The To-Do List - 2011 Edition

Now that September is drawing to a close and the end of the year is fast approaching, I feel like it's time to lay down the 2011 incarnation of The To-Do List. Those of you who've been following my blogs for a while are probably aware that for the last few years, at around this time, I've laid out some rough plans for how I intend to spend the remainder of my game-playing year. Usually it takes on a pretty simple list-based format, detailing five or six games that I'd like to finish before the year is out. This year I thought I'd take a bit of a broader, paragraph-based approach, and go into a little more detail with each point. Purists need not worry either - the list is still in there, and ambitiously longer than usual. What do I hope the rest of 2011 holds for me? Look below to find out:

Finish Dark Chronicle

Hopefully I'll see how Max and Monica's story ends before the year is out

Dark Chronicle is one hell of a game. With its charming aesthetics, its simple but entertaining story and its extremely varied gameplay, I'd definitely go as far as to say it's one of the best games I've played so far this year. Despite having already sunk over thirty hours into this monstrously huge game, I still feel like I've barely scratched the surface of what's on offer here. There are three months remaining until we usher in 2012, and I'd like to see the credits roll on this gem within that time. The biggest hurdle to overcome here will be simply focusing my attention on the most important aspects of the game - not an easy thing to do when there are so many distracting side-quests and mini-games alongside the core gameplay. If I can tear myself away from fishing and inventing, hopefully the rest of this enormous RPG won't pose too much of a problem.

Complete Season Mode In Forza 3

I'm on the final straight. Will I be able to make it to the finishing line?

Forza Motorsport 3 has been in and out of my Xbox 360 ever since I bought it cheaply in this year's January sales. Almost nine months on, and I still haven't managed to reach the end of the game's brilliant season-based career mode. This is partly down to racing game fatigue, an affliction which sees me grow tired of driving the same cars round the same tracks ad nauseam - not a complaint against Forza, merely a personal quibble with racing games in general. It's also partly down to a will to finish whatever other games I've had on the go at the time. These two factors combined have left me in a position where I'm no more than five more events from the end of Season Mode. This one shouldn't be too difficult for me to polish off, as long as I can avoid the symptoms of racing game fatigue and get around to it before Skyrim is released. Speaking of which...

Get Stuck Into Skyrim

I'll definitely be rocking a Nord in my first Skyrim playthrough

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the only remaining 2011 release on my Must-Buy list. There are a few titles I couldn't care less about, and a few that I'm interested in but happy to wait on (RAGE, Forza 4, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword), but Skyrim is the only game yet to be released this year that I will be snapping up without delay. Having spent well over a hundred hours with Morrowind over the summer of 2009, and over a month with Oblivion earlier this year, I'm really excited about the prospect of having a whole new province of Tamriel to explore. Every new feature teased by Bethesda has pushed my hype meter closer and closer to full capacity - hopefully they will be able to deliver on those promises while also providing a more stable game engine. I'm also toying with the idea of writing some kind of diary-style serial blog, chronicling the adventures of my initial character as I get to grips with the game. I just hope that I manage to finish up Dark Chronicle before November 11th - I'm not sure I could cope with keeping two mammoth RPGs on the go at once!

Win The Champions League In PES 2011's Master League

One of my players will soon be holding that trophy

Despite hating the real-life sport, I've always enjoyed playing football (or soccer) video games, and the Pro Evolution Soccer series in particular. While I could write a whole blog on why this strange fact might be (and I plan to some day), for now I'll simply say that a big part of the draw for me is the concept of Master League - taking a team of unknown players with next to no skill and, through a combination of transfer market dealings and on-pitch dexterity, transforming them into the best football club in the world. PES 2011 has seen me approach this prospect with a whole new level of enthusiasm, even going as far as to custom-build an entire lower division in order to reflect what I hope to achieve. As manager of the Championship side Leeds United, I hope to turn my squad of no-hopers into European champions within eight seasons. Can I do it? Only time will tell...

Reduce My Pile Of Shame

Yep, this is the bit with the list.

To say my Pile of Shame is pretty big would be an understatement. It's enormous, currently standing at well over 100 games, many of which are lengthy RPGs. It hasn't been helped over the years as I've fallen victim to the lure of Steam sales, which, given the low spec of my previous laptop, I was unable to run after buying. As the year has gone on I've been able to clear quite a few games from my Pile of Shame, including some long-term offenders like Manhunt, MediEvil and its sequel, Fable: The Lost Chapters and, most recently, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. But as with any drive of this nature, I can always do more. That's why before the year is out, I hope to make a significant dent in my Pile of Shame. My recent acquisition of a new laptop will hopefully help in this endeavour, enabling me to finally experience some of those impulse Steam purchases.

Usually at this point, I pick five or six games that I hope to finish before the year comes to an end. This year, I've decided to be a bit more adventurous and pick ten. What's the reason for this lunacy? Well, last year, I finished a total of thirty individual games. At the time of writing this blog, so far in 2011 I've finished nineteen. Assuming I'm able to wrap up Dark Chronicle and Forza 3 (I'm not even going to pretend that I might finish Skyrim), that number will rise to twenty-one. If I can then complete all ten games on the list below, that pushes my total to thirty-one, exceeding last year's grand total. Speaking of that list, here it is:

The To-Do List 2011 - The Terrible Ten

1. Batman: Arkham Asylum

I bought this a little while back as part of a '3 for £20' deal, along with Alpha Protocol and Colin McRae DiRT. Even though I'm not big into superheroes, I've heard enough praise for this game to be excited about playing it.

2. BioShock 2

Played the first BioShock back in 2009 and loved it. I've heard the second is lacking in some respects compared to the first, but if it's more of the same then I'm sure it'll be an enjoyable experience.

3. Deus Ex

The only RPG on the list, albeit with good reason - I've been meaning to play Deus Ex for donkey's years. I had intended to play it on PS2, but now that I have this new laptop I might just opt for my Steam-purchased version instead.

4. Halo 2

The original Halo remains one of my all-time favourite FPS games, but I couldn't get into the sequel for some reason. Perhaps going back to it now I'll be able to look past whatever it was that clouded my judgement and enjoy the game.

5. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver

The first of a trio of gothic action-adventure titles on this list, I bought the first Soul Reaver recently after playing and enjoying the sequel way back in 2009. Hopefully it will deliver the same kind of experience.

6. Primal

I attempted to play through Primal last year but became frustrated with its awkward combat controls and apparent lack of meaningful gameplay. Being the kind, forgiving fellow I am, though, I'm willing to give Jen and Scree another chance.

7. Prince of Persia: Warrior Within

After the storybook quality of the first game in the Sands of Time trilogy, Warrior Within's darker aesthetic didn't sit comfortably with me. That aside, the platforming was great, so I'd love to give it another go.

8. Resident Evil 2

Playing through the GameCube remake of Resident Evil prompted me to splash out and buy all the other canonical games between it and Resi 4. I suppose now would be as good a time as any to start playing them.

9. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

Pandora Tomorrow was a huge improvement on the original Splinter Cell in terms of versatility and more forgiving AI. If this continues that trend, I'm sure Sam Fisher and I are going to get along swimmingly.

10. Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation

The Last Revelation has always been my favourite of the original PS1 Tomb Raiders because of its thematic consistency and fiendish puzzles, but I never actually finished it. 2011 might just be the year that changes.

Well, I think that just about wraps up this blog. Except for one last point...

Resume 'Enduring Final Fantasy VII'

Unlike Aerith, Enduring FFVII is very much alive. Also, belated spoiler warning.

For those of you who might be unaware of it, 'Enduring Final Fantasy VII' is a series of blogs I began in February last year. A chronicle of my current playthrough of the game, it was intended to establish whether or not Square's most celebrated release is still worth playing now. Instalments in the series have been pretty sporadic to say the least, primarily as a result of University commitments preventing me from writing as much as I'd have liked to. The most recent lull in proceedings has been caused by the misplacement of my PSP's mains charger. No charger means no battery life, and no battery life means no way of carrying on with that gamesave. I intend to work around this by picking the original PlayStation version of the game back up, re-playing everything I've already documented, and then continuing the series from there. It's going to take me some time to do this, but I'm determined to see this series through to the end. I've enjoyed every second of writing it, and I'd like to think there are some people out there who've enjoyed reading it just as much. I'll post more on the subject in the near future, but for now, all you need to know is that 'Enduring Final Fantasy VII' is still a thing. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

---

Well, there you have it. That's the plan for the last three months of my gaming year. How do you reckon I'll cope? Will I breeze through it, no sweat? Will I leap over some of these hurdles while stumbling through others? Or will I completely abandon this regime in favour of wasting even more time with my latest obsession, The Sims 3? It's hard for even me to tell at this point. If any of you guys have any hopes for what you'll achieve between now and December 31st, I'd be really interested to hear about it - as always, sound off in the Comments below. In the meantime, thanks very much for reading, and I'll see you around.

Dan

---

Currently playing - The Sims 3 (PC)

12 Comments
13 Comments
Posted by dankempster

Now that September is drawing to a close and the end of the year is fast approaching, I feel like it's time to lay down the 2011 incarnation of The To-Do List. Those of you who've been following my blogs for a while are probably aware that for the last few years, at around this time, I've laid out some rough plans for how I intend to spend the remainder of my game-playing year. Usually it takes on a pretty simple list-based format, detailing five or six games that I'd like to finish before the year is out. This year I thought I'd take a bit of a broader, paragraph-based approach, and go into a little more detail with each point. Purists need not worry either - the list is still in there, and ambitiously longer than usual. What do I hope the rest of 2011 holds for me? Look below to find out:

Finish Dark Chronicle

Hopefully I'll see how Max and Monica's story ends before the year is out

Dark Chronicle is one hell of a game. With its charming aesthetics, its simple but entertaining story and its extremely varied gameplay, I'd definitely go as far as to say it's one of the best games I've played so far this year. Despite having already sunk over thirty hours into this monstrously huge game, I still feel like I've barely scratched the surface of what's on offer here. There are three months remaining until we usher in 2012, and I'd like to see the credits roll on this gem within that time. The biggest hurdle to overcome here will be simply focusing my attention on the most important aspects of the game - not an easy thing to do when there are so many distracting side-quests and mini-games alongside the core gameplay. If I can tear myself away from fishing and inventing, hopefully the rest of this enormous RPG won't pose too much of a problem.

Complete Season Mode In Forza 3

I'm on the final straight. Will I be able to make it to the finishing line?

Forza Motorsport 3 has been in and out of my Xbox 360 ever since I bought it cheaply in this year's January sales. Almost nine months on, and I still haven't managed to reach the end of the game's brilliant season-based career mode. This is partly down to racing game fatigue, an affliction which sees me grow tired of driving the same cars round the same tracks ad nauseam - not a complaint against Forza, merely a personal quibble with racing games in general. It's also partly down to a will to finish whatever other games I've had on the go at the time. These two factors combined have left me in a position where I'm no more than five more events from the end of Season Mode. This one shouldn't be too difficult for me to polish off, as long as I can avoid the symptoms of racing game fatigue and get around to it before Skyrim is released. Speaking of which...

Get Stuck Into Skyrim

I'll definitely be rocking a Nord in my first Skyrim playthrough

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the only remaining 2011 release on my Must-Buy list. There are a few titles I couldn't care less about, and a few that I'm interested in but happy to wait on (RAGE, Forza 4, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword), but Skyrim is the only game yet to be released this year that I will be snapping up without delay. Having spent well over a hundred hours with Morrowind over the summer of 2009, and over a month with Oblivion earlier this year, I'm really excited about the prospect of having a whole new province of Tamriel to explore. Every new feature teased by Bethesda has pushed my hype meter closer and closer to full capacity - hopefully they will be able to deliver on those promises while also providing a more stable game engine. I'm also toying with the idea of writing some kind of diary-style serial blog, chronicling the adventures of my initial character as I get to grips with the game. I just hope that I manage to finish up Dark Chronicle before November 11th - I'm not sure I could cope with keeping two mammoth RPGs on the go at once!

Win The Champions League In PES 2011's Master League

One of my players will soon be holding that trophy

Despite hating the real-life sport, I've always enjoyed playing football (or soccer) video games, and the Pro Evolution Soccer series in particular. While I could write a whole blog on why this strange fact might be (and I plan to some day), for now I'll simply say that a big part of the draw for me is the concept of Master League - taking a team of unknown players with next to no skill and, through a combination of transfer market dealings and on-pitch dexterity, transforming them into the best football club in the world. PES 2011 has seen me approach this prospect with a whole new level of enthusiasm, even going as far as to custom-build an entire lower division in order to reflect what I hope to achieve. As manager of the Championship side Leeds United, I hope to turn my squad of no-hopers into European champions within eight seasons. Can I do it? Only time will tell...

Reduce My Pile Of Shame

Yep, this is the bit with the list.

To say my Pile of Shame is pretty big would be an understatement. It's enormous, currently standing at well over 100 games, many of which are lengthy RPGs. It hasn't been helped over the years as I've fallen victim to the lure of Steam sales, which, given the low spec of my previous laptop, I was unable to run after buying. As the year has gone on I've been able to clear quite a few games from my Pile of Shame, including some long-term offenders like Manhunt, MediEvil and its sequel, Fable: The Lost Chapters and, most recently, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. But as with any drive of this nature, I can always do more. That's why before the year is out, I hope to make a significant dent in my Pile of Shame. My recent acquisition of a new laptop will hopefully help in this endeavour, enabling me to finally experience some of those impulse Steam purchases.

Usually at this point, I pick five or six games that I hope to finish before the year comes to an end. This year, I've decided to be a bit more adventurous and pick ten. What's the reason for this lunacy? Well, last year, I finished a total of thirty individual games. At the time of writing this blog, so far in 2011 I've finished nineteen. Assuming I'm able to wrap up Dark Chronicle and Forza 3 (I'm not even going to pretend that I might finish Skyrim), that number will rise to twenty-one. If I can then complete all ten games on the list below, that pushes my total to thirty-one, exceeding last year's grand total. Speaking of that list, here it is:

The To-Do List 2011 - The Terrible Ten

1. Batman: Arkham Asylum

I bought this a little while back as part of a '3 for £20' deal, along with Alpha Protocol and Colin McRae DiRT. Even though I'm not big into superheroes, I've heard enough praise for this game to be excited about playing it.

2. BioShock 2

Played the first BioShock back in 2009 and loved it. I've heard the second is lacking in some respects compared to the first, but if it's more of the same then I'm sure it'll be an enjoyable experience.

3. Deus Ex

The only RPG on the list, albeit with good reason - I've been meaning to play Deus Ex for donkey's years. I had intended to play it on PS2, but now that I have this new laptop I might just opt for my Steam-purchased version instead.

4. Halo 2

The original Halo remains one of my all-time favourite FPS games, but I couldn't get into the sequel for some reason. Perhaps going back to it now I'll be able to look past whatever it was that clouded my judgement and enjoy the game.

5. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver

The first of a trio of gothic action-adventure titles on this list, I bought the first Soul Reaver recently after playing and enjoying the sequel way back in 2009. Hopefully it will deliver the same kind of experience.

6. Primal

I attempted to play through Primal last year but became frustrated with its awkward combat controls and apparent lack of meaningful gameplay. Being the kind, forgiving fellow I am, though, I'm willing to give Jen and Scree another chance.

7. Prince of Persia: Warrior Within

After the storybook quality of the first game in the Sands of Time trilogy, Warrior Within's darker aesthetic didn't sit comfortably with me. That aside, the platforming was great, so I'd love to give it another go.

8. Resident Evil 2

Playing through the GameCube remake of Resident Evil prompted me to splash out and buy all the other canonical games between it and Resi 4. I suppose now would be as good a time as any to start playing them.

9. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

Pandora Tomorrow was a huge improvement on the original Splinter Cell in terms of versatility and more forgiving AI. If this continues that trend, I'm sure Sam Fisher and I are going to get along swimmingly.

10. Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation

The Last Revelation has always been my favourite of the original PS1 Tomb Raiders because of its thematic consistency and fiendish puzzles, but I never actually finished it. 2011 might just be the year that changes.

Well, I think that just about wraps up this blog. Except for one last point...

Resume 'Enduring Final Fantasy VII'

Unlike Aerith, Enduring FFVII is very much alive. Also, belated spoiler warning.

For those of you who might be unaware of it, 'Enduring Final Fantasy VII' is a series of blogs I began in February last year. A chronicle of my current playthrough of the game, it was intended to establish whether or not Square's most celebrated release is still worth playing now. Instalments in the series have been pretty sporadic to say the least, primarily as a result of University commitments preventing me from writing as much as I'd have liked to. The most recent lull in proceedings has been caused by the misplacement of my PSP's mains charger. No charger means no battery life, and no battery life means no way of carrying on with that gamesave. I intend to work around this by picking the original PlayStation version of the game back up, re-playing everything I've already documented, and then continuing the series from there. It's going to take me some time to do this, but I'm determined to see this series through to the end. I've enjoyed every second of writing it, and I'd like to think there are some people out there who've enjoyed reading it just as much. I'll post more on the subject in the near future, but for now, all you need to know is that 'Enduring Final Fantasy VII' is still a thing. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

---

Well, there you have it. That's the plan for the last three months of my gaming year. How do you reckon I'll cope? Will I breeze through it, no sweat? Will I leap over some of these hurdles while stumbling through others? Or will I completely abandon this regime in favour of wasting even more time with my latest obsession, The Sims 3? It's hard for even me to tell at this point. If any of you guys have any hopes for what you'll achieve between now and December 31st, I'd be really interested to hear about it - as always, sound off in the Comments below. In the meantime, thanks very much for reading, and I'll see you around.

Dan

---

Currently playing - The Sims 3 (PC)

Posted by Video_Game_King

You can probably skip that Tomb Raider game. The first one wasn't that good, and given that the ones after it are the same (as I've heard), I doubt they're too good, either. I'm willing to be wrong, but I doubt that I will be. Now I must be off, for I must find other ways to increase my massive ego.

Posted by MooseyMcMan

Neat list. I made a list of things to do this year too. But I started a while go. Got most of it done too.

Moderator
Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

Man, I'll tell you this much - staying on track for a committed "Enduring" series, even one with as brief a story as Disgaea 4, is a hell of a lot more work than it would seem. Good luck with everything you've got going. I was a big fan of Resident Evil 2 back in the day, but have since developed a certain, uh, wussiness towards horror video games. I can't help it, they've become too damn realistic!

Moderator
Posted by MistaSparkle

Definitely going through Chaos Theory and Deus Ex by the end of the year also. Plus Arkham Asylum needs to be beaten.

Posted by niamahai

yo you should go back to Warrior Within. The Godsmack soundtrack is enough to justify another playthrough.

Posted by dankempster

@Video_Game_King: Call me crazy, but I've always enjoyed the first five Tomb Raider games. Nostalgia probably plays a big part in that, though, as they were some of the first games I played on the PlayStation. One of my earliest gaming memories is helping my parents move through a difficult part of the first TR game, and seeing their reaction as I made what they thought was an impossible jump. I'm more than prepared for the fact those games haven't aged well (the control scheme was unwieldy, even in 1996), but I still think the aesthetic and the puzzling will be enough to keep me entertained through it.

@MooseyMcMan: Just taken a gander at your list. Congratulations on managing to clear so much of it, and with three months still to go! I somehow suspect I might not be as successful in my endeavour, as I've set the bar pretty damn high. Hopefully I'll get most of it done, though.

@Sparky_Buzzsaw: Tell me about it, right? At times, enduring the endurance is even more enduring than enduring the game you're supposed to be enduring! Also, as a self-confessed fan of RE2, I guess I should ask your opinion... Should I play as Leon or Claire? Is there much difference between the two? Or do you really need to play both scenarios to get the whole picture? I've looked around for more info about the game on the net, but can't seem to find answers to those questions.

@niamahai: I've been meaning to give it a second chance for so long. Even I think that an aesthetic is a silly reason not to enjoy a game, but from what I can remember the whole thing just felt so incongruous, like they'd shoehorned in the darker colour palette just for the sake of it, almost. I'm sure going back to it, I'll love it and internall scold myself for not having done so all those years ago. I'll be sure to post some thoughts up on here when I'm done with it.

Posted by Swoxx

I have a to-do list as well, it only includes female celebrities though.

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

@dankempster:

Oh hell, that's a head-scratcher. I don't remember much about how each story played out, but I think I remember both sides being fairly equal in difficulty. It wasn't an easy game to finish. I can't be certain about this, but if you're planning to finish the game as both characters, I think how you well you did in your first playthrough can make things much easier the second time.

Moderator
Posted by BulletproofMonk

Just started Dark Chronicle as well. I'm enjoying it so far, but I'm really early into the game, so I can't really give any proper thoughts. I have a question about it, though. Is the dungeon crawling a big part of that game? Because that's definitely the part I'm enjoying the least.

Also, Final Fantasy VII. It makes me sad that I still have to wait, but I know it'll be worth it when it returns. I'm excited! :)

Posted by Video_Game_King
@Sparky_Buzzsaw said:

I think how you well you did in your first playthrough can make things much easier the second time.

Kind of; things you did in the first playthrough affected what happened in the second. It can go both ways in terms of difficulty.
Edited by dankempster

@BulletproofMonk: I think it's safe to say the dungeon-crawling aspect is pretty integral to the game as a whole - it is the primary way of advancing the story. How far into the game are you? Once you reach the second 'dungeon' and Monica joins your party, the game becomes less hand-holdy and things do start to improve. It's also worth noting that the game has a LOT of side-quests that open up to you over time, so there's no obligation to power your way through multiple levels of later dungeons in one sitting, as there is in the start of the game. I'd advise you to stick with it and see how you feel after some time in the second dungeon.

Posted by Mento

Wow, Primal takes me back. I blitzed through that thing pretty quickly, so take solace in that at least if you attempt to beat it yourself. It's not a bad game, but you're right that it has some gaping flaws. I'm glad you're liking DC2; it's still my favourite JRPG game of all time and I'm still holding out hope that Level-5 knocks it off with all their dull Monster Hunter clones with giant robot armour suits and goes back to it.

But man do I also have a lot of average-to-mediocre PS2 games on the sidelines. I wonder if I'll ever beat even half of them, especially now I have an equally large Steam library to get through too.

Moderator