At the end of each year, we gather our staff and regulars together and put the question to them: what were the most standout games for you? Here, then, are our staff picks for the Most Disappointing Game of 2012. Let’s see if you agree…
Toby McCasker: Every Single JRPG Released This Year
It wasn’t so much a game that disappointed this year so much as an entire genre – or the lack of it. I’m a huuuge JRPG person and there was just shitting nothing going on here all year. The stuff that did come up was either tired as all hell (Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2) or just flat-out terricrap (Mugen Souls). I had to make do with Tales of Grace f. Yeah, that was my highlight. Awesome, right? I’m not sure exactly when JRPGs went from the resonant esotericism of Final Fantasy VII to pedo bear J-pop dance numbers and flashing lights everywhere, but get away from me.
Alice Lynton: Hitman: Absolution
Almost the exact opposite of Dishonored with this one. It was supposed to take a classic hardcore formula and take out all the niggles that kept it from being perfect, but in the end, Hitman: Absolution just stripped out all the things I’d loved about the early games. The attempt to string everything together logically just made Agent 47’s adventures seem even more ludicrously unrelated; and smoothing the way for action players erased any motivation to do things the hard way. Plus, let’s face it, the AI is almost as unbearably stupid as the weak attempts at humour. Walk through it, guns blazing, and get it over with.
Matt ‘El_Funko’ Long: Diablo III
The amount of fun to be had in Diablo III can be measured by the time it takes until you have to grind for loot to beat something in Inferno. I waited 10 years to play this game, and I had a great time playing through the game with a group of 4, but it was all downhill once “Butcher runs” became a thing. As a side point, Blizzard’s attempt to turn the Diablo series into an MMO would have been more successful if it wasn’t for all the unbalanced abilities and gimmicks allowing certain builds to free-farm the end game zones for items to sell on the Auction House.
Jess Colwill: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
This one’s a no-brainer — I was so excited about Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. It looked like everything I loved in a videogame in one shiny package. I was counting down the hours until I could play it, watched the download progress bar like a hawk. I don’t know, maybe my hopes were too high. When I got into it, it was just… blah. Such a non-event of a game, so dull and lifeless.
Brendan Keogh: Halo 4
Halo 4 wasn’t disappointing so much as predictable. As a fan of the series since the release of the very first Halo, I was happy for it to end with Halo 3. Or, rather, I was happy with Master Chief to end with Halo 3. But, of course, Microsoft needed to make more money. It’s not that Halo 4 is a bad Halo—it’s just an unnecessary one. It isn’t one that was worth waking Master Chief for. Throughout the game I just felt like I was going through the motions, like I was just walking on a Halo-themed treadmill just for the sake of it—I wasn’t going anywhere I hadn’t been before. It certainly didn’t help that the lack of a Martin O’Donnell score had me snoozing off during some battles. Many people will still enjoy Halo 4, I don’t doubt. And 343 should be proud of their ability to replicate that feeling that made Halo Halo for so many years. But the entire endeavour felt empty to me. I would happily play more games that explore the Halo universe, but I think I am done with Master Chief’s never-ending story.
Tim Colwill: Of Orcs and Men
Those who know me know that I have a deep and abiding love for orcs, goblins and greenskins of all varieties that can only be described as “unnatural”, and so it was that I was prepared to enjoy the poop out of Of Orcs and Men, Cyanide’s out-of-nowhere offering that took the RPG genre and turned it on its head by having you play as the enemy. Unfortunately, it also turned the RPG genre on its head by taking everything that we’ve learned about how to make a good RPG in the last ten years and throwing it away, delivering an uninspired, buggy piece of trash with some of the most phoned-in, boring game design you’ll ever witness and a staggering linearity that shames the very concept it’s built around. Such a let-down, I may never recover.
James Pinnell: Diablo III
It had to happen eventually. Blizzard, the strategy behemoth that has made a living of extending hardcore experiences to the masses, finally over-extended. Diablo III was a mess of too many ideas, too much last minute poking and prodding, and too many attempts to simplify a system that was already practically perfect. Coupled with an anemic story, overbearing DRM, a sloppy attempt to disguise monetisation through a game-breaking auction house and a devastatingly short campaign removed much of what made its predecessors so entertaining. There was very little sense of passion about Diablo III: it felt like too much was developed by committee in order to create a commodity rather than a great game. Here’s hoping that Blizzard can turn things around when the first expansion drops sometime next year.
Alex Walker: Syndicate
Syndicate is not by any means a bad game, but by standing in the shadow of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, instead of immersing itself in the deep and rich legacy of the 1993 title, players were left with an overwhelming sense of unfulfilled potential. And when you mess around with one of the sleeping giants of the 90s, an IP established by the company responsible for making Peter Molyneux’s career, the foundation for a host of creative talent that would bring us Theme Park, Dungeon Keeper, Magic Carpet, Hi-Octane… people are not likely to forget.
In trying to be all things to all men, Syndicate missed out on an opportunity that was partially picked up by Dishonored. I suspect, however, we won’t truly get to fully appreciate what was possible until Watch Dogs launches next year. If only the developers had sat down, looked at the co-operative mode, scrapped the rest and remade it in a light that was more truthful to the freedom of the original titles, we could have something truly remarkable. Instead what we got was an enjoyable game — but nothing more.
Patrick Vuleta: Syndicate, also
I really enjoyed the original Syndicate. As a kid growing up with an Amiga 500, Syndicate was one of the pinnacles of classical gaming: an intelligent RTS released alongside the many console renditions of Mickey Mouse (which were also cool).
Unfortunately, Syndicate redux has none of the original’s charms, aside from a bitchin’ title track. While Syndicate’s a passable game in its own right, it also represents the FPS-ifying of everything that used to be cool. Bullfrog’s design of the early 90’s worked, and as Firaxis’ excellent UFO remake just proved, the old designs are still good today. That the redux developers weren’t willing to stick with the original, excellent design was a mega let down, because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
What game most let you down this year?