It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for another Gamer Horizon Top 5! This time, we’re going to be talking about our top overrated games!
Well, at least that’s the idea.
Still, I’m sure our lists will be quite interesting as always, and there’s going to be much discussion about it come Saturday when the crew hangs out and records yet another podcast. But are these games really overrated? Stick around, read the article, and find out!
I was seriously hyped when Fez was demoed many years ago and I became one of the first people to buy it on its launch day. But the constant discussion and talking that came shortly after, about how amazing Fez was, didn’t help me indulge myself in the game. Instead, this noise served to distract me from doing so. And while the whole internet was abuzz about how there’s so much hidden stuff there is to discover and how they’ve “cracked Fez,” I was here in my little corner of the world trying to decipher it myself. Was this secret language of sorts supposed to be left for gamers who have lots of time on their hands and who frequent sites like Reddit, 4chan, or GameFAQs?
Someday, I’ll care again about Fez, but for right now, I could still feel the zeitgeist from Fez’s original release and all the hype surrounding it.
4. Dead Rising series
I guess I’m just not into kitsch and Dead Rising is a series that has tons of it. When I tried to play the first game on the Xbox 360, the mechanics were interesting enough. But the gameplay got old really fast, and the cheesy bosses didn’t help garner my interest in the game. Yea, it’s cool that you’re able to render hundreds (or is it thousands?) of zombies onscreen, but if it’s simply a somewhat open world game where, instead of being able to run to places, you have to kill waves and waves of zombies within a time limit, I’ll take the linearity of something like Left 4 Dead instead, thank you very much. Oh, and surprise! We have a new Dead Rising at the start of a console generation, yay!
I’ll probably forever consider this series to be a glorified tech demo, unless someone injects some sort of additional depth into the series.
3. Gone Home
Having been named as Polygon’s Game of the Year and reviewed on our site with a fairly decent rating, Gone Home is still a game that’s overrated in my books. It’s probably because while the world is so explorable, it doesn’t nearly give you enough context with the lives of your character and your character’s existence in said family. Now, I get that the family just moved into this new place, but you’d think that the individuals living in it–aside from your sister, that is–would have some sort of strong attachment to you.
The reason why it’s so overrated for me is how many other reviewers feel that this is the best thing since sliced cheese. It’s true that it brings in a level of emotional involvement that not a lot of first person games or even adventure games have given players, but it also costs a little too much for anyone curious to indulge in.
Ok, I admit that I’m part of the problem. But at the very least I mentioned in my review that there are a few caveats to this amazing experience instead of being one of those reviewers who try to make Gone Home into something it’s not. And yes–I still like the game.
2. World of Warcraft
Maybe Blizzard’s storytelling just isn’t something that I’m into, but World of Warcraft has so much content and lore that the storytelling really is left for the players to tell. And while that’s really the point of most MMOs, World of Warcraft gets to be the scapegoat because it is still the most popular MMO in the market. Yes, I love the artwork. Yes, I love the races. Yes, I liked being able to play with friends in a massive world. But I just wished that the game told an interesting story that made our actions really part of the world. And for heaven’s sake, why do we have to play until the end of the game to get the most interesting bits of story let alone see the most interesting ways to tell the story? And even then, you’re just a cog in a wheel comprised of 20 or 40 cogs/players in a machine/raid.
I’m probably being unfair here, but many of the problems I’ve described are why people shy away from MMOs. And many of the reasons I outlined here is why many gamers won’t be too be inclined to play any MMOs any time soon. Thankfully, the one MMO that I did try two years ago, Guild Wars 2, has been introducing new and different ideas to the genre and it’s still one of the more fun and engaging MMOs around. And yeah, you actually get to be a hero in that.
1. Halo series
I’ll personally admit that I was a fan of Halo’s multiplayer. I played it a lot in college with my dorm mates and I enjoyed teaming up and playing with or against each other in heated matches. The big problem with it was that as a single player game, I never really understood why some of the Covenant needed to be depicted as kooky or a little useless. Sure, it plays on an old video game trope of sorts, but I’d much rather have something to shoot that was just as smart as players than an AI that’s just scripted to run around screaming when Master Chief is headed their way. Yea it’s funny, but the last time I checked, “war” wasn’t supposed to be funny.
I’ve tried multiple times to get into the lore and storyline of Halo. I bought Halo, Halo 2, Halo: ODST, and even played Halo 3, Halo 4, and Halo Reach. But the appeal is just something I don’t get. It’s not you Halo, it’s me.
Though I gotta say, your sister Destiny sure looks darned purty from where I’m standing *whistles*.
5. Persona 3 and Persona 4
I’m going to get a lot of flak for this, but hear me out! I’m not saying these games aren’t great. They are! I really enjoyed both of them! But they were also disappointing to me because they basically abandoned one of the core elements of games belonging to the Shin Megami Tensei universe: devious dungeons.
The dungeons in both Persona 3 and Persona 4 are randomly generated (a few puzzle floors notwithstanding). In my opinion, this was a major step in the wrong direction for the series. Games like Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne and Digital Devil Saga 1 & 2 featured incredibly challenging maze-like dungeons filled with puzzles, traps and devastating random encounters. Reaching every save point was a triumphant achievement, and it was always rewarding to do so. By contrast, the randomly generated floors of Tartarus in Persona 3 and the various locations of Persona 4 were boring and repetitive, and in that regard, I consider both games overrated. Persona 4 is still one of the best games of the last generation, but I don’t think it’s the perfect game so many people describe it as.
4. Saints Row: The Third
This is another game that I enjoyed, but which my friends and colleagues (Alex) seemed to enjoy much more. To me, it was a step back for the series. Although it was mechanically improved, I thought the storyline went too over the top, and borderline disrespected the first two games in the series. I can understand why the developers sent the game in that direction from a business standpoint, but I simply don’t like the result. The recurring characters are a shadow of their former selves, the setting is barely recognizable, and the story suffered accordingly. It’s a good thing the game was still loads of fun to play, but it’s absurd to me that Saints Row: The Third earned higher review scores and overall praise than its predecessors.
3. The Last of Us
Hate me yet? The Last of Us had a couple moments throughout its storyline that were absolutely brilliant, and technically the game pushed the PlayStation 3 to its limits. But the gameplay was, in my opinion, repetitive and boring after the first few hours. I got sick of fighting the same enemies over and over again, and it did not matter how much they changed the layout of the dark area full of Clickers, or how they set up an area full of bandits. After the first couple dark areas and the first few encampments, it was old hat. And the tedious searching for ammo and items that followed these encounters didn’t help matters at all, nor did the ridiculous crafting system; they just dragged things down. Maybe if the game was a bit shorter, I would not have become so bored with it. Perhaps this is one game that is too long for its own good.
2. Hotline Miami
I’m all for challenging gameplay and creativity in games, and Hotline Miami has its fair share of both. I’m just not a big fan of off-screen enemies killing me before I can see them, or replaying entire stages over one small mistake, especially if that “mistake” seems entirely out of my control. Then again, I loved Super Meat Boy, so maybe I’m just bad at Hotline Miami. But I’ve given it a few fair tries and have completed about half of the levels in the game, so at this point, all I can say is, “I just don’t get it.”
1. Final Fantasy XII
I don’t think I’ve ever been as disappointed in a main character as I was with Vaan from Final Fantasy XII. I hated his voice, I hated his personality, I hated his whining and I hated his very existence in the game (and yes, I’m aware of the irony of saying this considering Final Fantasy X is my favorite game in the series). Every single other character was so much more interesting! Why was I stuck controlling this whiney little wimp of a character when I was surrounded by the likes of Basch, Ashe, Fran and Balthier? Even Penelo would have been a better main character than Vaan! Maybe there was something about his character that was lost in translation, but I consider Vaan to be the worst character in the history of the franchise.
But Vaan is not the sole reason that Final Fantasy XII tops this list. I also had an issue with the overall storyline, or more specifically, with its pacing. The game was so ambitious and so chock-full of content that it made the storyline feel sparse and disconnected. It was easy to get distracted by side-quests and optional objectives, which seemed nearly endless in number. And after hours and hours of exploring this content, suddenly going back to the main adventure was like picking up a book you read a few chapters of years ago and expecting to be able to pick up where you left off without rereading it. Perhaps I should have rushed through the main storyline before allowing myself to become distracted, but I’m the type of gamer who likes to explore the world fully as soon as it can be explored. I don’t leave side-quests for later. As a result, after over 80 hours with the game, I was not satisfied with the storyline at all. Earlier games in the series were much better at dishing out optional content at a reasonable rate, saving much of it for near the end of the game (or even the post-game) to avoid diluting the storyline. If only Final Fantasy XII had exercised the same restraint, I might have enjoyed the game more overall. But, there would still be Vaan.
In the end, Final Fantasy XII is the only game in the series that I have not had the desire to replay—well, that and Final Fantasy XIII, but at least that game got the review scores it deserved.
5. Saints Row: The Third
After the amazing Saints Row 2, I had such expectations for Saints Row: The Third. It’s a fine game, but it lacked everything I enjoyed about Saints Row 2 and focused completely on the over the top nonsense that was only trickled throughout the previous game. The game has zero pacing. It’s on 11 the whole time and after a while, I stopped caring. The side-missions were uninspired, and at a certain point I could literally go anywhere I wanted with minimal challenge or reason. Don’t get me wrong, the game is fun and has some great moments throughout, but I felt it was a step down from what I loved about the series previously. So much so, that I still haven’t bothered playing Saints Row IV. I’ll take Grand Theft Auto any day.
4. Bioshock Infinite
Before you start throw things at the computer screen and calling for me to be burned at the stake for heresy, know that Bioshock Infinite did make my Top 10 Games of the Year list. It is possible to like a game a lot and still see it as overrated. For me, there were a lot of things that just didn’t jibe with me once the game was down. Personally, I enjoyed the combat, the Sky Hooks, Vigers and Gear all made it a unique and fun experience. See, my issue is the story. I’ve already detailed why I think the story is lacking here. The TL;DR version is that unlike the first Bioshock, in which Plasmids were not only significant to the story, but integral, Bioshock Infinite’s Vigors are a plot hole so wide that it needs to be plugged in by fans with the most flimsy of excuses that run the gamut from “it’s a video game” to “maybe people used them, we just didn’t see them.” Sorry folks, but those aren’t fixes for plot holes. Those are just dismissive excuses. I have other things I find wrong with the plot, but again, I’ve covered them in an editorial with more space than afforded here. If you’re interested in all of them, then head over there. Again, a fun game for sure, but certainly not as good as it’s touted to be.
Game of the Year comes with certain expectations for me. For any game to win that title it has to offer something greater than all of the other games released within the same calendar year. So naturally when Journey was released and heaps of praise were thrown at it, I admit I was more than a little intrigued. Unfortunately at $20, I couldn’t justify the purchase for a game that could be completed in 1 and half to 2 hours time, regardless of the experience. So, I waited and got the game when it was on sale for $7.50 and wanted to see what the fuss was all about. Well, I played it–it was a pleasant enough experience for the time it lasted, but Game of the Year? Opinions, I guess.
2. Gears of War 1 & 2
The original Gears of War was a show piece for the Xbox 360 and what it was capable of. In that regards Gears of War is a major success. It’s truly a stunning looking game, even now. Yes, it set the tone for several genres and game modes going forward but playing the game for the most part was just a chore to me. As a shooter, the shooting in the game is an exercise in tedium. The Locust are bullet sponges, the cover mechanic was too sticky (for a good example of cover at the same time, see Rainbow Six: Vegas), the story is rote and full of uninteresting characters, and the multiplayer is a checklist of everything I can’t stand about multiplayer design. No loadouts, spawning weapons, cover is useless and only the most dedicated to the game will ever succeed. And if you’re wondering why Gears of War 3 isn’t on the list, well, I was so underwhelmed by 2 that I never bothered.
1. Halo – Halo 3
I love my original Xbox for great many reasons: Splinter Cell, The Chronicles of Riddick, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (it’s so underrated), and of course, Knights of the Old Republic among others. The one series that never got me excited was Halo. I completely understand this series has its fans and they are legion. However, I’ve never found anything about the game to be anything more than OK. The enemies, the controls and the lore all cause me to give a giant shrug. Oh, and the Flood is quite possibly the most annoying enemy in the history of video games. I did have quite a bit of fun with Halo 3 playing co-op on Legendary, and playing not ranked multiplayer modes like Rocket Race, but the true multiplayer experience has always left me cold with the majority being shoot, shoot, shoot, melee, rinse, repeat. Nothing about it engaged me in any way.
Several Gamer Horizon crew members think that the Halo series is one of the best things that have happened to shooters, and I won’t dispute its historical significance. Frankly, I’m more looking forward to Destiny, which seems to be a deeper experience.
5. Gears of War
Let’s make a game about taking cover, flanking the opponent, and making good tactical decisions. Cool. Now let’s watch as everyone throws that into the trash so they can run circles around each other at point blank range diving around like morons and shooting each other with shotguns. And this is done because it ended up being the best strategy. They fixed this kind of mechanic by Gears of War 3, but Jesus. Playtest this stuff.
4. Super Smash Brothers Melee
I love the Smash community, and I love how they’ve contributed to the fighting game community, but you know why this is on this list? Because the only “acceptable” way to play this is with items off and only on certain arenas. You’ve basically taken a bunch of the features out of the game that are built into it to make something you find acceptable. That doesn’t make Melee a good game, you know. Also, to get good at this game, you have to learn a ton of non-obvious things like directional influence.
3. New Super Mario Brothers
This doesn’t apply to the versions on Wii and Wii U, those are awesome. But the handheld New Super Mario Brothers is so easy, it is an affront to my sensibilities. Whereas other Mario games have parts with varying difficulty, like a playground with more complex toys, the handheld NSMB’s pile on an endless supply of lives with a simplistic level design that makes finding the three gold star coins in each level as easy as stapling your fingers together. Oh, and great idea making the second one all about coins. 100 coins is an extra life, did you forget? Jesus.
I first saw this game at Evo 2011. It’s a fencing game where the goal is to kill your opponent enough times to make it to the side of the playing field and be eaten by a giant worm. It’s like tug of war with some fighting game mechanics. Too bad the fighting is really awkward and the netcode sucks. Nidhogg is like a bad Divekick.
Forget the neat rewind mechanics, the puzzling whatevers. This is a game that is about the making of the atomic bomb. Not about rescuing a princess. It is all a metaphor for the development of the atomic bomb. When I got to the end, and it became painfully obvious what it is, I put the controller down and shouted “This is stupid!” When a game tries to heavy-hand a life lesson like this, I want to find a wall that belongs to it and punch it. This is one of the stupidest things I have ever played in my life.
Some people saw Braid as pretentious and its message very high brow, but it’s undoubtedly what started this hipster gaming movement that we’re seeing more prevalent these days. Oh, and I do love me some Braid (but not a hipster).
Ok, ok. Maybe some of these overrated games were just games that our crew didn’t like at all. But whenever a game gets a ton of high scores, you’d think that they’d have something that would at least speak to your sensibilities. This is exactly what this Top 5 is about: games that have been rated so highly that you’ve had such high expectations that it plunks down when you actually play it.
So, dear readers, what are your Top 5 overrated games? Let’s discuss!