2012 was a great year for games, and as I said earlier, if you disagree you are wrong. No matter what kind of game you love, you could find something great in your genre if you looked hard enough. Every game wasn’t a classic this year though. There were many games that let us down. These aren’t just the bad games though, these are the ones that showed every sign of being good, great even. Maybe because they were big big sequels, from talented devs or looked great in previews, these titles promised a lot but failed to deliver. Terrible games can disappoint us, but some games promise so much and deliver so little that they break our hearts. Here’s a few of those.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
This isn’t my choice; XCOM is one of my favourite games of the year, maybe even my number 1 (you’ll find that out soon). For others though, XCOM disappointed. Common criticisms from our site member Ealiom (as well as others) highlighted that the game was overly streamlined and lacked ambition. Levels were typically linear and involved simply moving forward to methodically eradicate all the enemies as opposed to the more sprawling levels of the original games. Enemies would also always get an extra turn to run to safety, meaning you could almost never set up an ambush. The campaign also always had one goal for you to work towards, with everything else being a secondary distraction.
Meanwhile technical issues and bugs dampened the experience, and positioning and elevation never seemed to make much difference in battle. Whether you loved XCOM: Enemy Unknown or not, you have to admit that it was a game that could have been improved in several key areas.
Resident Evil 6
Where to start? “Third-person action shooter” Resident Evil 6 is a disaster. While many lamented the move away from Survival Horror in Resi 5, it was still a good game. Going back just one game further, Resi 4 remains one of the best games of all time. It was a game that perfectly blended horror and action, framed the action perfectly and had some of the best action set pieces and third person shooting we’ve ever seen. How could they go from great to good to….. shit? And in just three games!
Its seems that Hiroyuki Kobayashi and team simply went in the wrong direction. Or more accurately, they failed to pick one. Driving down a road that split into two, one signposted “action” and the other “horror”, they drove straight on and broke the car in two pices. The result: a car crash of a game.
While few could say that Halo 4 disappointed in the graphics stakes, there’s more to a game than its looks. Once you get over the admittedly gorgeous world that Halo 4 drops you in, there’s a real pedestrian aspect to its gameplay. Simply put, Halo 4 offers no significant additions to the series beyond what you would find in the first game. Shooting those guys with the shield in the hand: check. Elites diving out of the way of grenades: check. Grunts running at you with grenades in both hands: check. Loose warthog controls and dodgy driving physics that make your vehicle flip: check. And while all the gameplay fundamentals are the same in Halo 4 as they have always been, there’s things missing from the game too. Did Master Chief just FORGET how to hold two guns at once?
So Halo 4 is a generic-ass Halo game, but that could be ok. The gameplay of Halo is still fun. If they could have written a great story with new enemies it could be really really…. well, pretty good at least. Sadly all the actual NEW stuff in Halo is bad. The new enemies are personality-less bullet sponges. The plot the game tells meanwhile wastes no time in getting into familiar territory as fast as possible. While the early moments promise an intriguing alien world and a lonely Master Chief encountering strange new life, just a few hours later you’re teaming up with UNSC marines to fight the fucking Covenant. Again. And there’s two more games of this. Come on guys. Halo was great, but this feels like a reboot. Oh God, I’m giving them ideas. Don’t make a reboot!!!
Assassins Creed 3
If I was feeling Halo-fatigue before Halo 4, I was feeling the same apathy towards a new Assassins Creed game too. After series momentum-killer Assassins Creed: Revelations, everyone was waiting for the next major entry in the franchise. Promises were being made that Assassins Creed 3 was going to be a proper step forward in gameplay, storytelling and game design. In actuality, Assassins Creed 3 was a pedestrian game that began strongly, but quickly became a by-the-numbers open world game.
Worst of all though, after teasing us with big story revelations throughout the previous games, Ubisoft completely deflated the plot and reduced the story to a mundane retelling of a tired sc-fi trope. Assassins Creed’s brilliant concept of a time-recreating memory machine had become a vehicle for the most overtold story in games. The Jak and Daxter games did the same story better. Even Mass Effect did it better.
“The sad thing for me though is that the underlying game that Blizzard has crafted has not been prioritised as highly as everything that surrounds it. When financial concerns override creative ones then the result is you create something that is content and not art. With a focus on an auction house no one wants, a scant, lowest common denominator storyline and a difficulty curve that keeps you in a coma-like state, Diablo 3 could have been so much more. Its a good game, and definitely worth trying, but it has been engineered to keep you playing for as long as possible, not to entertain you.
When I had finished with Diablo 3 I started playing something else and I had the strangest feeling. “What is wrong with me? Why do I feel weird”?”. Then I realised what was happening. I was starting to think. My brain was coming back online. Games can challenge us, they can engage and excite us. At their worst though, they can anaesthetise you. They can push your brain into such a low state of activity you lose a sense of your own existence.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. Diablo 3 could have been great. Instead, its a cynical attempt to lull you into a mindless, brainless (but constantly playing) robot.”
Kinect Star Wars
Initially sold as a serious Star Wars game using the most advanced motion controls ever designed, Kinect Star Wars was NOT for the hardcore gamers. Or Star Wars fans. Or people who liked games. Or people.
While there were a number of awful moments in the game, it was the dancing that really frustrated overly-serious Star Wars fans. These fans were unhappy that their stories about space wizards with magic swords was being made to seem foolish. For me, if the song selection had been better, it might have even been good!
The War Z
It’s arguable that few thought this game would actually be good, but its certainly the worst game on this list. Trading on the name of the successful real game DayZ, The War Z is awful. Worse, the developers lied about its content. Cynical, exploitative and awful, The War Z is a disgrace.
And the winner is… Diablo 3
Not even close. Diablo 3 is a cynical, soulless game but its also a sequel to one of the best PC RPG’s of all time. And thats disappointing. Quite apart from its disastrous launch, Diablo 3 was a game whose gameplay disappointed in almost every way. If you love the Diablo games, go and get its spiritual sequel (made by many of the series veterans), the brilliant Torchlight 2. It also came out this year, its brilliant, and its NOT our most disappointing game of 2012. Diablo 3 is.