2011, A Year In Disappointment

2011, A Year In Disappointment

Throughout 2011, we’ve been blessed with some extraordinary games and some memorable events. But life is not all ups. For every up there must be a down, or in this case, a downer.

These are, according to us at least, 2011’s biggest video gaming disappointments. Now, before we go any further, know that few of the things we’re listing below were terrible. These aren’t the worst things in video gaming for 2011. They’re just the games, parts of games or things that we hoped or expected would attain a certain level of quality or success, but for whatever reason, did not. In other words, a disappointment!

Note also that these nominations were open to all Kotaku editors, so if you see something contradicting the opinions put forth in a preview, impressions or review, that’s why. Different horses may enjoy different courses!

Dragon Age II

In Dragon Age, BioWare delivered one of the great role-playing games of this generation. Dragon Age II was…OK, but boy, if they’d cut any more corners on it there’d have been nothing left but a pile of cut corners on the floor.

LA Noire

It took how long to make this? And cost how much? The facial-capture stuff was a revolution, and the soundtrack wonderful, but it often felt like a crude game show with only Rockstar’s patented window dressing (open world, great voice acting) passing it off as a AAA game.

Nintendo 3DS

Has there been a more disappointing hardware launch in recent times than the 3DS? A botched reveal, a ridiculous price-tag, a cumbersome UI, no second thumbstick and no decent games. It’s hitting its straps in time for 2012, as you’d hope at a cheaper price and with quality software, but for most of 2011 the 3DS seemed more like a DS 2.5.


There were such high hopes for this game. Homefront was THQ swinging for the fences, trying to join the same league as the Modern Warfares and the Battlefields of the world. A lot of money was spent, a lot of hype generated. Then people played it, found out the setting was stupid, the story overwrought, the singleplayer terrifyingly short (both on length and ideas) and the multiplayer a novelty that was never going to lure people from whatever shooter they were already playing.

Pre-Order DLC

We hoped the bullshit notion of publishers and retailers splitting downloadable content between them was a craze that would end. We were, sadly, wrong.

Kinect Games

It’s a useful way to navigate the 360’s dashboard. That’s about all the Kinect has been good for shortly after people buy it. Why? Because it’s been out for over a year now and there still aren’t any proper games for it beyond cheap kids titles and party games. Come on developers. You ended up making a handful of well-designed games for the Wii’s motion controls, time to do the same for Kinect.

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations

As the final game starring Ezio, and with a subtitle called Revelations, you’d expect Assassin’s Creed: Revelations to have, well, revealed something. It didn’t. It should have been called Assassin’s Creed: Phoning in the Filler.

Red Faction: Armageddon

Red Faction Guerilla was one of this generation’s most pleasant surprises, its Martian setting complemented beautifully with a devious physics engine. So hopes were high for its sequel! Which…took away everything that was good about the last game, switching out blue skies for caves and awesome explosions for bugs.

Uncharted 3

While Uncharted 3 was still a great game, it’s disappointing how it fell short in almost every regard compared to its predecessor. It lacked the pacing, the context, the level design and, most of all, the chemistry of the first two games in the series, making it feel tired by comparison.

The Last Guardian

There once was a time we expected to be playing this game in 2011. Instead, with its creator leaving Sony and another key man walking away from the game altogether, there are now alarms ringing where once was only the sound of pre-orders being racked up.


The first new game from Doom’s creators in years and what do we get? A solid shooter wrapped in a pointless open world that had its fair share of performance problems. The game’s PC graphics settings were particularly woeful.


Like Homefront, this was an original title that many had high hopes for. Its bold art design couldn’t hide a launch marred by technical issues and people not quite “getting” the game, though, and while it seems to have stabilised in recent months, Brink will never be the top=-shelf multiplayer shooter it wanted to be.


    • Was anyone hoping they would never actually release it and it would be this ongoing insane project that became the equivalent of like “the back paddock” where coders are sent so their careers can die? “Oh you hear about Kevin?” “nope.” ” got picked up for duke nukem forever” “holy shit, he was so young!”

    • Heh, I actually enjoyed Duke Nukem Forever and it’s SP DLC. It’s sad that Gearbox Software turned him into a giant douche though…hope the next game (yes, they’re making a next game..) will be better.

        • This.

          It’s why I found so many reviews on the game so damn amusing. People were/are criticising a Duke Nukem game for being a Duke Nukem game.

          • I also remember a hilarious picture of Duke from about 8 years ago of him with two women. One draped over his shoulder the other he was holding by her g-string.

            Yeah, Duke was never a douche until DNF…

  • I agree with most of the disappointments. I enjoyed Revelations, just because it was the last episode with Ezio 🙂

  • So even though the 3DS has more than made up for a lacklustre start whilst the year is still 2011, it also makes this list?

    Also, AC: Revelations did have a quite a few revelations and there was no reason at all to expect it to tie everything together in a neat little package. So I’m confused as to how it made this list.

    • From Dust, Dead Island and Hunted: The Demon’s Forge should be on this list. All hyped up, all ridiculously underwhelming.

      • I get From Dust and Dead Island – but “Hunted: The Demons Forge” – was is that even – I’ve never heard of that! AND I’m a frequent reader of video game websites – I don’t think they could have hyped it less!

        • I dunno, a lot of gaming sites and even webcomics I visited had it plasted everywhere, plus there was quite a bit about it on Steam with trailers and such and it looked really promising. It’s like a co-op Diablo but crap.

    • Its doing better, but the 3DS still has a ways to go before it moves out of disappointing in my opinion. Obviously, this is subjective, but it still doesn’t have any games I’d consider buying a 3ds for. Also, theres no quick fix for the second fiasco which just screams of rushed release.

    • It’s the fastest selling console in Australia, but I guess it’s not doing as well over in America? I haven’t seen Kotaku US write up much about how it’s doing so I dunno, maybe in Luke’s eyes, it is a disappointment. I’m a bit excited about what 2012 has in store for the 3DS. I hope Layton vs Phoenix Wright gets localised by the end of 2012.

      • Considering the unprecedented price drop, you could argue fastest selling was almosr a given. Regardless, my disappointment (and from the sound of things luke) is that its got this awesome glasses free 3D thing thats weighed down by other poor design decisions and a game catalogue that is only now starting to look anytging but terrible. I think 2012 could be its year though.

        • However, one can’t disagree that it has really turned around and become successful all whilst in 2011 thus including it in this list is silly. I mean cmon, “in recent times” what does that mean? If it counts the last two years at least then the biggest hardware failure would be the PSP Go.

          Hell, I haven’t followed the 3DS constantly but I’ve never ONCE heard a single complaint about a “cumbersome UI” either. The addition of the 3DS in this list, to me, just seems to be a case of “it’s cool to hate on Nintendo atm”.

          • I’m not sure their hating on the machine – I don’t hate it, but I definitely don’t think it came anywhere near its potential this year, hence my disappointment.

            Agree that its cool to hate on Nintendo though ;P

  • I agree with the Uncharted 3 call – although I really liked it it just wasn’t as good as Among Thieves. I finished it and went right back to Arkham City.
    Most of the games on the list i started, then got bored of halfway through, so, disappointment..? It usually started with that, before turning quickly into indifference.
    Duke Nukem wasn’t so much of a disappointment as an inevitability.

  • Definatley agree with dissapointment of Uncharted 3. Not enough reviewers highlighted these very valid points.

  • This article is half bullshit. Seriously, what the hell was wrong with LA Noire? It had everything I expected to, and exceeded my expectations story-wise. Assassin’s Creed Revelations is still great. Brink is awesome only nobody plays it.

    How can you call this a year of disappointment when we have Skyrim, BF3, Human Rev and Batman?

    • Year IN disappointments not year OF disappointments, I think the general concensus is that 2011 was a bumper year of good games including the ones you mentioned skyrim,BF3 and Batman AC.I agree with you on LA Noire but I think people thought that it would be like GTA/Red dead a big sandbox with multiplayer and were dissapointed, a couple of my mates who don’t read gaming sites wer’nt even aware until they bought it that was single player only.

    • I had high hopes for Brink and the thing that really gets my goat is it’s probably actually good but it seems like it was reviewed by a lot o COD fanatics whereas in the gameplay they seem to be aiming for a cross between Battlefield and Team Fortress.

      Maybe all those people who bought a $9 copy from Game a month ago have bolstered the player base.

    • Scrap the story, redo the levels so they’re balanced and BAM you got yourself a rad game. The objectives and such became a lot of fun and the customisation was awesome but the unbalanced levels ruined everything. Not much fun when each level is designed in favour of one particular team.

  • Pretty much agree with all of these, with the exception of Uncharted 3 which was a little stale, but captured more than enough of what made 2 great for me to walk away satisfied.

    I just which DA2 had done the same. Its probably my biggest gaming disappointment ever.

  • How can AssRev be one of the year’s biggest disappointments? Clearly someone wasn’t playing it right then.

    Pretty close to my GotY, I found it freakin’ stunning. This feels more like people complaining because, hey, its cool to do so. Did you even finish the game? That last hour alone was absolutely excellent, and as a fan of the series, reminded me why I got into it in the first place.

    Thanks Ubi Montreal for giving me a damn good time this year, without dropping the ball or trying to rock the boat too much.

    Screw you Kotaku US editors for being the typical mom’s basement types who can’t find an inkling of good in the world.

    • Revelations is woeful.

      It pales in comparison in every way to AC2 (and ACB). It’s a buggy, unpolished mess – inevitable, considering it was made by SIX studios.

      Bugs, repetitive missions, a smaller city than AC2 and ACB, little variety, a terribly implemented and awkward tower defence minigame, a tacked on story, and little reason to care about the characters.

      But yeah, he probably wasn’t ‘playing it right’.

      • Where were the bugs? I played on PC and never once had a single issue so I’m curious to hear what was wrong, for me it ran smoother and easier than any of the previous installments. Also, so what if the world was smaller, the world in Skyrim was huge but that doesn’t change the fact that it was a lot of the same. The TD minigame was optional and far from awkward. It’s not the dev’s fault that a simplistic minigame is beyond you, that’s your issue. It was ridiculously simple and easy to figure out, not to mention win. Tacked on story? In what way? Please give specific examples. And if you struggled to care about the characters then you must need over-the-top and obvious emotional connections and soap-opera level drama to feel anything.

        And cmon, the lack of variety and repetitive missions have been an issue with ALL versions of Assassin’s Creed. Are you even an AC fan? Or just someone who hated it from the first installment?

        • Unsurprisingly, I agree with all said here – just thought I’d chime in to note that I, too, experienced no bugs on the PS3 version.

      • But the thing is that Luke doesn’t often write his articles in a very opinionated way, there aren’t many “I think”s or ‘In my opinion”s in his articles and that’s why I dislike him as a writer.

  • I note that NO-ONE disputes the inclusion of Red Faction Armageddon – what an awful paint-by-numbers shooter – they would’ve done better to not release a demo and rely on name-brand-recognition to sell the game!

    • RF:A wasn’t that bad. I actually found the combat to be quite satisfying. Woeful story and characters aside, there were plenty of games what underwhelmed more.

  • For the 4X players… the Sword of the Stars ][ release was a giant cockup, with no less then 19 patches in the last two months to bring the game to a point where it only crashes rarely, let alone talk about missing content. Released Oct. 30 2011, ready to play Feb-May 2012. That being said, Paradox and Kerberos have been very determined and open about fixing the game…

  • No mention of Battlefield 3’s awful single player? Single biggest disappointment for me this year.

    Other disappointments include

    – AC Revelations – the multiplayer particularly, ACbroho was amazing, AC Rev they didnt even change the maps/characters, only bothered to adjust game settings and made them WORSE.

    – Mass effect 2 PS3 (it was this year wasn’t it?) a very highly rated game, which I found to be mediocre at best in the time i played it. Maybe I didn’t put enough time in to get involved in it but it is/was hardly the game I was expecting after the way Xbox and PC players raved about it the year before.

    Another disappointment this year has got to be the quality of the Kotaku US articles. You know what I mean.

    • I don’t think many people expected BF3 single player to be any good anyway. It was superfluous from the get go. I did not even start it.

    • Mass Effect 2 PS3 was everything I wanted and more. Overall, its my favourite single release of the year, though I don’t really consider it my ‘Game of the Year’, as its a game from 2010, just ported. So it’s my Game of 2010, retroactively, I guess.

      Guess it just wasn’t for you. Probably should have played the demo first though…

    • That’s because they tried to return BF to it’s former glory instead of the consolified trash that was Bad Company. “Tried” is the key word there.

    • BF3’s campaign was only a disappointment if you were getting BF3 solely for the SP. I actually quite like the SP of BF3, it isn’t as explosion filled as CoD’s campaigns, but it isn’t supposed to be. Thats what the multiplayer is for.

  • I don’t get how Kinect can be a disappointment. That infers their were expectations, if you thought, for ONE minute Kinect was going to be anything other than an awkward, unsupported, platform specific mess then Microsoft’s marketing department is doing a very good job.

    Rage was a massive let down.

    • I’ll hand it to em – after the initial wave of software and then the complete drought I thought Kinect would be nothing but Wii2 – mostly Carnival Games and Just Dance (and sure enough those things have shown up) but there’s been surprises – GunStringer, Fruit Ninja, Leedmees wasn’t too bad and there a few out next year that I have my eye on – certainly Rise of Nightmares was breathtaking for the sheer amount of gore that was a) passed by the OFLC/ACB/whatever b) on a family-friendly platform like Kinect!

  • My personal list for 2011.

    BF3’s singleplayer is on there (the co-op is no good either) it feels pedestrian — especially when lined up against the superlative multiplayer.

    The fact that only one really good game released the whole entire year on XBLA – that being Fruit Ninja Kinect

    Microsoft’s poor E3 and their obsession with the Halo/Gears/Forza holy trinity to the exclusion of all other IP

    The rapid decline of Rare as a AAA studio

    The Free-to-Play TF2 putting the final nail in the coffin of any hope for a long-promised update to the Xbox version (incredibly the xbox version still has a solid player base – perhaps because it has been untouched by updates)

    Nintendo pushing shite like “Steel Diver” for the 3DS and wondering why the system wasn’t selling (luckily they’ve turned that around with Mario – hell I even bought one!)

    Really bad Demos I played…

    Red Faction Armageddon: I made the mistake of playing this demo and the demo for Guerilla around the same time, guess which one was more fun…

    Rage: You know this was selling poorly when they decided weeks after to put up a demo, and no wonder I wandered around that town for 20 full minutes and not once was I allowed to shoot something! FAIL

    Gotham City Imposters: Maybe spending half an hour without connecting to a match is someone’s idea of fun – but it ain’t mine.

    • RE: Gotham City Imposters; After partaking in the PC beta I was very disappointed. The attitude of the devs on the forum was equally disappointing as well. Threads and posts deleted for making constructive criticism that pointed out the many flaws the game had. Responses from them with the whole “f**k you, it’s our game and we’ll make it how we see fit” attitude. It’s a shame. It was a smaller title that I was really looking forward to.

  • Very interesting, some pretty god info here.
    I now know what not to buy, (taking about comments and a little bit of the article)

  • From the list:
    I didn’t have high expectations for Dragon Age II as I did Origins, so I wasn’t let down but I grew an understanding on why people dislike it. I wouldn’t call it a bad game, but it’s a downgrade compared to Origins (though, at least they improved the combat, graphics and characters). Origins was a good game, but due to all its hype and coming from Mass Effect 2 to Dragon Age, I was disappointed.

    DLC is a pain in the arse.
    Thankgod for games like Dark Souls, they stated all released games should be the final product and that they’d only release DLC if fans desired it. Well, something along those lines.
    DLC is overpriced and most of the time to short or unnecessary. I bought ME2 DLC due to wanting to explore the universe more and the majority of it was worth it.
    The DLC video was of Batman, and though Arkham Asylum didn’t come out in 2011, it also is one of the biggest disappointments I’ve played.
    I heard SO much hype about it, so I bought it, and I haven’t touched it for months.
    Some of the worst voice-acting, animations and combat in gaming… The story and characters arn’t well done either, I am disappoint son.

    RAGE, another game I had very high hopes for. Before its release, it looked to be the best FPS in its genre… What a complete mess.
    It would of been so much better if they didn’t attempt a FPS with RPG elements, they should of stuck to what they were good at (shooting) and leave it to Fallout and Borderlands. Whilst I enjoyed it, the majority of quests were dull, boring and mainly fetching quests. It also had one of the worst endings in gaming.

    BF3, although I’m enjoying its multiplayer (I’ve never enjoyed online FPS’, especially after playing CoD, that shit needs to be terminated, but BF3’s multiplayer is addictive as fuck) I found the singleplayer a huge let down.
    It’s like they removed everything that made the multiplayer great.

    Can’t really think of any else, though some of the best of 2011 would have to be:
    Mass Effect 2 (PS3).
    Dark Souls.
    The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
    Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
    Dead Space 2.
    Battlefield 3.

    Most of the great games I bought this year were from years back.

  • Well, I suppose this is my list for the rejects/disappointment of 2011.

    Test Drive Unlimited 2: Biggest mistake in plonking down cash for. Only a month in ownership did I trade this turd in. It promised a lot but delivered very little. Although people says it’s decent now, I doubt it.

    Nintendo’s announcement of the WiiU: If you were able to do this now, why didn’t you in the first place when you launched the Wii? Very sceptical in its success really.

    Customs Australia going postal over Mortal Kombat: You should focus more on drugs and other illegal crap, not this.

    No promotion over Child of Eden: Child of Eden has to be the rare gem of the Kinect. I was surprised there wasn’t any promotions for it and yet it is still my most favourite game for the Kinect.

    Capcom milking: So milking us of a Resident Evil that’s practically a demo for the 3DS, you milk us more for DLCs and release games that are updates of the previous ones. Capcom, you are so disappoint.

    Gears of War whatever: I thought GoW3 would fix all the problems that was GoW2. Instead, I got the same crap as GoW2 but with Dom dying. And I was frigging happy he died as he was developing into a mid-aged emo. And improving multiplayer is good but do the same for frigging simgle-player?

    Nintendo 3DS: The games I wanted was pushed further into 2012. All I have to put up with was the staple milking series. Looks like the DS has more time to itself.

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