By Richard Reitzfeld
As I’ve said before, 2013 has been an extraordinary year for gaming. We’ve seen advancements in franchises across multiple platforms this year alone that, in the case of some series, far outstrip the totality of their evolution up to this point.
With this in mind, it’s been all the more exciting when a new installment in a fan favorite series has been announced, as the expectation is that the current standard of excellence will be met in building upon the game’s mechanics.
Unfortunately, not every game this year has been able to live up to the hype. Some of the most highly anticipated titles this year have cracked under the pressure that we as fans have put on them and, according to my bastardized version of internet social Darwinism, they deserve to be ridiculed mercilessly.
BEYOND: Two Souls
BEYOND: Two Souls, while not a terrible game in and of itself, wound up being a big disappointment because it in no way lived up to what it could and should have been. Quantic Dream, the game’s developers are responsible for such titles as Heavy Rain and Fahrenheit. They try to incorporate deeply philosophical themes into their games, and in fact have an entirely unique philosophy of gaming, with the intent of creating a degree of realism in gaming that engages the player in ways they wouldn’t necessarily choose to be engaged in.
BEYOND: Two Souls, while cool, takes this philosophy a little too far for my taste. Once I had spent 15 minutes brushing my character’s teeth in every possible way, I felt like I got the gist.
The story is good, although not great, with great “performances” by Ellen Paige and Willem Dafoe, but the problem here is that it’s too much cinematic and not enough game. It’s all well and good to create a story-driven game with a lot of exposition, but you’ve got to make up for that with exciting game-play. Quantic Dream failed big time in that regard.
Don Bradman Cricket 2014/Ashes Cricket 2013
Putting these two on the list is a bit of a cheat, since neither have actually been released. But the level of disappointment that this has garnered from their target demographic is, in my opinion, more than enough to justify a chuckle or two at their expense.
The cross section of Cricket fans and gaming fans, however small, has been lamenting the lack of a good cricket game for years now. Ashes Cricket 2013 was released on PC via Steam this year, and was almost immediately ridiculed to the point where it was removed. There were numerous glitches that impeded even the most basic aspects of game play. Clearly 505 Games, the developers on AC 2013, thought they were getting away with something.
And then, in answer to the distressed cry of the Cricket gamer, Don Bradman Cricket 14, after having been in development for years, received a 2013 released date almost immediately after Ashes Cricket was pulled from the market. A clear attempt at cornering the market, DBC 14 played their hand too early it seems, as they have had to push development back to a 2014 release.
Overall the cricket gaming franchise represents one of the biggest disappointments in gaming this year.
For whatever reason, SimCity remains one of the favorite franchises in gaming to this day. I’ve never quite understood the fascination with the Sim series, aside from games like Roller Coaster Tycoon where you can murder your entire customer base with flaming roller coasters of death. But I guess that’s just me.
For those more mild gamers who get a kick out of just taking a walk to the store to shop for a new bikini top, SimCity is one of the more anticipated titles in gaming. And this year was no different, with EA promising a fully renovated simulation experience.
Unfortunately EA has become a tyrant of sorts in the gaming industry and their borderline fascist DRM policies ruined the experience of SimCity for everyone. People bought the full version of the game and could barely access it due to paid for DLC and server bottlenecking. It’s entirely possible that this latest installment debacle has soured the entire Sim franchise.
Sonic: Lost World
I was disappointed in Sonic: Lost World way before it was released. I happened to be invited to a press screening of the game where I sat down with a Sega producer and marketing specialist and they walked me through some of the game play, and even let me play a few levels. It was, in the purest sense, “meh.”
The Sonic series was one of my childhood favorites. If I had dedicated the amount of time I put into trying to achieve Super Sonic in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 into something more constructive, like baking or socializing, maybe I wouldn’t be eating take out alone every night. But at least I do so with memories of golden hedgehog glory. What do you have?
Sonic: Lost World, unfortunately, was just underwhelming in every respect. Sonic as a game franchise has been faltering for some time now, and for whatever reason, Sega is set on trying to improve upon their exiting formula, which has proven time and again now to just not be all that good.
The Way of the Dogg
Allow me this indulgence. I picked up Way of the Dogg despite it’s terrible reviews because I thought it would be hilarious. It’s a Parappa The Rapper style action combat game in which you need to press buttons in tune with Snoop Dogg’s music so that you can regain control of the streets in epic, break-dance fighting fashion. How could that be a miss?
Well, I’m sorry to say that it wound up just being boring. Even though I’ve always wanted Snoop to mentor me in real life, his in-game persona was pretty trite and left me wanting either a lot more or a lot less from his words of street wisdom.
“So bad it’s good” games are actually a very rare breed, and in The Way of the Dogg, I thought I had found one. In that context, I couldn’t imagine a more disappointing game.
Written by: Richard Reitzfeld