Staff Editorials

2011: A Year In FPS Disappointment
Posted: 03.01.2012 16:32 by PRBot Comments: 17
Well, so that was 2011 then, and here at the end of all things it’s customary to look back over the past 12 months and see how it all went. I remember chatting with some mates last December about the best FPS of 2010 and we struggled to think of one (eventually plumping for the flawed but atmospheric Metro 2033). Oh well, we thought, at least 2011’s looking pretty exciting so far. After playing or at least checking out all the FPSs this year however, the unifying theme of the FPS genre in 2011 has to be disappointment.

In some fashion every single FPS out this year hasn’t lived up to expectations, either from players or publishers (or both). Of course some of these titles had unfairly high expectations heaped upon them due to a massive amount of hype, meaning that okay FPSs wound up facing a severe public backlash. While this was the publishers’ fault for talking the talk but not having a game that could walk the walk, it’s still sad that otherwise good games got slated by consumers just because they didn’t live up to the unreasonable hype.

If disappointment has a name, it’s undoubtedly Duke Nukem Forever

The poster child for disappointment in 2011 was of course Duke Nukem Forever. While some people (myself included) managed to enjoy it a bit, the vast majority thought it was crap. Certain now-fired PR reps replying venomously to any bad reviews only solidified DNF’s infamy. Okay or shite, one thing’s for sure: it satisfied no one. The ill-advised leanings into Call of Duty/Halo health regeneration and weapon restriction annoyed the old-school shooter fans, the puzzles and slower moments annoyed the modern fans, the drab unrelatable environments annoyed the Duke 3D fans… and everything else just felt bolted together, unfunny, and (ironically) unfinished. 12 years of hype, disappointment all the way.

It wasn’t the only FPS with a long development time that arrived to a lukewarm response either. Id Software’s Rage took 8 years to make and arrived to even harsher scrutiny than DNF, mostly thanks to hype, id’s lineage and the incredibly pretty graphics engine. We weren’t the only ones disappointed, mostly since the solid shooter elements were hidden beneath a sub-par Borderlands/Fallout imitation. I personally enjoyed it… at least until the game abruptly stopped halfway through a mission, played a brief cutscene and turned on the credits. Oh, that’s all? I don’t even meet the main bad guy? Whatever.

RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGE was a pretty disappointing game too

That was a theme in FPSs this year – non-existent endings. Crysis 2 was probably my favourite FPS this year, but after building to a big finale Alcatraz merely snuck past a couple of invisible aliens and the game just finished. We haven’t heard from Crysis since. Hard Reset, the PC-only FPS from developers who worked on Painkiller and The Witcher ,didn’t have time to build up the hype to be disappointed (being released two months after it was announced) but Flying Wild Hog still should've spent more time on it since it only felt like half a game. Now they’re releasing a retail “Extended Edition” with no word whether original game owners will get the new content.

Look publishers, I know DLC is all the (ahem) rage, but that’s no excuse to just give up in the middle of a plot. I can just about forgive, albeit through grinding teeth, a cliffhanger ending, but not the “walk down that hallway congratulations you have completed our great game here’s the credits” non-ending. To be fair, while I blame DLC as a reason for this swift kick to the menu, actually do you know how many FPSs had DLC that continued the game’s story this year? Only one: Duke Nukem Forever. If you’re going to evilly chop off the ending to sell to customers later, remember to actually do so. Tips For Greedy Publishers, #34.

Then we get to the COD-wannabes. Since the Call of Duty phenomenon shows no sign of slowing down despite all its creators walking out, every other publisher wants a piece of the still-growing pie. THQ’s Homefront was short, stifled, painfully on-rails, and had a merely okay multiplayer segment. Codemasters’ Operation Flashpoint: Red River took the former soldier simulation into a more confined, more Middle Eastern and more boring direction. EA’s Battlefield 3 had one of the most rippy-offy campaigns ever, trying to be COD so hard it hurt a fine series, and the various technical problems didn’t help. COD players want COD, everyone else wants something better, and recreating all the flaws and none of the fun doesn’t make for good business practice or gameplay.

Bulletstorm has giant mechanical remote-controlled laser-chinned dinosaurs! How did this game not sell?!

Speaking of business, of course it wasn’t just gamers that were disappointed this year - publishers also felt the sting. Both of Sony’s big FPS exclusives, Resistance 3 and Killzone 3, failed to sell anywhere near as much as their predecessors. Both were fine games, but either through lack of hype or excitement over other games they’ve ended pretty much forgotten at this point. I haven’t seen any sales figures for Halo Anniversary so far, but with all the other games out this Christmas I frankly hope it didn’t do well.

The game whose poor sales really hit hard for me though was the fun Bulletstorm. An original and utterly insane shooter from Epic and Painkiller developer People Can Fly, it seemed a shoe-in for good sales – but they never came. Not enough of a long-term multiplayer draw perhaps, with an unconventional points-based mechanic to scare off the CODders. It was unique, it was original, and we all know how the world treats games like that.

Which brings us to the final game, for some the only game: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, a.k.a. MW3, or “Mee Wee Three” as I like to call it. Whether it can be called a disappointment is entirely in the eye of the miseryguts. Haters will be disappointed that the skeleton crew left on Infinity Ward didn’t screw things up entirely, supporters will be disappointed that reviewers didn’t give it 10/10, Activision’s accountants will be disappointed that it only sold 6.5 million copies in the first week rather than 7.5, and EA… well, you can guess how envious EA is. Or THQ. Or Codemasters. Easier to pick holes in though is the paid-for social platform Call of Duty Elite, which wasn’t online successfully for MW3’s launch and has had so many problems Activision had to give a free month away to subscribers.

I'm disappointed and I didn't even buy the damn thing

So what can publishers learn from all this? I think the answer’s simple and twofold. Firstly, stop focusing so much on goddamned DLC. A few crappy multiplayer maps for £6 will not bring you new customers, since the first round of launch buyers already spread word around the digital campfire that your game was s**t. Secondly, don’t be so intent in beating Call of Duty at its own game – there’s already a yearly game for that franchise, players already have all the COD they can eat, so try catching something fresh instead. Oh, and if you’re going to spend more than 8 years making a game try not to cock it up.

As for us gamers, well, we should try and temper our enthusiasm. Cut through the marketing bollocks guys, just hope for a good game and we won’t be too disappointed when it’s inevitably not as amazing as we imagined it to be from the hype. Now then… doesn’t Bioshock Infinite look f***ing incredible?!
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Comments

By Kres (SI Elite) on Jan 03, 2012
Kres
BF3 rules! That's the only FPS that I need. Took me a while to get into it. Abouts 20 levels worth of awhile.

And at least we're finally over the Duke. No more news about its probable or unprobable resurection sheeh.
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Jan 03, 2012
SirRoderick
All very sound advice. And I agree on Bulletstorm, I had a blast with that game.
By JonahFalcon (SI Elite) on Jan 03, 2012
JonahFalcon
Dead Space 2 was great - and everyone forgets it was released in 2011.
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Jan 03, 2012
SirRoderick
Never played Dead Space, didn't seem my sort of thing.
By The_Tingler (SI Core) on Jan 03, 2012
The_Tingler
Dead Space isn't an FPS.
By djole381 (SI Elite) on Jan 04, 2012
djole381
Bulletstorm FTW! I really hope they release a sequel someday.
By JustCommunication (SI Core) on Jan 04, 2012
JustCommunication
Bulletstorm was a financial flop, sadly, so I doubt they'll be a sequel.
By herodotus (SI Herodotus) on Jan 04, 2012
herodotus
It has been a disappointing year, or was or had...it's over anyway.
Not just for FPS's, but for games in general. Indies did better than mainstream and saved the year from being a total failure.
There was another absolute stinker: "F3EAR", or "FEAR 3". Forget the "fear" aspect...this was just a straight out FPS with supernatural elements to cover the load times when changing levels.
On the other hand you had "Serious Sam 3 BFE" and that is one old school A+ shooter. Having a rocking time with Sam, atm.

TBS's ("W40K: Space Marine") and OTSS's ("Dead Space 2" fared better, but not by much.
Fingers crossed for a better, and evolutionary 2012.
By unsilviu (SI Core) on Jan 05, 2012
unsilviu
Human Revolution was nice, though not quite on par with the original, it kept a lot of what made it great (I played the original just before I started HR).
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Jan 05, 2012
SirRoderick
I loved HR. Still need to do a second playthrough of that on hard.
By unsilviu (SI Core) on Jan 05, 2012
unsilviu
Not me until there's a bossfight fixing mod :P They're hard enough on normal, the people doing the fights must not have heard this game can also be stealthed.
By nocutius (SI Elite) on Jan 05, 2012
nocutius
Yea the bosses in that game were bad everything else was ok, it actually felt like a Deus Ex game should.
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Jan 05, 2012
SirRoderick
I am forced to agree on the bosses. All those lovely sneaky and hacky augments are fairly useless in a head-on collision with those guys.
By herodotus (SI Herodotus) on Jan 05, 2012
herodotus
Seriously, if you want some old school fun (reminding yourself while you do why FPS's were so much fun and addictive in the early days) "SS3: BFE" just has to be in your collection. Playing it takes me back years, even though the graphics are naturally of today's standard.
"DE: HR" isn't, strictly speaking an FPS so probably why it was not included. We're talking straight out shooters here.
By noobst3R (SI Core) on Jan 06, 2012
noobst3R
Personally, I really enjoyed Duke Nukem. Even more it's latest DLC, with the new campaign.
By The_Tingler (SI Core) on Jan 06, 2012
The_Tingler
@herodotus: Yeah, sorry guys, I missed out FEAR3 and Serious Sam 3, but they count. FEAR3 was a limp ending to a series that had gone downhill since the first (despite the okay co-op) and Serious Sam 3... I'm sorry man, it's fun, but it's not as good as The Second Encounter. Mostly because of Croteam's decision to set the entire game in Egypt AGAIN (which gets tedious before the end), the dull underground sections, and how the battles aren't quite as epic as they were in previous games.

@noobst3R: I did enjoy DNF too, particularly the DLC, but it most definitely was not the game it should've been. Disappointing all over.
By FoolWolf (SI Elite) on Jan 09, 2012
FoolWolf
Well, I have played them all(it feels like, but that's a slight exaggeration and only for PC at that... ;) ) and Duke was a mess, they shoul have kept it more like the original and skipped the only 2 weapons at a time and jumping puzzles...
Bulletstorm was a great SP experience but GFWL made a mess out of the MP part.
Rage is fine, a bit booring though and the console first is a bit too evident, and it is more on the gameplay side and problem with FOV and stuff, car is hard to steer on PC etc...
Homefront, anyone missed my opinion on that reeking pile of shit game? Easily the worst game this year.
Dead Space 2 was crap. Controls were lackluster, the scare moments was a bit like Doom3, weapons and armours were briefly explained and you hardly knew what was going on ha,f the ti e. Good that you just had to keep going and kill stuff to solve... no this was no fun...
Crysis 2 had all things going for it, but in the end it was a shooter without feeling and the MP didn't get better. I blame the consoles here as well...
MW3 I didn't even think twice about not touching that...
Hard Reset, I hot that on the winter sales and it has the right feel when you move about and shoot things at least....
BF3 a good game, but here as well, there are things that has gotten to be the new requirements, grinding is the shit or you hack it.... :S
Deus Ex and Space Marine was two really good games, but not entirely FPS games IMO.

And I agree that DLC and pre-order are the devil's work in games right now.
Pre-order exclusive shit for like three hours after launch when everyone and your couains dog can get it at a discount and then in hte end of the year we sell it out for 50% price cut all included on STEAM...
Tell me, why should I even try to be a loyal consumer?
Game makers, developers and releasers of games - 2011 was more then above though, 2011 was the year when almost every released game was crap from day 1 and required immediate patching tobe playable. Every single game had something really problematic that got paying customars in a bunch...

2012, the message is received, don't pre-order anything, don't be firstwith anything, don't support anyone, and don't trust in old glory title games. Wait for STEAM sales and price, problems, DLC and bugs will betaken care of...