eGamer Awards 2013: The Most Disappointing Game
This year was one with more than its fair share of letdowns, controversies and dullness. The only upside to something like that is that it makes one of my favourite awards to write about, The Most Disappointing, that much more interesting. We’ve got a handful of games here that did more than enough to qualify, so if you’re ready to see our list head on down below. Of course you’ll have to slog through that rundown which explains what goes through our brains when we decide on these nominees.
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Many gamers get confused with this award, because with the most disappointing award, our nominees are often seen as being bad. This is not always the case, and let us assure you that disappointment doesn’t always have to do with the result being bad, but rather ending up as a letdown, and like it could have been more. In order for a game, or anything for that matter, to be disappointing, there has to be a certain level of hype, expectation and anticipation for it. Something can’t be disappointing if no one gives a crap about it, right? Then it’s just crap. Disappointment in gaming usually stems from receiving tons of hype and becoming involved in all the excitement only to discover, once the game is released, that it’s not what you were expecting, and most importantly not what was promised to us, which is increased by the anticipation surrounding the game. So just to clear it up, the games on these list are not all bad (some are of course), but the point we’re making with this “award”, so to speak, is that the following games just didn’t live up to all the hype and promises and were ultimately letdowns.
Beyond: Two Souls
After Quantic Dream produced Heavy Rain, our personal Game of the Year for 2010, we had high hopes for Beyond: Two Souls. What we got was something that was next to impossible to understand – and by that we mean, we had no idea why David Cage opted to craft its story in this fashion. The result was a mess that really should have been extraordinary, and it would have been if someone had come in and refocused the game to be about Jodie and Aiden, and Willem Defoe’s character of Nathan. Perhaps the worst offender is that glimmers of its quality and true potential were buried underneath unfathomable errors that were blatant, and we couldn’t help but think that there just was no logical creative reason for the game’s narrative being presented the way it was, as it created plenty of dissonance, made it very difficult to follow and defied the most basic narrative structure of build-up and pay-off, of which is there is neither. It was a string of individual scenes, and not a flowing story. Equally worse, the game insulted us by effectively saying our input was unnecessary, as failing every single QTE in a life-threatening moment results in the game just resolving itself, as if irritated by your failure and lack of progression. Ultimately, Beyond: Two Souls showed glimmers of being one of the best games and narratives of the year, but ended up disappointing in the face of so much potential.
God of War: Ascension
Let’s be clear about this. Back when we used a word-only rating system, we gave God of War III a perfect. Fast forward to this year and it felt like God of War: Ascension was without glory or purpose. Apart from visually, its single player did not do a whole lot to impress, and while its new multiplayer mode was surprisingly fun, it wasn’t exactly a long-term investment we could see ourselves making. Ascension was just noticeably weaker than both its predecessors, and what was most upsetting about it was the way it just wasn’t memorable. It was still God of War and was still a solid game, but it was hard to get invested in it or passionate about it, and it honestly felt uninspired. The curse of prequels is of course limitation and taking steps back from predecessors that pulled out all the stops, and that’s unfortunate, but we simply believe that this series is worth so much more than an obligatory entry to keep the blood flowing. God of War deserves better, and Santa Monica can do better.
Aliens: Colonial Marines
Aliens: Colonial Marines represents the ugly side of gaming. It’s what happens when there is deception, a lack of consideration towards gamers, a lack of passion for a project coupled with having the wrong reasons for wanting to release it, and a lack of communication with the general population. The mind still boggles when reflecting on how vastly different the early demo footage of the game was both visually and mechanically to the final product, which let the entire Aliens name down as well as all of its fans. We may have learned a decent lesson in not trusting completely in what our eyes see at events such as E3, but learning something from a negative experience does not remove the pain of enduring said negative experience. And Aliens: Colonial Marines was a stab to the heart and throat for fans.
Batman: Arkham Origins
Batman: Arkham Origins can at least say for itself that its narrative was presented well and often showed signs here and there of being the strongest in the series with regards to characterisation and writing. We definitely can’t give enough credit to voice actors Troy Baker (Joker) and Roger Craig Smith (Batman) who killed their roles. But sadly as a game, it felt like little more than an expansion pack to Arkham City, and the sheer amount of rehashing was painful especially as some of us on the team are die-hard Batman fans. Furthermore, we were disappointed with how lifeless the city felt in comparison to the lively settings of its predecessors. It had plenty of good ideas, but it felt like Warner Bros were far too reserved, and even afraid of touching the gameplay. As a result Arkham Origins had nothing remarkable about its gameplay. It was there to satisfy your Bat-craving and give you more for more’s sake, but it wasn’t there to make any kind of statement like its predecessors did. Batman: Arkham Origins was by no means a bad game, but it certainly lives in the shadow of its predecessors.
Gears of War: Judgment
Our reasons for nominating Gears of War: Judgment are essentially near identical to why we selected God of War: Ascension. The word of the day is obligation with a touch of unnecessary, and as the only notable Xbox 360 exclusive of the year, it was a real mellow way for the console to go down. Sure, you could have fun with the multiplayer, and it did try to be fresh, but we definitely felt that it lacked anything noteworthy, and we felt it wouldn’t last that long in our memories, which it hasn’t come the end of the year. Much like God of War, Gears of War: Judgment simply existed for the purpose of putting another Gears title out there, and not because there was a genuine flow of passion and creative juices. It was another entry for the sake of having another entry, and this series deserved better.
It wasn’t God of War: Ascension or Gears of War: Judgment, because in fairness our hopes for these two games were not sky high considering that both pulled out all the stops to deliver the best experiences they could in their third outings. And of course, both games were still enjoyable and offered something of value, which made the degree of disappointment less than what we felt for the other nominees.
The loser wasn’t Beyond: Two Souls, even though it certainly asked some serious questions. And this was mostly because our winner overshadowed it.
Batman: Arkham Origins didn’t take home the award either, because even though we had very little to be impressed by other than the narrative and felt it existed in the shadow of its predecessors, our loser delivered something far worse. Origins for us may be a slightly worse case than God of War and Gears of War, but it’s more or less fits the same bill.
Aliens: Colonial Marines defines the word disappointing as much as it admittedly defines the word “rubbish” as well. In fact, we’d say that Colonial Marines represents nearly everything that is possibly wrong with our beloved industry in a single box, and it was unforgivable how badly it let down its fans and the Alien name, as well as greatly hurt the reputation of Gearbox Software. It was not only the most disappointing game of this year, but it represented one of the most disappointing events in gaming possibly this entire generation, simply because of the sheer amount of shady business practices and unanswered questions that came with it. It was ugly, and it was a game that was just not, in any way, worth the hard-earned money of those who had the misfortune of buying it. Again, the disappointment was more than just about the game, but in the company that produced it and what it represented to us. For that reason, because the disappointment truly went past a game that was just a letdown, Aliens: Colonial Marines is the deserving loser of the Most Disappointing Game Award of 2013.