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The GamesRadar Anti-Awards 2011

HOW DID ANYONE THINK THIS WAS OK? AWARD:

Duke Nukem Forever’s rampant misogyny

Depictions of women in videogames – particularly games starring Duke Nukem – haven’t always been the most enlightened, to say the least. It comes with the territory. So when we went into Duke Nukem Forever, we did so expecting that any female characters we encountered would be jiggling, possibly imperiled airheads. What we didn’t expect was that they’d start out shrill and annoying and, from there, inspire in games journalists a level of outrage usually reserved for moral watchdog groups.

Never mind that the women in the campaign amount to little more than vapid objects for players to stare at, or that the “flags” in its Capture the Babe multiplayer mode have to be spanked in order to get them to stop waving their hands in front of your face. What tips the scales past run-of-the-mill sexism into outright misogyny is the now-infamous Hive level. Filled with sobbing, mostly naked women who explode with glowing alien spawn if they’re not mercy-killed first, it’s not funny or sexy. It’s just callous and repulsive, and Duke’s weirdly flat, smirky and mildly annoyed reaction to the whole thing only makes it more so:

Above: NSFW, so be warned

Runner-up: King of Fighters XIII’s racism

We liked KoFXIII. It’s a good fighting game and the best KoF game in years, but while we were playing it, it was hard to overlook some of the (otherwise gorgeous) stage art. While the stylized background characters purposefully look a little weird, the characters in the jungle and China levels took a firm step over the line of artistic license. We get that Japan has a different cultural standard of what’s considered acceptable, but when you publish a game in other markets you don’t get a free pass. Putting horrible jungle people and hideous portrayals of the Chinese in the background is unnecessary and dumb.

THE JAPANESE SHAME AWARD:

Final Fantasy XIV

The launch of Final Fantasy XIV last year was such a disaster that it ended up being free to play until recently. Remember there was supposed to be a PS3 version? Check back in another year. Since the embarrassing launch, the development team has been reshuffled, and Square Enix has publicly apologized (multiple times) for releasing an MMO that was riddled with so many problems.

Everything you tried to do in-game was a chore, and for an MMO that was supposed to be “easier” for players to get into, it was the opposite. FFXIV was clearly designed for a controller (but released on the PC); basic functions like accessing your inventory were a multiple-step process, and the game did a terrible job at communicating anything that would be of use to you.

You know it’s bad when CEO Yoichi Wada admitted that the Final Fantasy brand has been “greatly damaged” because of FFXIV. FFXI wasn’t exactly a walk in the park, either, but Final Fantasy XIV brought awful interfaces, poor design and apologies from publishers to a whole new level.

Runner-up: Sony execs bow in apology for PSN outage

We really don’t blame Sony for PSN being hacked, but we can say the company’s response to it was certainly lacking, and its customers needed some sort of reply a lot sooner than they got it. When Sony’s top execs finally addressed the matter publically, Kaz Hirai and two other Sony bosses started the press conference with a very traditional act of Japanese apology: each gave a deep bow to the audience, as (for a very long moment) the press soaked in their shame. A symbolic gesture, no doubt, but a very rare one for a Japanese company and a good start to Sony moving past its huge setback.

BAD TIMING AWARD:

MotorStorm: Apocalypse

When we found out in 2010 that the fourth MotorStorm would take its death-defying off-road action into a crumbling, earthquake-demolished city seemed like a ballsy, exciting shift in tone for the series. Of course, its developers couldn’t have foreseen that the planned release of their fictional earthquake would coincide with the very real Tohoku quake, which caused a massive tsunami, claimed thousands of lives and triggered multiple nuclear accidents in Japan.

After the quake struck on March 11, it took Sony a few days to realize that maybe releasing a game about a quake demolishing a city wasn’t in the best taste when similar scenes were unfolding across its home country. After releasing the game in mainland Europe and Australia on March 16 and 17, respectively, Sony canceled the Japanese release. The UK and US ship dates were then delayed until April and May (also respectively). Even then, reminders of the quake and its (literal) fallout were still prominent, if not constant, fixtures in the news, and it was impossible to play Apocalypse without feeling just a little weird about it.

Runner-up: SOCOM 4

While the latest SOCOM included a so-so single-player campaign, its real draw for SOCOM fans was unquestionably its online play. SOCOM 4 released on April 19, 2011. The very next day, Sony took the PlayStation Network offline following the infamous hacking incident, and it stayed offline for nearly a month. This neatly removed the central reason to buy the game, and effectively cut SOCOM 4 off at the knees right as it emerged onto the market. By the time service was restored, any buzz surrounding the game had faded, and SOCOM 4 had become yet another casualty of the year’s worst online security breach.

BIGGEST INDUSTRY DICK MOVE:

The Ocean Marketing debacle

Above: Former Avenger representative Paul Christoforo and the peripheral he formerly represented

Imagine: On a playground, a kid that’s a little older than the rest, husky, with a mean sneer and horrid grammar, is pushing around a smaller kid for asking an innocent question. A third kid tells the bigger kid to stop or he’ll bust out his black-belt kung fu. The bigger kid says he isn’t scared because he can do whatever he wants and knows the mayor of karate. Next thing you know, the big kid has a bloody nose and the whole playground is laughing and throwing rocks at him. That happened on the internet a couple weeks ago with Ocean Marketing’s Paul Christoforo, who was acting as a representative for the Avenger controller accessory, and Penny Arcade.

We won’t explain the whole thing here, just read the original post on Penny Arcade. Who can say if PA went too far or if the marketing douche deserved everything that happened to him? Still, there are at least two lessons you should take from this PR nightmare: 1. Treat your customers with respect. 2. If someone says they run one of the biggest and most influential gaming events and websites in the world, maybe you should Google him first before calling him a liar (among other, worse things).

Runner-up: Mojang v. Bethesda

It should come as no surprise that we live in a land of frivolous lawsuits, but seriously, Scrolls? The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Mojang’s Scrolls are two vastly different games that share one word. The former is a massive open-world role-playing fantasy game with endless dungeons to explore, breathtaking vistas, and epic battles with fire-breathing dragons. The latter is a similar to a trading card game like Magic: The Gathering… with dragons… maybe? Is it possible to ever confuse the two? What’s next, trademarking “The”?

FANBOYS TOTALLY LOSING IT:

Apparently 9s are terrible now

A lot of complaints have been made about the “7-10 scale” reviewers are accused of working under, but the fact is that a lot of gamers (and a lot of reviewers) consider a score of 7 to be bad. At GR, we believe the opposite: 7 is good (we even say so under the number in our reviews)! Lately, though, we’ve seen some worrying inflation of score expectation from fanboys. It started in 2009, when people went apeshit after we gave InFamous a 7. Then, people threw a fit when Halo: Reach got an 8. It finally got ridiculous this year, however, when fanboys had aneurysms over our scores for Uncharted 3 and Zelda: Skyward Sword. We gave those games 9s. Nine out of ten. 90%. Cream of the crop.

But that wasn’t good enough. Now, not only is anything less than a perfect score viewed with suspicion, it’s deemed terrible – or at least, it’s deemed that the reviewer thinks it’s terrible. It seems we’ve gone from an already troubling 7-10 scale to a 9-10 scale. Now 10 is the minimum a game has to receive to be considered worth playing/well-reviewed, and a 9 might as well be a 1. People, we need to take a step back, take a breath and realize that the world is not black and white. Nothing is either amazing or terrible. There are wonderful shades in between. It’s OK to play a game that’s a 6. It’s OK to admit the latest entry in your favorite series might be slightly (SLIGHTLY) worse than its predecessor. Relax.

Runner-up: Giddy glee over console meltdowns

Mama always told us: If you don’t have something nice to say, cram a sock in your piehole. Good advice for the awkward, fussy tweens we used to be – but even better advice for gamers. To wit: the unseemly giddiness from Xbox fanatics over the PSN outage. Granted, it was a horrible moment for Sony and for PlayStation fans, but really. Why do you need to derive your gaming self-esteem at the expense of others? (And Sony loyalists, you’re no prize either, considering the rapid-response return fire when XBL was briefly down a few months later.)

WE ARE NOT YOUR BETA TESTERS:

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

To release a buggy game is bad. To release a buggy version of one of the biggest games of the year is terrible. But the PS3 version of Skyrim clinches this award not just because of the inverse game profile/game quality ratio. No, on top of all that, it wins because of how downright lazy and cynical the release was, and how belligerently ineffective Bethesda has been at handling the disaster.

The cynical part? Putting out a game intended to be played for tens if not hundreds of hours, which became unplayably broken only after around 30 hours were already invested. But hey, faulty products are fine as long as no-one finds out until after they’ve bought them, right? Either Bethesda knew about the problem and put the game out anyway, hoping that the issues would kick in too late for reviewers to find, or else its own internal play-testing is just barely existent. Though given that Skrim’s problems have exactly the same symptoms as the issues that wrecked the PS3 version of Bethesda’s Fallout 3 (which used the same engine), we’d understand if you swung heavily towards the former conclusion.

The Sony version of Fallout 3 was never completely fixed. And the PS3 Skyrim is still a bit of a mess two months after release. Just saying.

Runner-up: Dead Island

While Skyrim's technical issues on PS3 were hidden behind hours of gameplay, Dead Island was at least up-front about being a broken, buggy mess. Right from the get-go, it was apparent that developer Techland's zombie holiday could have done with a few more months being assembled into a 'finished product'. Quests couldn't be completed. Inventories vanished. Textures and frame-rate couldn't be bothered half the time. And lots of annoying game crashes. Techland has done its best to patch the problems, and there is definitely fun to be had with Dead Island. BUT. Releasing something so half-baked is inexcusable.

79 comments

  • Kuro - January 12, 2012 7:11 a.m.

    Is it bad that I liked the Battlefield 3 campaign? I never really noticed the AI ignoring my existence. I was enjoying myself, honestly. xD As for Duke Nukem.. Man.. I only got to the third or fourth level. I glitched through objects so many times that the low-brow humor which I usually enjoy couldn't even keep me playing. Thank god for Gamefly though. Saved me about $60 at the time of playing it. I'm a 360 fan, and I think it's really cool how the Sony guys bowed. You mentioned it already, but it should be stressed that in their position, that's a really honorable way for them to apologize. The deeper and longer the bow, the more it's supposed to mean. And I agree.. DA2 should have had something about how you replay the same areas over and over.. It's a little depressing to play for a second time.. Last but not least.. someone mentioned MW3 getting a mention? I agree as well that it should. It's the same gameplay from Modern Warfare 2. Which was TWO games ago. I really love apple pie, but after eating apple pie so much I will eventually get sick of it. And when there's suddenly a ton of hype about this NEW type of pie that turns out to be apple pie in a new box.. well.. that's just time to switch to a different type of desert. In otherwords, I've jumped from one side of the field to the other. Loved CoD until the latest entry. Until they start mixing things up, you won't see me playing it. It should get an entry somewhere.
  • slimjim441 - January 9, 2012 11:56 p.m.

    Quit your bitchin about DNF. Dated graphics aside, it was an awesome game and exactly what I wanted, just a little later than expected. If you ask me [shifts into maximum overtroll], Modern Warfare 3 should've won anti GOTY. The CoD series is a load of garbage after CoD2. I'm sick of people hyping up the series as the best gaming franchise when it's just a bunch of half-assed games that every Johnny No-Balls jacks himself off to his superior abilities to camp over his equally dickless opponents. So f*ck you CoD. Duke Nukem kicks ass.
  • AlphaDogZero - January 11, 2012 1 a.m.

    DNF wasn't just a mess because of the last gem graphics, it was also a mess because of the terrible gameplay, horrible dialog and absurd design choices -- GR are spot on in calling it the anti game of the year. Atleast CoD gets the (recycled) gameplay right.
  • slimjim441 - January 11, 2012 3:06 p.m.

    The gameplay wasn't horrible. There wasn't much to mess up in the first place. Running, jumping, shooting; it was all fine. And of course the dialogue is horrible, it's Duke Nukem. Full of cheesy kill lines, dumbass NPCs, and a half-assed plot made solely for the purpose of being able to have Duke kill aliens. My only major grief with the game is the lack of arsenal. Only being able to carry four weapons at a time was a little disappointing. But it was still one helluva game.
  • winner2 - January 9, 2012 2:37 p.m.

    DA2, definitely the biggest let down in gaming for me.
  • ET83phonehome - January 11, 2012 9:12 p.m.

    I can see where you're coming from, and I'm surprised that title never got a mention even in any of the GR editors' personal lists. I went into DA:Origins with no expectations and was still blown away. It was an original and compelling IP, which is traditionally hard to come by in RPGS. I eagerly awaited DA:II, and reserved my skepticism until actual playing it upon release, but found it just so lacking. Technically it did a number of things right and certainly did nothing that rendered it unplayable, but it was such an unfulfilled promise of what had been expected of a the sequel of DA:Origins.
  • Darkhawk - January 9, 2012 9:44 a.m.

    RE: The 9-10 scale. There was a time when 10/10 meant, quite literally, perfect, and it was reserved for titles like Super Mario 64 or Metal Gear Solid. Once you gave Bulletstorm a "perfect" score, you brought this upon yourself.
  • dekmaine - January 9, 2012 11:05 a.m.

    Exactly And whether or not a 10 means a "perfect" game is beside the point.It's still the highest possible score any game can get (inb4 11) and recently it's been given away too easily. e.g. Bulletstorm, seriously? At the time of the review everyone was so caught up in a joyful bliss of 10/10 that no one made a fuss about it. By the time we realise it the score system and fanboy expectations have been inflated.
  • TwinHallow - January 9, 2012 7:14 a.m.

    Best one is the Zelda one lol im a fan of the series and a 9 is pretty Awsome
  • quincytheodore - January 9, 2012 1:08 a.m.

    I was enjoying this article, then I... read the boner part. Geezuz, those two are the most turn off things in game. How could anyone...? While we're on subject, I got candidate, highly possibly winner of 2012 Anti-award, or Best of, your call. http://s1-01.twitpicproxy.com/photos/full/491949549.jpg You're gonna make an article for that, aren't you? Be honest...
  • Tikicobra - January 8, 2012 6:28 p.m.

    Did that opening paragraph make any sense to anyone?
  • matt-litzinger - January 8, 2012 6:21 p.m.

    Yes, the Xbox fanboy slamming of PSN going down was lame as all hell. I wasen't aware XBl went offline this year though but I did notice problems with its service I was having. One of the worst fanboy moments you forgot to point out was the Battlefield PC community constantly harassing the console players about anything and everything. Dues Ex comes in second for PC to console harassment.
  • talleyXIV - January 8, 2012 12:12 p.m.

    I have to be honest, I love Skyward Sword and with everything in me I believe that it straight up, no doubt deserves a 10. However I didn't post a comment about it. I realized that some people might not be up to the challenge of moving their arms for hours at a time. I also realized that a person not so physically up to the challenge might not enjoy the game as much as others. They may prefer to sit down to a game of Bulletstorm that got a 10, and just twiddle their thumbs and only use their index fingers, laughing along with the hilarious dick jokes and endless slaughtering of enemies. Instead of playing a game with a unique story, a control scheme that immerses you into the game, and some of the most brilliant puzzles and combat ever created, that got a 9. I understand. No really, I completely understand.
  • talleyXIV - January 8, 2012 11:39 a.m.

    I have to be honest. I think about 8 people were looking forward to Duke Nukem Forever, and they didn't even have good expectations.
  • doominatorx6 - January 8, 2012 6:17 p.m.

    You forgot me. So 9 people.
  • Stabby_Joe - January 8, 2012 10:57 a.m.

    Duke Nukem Forever didn't offend me as much as some other games (Blackwater as runner up is a good call). Although I am curious to the supposed better quality of the single-player DLC. Granted it's still probably going to not be very good but a step in the right direction maybe?
  • Ultimadrago - January 8, 2012 10:30 a.m.

    Gamesradar, for not expecting rampant misogyny in DUKE NUKEM...slap everyone in your offices...and then yourself.
  • CitizenWolfie - January 8, 2012 10:06 a.m.

    Just had a totally crazy thought. Utterly insane of course. Batshit insane. But here goes: What if, the reason GamesRadar have been giving so many high scores lately is because... wait for it... brace yourself... ... there have been a lot of brilliant games released this year? Oh the horror! How silly of me. Obviously GR are doing it on purpose to annoy us all and/or subliminally alter the standard scoring system. Yeah, that must be it.
  • doominatorx6 - January 8, 2012 9:36 a.m.

    'sigh' And yet another 'worst of 2011' list that has Duke Nukem as the shittest game of the year. Come on. You just knew that it was NEVER going to reach expectations, and even with that in consideration, people still expected way too much from it. Always bet on Duke? Maybe not. Plus, i'm pretty sure there were FAR shittier games that came out. Call of Juarez: The Cartel comes to mind.

Showing 1-20 of 79 comments

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