2011 was a great year for gaming with some brilliant AAA titles releasing seemingly every month. Some people are even proclaiming 2011 as the best year in gaming history but for me, there were a lot of titles that either didn’t deliver on what was promised or that failed to hit the heights set by earlier titles in their series.
Homefront was released in March in an explosion of hype and advertising promising to be the next big thing in multiplayer gaming. The buzz for the game was immense. The premise was based around North Korean forces invading and occupying the US of A and the fight back from the resistance and promised guerrilla tactics and a struggle to arm yourself. What we got was another cookie cutter FPS that apart from an interesting opening scene and a pretty gruesome level set in a Football ground failed to deliver on the idea in just about every minute of the campaign. The multiplayer was just as disappointing. I was sold on the idea of a Battlefield type game on smaller maps mixed with addictive persistent unlocks and the killstreak rewards of Call Of Duty. Instead I spent weeks trying to play a laggy, buggy mess of a game. The more time I spent trying to enjoy this game, because I really wanted to, the more the game threw barriers in my way. It was no surprise to hear that developers Kaos Studios were closed down by THQ not long after and the game has died a quiet whimpering death. News that Crytek have been tasked with developing a follow up fills me optimism that someone will finally realise the potential locked up in what is a very interesting idea. Will I never learn?
Released in March, Crysis 2 was the follow up to the graphic chip-munching PC original. Crysis2 promised to deliver a Sci-Fi FPS that would not only challenge the player’s reactions but also make them use the ol’ grey matter. The levels would be wide open and it would be up to you to either fight your way through them or creep your way round the perimeter deftly avoiding the enemy. Unfortunately the sneak system seemed to be incredibly broken with enemies spotting you through containers, lorries and even solid walls. The alien enemies on the later stages were really not much more than bullet sponges and I lost almost all interest in the game once the human enemies were replaced by the mindless alien bullet suckers. After completing the game once I tried to go back and play through on a harder difficulty but found myself so jaded that I was literally running through the levels to the end ,instead of sneaking or fighting my way through, just to get it finished.
There have been a slew of games released over the last few years that have come with the promise of being a Call of Duty Killer so it’s quite ironic that the game that killed Call of Duty for me was Modern warfare 3 itself.
I’ve been a massive fan of the series since Call Of Duty 2. If I’d spent as much time at the gym or studying medicine as I have spent shooting pixels in the face on this series then I would be Mr Universe or a qualified doctor, maybe even both. I’ve never been a massive fan of what Treyarch did with Call Of Duty, it always left me feeling like their titles were poor compared to Infinity Ward’s. At one point, my obsession with Modern Warfare bordered on addiction and come November 2011, I was ready for another fix.
Unfortunately what I got was a rehash of everything that had been done before, only nowhere near as well realised. It felt like Call Of Duty: By The Numbers. The campaign was so bland that I can only remember the airplane sequence and the juggernaut level as everything else felt like an assault on the senses that constant exposure left me desensitised against. The multiplayer became so jacked up that any semblance of tactics had been completely removed and I found myself running around the overly complicated, small maps until I came across an enemy where upon we would both open fire and one of us would die. Lather, rinse, repeat. I can’t quite put my finger on what has been changed but the game has definitely been sped up to the point of being ridiculous and the maps, which are usually the biggest strength of an Infinity Ward COD are too small, too convoluted, have no character and the spawn system is completely broken. Add to that mix a derivative campaign that, after I have no urge to even begin on veteran after finishing it on Hardcore, and I haven’t been back to Modern Warfare 3 since about 2 weeks after its release.
Arkham Asylum was probably my game of the year for 2009. It had an excellent, tightly crafted plot wrapped up by creative game design and some of the best realised versions of the villains contained in the Batman mythology. Arkham City attempted to build on everything that the original delivered and expand it into something epic by opening the game world up into Gotham City itself.
Arkham City was a good game. I really enjoyed it, the RockSteady spin on the Penguin was excellent and the Joker was back to his menacing best. The problem arose when I had completed the main plot and I was left with so many challenges and side missions that it was simply too overwhelming. In the original everything was just so well designed that even though the overall map was considerably smaller than Arkham City it felt absolutely packed with things to do but it never became a chore to find everything. I completed Arkham City, solved the challenges and immediately started a second playthrough on the harder difficulty. The game felt over loaded with distractions and looking at my progress to see that I had another 200 Riddler challenges filled me with so much dismay that I moved onto one of the other Christmas blockbusters and have never found the motivation to get back to Arkham City. I just get the feeling that Rocksteady were so busy getting all the bells and whistles included that they slightly lost sight of what made the original such a stand out.
Ok, so Kinect wasn’t released in 2011 but this was the year I expected to be put in the position that I absolutely had to have one but, as of today, that purchase has still to be made and I see little on the horizon that will see me rushing out to grab it in 2012. Aside from a couple of above average titles, Gunstringer being the only real title that caught my eye, the mainstay of the Kinect has been dancing and petting virtual animals. I expected to be seeing RTS games solving some of the usual problems of porting these games to console; I believed we’d see a really clever arcade fighter or I thought we’d at least see Microsoft deliver a Kinect specific title that would cater to the tastes of the people who have made the Xbox the success it is. What they delivered was a borked way to throw grenades in Halo and some head tracking in Forza. I fear the Kinect system will never truly catch on, the way that it genuinely could do, as there seems to be little motivation to push it as a genuine ‘hardcore’ gaming accessory over and above a few throw away features that really do not impact the overall experience of playing a game. Every system needs a title that pushes sales but not only has Kinect never seen that title I don’t believe there is even an idea for one out there. What I’m looking for is a unique experience that only a controllerless system could offer but what I’m seeing instead are clones or ports of Wii and iOS games or throw-away additions to non-Kinect games.
What disappointed you on the 360 this year? Let us know in the comments.