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Reflecting back on the year that was is always fun. While 2011 was filled with some of the best games and gaming moments in recent memory, it was also filled with failure and disappointment. We all have things that we think back on and wonder, "Why did I do that?" I'm pretty sure that 2011 will bring similar thoughts to some in the video-game industry.
Since lists are all the rage around the new year, check out my top video-game disappointments from 2011.
Man I wanted this game to be great. I was so excited for this title after getting my hands on it at PAX that I even wrote up an article called "8 reasons why everyone should give Brink a try." And the problem? It simply didn't live up to any of the expectations. The game was made up of brilliantly flawed ideas that never delivered on promises of multiplayer and single-player convergence. The guns weren't distinctive enough, and the classes never allowed for diversity. The biggest atrocity was the fact that the release had stripped-down tactics that simply made it boring after just a week of play.
Every great game I played in 2011 was a sequel. Portal 2, Killzone 3, Uncharted 3, Skyrim, Gears of War 3, Batman: Arkham City…. I could keep going. I understand that we are late in the console life cycle and that this is expected, but besides downloadable efforts, we just didn't see enough original offerings. I love revisiting refined versions of games I know I'll enjoy, but I feel that original experiences aren't getting the polish they need. It's not for lack of time either. Dead Island, Rage, and L.A. Noire had extremely long development cycles and still failed to capture a long-term audience. These games simply weren't as good as many of the sequels that were released this year. Game developers need to take the things from established franchises that click with players and revisit them along with adding new ideas.
3) Studio closings
2011 was yet another year of huge developer closings. Companies like Kaos Studios (Homefront), Team Bondi (L.A. Noire), and others closed in 2011. Much like in 2010, studios working on original (if uninspired) video games got the boot in 2011. While I think it's good that developers working on mediocre content are getting shut down, I do worry that we will be stuck with only a few studios making all the triple-A titles in a few years.
Honestly, I just don't care if you expected to get two million dollars but only got 1.5 million dollars. Just stop. This past year was filled with developers suing publishers, publishers suing developers, consumers suing corporations, corporations suing consumers, etc. Lawsuit-happy people made a killing this year over simple disputes like the name of one game (Scrolls) being too similar to another (The Elder Scrolls series), a game maker suing Beyonce, Sony being sued for not being able to sue, and so on. Frankly, if you weren't 110-percent satisfied with something, you sued in 2011. It's what the cool kids do. I personally loved Michael Pachter's take on all the lawsuits hitting the gaming industry.
5) Internet hyperbole
I know the Internet allows you to voice your opinion. I also realize the irony that this blog is, in fact, me voicing my opinion. However, 2011 was clearly the year of "GREATEST EVAR" and "WORST EVAR" terminology online. From delays that sent out shockwaves of impending doom to lag issues causing gamers to cry terms like "unpolished," 2011 (and Twitter) gave way to the "I didn't get everything I ever wanted from this game and I'm angry" personification. Everybody and everything was wrong for not being God's gift to the world. While being surrounded with some great games and great leaps in technology, most people just sat back and complained. Maybe 2012 will bring a little bit of sanity and perspective…. Just kidding, it'll probably be worse.
Well there you have it, my list of the big disappointments of 2011. I'm sure most of this list could be regurgitated in the beginning of 2013 as we reflect on 2012, but hopefully we can right some of our wrongs from last year.
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