS3-exclusive FPS Resistance 3, which earned a highly positive review from SPOnG’s Gareth here.

Dear old Code Veronica
Dear old Code Veronica
Capcom also brought classic Resident Evil titles Code: Veronica and Resident Evil 4 to Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network as re-mastered HD editions. Last but not least, the uniquely stylish and beautifully artistic El Shaddai: Ascension of Metatron was also finally released in the UK in September. Phew.

On the less happy side of the news coin, the success of L.A. Noire wasn’t enough to save developer Team Bondi from going under after a lengthy series of scandals involving “challenging” work conditions and a supposedly strained relationship with publishers Rockstar games. You can read more about Team Bondi’s management’s views on the subject here.

The fallen studio was rumoured to be all-set for absorbtion into animation studio Kennedy Miller Mitchell, as discussed here, but you’ll see the results of that story if you keep reading into October.

GAMEfest, held in September in Birmingham, was notable for being the first time in the UK that gamers could actually get hands-on with two of Activision’s big then-upcoming shooters: Modern Warfare 3 and Goldeneye 007: Reloaded.

One’s the latest in a wildly popular and successful series; the other’s an updated HD port of the Wii remake of the wildly popular and successful original N64 classic, so both had plenty of fans looking forward to getting their hands on them. Oh, and Batman: Arkham City also made an appearance.

You can read a list of all the big titles that made their presence felt at the event here.

In another of this month’s entertaining developer mishaps, a bungled promotional giveaway resulted in Codemasters literally giving away somewhere in the region of three million copies of Dirt 3. You can read the full story here.

Fans of Bullfrog’s cyberpunk strategy series Syndicate might have been delighted over news that EA was bringing the series back, if they weren’t too busy being outraged at the reveal that the series was to be re-envisioned as yet another FPS.

A fairly slick first trailer may have won over some fans, but we’ll have to wait and see how things turn out upon the game’s early 2012 release. You can read SPONG’s first reaction to the news here, and our begrudgingly positive impressions of the trailer here.

September also saw the Tokyo Game Show held in Japan. With so many big shows already having been held throughout the year there wasn’t much left to say.

Sony continued to push the PlayStation Vita, confirming an early December launch in Japan and more hardware details, as well as promising an extensive library of games would be in place by March 2012.

HD remakes of Final Fantasy X, Zone of the Enders and Metal Gear Solid were among the list of confirmed titles. Read more about all that here.

Nintendo was similarly focused on its 3DS platform, announcing a host of new titles for the handheld including Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D, Kingdom Hearts 3D, Mario Tennis, Tekken 3D and a new entry in the Fire Emblem series. The long-awaited Kid Icarus: Uprising was also given an early 2012 release.

The Wii wasn’t completely neglected, with Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and the latest entry in the Sonic and Mario Olympic series both set to be released in the following months.

Dear old Link from Skyward Sword
Dear old Link from Skyward Sword
Future news around the console was pretty thin however, suggesting that the Wii doesn’t have much left in the tank before Nintendo changes focus to the Wii U, although that console was also barely mentioned during the event. There are more details about Nintendo’s showing at TGS here.

Now, follow me to October...

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