3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
Following the events featured in the series' film finale, the Deathly Hallows game does a surprisingly good job of capturing the look of a Hogwart's under siege. In stills, the game looks like a detailed, dark, and loyal representation of the film's high points. But once you start playing it, you'll find that the magic is gone in this Gears of War-style take on Harry Potter.
The world of magic may be at war, but no matter how hard the game tries to sell you on its cover-and-shoot mechanic, it never feels right. Waves of Death Eaters raining spells on you might have hit the Gears-meets-Lord of the Rings vibe developer Bright Light seems to have been aiming for, but the repetitive action and bumbling AI saps all potential excitement from what might've been a decent follow-up to last year's release of Part 1.
Above: Take cover, Mrs. Weasley!
Instead of making you feel like saving the world, Part 2 will leave you feeling like you've learned how to best exploit the game's AI, taking down Death Eaters left and right as though Harry Potter was some sort of one man army.
That being said, Part 2 is a fair title in that it seems bent on disappointing fans of the Harry Potter books, films, and games equally. Fans of the books will dislike the watered-down narrative that's to be expected from a book to film to game translation. Fans of the film will find little more than the occasional moment of satisfaction when they see Daniel Radcliffe and company make their in-game appearances. But gamers will quickly tire of dealing with Death Eaters, and won't be satisfied by the occasional breaks offered by segments featuring Professor McGonagall, Neville Longbottom and Mrs. Weasley.
This shooter finds you playing as an employee of the US government's largest security contractor. Steering clear of any missions that might draw attention to the organization’s controversial role in the Iraq War, including the alleged Blackwater Baghdad shootings, the game takes place far from the Middle East in a fictional North African country beset by warlords.
This lets you push thoughts of the contractor's possible war crimes to the side, so you can focus on how much fun you're not having while playing. The game's laundry list of faults won't surprise you with its bland textures, inaccurate controls, and pro-Blackwater subtext. But even America's Army doesn't have the gall to charge you for trying its interactive propaganda. Erik Prince, founder and former CEO of Blackwater (now Xe Services) wants you to pay full price for the privilege of experiencing this game of mass destruction. Do yourself a favor by passing on this opportunity.
Above: Someone forgot to tighten up the graphics in level three (and every other level)
1. Anything from the Ubisoft Imagine line
Head to your local GameStop, and you'll be likely to find a row of titles from Ubisoft's Imagine series neatly arranged in the used DS games section. They're the perfect gift for human parents that want to impress upon their little daughter the notion that she can be anything she wants to be, as long as she knows her place.
Blissfully ignorant of the glass ceiling and the impoverishment of women in this man-made patriarchy, the Imagine series prepares human female foals for future careers focused on the so-called softer sex's superior skills at nurturing and being creative. Whether it's designing clothes, fixing hair or planning parties, the Imagine series never ceases to surprise me, revealing just how backwards you non-horses are when it comes to your cookie-cutter gender roles. But that's not to say that little girls can't also grow up to be serious business owners within the limited confines of the Imagine series' worldview. For these extraordinary young girls, there are always games like Imagine: Resort Owner.
Above: A bachelor's degree in gender studies may be required to undo the effects of playing too much Imagine during the pre-teen years
The Top 7... Worst games of 2011 (so far)
Early contenders for early bargain-bin retirement