The most disappointing games of 2011

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I couldn’t begin to tell you which are the worst games of 2011. Hopefully, I didn’t play them. But I can tell you which games most disappointed me. Note that some of these aren’t necessarily bad. I just felt they should be better.

After the jump, the most disappointing games of 2011

10) Portal 2

As much as I love the writing and characters — Wheatley is every bit as great a character as GlaDOS — Portal 2 felt a little too empty. While I liked it, I can’t help but feel some of that whiny “but it’s not as good as Portal 1” disappointment. From the review:

Portal was a succinct and economically told story, with clever puzzles in lieu of the usual shooting. Its shortness was in no way a shortcoming, unless you measure your games by hours spent. Which many of you do, so nice work. Because now it seems like the goal of Portal 2 is to make a longer game.


9) Duke Nukem Forever

Maybe this wouldn’t have been so disappointing if it were more flat-out awful. Instead, the whole thing just has a flat pitiable feel, like a toothless homeless person asking for spare change. It’s not even worth hating. I just want to forget about it because it makes me feel dirty and sad. Read the review here.


8) Test Drive 2

Every now and then I fire this up, thinking I might want to do a few more races, or unlock a few more ingame challenges, or buy some more cars. That lasts for about ten minutes, tops.


7) Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Capcom has done a great job making a game that appeals to those of us who aren’t hardcore enough for Street Fighter. But they’ve done a horrible job presenting that game to us. More here. And rather than addressing that in the inevitable Ultimate re-release, it just gets worse. Hey, Capcom, I actually want to play your darn game. Why don’t you let guys like me into your little clubhouse already?


6) Bulletstorm

This year’s Painkiller, which is Serious Sam 3, should have been Bulletstorm. Instead, Bulletstorm plays like a budgetware release with shiny Epic and EA stickers on the box.


5) Orcs Must Die

Why wasn’t this at least as good as Toy Soldiers: Cold War? Why is it only as good as a typical tower defense game? From the review:

Moment-to-moment gameplay can only get you so far. To stand out, a tower defense game needs to tie it up in a package, like Plants vs. Zombies, or Toy Soldiers: Cold War, or Defender Chronicles, or [the] deliciously grindy Dungeon Defenders (which mostly renders Orcs Must Die redundant). The best games of this sort give you a reason to play, and a reason to replay, and different ways to play. A battle is all good and well. But the best battles have long-term context or variables you can fiddle with. Or at least multiplayer. None of that is in Orcs Must Die.


4) Assassin’s Creed: Revelations

Revelations doubles down on the worst parts of the Assassin’s Creed games, while milking the good parts. I was concerned after Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, but I had confidence in Ubisoft. My bad.


3) Dead Rising 2: Off the Record

As a big fan of Dead Rising 2, I’m the perfect candidate for Off the Record. But I can’t shake the feeling that Capcom is pretending they’ve built a new house when they’ve simply changed the wallpaper.


2) Patapon 3

Oh, Sony, what you have done to my beloved patapons? From the review:

In the earlier games, your patapons marched home triumphantly after every battle, accompanied by the keen of bagpipes and carrying aloft the spoils they’d won. Then you’d see a party back at camp, with the best trophy prominently featured in the celebration. Now you just open a few chests. Then your four patapons stand there taking up space while rock music plays. Even the sound during the battles is coarse and overproduced. Patapon used to be a great game to play while wearing headphones. There was nuance and a pleasant understated quality to the music, with flutes and mandolins. Now you get an overproduced wall of sound, as if Electronic Arts hired 30 Seconds to Mars to score the game. Patapon used to groove. Now it just sort of generically rocks out.


1) Age of Empires Online

Who knew that selling factions individually would be the least of Age Online’s problems? Instead, this mostly decent real time strategy game is a casualty of its own drawn-out empty grind. From the review:

Imagine having to play twenty games of chess using only pawns, at which point you can have a bishop or a rook for your next twenty matches. Fifty games later, you’ve got a bishop, two knights, and you’re half way to getting a queen. In Age of Empires Online, everything is locked behind mandatory grinding, which is a horrible way to unfurl an RTS. You will not play multiple factions. You will have very few build options, even after dozens of matches. Even then, you will have to commit yourself to specific strategies well before a match begins. You will play repetitive missions repeatedly for the privilege of cultivating a little wiggle room. It will take you a very long time.


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