The Top 7… Games you don’t want for Christmas 2011

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.

2. Blackwater

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

The Top 7… Games you don’t want for Christmas 2010
They're not all bad, but they aren't Saint Nick's best choices

The worst box art of 2010
40 of the year's ugliest attempts at game packaging


Top 7

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  • YuGiOhisbetterthanMagic - December 7, 2011 11:36 p.m.

    The first Harry Potter game for Gameboy was a brilliant RPG. Deathly Hallows part 2 (and one for that matter) is a terrible, broken, sad pile of refuse that has no right to exsist. where did we go so wrong?
  • igothitwithabulb - December 7, 2011 4:54 p.m.

    "plot-driven" I see what you did there.
  • Zepaw - December 7, 2011 4:51 p.m.

    Articles like this are why this site has my heart so completely. I want to try Blackwater just to experience the awfulness but then I would have to support the game by renting it and have its achievements on my account. Not worth it.
  • LaffPiranha - December 7, 2011 10:34 a.m.

    One day I shall make you my bride, Buttercup.
  • Demoneyes - December 6, 2011 5:41 p.m.

    I do not know GR. Barbie Horse Adventures for the 360 was one of the best games I have ever played. I might give I Love Horses for the Wii a go.
  • Myko - December 6, 2011 5:04 p.m.

    lol anything from ubisoft... period
  • ThundaGawd - December 6, 2011 5:29 p.m.

    Assassin's Creed: Revelations, that is all.
  • Zepaw - December 7, 2011 4:56 p.m.

    Child of Eden was Ubisoft. Oh lord I can't believe the length of the list of Imagine games that have been released. They have even moved into 3DS.
  • Yeager1122 - December 6, 2011 4:29 p.m.

    Thank goodness my family actually knows what crap games are.
  • talleyXIV - December 6, 2011 2:05 p.m.

    Or you could call it 7 Games You Most Not Want For Christmas... well if that made sense.
  • Japanaman - December 6, 2011 10:13 a.m.

    I'm still waiting for Ubisoft to release: Imagine Pimp Imagine Mafia Boss Imagine Secret Ops Imagine Secret Agent Imagine President Imagine Action Hero Imagine Super Hero
  • tacehtselrahc - December 6, 2011 7:48 a.m.

    What about MW3? I'd treat it as an insult if anyone who got me that for Christmas, and then I'd trade it in on Boxing Day for something that wasn't crap.
  • ZhugeLiang - December 6, 2011 7:34 a.m.

    Imagine: Imagine Game Designer
  • crazyqazqaz - December 6, 2011 7:16 a.m.

    It's games like those that really put me off when it comes to Ubisoft. I love the Assassin's creed franchise but the company needs to sort itself out and stop pumping out the sexist bullrubbish it is at the moment. The world would be a better place without it.
  • codystovall - December 6, 2011 6:24 a.m.

  • winner2 - December 6, 2011 5:20 a.m.

    People actually buy that horse crap? Just shattered my whole universe
  • jmcgrotty - December 6, 2011 2:01 a.m.

    Wow. Never saw the Blackwater game. It's pathetic that it was ever made (because of Blackwater, and not anything to do with the game). I probably shouldn't admit this out loud, but I have to admit that I played Train Simulator 2012 and didn't hate it. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't good and I would never pay for it, but it amused me in some messed-up-on-Nyquil way.
  • sirdilznik - December 6, 2011 12:49 a.m.

    B. Buttercup delivers the goods yet again.
  • NanoElite666 - December 5, 2011 10:05 p.m.

    "Tighten up the graphics on level 3?" Good lord, I never thought I'd hear/read that again.
  • sutrebla15 - December 5, 2011 9:19 p.m.

    Speak for yourself, I fuckin' love horses!