Welcome once again to my End of the Year Extravaganza! Unfortunately my own natural ineptitude means that 2011 has officially been and gone by the time I post this, so think of it more as a gentle easing into the new year with a fond look back at some of my personal favourite stuff from the past 12 months.
As I did last year, I want to take this opportunity to point out that what follows is in no way a ‘Best of 2011’ list. I’m sure there are plenty of those clogging up the interwebs if that’s what you’re really looking for, and even my own lists would probably look very different if that’s what I was doing. Instead this is all my favourite (for whatever reason) stuff from 2011. It’s incredibly self-indulgent, I know, but what else are blogs for? ; )
FAVOURITE FILMS OF 2011
· Super 8
· Source Code
· Captain America: The First Avenger
Unlike last year, where Inception stormed to the top of my fave films list with ease, this year’s list wasn’t as easy to compile. Thor makes the top spot largely for being so much better than I expected it would be and for having great re-watch value. Super 8 was just a joy; a bit of a nostalgia trip, sure, but a very well done one. The rest of the list includes three very good, very entertaining flicks that I thoroughly enjoyed. Special mention to X-Men: First Class, which also exceeded my expectations. I should also point out that David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo would probably be on this list except for one thing: I haven’t seen it yet. I was hoping to before writing this blog, but I ran out of time. I have high hopes, though, and if it’s as good as the reviews I’ve seen suggest it is, it would almost certainly have earned a high placing.
FAVOURITE TV SHOWS OF 2011
· Game of Thrones
· Family Guy
· The Big Bang Theory
Ooh, controversy! For the first time since it came back in 2005, Doctor Who doesn’t make my list. As much as I still enjoy the show (and I do), I can’t honestly say I enjoy it as much as I used to, nor do I think the show itself is as good as it’s been in recent years. Fringe has gone from strength to strength and has easily stepped into Lost's place as my current TV favourite. I can't say enough good things about Castle either. Just an incredibly entertaining show. Game of Thrones blew me away, and I was this close to putting it at no.2. Chuck, Family Guy, and The Big Bang Theory round out the list; three shows that I just can’t seem to get enough of. A sedate (at times downright slow) start to The Walking Dead's second season sees it drop off the list too. I had my fingers crossed that the loss of Frank Darabont wouldn't be too detrimental, but I've yet to be convinced.
FAVOURITE VIDEO GAMES OF 2011
· Batman: Arkham City
· Portal 2
· Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
· Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Arkham City is almost the textbook example on how to make a video game sequel that expands on the original, betters it, and loses none of what made the original work so well. Against very stiff competition it was still the easiest no.1 to pick on this whole blog. Even if you don’t like Batman, this is a great game. Although if you do like Batman, it should almost be a compulsory purchase. Hell, buy an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 to play it on if you have to. It’s totally worth it. Portal 2 is just genius. I really can’t say much more than that. If I wasn’t such a big Batman fan, it would probably be my fave game of the year. Uncharted 3 and DXHR are also great games. Uncharted 3 might rank higher if not for the incredibly high standards of Uncharted 2 (which it meets, but never exceeds), and DXHR only makes no.4 because, good as it is, the boss fights were ridiculously out of sync with the rest of the game, and it really started to drag towards the end. Also, at the time of writing I have a bunch of games I haven’t even started playing yet, and each one might’ve had a place on this place on this list: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Sonic Generations, and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. All in all, it’s been a tremendous year for gamers, and 2012 looks set to continue the trend.
FAVOURITE PODCASTS OF 2011
· PWTorch Livecast
· Crazy Sexy Geeks!
· G4TV.com: Feedback
· Wrestling Observer Radio
· ESPN UFC Podcast
· DC Comics Comic-Con Panels Audio
Last year I said that 2010 was the year where I listened to more podcasts than ever before. Apparently I’m a filthy liar, because 2011 was really the year when I listened to a shit-ton of podcasts. If you’re a wrestling fan, then there’s really no excuse for not checking out the PWTorch Livecast. The fellas do a great job. Likewise if you’re an MMA fan - especially a UK-based one - then the ESPN UFC Podcast is well worth a listen. In fact, all of these shows are worth checking out, so hop over to iTunes, why dont’cha?
Now, at this point, I was going to do Favourite Comic Books and Favourite Books of 2011 lists. But as I read most of my comic books as collected editions (and not monthly) and am therefore way behind most monthly readers, it seemed… well, a little pointless. And as for books? Here’s the thing… the backlog of books I have to read is ridiculous. Any new book I bought this year probably won’t be read until next year (unless it’s written by Stephen King - and I haven’t even read his new one yet!) so that, too, seemed pointless. I will say that I finally read The Hunger Games Trilogy this year and loved every bit of it. Special mention for Grant Morrison’s Supergods too. As for comic books, I loved Scott Snyder’s Detective Comics run (collected as Batman: The Black Mirror, which I raved about on Twitter recently), Brian Michael Bendis and Matt Fraction continue to do sterling work on their various Marvel books, and I still think DMZ is one of the best things - of any medium - I’ve ever read. Or at least it was; it’s now sadly ended, and I can’t wait for the final volume next year.
And with that, how’s about we look into my crystal balls (fnarr!) to see what’s coming up in 2012.
MOST ANTICIPATED FILMS OF 2012
· The Dark Knight Rises
· The Avengers
· The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
· The Hunger Games
· The Amazing Spider-Man
This was almost easier to compile than the fave films of 2011 list. There was good stuff released in 2011, no doubt, but 2012 just looks so much better, movie-wise. The problem, if you can call it that, is that I have such high expectations for all these films, the possibility of disappointment is pretty large. But I’m going to be positive: all these flicks look tremendous, and I think they’ll deliver.
MOST ANTICIPATED VIDEO GAMES OF 2012
· Mass Effect 3
· Grand Theft Auto V
· BioShock: Infinite
· Tomb Raider
· Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
· PlayStation Vita
In video gaming terms, 2012 is all about Mass Effect 3 for me. I love - LOVE - this franchise, and March 9th cannot come soon enough for me. But if I drag my eyes away from the Normandy for just a moment, there’s plenty of other good stuff coming too. GTAVis on the way! And after the lessons Rockstar must have learned on Red Dead Redemption, I have high hopes this’ll be the best GTA yet. The rebooted Tomb Raider looks surprisingly awesome, BioShock Infinite is a potential game of the year, Ni No Kuni looks like a playable Studio Ghibli film (come on, how is that not exciting?!), and even though the chances of me being able to afford a PlayStation Vita are pretty slim, I can’t help but excited for it. It looks a damn fine piece of kit - plus, a new Uncharted game might be too tempting to resist.
So there we go. Thanks for indulging my rambling, and I hope you all have a fucking great 2012. Come and find me on Twitter and let me know: what things are you most looking forward to in 2012?