First, an apology for failing to publish a Game of the Week last week. This wasn't a silent comment on the paucity of the release schedule in January but a silent comment on the paucity of my brain in January, because I forgot to do it.
Just as well, it turns out, because it wasn't until this week that we found out what the game of last week was. And no, it wasn't DC Universe Online: we're glad that PS3 owners in particular are enjoying its snappy combat – and we're certainly happy to have a console MMO at long last – but the welcome novelty masks a multitude of sins.
"As a standalone online action game – albeit one with improved missions and realistic content pricing – DCUO would almost certainly fare better in the final analysis. But this is a subscription MMO," wrote John Bedford, probably whilst wearing a stern, schoolteacherly expression. When even high-quality games like Lord of the Rings Online are going free-to-play, charging a higher subscription than World of Warcraft's (in the UK) for a comparatively slender game seems like swimming against the tide.
No, Game of Last Week goes to delightful DS mystery Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, from Shu Takumi, auteur of the Ace Attorney legal dramas. It's "a masterclass in interactive storytelling ," reckons Dan, which continues Phoenix Wright's "exuberant design and cock-eyed humour". Plus you solve murders by possessing inanimate objects.
PS3 owners stand no such chance of being cheated this week, with a difficult choice facing them in the shops. "A year on from its release on PC and Xbox 360, the brilliance of Mass Effect 2 remains undiminished," wrote Rich after comparing BioWare's fine new PS3 version to its predecessors. But although it's a generous package and a handsome port, it's still a port – and making one of our first picks of 2011 our Game of 2010 would set a worrying precedent. Let's at least pretend that history isn't repeating for a little longer, shall we?
Let's go back to 2008 instead!
That was unfair. The return of Media Molecule's modders' paradise is definitely at the iterative end of the sequel spectrum. But that's completely appropriate for its mashup of co-op 2D platformer and high-tech, low-fi craft fair.
You can't and don't want to migrate a thriving creative community into a radically new environment. You need to sit them down in their favourite comfy chair, arrange everything just how they like it, make them a mug of tea and then feed them some new toys.
And what toys. "Building a LittleBigPlanet level previously required players to have the inventiveness of Heath Robinson and the graft of the Egyptian slaves that built the pyramids. But for LBP2, the toolset has been expanded and at the same time somehow simplified," said Simon as he built up to another double-rainbow Parkin 9. "The key here is flexibility... For budding game designers, the overhaul is invaluable."
It's a pretty good platformer too, by the by, but for the average player what really matters is neither the game nor the new tools, but what the talented few will make of them. With one small step in its own development, LBP makes a giant leap possible for its creative community – and thus becomes a hundred times the game for its players.
Of course, John Teti memorably (and hilariously) predicted otherwise last year. But it's January. If we're going to be braindead, we might as well be optimistic with it.