Have you ever been so excited to play a new video game, that your anticipation for the upcoming title builds up so high that it almost becomes impossible for it to actually live up to your lofty expectations then? This seems to happen to the best of us gamers, but luckily a lot of games these days end up being just as good or even BETTER than we possibly could have imagined. However, there are also some unfortunate games out there that fall on the other end of the spectrum: where we play them for a few minutes, and then sit back and wonder “What happened?” So for this list, we decided to highlight some of the biggest sure-to-be-hit titles this past console generation that just fell incredibly short of everyone’s expectations once they were actually released. These are Den of Geek’s Top 25 picks for what we feel were the most disappointing video game experiences to be released this console generation:
25. Dead Island: Riptide (2013)
The first Dead Island seemed to be largely hit or miss with its gaming audience: either you loved the addictive quest-based gameplay and melee-heavy combat, or you wondered what the hell happened to the game that was first shown in that amazing debut trailer. I was among the crowd that happened to enjoy Dead Island, but its eventual sequel Dead Island: Riptide (or more accurately, Dead Island 1.5) turned out to be a clear-cut rehash of the first game, with less gameplay, significantly smaller environments, identical textures, and virtually nothing new or exciting that could constitute even making Riptide in the first place. Maybe the upcoming Dead Island Online will change this? Doubtful, I know.
24. Lost Planet 2 (2010)
What happens when you take a game that is universally known for its harshly frozen environments, its epic battles with enormous snow beasts, and the constant need to harness their warm, gooey centers so your own temperature doesn’t drop, and you replace all that snow and the ice with a tropical setting and minimal environmental dangers? Well, I guess you get Lost Planet 2, a sheer wrong turn in an otherwise pretty decent action franchise. But if Devil May Cry 2 is anything to go by, Capcom may tend to have a sophomore slump with most of its series, but this week’s Lost Planet 3 is already shaping up to take the series back to its roots under new development, with an actual storyline again, and the return of (gasp) snow-based environments! Who would have thought?
23. Diablo III (2012)
There are very few games out there that have been so universally anticipated as Diablo III, the sequel to 2000’s faraway Diablo II. It’s a shame, then, that a lot of the reviews for such a highly expected title were a little too mixed it seems. I think a lot of the early criticism of the game was initially the brunt of Blizzard’s decision to include a strict digital rights management system that all but removed any plans for an offline single-player experience. But even so, it won’t be hard to find some gamers who will tell you that the long-awaited third installment in the popular action-RPG lacked a certain OOMPH that made the first two games so can’t-stop-playing-until-my-eyes-bleed addictively fun.
22. Turning Point: Fall of Liberty (2008)
This is another one of those games that you probably won’t remember: mostly because it came out so many years ago, and once it did come out, its universally awful reception made it highly unlikely that you went out that day and decided to pick up a copy. But the initial concept of Turning Point: Fall of Liberty was actually pretty cool: it was a first-person shooter set in an alternate universe where Winston Churchill died from being hit by a taxi, and events spiral afterwards until the Third Reich took over England and spread the German forces throughout the rest of the world. So basically, Nazis everywhere. However, the game’s interesting premise ultimately couldn’t save its gameplay from playing out like a buggy and linear-as-hell PS2 game. I wonder what it would be like in an alternate universe where Turning Point: Fall of Liberty was actually an amazing game?
21. Fable 3 (2010)
Sometimes when a video game sets the bar so high, like Fable II did in 2008 with its wealth of action-RPG gameplay and moving storylines, it’s almost inevitable that whatever sequel to follow is going to have a hard time living up to the expectations of its predecessor. And so is the case with Fable III. I think one of the biggest reasons why many Fable fans felt letdown by the latest sequel in the popular role-playing franchise was because of Fable III’s significantly simplified gameplay, which resulted in many repetitive combat sections and boring, slow-paced quest lines. It also didn’t help that there were just as many glitches to be found as there were customization options, with the PC version of the game in particular falling under some heavy fire in the technical department.
20. Rage (2011)
Rage was id Software’s take on a Fallout 3 or Borderlands experience, but with the gritty and visceral shooting gameplay that players would expect to find in games like Doom and Quake. And while the idea sounded great on paper, something was just inevitably lost in the translation, as the final product turned out to be just as open and bland as the desert settings that players would be driving and shooting through in the game. But despite the poor story and direction of the game, there’s no denying that Rage still had some pretty impressive visuals and gunplay elements to it in places. (It’s also the first game of two on our list to be featured in a scene on Breaking Bad. Is Vince Gilligan trying to tell us something here? Hmm.)
19. Dark Void (2010)
Back in the days when game developers took a lot of chances on brand new IPs (thankfully this practice seems to have been given new life with the next iteration of gaming consoles), there used to be a time when I would buy whatever new game that Capcom was selling without hesitation. Unfortunately, this tradition ceased with Dark Void, a promising new series that featured exhilarating jetpacks and an emphasis on vertical gameplay – not to mention the fact that the graphics looked just all sorts of badass. But as you might have guessed, considering the title of this article, Dark Void’s sporadic, clunky gameplay and forgettable narrative made the whole experience just run out of steam midway through its flight, and take a deadly nosedive straight into the ground.
18. Neverdead (2012)
Neverdead is the kind of game that falls under the same category as titles like Brink or Inversion, both of which could have easily filled a spot on this list as well: they’re those games you kind of know exist, because you’ve seen the cover art pop up once or twice around Amazon.com, but you don’t know a single person who’s actually played them, and you’ve never once given a serious thought to actually playing them yourself. Neverdead tried to win gamers over by incorporating a playable protagonist who literally could not die (his body parts would just sort of rip off and then you’d have to go collect the limbs again), but there was just no hiding the fact that its extremely monotonous gameplay and unlikeable characters simply made the overall experience not fun to play.
17. Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One (2011)
If you said “a new Ratchet & Clank game with 4-player co-op” to any Insomiac fan a few years ago, then the result would have undoubtedly been giddy squeals and excited screams that pierced your eardrums louder than someone who’d been hit by a blast from Ratchet’s Qwack-O-Ray. Sadly, the finished product Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One added in 4-player co-op alright, but it also stripped away everything that made the old R&C games so magical in the first place. The environments were bland, the exploration components were completely removed, the story was forgettable at best, and the fixed camera angles made everything feel like one big clunky mess. Thankfully, it looks like the developer is trying to right their wrong by giving us another “true R&C game” with Into the Nexus later on this year.
16. Two Worlds (2007)
The fantasy action-RPG Two Worlds from Reality Pump was once thought to be a solid contender for games like Oblivion, but after its release in 2007, it turned out that the only “oblivion” thing about it was where gamers’ expectations for this one had vanished to. The game was mostly criticized for its abysmal graphics, glitches, and load times, as well as the horrendous voice acting which was done by the developers at Reality Pump themselves, in an effort I can only assume was to cut some costs. Oddly enough, I guess the game wasn’t that disappointing to a handful of people, as a sequel to Two Worlds called Two Worlds II was actually released in 2010 to some pretty positive and decent acclaim.
15. Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust (2009)
You might be looking at this title on the list right now and saying to yourself, “How could Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust really be considered a disappointment, since no one even expected the game to be all that good anyway?” Well yes, I guess you have a pretty good point there. But I promise you there once was a time when the old Leisure Suit Larry games were a pretty hot commodity out there on the PC gaming scene: if anything, just because they were the games you wanted to play for the sake of telling your friends that you actually played them. On the flipside, I’m embarrassed to tell anyone now that I’ve actually played the heaping pile of smutty trash that is Box Office Bust, which also just so happens to be one of the most negatively-received games on the entire Metacritic website.
14. Haze (2008)
Ah, Haze. What can I really say about it? Actually, that’s a pretty literal question, because I can’t for the life of me remember many details about what was supposed to be the next Halo or Gears of War for PlayStation owners. Well, I take that back: I do remember the creepy cover art with that unnerving yellow eye staring back at me through the cracks in a soldier’s helmet. Haze had a considerable amount of hype going into the game’s launch, with many people deeming it to be a “Halo killer.” But then a funny thing happened: people actually played the game, and quickly realized that the lackluster level designs, the piss-poor A.I., and the abundance of glitches made “the next great PlayStation-exclusive franchise” nothing more than a poor man’s Killzone.
13. Brutal Legend (2009)
A Jack Black-fronted game about Heavy Metal that’s set in the old ages: what could possibly go wrong! Considering that most people probably went into the Double Fine and Tim Schafer-directed Brutal Legend expecting another experience akin to Psychonauts or Grim Fandango, it came as a bit of an unexpected disappointment when people learned that Brutal Legends was actually a real-time strategy game, and an incredibly average one at that. But the good news is that Brutal Legend was most likely just a bump in an otherwise smooth and freshly paved road, with other such following titles like Costume Quest and Stacking capturing that same Tim Schafer inventiveness, but coupling it with unique and whimsical gameplay that forms the perfect recipe for “indie cult classic.”
12. Kane & Lynch: Dead Men (2007)
I consider myself one of the very few people who actually enjoyed Kane & Lynch: Dead Men when I played it for the first time on PC last summer. However, for the legions of IO Interactive fans who were expecting another mind-blowing franchise like Hitman when the game was first released on consoles in 2007, I can understand their disappointment, as Kane & Lynch proved to be a textbook definition of a generic third-person shooter, with a short single-player campaign and a complete lack of personality. There was also the big controversy where GameSpot editor Jeff Gerstmann was rumored to have been fired for giving Kane & Lynch a 6/10 review after Eidos Interactive had invested in heavy ad revenue with the editorial site, which certainly didn’t help the game’s public image all too much, either.
11. Ninja Gaiden 3 (2012)
I never thought I’d see the day when a Ninja Gaiden game would be featured on a list about disappointing experiences in gaming, but alas, here we are. Ninja Gaiden 3 mostly tanked with critics and die-hard fans of the tough-as-nails combat series alike because the developers allegedly tried to streamline the game so it would be more accessible to a wider, mainstream audience. This roughly translated into removing all of the complexity and brutal controller-smashing challenge that had gone on to define the previous games in the Ninja Gaiden series before it, leaving hardcore gamers with nothing but a shell of the franchise they once knew. Okay so maybe that last sentence was a little too dramatic, but the point is that a lot of people were disappointed with this one.
10. Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified (2012)
Depending on your attitude about Infinity Ward and Treyarch’s yearly FPS series Call of Duty, you could probably say that any one of the past five installments or so were a disappointment in one way or another. But if I had to pick one, then I would definitely say the overall Disappointment Award goes to last year’s Call of Duty PS Vita debut, with Black Ops Declassified. Despite having the full power of the Vita’s dual-joystick setup behind it to really craft a true portable FPS experience, nStigate seemed to take the easy way out instead, by giving gamers a series of short, disjointed mission scenarios with a barely existent storyline and uninspired graphics and character designs. While Black Ops Declassified will surely not be the last time we see a Call of Duty game on Sony’s latest handheld system, let’s just hope that whoever’s developing it will do a much needed reload on the series the next time around.
9. Final Fantasy XIII (2009/2010)
With so many titles already under its belt that it’s getting hard to count and keep track of them all (I’m still a little shaky on the whole XIII-2 thing), I guess not every Final Fantasy game can be a winner. While most people praised Final Fantasy XIII for trying to revitalize the series in the ever-changing era of high-definition next-gen consoles, there were just as many who felt that the extreme linear approach to the game made FFXIII one big turn-based disappointment. Most people cite the lack of towns and mini-games, as well as the limited interaction with non-playable characters as a source for this disappointing linearity, although the partial lukewarm reception sure didn’t seem to stop Square Enix from forging ahead with Final Fantasy XIV and the upcoming Final Fantasy XV.
8. Resident Evil 6 (2012)
Some might argue that Resident Evil 5 was the biggest disappointment in Capcom’s once-esteemed survival horror series, for shifting the overall gameplay in a more action-oriented direction. But to me, Resident Evil 5 has nothing on the overly bloated, hodgepodge of failed ideas that is Resident Evil 6. While four intertwining storylines might have seemed cool in the storyboarding phase, everything about the Resident Evil 6’s execution falls flat on its fast, with inconsistent gameplay, weak meandering storylines that never really lead anywhere, and above all else, just an extreme lack of identity. When the game itself doesn’t even know what it’s trying to be, you can’t really blame gamers when they don’t even know if they want to play it anymore.
7. Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (2008)
As someone who would have easily put Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie at the top of his list of favorite games of all time, I certainly wasn’t expecting the tailspin that the Microsoft-owned shell of Rare took with trying to revive one of its most iconic series. Now, I’m all for changing things up and introducing new elements into what might be seen as aging gameplay, but the emphasis on building vehicles in Nuts & Bolts simply just didn’t work, regardless of whether it was a Banjo game or not. While it was great seeing how Banjo and his pals looked in full HD, everything that made the first two games in the series such a blast to play were completely removed here, and instead, just like Rare itself, we were left with a simple hollow shell of what could have been.
6. SimCity (2013)
I can’t say I’ve ever seen a video game become the laughing stock of the gaming world as quickly as SimCity did when the latest major installment in the popular city-building and simulation franchise suffered from an incredibly botched launch this past March. Basically, the amount of glitches and server errors in the final build of the game were so vast that Electronic Arts was forced to shut down the game’s servers shortly after its release, in order to try and address the many problems of a bug-ridden game that probably should have never been released so early anyway. But once players were finally able to play the game for themselves, most quickly wished they hadn’t, because not only was SimCity just oozing with glitches, but it turns out that it just wasn’t all that great of a game to begin with.
5. The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct (2013)
If I’m being completely honest here, I don’t think The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct really ever had a chance. I mean, how can you make any kind of Walking Dead game after what Telltale achieved with their masterful The Walking Dead: The Game adventure series? But still, a FPS take on the beloved zombie-themed franchise DID hold all sorts of promise at first: which is why it was such a shame when the game turned out to be nothing more than a steaming pile of walker guts. I guess it just goes to show that even if you have the voice acting support of Norman Reedus and Michael Rooker from the TV series behind you, that doesn’t mean a good game is going to develop itself. With a god awful story, incredibly poor graphics, and lackluster gameplay, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct will forever remain a big thorn in the franchise’s side.
4. Duke Nukem Forever (2011)
I’ll admit I’m already in the clear minority on this one, because I actually happened to think the long-awaited Duke Nukem Forever was a roaring good time. But for nearly every other Duke Nukem fan out there who had been “patiently” waiting a good 14-odd years for the return of everyone’s favorite ass-kicking FPS hero, the feeling was not exactly mutual. In the game’s defense, I think it’d be hard for any game to be anything BUT a disappointment for people who have been waiting over a decade to finally get their hands on it. So even if Duke Nukem’s balls-to-the-wall attitude didn’t really win over most of gaming’s critics this time around, let’s hope it’s not another excruciatingly long wait for the FPS master to try and redeem himself once again.
3. Aliens Colonial Marines (2013)
In 10 years from now, our children will be reading all sorts of articles that list Aliens: Colonial Marines as one of the worst games of all time. But before it became one of the worst games of all time, it was first one of the biggest gaming disappointments in 2013: not only because it was a big slap in the face to fans of the Aliens franchise, but also because it was made by beloved developer Gearbox of Borderlands fame. The game was so shockingly bad that Gearbox even issued an apology to gamers for the shoddy release, and attempted to make nice through a series of patches that tried to address some of the more technical hiccups throughout the experience. The game also earned an impressively low 2.1 from us, if you need any more convincing about its deserving spot on this list.
2. Lair (2007)
If you were one of those early PS3 owners, then I’m sure you’ll remember Lair from Factor 5, one of the most infamous examples of a video game that crashed and burned before it ever had a chance to leave the ground. Lair was supposed to be a gorgeous Sony exclusive where players battled others on the back of a magnificent dragon, whose flight was controlled exclusively by tilting the PS3’s SIXAXIS controller. Unfortunately, once the game was actually released and people had a chance to try the abominable control scheme for themselves, everyone realized pretty quickly why no one had ever attempted to make a flying dragon game like this before. Years later, the developer would actually go on to release a patch that enabled you to play through the game using more conventional button controls, but sadly the damage had already been done.
1. Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)
There are very few video games that have managed to amass such a notorious amount of negative criticism than the simply titled Sonic the Hedgehog, which was released in 2006. I’m sure you know the one. Everything about this game was just as much WEIRD as it was bad, with the number of glitches outnumbering the number of rings, load times that were probably longer than most games on the PlayStation 2, and a bizarre storyline that found Sonic saving a human princess in some faraway land that was probably more suited for some canned Final Fantasy spin-off game. Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 was even more disappointing due to the fact that it directly followed the fan-favorite Sonic Adventure series and Sonic Heroes. What’s even stranger is the scene in Breaking Bad where Jesse Pinkman plays this monstrosity of a game with his girlfriend’s son, Brock: I guess the meth had REALLY gone to his head at that point!
Did we miss a game that you think should’ve made the list? Sound off below in the comments!