Before I get to the best games of 2011 tomorrow, it’s time to put on your rubber gloves and surgical smock and prepare to wade through the cavalcade of crap that the year threw at us. And 2011, for all its good, had more than its fair share of rubbish this year.
So get ready for a VERY long-winded section of ranting and raving.
10. Rise of Nightmares (X-Box Kinect)
Summing up what is wrong with the Kinect, Rise of Nightmares is the first, and some argue last, attempt at a serious hardcore and mature game for the Kinect. It’s not merely it handles like someone hit it over the head with a sledgehammer, it isn’t that it looks a bit shonky, it’s that it is just pants. It’s not scary, not fulfilling and no-where near the kind of quality that mature gamers expect. It’s a reminder the Kinect can’t and won’t deliver on its promise of core games for core gamers. That, for a device that costs so much, earns this game a place at #10 for being the strongest evidence of this depressing fact.
9. Dead Space 2 (X-Box 360, PS3, PC)
Oh noes! Controversial nomination alert! Look, this isn’t a decision I made easily. Dead Space 2 earns its way onto this list because of a few reasons, one of them is that it is the epitome of what is wrong with sequels – take a good, scary game and dumb it down, take away the scares and generally attempt to bewilder the player into a false sense of accomplishment. Dead Space 2 is a game that is so vain, so egotistical, it is far too interested in trying to rip off genre tropes and cliches and itself to really pay attention to the pleasure of the game and the gamer playing it. Give it a year or two and you’ll agree I am right on this choice. Poor show EA.
8. Thor: God Of Thunder (PS3, X-Box 360)
A movie tie-in on the worst games of 2011?! Hold the front page! No really, the problem with Thor The Game is that it is what it is – a half-arsed, badly designed and glitchy mess of a title rushed out to try desperately to jack a few sales on the back of what was ostensibly a rather decent superhero movie. It’s the sort of thing we thought we’d moved away from, but here it is, a game that doesn’t try to be anything more than a cheap and dirty cash in. What a massive pile of balls and what is worse, the Wii and DS versions weren’t half bad! But let’s immediately balance this out…
7. Transformers: Dark of the Moon Stealth Force Edition (Wii, DS)
Whilst the PS3 and 360 versions weren’t exactly anything to write home about, it is the Wii and DS versions of this movie tie-in that really hurt the most. Again, it is the whole “Can’t be arsed” feeling – there’s no love, no polish, no sparkle, nothing but a void of awful game design and annoyance. It has been a bad year for Transformers, but this unmitigated pile of donkey spunk just makes it all the worse. Please, no more. Stop it. Let Transformers die. We’re begging you.
6. Brink (PC)
Brink is Bethesda at its worst, sad to say. It’s been a complicated year for them, with the whole issues with New Vegas still looming large, and the disappointing Hunted. Brink, however, sunk without a trace – it’s an attempt at a multiplayer FPS much in the vein of Unreal Tournament, but with an incoherent attempt at a plot, unbalanced game mechanics and just a general feeling of cheapness that pervades every inch of its vile being. It had promise, potential, and none of it materialised into a decent game. Bethesda only gets out of its awkward year with the awesome Skyrim.
5. WWE All Stars (Pretty much every console)
I get the feeling that there’ll be at least one WWE game on my worst lists in future, and the reason is the whole wrestling genre is mired in this odd contradiction in trying to be realistic and at the same time, so obviously rigid and stiff that it isn’t in the least bit convincing. Fiddly controls all round and a bunch of names I have no idea who they are or why I should care about the reasons for their duking it out, even fans of WWE deserve better than this. Really, you do. No-one deserves games of this quality, it’s against the Geneva convention surely?!
4. Duke Nukem Forever (PC, PS3, X-Box 360)
Shock horror Duke Nukem Forever isn’t in the top 3! Look, it was shit. Let us not beat about the bush here, after 10 years most people could poop out a turd that looked and handled better than this game. It’s also crass, disturbing – the rape jokes and general ire against women was really offputting – and you can almost physically see where they cobbled together various maps and ideas from the years. It’s the past 15 years in a condensed version of utter trash, and really, should have been left to rot in disgrace whilst Gearbox worked on making a better game instead. All DNF did was pull Gearbox down with it, and that’s an awful thing for such a talented developer.
3. The Cursed Crusade (PC, PS3, 360)
Crusaders have become a modern and easy target, but The Cursed Crusade is… well… awful. It tries to be a sort of mix between God of War and a number of other games, but it plays a bit like a badly made Dynasty Warriors – it’s mindless hacking and slashing, with stiff models and ugly environments. It is the kind of game that probably intended to be better than it was, but something went wrong somewhere and what we ended up with was just nothing more than a boring, clunky mess of a game with a load of plot waffle that is poorly written, badly acted and just generally dull. Boring maketh a truly awful game. Lesson has been learned, please don’t do it again.
2. X-Men Destiny (PS3, Wii, 360)
I disagree that it was ugly – the art style at least had some thought put into it, but sadly, that was all it had going for it, and when X-Men fans berate your attempt at a game, you’re in for a world of hurt. And that’s really the issue here – when the fans don’t want it, that is evidence enough you have a turkey on your hands. Clunky, unrefined and a game that promised consequences to choice that failed to materialise in game, this is just a game farted out with no love or appreciation for the subject material. Look at Batman: Arkham City. LOOK AT IT SILICON KNIGHTS! What happened to you? Where did it all go so wrong after Eternal Darkness? I mourn your studio, and resent you foisting another pile of crap onto the market like Too Human. Yes, I STILL RESENT YOU FOR THAT GAME.
And this years ultimate loser will come as no surprise to some of you…
1. Dungeons and Dragons: Daggerdale (PC, X-Box Live Arcade)
Where do I begin?! This game positively has me boiling in rage for so many reasons.
It’s badly designed. Badly made. Badly written. Badly made. Buggy from the very outset, and only gets progressively buggier and shittier the deeper you go into it. Daggerdale is a fun-time black hole, it sucks out the enjoyment from your very soul, draining you of positivity until you resent the very nature of gaming.
You can see what the aim was – a game a bit like Torchlight, but with a clunky selling interface and a checkpoint and save system that borders on the vulgar, sending you back often half an hour to repeat the whole section again for no apparent reason, there is no respect here. Not for the game it so desperately wanted to copy, nor for Dungeons and Dragons itself – using half-arsed mechanics and the old sly angle of pitting you against much higher level swarms with no plausible or capable means of wandering off and doing a tiny bit of grinding to make the next segments easier.
It looks ugly. Sounds worse. Handles like a pig being jerked off by a politician, and is about as entertaining overall as being locked in a lift for two days with Justin Bieber’s Baby played on loop through the sound system. There is nothing remotely likable, decent or redeemable about this game. Nothing. Not one thing, and trust me, I have TRIED to like it. I have tried so very very hard, but I can’t. It’s a hateful, vile, awful pile of turd-flavoured spunk that not only seems to have brought down its developer, Bedlam, but contributed in part to Atari losing the Dungeons and Dragons licence. And that means, with no-one really owning it anymore or working on it, it remains a broken, buggy and hateful piece of unmitigated fail that deserves no less than to be brutally beaten to a bloody pulp with baseball bats.
I can’t believe this game exists. I can’t believe anyone still wants to SELL THE DAMN GAME. I can’t believe this pitiful excuse for a project even got off the ground. It’s truly, unbearably awful and I can’t stand it in any way, shape or form.
So fuck you, Daggerdale. And you Atari and Bedlam, for giving us this miserable pile of wank. You should all be ashamed of creating this abomination of a game, this truly nasty piece of evil work that cost me one X-Box 360 controller when I got so angry at it I threw the controller across the room in a rage-induced seizure of epic proportions.
I hope you sleep well, because you don’t deserve to.