It's not all been sunshine and roses this generation. These aren't our shouts for the worst games to be seen over the past seven years or so, but rather the most heartfelt disappointments. These are the games and the moments that really floored us with just how little they met our expectations. Expect controversy, and let us know your thoughts in the comments box at the end.
Brendan - Grand Theft Auto V’s Campaign Mode
After the lacklustre effort that was GTA IV, I was surprised to see little genuine improvement for Rockstar’s latest offering. Yes, the world in GTA V is huge and often breathtakingly gorgeous. But why does living in it have to be such a bore?
I recently finished the story and I think the Pack Man mission sums up the game perfectly. I was forced to drive an articulated lorry for seven miles while listening to the boring characters bitch about their demented existences. Yet there was some late flair to the mission when I had to leap behind the wheel of one of the cars I was carrying on the lorry so I could use the Bond-esque weapons to take out the cops that had turned up for the last leg of the journey.
The latter part of the mission was great fun, but as we all know, most of the campaign missions involve samey commutes back and forth, getting your car stuck should you dare to take a shortcut, ferrying family members around, enduring some of the worst helicopter controls in existence, or maybe the good old wait-and-follow mission. Exciting it is not. For me the wait/fun ratio always seemed to be about 80/20.
I recall an excellent car chase on a runway, with explosions everywhere as planes landed around me. After hours of boredom beforehand though, it seemed more exciting than it actually was. Compare GTA’s action-packed highlights with the likes of Uncharted or Call of Duty and it’s clearly lagging.
Rockstar are capable of much better. The world of Red Dead Redemption had so much more personality to it and felt like it was worth exploring. GTA V is just big, with a fraction of buildings having open doors and the landscape only acting as wildernesses to get stuck in if you wreck your car or find Trevor waking up there. There’s no excuse for the shoddy shooting either considering the fun we had with Max Payne 3 last year.
The story itself is one of Rockstar’s worst yet and this can largely be blamed on their mind-numbingly boring and stereotypical cast. The one-last-job guy with family problems, the mental guy (ok, he is funny at times) and the black guy that’s so above his criminal friends but is actually just another criminal. Isn’t it about time Rockstar came up with some fresh story ideas? Then we might avoid events like this horrible Sopranos/Boyz in the Hood/Heat casserole of nonsense that never sits right.
It’s sad to fall back on an old saying, but GTA V really is a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. Not the worst of the generation by a long stretch (hello Duke Nukem Forever and Aliens: Colonial Marines), but certainly my most disappointing.
Chris - Metroid: Other M
It is with a heavy heart that I place my label of “biggest disappointment” at the door of one of Nintendo’s biggest and most beloved franchises. For those not in the know Samus Aran is the bounty hunter of the Metroid series of games. One of her most distinguishing features – and one that is true of most of Nintendo’s flagship mascots – she is a silent protagonist, harking back from an era when voice-acting was a pipe dream and we had to make do with our imagination for emotion. Not that that made the series devoid of emotion – simple things like her bond with Metroids in the early games, and even seeing her scream out in pain and see her reflection in the visor in the Prime series provoked a suitable emotional response from gamers.
Importantly Samus didn’t need a voice to be a fleshed out character.
So along came Team Ninja, famous for such narrative classics as Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball to take the reins. One of their first mistakes was to decide to give Samus a voice. The second and bigger mistake was to make that voice portray a character that turned from a lone wolf, space pirate-blasting super heroine into a needy, monotonous woman who not only lacks confidence but all individual thought outside of what her former commanding officer Adam tells her.
But it wasn’t just this shift in focus that made this game a disappointment. The game itself was a first /third person hybrid which felt confused and inflexible to the task at hand. It was also a relatively short game compared to Metroid games, with little replay value, meaning that you felt short changed for the experience. The game looked good, but not Metroid Prime good, which is worrying given that we’re talking GameCube games here, and it just felt like the ugly sister when up against the Wii’s Corruption.
What this meant that for the first time in a long while, one of Nintendo’s flagship franchises pumped out a “mediocre at best” game, with expectations high on the back of the Prime series, and the interesting trailers, it really just ended up being a total let down, and one that I and others will probably still reference as such for years to come.
Jonathan - XBLIG Who?
As far as I'm concerned, Microsoft kicked this generation off, and hit it hard. The Xbox 360 set in stone things we now take for granted -- robust online services, downloadable console games, indie games on home consoles, cross-game chat, achievements and more – leaving their rivals to scurry around and catch up over the course of several years. It was a force of change, a force of creativity, the engine fuelling getting download titles like Braid, Super Meat Boy and Geometry Wars into our living rooms.
This drive towards creativity and innovation culminated in Xbox Live Indie Games: one of the most forward-thinking and revolutionary moves ever made by a console manufacturer. Small developers could get their wares onto Xbox Live without obtrusive oversight and exorbitant fees, creating what should have been an exciting and vibrant new ecosystem and unique selling point for the pioneering console.
And then the awesome kinda... stopped.
A change in philosophy at the top saw the Xbox 360 focus on short-term gains, on timed-DLC and temporary exclusives, crushing Xbox Live Indie Games under the wheels of big business. The service went cruelly ignored by Microsoft, unloved and without fanfare, despite the best efforts of its hardworking and dedicated community. We since saw Sony venture into the same space with PlayStation Mobile and a massive indie drive, while some of the best developers on XBLIG were forced onto PC, iOS and other platforms – usually to great success.
We hope that ID@Xbox rekindles some of this pioneering spirit, and helps to reignite the creative spark that sadly went under-supported throughout the last few years.
Carl - Awful Wolfenstein Is Awful
I still mutter swear words whenever I see or hear mention of that game. As a former Return To Castle Wolfenstein / Enemy Territory player who took part in many online tournaments, it saddened me to see what had become of the FPS franchise that got me into multiplayer gaming proper.
Everything about it just felt off. The weapons felt weird, the levels were generic, and hub system? Just awful. Those veil powers? Ugh. What should have been an interesting mechanic came across as half-baked in my opinion – it was something new for the sake of something new. And then there was the multiplayer. No. Just no. Don’t get me wrong – the game was functional, and there have absolutely been worse games out over the last decade, but Wolfenstein ruined all of my fond memories of playing as a Medic on maps like mp_beach and mp_village, and storming the madness that was Pappy’s Tram server.
In short, Wolfenstein was the first game in many, many years that I actually regretted a game purchase, despite getting it for under RRP at launch. Considering I’ve forgiven myself for other ‘underperforming’ games in the past (Unreal 2, The Movies, and most recently, Syndicate) the fact I hold that one as the worst gaming purchase I’ve made should adequately point out my disappointment for that one. One day I hope for another objective-based multiplayer FPS with classes that doesn’t rely on XP progression but actual skill. Sadly, it looks like I’ll be waiting a while, because Wolfenstein certainly wasn’t it.
Matt - Bioware Bottling It
Disappointments require expectations and hopeful investment. You need to buy into something or someone to be let down. As soon as I considered that, the call was easy: Bioware. The company once famed for Baldur's Gate and Knights of the Old Republic are bigger to day than they have ever been, and have provided me with some of my defining memories of this generation through the Mass Effect series and the superb Dragon Age: Origins. And it's precisely because those two IPs are so excellent and so very dear to me that when Bioware messed up it hit the hardest.
Dragon Age II is still f**king awful. It is a monument to laziness, and poor shade of the mature, thought-provoking, and downright dark RPG we got in Origins. The worst thing was, Bioware had no excuse for it. There was no explanation for the cookie-cutter dungeons, the risible storyline, the horribly pared-down scale of everything, the wilful abandonment of the decisions we'd made and the consequences we'd brought upon ourselves in the first game. To place the first game next to its fairly execrable sequel, you'd struggle to believe that they were made by the same team.
No matter, I said to myself. There's always Mass Effect.
Endings are important. They can change everything. If you reach the end of a delicious meal but your final mouthful is something disgustingly awful and completely anathema to everything that you'd consumed already -- like enjoying a steak which transforms into dog poo towards the end -- then you're left feeling unsatisfied, perhaps angry, and maybe even a little sick. That was the last hour of Mass Effect 3 for me. I rang Jon instantly and basically swore down the phone at him for half an hour. Then came the discovery that the dev team nicked a picture off of the internet for the Tali's face reveal. As if that whole bit wasn't disappointing enough.
Yes. I'm still angry.