Personal Anti-GOTY: Catherine
It’s not you, Catherine. It’s me.
Your block-pulling and pushing puzzles were probably exhilarating mental gymnastics for most people, but all I saw were… a bunch of boring blocks. Stretching into a nightmarish infinity of tedium, paradoxically made more excruciating by the timer that promised to end my suffering. What variety! And your animated story segments were probably a fascinating choose-your-own-moral adventure for most people as well, but I couldn’t help noticing that one Catherine was a ridiculous female stereotype, while the other was… also a ridiculous female stereotype, only on the opposite end of the ridiculous spectrum. Should I romance the demonic symbol of dangerous promiscuity, or the harpy symbol of nagging, suffocating monogamy? What subtlety!
You know, forget what I said earlier, Catherine. It was definitely you.
Personal Anti-GOTY: Gears of War 3
I used to bloody love Gears of War. Despite the ill-informed accusations of knuckle-dragging meatheadery leveled at it from some quarters, it was always the most intelligent of the big triple-A console shooters. Its action was a brutally gratifying, tightly tactical challenge, demanding a keen strategic mind operating in marriage with fast-reacting improvisational skills on a second-by-second basis. Its narrative, while hardly Booker-worthy, used wisely understated relationships to ground the more extravagant action in affectingly underplayed drama. And the first two games are perfectly paced, both within themselves and in relation to each other.
In Gears of War 3, though, I found the opposite of everything I loved about the series. The misguided insistence on four-player co-op forced a bloated, unfocused narrative, sitting tonally somewhere between a soap opera and a pantomime, and taking in so many barely-sketched characters as to blow the grim intimacy of the series out of the water. The extra characters also completely changed the focus of the action, the razor-sharp skirmishes replaced with vague, sprawling battlegrounds and hordes of piss-weak opposition. On Normal, the game literally played itself, and the gimmicky, mutated Lambent Locust wrecked the old tactical flow of the game completely.
It made me sad.
Personal Anti-GOTY: L.A. Noire
You don't have to be a detective to work out that L.A. Noire is really boring. You just have to play it. You cannot escape the boring. It hunts you down and murders your mind with boring. Which is more boring than actually being completely physically murdered because you're still alive only you're really, really bored.
It's a lot of looking around and picking stuff up and putting stuff down again and checking notes and talking to people and being law-abiding (really boring) and driving about the most boring open-world city since Sony decided to spend a pile of money recreating London for The Getaway but tragically forgot to put in anything that made it not boring. Thinking about L.A. Noire can help prolong sex.
Personal Anti-GOTY: Gears of War 3
Look, Gears of War is great. It has a shooting system that's tight, creative, and immensely gratifying. I loved Gears 2. I was excited to play Gears 3, but multiplayer wasn’t a priority in my gaming schedule, what with so many great games coming out. So for me, Gears 3 had to stand on its single-player alone. I’d heard the campaign was slightly weak, but what I didn’t expect was for it to fall so flat.
The story began, and I was immediately bored. I ran around on a yellow ship that was incredibly visually bland. I fought the same old Locust around painfully contrived arenas of waist-high cover. The only early major set-piece was an attack by a Leviathan – the same damn monster we fought last time. The Lambent showed up and sprouted glowy tentacles – ho hum. Where were the incredible set-pieces? Where was the creative architecture? Where was the excitement? Something just wasn’t clicking. After hours and hours I was still bored, almost falling asleep. I can barely remember anything that happened – just that it all looked the same and played the same. I only hope that if there’s a Gears 4, they learn from this campaign.
Personal Anti-GOTY: MotorStorm: Apocalypse
On a basic, fundamental level, Evolution Studios effed up MotorStorm: Apocalypse to almost unplayable levels. How? By creating courses that are initially harder to navigate than the arctic tundra in a snowstorm.
Any racer that needs three indicators to show which way to turn (smoke, luminous flares and giant flashing arrows) fails immediately. It’s like admitting that the courses they created – complete with ever-changing landscapes - are too tricky to navigate alone. The amount of times I’ve clipped innocuous bits of scenery that I expected to cruise over is enough for me to turn the air blue with swears.
While I applaud the idea of creating an ever-changing race environment, the poorly designed tracks coupled with the idiotic clipping issues makes for one draining race experience. After two great off-road games, I refuse to accept this lame effort as canon to the series. Yes, I’m that disappointed with it.
Personal Anti-GOTY: Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
It’s not easy being a horse, especially a horse that was a fan of the Assassin’s Creed series. The watered down role of equines in Revelations was my greatest disappointment of 2011. Gone are the mountable mares and stallions in previous titles, and with them, the core of what made Assassin’s Creed fun. Sure, you can still climb and jump and assassinate other non-horses, but what’s the point of doing anything if you have to do it on foot as a weak, bipedal mammal?
Above: Non-horses doing non-horse things. Ugh, who cares
Instead of the picturesque rides through the countryside in Assassin’s Creed II, Revelations delivers a swift kick in the face to the series’ hardcore horse community. The handful scenes in Revelations where non-horse cart riders attempt to drive each other off the road was a poor and unacceptable replacement for the indispensable role that horses once played in this once great series. Ubisoft, you’ve murdered the horses, and with them, the soul of your most successful franchise.
And that's our personal least favorite games of the year. Can't believe no one picked Duke Nukem Forever? Or Blackwater? Neither can we! Feel free to weigh in on our choices and detail your own in the comments below.