We’ve all been there. Looking forward to game or even interested in a game’s potential only to get you hands on the game and have it completely disappoint or fail to live up to your expectations. This week, we honor those games and those feelings with The Top 5: Most disappointing games.
Let the tears commence:
5. Amy – The ideas behind Amy were completely sound. In fact, much of the game’s premise, story, and even its downloadable nature and price point were all appealing. The problem came when the game actually came out, and it turned out to be a complete mess. Shoddy controls, uneven lighting and contrast in areas, and terrible frame rates plagued your gaming experience in every turn. I don’t normally mind frame rate drops and hitches, but when it affects your gameplay that’s when I draw the line.
4. Max Payne 3 – Surprised that a Rockstar Game made it to my list? I am too, given that I wasn’t really looking forward to this game. I got totally sold on its ideas, only to be completely let down with Max Payne 3‘s poor level design and constant trial-and-error gameplay. I know that the latter has been something of a staple of the series since the first game, with its brutal difficulty and “smart” AI, but standards have changed over time, and shooters have evolved since. And while its production values are truly fantastic and deserving of praise, the part where it mattered – the gameplay – left me totally underwhelmed.
3. Fatal Frame Zero (aka Fatal Frame IV: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse) – Helmed by Suda 51 himself, Fatal Frame Zero is disappointing in a different way than any of the other games on my list: This game is exclusive to the Nintendo Wii. Much worse is that it’s published by Nintendo… of Japan. Which means we will never see this game in the United States. Talk about not being able to support a game because a company simply just doesn’t believe it’ll sell in the market you’re in. Fail whale.
2. Final Fantasy XIII – Yes. I went there. I recalled prior to the announcement of Final Fantasy XIII that the name was synonymous with quality RPG experiences. Unfortunately, we got this game, which set the precedence that we would only be getting one single player Final Fantasy this generation. And no, I don’t consider Final Fantasy XIII-2 or Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII as “real” Final Fantasy titles. How the mighty have fallen.
1. SimCity (2013) – While Ari may have been willing to give the developers of this year’s SimCity the benefit of the doubt for eternity in his review, the fact that the game is still broken for him further reinforces the idea of how several really cool gameplay ideas can be completely broken in the face of a ridiculously closed system. And while I’m a fan of closed systems myself, being an advocate of Apple’s ideas and console gaming as a whole, the notion that anyone playing SimCity would be wholly reliant on its social aspects, not to mention have to be online all the time in order to play the game, would be one of the biggest missteps in the series’ history. Truly, there hasn’t been this big of a hoopla about a game like this since EA’s own Mass Effect 3 ending debacle the year before, but at least with that it was a bit more of a difference in opinion. This is complete and total control. Garbage.
5. Black & White – Black & White wasn’t actually that bad. It succeeded in being a God simulation that offered a lot of unique and interesting gameplay. In many ways, it pushed the God simulation genre forward. The problem was beneath all that, the game wasn’t really a God simulation at all; it was a real time strategy game that simply didn’t work. As fun as it was to be a good God, an evil God or a little bit of both, at the end of the day, Black & White boiled down to a pathetic RTS that undermined every other aspect of the game. It was actually more fun to just play around at the beginning of the first level than to try to actually complete it.
4. Final Fantasy XIV – I probably shouldn’t be looking forward to Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn as much as I am, but after the disaster that was the launch of Final Fantasy XIV in 2010, they really couldn’t do much worse than they did then. I played in the Beta a couple weeks before the game was released, and I knew immediately that there was something very, very wrong with the game. I remember walking around a massive city that had very little to do in it, and being very confused by almost every aspect of the game. The adventures I went on were pointless and boring, and the whole game felt like it was designed by a company that had never made an MMORPG before and also decided not to learn from its peers. In any case, here we are, three years later, and I’m happy to report that Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is looking good, and we are only a couple of weeks from finding out if the last three years of development will fix what was broken or pour salt in the wound.
3. Spore – Oh, Spore. It’s the game that should have been the ultimate in simulation games but is instead a series of somewhat disappointing mini-games. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the game quite a bit. But the game that was delivered was a huge disappointment compared to the game that was promised and hyped prior to its release. The biggest failure was also the game’s biggest feature: the evolution of a custom designed creature. That turned out to be oversimplified by hit boxes and attack animations that rendered the actual design of the creature irrelevant. It didn’t matter if your creature had the longest arms and the meanest claws; the attack animation’s special effect determined if an attack connected or not. And then, as the player advanced into later stages of the game, the creature became less and less important until it was just a pilot of a spaceship whose evolution barely mattered at all aside from a couple traits. I’ll always remember Spore for what it could have been instead of what it was.
2. Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 – I loved Rollercoaster Tycoon and its sequel Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 (and its expansion packs). To this day they are my favorite theme park simulators, and I remember how much I was looking forward to Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 before it came out. That was pointless. Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 turned out to be a major step back for the series. The 3D visuals actually made the rollercoasters less attractive, the theme park simulation itself wasn’t as strong, and well… it was just bad. I heard that the game has been improved a lot since it first launched, especially with the help of the passionate members of the community, but when it launched, Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 could not have been more disappointing.
1. Suikoden IV – When Suikoden III came out, it divided the Suikoden community. Many players loved the game, but others—including myself—were disappointed by the battle engine, the 3D visuals and that there were three main characters instead of one. I still acknowledge it as a good game, but it wasn’t the sequel I was hoping for. But if Suikoden III divided the community, Suikoden IV united it. Pretty much everyone agreed that Suikoden IV was garbage and a complete disappointment. The characters were boring, the story was uninteresting, and the castle was a freaking boat! There are a few diehards out there that will argue for Suikoden IV, but they are few and far between. Suikoden IV is a blemish on an otherwise fantastic series. It’s a good thing that Suikoden V was such an excellent return to form for the series, because if Konami had released another game like Suikoden IV, I’d have jumped ship. As it stands, I am instead patiently awaiting Suikoden VI.
5. Dragon Age 2 – It’s widely known that Dragon Age 2 was not as good as Dragon Age: Origins, and that fact is a pity. The game started off good but the further I went along, the more predictable the story got. One of the few parts of Dragon Age 2 that stood out was when Varric went into a house looking for his brother and just started killing an infinite number of spawning enemies. After some time, the game goes into a cutscene that turns out to be a really funny punchline to an otherwise awesome moment. Unfortunately, that was but one of the very few parts of the game that was fun.
4. Sword of the Berserk: Guts’ Rage – I was looking forward to something on the Dreamcast and I had heard that this game was coming out. Other than the fact that I heard that it was based on an anime, I was at least expecting somewhat of a contained story. But every time the game seems to get to a story beat, the main character would say a couple of things, then start killing everybody around. So I really had no idea why he was doing what he was doing! Sure, I probably could’ve seen the anime… but the anime wouldn’t be coming out in the United States until 2003.
3. Fallout: New Vegas – I loved playing Fallout 3 and, as a result, I ended up getting all of its DLC. Many years later, I got Fallout: New Vegas after being told that it was much better than Fallout 3. The problem was that while Fallout: New Vegas definitely felt like Fallout 3, I didn’t think that it was much fun and it got boring real quick. It didn’t help that all those quests in the beginning, coupled with a tedious main story, didn’t captivate me as much as Fallout 3.
2. Remember Me – I thought Remember Me was going to be this new game that focuses on the memory remixing mechanic as part of the combat. Unfortunately, memory remixing was a small part of the game and was only used a total of four times. It also didn’t help that the memory remixing was the only fun part of the game.
1. Star Trek – When Star Trek returned to theaters with the remake, I thought that it was an awesome movie. When the game based on the movie released, it had the actors from the movie reprise their roles in the game. I honestly thought that the story was going to be okay and that it would’ve had potential. Unfortunately, the game was buggy and just not that good. The story was predictable, the gameplay redundant in areas, and boring in others. I couldn’t wait to finish the game so I could start playing something else.
5. Alpha Protocol – Maybe it was me but I fully expected Alpha Protocol to be Mass Effect with spies. Absorbing every preview I could for the game, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Then the reviews started coming in and they were all less than favorable. As a result the game fell way off my “must play” list and it wasn’t until late 2012 that I actually played it. By then my expectations were tempered so it turned out to be an OK game, but OK wasn’t what I wanted or expected from Alpha Protocol.
4. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords – Two Obsidian games in a row and 3 on our lists, is just a coincidence. While I don’t share Chris’ feelings regarding Fallout: New Vegas, I do feel like Obsidian is somewhat hampered by ambition and the generally unenviable position of following up a beloved title with a sequel. The original Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is, for me, Bioware’s finest moment. They made not only a fantastic Star Wars RPG but also crafted a story and expanded the Star Wars universe far better than the original source material. Needless to say, making this the full on sequel left Obsidian with very large shoes to fill. And while they managed to craft a really good game, the story didn’t have the same impact that KotOR had and, let’s face it, that is the very definition of disappointing.
3. (Tie) Fable and Fable 2 – Fable wasn’t a bad game but it famously didn’t live up to its staggering promise. In hindsight a game that would keep track of what you did in and to the world was way too ambitious for the hardware, but who really knew that then? I’m not even sure the Fable that was promised then could exist now. Fable 2 was an even bigger disappointment than the first game. So many hopes and dreams dashed. And that co-op. Ooof. Again, a solid game that just didn’t live up to the promise of Peter Molyneux’s original vision. I did care a lot about the dog, though.
2. Batman: Arkham City – I absolutely loved Batman: Arkham Asylum from beginning to end. The relative openness of the island, the Metroidvania gameplay, the great combat and the story was a ton of fun. Finally a game that made good on making the player feel like the Batman. 2 short years later and Batman: Arkham City promised to expand on all of the great things about Arkham Asylum only in a open world game featuring Batman himself. The only problem is that it’s an open world with very little to do, other than go from mission to mission, occasionally roughing up some thugs. The game lacked Asylum’s sense of making a difference on the game world and progression. Instead it just felt like a sandbox with no sand.
1. Max Payne 3 – 9 long years I waited for Max Payne 3 after the brief but fantastic Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne. It turns out the wait wasn’t worth it. What was revolutionary in 2003 was merely iterated on in 2012. Sure it controlled great and looked even better but the limited gameplay dragged and Max Payne 3 features one of the dumbest stories I’ve ever had the displeasure of watching. Max is a flat out moron here, missing clues in front of his face, failing at every single turn not because of circumstances beyond his control, but because he is painted as utterly inept. And then there is the fact that a character is introduced late in the game who seemingly exists to be an info dump for Max since the game never has faith that he will figure out anything himself. Huge, huge disappointment.
5. Crysis – Crysis started out so strong, with a large amount of freedom. However, by the time you get to the part of the game where you fight aliens, a tonal shift has occurred, and it turns into corridor shooter #37.
4. Resistance: Burning Skies – The Vita’s first shooter was hotly anticipated because of the system’s two analog sticks; finally, a portable shooter that would control well! Sadly, no. Touchscreen gimmicks prevented this from feeling like a solid game. That, and the plot was pointless.
3. Eye of Judgment – A trading card game you actually play online? Using REAL cards! Cool! I can’t wait to play online! Too bad I’ll be waiting forever because I’m the only person looking for a game online. Also, good luck finding some of the cards.
2. Braid – A game like Braid that uses amazing level design and clever use of mechanics in order to tell one of the most melodramatic and pointless stories deserves to be tried in the Hague. When I found out the game was about the Atomic Bomb, I put my controller down and shouted, to anyone who would hear, “Wow, that was stupid!” I still mean it.
1. Call of Duty Black Ops Declassified – A 5 month development cycle. That should be all you need to know. Universally panned by critics, what was supposed to be a system-seller became a joke. I heard it was patched to the point where it sucks less, but I’m not gonna pay $50 to find out.
So that was The Top 5: Most disappointing games, as determined by your friends at Gamer Horizon. Let us hear about your disappointments in the comments!