Where 2011 went wrong
It’s been one of PS3’s best years ever, we’ve had Batman, Uncharted, Skyrim, Battlefield, Deus Ex and more. But no year is ever perfect, and 2011 tried its best to balance the good with the bad. Here are some of the worst crimes and downright disappointments of the past twelve months. We shouldn’t really complain in light of how many great games came out this year, but everyone loves a good end-of-year moan, right?
Duke Nukem Forever
After over a decade languishing in development hell, the first real sequel to FPS classic Duke Nukem 3D was finally released… and it sucked. When we heard that Gearbox, creators of Borderlands, had picked the project up, we were genuinely excited. But then we slid the disc into our PS3 and realised that it didn’t suck in a ‘so bad it’s good’ kind of way, but that it could potentially be one of the worst games of all time. Duke’s one-liners and fourth wall-shattering humour couldn’t distract from the fact that this was a lazy, ugly, broken, tasteless shooter.
There were some amazing announcements at the 2011 Spike Video Game Awards, especially the reveal of Naughty Dog’s intriguing The Last of Us. The problem was the show itself; a gaudy circus of lame references to outdated internet memes, dim humour and shameless marketeering. Whether it was a man dressed as a soldier pretending to ‘teabag’ a Call of Duty developer, or a voiceover announcing that Kraft Macaroni and Cheese congratulated the winners, everything about the event was an embarrassing step backwards for gaming culture.
The decline of the original IP
This year saw the release of some brilliantly unique new IPs that absolutely tanked when they hit the shops and faded into obscurity. Two of the worst examples were the gorgeous El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron, and Grasshopper Manufacture’s Shadows of the Damned. Both titles were smart, original and unlike anything else on PS3, yet failed to make an impact at retail. You could blame this on a lack of publisher support, or that the games were too ‘weird’ to be accepted by a mainstream audience, but it’s still bad news for original game design. If people don’t give games like this a chance, publishers will stop taking risks on them and the shelves will be perpetually filled with brown sci-fi shooters and sports franchise updates.
For many, this will be the lowest point of 2011. Skyrim turned out to be perhaps the best Elder Scrolls yet; a vast, deep, beautiful RPG offering hundreds of hours of questing. The only problem was that if you played for a certain amount of time, your save file would be stricken by hideous, game-breaking lag. The PC and Xbox 360 versions of the game were unaffected, but on PS3 the frame rate would dip to single digits in busy areas. Bethesda quickly released a patch, but this not only didn’t completely erase the problem, but added more glitches including dragons that fly backwards and magic resistance effects being negated. Bethesda will have to do something really special to win back the hearts and minds of PS3 gamers in 2012.