With the awful Spike TV VGA concluded, us gamers are now able to reflect back on a rather interesting year for video games. Long awaited sequels like “Gears of War 2” curb-stomped their way into our homes, and the shareholders at Rockstar celebrated the release of “Grand Theft Auto 4.” But, much like any kid who waited months for that special toy on their birthday only to be disappointed once they got it, gamers also follow the same path.
So, here is the Top 10 Most Disappointing Games of 2008. The rules are quite simple: any game that I, Marky X, was personally hyped about, and then it didn’t meet my standards will be on here. This means games like “Crysis,” “Far Cry 2,” “Dead Space,” “Metal Gear Solid 4,” and “Tomb Raider” won’t be on this list, because I didn’t care about them in the first place.
10. Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix
I won’t give a history lesson on this game, as I’m sure if you’re reading this, you know about the franchise’s impact on not only the arcade scene but organized gaming competitions as well.
When Capcom announced a “Street Fighter” “HD Remix” with online play, balance changes, and easier controls, I couldn’t wait. I really enjoyed the concept and character designs of the “Street Fighter,” but couldn’t really get into it because controls were such a pain in the ass.
That wasn’t the case. The game is still unbalanced, as Ryu and Ken are grossly overused, but now the ex-banned Akuma breaks into the scene as the third most used character in the game. Controls are still horrid, especially with some of the charge characters being harder than it was on the SNES D-pad days. At least the netcode is pretty damn good and the artwork is sharp, despite the creative anatomy by Udon.
9. Mario Kart Wii
When the Wii version was announced with the Wheel and online play, I couldn’t wait. I have a MOMO Steering Wheel, and it does add to the experience of any racing game, and playing “Mario Kart” against people around the world was something I’ve dreamed about since the SNES days.
Unfortunately, what I got was a game that had way too many players on the track with stupidly overpowered and overused weapons. Even the pointless drifting is still here, but instead of waggling the stick left and right, while giving the player the illusion of “skill”, all you have to do is hold down a button. The tracks are overcrowded with 12 players, making it nearly impossible to get the items if you’re at the back of the pack. Speaking of tracks, where’s the variety and innovation? Most of them are just simple GC or SNES remakes. And finally, the blue shell.
8. Super Smash Bros. Brawl
I’ve never been a big follower of the “Smash Bros.” franchise. I didn’t own a Gamecube so I never got a chance to play ”Melee,” and the amount of minutes I spent on the Nintendo 64 debut could be counted on one hand. I don’t know why, but I was never really that hyped about it.
Then came “Brawl,” which not only supported online play, but allowed me to play as Sonic. Finally, a game where two favorite childhood mascots of mine can finally beat the shit out of each other, and I can do it online.
Instead what I got was a game that had perhaps one of the worst netcodes in my so-called gaming “career.” This is a game which only dealt with four people, yet suffered from nearly unplayable matches most of the time (Mario Kart handled 12 just fine). Even if I did find a lagless match, everyone would choose Ike or Metaknight since there are such a broken characters. And then if people didn’t choose them, then we’d end up on a crappy stage would be selected where I needed the Hubble Telescope just to see my tiny character.
As for single player campaign, I’ll be brief: crappy enemies, floaty controls, and copy-paste levels.
7. Civilization 4: Colonization
The “Civilization” series has always been a hit-or-miss for me. The idea of being an immortal ruler and watching my civilization evolve over the course of a few thousand years is a rather exciting one. But, as soon as I try to get into the game, I’m routinely slammed with poor combat, horrid interface, and insane amount of micromanagement.
“Colonization” took all the bad things out of “Civilization” and somehow made micromanagement fun with its more narrow focus. It was a game where you were destined to create the United States of America but had obstacles along the way. Some of these obstacles would include other Nations and the local native tribes. This was not an easy task but had a somewhat fair difficulty.
Unfortunately, the updated version, using the “Civilization 4” engine, is a complete abomination. The interface is brown and dry, refusing to remember the personality of the original, and was insanely unbalanced. When you declared Independence in the original version, you received Veteran military units to help you out. In the new version, you get none of that, and instead get steamrolled by your Motherland while they receive very little losses. There is a difference between “difficult” and “bullshit,” and “Colonization” didn’t even know it crossed the line. Many other flaws infest this title ,but I’m not going to bother listing all of them. Simply, it’s not worth the small price tag.
6. Left 4 Dead
Unlike most stereotypical gamers, I’m not heavily into zombies. To me, “Resident Evil 4” was an action game which allowed me to kill foreigners, while “Dead Rising” tried to hide its piss poor companion A.I., and crappy story with short lived novelty features. And don’t get me started on “Half Life 2”’s zombie mods.
The only reason why I took a bit of interest in “Left 4 Dead,” despite its’ theme, is because I enjoy co-op games. While it’s fun to go around virtually killing my fellow humans in a game of “Team Fortress 2” or “Gears of War 2,” there is just something unique about tagging up with a few guys and working together to overcome a tough obstacle. “Left 4 Dead” does achieve the basic foundations of a co-op game and, if by choice, can be insanely difficult.
Where the game ultimately fails is the lack of content; “Left 4 Dead” is merely just a shell on what could have been an amazing game. Having the same number of enemy types as I have fingers on one hand is not what I consider “replay value”. Almost everything in the full version of the game can be seen in the demo, except for the extra levels and snail-paced Versus mode. There isn’t much of a story or character development, nor is there big climax at the end. As for the A.I. director, meh. Certainly not worth the price tag.
5. Condemned 2: Bloodshot
Most “horror” games are often the result of two things: a) an insane amount of gore and b) monsters popping up in random places. To me, a proper horror game isn’t one that goes for the shock, but rather fucks with your head just a tiny bit, yet still provides a decent game. “Silent Hill 2” and the “Fatal Frame” series are great examples of this.
“Condemned 2” tried to mix both the FPS genre and the horror genre, and to some extent, it does work. It’s heavily focused on melee fighting, where you can literally pry almost anything, and use it as a weapon, while most of your enemies were simply enraged homeless people. Immersion was also a big deal, as the camera was constantly stuck to your eyeballs and even bobbed around when you got hit or performed an execution. What made the game truly scary was how close it came to reality. The level of realisim in the levels coupled with the enemies that came after you one after another truly felt like you were in some messed up riot, while getting your ass handed to you. Then to top it off, it gave you a view of a murder victim whose last sight is a psychotic grunting pipe wielding motherfucker in a pig mask.
“Condemned 2” was both a sequel and a remake; character designs were revamped to make them more marketable, and there were a few tweaks to make the game much more streamlined. The first half of the game was golden, as it was challenging, atmospheric, and fun. The second half, the part where the developers tried to scientifically explain why crazy shit was happening, ultimately destroyed what could’ve been a great franchise. I’m not going to spoil too much, but it involves sound waves, an “awakened power”, and obsessive amount of poorly done gun play. Oh, I almost forget, there is a cult in this game too. Anyone who has played “Indigo Prophecy” knows why this is a bad idea.
4. Ninja Gaiden 2
“Ninja Gaiden” was famous for being difficult back in the NES days, and when it was revived on the original Xbox, it lived up to its’ reputation as a hard game. The problem was that the game was difficult for the wrong reasons. Instead of clever game design or sophisticated AI, the game’s claustrophobic camera angle blinded your vision of the action, making the most common death in the game involving an off-camera attack. Instead of trying to provide a legitimate challenge, it was just trying to bullshit you to death.
“Ninja Gaiden 2” promised a lot of changes that would make the game seem more “fair.” Health regeneration after fights was added, as well as healing during save points, without the need of a potion. The weapons were also much faster, and some seemed a little tad overpowered, like the iconic Scythe. The result was a game with faster pacing and somewhat less bullshit involved.
Yet the game still had the camera angle issue, despite the claims by the developers to fix it. Again, most of the hits you’ll be getting are off camera, but this time around the issue just got bigger. As you play the higher difficulties, there were a lot more enemies to fight causing the screen to be so cluttered with enemies that sometimes the frame rate would drop and you would have trouble seeing your own character.
However, there is also one more problem with “Ninja Gaiden 2”: the last few levels involve you fighting all the bosses again. Can someone please explain why Japanese developers are so lazy, considering that this is routinely done by Nintendo and Capcom as well?
3. Burnout Paradise
“Burnout” was one of those very few franchises that has managed to stick to the same formula for their games yet still makes them feel like completely different games. In fact, you can probably put a lone, uninformed gamer in front of the first “Burnout” and “Burnout Revenge,” strip off the titles from the box, and he would probably end up debating on whether or not these two titles were even related.
It’s a simple concept: You race through daytime traffic and get boosts for smashing your opponents or dangerous traffic violations (e.g. driving into oncoming traffic). There were other modes as well, (including the infamous Road Rage) but most of the focus was racing. The game was ridiculously simple with straightforward tracks, and made little use of the two hundred buttons on the today’s modern controllers.
“Burnout Paradise” was Criterion’s attempt to thrust their only decent franchise into the next-generation. They announced all sorts of things, from cars having their own personality, completely redoing the damage modeling, and fixing the buggy physics that they had in their previous games. However, the biggest change was how the game was going to be played.
Instead of the old “pick an event from a menu,” the entire game would start and end with the fictional urban landscape known as Paradise City, where you had to drive to whatever event you want. In some sense, it was like “GTA” but instead of controlling a criminal, you controlled a car. It was definitely a unique take on the franchise, but was it all worth in the end?
No, it wasn’t. What held back “Burnout Paradise” from being a great game was the fact that it dwelled on marketing rather than designing a good game. Proof of this? The difficulty.
In the past, “Burnout” games were harder to get into than an Amish virgin. There were unforgiving, reckless, and would punish you for any mistake you made. Many complained, but others adapted. “Burnout Paradise” did not follow this formula, as the game’s A.I. felt like they were bystanders watching you win, instead of foes who wished to shatter your chances. It even came to the point where I would ask myself who would be able to beat the game faster: An eight year old with A.D.D., or a controller with duct taped over the accelerator.
Then there are the modes. Crash Mode is thrown out for the laughable Showtime, and we have a new Stunt Run mode which is nothing more than hunting for ramps with barely any creativity involved. Racing, the most important aspect of “Burnout,” was devolved into a stupid anti-social game. Instead of the laps, or a linear line, the game only gives you two points: Start and Finish. How you get there is completely up to you, which changes the game immensely from having to break away from the pack to now playing the shortcut game.
What the hell happened here? A game where people were fighting in tight roads in a pack has now changed into a multiplayer time trail where players go their own way through the course instead of ramming into other cars?
I won’t even get into the horrible city layout as well. There is barely any color around here making it nearly impossible to tell the difference between a road and a barrier. There’s enough grey to give a colorblind Basset Hound a seizure.
2. Gears of War 2
Where to begin with this? CliffyB stated a lot of bullshit to the gaming public to sell his product. He said the lag was fixed, he said the game was going to be more balanced, and the storyline was going to be the best fucking thing since Dan Brown because Epic hired a “writer” this time around.
What we got was a game that tried to force emotion into us by adding a missing vagina..sorry, I mean, “wife” to one of the main characters’ backstory. She might as well be just a talking vagina, though as there is very little development in, not only their relationship, but her character as well. Who the hell am I kidding? There is no character development whatsoever throughout the cast. We have a cowboy named Dizzy who I’m apparently supposed to give a shit about, then some Native wannabe who I’m supposed to give a shit about, then another Carmine who I’m supposed to give a shit (actually, wait, I did care about him, because he is the only one who seemed to act like a human being).
Okay, fine, it’s an action game, fuck the story right? True, but nothing much has changed here. The craptastic cover system is still here, it is still grossly repetitive, and the AI is still as dumb as a chipped pet rock.
Then there’s the multiplayer. CliffyB promised the game would be more balanced, and as a guy who has played way too many shooters, I’m going to have to call bullshit on that.
The Lancer is useless, the shotgun is overpowered, covering is pointless, and those new grenade tag features? There was a point in my “Gears of War 2” stats where I had most of my kills from Frag Grenades…that’s how overpowered they are. You’d think they could’ve added a trigger delay instead of some instantaneous bullshit and made them somehow more noticeable. At least Valve understands the proper way to use an Area of Denial tactic in “TF2” with the Engineer, so I don’t know what the hell happened here. Epic Games is a veteran developer of online shooters and they somehow fucked this up.
Plus the game suffers from the usual netcode bugs, insane host advantage, and numerous glitches from “GOW.” Much like everything else about “GOW2,” CliffyB “promised” these problems would be fixed, but didn’t.
1. Grand Theft Auto 4
I am going to say this right now though: “Grand Theft Auto 4” has some of the best writing out there. The characters were great, the pacing was near perfection, the character development wasn’t forced, and had some great plot twists. It was good.
But that’s the only good thing about it. The rest of the game? Not so much. They severely cut out the content of the game and ended up taking a step backwards instead of forward in the sandbox genre. You can no longer play taxi missions, no longer lead a gang, and cannot even buy property. This makes no sense, as during the game you rob a bank and I should have been able to buy a big house and a strip club, with my cut, but I wasn’t allowed to do this. Yet if I pop in “Saint’s Row 2,” I can go to my private hanger and travel across the city to buy another condo.
In short, there is nothing else to do besides the storyline itself. Sure, you can run around killing glowing pigeons, or watch some shitty comedy at a night club, but why? If I wanted to watch something funny, I would go to YouTube and type in Russell Peters, not play a video game.
But wait, we are supposed to be happy over multiplayer, since they were too lazy to add this feature to the first few games. Awesome, right?
Wrong. It’s a mess. Starting up the game is a pain in the ass since the game allows players to join whatever team they want, making the possibility of an even match a pipe dream. Next would be forcing other players to get “ready”, instead of the game automatically starting like most modern games. The multiplayer is a constant struggle against the shitty interface, and shitty players.
Let’s say things turn out well, and you’re actually playing an online game, then be prepared for one the worst experiences out there. Auto-aiming, broken weapon balance, lousy netcode, low FPS, and no boundaries. Wait, what’s wrong with no boundaries you ask? Simple, you have stupid players who run all over the place instead of trying to win the game. Stupid idea.
How did a game with poor frame rates, crap coloring, overuse of bloom, poor combat system, and little content outside the storyline get such insane praise? It’s all thanks to gaming “journalism.” Despite all the flaws and bugs, this game got nearly perfect scores all over the place while “Saint’s Row 2,” a much more interesting game, was left in the dust. “GTA4” is living proof that the so-called critics of the industry are nothing more than franchise worshipers.