Top Ten Most Disappointing Video Games
Best of 2013: Games
Video games can seem redundant at times. Even gaming juggernauts like Call of Duty, Elder Scrolls, or the Super Mario series can offer uninspired game mechanics and plot that seem derivative of other games. That’s why hyped up games promising unique features and compelling player-driven storylines can ultimately disappoint. Unfortunately this year, several games did exactly that, so let’s take a look at the top ten most disappointing games of 2013:
10. Dead Space 3- Visceral Games (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)
Dead Space 3 suffers from the unfortunate identity crisis that every horror-driven franchise runs into. The techniques that succeed in frightening players in previous games will inevitably get stale, so in an effort to shake up the franchise, more action-oriented features are implemented (see Resident Evil 5). Dead Space 3 is no exception, replacing genuine isolation scares with caked on melodrama. The characters are too often one dimensional, with the story focusing more on grandiose action pieces than the subtle mind-game terror the series is acclaimed for.
9. God of War: Ascension- SCE Santa Monica Studio (PS3)
What could’ve been a brand new take on Kratos in Ascension became more of the same. One vital component the God of War series has missed is a complex, evolving main character we can sympathize with. Because the subterfuge of the Olympic Gods tricking Kratos into killing his own family happens right at the beginning of the original God of War, there is little to no room for character growth: Kratos is immediately betrayed, and thus immediately a hell-bent badass up until the final blow in God of War 3. What Ascension provided, when it announced it would be a prequel to all the other games, was an opportunity for us to see a side of Kratos that could be allowed to grow and evolve, perhaps even be sympathetic. Instead, we are treated with the same iteration of Kratos- he hacks and slashes not only with the same tired gameplay mechanics, but with the same motivations and characteristic rage of the original series.
8. Sonic: Lost World- Sonic Team (WiiU, 3DS)
Sonic was lost long before Lost World, with games following his Sega lacking cohesive and inspirational gameplay. Lost World was supposed to break that trend, combining the greatest aspects of 2D Sega Sonic with the high-octane chaos of the 3D iterations. This hybrid could’ve provided a unique platformer, utilizing level design similar to Super Mario Galaxy that encourages players to engage those levels from a vastly different gameplay perspective due to Mario and Sonic’s differing abilities. Instead, we were left with repetitive and clunky designs that didn’t focus on Sonic’s key feature: speed. Add to that a boring storyline that seems to drag on forever, and you’re left with the slowest version of Sonic ever.
7. Sim City (2013)- Maxis (PC)
The game, while in itself isn’t bad, was broken when EA initially sold it. Since EA now REQUIRED players to connect to servers in order to play the game, network connection problems were all over the place. The sheer volume of players waiting to connect would overload the servers, crashing games, forcing people out, and even preventing them from playing altogether. The ability to have communities grow under a watchful hand, the main selling point of the Sims franchise itself, was severely hampered by EA’s lack of server foresight, because players simply weren’t GIVEN the time for their worlds to grow.
6. Batman: Arkham Origins- Warner Bros. Games (PS3, Xbox360, WiiU, PC)
Way to not live up to your own name, Rocksteady! When the gaming company handed the Arkham series prequel off to another developer it forgot to hand off the polish in gameplay and storytelling with it. Unfortunate game crashing bugs plagued the game, while its mechanics offered no new innovations, apart from…it’s snowing outside? The storyline, while initially rife with possibility as every villain vies for the bounty Black Mask places on the caped crusader’s head, ends up cliché and uninspired, lacking the punching plot twists that the other games offered.
5. Star Trek (2013)- Digital Extremes (PS3, Xbox360, PC)
When JJ Abrams initially gave approval over the game, and the actual cast showed up for voice work and facial mapping, game radars didn’t ping more than they typically do. At the end of the day, it was just another video game trying to tackle a movie franchise, and typically those don’t turn out well. However, it’s not the fact that Star Trek (2013) was a disappointment itself, but the degree to which it disappointed that’s truly astronomical (see what I did there?). The plot was elementary level “raptors have a big gun that we need to stop” fluff. Combat was a generic shoot-fest with maybe two or three gun types and absolutely no co-op implementation between Spock and Kirk. Weapons literally exploded in your face for no reason, and facial animations looked like they were ripped straight out of South Park. There might possibly be nothing redeeming about this game, a feat rarely accomplished by even the worst games out there.
4. Gears of War: Judgment- Epic Games (Xbox360)
Gears of War: Judgment suffers from a prequel-itis flaw right from the get-go: nothing really matters in the story. What’s laid out for the main characters was already predestined from the original trilogy’s story. This, on top of a system that does nothing to advance the series from a gameplay perspective gives Judgment an unfortunate, inherent flaw—there’s no reason to play. Still, it was a Gears game that many thought would be able to provide a reason to play it, a reason that, due to a repetitive multiplayer and pointless campaign mode, never really surfaced.
3. Beyond: Two Souls- Quantic Dream (PS3)
Beyond: Two Souls is perhaps the most fascinating game I’ve ever watched. You read that right. In its struggle to be an engagingly cinematic experience, highlighted by bringing in two well known actors in Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe, the game forgets that’s its supposed to be a game, with player input guiding the experience. Its minimalistic controls, 3:1 ratio of cutscene-to-gameplay, and moments that literally play themselves out no matter what the player does did little to inspire the player to pick up the controller, unlike Quantic Dream’s last outing Heavy Rain, which at least offered players the ability to make choices that would shape the story. Beyond: Two Souls might’ve had a captivating story, but it might as well have been a movie.
2. Remember Me- Dontnod Entertainment (PS3, Xbox360, PC)
Remember Me, more popularly coined by the fans as “Inception: The Game”, features changing people of interest’s memories in order to shift their perspectives on life. The way to do this involves uploading your body into their minds itself, and manipulating their psychedelically depicted memories to provide certain outcomes that your employer desires. The game itself, while featuring graphically impressive setpieces like the rooftops of Paris and the vast sewers of Beijing, ended up very limited in scope, with most memory changes requiring “kill X guy” or “save Y girl”. In a world as vast as a person’s mind, it was disappointing to see gameplay and storyline limited to a few martial art button combinations. Perhaps the saddest downfall to Remember Me was in its marketing execution- the game was incredibly overhyped, hitting fans at E3 and all other gaming expos with the blunt hammer of gorgeous cutscenes and impressive (but short) gameplay moments. The problem with this was that Dontnod was just in the initial stages of game development. Perhaps a more subdued advertising approach might’ve given them more time for polish, as the studio instead pushed the deadline up and caved to fan pressure.
1. Aliens: Colonial Marines- Gearbox Softward (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)
Movies and videogames have never really had a steady relationship, mostly due to the franchises opting to use a low-level game developing studio to get as much of a cash grab as possible. So when it was announced that Aliens: Colonial Marines was being developed by the reputable Gearbox Studios (Borderlands & Brothers in Arms developers), and it would elaborate on the story between Aliens and Alien 3, expectations went through the roof. Unfortunately, the quality mechanics Gearbox is known for were never found in Colonial Marines, instead replaced by haphazard enemy AI and incredibly unintuitive control schemes. The storyline was a straightforward, boring mess, featuring characters that contradicted themselves more often than not. There were arguably more bugs in this game than actual aliens. The thought that a highly esteemed franchise combined with a highly capable developer could produce what could only be described as a blatant cash grab makes Aliens: Colonial Marines the most disappointing game of the year.