The Year of the Rabbit; 2011 for you and your PS3
In Chinese astrology the Rabbit is considered to be happy and popular. Rabbits are known for their artistic talent and good taste. Although Sony were ‘born’ in 1946 (which makes them a Dog – incidentally the same sign as this author), you might say there are certain attributes of the Rabbit that foretell of a great year for their flagship console.
So, is that the case? Or will 2011 be more a ‘dog of a year’ than a metaphorical ‘lucky rabbit’s foot’?
Before you start writing in with comments about mixing Chinese astrology with a Japanese company, bear with us on this. Although the Japanese celebrate the new year on the 1st January, they send postcards to their family and friends with the relevant animal depicted on the front – harking back to when the lunar calendar and the 12 animal signs were in use throughout Japan.
With that in mind, lets take a look at what you can expect to be spending your hard-earned money on in 2011.
The year has already started on a high.
In January, we’ve been treated to the first of the MMO titles we were promised so many lunar cycles ago on the PS3 in the form of DC Universe Online. You don’t need a crystal ball to predict that our full review will appear in the not too distant future, and the game shows a lot of promise for those wanting to live out their inner superhero.
We have also seen the first of 2011′s Play, Create, Share titles with the return of that seminal PS3 mascot, Sackboy, in LittleBigPlanet 2. Once again, the ever expressive ball of cloth will be allowing us to create our own visions with an expanded toolset that doesn’t just enable new platforming levels, but promises to let you create almost any genre of game you choose.
If the thought of building your own game is too daunting, January also sees the release of both Dead Space 2 and Mass Effect 2. Point the crosshairs. Shoot. Carry on. Nothing to build here – just destroy. Both games are more than just point-and-shoot though, offering that extra element that delivers variety to your collection.
Now that your wallet is empty after the holiday season and the first month of major releases, you might think February will at least allow it time to breathe. Sorry readers – that is just not going to happen.
Two major big-hitters arrive in February to remove any last dregs of your savings account in the form of Killzone 3 and Motorstorm: Apocalypse.
Killzone 3 is an important title in many respects. As well as promising to be the best darn shooter in the history of shooters (and now that Halo is so old, we don’t have to refer to it as a Halo-killer any more), Killzone 3 will probably sell as many 3D TVs as the eventual widescale Blu-ray release of Avatar will. Impressive at every turn, Killzone 3 is expected to sit in our PS3 Blu-ray drive for a very long time. Best to buy two copies, in case one wears out.
Motorstorm: Apocalypse takes the tried and tested adrenaline-fuelled racer to new limits, with tracks that literally collapse as you race on them, creating an environment where not two races will be the same. Insane? Possibly. Engaging? Absolutely.
If that wasn’t enough for you, February sees the release of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Marvel vs Capcom 3, Bulletstorm and Hunted: Demon’s forge. Want more? Look out for your PlayStation Move to waggle along to the sequel of a Wii favourite in De Blob 2: The Underground.
March is also going to be a blockbuster month. The stand out titles include the likes of Crysis 2, which we saw a pre-alpha preview of in 2010. You’ll also be treated to another MMO in the form of the long-awaited Final Fantasy XIV. Yes – in addition to the recently announced slew of FF titles, you’ll actually be able to get your hands dirty with the massively multiplayer online flavour of the franchise. Excited for 2011 yet?
Add in other great games such as Fight Night Champion, Homefront, Dragon Age 2 and F.E.A.R. 3, and it looks like you’ll be completely penniless for the whole of the first quarter of the Year of the Rabbit!
April finally offers you a little breathing space. Portal 2 will arrive on the PS3 with Steam integration and the promise that this version will be the best of any platform. If Portal 2 is too cerebral for your tastes, don’t fear. Mortal Kombat makes a return, and we’re being told that this version will actually recapture some of the spirit lost in recent editions. Since MK is an Attitude Towers favourite, we’re pleased to see the franchise going back in the right direction.
Other spring releases include the likes of Brink, the gangster-em-up L.A. Noire, Shift 2: Unleashed and the HD re-release of both ICO and Shadow of the Colossus. It should also see the release of one of the longest running jokes in the video game industry. Yes folks – Duke Nukem Forever may well arrive in spring 2011, but excuse us if we sound less than fully committal to the date. One from left-field for you; look out for El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron in spring too. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Summer will offer the usual slow-down in the release calendar, allowing you to save all your pennies ready for the mad rush that comes in autumn and winter. DiRT 3 will arrive this summer, offering more of the same from the franchise. The game is shaping up to be a real contender for ‘best ever driving game’. Yes, even better than GT5. Watch this space…
Autumn will see some of our favourite PS3 exclusives return in the form of Resistance 3 and Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One. Resistance 3 is apparently playable right now, if you believe what we’re hearing in gaming circles, so you might wonder why it is going to be held back until the autumn. We can’t say for sure, but it could be that we’ll hear it has been pulled forward as 2011 progresses.
The new Ratchet & Clank game marks a slight departure for the series with multiplayer madness being provided by the bucket-load. It promises to be a huge amount of fun, while still looking like you just stepped into a Pixar movie.
Also being launched in autumn are Red Faction: Armageddon and Rage. You will also see the usual FIFA and PES releases around this time, both factions will no doubt be announcing they have delivered the most accurate football experience yet.
The run-in to the holiday period starts in November with the launch of Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. We all know what to expect here in terms of the characters and the gameplay. What we will most likely be raving about is how much further the team at Naughty Dog have managed to push the PS3 hardware. They – more than most – seem completely adept at getting the most from the black monolith.
Mass Effect 3 will also arrive in November, as will The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and we wouldn’t bet against seeing Modern Warfare 3 either. It is customary for Activision to release a Call of Duty in November and this year is unlikely to be any different – unless the fallout at Infinity Ward has left them too depleted to hit this deadline.
For the big finale to the year, and in an attempt to arrest as much cash from your wallets as possible, the holiday season sees us rounding out 2011 with Batman: Arkham City, inFamous 2 and The Last Guardian. You can also expect Metal Gear Solid Rising to hit the console at the end of the year too.
Batman will be a smash hit in every way, and inFamous 2 is expected to raise the bar even higher this time. Both titles are sequels to massively popular PS3 games that garnered customer and industry plaudits, so it is no surprise that we’re excited for them both. MGS Rising will, without a doubt, create as much well-deserved hype as MGS4 did.
The Last Guardian, however, is the one title this particular author is looking forward to the most. Developed by the team being ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, TLG remains the only trailer we saw last year that created a little tear in our eye. It promises to be a wonderful experience, and should make the holiday season more magical than any white bearded man could possibly manage.
So, in the Year of the Rabbit, it appears that it could well be the PS3′s luckiest and happiest year ever. Wouldn’t you agree?[All dates are based on the best information available to us at the time, and may change at a moment's notice]