2011 – A YEAR IN REVIEW
(I originally wrote this piece to feature in the Christmas episode of our Inside Xbox show ‘The NExUS’, but I reckon it works on its own, plus it saves me from having to write something else. If you want to see it with moving pictures, head here)
Every year it’s the same; you stagger into January after a month of shameful, shameless excess, bloated and content, and make the same vow: this year’s going to be different.
The same, empty vow.
And, sure enough it starts off okay; a little Dead Space 2 in January, the odd lapse into old habits with Bulletstorm, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Dragon Age II as February and March’s cool weather conspires to keep you indoors. Generally, though, you’re doing ok. That screenplay you’ve always intended to start on now has a title and the semblance of a plot. Those lunchtime jogs are still a regular thing, and it doesn’t even really feel like that much of an effort. You’ve finally got round to picking up the guitar that’s being gathering dust in the corner and learning a few chords.
This is it. This is the year.
Suddenly, it’s spring, and nature stirs back into life. At least you assume it has, because that grass is suddenly looking quite overgrown. Surely that was only a couple of hours spent drinking in Portal 2’s brilliance, a few harmless afternoons tearing meat from Mortal Kombat’s bones, a mere several cancelled games of footie in the park to get your teeth into LA Noire… How do you play a C chord again?
The central heating’s off, but anything thicker than a bed sheet is enough to drench you in your own sweat, which must mean it’s summer now. Good job those jogs in the park are still a regular fixture, isn’t it? Got to keep that body looking trim and toned when it’s t-shirts and shorts time. It’s certainly no time to be distracted by the unique tastes of Child of Eden, nor compelled by the dark pleasures of FEAR 3 and Shadows of the Damned. Maybe the odd nibble on something a little more bite-sized. Bastion, perhaps, or From Dust. What harm can it do? And anyway, a jog once every fortnight or so still counts as regular, doesn’t it?
I mean, of course you’re not going to burn many calories devouring Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but offset it with a regular intake of Fruit Ninja Kinect and it all balances out. Yes, you tell yourself, it all balances out.
The early signs of autumn roll in, and an unmistakable sense of déjà vu hits you. You’ve dined here before. The dishes are certainly familiar, anyway. Gears of War, Formula One, FIFA, Driver, El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. Wait. No, not the last one. That’s new.
Question: what’s the protagonist’s name in that screenplay you’ve been working on? Ah, she doesn’t have one. Yet. Of course – yet.
You figure that last shred of guilt you feel will be atoned for with some self-flagellation, the Dark Souls way. Fair enough. Forza 4, Battlefield 3 and Batman: Arkham City, though? Fruit cakes and crumbles don’t count towards your five a day. Sorry. Dance Central 2 and Kinect Sports: Season Two? Low in fat, perhaps, but high in sugar.
It’s when the morning frost forms, the sun sets barely after it’s risen and you feel that urge to socialise with people you’ve ignored the rest of the year that you finally concede. Gradually, imperceptibly, your good intentions have been eroded and the urge to gorge has resurfaced, more urgent than ever before. So you tuck in, and it is sublime. So many different flavours to enjoy. Modern Warfare 3, Skyrim, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, Halo Anniversary, Saints Row: The Third, Rayman Origins, Disneyland Adventures. Mmmm. You even eye up the wafer-thin Black Eyed Peas Experience hungrily before realising you can’t manage another morsel.
You fall back into your chair, shallow of breath, fit to burst. “I’ve done it again,” you say, smiling, “and it was worth it.”
“Besides, there’s always next year.”