Before we begin, let me first say this: the views of this article don’t represent CraveOnline’s gaming channel as a collective whole. These are my opinions about the five games I deem the biggest disappointments of 2011, a year filled to the brim with over 50 incredible games worth playing (and then some). So when push comes to shove, having five games that don’t deliver doesn’t seem so bad, does it? But either way, content is content, so here I am putting together this article.
If your opinions differ from mine (I would be shocked if they didn’t), feel free to hit up the comments below to berate me with your cruel wordage. You can also do so on Twitter. Deep down I want this article to stir up some crap and get the discussion flowing. So without further ado, here are my five biggest letdowns of 2011 (in no particular order).
Oh, and before I forget, since the horse has been beaten to death enough, I’m not including Duke Nukem Forever here. That one seems too obvious.
Need for Speed: The Run
On paper, Need for Speed: The Run sounded like a great idea, one that would fill that final niche the Need for Speed series hadn’t yet tapped. They have Hot Pursuit for the arcade racer enthusiasts; Shift for those more interested in suspensions and gears than plowing into cop cars going 200+ MPH; and The Run was meant to be that Michael Bay, high-octane race film experience. Except, it wasn’t… at all.
Instead, The Run felt like a bare-bones version of Hot Pursuit, offering up some of the same events, but strung together by a limiting, straightforward progression system. And that story EA and Black Box pimped? Yea, it wasn’t there. The characters of The Run define cookie cutter, scraping by as people only because they have faces.
Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
This one’s going to get me a lot of crap, probably the most out of any of the other entries here. But I stand by my convictions; The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was an overall step back for the franchise. Make no mistake, the soundtrack and art direction for the latest Zelda title might be the series’ best. And if not the best, then pretty damn close. But it was everything else about Skyward Sword that made it a tedious and sometimes downright frustrating experience.
For starters, motion control. Yes, Skyward Sword is the best use of the Wii’s motion control to date. But that isn’t saying all too much. For everything the game does right in the motion control arena (1-to-1 sword fighting), it gets a whole lot more wrong. Bomb rolling in the middle of combat was a pain in the ass, and the twitch reaction time required for the game’s final two bosses made me what to stab someone in the eye with a popsicle stick. I didn’t, of course, and that’s why I’m still around to write this article (do they set aside time in prison for creative writing?).
I finished Skyward Sword and after 35+ hours of play I wasn’t sure how I felt. This has been one of the most confusing games I’ve ever played. At times I was enthralled, and others I was downright angry. That sounds a lot like marriage, and I don’t want to mix my gaming with the ups and downs of marriage. That’s a dangerous cocktail I’d rather avoid in the future.
The pre-launch trailers for Killzone 3 made the game look so good. Best of all for a guy like me, the story looked epic as hell, with just the right dash of compelling characters and balls-to-the-wall action. But the trailers decieved. What I got with Killzone 3 was a story featuring a bunch of paper-thin, macho, war-cliche dude-bros prancing around with big guns yelling war gibberish. To say the least, it was not very compelling stuff. It also didn’t help that the campaign lasted only about five hours, rolling the credits before you get a chance to take your first pee break.
Killzone 3’s campaign leaves you wanting, but not in a “I can’t wait to see what happens next” sort of way. Thankfully, the multiplayer does deliver; although, that hasn’t stopped the game from leaving a sour taste in my mouth.
Homefront takes some cues from Killzone 3; both stories are both bogged down by lame, exhausted war cliches in an attempt to elicit an emotional response from gamers. And much like was the case with Killzone 3, it doesn’t work for Homefront.
This floundering stinker was all the more disappointing when you think back on the game’s visually striking marketing campaign promising an engrossing, character-driven narrative that would pull at the heartstrings like no modern first-person shooter has done before. But as the old adage says: never judge a book by its cover. That couldn’t be more true with Homefront, which delivered a campaign that managed to make a Korean invasion of America (one that felt like a Russian invasion, Red Dawn style) painstakingly boring.
Despite the game’s mixed reviews, THQ is pushing forward with a sequel developed by Crytek, the makers of Crysis, using their jaw-dropping Crytek engine. I extend my deepest sympathies to them for attempting to polish a turd into a diamond. God speed.
Alice: Madness Returns
This game might be my biggest crushing blow of 2011. I expected the world from American McGee’s follow-up to Alice. But what I got with Alice: Madness Returns was a very ho-hum action-platformer that tried so incredibly hard to be dark and twisted at every turn that it lost sight of its most important mission objective: tell a coherent story. Alice: Madness Returns had a slick style to its characters and world, but that’s about where my praise ends for the title; platforming got boring and combat got repetitive very quickly.
The initial trailers for Alice: Madness Returns made me beyond excited for this game. But after picking up the controller and taking the title for a spin for only a couple of hours, I had my fill. The experience wasn’t engaging enough to waste time pushing through it. While it felt good to move on to something I actually wanted to play, a piece of me died the day I gave up on Alice: Madness Returns. I’m still waiting on that perfectly dark (and coherent) trip back to Wonderland.