So here we are ladies and gentlemen at the end of another year, my goodness this year feels like it moved so slowly and yet here we are nearing the end of 2011 and looking back on everything that took place in this year it all seems to have flown by in a flash. A lot has happened in the world this year and I really mean a lot, there’s even been a fair amount of things that’s gone down in my world too. But at the same time for all this year’s happenings things have been pretty tame and dull when compared to previous years.
When a year comes to an end it always seems to come out of nowhere, like you’re always aware it’s going to happen but never see it coming until the last-minute and when you are in the last days of December it gets kind of surreal to know that you’ll be transitioning into another year with brand new experiences just around the corner. I always look forward to the future purely because of the level of unpredictability it brings, obviously there’s specific stuff I look forward to in the New Year like games or films or personal life-changing experiences I may have, and I assume there will be a lot of that in 2012. However for now I shall look back on the year and reflect on all the happenings that I can recall over the past year. Oh and by the way this blog post is going to be absurdly long so if you don’t want to read the entire thing skip to the parts relevant to you or if you’re really lazy just read the conclusion at the bottom. 😀
It is strange, this year in terms of gaming has been very interesting and there have been some absolutely incredible titles showing up over the course of the year, and the change and shift in power between Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony in console wars and games development department has definitely taken a dramatic turn in a lot of ways. Also this year mobile gaming has become more apparent and all the talk surrounding the 8th generation of gaming is amplifying with Nintendo 3DS already out, the PlayStation Vita soon to be released and then with the Nintendo Wii U supposedly coming out next year. And there’s the rumours surrounding the PS4 and Xbox 720 too, so the future of gaming is actually starting to be talked about in a realistic manner.
This year has been a fairly rocky one for Nintendo with the release of their 3DS handheld in March. The 3DS had a fairly poor launch, it also had a hefty price tag and many gamers wondered if the 3DS would be worth buying at launch. Unfortunately for Nintendo people didn’t run out to buy the 3DS and the sales figures showed. The initial set of sales showed a slow but decent number of 3DS units being sold, however after a while the 3DS became non-existent. Sure there was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D and Resident Evil: The Mercenaries to keep people preoccupied, but it wasn’t enough and for while the 3DS looked like it was just going die before all the good games showed up. Eventually Star Fox 64 3D shifted a few units, but it really wasn’t until November when actual good first party material showed up. Thanks to Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 the 3DS survived and helped shift a good number of units. Nintendo also gave a price cut to the 3DS along with software updates and Gameboy games were made available too. The 3DS was finally in a good place in the world of gaming. Along with their problems with the 3DS the Wii saw itself falling off of the face of the earth, with there being only two major releases over the course of the entire year which was Kirby’s Return to Dreamland and the highly anticipated The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. While the latest Zelda has been highly praised, in the end it wasn’t enough. It was clear that the Wii was on its way out especially with the Wii U so close by. And speaking of the Wii U, let’s look back to E3 2011 when Nintendo showed off the Wii U, the successor to its current home console. It’s a new a console that also has a tablet-like controller that you can play your games on and you can also shift the games you play from the tablet controller to the console. The hardware specs say that the console is going to be HD compatible, has many USB ports and there was going to be so much more third-party games on this new console when compared to the Wii. Everything seemed better, although the hardware seemed to be so much better than the current Wii console, in a way it was a few years too late. A HD Nintendo console is all and well, but again it’s too late and by the time the PS4 and Xbox 720 show up, graphically and hardware-wise Nintendo will probably be trailing in the dust again unless they have some very well hidden strategy. We can only wait until 2012 and see what happens.
I haven’t really followed Microsoft or Sony this year purely because I’m mainly a Nintendo-based gamer, unless the games were really worth my attention. All I know is that there have been some fabulous games this year, other than the already mentioned Zelda: Skyward Sword, other great games have show up in the shape of Portal 2, Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, Mortal Kombat 9, FIFA 12, the epic Skyrim, the critically acclaimed Uncharted 3, the endless Minecraft, Mario Kart 7, Infinity Blade II, the long-awaited Batman: Arkham City, the unforgiving Dark Souls and Gears of War 3 just to name a few. In my world of gaming I only got around to playing two big games of 2011, which was Sonic Generations and Zelda: Skyward Sword, both games gave me endless hours of joy, though obviously Zelda was the much better game by miles! I eventually got around to playing Mortal Kombat 9 too just before Christmas, which was stupidly awesome by the way. But the fact that I’ve only played 3 big games in 2011 shows how little gaming is part of my world these days. Before in previous years I would have gone to extreme lengths to play all of these games, but I guess I’m not as bothered as I used to be. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop playing games though, because that’s just crazy talk, I am a gamer. Fact. 🙂
When it comes to film in 2011 I’m not gonna lie, this year was a bit of a let-down to be honest. When this year started I was so excited for all material I was going to witness in the cinema and I thought that this year would be a totally fabulous year for cinema. However over course of the year several films came and were fairly lacklustre, uninspiring and downright disappointing. I wanted to cry and started to question what is going on with the world of cinema. Though this year hasn’t been all bad, there have actually been some good films that I have had the pleasure of watching, there have even been some brilliant films spread out over the year, though it’s unfortunate because it’s those films that are normally never seen. 2011 has also been a partially annoying year due to the continuing amount of sequels, remakes/reboots and spin-offs that keep getting made and let’s not forget the continuing amount of films that we were forced to watch in 3D that frustrated many cinema-goers to no end because of the additional price on top of your ticket and most of the time the 3D effect didn’t make a difference.
So let’s talk about the good films I have seen. So let’s start with Source Code, now this was a film I knew nothing about but heard many interesting things so I went to watch it with an open mind and it was lovely. It was a great film with an intriguing story and good sci-fi elements and I believe this to be Jake Gyllenhaal’s best film. Fast Five, the 5th instalment in the series was probably the best in the series as it delivers action on so many levels and it was just entertaining and that’s all that anyone could want from this series. It had cars, girls and Vin Diesel vs. Dwayne Johnson, sweet! Now moving onto my favourite film of the year, Thor. My god was that film was awesome, I really love it! Thor just had a great story to tell, with all the family drama between Thor and not only his brother Loki, but also his father and then there’s the adventures he has with the earthlings after he gets banished from his home world. It was just pure fun for me and that’s why I saw the film 5 times! Then I watched my second Marvel film which was X-Men: First Class which was surprisingly amazing, I was wary of this film due to the way the Wolverine film turned out. But First Class was a breath of fresh air and it kicked ass. I also saw Kung-Fu Panda 2 and that was definitely one of the best sequels I’ve seen in an animated format. I also got to watch this awesome documentary called Senna which was one of the best films I have ever seen. For me a person as a person who’s never been interested in Formula 1 the film was incredibly informative and engaging, very emotional and truly magnificent.
With 2011 also came the final film in the Harry Potter film series in the form of Harry Potter And the Deathly Hallows Part 2. It was a day I never wanted to come but in the end all things have to finish and the final Harry Potter film was lovely and quite emotional too, I watched it 3 times because I couldn’t let go of the characters yet! Over the summer I also got around to watching Super 8, the mysterious science fiction film that was hidden away from the world until a few months prior to the film’s release. I thought the film was nice, beautiful, heartfelt and even magical in some ways. Continuing through the summer was the highly anticipated film for The Inbetweeners TV series, The Inbetweeners Movie. I saw the trailers but I thought the film would be pants because most films based TV series’ suck, but luckily this film didn’t, in fact it was one of the funniest films I have seen in the cinema for years, maybe ever. And then the last film I saw in the summer was the reboot/prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes and that was absolutely awesome, it had great story to tell, some great action and CGI and Andy Serkis was frigging wicked! Then in September I decided to watch Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy which had a very impressive trailer prior to the film’s release so I watched it and was impressive, but also very, very confusing. The film was so many layers of story along with a non-linear style of story-telling and it was hard to keep track of everything that was going on, maybe I’m just stupid but a lot of things in that film was way beyond my comprehension.
And after that I was away from the cinema for 3 months due to my busy schedule with uni and timing issues. So when December came into play the first film I saw was Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. I had been waiting for this film for so long and luckily it met my expectations and then exceeded them, the film was great full of action, a great story and character development too. I then watched Puss in Boots next out of interest to see if it would be any good when compared to the Shrek films and man it was actually really good. It was a lot better than the last 2 Shrek films and it stands on its own in a unique world full of adventure and great leading characters. Then after Boxing Day I saw Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and it was wicked! It was a film I didn’t think would work because I didn’t believe it was entirely necessary, but then I watched he film and was overly impressed, it had action to an absurd level, Tom Cruise is still badass and Brad Bird is an amazing director who needs to be directing more films. And the last film I saw in 2011 was the American version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I was hoping that this would be good, though since it was David Fincher directing I wasn’t going to doubt his powers and he delivered a great film which was as disturbing as it was brilliant, Rooney Mara was incredible as the main character and Daniel Craig was equally good in the film too.
Now let’s talk about the bad films of 2011 starting with Sucker Punch, my god that film sucked. It was one of those sort of films that had too many ideas in the pre-production process and someone just decided to mesh all the ideas together into one story and that’s what this film felt like to me, a cluttered mess with ideas that weren’t fully realised. Besides the fact that the visual effects and the women who all looked hot in the end that didn’t compensate for the bad acting, bad plot and an overall bad movie. Then there was also the 4th instalment in the Pirates of the Caribbean series that shouldn’t have happened, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. For me the film was just okay, just barely better than the last film but that’s not saying much, Captain Jack Sparrow just isn’t as entertaining as he used to be and the film felt like a wasted opportunity and I felt like I wasted my time watching it the cinema. There was also another 4th instalment in another film series and that was Scream 4 which was a long-delayed sequel featuring the entire original cast member from the first 3 films, the film was alright, but not anything worth shouting about.
Next we have the film adaptation of Green Lantern, for some reason ever since I saw the first trailer I knew this film was gonna suck, while the later trailers looked better, I still wasn’t totally convinced, so then I watched the film and man was it lame. The GL film just wasn’t something you could take seriously and while I know it comes from the realm of science fiction, there has to be some level of realism for the audience to believe what’s going on or the film doesn’t work. I just didn’t like the film and it has proved once again that DC have a long way to go before they can make any films that aren’t Batman-related. With the summer coming into play, we were treated to comedy sequel The Hangover Part 2. Now for me I didn’t think that the first Hangover film needed a sequel, it was great on its own, but heck that’ll never stop Hollywood because they’re corrupt when it comes to film sequels. Basically The Hangover 2 was bad, sure there were a few chuckles to be had but overall the film was just the same as the original except it was in another location, with a different missing person, but the film was just bad, end of. Another sequel that sucked was Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Now before this film came out I had hoped it would be good, heck I would have hoped it was at least going to be better than Revenge of the Fallen, however my hopes were dashed when I actually saw the film. Man, the 3rd instalment in the Transformers films from Michael Bay just sucked, just plain sucked. There was nothing creditable about the film outside of the CGI robot fights, but otherwise this was one of the most forgettable films of 2011 and I continuously forget it even existed, that’s how bad it was.
And last now for the last disappointing film of this year which was Captain America: The First Avenger. Now I know that there were a lot of people who really liked this film, but to me this film just felt like it lacked that special superhero feeling that makes most other films in this genre work. The film rushed over too aspects in Steve Rogers’ life and most of the action scenes were in montage and was most of that stuff we saw in the trailers. But I think the main thing that hurt my soul was Hugo Weaving’s depiction of the Red Skull. Though he looked the part, somehow the filmmakers dumbed down his character making him come across as some sort of boring generic supervillain wanting to take over the world, there was so much more to the character than that and I wish it had been explored more.
My Top 5 Favourite Films of the Year:
- X-Men: First Class
- Rise of the Planet of the Apes
- Harry Potter And the Deathly Hallows Part 2
- Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
My Professional Top 10 Films of the Year:
- X-Men: First Class
- Rise of the Planet of the Apes
- Harry Potter And the Deathly Hallows Part 2
- Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
- Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
- Kung-Fu Panda 2
- Puss In Boots
- Fast Five
When it comes to music in 2011 strangely a lot hasn’t changed, most new music I don’t really care about it either because it all sounds the same or it just generally sucks. That’s my basic opinion of things, don’t hate. However I can probably say that I was pretty into music more so this year than I was last year due to an open mind, constant radio airplay and friends constantly playing songs until they were embedded in my mind. Most of the music that I listened to this year was from continuing artists who had established themselves before 2010 unless they were new artists with a good sound. Chris Brown finally returned to the world of music properly after his rocky path in his career with his new album F.A.M.E which was a pretty darn good improvement over his previous album. The Friendly Fires returned in 2011 with the second album Pala which took the band in a different direction in terms of sound while still retaining the awesome sounds they created with their first album. The Red Hot Chili Peppers busted out their latest album, I’m With You in August and while a lot of long-time fans can’t accept the fact that the old guitarist John Frusciante isn’t part of the band anymore and hate the new album, in my opinion I love the album, though it’s an album that takes a little while to get into, when you find your groove this albums sounds really incredible. The Foo Fighters also busted out their latest album Wasting Light in the early part of 2011 and it was one of the best albums I had heard for a while, it’s loud its proud and has incredible amounts of replay value.
Other than albums I have listened to I have found myself listening to a lot more artists than I usually would. Like Katy Perry for instance, her singles from her Teenage Dream album really did start to grow on me this year and LMFAO were a group which I really didn’t care for when their first single came out even though it was fairly addictive, it wasn’t until I got their album and the single “Sexy And I Know It” came out that I became a fan. I was also obsessed with the song “Earthquake” by Labrinth featuring Tinie Tempah, at first it just started out as a song I heard via my sister and then my friend picked it up and played it ever since September and continuously we have raved to that song whenever the opportunity represented itself. I also found myself listening to Deadmau5, David Guetta, Tinie Tempah, The Kooks & Maroon 5 too. I also became obsessed with the band Them Crooked Vultures, their self-titled album was one of the best things I had ever heard, I continuously listened to the songs “Elephants”, “Bandoliers”, “Dead End Friends” and “Reptiles”. I have become one of their new biggest fans and I am eagerly anticipating their follow-up album.
Though I have listened to much more new music then I did in the previous 2 years, I have still been looking further into the past for my music needs. I have also expanded my listening habits with more attention paid to jazz, classical, hip-hop, dance and rock music. I found out this year that I was really into jazz, more so than ever before. So there was much love for Joe Henderson and Yellowjackets among others. I have also gone back to the 90s for my hip-hop with a lot of A Tribe Called Quest going on in my iTunes.
My Top 5 Songs of the Year
- Labrinth – Earthquake
- Chris Brown – Beautiful People
- Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie
- Friendly Fires – Hawaiian Air
- Foo Fighters – Rope
But my real obsession with music this year has come from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. My god, I am so in love with their music at this point in my life and it was in the year 2011 that made that fact so very clear to me. I mean I’ve always loved their sound and have a lot of love for their albums Blood Sugar Sex Magik, By The Way and Californication. But when their new album I’m With You hit I thought to myself I had to get it. So when their first hit, “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” I was initially in two minds about it but then I couldn’t stop playing it, then when I heard “Brendan’s Death Song” my ears were so moved by what they heard. So I decided in September that I wanted to see them live when they came to Sheffield in November. I listened to the album the same month and while initially it wasn’t what I had expected, there were definitely some proper awesome tracks on the album. Then I saw them in concert and I blew up, seeing them at the Motorpoint Arena was the most incredible thing of my life! And finally after all these years I got to see one my favourite bands live. It was after that I became obsessed with the Chili Peppers and I played their music continuously for ages, it was like I had to have my fix of their music all the time or I’d blow up.
Man oh man. In 2011 there have been several revelations that have taken place in my world which have literally changed my life in many ways, some it for the good and some of it for the worse. One big thing that happened was that I turned 21, but all that I did was chill in college doing a radio takeover, I went to London for dinner with family and friends but in the end I didn’t do anything extra or any partying, it was pretty tame and boring haha. Moving onto college, let’s go back to the earlier part of the year back I was still working as a voluntary media technician, man times were so much different back then. Continuing from when I started my volunteering job back in September 2010, over that course of time I was still working the college radio, doing tedious work-based tasks for tutors and expanding my friend collection on the side. I also found out the true meaning of manual labour when I was left up in Stockwood Park Discovery Centre, on several days I was sent up there to remove staples from walls, plaster holes in walls and paint walls for days on end.
My god it was like I was losing my mind in there, luckily I had my music to keep me alive but still I was so lonely working on an exhibition that wasn’t gonna take place for weeks. When it was completed the end result was pretty good, but still those were days of my life that I’d never get back. But other than my suffering working on that exhibition I truly did learn what it was like to work in a real job environment, to be needed by people, to help tutors and students and be part of a team. I had a lot of jobs to do, many of which I really didn’t like doing; besides handling the radio stuff, everything else felt like a tedious task to be honest. I lost so much enthusiasm for life in that place. Though it’s funny, for all the work I did do, I was fairly irresponsible and didn’t do as much as I should have, though to be frank I had done a fair amount of stuff so I really took my breaks when I needed them. So when my time at college ended in July and me and the rest of the Vtalent volunteers went our separate ways it was a heart-breaking, yet joyful moment, joyful in the sense that we’d never have work and suffer ever again, but at the same time I was losing my friends who’d been crew that had been built up since September.
Other than working at college one other major thing has happened to me which has changed my world; the fact that I went to university. Yep, I saddled up, left my hometown and went off to establish a new life in Sheffield. Now I had been told many things about uni before I went up so I had a few ideas of what to expect, but when I went up there in September nothing could have prepared me for happened. Firstly in my accommodation I found out I was not only the last man to show up, but that I was going to be sharing my flat with 4 other guys which was strange due to the fact that we all signed up for mixed gender lol. Secondly we went out on the night I arrived and I was introduced to the awesome nightlife, holy man there was so lights, so many people all over the place, so many different types of clubs and such electrifying in the air, it was frigging sweet. Thirdly I actually started my course in animation, now animation is something I’ve wanted to do for years but have never had the time or the mind-set to tackle it, so with it being part of uni then it would be mandatory so I would have to the work haha. And while it took a while for the course to get going and some of the assignments and lectures were a bit bogus, but in the end I have adjusted and enjoyed a lot of my work so far. And lastly it’s all been about living in Sheffield, it took me around a week or 2 to realise that living in Sheffield on my own was actually happening, that it was real and that this was my life. I did miss my house, my family and Luton to some degree but at the same time I didn’t. The new city I was living in presented so much to do at night but also in the day too and most importantly after only a short time Sheffield, it felt like home and it’s where I wanna hang for a while.
Another incredible thing that happened to me which I almost completely forgot about was the fact that in the summer I finally got to go to America for the first time as we headed off to Orlando for a week of epic fun. Thanks to the power of my mum, I got to head out to America and experience that wonderful place first-hand. From the endless amounts of television I watched to the fun times I spent chilling by the pool, it was all just wonderful. Even though it was raining for the majority of the time we were in Orlando it was still great, I got to see actual tornadoes which was totally amazing and loads of lightning and thunder too. We did however get some sunshine and when it did come it was absurdly hot, Orlando was on fire and when you stepped outside it was like walking into an oven! I was melting in a matter of minutes. While down in Orlando we went shopping and I finally got to see what the deal was with Wal-Mart and holy man the place was huge, like an IKEA but with everything in there. But the best part of the holiday was the food, holy man the portion size was massive and it tasted hella good. From having pizza 4 days in a row, to the finest steak I ever had as part of my dinner on my final night in America, everything was unhealthy and lovely and I’d gladly do it all over again. Even though 7 days isn’t nearly long enough for a holiday in America, let alone anywhere else in the world, it was worth the time.
This year has also seen the power of friendship play a big part in my life. Friendship has been one of the most important things to me this year in college or hanging out in my home town or in university. Over the summer I found some new people to hang with after going to a friend’s birthday party, we decided to hang at one point and swear it was like instant friendship. So after summer came uni and I really wasn’t sure if I was gonna make any friends because I’m mega nervous and paranoid about how I come across to people. But luckily my flatmates were awesome enough to befriend me and I now I loved them like they were my best friends. Outside of my lovely flatmates I found new friends and new opportunities for fun in the Hallam University Games Society (or HUGS for short) that me and flatmate joined back in September and to be honest I dunno where I’d be without it. HUGS are the group which gives you an incredible place where gaming takes place in a beautiful environment, filled with beautiful people. It’s funny though at first it was just about being around the games and the gamers, but then it became more about the people and after just a short time we’ve all created strong bonds with each other and we’ve become a family. We’ve gone out on social events from playing Bear Pong to having raves in Quasar (Laser Tag) it’s totally awesome.
For me this has been a year of change and transition, where many things took place and changed my life for both good and bad reasons. Not all of my year has been fun and joy, I have been very sad and depressed at many points, contrary to my normal demeanour. I have also had to deal with a lot of bull from a lot of people and other crap I shall not go into at this point. But for better or worse 2011 has come and gone and I think things will work themselves out eventually, I just don’t want to feel so down-in-the-dumps ever again because a happy me is the one that everyone wants to see.
In the end 2011 had its moments of awesomeness and I can honestly say that a lot of good stuff has happened this year in not only my own life but in the world too. I’ve done a lot of partying, I have too many friends to count, I love music, film and video-games even more than before and living in a new place is actually a lot of fun. However this year has also been fairly frustrating, complicated and downright dull too. Films in the world of cinema weren’t as strong as previous years, I am continuously broke and I have had some troubling realisations with the cruel side of reality. But for all the bad times that this year has presented, there has been much to love and celebrate and most importantly to learn from too. With 2012 on the horizon there is so much to look forward to in the world of film and video games; I’m stupidly excited for I shall find in the new year. In truth all I really want is to see The Hobbit film and then I’ll be satisfied 😀 (oh and also The Avengers, Batman Spider-Man and MIB3 films too.) So if 2012 is the year when we as the human race are meant to kick the bucket and everything is going to cease to exist then let’s go out with a bang and live up life to extreme with no regrets.
Happy New Year you beautiful people and I’ll see ya in 2012! 😀