GamesRadar editors’ (personal) Anti-Games of the Year 2011

The dust may have settled on 2011, but there’s still one more yearly ritual we at GamesRadar have to observe: the Anti-Awards, an annual non-celebration of the biggest missteps and outright abominations the past year brought us. That’s not until this Friday, though, but in the meantime, we’re briefly giving the editorial “we” a rest to ask our editors which games (while not necessarily being the worst thing they played) most disappointed, horrified or otherwise made them cry last year. Some of their answers may surprise you – they certainly surprised us.

Michael Grimm, cheats & guides editor

Personal Anti-GOTY: Battlefield 3’s campaign

I’m usually eager to rip into something for its failings, but 2011 was an extremely strong year for games. They didn’t break (Skyrim excepted), they all had a few interesting or unique moments, and the worst complaint I could levy at any of them was that they were simply boring or uninteresting. On that note, Battlefield 3’s single-player campaign was probably the biggest letdown for me this year, a bland, one-note affair populated with generic characters going through the motions of another sub Tom Clancy military “thriller.” 

Russian Nukes! “Shocking” twists! AC-130 level! It certainly had a few good moments, Going Hunting was cool, and Montes managed to be pretty entertaining, but it paled in comparison to the game’s excellent team based multiplayer. If you’re going to fight Modern Warfare on its home turf, you’ll have to do better than this.

Mikel Reparaz, features editor

Personal Anti-GOTY: Call of Juarez: The Cartel

It’s tempting to say “Duke Nukem Forever HURR HURR” here, but that seems a little too cliché at this point – and besides, I can’t really say I was that disappointed in it, seeing as I went in with zero expectations. So instead, I’ll pick on developer Techland’s misguided, milky-looking Call of Juarez: The Cartel, which appears to have driven its charming, underrated franchise straight into a ditch brimming with raw sewage and fire.

On paper, The Cartel was driven by some absolutely fantastic ideas, the biggest of which was three-way co-op that featured separate storylines for each of the game’s three dirty-cop protagonists, and which constantly nudged each player – through secret messages – to quietly undermine the other two. Unfortunately, this extremely clever concept was wasted on one of the ugliest, most thuddingly rote urban shooters I’ve played in years. And taken as a single-player experience, it didn’t even have that going for it, which made the campaign a miserable slog. 

The Cartel was a sad follow-up for a series that had previously shown some genuine promise, and when you consider that Techland was apparently working on this and Dead Island at the same time (as the games shipped within two months of each other), the idea of more resources devoted to a less-buggy Dead Island makes it even sadder.

Hollander Cooper, news editor

Personal Anti-GOTY: BloodRayne: Betrayal

Oh, what’s that? Another game by Wayforward? And they’re bringing BloodRayne back in a cool 2D platformer? Neat! That sounds amazing. Hey, cool, the first few levels are actually pretty fun – the art is nice, the combat is fluid, and the acrobatic platforming is… wait, what is that? Is that a floating knife? Like, that’s an enemy in the game? Seriously? A knife. With rocket-boosters on it. 

That has to be the laziest thing in the history of—wait, hold on. I’m supposed to bounce on those enemies while fighting other enemies? But the controls aren’t actually meant for that – they’re crappy when it comes to precise platforming! And… wait, did I just turn into a bird? Screw this game. Screw this game a million times over. Screw it until there’re no more screws left in the world, and we need to start demolishing buildings just for their raw materials to make more screws to screw this game with.

Justin Towell, UK content editor

Personal Anti-GOTY: Asphalt 3D

Asphalt 3D wins the unfortunate accolade of being the lowest-scoring game I've ever personally reviewed for GamesRadar. A racing game so bad, the engine sound keeps "changing gear" upwards forever, even if you've hit top speed.

I think the main problem is that it's not even as good as the now-99c iPhone game it's derived from. Graphical touches like reflective bodywork are gone, replaced with a dreadful frame-rate and terrible collision detection. And then it retails for £39.99?! Sure, it was a launch game, but that shouldn't be an excuse – it should be an honour

I still find it hard to believe that this game could pass Nintendo's quality control process. Even harder to believe that it was shown off on huge TV screens at the 3DS preview event we attended in Amsterdam, frame-rate stutters and all. Why anyone would actually go out of their way to show this off on a big screen to promote anything other than a DVD called "How not to promote your new hardware on a big screen" is beyond me. It makes me sad just thinking about this game. Yuk yukkity yuk yuk yuk.

Henry Gilbert, news editor

Personal Anti-GOTY: Rise of Nightmares

I don’t play many Kinect games, and I bet there were worse titles for the innovative add-on (Blackwater and Hulk Hogan’s Main Event come to mind), but Rise of Nightmares has a special place in my hateful heart. As one of the first M-rated Kinect games, it had some potential, as it was made by a real company (Sega) and initially reminded me, in a good way, of House of the Dead. Sadly, it ended up being less like the Saturn/Arcade classic and more like the infamous Uwe Boll film of the same name.

It starts with the ridiculous controls that force you to recreate FPS movement by sticking your foot out and turning your upper body to move the camera. I’d estimate that setup worked about half the time. Not only was the simple act of walking incredibly frustrating, but waving around your arms to search through piles of skulls, the repetitive combat that was shallower than Wii boxing, and crouching to avoid undead ballerinas were damn near impossible. It was all incredibly ridiculous in unfunny ways, and playing it felt like a chore. One day, there could be a good Kinect game for grown-ups, but Rise of Nightmares wasn’t it.

Lorenzo Veloria, cheats editor

Personal Anti-GOTY: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Call of Duty is the biggest franchise in games for a reason – the games are fantastic. I was Infinity Ward’s biggest fan after CoD 4 right up through Modern Warfare 2. It was about at Treyarch’s Black Ops when the franchise fatigue started for me, but when Modern Warfare 3, came out I bought it thinking Infinity Ward had the power to suck me in as always. It was not so.

For me, it’s all in the multiplayer. Drop shots, killstreaks, level progression – everything I loved was back, but something was missing. I got bored. Fast. Maybe it was the unimaginative, war-torn city maps that seemed to encourage chaos rather than skill; constantly getting shot in the back after I spawned; the sameness of the weapons, perks, and basically everything else in the game; or maybe I just really started to suck at shooters. It was the first time I felt the series failed to deliver anything new. It took no steps backward, but none forward, either. Call of Duty’s magic was lost to me with Modern Warfare 3. It makes me sad.

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  • D0CCON - January 7, 2012 8:19 p.m.

    Wow, Lorenza Veloria's first paragraph was a word for word recreation of how I went from loving COD to being sick of it (he even picked the same game that started the fatigue as me). Of course, there was the thing that I never bought the game or had hope for it.
  • JohnDagger - January 7, 2012 12:53 a.m.

    I think the worst game of the year would be Blackwater. It's a shameless attempt by a company known for war crimes and atrocities to re-brand itself with a hollow COD clone. And what's worse than that is that the game is really short, like 3 hours and really boring. I mean if you're going to become a company that is often brought up in conversations about Hitler and other mass murderers, they could at least make a good game.
  • mothbanquet - January 7, 2012 5:29 a.m.

    Hopefully next year's Kim Jong Il Chronicles will be better...
  • LoudestCannon - January 6, 2012 8:12 p.m.

    I cannot refer to Call of Juarez by anything other than Call of Duty: Modern Juar-fare. Because it is a pun. And I like puns.
  • PanaMusica - January 6, 2012 7:01 p.m.

    When MW3 first came out it totally felt like a retread of MW2 so I went back to BF3. But a month or so later I played the campaign and prestiged multiplayer, and it's pretty great. Best $100 map pack ever.
  • talleyXIV - January 6, 2012 5:20 p.m.

    Black Ops will probably be the last truly acceptable Call of Duty. My mind if boggled about the fact that IW and Sledgehammer had two years to create a game that already had an engine for it and all they did was make new maps and change guns. Making 16 maps might take a bit of time and guns might take a little bit of time as well, but two years is a long time. They didn't even come up with new titles and emblems, something as simple as that would be nice. The theater mode that was actually very good in Black Ops is hilariously bad, they took out almost every cool feature of it! Black Ops was very different and people don't recognize that fact. The titles, the customization of emblems, theater mode, CoD points, the graphics, and zombies. All those things made Black Ops quite acceptable in my book. However MW3 is just lazy, for example they took out scrap assist! Where someone helps take down a killstreak, why the hell is that gone? I know it is a tiny feature but where did that go?! Why has theater mode gotten so terrible? Why is there only one knew game mode? Why is Survival mode just multiplayer maps with infinite spawning enemies? The other Spec Ops game mode is just campaign levels with two people pretty much. The game is uninspired and recycled dog crap. Hopefully Treyarch can once again come through with a slate of new ideas and re-energize my love for the series because I want IW to cup my balls in their mouth. Oh, by the way the prestige token glitch makes me laugh. One thing they bragged about was prestige tokens and the shop, and they messed it up! One of the only new things they did and they completely messed it up! Now they are resetting people because they messed up their own game! That is exactly how you alienate your customers you bunch of numb skulls at IW. I haven't even been deranked and I still think the way they are handling it is dumb. Sorry for the silly rant.
  • talleyXIV - January 6, 2012 5:24 p.m.

    I have a couple of mistakes in that comment. Knew = New at one point. I said "very good in Black Ops is hilariously bad" meant to say "Black Ops, it is hilariously bad in MW3."
  • Moondoggie1157 - January 7, 2012 5 p.m.

    Totally agree with ya, the only reason I bought Black Ops (used) was for the zombie maps, I haven't touched any other mode since beating the campaign a year ago. I really want to love CoD, the campaigns are always great (By Michael Baye standards anyways haha)
  • FlyinHawaiian13 - January 6, 2012 4:25 p.m.

    I bought Skyrim for the multiplayer and was sorely disappointed
  • Xerxes667 - January 6, 2012 6:10 p.m.

    FlyinHawaiian13 and B. Buttercup FTW on best reasoning for anti-games ever!
  • Bloodstorm - January 6, 2012 12:32 p.m.

    I agree with Gears 3. I was looking forward to it. I preordered the limited edition because I was so excited. I love Gears, I love the gears of war fiction and reading the Gears of wars books. I thought this title can only be amazing, because Gears 2 was such a great step up from Gears 1. Me an my brother hunkered down in the living room after dragging in my Xbox so we can play on the biggest, best screen in the house, and then we sludge through hours of meaningless nothing. The addition of 4 player co-op stripped away the narrative you normally got from actors 3 and 4. Suddenly you always had an extra pair of people with you. Gone were the parts where is split you into 2 groups, then split you again so that you and you're friend were fighting parallel but not necessarily together. Then, gone were the gigantic set pieces. I wasn't necessarily expecting to be eaten by a giant worm again, but come on, something big needed to happen and it never did. The final boss fight was annoyingly crap as well. Nothing was answered, nothing felt truly resolved, and I kind of wished I'd of spent my precious money on something else like Arkham City.
  • samsneeze - January 6, 2012 6:17 a.m.

    Skyrim was a disappointment, but more on that later. If butt gets hurt easily, I suggest that you skip that part. Saints Row: The Third was complete crap when you compare it to the second game in the series. In all honesty, it just shows that you can make a game less funny, take away character customization options and a town that's actually worth exploring, remove activities and replace them with stale replicas of existing ones, destroy or kill off characters that made the franchise's story enjoyable, take away all the diversions except for streaking, and people will do nothing but praise it like it's the best in the world. Seriously people, go play Saints Row 2 and try and tell me that The Third was a good game. Back to Skyrim. You know, Fable: The Lost Chapters is technically a better game than Skyrim, it just doesn't look as pretty or have as much to do. It does have better characters, more memorable people, quests that are fun and rewarding, and when you save the world, people mention it for more than two or three days. Granted, there are no guilds to join and the map is considerably smaller, but at least you have actual boss fights. In Skyrim when I hit level forty, I and my companion had full Deadric Armor wielding Deadric Warhammers with fire enchantment. The gauntlets and boots were both enchanted to increase the power of two handed weapons by a total of thirty-six percent, I think. There was literally nothing that could stop us. Master isn't the problem at all, heck I played the entire game through Master. If I drop the difficulty to normal, everything will only take one hit to defeat, instead of Master's five hits(Provided you arem't fighting a Draugr Deathlord or something then it's ten) I never bothered with magic to be honest. Bows are nice, but aren't practical to use outside of dragon fights. And while the shouts are fun at first, you'll find that only a few are actually useful or worthwhile. Fire Breath is the only one I actually continuously used. The cool down times between shouts is ridiculous. Since the actual gameplay isn't stellar, where does that leave the story and guilds? The main quest is pretty stale to be honest and Dragons lose their excite factor after the third or fourth kill. I've only played through the Companions, Thieves guild and The Companions quest line was disappointing. And the quest line for the Thieves guild can't compare with the one from Oblivion in my opinion. The Dark Brotherhood has some interesting people but the missions themselves suck. Overall, it feels like a group of good ideas put through half-ass execution. The same can be said about most of the other quests I've encountered in the game. Combat is brain dead, plain and simple. I understand the entire game isn't about combat, but enough of it is that it should be better than this. Melee is just hitting the attack button, and yes you can say that about any game, but man, is it true in Skyrim. You might backpedal, or strafe while you swing, but if the enemy is stronger than you there isn't enough skill involved for you to be able to beat him without an exploit. You win or lose almost entirely on your stats, and at that point it may as well be turn based. The lack of worthwhile unique items makes questing feel unrewarding, especially when it's not possible to offer EXP as a reward. The loot from the end of a dungeon will almost never be better than what you already have, if it's relevant to your build at all. If you make use of smithing or enchanting at all it is unlikely any item you ever find will be anything but vendor trash. It manages to simultaneously suck the fun out of exploring AND questing when I know I'll never find anything worth finding. Overall, Skyrim is about a 6 for me. Skyrim's soundtrack is also bad or rather, very much uninspired.
  • Jedipimp0712 - January 6, 2012 6:42 a.m.

    i would argue that Fable: The Lost Chapters is one of the best RPG's ever made. Then after that, the Fable series sucked. I am only about six or seven hours into skyrim right now, and the fact that you don't consider other things like magic or bows. If you go the warrior path (just like with any other game that has a warrior, specifically i can remember Mass Effect soldier being WAY more powerful than any of the other classes) your going to win. No matter how much a company balances the warrior, they are always going to have the highest attack and defense, so it will be easier to win. I usually go for sneak in Bethesda games, because it is more of a challenge than just "hurp a durrr, i swing hamma!" if you are going to be closed minded enough to not try other systems built into the game (like magic and bows) then why are you even complaining about the one system you did try and got bored of after hours of playing?
  • Jedipimp0712 - January 6, 2012 6:43 a.m.

    "I am only about six or seven hours into skyrim right now, and the fact that you don't consider other things like magic or bows. If you go the warrior path" should be "I am only about six or seven hours into skyrim right now, and the fact that you don't consider other things like magic or bows is naive. If you go the warrior path"
  • samsneeze - January 6, 2012 8:08 a.m.

    I haven't put in the time to go about making another character yet. I'm just posting from my experiences as a warrior based character. It isn't about being close-minded, it's just that I was focusing on creating that certain character type for my first playthrough of the game. I'm sure that going for stealth would be more of a "challenge". I just don't see why I would limit myself to make the game more challenging. Shouldn't the game already be designed in such a way that I don't have to do that? I went Adept in both Mass Effect 1 and 2. The challenge was there, and I didn't feel like I was limiting myself by choosing that class either. Once I found a decent attack strategy and put a bit more faith in my stupid-ass squad mates things became fun and the game was great. (Insanity is best this way) I prefer Adept to any of the other classes in the series. So maybe choosing something other than hammers would change the way I see combat situations. I don't see a way to fix everything else I have a problem with, though.
  • Scotch - January 6, 2012 11:29 a.m.

    You must be the bizarro version of me. I got the double pack over the summer, played both saints games for about ten collective hours, and couldn't bring myself to finish either. I got the third in a drunken haze, and when it arrived I figured "why not give it a shot?" I 100% the game in two days and fucking loved it. Maybe the Saints games are games you have to play during their release, because I didn't think the first two aged too well.
  • jmcgrotty - January 6, 2012 4:47 a.m.

    Complaining about gameplay in an FPS is like complaining about the acting in a porn. What the hell did you expect??
  • minimaxi - January 6, 2012 4:14 a.m.

    mine is pretty obvious, it's duke nukem. I wasn't aiming for lofty heights here, all I wanted was serious sam with boobs, what I got was a last-gen game designed with two weapon pickups and regenerating health. with last-gen boobs. the effing broken MvC3 and UMvC3 are also my anti games of 2011, though I didn't expect it to be good, just bought it because my friend bought it, so it's not entirely capcom's fault.
  • winner2 - January 6, 2012 3:54 a.m.

    red faction armageddon
  • n00b - January 6, 2012 1:14 a.m.

    i coudn't think of any then i remembered ssf4:arcade edition and all the months of bickering weather or not the game was broken.