Friday, January 26, 2018

Nine Games That Were Huge Letdowns

Today I'm going to look at nine games that I had high initial expectations for, expectations that were shattered once I got ahold of them. This is a bit different from my Games I Tapped Out On Midway Through and Games I Didn't Enjoy But Still Finished lists in that, whether I finished these games or not, they didn't live up to the hype in any way.

Note: There are a few "no-brainer" entries that won't be on the list (for instance, No Man's Sky) because I haven't played them. Also, there are some games that very much deserve to be on this list (Fable) but won't because I played them well after release (aka after I knew better than to expect anything). In short, this list is limited to things that I played while the hype was still strong, only to find them to be a huge letdown. Ranked in order of my own personal disappointment. This is entirely subjective, and your mileage may vary. Also, nothing on this list is necessarily a bad game. Some of them might fall into that category, while others might just be things that didn't jive with me personally.

9. Mighty No. 9 - The long-awaited resuscitation of the Mega Man franchise ended up being more of an auto-erotic asphyxiation. The development team behind this game had a vision in mind and they pushed that vision despite the fact that it didn't result in any kind of a decent game. The level design in particular lacks any of the creativity and fun that characterized the Mega Man series. I was very excited when I started playing this, and by the end that excitement had died a death.

8. Aliens: Colonial Marines - Like probably all fans of the Alien franchise who game, I was excited for this. There was so much that could have been done with this idea; unfortunately what we got was a fairly generic shooter that turns Xenomorphs into fodder enemies with terrible AI. I had some fun with it and thought that people filing lawsuits against the developers was a bit ridiculous, but it didn't measure up to its potential in any way.

7. Mass Effect 3 - This one got torn apart by the mainstream, to say the least. Most of the complaints about it related to the disappointing ending, which ignored the player choices that characterized the series up to that point. The main issue I had with the game was that it had dropped nearly all of the RPG elements from the first two. This is a straight-up shooter, and it felt more like I was playing Resistance or Gears of War than the action/RPG hybrid experience I'd gotten used to getting from the series. Nothing against those shooters, but it was a letdown and not what I expected from the end of the Mass Effect trilogy.

6. Need For Speed: Rivals - This was a PS4 launch game for me, and I was really looking forward to having people over to do some split-screen car racing in HD. Little did I know that this game would be as bare-bones as possible, with no couch co-op or real options. For single-player racing, it isn't bad at all, but it ended up being a disappointing launch title and a portent that couch co-op just isn't something one can take for granted anymore.

5. Star Fox Zero - One of the last Wii U titles, and one I was definitely looking forward to. Unfortunately what we got were subpar graphics and poor controls. Nintendo's insistence on motion controls, Gamepad aiming, and hard-to-control alternate vehicles all added up to the developer simply not getting out of their own way. The biggest strike might well be the alternate vehicles, which felt like they got more screen time than the Arwings. I went into this game thrilled to hop into an Arwing again, and I left it wondering why the hell I was stuck in these terrible other vehicles for most of the game.

It also has an insanely frustrating final boss, mainly because the game sets you back so far after you lose to it. And did I mention that the game continues "playing" during ingame cutscenes, so you're taking damage and running into stuff while the screen cuts to the arrival of Star Wolf or something? You can look at the Gamepad to kinda see where you're going during these moments, but still, there's a lot of poor design at work here.

4. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess - Similar situation here. I was very much looking forward to walking in Link's shoes again. You can swing the Wiimote to slash with Link's sword, which adds a new layer of immersiveness. What could go wrong? Well, for starters, you spend most of the first few hours of the game playing as wolf form Link. These segments go on and on and ON. The wolf form would have been fine later in the game; having it be so dominant in the early going just took me right out of the action before I could even get into it.

When I think back on this game, I don't think of swinging Link's sword; I think of swinging the Wiimote to make wolf Link bite things. For hours. Then there's the brown tint that overpowers everything else visually. Zelda games are usually very colorful, but this one seems to be going for as dismal of a look as possible. Maybe this was to fit in with the "grittier" games that rang in the HD generation, I don't know. All of that said, the game isn't bad at all. It was simply a letdown.

3. Kirby's Epic Yarn - This one should be called "Baby's First Platformer" because it's impossible to lose. Kirby is essentially invincible for the entire game, the puzzle-solving is as basic as humanly possible, and the (admittedly awesome) yarn aesthetic isn't utilized to anywhere near its potential. It also felt like it had almost nothing to do with Kirby, with none of the series conventions showing up here. It looks nice and it'd be a good first game for a four year old, but it doesn't measure up to most of the other Kirby titles. All in all, it's mainly guilty of being extremely boring after the first 30 minutes or so. A better yarn game is Yoshi's Wooly World, which presents a bit of challenge and decent puzzle-solving along with creative use of the yarn aesthetic and plenty of callbacks to Yoshi's Island.

2. Mega Man X7 - There were disappointing Mega Man games before this. Mega Man X3 was a step down from the first two in stage design, game layout, and boss AI. Mega Man X5 had a bunch of (entirely unneeded) changes for the worse from the game before it. Mega Man X6 was roundly terrible, but I liked it when I first played it because, well, it was more Mega Man X. This game, though... My God. The transition into 3D was poorly-executed and resulted in a super un-fun game. It didn't even feel like a Mega Man game, and without was simply a poorly-made 3D platformer. It also completely dropped the Dr. Wily storyline that the X series had been building up, giving us this random Axl character instead. Just a disappointment on all levels that makes the other not-great X series games look like masterpieces.

1. Final Fantasy XV - I was all ready to love this one before it launched. The fanbase dogged the last few entries (Final Fantasy XII and XIII) while I enjoyed both, and I was expecting a similar situation with this one. Unfortunately, this time I agreed with the dogging portion of the fanbase, because this game has issues. It isn't terrible, don't get me wrong. The four main characters are among the most likeable characters in the entire series, and hold the whole thing together very well. The various minigames like fishing and cooking are interesting and remind me of tradeskills in an MMORPG.

The problems, though, are systemic and widespread. There's a pervading sense of just how unfinished the game is throughout. The world is a fraction of the size that it was intended to be earlier in development, with most of the world's major locations omitted entirely. Character arcs for seemingly-important characters are nowhere to be found, even as the story references them. Major villains appear a couple of times, then are never seen again with little or no explanation.

The prequel movie did a great job building towards the game...only to have the game drop nearly all of the characters and locations the movie spent time setting up to the point that they barely feel connected at all. The game follows a disjointed story flow: You spend the vast majority of its runtime roaming around in a single open-world location. Then, you get shunted through a bunch of other parts of the world in rapid succession... as if the developers realized they were running out time and had to get the story wrapped up quickly. The open-world theme is entirely dropped at this point so that the story can actually happen, and then it's suddenly over. This game makes other unfinished RPGs like Xenogears and Secret of Mana look complete. As a result, even though it isn't a bad game at all, this one has to take first place as far as let-downs go for me.


  1. It's hard to imagine ME3 being able to cut back anything more after ME2 stripped out most of the RPG. Wow.

    Star Fox Zero ARRRGH

    Completely agree about Twilight Princess. Goat out.

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