Simply the anti-best
2012 is now officially in the history books, and we thoroughly celebrated it in our Game of the Year for 2012 awards and the Platinum Chalices. However, we cant truly say goodbye to 2012 without recounting the moments that were less than the best. Welcome to The Anti-Awards.
Most abrupt ending - 007 Legends
007 Legends' segmented campaign wasnt bad in theory--playing through Call of Duty-ified versions of Bonds greatest moments was a clever way of acknowledging the past without being entrenched in it. The story utilized an interesting framing structure, with the opening moments of the game showing Bond being sniped off a moving train and the levels themselves being flashbacks to the agents earlier escapades.
Thing about using a framing narrative, though, is that you need to make sure it actually... frames the narrative. Instead, the ending of the game was actually absent entirely--at the end of the game, 007 is still drowning in a river. The actual finale was held until the release of Skyfall, when it was released as free DLC. In result, the ending was abrupt, and
Fan overreaction award for knee-jerking excellence - Mass Effect 3 ending
Spoiler warning: Mass Effect 3 didnt have a happy ending. No matter what aliens you sexed up, reporters you punched, or species you wiped out in the past three games, you still needed to hit an intergalactic reset button on the entire universe, saving countless future generations because humanity sort of screwed up and didnt find a better solution in time. Some called this conclusion lazy, others claimed it was a commentary on the futility of choice and predestination. Others threw a hissy fit and signed petitions to demand that the developers make a new ending.
The result was... embarrassing. Gamers came across as crybabies, and BioWare tucked its tail between its legs and released a Stand By Me-style extended ending. In it, youre shown in detail how all of the choices your Shepard made panned out over the next few years so you could know just how important you were. Yes, look at you, look how good you were. What a good boy. You were such a good boy. Who's a good boy? Youre a good boy. You were so very important, yes, you were.
Most annoying day 1 patch - Wii U
Launch day patches to console games have gone from being rare to essential for many releases. And while Assassin's Creed III, Silent Hill HD Collection, and Medal of Honor: Warfighter all had noteworthy patches this year, it was Nintendos newest home console that encumbered players with the biggest update of 2012--5GB big, to be precise.
In case you hadnt heard, if you want to take your new Wii U online, youre in for a long wait. The massive download is not only needed to unlock some of the Wii Us best features (Miiverse and eShop among them), it also contains necessities like using a USB storage device and transferring data from your Wii. The download can take more than an hour for many, making us miss the days of 30-minute PS3 game installs. And this is Nintendo, for crying out loud, the company that used cartridges for the N64 to avoid long load times! The Wii Us first patch takes longer to load than every single N64 game combined--think about that while you wait for Miiverse to download.
Game that made us miss 40-button, $200 controllers - Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor
At this point mocking motion controls is as played out as airplane jokes--but seriously, have you tried opening one of those bags of peanuts? Its impossible! Anyway, despite how predictably inaccurate motion controls have become, 2012s Steel Battalion reboot took inaccuracy and poor usability to new lows. Which at this point is actually a bit of an accomplishment.
Despite using a promising combination of traditional controller input and Kinect flailing, Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor makes controlling a complex mech far more unwieldy than it would be in real life. The game demanded precise movements to pull off actions as simple as reloading and standing up--movements the Kinect was simply incapable of catching. Before release, wed hoped SBHA would prove Kinect could do more than goofy family games. Instead, it had us running back into the casual arms of Kinect Sports.
Most sacrilegious bastardization of a franchise (that we actually kind of liked) - Dancing in Kinect Star Wars
When we fired up Star Wars Kinect, we fully expected to look-a-fool swinging an invisible lightsaber around. We even knew we'd look stupid as we destroyed buildings Godzilla-style as an in-game Rancor. But we never expected that our favorite part of that game would be the most ridiculous thing in it --dancing to Star Wars parodies of pop music hits.
Putting "I'm Han Solo" played to the tune of Jason Derulo's "Ridin' Solo" and "I'm a Princess in a Battle" to the sound of Christina Aguilera's "I'm a Genie in a Bottle" in a Dance Central-like minigame was a stroke of genius. The concept sounds absolutely absurd, we know. But somehow we ended up dancing till we were sweating like a Gamorrean in a Rancor pit (that includes the GR staff that participated in the 24-hour marathon). And why would we submit ourselves to such an obvious sellout of the sacred Star Wars characters and lore? Because it's a blast, and a hilarious work of love, that's why. Don't knock it till you try it.
Most overwrought box art - Batman: Arkham City GOTY edition
Riddle me this, Batman! Why, when box art gives readers their first impression of a game, do you bury your hero in text? Were used to seeing Game of the Year editions of hit titles feature a couple quotes and accolades, but when Warner Bros. conceived the GOTY edition of Batman: Arkham City, the publisher seemed to forget they were selling Batman instead of game reviews.
10 out of 10 displaces the logo. Batmans head is surrounded by abundant quotes that suggest the designer was paid by the word. A lengthy description of bonus content tears a bright red gash in the cover. Then, in an effort to obscure Batman just a little bit more, five more logos were added to the bottom. And Warner Bros. didnt even quote GamesRadar on the box, not that were offended or anything. Oh well, at least this confusing mess inspired our Anti-Game of the Year box art feature.
Too much of a good thing award - Mario, Mario, MARIO!
Mario is one of the most lovable characters in gaming, and were used to seeing him in dozens of core games, spin-offs, and remakes. But in 2012 Nintendo might have finally tested the limits of even the most hardcore fans of the plumber by flooding the market with seven Mario games in less than a year. After an already hectic 2011, the mustachioed one appeared in (deep breath) Mario & Sonic at the 2012 London Olympics, Mario Party 9, Mario Tennis Open, New Super Mario Bros. 2, Paper Mario: Sticker Star, Nintendo Land, and New Super Mario Bros. U.
For years wed wanted new entries in several of those series--but not all at once. Nintendo has such a rich collection of characters that its absurd almost all were ignored in favor of the overexposed mascot. We want a new Mario game to feel like an event instead of an eventuality. Give us a chance to miss the guy.
Best door-kicking simulator - Medal of Honor: Warfighter
Is Medal of Honor: Warfighter the most authentic shooter on the market? Well, maybe. But one thing's for sure, if you're looking for the most authentic way to simulate kicking down a door, you've found it. Warfighter lets you give those reprehensible wooden barriers what they deserve in more than half a dozen ways.
You can kick down doors, chop them to splinters with your tomahawk, blow them up in three different ways, or knock them off their hinges with a shotgun. What's odd though, for a game toting its true-to-life authenticity, there's never a "turn the knob" option. Maybe those terrorists wouldn't be so ticked off if you just knocked?
The Whens Half-Life 2: Episode 3 Coming Out? Award - The Last Guardian
After years of misplaced hope that wed ever see the finale to the episodic follow-up to Half-Life 2, were resigned to the likelihood we may never play it. So instead of complaining about yet another year passing with no new Half-Life info, we chose to recognize a game that has teased us for almost as long. We've been waiting for the The Last Guardian since we beat Shadow of the Colossus in 2005, but it felt farther away than ever by the end of 2012.
First revealed in 2009, the next game from Team Ico hasn't been shown publicly in almost two years, and virtually every Last Guardian update in 2012 was either noncommittal or just bad news. There were reports of technical issues, portions of the game having to be redone from scratch, and eventually a Sony exec saying that a 2013 launch isnt definite at this point. We know Team Ico needs time to create its art, but the developer is in danger of completely missing this hardware generation. Should we just assume it's a PS4 game now?
You think thats bad? Award - Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse
Were so used to middling licensed titles and terrible jokes in gaming that its rare to see a release fail to meet even those low expectations. And yet Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse misses the mark so badly that all but the most diehard Family Guy fans--the type that actually watch The Cleveland Show--will enjoy this one. And even theyll likely be sick of the constant repetition of lines lifted directly from the show.
Much like Family Guy at its worst, the game often attempts to be edgy. Instead, it's just boringly sophomoric, as youll note in stages where you kill dozens of Amish people and the handicapped, all while the heroes call each other gay throughout. Yet, for as bad as it is, in the end we found it hard to get that worked up over the title, because its about as brief and forgettable as an episode of the show. Still, you think thats bad? Remember the time the Family Guy MMO was cancelled before it even left beta?
Most ill-advised marketing tactic - Hitman: Absolution Facebook app
As easy as it is to call out a game for being bad, its far more tragic when outside forces hurt a great game like Hitman: Absolution. In a move that proved not all publicity is good publicity, Hitmans newest game was promoted in social media through a marketing campaign that allowed you to threaten someone with murder for derogatory reasons. Instead of creating buzz for Hitman, it started a conversation about how oblivious the people involved were.
In an age when cyberbullying is taken more and more seriously, who thought it was a good idea to create a Facebook app that sends a message threatening to kill someone because they have ginger hair or a small penis, among other excuses? To Square Enixs credit, the app was removed in a matter of hours after public outcry, with the company admitting it missed the mark with the ad. If theres a silver lining here, hopefully its that the next company will think twice before it spends money supporting a blockbuster game with an edgy campaign like this one.
Saw It Coming Award - The Old Republic going F2P
Fewer and fewer gamers are willing to pay subscription fees for massively-multiplayer online games, especially with games like Guild Wars 2 releasing without a monthly fee at all. Following in the footsteps of Lord of the Rings Online and DC Universe Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic became a free-to-play game once its subscriptions started to take a dip--and that happened within a year of release.
Not even the lofty Star Wars brand could keep the subscription model afloat. BioWare and EA did what any respectable business would do and dropped the subscription-only model in an escape pod and jettisoned that sucker into deep space. You didnt need to be Yoda to foresee that.
Best squad-based shooter we wished we'd never played - Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City had it all: multiple character classes, squads of elite military and Umbrella operatives, monstrous bosses, and hordes of zombies to gun down. Unfortunately, the Resident Evil identity was lost in exchange for monotonous shooting, awkward cover mechanics, and horrible design flaws that made co-op incredibly irritating.
And though it may have looked good on the surface, if you spent any time with the misguided trek into the action genre, you'd never want to return. Your AI squadmates would cause too many gameplay problems, experiencing the story wasn't worth the nostalgic RE moments, and the iconic character cameos were far from a saving grace. Operation Raccoon City is one mission Umbrella should have aborted.
Least Necessary Sequel - Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise
Take a cute, cuddly teddy bear, and give him a butcher knife, homicidal tendencies, and a plethora of teddy bear victims to brutally murder, and you get the basic essence of the Naughty Bear games. Sounds like fun right? Well, due to technical problems, clunky gameplay, and boring missions, the first game in the series was a definite pass.
If killing teddy bears wasn't fun the first time around, creating the sequel Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise with the same boring mechanics, similar technical issues, and uninspired assassination missions from the first is absolutely unnecessary. If the developers had polished up the stealth mechanics, added a bit more variety to the missions, and ironed out some the controls, it could have been entertaining to dismember and torture teddy bears to death. Panic in Paradise never needed to exist. Seriously, who wanted a Naughty Bear sequel?
Most painful delay - BioShock Infinite
Ken Levine became one of the most famous creators in the industry after he and his team impressed the world with BioShock in 2007, and we've been waiting patiently to see his next project. And while we're still prepared to wait for BioShock Infinite as long as it takes, seeing multiple release dates come and go while seeing little new information on the game made the situation much harder to deal with.
We were told in March that Infinite would be out October 16, which we excitedly scribbled onto our calendars. A short two months later the game got delayed to February 2013, an annoying development thats made even worse by the added fact that the game hadnt been shown publically since E3 2011. Then, just as 2012 drew to a close and we were ready to give up all hope, Levine unveiled the impressive first few hours of Infinite to the press and also unveiled another delay. Currently, we want to believe itll be out in March, but weve been hurt too many times
Most anticipated game that let us down - Ninja Gaiden 3
We were so excited to get our hands on Ninja Gaiden 3. We knew that the series' creative mind and Team Ninja studio head, Tomonobu Itagaki, had just left the developer, but we didn't care. This was the return of Ryu Hayabusa, the most badass ninja in video games! But, alas, our excitement was unwarranted. NG3 was a Ninja Dog compared to the Master Ninja prestige of its predecessors. Quick-time-events flooded the combat system, cookie-cutter enemies crowded the screen, the bosses presented little challenge, and there was only one weapon available at launch. One weapon? It had to be a joke, right? But it wasn't.
NG3 disappointed in almost every way. The combat went from the skillful engagements of its predecessors to a button mashing bonanza. The lack of weapons made for a lack of combat variety. The environments, enemies, and story were completely uninteresting. Team Ninja did eventually make significant improvements to the Wii U's Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge, so at least there's a passable version of Ryu's third outing available.
Worst part of an otherwise great game - Paper Mario Sticker Stars Stickers
While many publishers annualize their games with varying success--usually with small updates to the core gameplay--Nintendo repeatedly challenges itself to add some original elements to its sequels. That has paid off in games like Kid Icarus: Uprising and Mario Kart: Double Dash, but with a game like Paper Mario: Sticker Star Nintendo got a little too creative for its own good--at least when it came to the use of stickers.
The stickers are initially unique and cute, but having to use up stickers permanently to solve puzzles or attack even basic enemies became tedious fast. We had to waste stickers on random battles, reload multiple boss fights because we didnt come with the exact decal to quickly dispatch the boss, and exhaust our sticker supply guessing at obtuse puzzles. For as good as Sticker Star was (and it was really good), it could have been fantastic if it had just lightened up on the stickers.
Trailer that was better than the actual game
ZombiU wasn't a half-bad post-apocalyptic zombie survival game, but even the most mediocre title can build a ton of hype with a stellar pre-release trailer. ZombiU's reveal trailer did just that. The three minute teaser didn't show any gameplay, and instead went with a flyby of London's streets that displayed fantastically gruesome and horrific moments at the height of the zombie outbreak. All to the tune of a melancholy "God Save the Queen." Groovy.
The trailer showed the horror that you'd expect to see during the rise of the undead. The world was frozen in one moment in time, and people were being attacked in their cars, crashing through bus windshields, and blowing their brains out with pistols. It perfectly set that stage for a frightful horror title. Even if the actual game didn't satisfy all of our expectations, at least we got one of 2012s best trailers out of it.
Worst moment of the year - Doritos-gate
In a year filled with major developments, one YouTube screencap quickly came to crystalize the lowest moment for the game industry. Were referring to the infamous Doritos-gate, the above image of Geoff Keighley surrounded on all sides by Mountain Dew, Doritos, and an ad for Halo 4. Originally passed around message boards as a humorous image of a man buried in sponsorship, it very quickly grew into something more substantial.
Soon the moment was used to represent the ills of games journalism, stark proof of graft and publisher influence seeping into trusted publications. It started a conversation that ended with name calling, legal threats, and little resolution. Ultimately though, whether or not this shakes your faith in gaming press to the core, the image remains quite hilarious.
Best use of the worst moment - Dorito Pope
Even when Doritos-gate was at its nastiest and most dramatic, the meme masters on the net were hard at work adding more humor to the already absurd image. There were several variations on the theme, but our personal favorite was the introduction of the Doritos Pope, a new spiritual leader of the gaming masses.
Some clever soul found a hat-shaped Dorito and pasted it onto Geoffs head, then promptly filled Geoffs hands with a bountiful crop of branded chips and soda. Soon the Doritos Pope was popping up in forums worldwide, and will likely outlive the controversy that spawned him. Congratulations, your holiness.
Worst best game - Assassin's Creed III
In another reality, one where platform shoes are still fashionable and Gangnam Style is hovering around 13,000 YouTube views, Assassins Creed III was the best game of 2012. There, gamers applauded (with their flipper hands) Ubisofts conclusion to Desmonds story arc, with its fulfilling narrative and bug-free gameplay. But we dont live in that reality. We live in the one where people wear Uggs, Gangnam Style has been viewed by every human alive, and Assassins Creed III was incredibly flawed.
Flawed, but not bad. For every ying theres a yang--the awful in-game economy is deflected by incredible combat, and the yawn-worthy story is countered by the best visuals the series has ever seen. Sure, there are countless bugs and glitches, but the multiplayer is entrancing, providing some of the most original competitive and cooperative gameplay of the generation. Assassins Creed III isnt a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, but as far as the best games of 2012 go, its definitely the worst.
Most expendable - The Expendables 2 The Video Game
Stallone, Li, Norris, Lundgren, Stathem, Schwarzenegger: all names that are far from expendable (at least in their movies). But the downloadable game adaptation of The Expendables 2 film is more Rocky V than Rambo. You only get to play four characters from the action-hero super team (only three of which have the likenesses of the actors), and the voice acting by the sound-alikes is laughably horrendous and at times borderline offensive.
To put the final nail in the coffin, many of the most basic gameplay mechanics simply don't work. It's often a good bet to not expect much from a movie tie-in, but The Expendables 2 lowers those expectations even further. The downloadable shooter is, well, expendable. Its expendable.
Most ironically dead on arrival - NeverDead
Ha! Get it? Because its called NeverDead, but its dead on arrival! Haha! Yeah. Whoo. Good times.
Wasted potential award - Epic Mickey 2
The original Epic Mickey was fine. Like, it wasnt as good as we wanted it to be, and the camera was pretty much broken, but it lived up to its promise of providing fans of the house of mouse some dystopian Disney nostalgia to get all hot and bothered over. But Epic Mickey 2--thats where we expected the gameplay to finally live up to the premise. The developer had more time to iron out the issues and create the epic Disney adventure we all wanted.
Instead, it managed to not only fail to improve over the original, but to fall even shorter. Like, much shorter. Forced co-op with a brain-dead computer-controlled AI was unbearable and only slightly better with another human player--and the promise of a musical amounted to a few characters spitting out unmemorable sing-songy phrases. It really is a dull world after all.
Most mutilated HD remake - Silent Hill HD Collection
2012 was a rough year for Silent Hill. Silent Hill: Downpour was met with average reviews and the Vita adventure Silent Hill: Book of Memories had several delays before being met with (at best) apathy. But the lowest moment for SH in the past 12 months was a very flawed tribute to the two best games in the series, Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 3. Thats all thanks to the impressively shoddy HD remakes seen in Silent Hill HD Collection.
The remakes were filled with errors, including spotty textures and graphics that were hardly HD, bugs that were never in the original games, problematic rearrangements of the amazing soundtracks, and new (inferior) vocal tracks that replaced the original actors. If you want to see all the defects in stark detail these videos will give you more than enough explanation, but even after release this HD remake punished its fans one last time. Despite identifying numerous flaws and patching many of them on the PS3 release, Konami decided not to patch the 360 version as a final thank you to its dedicated fans. Here's hoping this can be a teaching exercise for future HD rereleases.
Anti-Game of the Year 2012 - Black Ops: Declassified
We didnt really know what to expect when Activision announced that an original Call of Duty would be released on Sonys fledgling Vita, but we surely didnt expect what we got with Declassified: a fully-featured Call of Duty that rivaled the experience on consoles. The thrilling campaign pushed the handheld to its limits, and proved what the system was capable of.
Multiplayer, too, was top-notch, finally giving gamers all around the world the excuse they were looking for to activate the Vitas 3G. Being able to play Call of Duty--a real Call of Duty--anywhere we wanted was a dream come true. Declassified is the killer app for the Vita, the one youve been waiting for. Go. Get it. - Quote from no one ever.
See you next year!
Thats another Anti-Awards in the history books. We hope you had an anti-good time. And if you have any Anti-Awards of your own that youd like to suggest, please share them with us in the comments!
Want more 2012 madness? Check out our Game of the Year for 2012 and our extra-special Platinum Chalices Awards 2012.