2011 DISAPPOINTMENTS: SHOOTERS

There are multiple articles out there on what you should buy in 2011 and what you should look out for in 2012 — and we will write one shortly on each of those as well — but this one is a bit different.  There is only so much money that your parents will give you for pocket money, and only so much you can earn in your internship, and only so much free time your life-sucking corporate job will allow you, so it is of utmost importance to choose the games that justify your time, effort, and money.  We asked our team what games they absolutely regret playing this year.  Not surprisingly, a  lot of them were in the shooter genre.  This is a genre already overcrowded with a lot of players, each one trying to become the next Call of Duty franchise.  But as we have always seen, not every dog (really) has its day.  Here is a list of games that made us want to shoot the publishers and ask for our money (and time) back.  Admittedly, we have not tried every single aspect of these games, so we urge you to take our thoughts with a pinch of salt.

HOMEFRONT: THQ

Homefront is a game that had potential but was marred by a struggling storyline and unremarkable gameplay.  Homefront is based on a alternative future in 2027 where North- and South-Korea unite to form an United Korea, and launch an all-out attack on the United States.  Incredulous?  Yes, that is how we reacted too — LOL-ing in real life.  We were more comfortable with sticking it out with the Russians or, our more recent favorites, the Afghans.  Anyway, despite our first impressions, we tried to give it a shot and started the campaign.  The gameplay, although not worse (or better) than any other shooter, didn’t really excite us.  Follow your leader, shoot at enemies, finish a task, then follow your leader again — this isn’t really different from what other shooters do but Homefront doesn’t do it differently or better than any other shooter.  It just ends up playing very much like a poor cousin to the Call of Duty series.

An interesting story failed by less-than-awesome execution

The most disparaging thing about the campaign is that it sort of keeps you interested in playing through because of the promise of greater glory down the path, and then suddenly, out of the blue, ends.  Just when you thought you were advancing to the next chapter that promised a return to glory!

The somewhat redeeming factor is the online multiplayer.  Its nothing  different from other online multiplayers, but a few aspects — like how you score more as a team than as an individual, and how you can customize your suite of arms — do make it enjoyable.

Overall, this is a game well played, but if you are looking for that perfect shooter, we suggest you move on.

BRINK: BETHESDA SOFTWORKS

Now this is a game I was actually looking forward to but, in hindsight, it was probably a lack of research on my part.  The storyline works quite well —  Brink is set atop a floating city, rightly called The Ark, occupied by thousands of people escaping the horrors of ecological disaster.  Soon, the social order of the original occupants is disturbed and two factions emerge from this chaos: Security and Resistance forces battle for control of the Ark and you are made to choose right at the outset which team you are going to support.   This premise makes for some good storytelling and gameplay, but unfortunately the developer Splash Damage fails to capitalize on it and create a compelling campaign experience for us.

Great graphics? Except that this isn't really in-game footage.

Brink allows you to choose first, which side to play on and then what “class” of soldiers to play as.  Unfortunately, there isn’t much difference between each of those classes during gameplay… until you hit a point and realize that you have chosen the wrong class (e.g., when you blow your way into an enemy stronghold as a Soldier only to realize that you needed to be a Medic to rescue the Person of Interest you are trying to rescue from the stronghold).

Another thing that completely does not work for me is how characters have this shining border around them: this looks bad enough on multiplayer modes in certain games, but in a campaign mode it is much much worse!  This completely ruined the experience for me so much that I didn’t bother finishing the campaign mode at all.

An important aspect that Brink messed up in is storytelling.  Although the storyline had potential, the cut scenes seems to make their way into stories at odd timings (e.g., you are shooting at an enemy soldier lunging for you and suddenly the cut scene shows you following your team mates into a different door).  Through the campaign, Splash Damage seems to have given up on the story altogether.  That may explain why the game was completed ahead of schedule and released a week earlier than announced.  We wish they had stuck it out a bit longer.

DUKE NUKEM FOREVER: 2K GAMES AND GEARBOX SOFTWARE

Speaking of sticking it out a bit longer, no list of lame games will be complete without talking about Duke Nukem’s return to Forever.  This game took about 15 years to develop and it actually plays like it should have been released in 2001.  Clunky controls, immensely tiresome loading times, and bad execution make this game a terrible waste of time and money.

Duke Nukem’s sense of chauvinistic humor may have been acceptable in the 90s but leaves a bad taste in your mouth today.  And if you were looking for some sad internet porn, you would go to sad internet porn sites — not a lame console game with frame-rate issues.  While its predecessor, Duke Nukem 3D, used some amount of obscenity to drive the story along, Duke Nukem Forever seems to have been created just for that.

To say gameplay has taken a hit in this season of Duke Nukem is putting it mildly.  There is really no gameplay worth writing about.  Most games go through a linear process of shoot ’em up > cutscene > shoot ’em up, but the cutscenes in this game are so ill prepared and tedious, it makes you want to shut down your console and get on Facebook to bitch about the game instead.  Even within the sequences where you get to blow up aliens, there are instances of lack of simple attention to detail: for instance, when you hold down the left trigger, you don’t bring up the ironsights… instead the entire screen seems to move forward a bit.  Didn’t developers already fix this years back?

And if that doesn’t hold you back from playing this game, checkout this video:

So this is our short list of games you shouldn’t spend your time on.  What games do you wish were on this list?  Let us know!

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