To be fair to them, ladders in 2D games can be quite a good edition (although there are still some badly implemented ones) because they can add alternate routes and exploration potential to a format that can lend itself to being very linear without creative thinking. No, the ladders I hate are the ones in 3D games.
The worst offenders are difficult to position yourself precisely enough in front of it that you can even start climbing the things, are even more difficult to get back on from the top (and worse still are regularly a challenge to even be able to spot), will have a clunky scripted camera that doesn't let you look too far up or down (but why would THAT ever be important on a FRICKIN' LADDER?) and will not make it obvious which side it is you're supposed to be climbing and which side will just lead you to end up bumping your head on a ceiling or an overhang (most games won't even make this side interactive, but when you have a bunch of enemies chasing you, either scenario is a pain).
For some reason, the elders of game design have decreed that if you have to climb it by wrapping your legs around it and be gripping it with at least one hand at all times to be okay to safely ascend, then you can punch someone just fine as you're doing it. But if you're climbing something that allows you to have both hands free and have your feet on something solid, fighting is completely out of the question.
Don't get me wrong. I like doing rooftop levels. If there's a higher path in a game, I usually take it. So you can have ladders in your game. I'm just saying that with all these issues, and if I can't attack anyway, and if it's really that much trouble to just make climbing ladders in 3D video games not-a-living-hell, why not just make the ladder climbing part a cutscene?
I don't even care if the game has to do some loading for that. At least I won't have to deal with all the assorted headaches that ladders in games come with now. I'd like to think that it's possible for a game to have good ladders without the need to cut to cinematic every time, but it looks like it might be the only way. I have a saying: if Half Life didn't get it right, Blood Omen 2: The Legacy of Kain probably doesn't stand a chance. Just make it so that all you have to do is get close to the ladder and then press a button to start the cutscene.
Or you know, just let me attack enemies while I'm on the damn ladder.