It's been a spectacular generation thus far, what with the 360 revolutionizing online console gaming, the PS3 bringing Hollywood-grade splendor to our living rooms, and Nintendo's Wii broadening the market, ensuring our medium's lifelong security. You can't argue with cracking new IPs like Crackdown or Uncharted, or smashing finales like Halo 3 and God of War 3. We are, quite simply, blessed.
However, where there is good, there must too be bad. And believe me, we've had a lot of bad. So much so, in fact, we thought it only right to expose these poor excuses for silicon. Presenting... the Top 10 Next-Gen Flops!
(NB. It's worth mentioning that we're talking critical flops, games that didn't live up to their potential. Many of the games below sold really well...but that doesn't make them any less disappointing.)
10. Gran Turismo 5
Listen, Gran Turismo 5 isn't a bad game. This list isn't necessarily for bad games. A flop is something else. Sky-high expectations, and then a rocky descent, followed by a lacklustre landing. I think that pretty much sums up GT5. It's been in development for almost six years, and in that time we've had countless other smashing racers, from the Burnouts to direct competitors like Forza. Is GT5 good enough to warrant such a wait, and to tolerate such shortcomings as a broken online and dated mechanics? I don't think so.
9. Lost Planet 2
Lost Planet was a welcome surprise, a typically Japanese shooter with an ice-cold twist. Anticipation was rampant for the sequel, and early signs were promising. Then it all happened. Glitches. Mid-game chokepoints. A level set aboard a train where, if you die at the grueling turret section near the end, you're all returned to the very beginning. It was a sorry state of affairs. Even Capcom seemed upset.
8. Dark Sector
I was quite fond of Digital Extremes, having enjoyed their Unreal console ports and the largely overlooked Pariah. So I expected Dark Sector, bolstered by a big budget and big ideas, to be a great game. Sadly, however, it was not. Somewhere between RE4 and Gears of War, Dark Sector simply collapsed beneath its own ambition. A pity. I love Michael Rosenbaum. Just not when he's an emo-fringed mutant named Hayden Tenno. Ergh.
7. Ninja Gaiden 2
Again, a sequel to a much-loved classic on the Xbox, Ninja Gaiden 2 was bad. The original made a name for itself with its brutal difficulty, but it was never unfair. NG2, on the other hand, seemed intent on ruining your life, with constant, uneven difficulty spikes, and a shy camera that preferred hiding behind random pieces of geometry. I almost lost it when, having vanquished a particularly difficult lava-demon, it suddenly explodes without warning, killing and returning me to the prior checkpoint. I. Almost. Cried.
6. Banjo & Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts
I can't quite comprehend the reasoning. Take a much-loved platformer from the Nintendo era, and update it for the next-generation by placing an emphasis on vehicles and automobile creation? Nuts and Bolts had the potential to capitalize on the 360's lack of genuine platformers, but instead decided to ape LittleBigPlanet with a dash of Twisted Metal. At least you could create the Millenium Falcon with enough bits, pieces and skill, I suppose.
5. Red Steel
Before we'd all finally sampled the Wii, it was expected to revolutionise how we played games. And a certain game capatalized on this false hope, promising true-to-life sword and gunplay with 1:1 precision. In the end, what we got was Red Steel, an ugly, glitchy, badly designed game that managed to eek out an existence simply because it was one of the few mature games on the Wii.
4. Crackdown 2
Crackdown was, and still is, my favourite game on the 360. So I greeted news of a sequel with some fanfare. Mainly cheering. By myself, in front of the computer. Ahem. Well, I shouldn't have been so excited. Crackdown 2 isn't necessarily bad. It's pretty much the first game, in the same city, with largely the same moves, weapons and vehicles. And that's the problem. It's too much of the same. Bring on Crackdown 3, in a new city, with new abilities and the like, and I shall forgive you, Ruffian Games, for your heinous indiscretions.
3. Resident Evil 5
Resident Evil 5 was beset with problems from the beginning. It's radical new setting, Africa, and the depiction of its indigenous people sparked an outcry in the media of racial insensitivity on the part of Capcom. Whatever your verdict on this, it didn't help, and neither did the sluggish, last-gen controls, the dated mechanics and animation list lifted straight from RE4. Resident Evil 5 should have been a Capcom tour de force. Instead it was something you had to force yourself through. Ah well.
2. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Before I am set upon by slavering cosplayers, hear this. I am a Star Wars fan. A huge fan, actually. And that's why I consider The Force Unleashed to be the second worst flop of this generation. Staggering production values, revolutionary new technologies, a great cast of voice actors and the full support of Lucas himself. And what do we get? A broken, stilted mess, with none of charm we've come to expect from the franchise. I had more fun flinging Wookies off Kashyyyk bridges than I did enduring the entire experience. I hear the sequel's pretty bad, too. Figures.
1. Perfect Dark Zero
I loved Perfect Dark on the N64. Rare's spiritual successor to Goldeneye was an action-tastic, spy-themed romp, replete with X-Ray rifles and aliens wearing sneakers. So, you can imagine my horror when I booted up Perfect Dark Zero on my brand-new Xbox 360, expecting a classic, only to find a dud instead. Simply put, PDZ is awful. It had awkward controls, boring or uneven pacing, a lackluster story with laughable dialogue, and a visual aesthetic akin to smearing vaseline across all surfaces. Shame on you Rare.
Didn't agree with our list? Why not tell us what other titles we should have included instead? Or maybe you actually enjoyed the games we've mentioned, and would like to inform us of just how misguided we are? As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below!