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The Anti-Awards 2010

Just a few weeks ago we firmly held each others’ hands and danced jigs of joy for 2010’s biggest and best games. Yes, our Platinum Chalice awards were once again a festival of finery directed at the year’s brightest stars, but now come the dreaded Anti-Awards, which force a spotlight on all the bullshit games, trends and ideas we had to endure throughout the year.

To commemorate their anti-triumph, we’re awarding each “winner” with Bayonetta’s own Stone Award, the statue of a falling fat man that added insult to injury and nearly made us quit playing an otherwise brilliant game. Oh, what a day indeed.


WINNER: Quantum Theory

If you’re going to crib from something successful, you should at least understand its appeal first. Take Gears of War, for example: is it well-regarded by Western gamers because it’s about a bunch of lunky no-necks who explode monster heads while grunting profanities? Or is it because of the flexible cover mechanic, co-op dynamics and the sheer guilty pleasure of dispatching a wide variety of beasts with chainsaws, explosive bows and other fun, diverse weaponry?

If you’re Quantum Theory developer Team Tachyon, you probably think it’s the former. Copying the look and fundamentals of GoW without ever getting the feel right, QT featured plenty of sticky cover, twisted scenery and fearsome-looking guns for fat-headed protagonist Syd to tote around. It even (in the beginning of the game) featured a band of hard-bitten, sass-talking freedom fighters to follow Syd into battle. But it was all a flimsy imitation of what Gears had already done better; the guns were nigh-useless, the battles were repetitive and the freedom fighters all bit it in the first act. And when QT tried to inject its own ideas (like shifting levels), the resultant awful platforming sealed the game’s status as an overall miserable experience.

Create 

Is Create really just a drab, lifeless ripoff of LittleBigPlanet? Maybe not; both games are about building contraptions in quasi-2D levels, but one’s a platformer, while the other’s a puzzle game. Does the difference in gameplay make their obvious skin-deep similarities any easier to ignore? Not even slightly.

 

 

WINNER: Gran Turismo 5

Let's see. Some 800 PS2-grade vehicle models, with barely-enhanced trackside scenery, lower resolution shadows than the free version we were playing in 2006 and a menu system that's significantly inferior to anything we've used in a GT game before. At least we've got car damage now… which only became visible after three weeks of play. And is rubbish.

Massive install, long load times, awful difficulty balancing and an online mode that's already had to be patched to receive the most basic of leaderboards on a scant few tracks. Oh, and the final Rally event in the snow doesn't even use proper tracks – they're clearly generated by the track creator tool. That's unacceptable.

Let's face it, we begrudgingly waited this long because we thought it was being polished to perfection. It wasn't. Now we'll have to wait until Gran Turismo 6 in… what, 2015?

Alan Wake


Since 2005 we’ve been drip-fed lovely screenshots of trees. Developer Remedy assured everyone that it'd be worth the wait. We concluded that Alan Wake would be special. It was finally released in 2010 and we discovered it mostly involved running about the woods at night trying to make sense of what was going on. Remedy even had the cheek to keep the real ending for paid DLC. Good one.

 

 

WINNER: Metroid Other M

For more than 20 years Samus Aran has stood as a proud videogame heroine. Though she’s uttered few words in two decades, her demeanor, conviction and bounty-hunting competence have made her one of the strongest female leads in a medium usually filled with walking tits. Other than a surprise reveal in the very first game, her gender is never hidden, subdued or compromised, and she‘s always portrayed as a woman at the top of her game. Hell, she doesn’t even have to share the spotlight with a dude.

Until Other M, which finally gave Samus a voice. And instead of further defining her as a confident lone wolf, Other M paints Samus as an unsure, insecure woman who desperately wants the approval of her former (male) commanding officer. Suddenly she has emotional baggage, suddenly she freezes in terror at the sight of her nemesis Ridley. What the what? She’s been stomping ass all over the galaxy longer than Master Chief and Commander Shepard put together, yet Samus’ first “real” speaking role redefines her as a typical anime girl playing with the big boys. All of these problems before we even get to Other M’s schizophrenic controls and gameplay…


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1

The idea isn't bad: Capture the more adult, action-packed vibe of the final Harry Potter by making the game a magic-themed Gears of War clone with spells instead of guns. The execution from EA, though, is terrible: the cover system, targeting and AI barely function, the graphics are a muddy mess, the much-publicized Kinect sections are lazy on-rail afterthoughts and the game actually features more buggy, frustrating stealth than shooting.

 

WINNER: Heavy Rain

It’s extremely rare that a videogame plot twist actually catches us off-guard, but Heavy Rain’s was a pretty big surprise. Not the kind of surprise that comes from an expertly crafted twist that casts everything before it in an entirely new light, mind you, but the kind that comes from finding out the flaming bag on your porch is filled with shit.

When Heavy Rain revealed that Scott Shelby – lovable, bear-like Scott Shelby, who’d risk beatings and death to save the lives of strangers – was the child-murdering Origami Killer, it felt so flimsy and contrived that we were at first convinced we’d stumbled onto one of several possible identities for the killer. There was nothing in Shelby’s behavior to indicate he was anything other than a good-hearted shamus, and when the game showed off the little “clues” it thought it had dropped, they felt like cheap, misleading tricks instead of subtle, easily missed tells. It was less a twist than a betrayal, and it made for a deeply unsatisfying conclusion to what was already a questionable script.

And before you argue that that in itself makes the twist more artistically valid, remember: “it’s always the one you least expect” is one of the oldest clichés in the book.


Enslaved

We thought Enslaved was a love / adventure story about two "opposites attract" characters fighting for survival and maybe, just maybe, falling for each other along the way. In the bizarrely out-of-place and out-of-nowhere ending, however, we discover that Enslaved is actually a shameless Matrix rip-off about Andy Serkis' giant head. And worse, that the painstakingly built romantic tension between our heroes will never be resolved.

 

WINNER: Final Fantasy XIII

When you sit down with a 900 page novel, you certainly don’t expect the first 200 pages to lay everything on the table. No, you’d rightly expect that major revelations and plot points would come along halfway, even 2/3 of the way through the sweeping story. Final Fantasy XIII unfolds in this way as well – the 60-hour quest really packs a wallop and is one of our favorite stories of the current generation… but it literally takes 20 hours to get to the god damn point.

For a book, that’s fine. For a game, which requires constant, intensive interaction, this is utterly insane. Most modern games don’t even last for 20 hours period, and yet Square thinks most of us are willing to sit through that much exposition and battle tutorials before the game really opens up? Granted, the cast is on the run and barely knows what’s going on, and therefore is in the dark for much of the game. But that doesn’t mean we should be as well, especially when so much of the story is typical JRPG silliness. Hey, we loved the game, but we also understand the haters – this shit took way too long to get to the good stuff.

Red Dead Redemption

Rockstar’s big open-world games are always slow burners, but did we really need four days of herding before we met anyone of any relevance? And the incessant “princess in another castle” tease structure and endless fetch quests rapidly wore out their welcome once the story proper finally kicked off.


98 comments

  • xSpeedyMonkeyx - January 16, 2011 9:31 p.m.

    I dont understand this... This whole article is based on their opinions and yet you all get worked up. Just because they have an article doesnt mean they know what theyre talking about. Especially if they just ruined a few games I wanted to play without a warning. Failures. Garbage article.
  • Zeb364 - January 10, 2011 9:18 a.m.

    Agreed for most of them and had a pretty good laugh at the Black Ops glitch video.
  • Yeager1122 - January 9, 2011 8:09 a.m.

    Cant beleive people got that worked up over halo reach getting an 8 although it was hilarious to listen to you guys read some of what people said.
  • coolip - January 9, 2011 4:08 a.m.

    Lol, that talkradar vid was hilarious. I remember the ApocalyPS3 of '2010 like it was last year, I lost my trophies (but I got em back in the end)
  • Reaperman64 - January 9, 2011 2:10 a.m.

    @zonic505 The charecters are on the disc, otherwise online theyd be confined to being used against players who already have the dlc. and special edition owners get them immediately, although the limited aint comming out over in the uk... Same thing with SSF4 costumes, the first set can be seen by all, as there on the disc, but not everybody can see the second lot, as they are dlc. Mvc3 is a shameless, and potentially balance ruining cash grab
  • RazielArcanum - January 8, 2011 10:08 p.m.

    I honestly don't understand the structure of this article. I'm going to have to pass.
  • JetpackJesus - January 8, 2011 5:28 p.m.

    Paying for Jill in MvC3? Me no likee. Paying for Shuma Gorath, on the other hand? I can livee withoutee.
  • CodeR - January 8, 2011 2:28 p.m.

    LOL WUT - yes many people would like the Devil May Cry reboot to be Bayonetta with less boobs, but since when do the narcissistic dumbasses at Ninja Theory have the competency to do that? So they are good at characterisation, perhaps they should stick at writing and not developing games then? Strangely many people would love Platinum Games to have been brought back by Capcom, not another cringe worthy attempt at "westernisation" like Bionic Commando. The knee jerk reaction to that trailer was pretty stupid but there are real issues underlying it that have nothing to do with aesthetics of the new Dante.
  • Sukharevskaya - January 8, 2011 6:30 a.m.

    HaHAHAHA! Your guy's humor seriously tops anything I've read before on a game website.
  • quincytheodore - January 8, 2011 3:27 a.m.

    I agree with FF13, it takes too long to start up, you can't even level-up in the first 2 hours. I have plenty tolerance for story driven game and played many FF before, but FF13 is like a lonely experience with epic setting. I can see how many gamers feel alienate by it. I haven't finish Enslaved yet, but it convinced me that Dante make-over might actually be good. DMC is good but not in GoW or Bayonetta level, they need something fresh. Dante-in-blue, oh I meant Nero with his klepto hand is not the answer. And the stone award... I have to apologize before, I don't mean to troll or mock you in anyway, but I thought bronze, Cereza I think, was the worst. I got it when playing one of the early levels, I swear there was a voice in the background saying I played like a little girl, I was already down on the floor OTL. "Pat in the back"
  • texasgoldrush - January 8, 2011 1:55 a.m.

    @ GamesRadarCharlieBarratt Giving Pyramid a larger role would in fact hurt the game's pacing and take the focus of the characters and their relationship with eachother. While narratives like Red Dead Redemption (or any Rockstar game in general) and FFXIII have no concept of pacing, Enslaved stands out for its excellent sense of pace. Pyramid's role is small because the protagonists do not know his true motives until they get to his base. Its easily understandable. Trying to force his motives into the plot earlier would derail the pacing and cause the narrative to lose focus. Trips enslavement of Monkey is far more important to the plot than Pyramids motives. There was closure to Trip's relationship with Monkey, it was a sense of support, from when he tells her to turn the handband back on until when she kills Pyramid, telling her its over and supporting her(a decision he may not have agrred with as he was wearing the mask and enthralled by the images). It was a morally ambigious ending to a morally ambigious game with morally ambigious characters (all three characters can be considered anti-heroes).
  • Spybreak8 - January 8, 2011 1:32 a.m.

    I love the category "Cheap grab for a boner" lol. It's too bad APB was crap and like Tdar said it's just odd that APB and Crackdown 2 come out the same time and both are less than decent.
  • GamesRadarCharlieBarratt - January 7, 2011 7:53 p.m.

    @Kwalaboy Since you're clearly biased against a particular side of the GR staff, and since you couldn't even bother to spell my name correctly when trying to provoke with words like "disgraceful" and "disgusting" (nice way to start a conversation), I won't waste too much time on my response: I did think that Reach was an improvement over the previous Halo, ODST. That's why I scored Reach an 8 and ODST a 7. 8 > 7
  • GamesRadarCharlieBarratt - January 7, 2011 7:38 p.m.

    @texasgoldrush I love your interpretation of Enslaved, and you've given me some extra appreciation for the story - which I already appreciated quite a bit - but I'm not going to follow you down this rabbit hole of TV tropes and English lit definitions for who's a protagonist and who isn't. That's not what's important to my original argument. Again, my problems with the ending are: 1) That the relationship between Trip and Monkey isn't resolved or even developed any further. Regardless of whether it's romantic or just emotional, as you say, I believe there should have been some kind of closure. We get no details on what they might do next, what kind of life they might lead or whether they'll stick together. Instead, we get a sudden onslaught of details on... 2) Pyramid, which until this point, has been depicted as a vague and generic army of robots. We know they imprisoned Trip and Monkey at the beginning, and we hear the occasional line of dialogue about them being "slavers," but if the true nature of Pyramid is so crucial to the ending - and to Trip's arc - then the game should have given Pyramid more of a narrative impact and presence throughout. I felt the ending did a lot more to explain Enslaved's collectibles than satisfyingly wrap up Enslaved's story. Thanks for responding so eloquently, though... this has been a fun and thought-provoking discussion.
  • iDEALfury - January 7, 2011 7:09 p.m.

    that kinect launch lineup nearly made me throw up... seriously, 4 fitness games??!?!
  • Pruman - January 7, 2011 6:33 p.m.

    @ZukotaIsoba: It is impossible for Other M to be an origin story. Did you notice that the opening cutscene is a flashback from Super Metroid, the seventh game in the series chronologically? If Other M was a prequel to the original, I would agree with you wholeheartedly. But at this point, Samus had fought Ridley five times already (the original, Prime 1 and 3, and twice in Super Metroid). To break down scared and crying, and wait for a man to save her, is not becoming of someone who had already blown up multiple space pirate strongholds, killed countless numbers of their soldiers and leaders, and committed genocide against three different species of dangerous parasites (the Ing and Phazon being the other two) and was about to commit genocide against a fourth (the X parasites).
  • bedelicious - January 7, 2011 12:34 p.m.

    I agree with pretty much everything. Also glad to see someone acknowledge at least some of the stupidity in Heavy Rain, I couldn't believe it got so many nominations for best new character and story and stuff around the Internet. PS: I knew I should have thrown a bigger fit about DmC's trailer, now I feel outdone XD Say whatever you want though, but it would take a lot to make me believe this game could be good. On the other hand, I thought the reaction to Halo Reach's score was adorable XD seriously, who didn't see that a million miles away? I'm sure anything less than perfect 10 would have led to a similar result XD
  • ChuckB - January 7, 2011 12:19 p.m.

    I liked Enslaved's ending...
  • Kwalaboy - January 7, 2011 2:11 a.m.

    @texasgoldrush beautifully put. It was all about Trip's Trip. Monkeys awareness of self-being was only to show the humanity and innocents of Trip can heal the most corrupt of people. @TRUS This is probably the third article that's been posted in the last few months including the inception/halo reach video and to be honest, as bad as the reaction was from the 'halo' community, the way you have handled it has been disgraceful. Your critical opinion is perfectly valid and the reputation you uphold means it carries a lot of weight. But to publicly take another persons comment and respond by sarcastically repeating it with the pure intention of insulting the writer is disgusting. A few weeks ago Justin Towell decided to give GT5 a 7. Many who had been anticipating the game took offense to this and questioned why he had chosen his score. In the following podcast he responded and tried to answer many question put to him. He didn't respond 'with his mates' insulting anyone who bad mouthed his review. He looked at it subjectively (which he is paid to do as a JOURNALIST) One of the points raised in you video was a reader who had commented why you felt the game was an improvement of the previous halo and then decided to score it lower, that sounds like a valid point, I know because I read the review thinking the same thing, yet all you did was insult him. Since the video response (not so much the review, to be honest I couldn't care less about the review) the only GR US member who I ever read the article of is Matthew Keast. So Charlie Barrett and Co. How you gonna treat this comment, you gonna make a smarmy youtube video, or do you fancy answering me seriously? Also Meiks, Keast, Towell, Cundy, Irvine and Houghton (yes i've finally bought singularity after your recommendation) keep up the good work.
  • texasgoldrush - January 7, 2011 1:38 a.m.

    To add http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SupportingProtagonist Thats what Monkey really is. In fact, Trip's Journey To The West counterpart, the monk Xuanzang (who is also refered to as Tripitaka), is the protagonist and main character of the classic novel. The cental character isn't the one with the "clearest story arc", its the character that the story revolves around. The reason why Trip isn't the protagonist is that she would not be fun to play as in a video game. The story is very small picture and the picture is Trip. In fact, the big picture is way too shallow to be anything other than about the small picture.

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