It's that time of year where we celebrate the memorable games from the last year. The best, the best-looking, the one's that kept us on the edge of our seat, and the ones that nearly had us tossing the controller in frustration. Be sure to check out the other MTV Multiplayer Best of 2012 lists!
We've been celebrating some of the great gaming moments of 2012, but what about those not-so-great bits? The games (or companies) that failed spectacularly? A ridiculous piece of communication from a zealous producer or marketing flack that almost doomed the game from the beginning?
Let's looks back on the worst gaming moments of last year before celebrating the absolutely positively best that it had to offer.
Devs and their PR firms not knowing how to talk about their games
If it wasn't the intimation that Lara Croft would find her inner heroine in "Tomb Raider" by escaping rape, it was the sexy leather nuns promoting "Hitman: Absolution," or that same game getting an assassination app on Facebook. Crystal Dynamics quickly walked back the rape bits, IO revised the nuns level (I'm really curious how it was supposed to play out), and the Facebook app was pulled within an hour of being put up.
While we live in an era where a gaffe can be amplified, magnified, repeated, and exaggerated, it's also important to note that these three snafus were part of the deliberate messaging (at the time) for their respective games. It feels weird that someone was either hired or sent out from the ranks to talk about these games or represent these games without having a clear idea about what made them appealing or how these tone-deaf (and in the case of "Absolution," at odds with the content of the actual game) these public representations were.
The sad, slow death of THQ
Watching the publisher of "Saints Row" struggle to stay afloat in 2012 was heartbreaking. Sure, the outgoing management botched things with their decision to dump so much of the company's resources into Udraw, but on the software side, it's not like "Saints Row the Third" wasn't terrific (albeit released in 2011), and "Darksiders II" may not have been a GOTY contender, but it's hard to understand how thoroughly it underperformed during release.
There was a glimmer of good news near the end of the year as massive fan support of the company's Humble Bundle brought in over $5 million in donations. Even if the money was all for charity, it's great to see that people love the games coming out this publisher which currently finds itself on life support.
The PS Vita launch
Sony, bless them, had plenty of games on the shelves and available to download when the Vita was released here and in Japan. But no one's exactly buying. Like the PSP before it, their powerful hardware is being dedicated to trying to put PS2.5 games in your pocket (or making it a $299 extra controller for your PS3).
Honestly, we should have a bonus category simply for the part of "Uncharted: Golden Abyss" where that game required us to rub out secret messages.
Being a "Resident Evil fan"
Between the disjointed, tedious, and sometimes outright bad "Resident Evil 6," to the dull "Resident Evil: Revelations" on the 3DS, to the poor performance of "Operation: Raccoon City," to the first entry in the film series that this writer couldn't get behind (I loved "Afterlife"--sue me), it felt like anyone in charge of the "RE" brand was struggling to find something interesting to do with it.
Hopefully, this will inspire Capcom to put the series on ice for a few years and come back at it properly in the next console generation (or give us an Alice/Wesker-meets-"Devil May Cry" character action game).
The geek Taliban
It wasn't just about the very public harassment of would-be documentarian Anita Sarkeesian, it was about shouting down and demanding the public disgracing of anyone demanding that we take a closer look at what games do and how they affect us. Sure, there will always be the kneejerk, defensive types who want to blame pop culture for something, but having someone like Sarkeesian come in and propose a critical response to what so many profess is an art form should be cause for celebration, not for threatening to batter or rape the critic.
That these sickos' problem was with Sarkeesian, as a woman, looking to investigate gender roles in gaming points to this creeping sort of circling of the wagons that happened while no one was looking. "This is for us," these gamers seem to be saying, and "you can't say anything about it, you can be a part of it, and if you make too much noise, you'll be sorry."
If you can spend your 2013 trying to flush these creeps and freaks out of the public gaming spaces, that would make this an improvement over 2012.
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