originals\ Jan 3, 2012 at 11:00 am

Why Did These Games Fail In 2011?


2011 was, for the most part, a sensational year in video games, with a number of highly successful sequels and underground hits.  However, it was also a year in which many big franchises either made a debut or a comeback, and didn’t perform up to standard.  Either critics lambasted them for being questionable releases, or the public just didn’t buy into them, due to some unforeseen factor.  The real question is why.

With that, we’ve decided to examine specific cases of games released in 2011, to get an idea of what could’ve possibly went wrong.  Was it something in the development?  Perhaps the marketing?  Or maybe the game’s release was just a bad idea to begin with.  Oddly enough, we run into each one of these cases within the six provided examples.

So, let’s peer into the microscope and see what the boon of failure has brought upon these games.

call of juarez: the cartel

Call of Juarez: The Cartel (Ubisoft)

The idea: Ubisoft brings its Western series to the modern way world, with a 50’s-aged cowboy teaming up with a pair of local enforcers as they tackle drug cartels and other nasty criminal types.  The game, developed once again by Techland, introduces co-op components into the mix, as well as a new moral system where the player can choose to perform corrupt actions behind their partner’s backs, or shoot for the straight and narrow.

So what went wrong?  Pretty much everything.  You could tell that development was rushed with The Cartel, thanks to a number of glitches and less-than-compelling stage design.  What’s more, your partners failed to really provide anything special, as they insult you every time you don’t perform up to their standards – which is, sadly, all the time.  As for the co-op, it didn’t really offer anything different from other games, and the empty online lobby didn’t help either.  This is one series that needs to go back to the way it was – and quick.

duke nukem forever

Duke Nukem Forever (2K Games)

The idea: After spending roughly 12 years in development hell under the now-shuttered 3D Realms, Gearbox Software picked up the Duke Nukem Forever project and introduced it last year at PAX, vowing to complete it and release it in stores for the sake of the fans.  In June, that release finally happened, and Duke returned to take on a whole new alien threat, both through a single-player campaign and online multiplayer.

So what went wrong?  Well, the game sold sufficiently, enough to push 2K and Gearbox into developing a new Duke title.  However, critics could easily see how badly the game had aged over the years, with prehistoric settings, lame gameplay segments (the shrunken Duke stuff was annoying) and several glitches.  What’s more, Duke himself wasn’t nearly as “cool” as he could’ve been.  In various parts of the game, he acts a little too much like a macho dick, rather than playing the hero.  Perhaps for their next effort, Gearbox can make him truly shine and maybe not throw poop this time around.


Brink (Bethesda Softworks)

The idea: Introduce a trailblazing new multiplayer concept where potential shooter fans could choose from various classes, each with their own special abilities, and then choose sides when it comes to either defending a relic in the future, or bringing it down due to its corruption.

So what went wrong?  When the game released, players just failed to really find anything worthwhile.  While the classes did show signs of innovation, the gameplay itself was too loose for its own good, and the shooting just got old after a while.  The AI wasn’t nearly as sharp as it could’ve been, and the lack of a compelling storyline – a general reason to keep teams involved in their cause – pretty much sealed Brink’s fate.  A good try, but hardly the kind of multiplayer romp we were looking for.


Homefront (THQ)

The idea: A first-person shooter based on the theatrics of war, but this time based on a completely original storyline, one where North Korea unites with South Korea and successfully completes a world invasion, with a few select Americans attempting to fight back.

So what went wrong?  The storyline was all right, and the multiplayer had its moments, but the game just failed to really live up to its potential.  There’s not nearly enough depth here, especially with the short single-player campaign, and the lack of truly satisfying rewards is hard to miss.  THQ did benefit from decent sales, though, and they’ll be trying again, this time with Crytek, who are replacing the recently closed KAOS Studios, the original developer.  Here’s hoping it’s a little more up to speed.  More invasion and less drama.

red faction armageddon

Red Faction Armageddon (THQ)

The idea: A futuristic sequel to Red Faction Guerrilla, this one takes place in the underground catacombs where a descendant fights his way through an alien army using vehicles and unique weapons, including a magnet gun that can draw objects and enemies to another linked point.

So what went wrong?  Well, the game’s shift from open world to linear turned out to be a big mistake, despite the fact that it was better suited for the underground-based story.  And while the action definitely lived up to the Red Faction name, there really wasn’t much to come back to, aside from play areas where you could tear apart everything in sight in a short time frame and compare times on the leaderboards.  Too bad, because this game is really more fun than you’d think – and it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing a follow-up for some time since THQ recently shelved the series.

rayman origins

Rayman Origins (Ubisoft)

The idea: Rayman and his friends return in a gorgeously animated side-scrolling adventure, where they collect Lums in a team-based affair while battling enemies, solving puzzles, and discovering hidden secrets.

So what went wrong?  Mainly marketing.  Aside from a humorous short featuring Kal Penn, there really wasn’t any advertising to speak of for this game, resulting in a very small amount of units sold.  That’s a shame, because this really one of 2011’s best games, a joyful affair for all ages and a complete romp with multiplayer.  We can’t find many flaws with it at all, save for the occasional spikes of difficulty and Ubisoft’s decision to not boast about it.

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