You could make the argument that 2010 didn't suck and turned out to be a genuinely good year for games. You could argue that between God of War III, Mass Effect 2 and Super Mario Galaxy 2, last year offered big games for all three major platforms. Yes, we could argue all of these points. But we're not going to, because today we're going to take a look at the ten biggest disappointments of last year.
As with everything on the internet, the term "disappointing" can mean different things. The knee-jerk reaction would be to point the finger and say that none of these games are worth playing. This is wrong. Today's article is not a list of the worst games of the year, but rather those titles that disappointed us the most. While this list does include a number of worthwhile games, we ask that you temper your excitement a little and have realistic expectations when you approach them. Sadly, this is just a short list of products that disappointed us in the last twelve months.
Final Fantasy XIII (Square Enix)
Final Fantasy XIII is proof that not every disappointing game was bad. This is not a list of the worst games of 2010, but
rather those titles that rose to the level of being aggravatingly disappointing. After hitting it out of the ballpark with Final Fantasy X and XII (I'm going to ignore the online-only MMO in the middle), I was excepting Square Enix to continue this momentum. But Final Fantasy XIII is not in the same league as those PlayStation 2 titles. Instead we're given a linear quest with a lame story that is ultimately not paid off in the end.
The core complaint seems to be the single-minded levels, which take us on a (mostly) straight path with nothing to explore. This changes a bit towards the end, but not after being inundated with some of the worst level designs I've ever seen. Thankfully there are a lot of memorable moments along the way, not to mention one of my favorite battle mechanics of any Final Fantasy sequel. But all of this is undermined by the incredibly weak ending, which results in deaths that should have come hours earlier. Final Fantasy XIII is not as bad as some would have you believe, but it's also not worth the long wait.
Metroid: Other M (Nintendo)
From its weird control scheme to locked perspective, Nintendo's
newest Metroid game feels a little off. This was sold as the can't-miss pairing of Big N and Team Ninja, the makers of Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive. Unfortunately, Other M came when most of the best Ninjas fled the company, resulting in a bizarre hodgepodge of unsuccessful gameplay decisions. Other M not only missed with the critics, but the game failed to generate any excitement as the Wii went into its fifth holiday season.
There will be people that argue that Other M is misunderstood. I'm willing to accept that we'll look back at this game and appreciate it for what it is, not what we wanted it to be. But even in the best case scenario, this Metroid game is a huge letdown after the Prime trilogy. If there's any take-away from this game, it's that Metroid cinemas need a cap. There's only so much anime-inspired action I can take before I want to play a more interesting action game. In the end I have a hard time seeing this experiment as anything but a colossal disappointment.
Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock (Activision)
Even haters of the music genre will admit, in 2010 Harmonix
delivered. Rock Band 3 is more than a new set of songs; it's the first game to introduce keyboard parts and even real guitars. It's a game that literally teaches gamers how to play their favorite songs, all while offering thousands of downloadable songs and seven-player support. There's no question about it, Harmonix came to fight. Activision, on the other hand, released Guitar Hero 5 again.
With no substantial improvement over the 2009 model, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock is the most baffling installment in this long-running franchise yet. To make matters worse, much of the game's soundtrack is devoted to new and old metal. As somebody who prefers rock and alternative, I found Warriors of Rock trying to go through. The end result is a game I haven't wanted to play since it came out. This is nothing more than a cynical cash-grab, a real disappointment considering what the competition was able to accomplish.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4 (Sega)
No wonder Sega hates us. For years we criticize them for straying too far away from the roots, opting for flashy 3D effects and adding to the already overwhelming list of annoying
characters. We tell them that all we want is Sonic to return to his 2D glory. We've seen Sonic Heroes, Shadow the Hedgehog and the dozens of other terrible spin-offs and sequels, and we know that 3D Sonic is not for us. Finally, after years of listening to us beg and plead, Sega finally delivers the Sonic throwback we've been asking for. And do we do? We piss and moan, naming it one of the most disappointing games of the year. Sega must think we're an ungrateful lot.
The fact is, Sonic 4 is not the game we asked for. With its disappointing level designs, ugly graphics and funky handling, nothing about this long-overdue sequel felt like it should. Worst of all, too much of the game was spent trying to remind you of the 16-bit games. We've played those games; it's time to bring us something new and exciting. But as hard as they tried, Sega wasn't able to deliver a game that could match the genius of the 16-bit originals. I think we can conclusively say that Sega no longer knows how to make a Sonic game.
Fable III (Microsoft)
Like many, I was disappointed with the original Fable. After months of Peter Molyneux talking it up, the end result didn't
even come close to my lofty expectations. Thankfully Fable II changed my tune, offering a compelling world to explore and an interesting rags-to-riches story. Here is Fable III, a game that fails in practically every conceivable way. With its polished graphics and big names behind it, this 2010 role-playing game felt like a shoe-in for game of the year consideration. But what we ended up getting was a sloppy mess of an adventure with one of the worst endings of all time.
There's not enough time to get into every reason why Fable III is a major disappointment, but we can start with the dumbed-down gameplay, terrible use of maps and annoying characters. Sadly that is only the tip of the iceberg. The entire game goes out of its way to make things hard on the user. Fable III requires players to run back and forth for no good reason, creating one of the clunkiest interfaces I've seen since the 1990s. And then there's that ending, which forces you into things you aren't ready for. Even if the countdown timer worked and the interface was better, this still be a huge step back from Fable II.